Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers
Polity & Governance
- SC ruling on Lodha panel unconstitutional, says Katju
- Second National Handloom Day observed
- New weave: skilling through correspondence
- Karnataka emerges as investors’ favourite
Environment & Ecology
- Country gets its first tiger repository
- Govt promises all help to conserve ‘mithun’ species of North-East
- PM launches Mission Bhagiratha
- Despite growth in numbers, big cats may not be out of the woods
Science & Technology
- IBM’s Supercomputer helps doctors to fight cancer
- Novel 4D technology may aid treatment for lung disease
- IIT Madras researchers develop instrumentation for cancer treatment
Key Points for Prelims
- Sant Kabir Awards
Polity & Governance
SC ruling on Lodha panel unconstitutional, says Katju
Former Chief Justice Markandey Katju recently called the recommendations made by Lodha panel as unconstitutional.
- He also stressed that the judiciary cannot stress reforms on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as it is the work of the legislature.
Arguments put forth by Katju:
According to Katju,
- To direct itself that the recommendations be implemented is clearly a legislative act not within the Supreme Court’s domain.
- The Supreme Court had over-reached itself and indulged in judicial legislation unmindful of the fact that there are several larger Bench decisions prohibiting the same.
- The Lodha Committee was only mandated to examine and make suitable recommendations to the BCCI for such reforms in its practices and procedures and such amendments to the memorandum of association, rules and regulations as may be considered necessary. Instead, the Lodha Committee sent its recommendations to the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court plainly ignored the law that any change in the rules of the BCCI should have been made through a special resolution initiated under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. Complaints against the BCCI should have been filed before the Registrar of Societies, the competent authority under the Act.
- In January 2015, the Supreme Court appointed the R M Lodha panel to look into the functioning of the cricket board and suggest structural changes to bring in more transparency.
- Earlier in a landmark judgement on July 18, the Supreme Court accepted major recommendations of Justice R M Lodha-led panel on structural reforms in the BCCI.
- The apex court has given six months’ time to the BCCI to implement the recommendations.
- Katju was recently appointed by the BCCI as the head of a four-member legal panel to help the board understand the implications of the Lodha Committee reforms.
Second National Handloom Day observed
The second National Handloom Day has been celebrated all over the country, on August 7.
- The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the first National Handloom Day on 7th August, 2015.
- National Handloom Day was launched with the objective to generate awareness about the importance of handloom industry and its contribution to the socioeconomic development of the country in general and to promote handlooms, increase income of weavers and enhance their pride in particular.
Why August 7?
- The date August 7 has been chosen due to its special significance in India’s freedom struggle.
- It was on this day in 1905 that the Swadeshi Movement was formally launched, at a massive meeting in the Calcutta Town hall.
- The movement involved revival of domestic products and production processes.
New weave: skilling through correspondence
The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Union Ministry of Textiles have tied up to provide education to weavers and their children through a specially designed curriculum.
- The initiative will focus on identified weavers’ clusters such as Varanasi, Sivasagar, Murshidabad, Tiruchi, Prakasam and Guntur.
- The number of people engaged in hand weaving and allied activities in India is 43 lakh.
- A census conducted in 2009-10 revealed that “the level of education of 83.3% among adult handloom workers is below high school/secondary,”
Karnataka emerges as investors’ favourite
According to recently released government data, for attracting maximum ‘investment intentions’ in value terms, Gujarat has lost its position to Karnataka halfway through this calendar year.
- Gujarat was ranked first among all States in 2015.
- The Centre, which is co-ordinating efforts to rank states on ‘ease of doing business’, also maintains a State-wise break-up of investment intentions in terms of Industrial Entrepreneur Memoranda filed for de-licensed sector, Letters of Intent issued and Direct Industrial Licences granted.
‘Business Reforms Action Plan’ index:
- Even in the latest ‘Business Reforms Action Plan’ index (or measures taken by states to improve ease of doing business), Gujarat was sixth with a score of 53.98%.
- Uttarakhand topped that dynamic ‘implementation scorecard’ with 63.72%, followed by Rajasthan, Telengana, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Environment & Ecology
Country gets its first tiger repository
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) here will now house the country’s first repository on tigers, under its new Tiger Cell.
- The cell will have a database of tigers from over 50 reserves around the country along with their DNA and stripes samples to keep a track on their numbers.
- For instance, if a tiger skin is recovered, the tiger cell will help in locating the area from where it came from.
- The tiger cell will assist in the following:
- Population assessment of tigers
- Law enforcement
- Wildlife forensics
- Infrastructural development and mitigation
- Smart patrolling
- Advisory role in policy formulation
Aim of the repository:
- The aim of the repository is to aid conservation efforts by keeping an update on tiger numbers as well as tracking poaching incidents throughout the country.
- The tiger cell will be funded by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment. It will also give clearance to development projects in areas with tiger population.
- YV Jhala, senior scientist at WII will head the cell and will be supported by four other scientists.
About the WII:
- The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India.
- WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Ecodevelopment, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
- WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library.
- Trained personnel from WII have contributed in studying and protecting wildlife in India. WII has also popularized wildlife studies and careers.
- The institute is based in Dehradun, India.
Govt promises all help to conserve ‘mithun’ species of North-East
Bovine species ‘mithun’ has a very significant role to play in lives of tribal communities of the North-East, the government recently promised that it will do the needful to conserve the animal.
- Mithun is the only animal that is recognised as the state animal of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
- ICAR’s NRC mithun is the only institute in the world dedicated purely to research on conservation and improvement of this precious animal species.
- The total population of mithun in the country is about 3 lakh, of which Nagaland accounts for 12 per cent.
PM launches Mission Bhagiratha
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched Mission Bhagiratha at Komatibanda Village, Gajwel, in Medak District of Telangana.
- The scheme has been launched by the State Government with an objective to provide safe drinking water to all.
About the Mission Bhagiratha:
- Mission Bhagiratha is Telangana Water Grid Project intended to provide a sustainable and permanent solution to the drinking water woes.
- Apart from creating a water grid for supply drinking water to houses, it aims to rejuvenate more than 45000 water tanks.
- The water grid project aims at reaching out drinking water supply to even remotest place in the State to every household across the State in the coming four years.
- The new Telangana Water Grid will depend on water resources from Srisailam, Sriram Sagar Project, Komuram Bheem Project, Paleru Reservoir, Jurala Dam and Nizam Sagar Project, the major hydro projects in the state.
Despite growth in numbers, big cats may not be out of the woods
Recently released IUCN report has warned that despite the growth in population of tigers in the country and elsewhere, tigers are still not out of the woods due to shrinking forest land, which are converted into motorways and other infrastructure that cut through their habitat.
- The report is titled the ‘Fierce but Fragile: Coexistence in a changing world’.
- The report is released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Highlights of the report:
- The report also identified human-wildlife conflict as a key problem in the Terai regions of India and Nepal and stressed on well-developed conservation programmes.
- The report said if the conservation efforts succeed in boosting tiger numbers and human populations continue to grow, the potential for conflict between tigers and humans would only increase and needs to be managed.
- Observing that tigers need to breed and hunt in relatively undisturbed core areas, the report said they also pass through land used for agriculture, commercial forestry or inhabited by forest communities.
- Wildlife conservation groups estimate that there are some 3,890 tigers in the wild across the world as against more than one lakh in 1900.
- India is home to more than half of the world’s big cats in the wild.
- According to the latest 2014 census, the country has 2,226 tigers in the wild across the country, a 30 per cent increase over the 2010 estimation of 1,706 tigers.
About the IUCN:
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
- IUCN was established in 1948. It was previously called the International Union for Protection of Nature (1948–1956) and the World Conservation Union (1990–2008).
- It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, lobbying and education.
- IUCN’s mission is to “influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”
- Unlike other international NGOs, IUCN does not itself aim to mobilize the public in support of nature conservation. It tries to influence the actions of governments, business and other stakeholders by providing information and advice, and through lobbying and partnerships.
- The organization is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.
- IUCN has a membership of over 1200 governmental and non-governmental organizations. Some 11,000 scientists and experts participate in the work of IUCN commissions on a voluntary basis. It employs approximately 1000 full-time staff in more than 60 countries.
- Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.
- IUCN has observer and consultative status at the United Nations, and plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and biodiversity.
- It was involved in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Science & Technology
IBM’s Supercomputer helps doctors to fight cancer
IBM’s Supercomputer Watson is recently in news as it helps doctors to fight cancer.
Watson is an IBM supercomputer that combines artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a “question answering” machine.
- The supercomputer is named for IBM’s founder, Thomas J. Watson.
- The Watson supercomputer processes at a rate of 80 teraflops (trillion floating-point operations per second).
- To replicate (or surpass) a high-functioning human’s ability to answer questions, Watson accesses 90 servers with a combined data store of over 200 million pages of information, which it processes against six million logic rules.
- The device and its data are self-contained in a space that could accommodate 10 refrigerators.
- The Watson for Oncology was developed by IBM in collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, one of the world’s leading cancer centres.
- Manipal has become the first hospital in India to deploy the system.
Novel 4D technology may aid treatment for lung disease
Researchers have developed a four-dimensional lung scanning technology that has the potential to transform treatment for millions of people with respiratory problems.
- The scanner generates high-resolution images of lung-tissue motion and airflow throughout the lungs.
- Current tools are out of date and require two or three pieces of diagnostic information to piece together what is happening in someone’s lungs.
Significance of the technology:
- The 4D technology can help investigators to view and measure abnormal function in specific areas of the lung, before a disease progresses and spreads.
- The new tool can identify damage at an early stage and will be able to inform intervention, with the hope of reducing further damage.
- With this technology, clinicians can quantify the effects of treatment by simply comparing measurements from one scan to the next.
IIT Madras researchers develop instrumentation for cancer treatment
A team from IIT Madras, which has been working on developing instrumentation for cancer treatment has made progress in designing and testing a prototype applicator.
- They are working on developing an array of body-contacting antennas which can deposit energy at a depth using microwave radiation.
- Microwaves have a larger wavelength in the tissue as compared to high-frequency acoustic waves and so can be used to target larger tumours which can range in size from few centimetres to several centimetres.
What is Hyperthermia therapy?
Hyperthermia is one of the treatment modalities for cancer.
- This is a method by which the temperature of a region containing tumour cells is raised above normal levels. Exposing cells to elevate temperature leads to cytotoxicity.
- Hyperthermia can be used in several ways. It can be used for achieving hyperthermia locally by using an external applicator or by placing probes inside cavities to treat small areas; regionally, for large areas; or whole body, to treat metastatic cancer.
- The hyperthermia therapy may not be very effective as a stand alone method but is good when used along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
- Hyperthermia is scarcely practised in India and has little influence on oncology practice.
- The awareness regarding this treatment modality is low. One of the primary reasons is the lack of industry participation in device development.
- The hyperthermia therapy is also time-consuming compared to radiation treatment.
Key Points for Prelims
Sant Kabir Awards
Sant Kabir Awards is being conferred from 2009 onwards to outstanding handloom weavers who have made valuable contribution in keeping alive the handloom heritage and also for their dedication in building up linkages between the past, present and the future through dissemination of knowledge on traditional skills and designs.