Polity & Governance
- Retired judges to wield the gavel again
- India rises to second spot on global business optimism index: Report
Environment & Ecology
- Scientists find evidence of mythical Chandrabhaga river near Konark Temple
Bilateral & International Relations
- New Delhi Declaration, Asian Regional Plan adopted at AMCDRR 2016
- India, Sri Lanka set up Joint Working Group to address fishermen issue
Science & Technology
- DRDO Signs MoU With IIT Delhi to Establish JATC
Key Facts for Prelims
- First World Tsunami Awareness Day
- International Agrobiodiversity Congress
- Indian Lawyer elected to UN’s International Law Commission
- Startup Mentorship Circle
Polity & Governance
Retired judges to wield the gavel again
The Union government has agreed to a resolution for use of the services of retired High Court judges with proven integrity and track record to tackle pendency of cases.
- The said resolution was passed by the judiciary in the Chief Justices and Chief Ministers Annual Conference 2016.
- Keeping in view the large pendency of civil and criminal cases, especially criminal appeals, where convicts are in jail, the judiciary had requested for enhancing the strength of judges to deal with the backlog of cases.
The resolution had been hanging fire since April.
Is there any provision in the constitution for the use of the services of retired judges?
- The provision to use the services of retired judges is open to the Chief Justices of High Courts under Article 224A of the Constitution with the previous consent of the President as an extraordinary measure to tide over case pile-ups.
Is it necessary?
- The pendency of cases in the High Court has been stagnant for over three years;
- 43% of the pendency is of cases of over five years;
- Concentration of ‘five years plus’ cases in a few High Courts;
- Stagnant pendency figures of five years plus cases (33.5% in 2015) in district courts.
- The 24 High Courts face a shortage of nearly 450 judges.
- Nearly three crore cases are pending in courts across India.
India rises to second spot on global business optimism index: Report
According to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report, India was ranked second on the global business optimism index during the third quarter (July-September 2016).
- The report was prepared on the basis of a quarterly conducted global business survey of 2,500 businesses across 36 economies.
- Indonesia took the top spot, with the Philippines coming in third.
- India was ranked third during the April-June period after being on top for two consecutive quarters.
- India was able to improve its rank because of policy reforms and adaptation of Goods and Services tax (GST).
- The improvement clearly reflects that the reform agenda of the government and its efforts on improving the climate for doing business are having an impact.
- Globally, business optimism stands at net 33%, rising 1 percentage point from the previous quarter but has failed by 11 percentage points over the year.
- The report says that there are still concerns around creating jobs for the millions of young people entering the workforce every year and the issue of corruption.
Environment & Ecology
Scientists find evidence of mythical Chandrabhaga river near Konark Temple
Scientists have found evidence of the mythical Chandrabhaga river near the UNESCO world heritage site of Konark Sun Temple in Odisha.
- A team of geologists and social scientists from IIT Kharagpur recently undertook a scientific study to investigate whether the ancient river existed close to the 13th century temple built by King Narasimhadeva.
- The scientists used various satellite images and then validated it with other field data to identify and trace the channel of the river which is believed to have gone extinct.
- Earlier, KS Valdiya led expert committee had found out that Saraswati River did exist and flowed through India and Pakistan before meeting Arabian Sea through Rann of Kutch.
About the river Chandrabhaga:
- Called Chandrabhaga, the ancient river is believed to have existed at a distance of about two km from the 13th century Sun Temple at Konark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Odisha.
- It has been mentioned prominently in ancient literature. Besides, almost all lore regarding Konark, including illustrations and photographs, indicate presence of the river in proximity of temple.
However, at present, no trace of any water body is at present visible in proximity of temple.
Significance of this discovery:
- Identification of such a palaeo-channel of Chandrabhaga River may lead to the delineation of pockets of freshwater zones within a dominantly saline water environment in coastal Odisha.
- It may even partially help to alleviate the chronic drinking water problem along the Odisha coast.
What is palaeochannel?
- A palaeochannel is a remnant of an inactive river or stream channel that has been either filled or buried by younger sediment.
Bilateral & International Relations
New Delhi Declaration, Asian Regional Plan adopted at AMCDRR 2016
The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016 came to an end with the adoption of the New Delhi Declaration and the Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework.
- This was the first Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) after the advent of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR).
What is New Delhi Declaration?
- The New Delhi Declaration is a political statement depicting the commitment of participating governments towards preventing and reducing disaster risk and strengthening the resilience of communities, nations and the Asian region.
- Recognising the need to accelerate the implementation of global frameworks, it commits to a people-centred and whole-of-society approach towards DRR.
- It also emphasises the need to enhance the capacity of communities and ensure participation of all stakeholder groups towards achieving resilience.
What is Asian Regional Plan for Sendai Framework?
- The Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework focuses on the ways to reduce disaster risk at national and local levels.
- It has longer term road map of cooperation and collaboration for 15-year horizon of the Sendai Framework.
- Besides, it also has a two-year action plan to further disaster risk reduction with specific, actionable activities.
What is Sendai Framework for DRR?
- The SFDRR was adopted by at the Third World Conference on DRR at Sendai in Japan in March, 2015.
- It identifies targets and priority action areas towards reducing disaster risk by ‘reducing the damage caused by natural hazards like floods, droughts, earthquakes and cyclones through an ethic of prevention.
India, Sri Lanka set up Joint Working Group to address fishermen issue
India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries and hotline between their Coast Guards to address long-standing issue of fishermen from Tamil Nadu.
- These mechanisms aim to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues.
- The JWG on Fisheries will meet every three months beginning January 2017 while the Ministers of Fisheries on both sides would meet every six months along with Naval representatives and Coast Guard to discuss the protracted issue.
Terms of reference of the JWG includes:
- Expediting the transition towards ending the practice of bottom trawling at the earliest.
- Framing procedures for returning fishermen arrested by both sides.
- Possibility of joint patrolling.
However, both sides failed to resolve the issue of their seized boats which has been an emotive issue in Tamil Nadu. This issue will be discussed at the first JWG meeting.
What is the issue?
- The fishermen issue continues to be a major irritant in the India-Lanka ties.
- This issue has a socio-economic dimensions, livelihood and humanitarian dimension and wants a long term solution to the problem.
- Sri Lanka accuses Indian fishermen of straying into its territorial waters. It wants Indian fishermen to immediately end to bottom trawling, a practice that depletes the ocean’s resources. It also has refused to return more than 100 trawlers seized since 2014.
- Fishermen from Tamil Nadu are only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974.
- The issue of their seized boats is unresolved, and has been an emotive issue in Tamil Nadu, with the State government writing to the Centre on several occasions to negotiate for their release.
Science & Technology
DRDO Signs MoU With IIT Delhi to Establish JATC
Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi to establish a ‘Joint Advanced Technology Centre’ (JATC).
- JATC will be located in the campus of IIT Delhi at the upcoming Science and Technology Park (Mini-Science Park ‘MSP’).
- As per the MoU, DRDO will support JATC in equipping it with advanced and unique research facilities that will enable the faculty and scholars to conduct advanced research and transform the JATC as Centre of Excellence.
Objective of JATC:
- The objective for creation of JATC is to undertake and facilitate multi-disciplinary directed basic and applied research in the jointly identified research verticals.
What will be the functions of the JATC?
- It will enable Directed, Basic & Applied Research and will engage with premier research institutes through multi-institutional collaboration.
- The researchers will get the opportunity to work in advanced areas of research namely Advanced Materials for Ballistic Protection, Advanced Mathematical Modelling and Simulation, Advanced Electromagnetic Devices and Terahertz Technologies, Smart & Intelligent Textile Technologies, Brain Computer Interface & Brain Machine Intelligence besides Photonic Technologies, Plasmonics and Quantum Photonics, etc.
- The focused research efforts at the centre will lead to realization of indigenous technologies in these critical areas, which will be used for speedy self-reliance.
Significance of JATC:
- JATC will facilitate towards advanced research to utilize technology outcome in the futuristic applications.
- The focused research efforts at the JATC will help in realization of indigenous technologies the critical areas which will be used for speedy self-reliance.
Key Facts for Prelims
First World Tsunami Awareness Day
- The First World Tsunami Awareness Day was celebrated on 5 November 2016 to spread awareness among people across the world about Tsunami.
- The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had constituted the day by adopting a resolution in December 2015.
- The proposal was first mooted by Japan after the 3rd UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai (Japan) in March 2015.
- The theme for the year 2016 is: “Effective Education and Evacuation Drills”.
International Agrobiodiversity Congress
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first International Agro-biodiversity Congress in New Delhi.
- The 4-day Congress (from November 6 to 9, 2016) will be attended by 900 delegates from 60 countries to discuss conservation of genetic resources.
- The conference has been organised by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Biodiversity International, a CGIAR Research Centre headquartered in Rome, Italy.
- It will address the threats imposed by climate change and ways to achieve sustainable agriculture production.
- Biodiversity International is a global research-for-development organization.
- Biodiversity International delivers scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
Indian Lawyer elected to UN’s International Law Commission
- Indian lawyer, Aniruddha Rajput has been elected as a member International Law Commission (ILC), a top body of legal experts of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
- He is among the 34 individuals elected by the UNGA as members of the ILC.
- He is India’s first time candidate to the Commission and youngest among the group.
- He is also the first Indian nominee chosen from outside the close circuit of lawyers of the Union Ministry of External Affairs.
- The International Law Commission was established by the UNGA in 1947 to undertake the mandate of UN to ensure promotion and progressive development of International law and its codification. It holds an annual session at the UN Office at Geneva.
Startup Mentorship Circle
- The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has launched ‘Startup Mentorship Circle’, a unique platform to help in connecting start-ups with the global marketplace.
- The platform was launched in view of Union Government’s vision of nurturing entrepreneurship under the Startup India Initiative.
- Under this Platform Large corporate houses are planning to mentor about 100 start-ups over the next two years.
- Initially it will focus on start-ups in the Western part of the country and will be soon scaled to other parts.
- It seeks to provide platform to create strong eco-system to nurture innovation and startups to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.