Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - July 9, 2018

Ministry of Human Resource Development

17th World Sanskrit Conference in Vancouver, Canada

  • Human Resource Development Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar will inaugurate the 17th World Sanskrit Conference to be held at Vancouver, Canada from 9th July to 13th July, 2018.
  • More than 500 scholars and delegates from over 40 countries will be participating in this conference and exchange their knowledge by presenting papers on various subjects followed by discussions from amongst the members.
  • There will be a special panel discussion on over a dozen topics like; History & Education of Women in Vedic Literature; Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts; Mimamsa Beyond the Yagasala; The Yuktidipika Forging a Place for Sankhya; Introducing Bhagavata Purana Commentaries; Research on the Gargiyajyotisa.
  • Over 500 papers on various themes are likely to be presented during the 5-day conference.
  • The purpose of this conference is to promote, preserve and practice the Sanskrit language all over the world by the people.
  • The World Sanskrit Conference is being held in various countries across the globe once in every three years and so far it has been held thrice in India.

Report/Survey

Fish samples test positive for formalin

  • As many as 11 out of 30 samples of fish species in Chennai have tested positive for formalin, a cancer-inducing chemical used illegally to preserve fish.
  • Tests were conducted to examine whether they contained the carcinogen which is used widely as a preservative and disinfectant
  • Formalin causes irritation in the eyes, throat, skin and stomach. In the long run continued exposure causes harm to the kidneys, liver and can even cause cancers.
  • This is the first time samples of fish in Tamil Nadu have tested positive for formalin.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officials have been undertaking tests at fish markets and harbours across the State to test for formalin following a scare in neighbouring Kerala that fish sourced from here were chemically contaminated.

Environment

Reusable straws

  • A scientist from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has come out with a green alternative to use-and-throw plastic drinking straws, by tapping bamboo.
  • The bamboo species Schizostachyum andamanicum, endemic to the islands looks ideal for the purpose.
  • The ‘straw bamboo’ is found all over the islands and can be cultivated by farmers.
  • Discovered on the island about two decades ago, this bamboo is characterised by thin large hollow erect culm (stem) with long internodes.
  • The work to make a bamboo straw at Dhanikhari Experimental Garden-cum-Arboretum, at the BSI Regional Centre has gone on since 2011.

Way Forward (Go natural)

  • If the per capita consumption of plastic has to be brought down, it can be done by promoting natural products like bamboo and jute and other such innovations

Enlighten about BSI

  • Botanical Survey of India (BSI), founded 13 February 1890, is Government of India Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change's organization for survey, research and conservation of plant resources, flora and endangered species of India, including by collecting and maintaining germplasm and gene bank of endangered, patent and vulnerable plant species.
  • BSI (botany) as well as ASI (archaeology), FiSI (fisheries), FSI (forests), GSI (geology), IIEE (ecology), NIO (oceanography), RGCCI (population survey) and language survey), SI (cartography) and ZSI (zoology) are key national survey organisations of India.

Electoral Reforms

Simultaneous Elections Four parties support move; BJP, Congress stay away from consultations

  • Political parties were divided on the issue of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections during consultations with the Law Commission of India.
  • As many as nine parties expressed their reservations while four parties supported the move.
  • The two major national parties — the BJP and the Congress — stayed away from the Law Commission’s deliberations.
  • The Law Commission Chairman, Justice B.S. Chauhan Justice Chauhan is learnt to have asked that all representations be submitted by July 31.

Against the Simultaneous Election

  • The Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK), Janata Dal (Secular), and Aam Admi party (AAP) were opposed to simultaneous Impractical, says TDP

Enlighten about the background and way forward

  • The Law Commission’s draft report on the possibility of holding simultaneous polls by 2019 would require wide bipartisan consensus before it can take shape.
  • The Commission is of course open to inputs from constitutional experts, academics, political parties, even students.
  • It has annexed a public notice to the white paper to be circulated to them, with a short time-frame, May 8, for them to respond.
  • Parliament will have to carry out crucial amendments, including one on the Constitution, the other on the Representation of People Act, 1951, as also the Rules Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies, by the monsoon session. Easier listed than done!
  • The GST experience has shown us that path-breaking changes that alter the very rules of the game, however well-intentioned, should ideally not be rushed.
  • Simultaneous polls will not be a one-time phenomenon.
  • To make it sustainable, it requires other amendments, such as in the anti-defection law, and also loosening the grip of party whips, to avoid hung Assemblies.
  • This may reduce the partisan approach to law-making and other legislative business
  • it may bring money play and backdoor lobbying into the process.
  • The endless chain of polls, in the PM’s view, is a distraction from governance.
  • Apart from the model code of conduct, it keeps parties locked in a bitter tussle inside Parliament and in a perpetually rabble-rousing mode outside.
  • However true, this only applies to national parties.
  • A regional party has no such problem of being an itinerant campaigner, hopping from one poll to another.
  • So simultaneous polls will suit those with a political footprint across India. As an idea it has points, but the counter-points need careful consideration.

Defence

Request for Information (RFI)Six bids to supply 110 fighters for IAF

  • Six global aircraft manufacturers have responded to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Indian Air Force to supply 110 fighter aircraft.
  • All six manufacturers have earlier bid for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which was cancelled in 2015.
  • Six bids have been received, of which Lockheed Martin F-16 and SAAB Gripen are single-engine fighters, while Boeing F-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and United Aircraft Corporation MiG-35 are twin-engine ones.
  • The bids will be evaluated after which the IAF will issue the Request For Proposal (RFP) with the exact specifications of the aircraft to be procured.
  • The government plans to buy 110 fighters jets, of which 85% will have to be built in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme in partnership with a “Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency.”
  • The procurement will be processed through the Strategic Partnership (SP) model under the Defence Procurement Procedure.
  • Earlier the IAF was looking for a single-engine jet to replace the MiG-21s and MiG-27s being phased out of service, but the RFI did not specify it, opening up the contest to both single-and twin-engine jets
  • The move comes almost two decades after the IAF began the last major effort to acquire fighters in large numbers.
  • The effort culminated in the global tender for 126 fighters under the MMRCA deal which was cancelled in 2015 after the Modi government decided to buy 36 Rafale fighters from France under a government-to- government deal.
  • It is the first mega procurement initiative for fighter jets after the government scrapped the process to acquire 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the IAF around five years ago.

Cyber Security

Stronger defences for key data Information Security Policy and Guidelines to be updated

  • Worried about sensitive information making its way to the Internet, the Home Ministry is upgrading policy to secure government data and control access to it.

Meeting to review the evolving cyberthreats by Home Ministry

  • The Home Minister directed that the National Information Security Policy and Guidelines (NISPG) be upgraded and updated for the government sector.
  • In 2013, cybersecurity, which was the sole preserve of the Home Ministry, was moved to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) under the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • The critical infrastructure was moved to the National Technical Research Organisation and the non-critical part to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • The new policy would cover issues pertaining to the Official Secrets Act.
  • The whole policing system in India that began in 1860 is now being replicated in cyberspace. It will evolve gradually.

Enlighten about The Official secret Act 1923

  • It is India's anti espionage ("Spy" and "Secret agent") act held over from British colonisation.
  • It states clearly that actions which involves helping an enemy state against India.
  • It also states that one cannot approach, inspect, or even pass over a prohibited government site or area.
  • According to this Act, helping the enemy state can be in the form of communicating a sketch, plan, model of an official secret, or of official codes or passwords, to the enemy

Ministry of Statistics

International Round Table Conference on Data for New India

  • The Ministry of Statistics &Programme Implementation (MoSPI) is organising a two-day International Round Table Conference at New Delhi during 9-10th July, 2018.
  • The objective of the Round Table Conference is to identify innovative ideas for improving the statistical system in India, taking cue from the best practices followed in advanced countries like Canada, UK and Australia.
  • Such a Conference is being organized in India for the first time.

Enlighten about the conference

  • In the Conference, the experts from National and International agencies would deliberate on key statistical issues, such as data governance structure and capabilities, organizational issues, managing data systems in a federal structure and resource mobilization for ensuring quality statistical products to be produced.
  • The conference is expected to suggest measures paving way for initiating the reform process in the Indian Statistical System.

Sources – The Hindu , PIB , IndianExpress