Polity & Governance
- SC widens ambit of Domestic Violence Act
- India’s first international arbitration centre inaugurated
- Janani Suraksha Yojana pays dividends: Study
- Govt extends anti-dumping duty on certain Chinese products
- India’s pharma competitiveness score drops
Environment & Ecology
- India to light up IEA’s global LED programme
Science & Technology
- Indian researcher produces stable solar cells
- Great Balls of Fire
Key Facts for Prelims
- 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics
- Aiyoh, Aiyah words added to Oxford English Dictionary
Polity & Governance
SC widens ambit of Domestic Violence Act
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has widened the scope of the Domestic Violence Act.
Changes made in the Domestic Violence Act?
- The court has ordered the deletion of the words “adult male” from the act. Thus, the order has paved the way for prosecution of women and even non-adults for subjecting a woman relative to violence and harassment.
- The court has ordered striking down of the two words from Section 2(q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which deals with respondents who can be sued and prosecuted under the Act for harassing a married woman in her matrimonial home.
- The order allows a woman to seek legal action against her daughter-in-law and even her minor grandchildren for domestic violence. Earlier, only daughter-in-law could sue her husband and his women relatives. But a domestic violence complaint couldn’t be filed against the daughter-in-law as the accused under the law could only be adult males.
Why the words “adult male” has been ordered to be deleted?
- According to the court, these words violated right to equality under the Constitution and are discriminatory.
- Also, the court observed that the microscopic difference between male and female, adult and non-adult, regard being had to the object sought to be achieved by the 2005 Act, is neither real or substantial, nor does it have any rational relation to the object of the legislation.
The ruling came on an appeal filed against a judgment of the Bombay High Court in 2014 that had read down the Act to hold that complaints could be filed against the women too.
The top court, however, set aside this judgment on the ground that the provision could not be read down.
About the Domestic Violence Act 2005:
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament enacted to protect women from physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse at home.
- The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
- Under the act, an offender can be prevented from selling his house or businesses or both to ensure the victim is not left to fend for herself.
- It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not meant to penalize criminally.
- The act does not extend to Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own laws, and which enacted in 2010 the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2010.
India’s first international arbitration centre inaugurated
India’s first centre for international arbitration was inaugurated in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
- The centre is aimed to provide an arbitration platform for Indian business houses to negotiate commercial disputes.
- With this Maharashtra becomes first state in the country to clear policy for institutional arbitration.
- The MCIA will be an independent, not-for-profit organisation governed by a council comprising eminent national and international legal luminaries.
- It can resolve disputes between different companies or individual.
- It will have a 12-month timeline to complete arbitration seated in India and a prescribed fee structure as per the size of the disputed contract amount, which will enable both parties to know the cost of arbitral proceedings before they approach MCIA.
- It will provide world-class infrastructure for arbitration, 24×7 functionality and live transcription services recording during arbitration proceedings for transparency.
- It will be in sync with the Make in India campaign and will provide a time bound and cost-effective facility to reinforce investor confidence.
Significance of MCIA:
- At present, most of the global business disputes involving Indians land in the Singapore or the London arbitration centres. The total outflow of funds to resolve such cases, complete with logistics and other related expenditure, works out to around $ 5 billion, sources said. A centre in India can significantly bring down this cost.
- It is also considered as a major step towards making Mumbai an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
Janani Suraksha Yojana pays dividends: Study
A recent study revealed the performance of Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) in the key areas of maternal care.
About the study:
- The study was conducted using data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) — conducted in 2004-05 and 2011-12.
Key findings of the study:
- The increase in utilisation of all three maternal healthcare services between the two rounds was remarkably higher among illiterate or less educated and poor women.
- The usage of all three maternal healthcare services by the OBC, Dalit, Adivasis and Muslim women increased between the surveys, showing reduced socio-economic inequalities.
- Women in their early twenties were more likely to avail of each of the three maternal health care services as compared to their older women.
- Women availing maternal healthcare services decreases with the increase in the number of children they have delivered.
- This doesn’t mean that inequalities don’t exist. However, the gap in access to healthcare between the marginalised group of women and those who are financially better-off has declined since the advent of the JSY program.
Significance of the study:
The IHDS data serves two advantages in this case.
- First, round 1 of IHDS was conducted in 2004-05 when the JSY was not in place and round two was conducted six years after the launch, providing a before-after scenario for comparison.
- Secondly, the IHDS is a longitudinal data set — same households were interviewed in both rounds, which allows to examine changes in maternal care patterns.
Maternal Mortality in India:
- As per the latest Lancet report on maternal health, India accounted for 15 % of the total maternal deaths in the world in 2015 i.e. 45,000 women dying during pregnancy or childbirth. It is second only to Nigeria.
About Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY):
- The JSY was launched in 2005 as part of the National Rural Health Mission.
- It was implemented with the objective of reducing maternal and neo-natal mortality by promoting institutional delivery among the poor pregnant women.
Govt extends anti-dumping duty on certain Chinese products
Revenue department has extended anti-dumping duty on import of certain Chinese products, used in garment, footwear and toys manufacturing, for another five years.
- The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) imposed the duty based on recommendations of the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD).
- Earlier in October 2010, the Revenue Department of the Union Finance Ministry had extended the levy (anti-dumping duty) till October 2015.
What is Anti-Dumping Duty?
- Anti-Dumping Duty is a trade levy imposed by any government on imported products which have prices less than their fair normal values in their domestic market.
- Thus, it is protectionist tariff that seeks to stop dumping process where company exports a product at a price lower than price it normally charged in domestic market of importing countries’.
- Anti-Dumping Duty is imposed under the multilateral World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime and varies from product to product and from country to country.
Anti-Dumping Duty in India:
- In India, anti-dumping duty is recommended by the Union Ministry of Commerce (i.e. by DGAD), while the Union Finance Ministry imposes it.
India’s pharma competitiveness score drops
India has been ranked No. 19 in a 28-nation survey of biomedical investment attractiveness of countries, with an overall score of 59 out of 100.
About the survey:
- The survey is titled the Biopharmaceutical Competitiveness & Investment (BCI) Survey.
- The survey was commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and executed by the Pugatch Consilium.
- The survey categorizes countries into two— “mature” markets like the US, UK and Germany, and “newcomers” like India, China and Brazil.
- Five metrics were used to determine rankings:
- Scientific capabilities and infrastructure;
- Clinical research conditions and framework;
- Regulatory system;
- Market access and financing; and
- Effective intellectual property protections.
- The US, UK and Switzerland lead, with the US at No. 1 with a score of 86.
- India’s score slipped a point from a year ago.
- India scores low on almost all metrics except in the clinical research conditions and framework and scientific capabilities and infrastructure.
- India’s IP regime, including Section 3(d) of IP Act requiring biopharmaceutical inventions to show ‘enhanced efficacy’, continues to affect its investment environment.
Environment & Ecology
India to light up IEA’s global LED programme
The International Energy Agency (IAE) is going to partner with India to implement its Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) initiative globally for energy savings.
Why IAE is interested in tie up?
- IAE has been impressed with performance of India’s UJALA programme in terms of vastly improving access to LED lighting while reducing their cost drastically.
- The UJALA scheme is implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Union Ministry of Power.
- The price at which EESL has been purchasing LED lights to distribute under UJALA scheme has been consistently falling over the last couple of years.
- Along with this, production has also been ramped up to about 4 crore per month from the 10 lakh a month in 2014 to support the implementation of scheme.
Science & Technology
Indian researcher produces stable solar cells
For the first time, a researcher from Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) has successfully produced a stable, high-efficiency, all-inorganic perovskite nanocrystal solar cells.
Key features of the new material:
- The new material has 10.77% efficiency to convert sunlight to electricity.
- It used cesium to produce the material of cesium lead iodide.
- The nanocrystals of cesium lead iodide were reduced to nanometre range. It allowed the material to absorb visible sunlight till 700 nm at ambient temperature.
- These nanocrystals were found to be stable from —196-degree C to about +200-degree C. It also converted sunlight to electricity by producing a high voltage of 1.23 volts.
- These nanocrystals were assembled as a thin film. The thin film was used for making both solar cells and red LEDs.
How this new research is different from traditional hybrid material?
- This research on inorganic perovskite nanocrystal moves away from traditional research based around a hybrid organic-inorganic halide perovskite material.
- Though, this traditional hybrid material has high efficiency of over 22% but organic component in it volatile.
- This material becomes completely unstable under ambient conditions within a short span of time which renders it unsuitable for commercial photovoltaic applications.
Great Balls of Fire
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected Great Balls of Fire.
What are the Great Balls of Fire?
- The Great Balls of Fire are superhot blobs of gas, each twice as massive as the planet Mars, being ejected near a dying star.
- These plasma balls are moving so fast through space that it would take only 30 minutes for them to travel from Earth to the moon.
- The observations suggest that these balls of fire have been appearing every 8.5 years for at least the last four centuries.
- The gas balls were observed near a red giant called V Hydrae that is about 1200 light-years away from Earth.
Significance of the finding:
- If scientists are able to discover origin of these balls, it could explain other weird shapes seen in the cloud of gas around dying stars, which is difficult for scientists to explain at present.
About the Hubble Space Telescope:
The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. It remains in operation. It could last until 2030–2040.
- It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.
- It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble, and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
- With a 2.4-meter mirror, its four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared spectra.
- The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) selects Hubble’s targets and processes the resulting data, while the Goddard Space Flight Center controls the spacecraft.
- It is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.
- It is one of the largest and most versatile vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy.
- Its scientific successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is scheduled for launch in 2018.
Key Facts for Prelims
2016 Nobel Prize in Economics
Two economists Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom have won the 2016 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has selected them for their contributions to contract theory which tells how contracts help people deal with conflicting interests.
Their individual theories on contract theory are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design. For example, contract theory can be used to analyze performance-based pay for CEOs or deductibles and co-pays for insurance.
Aiyoh, Aiyah words added to Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has now included “Aiyoh” and “Aiyah” in its latest addition.
The words aiyah and aiyoh are interchangeable. Like many Indian words, Aiyoh and Aiyah can mean many things depending on context and tone like irritation, disgust, surprise, dismay, pain, lament, disappointment.
They are credited to Mandarin and Cantonese dialects of Chinese.