Polity & Governance
- Delhi HC quashes appointment of 21 AAP MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries
- NSSO sanitation survey: Sikkim cleanest state, Gujarat ranks 14th
- Himachal’s Mandi is the cleanest district in India
- SEBI urges municipal bodies to adopt modern accounting practices
Science & Technology
- GSLV Successfully Launches India’s Weather Satellite INSAT-3DR
- ICICI Bank deploys software robots
Key Facts for Prelims
- National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention
- Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh
- International Literacy day
- Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL)
- 2016 ASEAN Summit
Polity & Governance
Delhi HC quashes appointment of 21 AAP MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries
The Delhi High Court has set aside the AAP government’s order appointing 21 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries since it lacked the approval of the Lieutenant Governor (LG), the administrative head of Delhi.
What’s the issue?
- The Delhi government had in March last year appointed 21 of its MLAs as parliamentary secretaries in various ministries to speed up public work.
- Following criticism by members of the opposition, who called it unconstitutional, the government passed a bill was which intended to provide security cover for those legislators appointed as parliamentary secretaries.
- Through the bill, the Delhi government had sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997. The bill aims to exclude the post of parliamentary secretary from the office of profit and exempt the post from disqualification provisions.
- The court has held that it is mandatory under the constitutional scheme to communicate the decision of the council of ministers to the Lt. Governor even in relation to the matter in respect of which power to make laws has been conferred on the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi under Article 239AA of the Constitution and an order thereon can be issued only where the Lt Governor does not take a different view and no reference to the Central government is required.
As per the law:
- Section 15 of the government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 says a person shall not remain an MLA if he or she holds any office of profit under the Centre or government of a state or UT.
- The Election Commission will now decide whether to continue hearing a petition asking for the disqualification of the legislators.
NSSO sanitation survey: Sikkim cleanest state, Gujarat ranks 14th
Union government has recently released the results of survey carried out last year by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).
Highlights of the survey:
- Sikkim has been adjudged the cleanest state while Jharkhand comes last in the list on the condition of sanitation in rural areas of 26 states.
- Gujarat is ranked 14th.
- It has listed Kerala, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Meghalaya among the top 10 states.
- The states which fared poorly in the NSSO study include Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir.
About the survey:
- The NSSO conducted the survey in May-June 2015 covering 73,176 households in 3,788 villages across the country.
- The ranking given on the basis of percentage of households having sanitary toilets and using them (either household or community toilets).
Himachal’s Mandi is the cleanest district in India
A first-ever survey of sanitation standards in 75 districts of rural India, the Gramin Swachh Survekshan report was recently released by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
About the survey:
- The survey was conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI) on behalf of the sanitation ministry covering nearly 70,000 household across 2,530 villages.
- The report has ranked districts under two categories – districts in north-east and hill states and districts in plains.
- A total of 22 hill districts and 53 plain areas were assessed by QCI under the Gramin Swachh Survekshan launched in May 2016.
- Each district was judged on four distinct parameters of Gramin Swachh Survekshan. Maximum weightage was placed on accessibility to safe toilets and water.
Parameters to judge sanitation status:
The parameters to judge sanitation status included:
- Households having access to safe toilets and using them. It was given 40% weightage and included survey of toilet usage, water accessibility, safe disposal of waste.
- Households having no litter around. It was given weightage of 30%.
- Public places with no litter in the surrounding. It was given weightage of 10%.
- Households having no stagnant wastewater around. It was given weightage of 20%.
Highlights of the survey:
- Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra have emerged the cleanest districts in India.
- Sindhudurg was judged as the cleanest in the ‘Plains’ category and Mandi in the cleanest district in ‘Hills’ category.
- Districts of Sikkim, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), Nadia (West Bengal) and Satara (Maharashtra) have also featured at the top of the index.
Overall Rankings in Swachh Survekshan Gramin:
SEBI urges municipal bodies to adopt modern accounting practices
With an aim to help municipalities raise capital from markets, U.K. Sinha, chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has urged the country’s municipal bodies to do away with the old accounting practises and adopt the new mechanism to improve their credit ratings.
What did Sinha say?
- K. Sinha said that improvement in their credit would make it easy for these bodies to issue municipal bonds at attractive interest rates.
- He further suggested linking the interest rate offered on a municipal bond to yields on G-Sec plus a premium as bonds offering a yield of over 8 per cent per annum cannot be tax free.
- He said that the bond markets could be developed in cooperation with other sectoral regulators such as IRDA, PFRDA and EPFO who in turn could ensure participation of insurers and pension funds into the municipal bond market.
- This would enable the development of this market as these entities being long term investors in nature would add to the depth.
- SEBI in July 2015 had unveiled its norms on the municipal bond market which outlined the manner in which these bonds could be issued, the requisite disclosures besides protection of investor interest.
What is Municipal Bond?
- A municipal bond, also known as ‘muni bonds’, is a debt security issued by a state, municipality or county to finance its capital expenditures, including the construction of highways, bridges or schools.
- Not all municipal bonds offer income exempt from both federal and state taxes.
- ‘Muni bonds’ are very popular among investors in many developed nations, especially in the U.S., where these have attracted investments totalling over $500 billion and are among preferred avenues for household savings.
Municipal Bond in India:
- The Bangalore Municipal Corporation was the first municipal corporation to issue a municipal bond of Rs.125 crore with a State guarantee in 1997. However, the access to capital market commenced in January 1998, when the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) issued the first municipal bonds in the country without State government guarantee for financing infrastructure projects in the city. AMC raised Rs.100 crore through its public issue.
- Among others, Hyderabad, Nashik, Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Nagpur municipal authorities have issued such bonds
- As per guidelines of the Urban Development Ministry, only bonds carrying interest rate up to maximum 8% per annum shall be eligible for being notified as tax-free bonds.
Science & Technology
GSLV Successfully Launches India’s Weather Satellite INSAT-3DR
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully launched advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR.
- The satellite was launched with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F05), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- INSAT-3DR weighing 2,211-kg will supplement the services of INSAT-3D launched from French Guiana in July 2013.
- INSAT-3DR is an advanced meteorological satellite of India configured with an imaging System and an Atmospheric Sounder.
- It has designed mission life of ten years.
Improved variant of INSAT-3D:
- INSAT-3DR is an improved variant of INSAT-3D, the improvements incorporated includes (a) Imaging in Middle Infrared band to provide night time pictures of low clouds and fog (b) Imaging in two Thermal Infrared bands for estimation of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) with better accuracy (c) Higher Spatial Resolution in the Visible and Thermal Infrared bands.
- INSAT-3DR was successfully placed Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). To reach final GTO at 74-degree East longitude, INSAT-3DR had used its own propulsion system. GSLV is designed to inject 2 – 2.5 Tonne class of satellites into GTO.
- INSAT-3DR satellite is now orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.76 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,080.5 km with an orbital inclination of 20.62 deg with respect to the equator.
- The 2211 kg INSAT-3DR is the heaviest satellite to be launched from the Indian soil.
- The major users of the service will be the Indian Coast Guards, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Shipping, Defence Services and fishermen.
- The Indian service region will cover a large part of the Indian Ocean and will also include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Tanzania for providing distress alert services.
Payloads in INSAT-3DR:
- It would generate images of earth every 26 minutes to provide information on various parameters, sea surface temperature, snow cover, cloud motion winds.
- It will provide information on temperature and humidity.
- It will be used for receiving meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic data.
Satellite Aided Search and Rescue Transponder:
- It will be used to pick up and relay alert signals originating from distress beacons of aviation, maritime, among others.
- GSLV-F05 is the tenth flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
- GSLV-F05 flight is significant since it is the first operational flight of GSLV carrying Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS). The indigenously developed CUS was carried on-board for the fourth time during a GSLV flight in the GSLV-F05 flight.
- GSLV-F05 vehicle is configured with all its three stages including the CUS similar to the ones successfully flown during the previous GSLV-D5 and D6 missions in January 2014 and August 2015. GSLV-D5 and D6 successfully placed GSAT-14 and GSAT-6 satellites carried on-board in the intended GTOs accurately.
Existing Meteorological satellites of India
- KALPANA-1, INSAT-3A and INSAT-3D are three operational meteorological satellites of India.
- KALPANA-1 and INSAT-3A have imaging systems that helps in providing images in the Visible, Near-Infrared, Shortwave Infrared, Water Vapour and Thermal Infrared bands.
- Launched in 2013, Atmospheric Sounding System of the INSAT-3D provides vertical profiles of temperature (40 levels from surface to – 70 km), humidity (21 levels from surface to – 15 km) and integrated ozone from surface to top of the atmosphere.
ICICI Bank deploys software robots
The country’s largest private lender ICICI Bank became the first bank in India to deploy ‘software robots, that emulate human action, in its over 200 business processes, thereby reducing the response time to customers by up to 60 per cent.
- The bank has implemented the ‘Software Robotics’ platform mostly in-house, leveraging recent advancements in artificial intelligence such as facial and voice recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and bots among others.
- This initiative marks a milestone in the banking innovation in the Indian banking industry as it joins a select group of overseas organisations which have deployed this unique state-of-the-art robotic technology in such a large way.
Significance of this software robots:
- The software robots are processing over 10 lakh transactions daily, bringing in operational efficiency, accuracy and a massive reduction in processing time for customer services.
- Software robots have reduced the response time to customers by up to 60 per cent and increased accuracy to 100 per cent thereby improving the bank’s productivity and efficiency.
- It will also enable employees at ICICI to focus on more value-added services while having better work-life balance.
Key Facts for Prelims
National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention
National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention (NACWC) is an office in Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, established on 29 April 1997 under Chemical Weapons Convention Act, 2000.
The NACWC, inter alia, serves as the primary liaison to the OPCW from the Indian government, manages routine inspections, oversaw the destruction of India’s chemical weapons.
Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh
Novel based on Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh titled ‘Into the Hidden Valley’ has won 2016 MM Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction in the United Kingdom. The novel is authored by Stuart Blackburn. He was presented with this award at the HNS Conference in Oxford.
International Literacy day
The International Literacy Day is being observed 08 September every year to emphasize the importance of literacy to individuals, society and communities. This year, the world is celebrating 50th International Literacy Day.
2016 Theme is: ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future’.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had announced September 8 as International Literacy Day on November 17, 1965 and it was first celebrated in 1966.
This is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The target is that by 2030 all youth and a substantial proportion of men and women achieve literacy and numeracy.
Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL)
As part of International Literacy Day, UNESCO will be officially launching the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) this year, which is a new venture aimed at promoting literacy as a foundation for lifelong learning.
The Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) recognizes that literacy remains today one of the biggest challenges of the global world. Despite astounding figures of internet subscribers at over 3 billion and mobile phone subscribers set to reach 4.77 billion by 2017.
2016 ASEAN Summit
The 28th and 29th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit was held in Vientiane, Laos. Prime Minister of the Lao PDR H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith was Chairperson of the summit. The summit was attended by the leaders of all 10-member nations of ASEAN viz. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR (host), Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. The theme of the summit was “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community”.