National Science Day 2015

National Science Day will be celebrated on February 28 th every year.

  • This year’s theme: Science for Nation Building. It has been chosen for the purpose of raising public appreciation on scientific issues for the development of nation.

About National Science Day:

  • National Science Day (NSD) is celebrated every year on 28th February to mark the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’, for which a Nobel Prize winning research paper submitted by Sir C.V. Raman was accepted on that day.

What is Raman Effect?

  • Raman Effect is a phenomenon in spectroscopy discovered by the eminent physicist C.V. Raman.
  • Raman Effect, change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules.
  • When a beam of light traverses a dust-free, transparent sample of a chemical compound, a small fraction of the light emerges in directions other than that of the incident (incoming) beam. Most of this scattered light is of unchanged wavelength. A small part, however, has wavelengths different from that of the incident
    light; its presence is a result of the Raman Effect.
  • Theme of National Science Day 2014: Fostering Scientific Temper and Energy conservation.

Sources: PIB, ncsm.gov.in.

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The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) programme

The Union Minister of Women and Child Development recently said that enough funds have been released by the Central government for the effective implementation of District Action Plans under BBBP programme.

About the Programme:

  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Andolan scheme is for survival, protection & education of the girl child. It will help in generating awareness and improving the efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for women.
  • It is set up with an initial corpus of Rs 100 crore.

Aim:

  • The adverse and declining child sex ratio (CSR) across the States is a major cause of concern as it has fallen from 927 in 2001 to 918 in 2011. The BBBP seeks to arrest the trend and over time to reverse it.

Implementation:

  • A 100 critical low CSR districts in all States and UTs have been identified for focused and convergent action by the Ministries.
  • The Ministry of WCD is the nodal Ministry for this initiative and will carry out training to stakeholders, community mobilization and sensitization. It will also embark upon a range of advocacy measures and activities, not limited to the 100 low CSR districts but all across the country.
  • All forms of media and social media platforms would be used for this.
  • The key to the success of the initiatives would lie with the communities, States, Panchayats and the local self-Government.

Sources: PIB.

SCO: Russia to push for India’s full membership

  • Russia is expected to push for India’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during the upcoming meeting it is hosting in July. India is currently an observer in the multilateral grouping.

About the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

  • It is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of
    • China,
    • Kazakhstan,
    • Kyrgyzstan,
    • Russia,
    • Tajikistan,
    • Uzbekistan.
  • These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation.
  • The SCO is seen as a counter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
  • Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the world’s. With observer states included, its affiliates account for about half of the world’s population.
  • The SCO has established relations with the United Nations, where it is an observer in the General Assembly, the European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

China formally backs trilateral partnership with India, Sri Lanka

  • China has formally backed a trilateral partnership with India and Sri Lanka to establish a Maritime Silk Road (MSR) and promote the rise of Eurasia.
  • The MSR(maritime silk road) is part of a string of Silk Road initiatives that the Chinese are undertaking that includes the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, which aspire to establish integral economic linkages between South and Southeast Asia.

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Silk Road Initiative:

  • The Silk Road project is an initiative by China to resurrect the ancient maritime Silk Road. It is perceived to be an attempt by China to ameliorate relations with South and Southeast Asia.
  • The new initiative is a pet project of President Xi Jinping for connecting Asia with Europe along a land corridor, with China as its hub.
  • Under the new Silk Route, the Chinese want to open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea, from which would radiate rail and road routes, which would also connect with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.
  • The Silk Road strategy’s ambitious vision aligns with Beijing’s goals much more closely than the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a reflection of the U.S. international trade model writ large.
  • The Silk Road strategy aims to facilitate large-scale infrastructure construction, energy sale and transport, and relocation of manufacturing industries.
  • This initiative aspires to deepen linkages between China and its neighbours via trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, and internationalization of China’s currency, the renminbi. Indian and Silk Road Initiative:
  • Aware of India’s sensitivities regarding the perceived expansion of Chinese influence, a Beijing- Kathmandu-New Delhi trilateral development partnership was proposed in 2014 as a confidence building step.
  • Relations between China and India are mutually reinforcing. Nepal and India are also reinforcing their relations for mutual benefit.
  • From a historical point of view India is the converging point of the Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road on land. Based on that, the Chinese government believes inevitably that naturally India is one of the important partners to build one belt and one road.
  • India also benefits from at least reasonable ties with most stakeholders in the New Silk Road, including Iran, where India has invested heavily in the Chabahar Port. But India must also make serious efforts to strengthen its links with Southeast Asia, and for this it must develop stronger ties with Bangladesh.
  • India will also need to work towards a manageable relationship with Pakistan, which would not only facilitate pipeline projects like TAPI, but also enable access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • India needs to change its approach towards border regions, and not allow security to cloud its overarching vision. One of the important cornerstones of China’s Silk Road vision has been its emphasis on utilizing border regions, while also making use of their strategic location.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, Diplomat.

The Economic Survey 2014-15:

The Economy Survey 2014-15 which was released recently says that India is currently in a good position and that could propel the economy to a double-digit growth.

Highlights of the Survey:

  • It forecasts 8.1-8.5 per cent growth for 2015-16 against 7.4 per cent in the current financial year. The power of growth to lift all boats will depend critically on its employment creation potential.
  • Noting that India’s investment has been much below potential over the last few years, the survey said the private sector would find it challenging to drive growth through investments given highly leveraged
  • corporate balance sheets and a banking system under severe stress.
  • According to the Survey, India with over 3,100 start-ups is ranked as the fourth largest start-up hub in the world. This was mainly driven by ‘hyper-growth’ in the technology start-up and software product landscape.
  • The Survey has said that Software development and information technology-enabled services, including Business Process Management (BPM), software engineering R&D services and product development, have emerged as the most dynamic and vibrant sectors in India’s economy.
  • The survey said the IT-BPM industry, which posted revenues of $119 billion in 2014-15, is being driven by greater automation, expanding omni-channel presence and application of analytics across the entire value chain.
  • The Survey has said that India ranks lower than most BRICS nations in capacity for innovation.
  • According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-15, India’s capacity for innovation has been lower than that of many countries like the U.S., the U.K., South Korea, and even other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) except Russia.
  • Regarding the declining sex ratio in the country, the survey said the number of girls to boys at birth declined from 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 to 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011.
  • The Economic Survey emphasizes on the need for a national common agricultural market and identifies un-integrated and distortion ridden agricultural market as the one of the most striking problems in agriculture growth.

Recommendations made:

  • It has urged the Centre to bring down the fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP from the current year target of 4.1%. It recommended compressing government expenditure for achieving this, saying tax collections were likely to be buoyant on account of faster growth and the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax.
  • Regarding subsidies, the Survey has said that price subsidies had not had a transformative effect on the living standards of the poor, though they helped poor households weather inflation.
  • It also found price subsidies regressive as the rich benefitted more from them than the poor.
  • Pointing to the lop-sidedness of policies, it said India’s public expenditure on agriculture was a fourth of the subsidy bill on food and fertilizer.
  • Regarding farm sector reforms, it said liberalisation of FDI in retail could help fill the massive investment and infrastructure deficit which resulted in supply-chain inefficiencies.
  • It has said that by adopting what it called the JAM Number Trinity — Jan Dhan Yojana accounts seeded with Aadhaar numbers and operated through mobile numbers — would allow the States to deliver the subsidies to the poor in a targeted and less distorted manner.
  • The Survey found that India’s manufacturing was skill-intensive, which was not in line with the country’s comparative advantage in unskilled labour and recommended rebalancing of policies.
  • Noting that the stalled projects had risen at an alarming rate during the last five years, especially in the private sector, the chief reason for declining investments, the Survey stressed the need for investment driven growth led by the public sector.
  • Highlighting the need to ensure place for women in India’s socio-economic set up, the Survey said the government has to play a pro-active role to change the “patriarchal mindset” prevalent in the country. With women accounting for nearly 48% of India’s population (Census 2011), there is need to ensure and safeguard their place in the socio-economic milieu.
  • The Survey has suggested that to promote ‘Make in India’ campaign, the government needs to shield domestic companies from foreign competition and eliminate those exemptions that work as ‘negative protection.’
  • The Survey has also called for “providing subsidies, lowering the cost of capital” and creating special economic zones for some or all manufacturing activity in particular to boost the Growth.

Sources: The Hindu, ET, PIB.

Sebi imposes Rs 86 cr penalty on DLF

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has imposed a total penalty of Rs 86 crore on real estate major DLF and 40 related entities, including subsidiaries and key officials. The matter relates to disclosures made at the time of its Initial Public Offer (IPO) in 2007.

About SEBI:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India. It was established in the year 1988 and given statutory powers on 12 April 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992.

Composition:

SEBI is composed of

  1. The chairman who is nominated by Union Government of India.
  2. Two members, i.e., Officers from Union Finance Ministry.
  3. One member from the Reserve Bank of India.
  4. The remaining five members are nominated by Union Government of India, out of them at least three shall be whole-time members.

For the discharge of its functions efficiently, SEBI has been vested with the following powers:

  • To approve by−laws of stock exchanges.
  • To require the stock exchange to amend their by−laws.
  • Inspect the books of accounts and call for periodical returns from recognized stock exchanges.
  • Inspect the books of accounts of financial intermediaries.
  • Compel certain companies to list their shares in one or more stock exchanges.
  • Registration of brokers.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Section 66A a necessary deterrent, says government

The government recently argued before the Supreme Court that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act should be interpreted on a case by case basis.

Background:

The Supreme Court had asked the government to explain what constituted “grossly offensive” under section 66 of the Act.

Government’s view:

The government maintained that the provision was a necessary deterrent and could not be cast away on the apprehension that it would be misused to affect the freedom of speech and expression.

Section 66A:

Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.

Controversy over Section 66A:

  • The law came in for criticism after several arrests by police over Facebook and other social media postings.
  • Two young women were arrested in Mumbai over a posting which the Shiv Sena found offensive.
  • A lecturer was arrested in Kolkata for forwarding cartoons of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
  • A writer was arrested in UP for criticising the suspension of IAS officer DS Nagpal.
  • In the wake of these incidents, many petitions were filed in SC challenging the law as being too vague, broad and arbitrary. SC in an interim order passed at the outset, restrained police from arresting anyone without clearing such action first with their superiors in such cases.

Arguments against the Law:

  • The SC has received petitions demanding that the law either be aligned with Article 19(2) of the Constitution or be struck down.
  • The opponents argue the I-T Act cannot prescribe restrictions on a citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression that were wider than warranted under Article 19(2), which allows the state to curtail them only on the grounds of public order, security of state etc. Any other restriction on free speech on social media would be an unreasonable restriction under the Constitution.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, IE.