Daily Current Affairs – 02-09-2023

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    One Nation One Election/Simultaneous Elections

    Syllabus: GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    • The Union government has constituted a committee headed by former president Ram Nath Kovind to explore the feasibility of “one nation, one election”.

    Do you Know ?

    • Currently, elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha are held separately — that is whenever the incumbent government’s five-year term ends or whenever it is dissolved due to various reasons. This applies to both the state legislatures and the Lok Sabha. 
      • The terms of Legislative Assemblies and the Lok Sabha may not synchronize with one another.

    What is ‘One Nation One Election’?

    • Meaning : The idea of “One Nation, One Election” envisages a system where elections to all states and the Lok Sabha will have to be held simultaneously. 
      • This will involve the restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to the states and the centre synchronise. 
      • This would mean that the voters will cast their vote for electing members of the LS and the state assemblies on a single day, at the same time (or in a phased manner as the case may be).
    • Background: Simultaneous elections  were the norm until 1967. But following the dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969.
      • The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls was mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in 1983. 
      • The Law Commission’s Report also referred to it in 1999. 
      • The Niti Aayog prepared a working paper on the subject in January 2017.
      • The Law Commission brought out in April 2018, it said that at least “five Constitutional recommendations” would be required to get this off the ground. 
    • Implementation process :  The five amendments in the Constitution would entail changes to Article 83 relating to the duration of Houses of Parliament, Article 85 relating to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha by the President, Article 172 relating to the duration of the State legislatures, Article 174 relating to dissolution of the State legislatures, and Article 356 relating to the imposition of President’s Rule in States.

    Pros 

    • The primary benefits of ‘One Nation, One election’ is the reduction in the cost of conducting elections as each separate election requires a huge amount of financial resources.
    • Having simultaneous elections would ease the burden on administrative and security forces, who otherwise are engaged multiple times in election duties.
    • The government can focus more on governance rather than being in an election mode, which often hampers policy implementation.
    • Simultaneous elections, according to the Law Commission, will increase voter turnout because it will be easier for people to cast many ballots at once.
    • It can help ensure continuity in the policies and programmes of the central and state governments. 
      • Currently, the Model Code of Conduct is imposed whenever elections are set to take place, putting a ban on the launch of new projects for public welfare for that period.

    Cons

    • National and state issues are different, and holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgement of voters.
    • Since elections will be held once every five years, it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people
      • Repeated elections keep legislators on their toes .
    • When an election in a State is postponed until the synchronised phase, President’s rule will have to be imposed in the interim period in that state.
      •  This will be a blow to democracy and federalism.
    • There is worry that regional issues might get overshadowed by the national issues, affecting the electoral outcome at the state level. 
    • The agreement among all political parties is a significant hurdle as opposition parties have opposed the ‘One Nation One Election.’
    • The logistics challenges of arranging around 30 lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, and deploying central forces around the country  will be immense.

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • Simultaneous elections to Parliament and Assemblies could be held by bringing in changes to the existing laws, seeking the support of all national and recognised political parties and by ensuring understanding between States.
      • It would also require an additional number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs (paper trail machines).
      • Additional polling personnel and security forces would also be needed to hold the massive democratic exercise.
    • Citizens and political parties have to give a serious thought to whether simultaneous elections are against the diversity of the country or they will help India in a much bigger way.
    • The final decision on holding simultaneous elections is yet to be taken.

    Source: BS

     

    Mercy Petitions under BNSS Bill

    Syllabus: GS2/India Polity

    Context

    • The new Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill (BNSS), 2023 proposes that a death-row convict whose mercy petition has been disposed of by the president will have no right to appeal against the decision.

    What are Mercy Petitions?

    • Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death.
    • Similarly, Article 161 confers pardoning powers on the Governor, but these do not extend to death sentences.
    • In its 1981 ruling in Maru Ram vs. Union of India, the SC held that while deciding mercy petitions under Article 72, the President must act on the advice of the Council of Ministers and can only return the plea for reconsideration once under Article 74 (1), i.e. there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice
    • If the Council of Ministers decides against the changes suggested by the President, she has no option but to accept them.

    New Mercy Petition Provisions in BNSS

    • It does not include any such requirement for the President to act in tandem with the advice given by the Council of Ministers in death sentence cases, which is mandated by Article 74(1) of Constitution of India.
    • Section 473(1) of the BNSS allows a convict “under the sentence of death” or his legal heir or any relative to file a mercy petition within 30 days when the Jail Superintendent informs him about the:
      • dismissal of the appeal or special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court, or
      • date of confirmation of the sentence of death by the High Court and the time allowed to file an appeal or special leave in the Supreme Court has expired.
    • In cases where there are multiple convicts, the jail superintendent or the officer-in-charge shall ensure that every convict makes a mercy petition within 60 days.
      • If the Superintendent doesn’t receive the mercy petitions from all other convicts in the case, he shall himself send the names, addresses, copy of the record of the case and all other details of the case to the Central Government or State Government.
    • While this 60-day time limit has been given to the Centre, no time limit has been prescribed for the President to dispose of the mercy petitions.
    • The mercy petitions may initially be made to the Governor, his rejection or disposal of the petition will result in it being forwarded to the President within 60 days from such rejection or disposal of the plea.

     

    How does this provision contravene existing legal precedent?

    • In 2006, in Epuru Sudhakar & Another vs Andhra Pradesh and Others, the SC held that the powers of the President or Governor under Articles 72 and 161 are subject to judicial review. Such a decision can be challenged on grounds of:
      • it was passed without application of mind;
      • it is mala fide;
      • it was passed on extraneous or wholly irrelevant considerations;
      • relevant materials were kept out of consideration;
      • it suffers from arbitrariness.
    • However, the BNSS under Section 437 (7) specifically says that the President’s decision on the mercy plea “shall be final, and any question as to the arriving of the decision by the President shall not be enquired into in any Court.
    • Supreme Court observed that “Article 21 inheres a right in every prisoner till his last breath and this Court will protect that right even if the noose is being tied on the condemned prisoner’s neck” as mandated by the Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan vs Union of India (2014)

    Conclusion

    • The pardoning power of the executive is very significant as it corrects the errors of the judiciary, and eliminates the effect of conviction without addressing the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
    • However, the BNSS Bill 2023 made an attempt to change the fundamental nature of the provision, including core aspects of its justiciability, the time-limit, and the 14-day gap between the rejection of a mercy plea by the President and its date of execution.

    Source: IE

    Aditya L-1 Mission

    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology

    News: 

    • Recently, ISRO launched Aditya L-1, its first space-based mission to study the Sun, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

    About:

    • The solar probe was carried into space by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in ‘XL’ configuration. 
    • The PSLV will initially place the Aditya L-1 in a lower Earth orbit. Subsequently, the orbit as well as the velocity of the spacecraft around the Earth will be increased using onboard propulsion till it is slingshot towards the Sun.
    • The spacecraft will finally be stationed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth. 
    • Named after the rising Sun, the Aditya L-1 will cover its journey to the L1 point in about four months. 
    • The spacecraft will carry seven payloads to observe solar activities for five years. 
      • Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VLEC) 
      • Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) 
      • Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) 
      • High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) 
      • Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) 
      • Plasma Analyser Packages for Aditya (PAPA) 

    PSLV-XL:

    • PSLV-XL is the upgraded version of PSLV in its standard configuration, boosted by six stretched strap-on boosters.
    • Previous missions like Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mangalyaan in 2013 were also launched using PSLV. 
    • PSLV-XL can lift 1,750 kg of payloads to the sun-synchronous polar orbit ( always be in the same ‘fixed’ position relative to the Sun) and 3,800 kg to a lower Earth orbit ( at an altitude between160 km to 1,000 km above the Earth). As Aditya L-1 weighs 1,472 kg, it was launched aboard PSLV.

    Objectives of the Aditya L-1

    • To expand our knowledge of the Sun, and how its radiation, heat, flow of particles, and magnetic fields affect us. 
    • To study the upper atmospheric layers of the Sun called chromosphere and corona. While the corona is the outermost layer, the chromosphere is just below it.

    • To examine coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun’s corona.
    • To analyse the corona’s magnetic field and the driver of the space weather.
    • To understand why the Sun’s not-so-bright corona is a million degree Celsius hot when the temperature on the surface of the Sun is just about 5,500 degree Celsius.
    • To help scientists know the reasons behind the acceleration of particles on the Sun, which leads to the solar wind — the constant flow of particles from the Sun.

    Space weather

    • Space weather refers to changing environmental conditions in space. It is mainly influenced by activity on the Sun’s surface. 
    • The solar wind, magnetic field, as well as solar events like CME affect the nature of space. During such events, the nature of the magnetic field and charged particle environment near to the planet changes. 
    • In the case of the Earth, the interaction of the Earth’s magnetic field with the field carried by CME can trigger a magnetic disturbance near the Earth and affect the functioning of space assets. 

    Lagrange points

    • There are five Lagrange points, L1 to L5, between any two-celestial body system. 
    • At these positions, the gravitational pull of the celestial bodies equals the centripetal force required to keep a smaller third body in orbit. 
    • The points can be used as ‘parking spots’ for spacecraft in space to remain in a fixed position with minimal fuel consumption, according to NASA. 
    • They have been named after Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736-1813), who was the first one to find the positions.
    • So, between the Earth and the Sun, a satellite can occupy any of five Lagrangian points. “Of the five Lagrange points, three(L1, L2, and L3) are unstable and two are stable(L4 and L5). 
    • The L4 and L5 are also called Trojan points and celestial bodies like asteroids are found here.

    Halo orbit

    • NASA says a spacecraft can “orbit” about an unstable Lagrange point with a minimum use of thrusters for stationkeeping. Such an orbit is known as a halo orbit as “it appears as an ellipse floating over the planet”. 
    • A halo orbit, however, isn’t the usual orbit because the unstable Lagrange point doesn’t exert any attractive force on its own.

    Why will the probe go around L1?

    • It’s because L1 gets a continuous and unhindered view of the Sun. 
    • L2 is located behind the Earth, and thus obstructs the view of the Sun, while L3 is behind the Sun which is not a great position to communicate with Earth. 
    • L4 and L5 are good and stable locations but are much farther from Earth compared to L1, which is directly between the Sun and the Earth.
    • The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft (SOHO) is also stationed at a halo orbit around the L1 point of the Earth-Sun system. 
      • The spacecraft has been operational since 1996 and has discovered more than 400 comets, studied the outer layers of the Sun and examined solar winds.

    Why study the Sun from space?

    • The Sun emits radiation along with various energetic particles and magnetic fields. But, the atmosphere of the Earth as well as its magnetic field acts as a protective shield and blocks a number of harmful radiations.
    • This means studying the Sun from Earth can’t provide a complete picture and it becomes crucial to observations from outside the planet’s atmosphere i.e., from space.

    Source: IE

    National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation of Environment

    News: 

    • Under the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the Government has installed treatment plants.

    About:

    • These plants are capable of treating 20% of the sewage to be generated in the five major States that lie along the river– Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. 
    • This is expected to increase to about 33% by 2024; and 60% by December 2026.
    • Projects to set up STPs and sewerage networks are at the heart of the Namami Ganga mission, and account for about 80% of the overall project outlay.

    National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)

    • It was registered as a society in 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
    • Aim & Objective
      • To ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach.
      • To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
    • The Act envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level:
      • National Ganga Council under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of India.
      • Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Union Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation).
      • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).
      • State Ganga Committees.
      • District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states. 
    • NMCG has a two-tier management structure and comprises of:
      • Governing Council
      • Executive Committee
      • Both are headed by Director General, NMCG and the Executive Committee has been authorised to accord approval for all projects up to Rs.1000 crore.

    Success of the Mission

    • The river’s water quality is now within “prescribed limits of notified primary bathing water quality,” an NMCG fact-sheet said.
    • There is a conspicuous sign of the improvement in water quality along the Ganga was a rise in the dolphin population from 2,000 to about 4,000. 
    • Also there is a presence of dolphins in new stretches of the river as well as in tributaries of Ganga.
    • Fishermen are also reporting the increased presence of Indian carp, a fish species that only thrives in clean water. 

    Way Ahead: 

    • Several Sewage Treatment Plants took time to be commissioned as there were problems with land acquisition. Hence, there is a need to ease the process of land acquisition
    • The Detailed Project Reports, which prescribe steps to execute a project, and the roles of various actors, needs revision as there is an impression that building treatment plants is entirely the Centre’s responsibility. 
    • The parameters used by the Central Pollution Control Board (levels of dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, and faecal coliform), vary widely along various stretches of the river, reflecting still a long way ahead.
    • On the lines of the air quality index, there is a need to develop a water quality index, to be able to better communicate about river-water quality of various locations.

    Source: TH

    Stem Cell Therapy

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • The Delhi High Court permitted two children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to undergo stem cell therapy.

    What are Stem Cells? 

    • A stem cell is a cell with the potential to form many of the different cell types found in the body. 
    • When stem cells divide, they can form more stem cells or other cells that perform specialized functions. 
    • Somatic Stem Cells: These are the Adult Somatic Cells (ASCs). They are in bone marrow that makes the blood. 
      • These are found in the liver that give rise to hepatocytes and secretory cells. 
      • There are stem cells in neural tissue that give rise to neurons and astroglial cells.
      • And muscle has stem cells
    • Embryonic Stem Cells: These are derived in about six- to eight-day embryos, and these are cells with even more potential than the adult cells, because an embryonic stem cell derived in the proper way can give rise to neural cells, muscle cells, and liver cells.

    Autism Spectrum Disorder

    • Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.
    • However, stem cell therapy is not typically used for treating ASD yet, and initial clinical trials have shown mixed results. 
    • Currently, the treatment is very much in an experimental stage and there is simply not enough data to make definitive claims.

    What is Stem Cell Therapy?

    • Stem cell therapy utilizes the unique properties of stem cells, including self-renewal and differentiation, to regenerate damaged cells and tissues in the human body or replace these cells with new, healthy and fully functional cells.
    • It is also known as regenerative medicine, promotes the repair response of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivatives. 
      • It is the next step in organ transplantation and uses cells instead of donor organs, which are limited in supply.
    • Stem cells are grown in the labs, these stem cells are manipulated to specialize into specific types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells.
      • The specialized cells can then be implanted into a person. 
    • For over 90 years now, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been used to treat people with conditions such as leukaemia and lymphoma. 
    • After chemotherapy or radiation therapy wrecks the patient’s healthy cells (along with the cancerous ones), a donor’s healthy bone marrow reintroduces functional stem cells to replicate inside of a patient and to produce additional normal blood cells.

    Concerns with Stem Cells Therapy

    • There are typically a very small number of adult stem cells in each tissue, and once removed from the body, their capacity to divide is limited. This is the fundamental limitation of stem cell therapies at the moment. 
    • There is also limited understanding of its long term effects and there is no established protocol for its use.
    • Predatory marketing of stem cell therapy is what gives false hope to parents and caregivers regarding the possibility of curing.
    • Current ethical concers regarding stem cell-based therapy are focused on the unlimited differentiation potential of cells which can be used in human cloning, as a risk for generation of human embryos and human-animal chimeras.

    Way Ahead

    • Since there are major safety issues regarding transplantation of cells, protocols should be optimized before their clinical use. 
    • Considering the fact that therapy is frequently and worldwide offered as a universal human remedy, studies should be focused on continuous monitoring and long-term follow-up of animal research models in order to determine possible pro-tumorigenic and other detrimental effects of therapy.

    Source: IE

    Protect world heritage sites to conserve biodiversity 

    Syllabus: GS2/3/ Government Policies & Interventions/Service Sector 

    In Context

    • According to a joint assessment by UNESCO and IUCN, protecting world heritage sites can help conserve biodiversity and meet the targets set by the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

    About the World Heritage Sites

    • A World Heritage site is classified as a natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and a space which requires special protection.
    • These sites are officially recognised by the UN and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
    • UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage are important for humanity, and they hold cultural and physical significance.

    Biodiversity of UNESCO World Heritage sites

    • About:
      • UNESCO World Heritage sites (WHS) are home to 75,000 species of plants, and over 30,000 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians — a fifth of all the species mapped globally.
      • The World Heritage sites, however, take up only 1 per cent of the earth’s surface.
    • Species located at WHS:
      • The last of several iconic species are found in these sites. 
      • Today, up to 1/3 of remaining elephants, tigers and pandas can be found in these sites, as well as at least one in 10 great apes, giraffes, lions and rhinos.
      • They are home to all remaining Javan rhinos, vaquitas (the world’s smallest cetacean) and pink iguanas, as well as more than half of all Sumatran rhinos, Sumatran orangutans and mountain gorillas

    Significance of protecting WHS

    • Protection of species:
      • The locations of UNESCO World Heritage sites offer a safe haven for many threatened species but are affected by climate change and anthropogenic pressures like agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, poaching, overexploitation of resources and the proliferation of invasive species. 
      • Urgently protecting them is thus essential in saving the vulnerable species, as every 1 degree Celsius rise in global temperature can double the number of species threatened by dangerous climate conditions.
    • Balancing nature’s imbalance:
      • Apart from helping preserve biodiversity, these sites help maintain a beneficial relationship between human beings and nature. 
      • Water resources that cater to human needs, for instance, are conserved in many of these sites. 
    • Livelihood for humans:
      • They also provide the opportunity for people to earn a livelihood through sustainable work. 

    Suggestions & way ahead

    • The global bodies (UNESCO and IUCN) have urged that countries should also nominate all other biodiversity-rich areas for World Heritage inscription.
    • Governments should prioritise World Heritage sites in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans that are vital for moving the Kunming-Montreal GBF into action, said UNESCO. 

    World Heritage Day

    • About: World Heritage Day, also known as the International Day for Monuments and Sites, is an annual observance held on April 18th.
    • Significance:
      • It is celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of cultural heritage and to celebrate the diversity of our shared human history.
      • The day is dedicated to preserving human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the organisations that support it. 
      • The ancient buildings and monuments are an asset for us and for the world. Therefore, World Heritage Day represents a collective effort to preserve heritage around the world.
    • World Heritage Day 2023 theme:  “Heritage Changes”.

    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

    • UNESCO was formed in 1945, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
    • It works for achieving peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.
    • It has 195 member states and ten associate members. India is a founding member of the Organisation.

    International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
    • It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, 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”.

    Source: DTE

    Facts In News

    Mitakshara Law

    Syllabus :GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    • The Supreme Court held that a child born of a void or voidable marriage can inherit the parent’s share in a joint Hindu family property governed by the Mitakshara law.

    Key Points 

    • It has been  clarified that such a child would not be entitled to rights in or to the property of any other person in the family.
    • Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act has statutorily conferred legitimacy to children born out of void or voidable marriages.
      • In fact, Chief Justice Chandrachud pointed out that Section 16(3) stipulates that children from void and voidable marriages would have a right to their parents’ property.

    About Mitakshara law

    • The Mitakshara school of Hindu law codified as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governed succession and inheritance of property but only recognised males as legal heirs. 
      • The law applied to everyone who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion. 
      • Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and followers of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus for the purposes of this law.
    • Women were recognised as coparceners or joint legal heirs for partition arising from 2005
      • Section 6 of the Act was amended that year to make a daughter of a coparcener also a coparcener by birth “in her own right in the same manner as the son”. 
    • Mitakashara law of succession governing Hindu Undivided Families applies to the whole of India except West Bengal and Assam.

     

    Do you know ?

    A voidable marriage is one that is made invalid by the husband or wife through a decree. A void marriage is invalid at the very inception.

    Source:TH

    NCERT as Deemed-to-be-University

    Syllabus: GS2/Education

    In News

    • NCERT has been given the status of a Deemed-to-be-University.

    About The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) 

    • It is an autonomous organisation set up in 1961 by the Government of India.
    • Aim: To assist and advise the Central and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education. 
    • The major objectives of NCERT are to: 
      • undertake, promote and coordinate research in areas related to school education; 
      • prepare and publish model textbooks, supplementary material, newsletters, journals and develops educational kits, multimedia digital materials, etc. 
      • organise pre-service and in-service training of teachers; 
      • develop and disseminate innovative educational techniques and practices;
      • collaborate and network with state educational departments, universities, NGOs and other educational institutions; 
      • act as a clearing house for ideas and information in matters related to school education; 
      • and act as a nodal agency for achieving the goals of Universalisation of Elementary Education. 
    • It is an implementation agency for bilateral cultural exchange programmes with other countries in the field of school education. 
    • It also interacts and works in collaboration with the international organisations, visiting foreign delegations and offers various training facilities to educational personnel from developing countries.
    • Now with the deemed university status, NCERT will offer graduate, postgraduate, and doctoral degrees.

    What is the Deemed-to-be-University Status?

    • An institution of higher education, other than a university, doing the work of high standard in a specific area, can be declared as an institution deemed to be university. 
    • The University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956 provides that the Central Government may, on the advice of the Commission, declare any institution of higher education deemed to be a university.
    • Such institutions enjoy the academic status and privileges of a university.
      • Deemed to be universities, like other universities, have the autonomy of offering various courses and therefore, preparing students for various examinations and awards. 
      • These institutions design their own syllabus and courses to prepare the students to foray into diverse fields after the completion of their study.
    • As of 2019 there are 126 Deemed to be Universities in the country, out of which 40 are Central/State Government controlled and 86 are self-financing.

    About University Grant Commission (UGC)

    • It is a statutory body of Ministry of Education, Department of Higher Education, constituted under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. 
    • It is vested with two responsibilities: providing funds and coordination, determination and maintenance of standards in institutions of higher education
    • The UGC`s mandate includes:
      • Promoting and coordinating university education.
      • Determining and maintaining standards of teaching, examination and research in universities.
      • Framing regulations on minimum standards of education.
      • Monitoring developments in the field of collegiate and university education; disbursing grants to the universities and colleges.
      • Serving as a vital link between the Union and state governments and institutions of higher learning.
      • Advising the Central and State governments on the measures necessary for improvement of university education.

    Source: PIB

    LAUNCH OF Y – 12654 (Mahendragiri)

    Syllabus: GS3/Defence

    In News

    The seventh and last stealth frigate of Project 17A, Mahendragiri, was launched.

    About Mahendragiri

    • It is the Nilgiri-class warship named after a Mahendragiri mountain peak in Eastern Ghats located in Odisha.
    • The warship stealth features advanced weapons and sensors and platform management systems.

    Project 17A

    • Under Project 17A, a total of seven ships were constructed, four at MDL and three at Garden Reach Ship Builders Limited (GRSE), Kolkata.
    • Project 17A frigates are the follow-on Class of Project 17 ‘Shivalik Class’ frigates, with improved stealth features, advanced weapons, sensors, and platform-management systems.
    • Project 17A ships have been designed in-house by Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau, the pioneer organisation for all warship design activities
    • Over 75% of the orders of Project 17A have been placed with indigenous firms including Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
    • Fincantieri of Italy is the know-how provider for technology upgrade and capability enhancement in this project.

    Source: PIB

     Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant-3

    Syllabus: GS-3/Science and Technology, Nuclear Technology

    Context

    • The Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant-3,  biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) in Gujarat has started its operations at full capacity.

    About the Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant:

    • The Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant is the nation’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) plant. 
    • It is the largest Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) version to be designed domestically. 
    • It has advanced safety features like steel-lined inner containment to reduce any leakages, passive decay heat removal system, containment spray system, hydrogen management system etc.
    • In 2020, it had attained criticality (when each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain an ongoing series of reactions).

    Key Facts

    • Types of reactors: Depending on the choice of fuel, moderator and coolant, different types of reactors are built. They include Light Water Reactors (LWRs), which are also called Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs); Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs); Gas-Cooled, Graphite-Moderated Reactors (GCR); and Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR).
      • India has 15 indigenously built PHWRs operating in different parts of the country.
    • PHWRs: It is a nuclear power reactor that burns naturally occurring uranium without enrichment. The Deuterium oxide, D2O (Heavy Water) acts as coolant and moderator.
      • In the first stage, the PHWRs use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant. In the second stage, the plutonium reprocessed from the PHWRs and uranium will be used as fuel in the breeder reactors.

    Natural uranium: It contains two kinds of isotopes uranium-238 and uranium-235. It contains 99.3 percent of uranium-238, which is not a fissile material, and only 0.7 per cent of uranium-235, which is a fissile material.

    • Heavy water is used as a moderator because one cannot afford to lose neutrons, and the deuterium in it has a tendency to absorb fewer neutrons.
    • Enriched uranium: If the non-fissile U-238 is removed from natural uranium, then the U-235 concentration will go up. This is known as uranium enrichment.
    • Reprocessing: The spent fuel, which comes out of the operation of a nuclear power reactor, will contain some U-235, which may not have undergone fission.

    India’s 3 stage Nuclear Program

    • India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was created in 1954 by Dr. Homi Bhaba. It was designed to give energy security to India.
    • The primary objective was to use India’s large thorium reserves while considering its small uranium reserves.
      • India holds 25% of the world’s thorium reserves but 2% of the world’s uranium reserves.
    • This Program was developed to  facilitate this and eventually develop nuclear power from its thorium supplies.
    • The  stages of the Program are:
      • Natural uranium-fueled Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs),
      • Fast breeder reactors (FBRs) using plutonium-based fuel,
      • Advanced nuclear power systems using thorium.

    Source: PIB

    Intelligent Water Body Management System-TAMARA

    Syllabus: GS-3/Environment, Water Conservation

    Context

    • The Technology Development Board (TDB) has introduced a project called “Development and Commercialization of Intelligent Water Body Management System (IWMS)-TAMARA.

    About the Project

    • This project is in line with AMRUT 2.0 mission which has the specific goal of preserving water bodies and promoting a circular water economy, aligning with the principles of Blue Economy.
    • It  is a smart aeration system with sensors and IoT-based technology to manage water quality. 
    • It not only improves wastewater but also ensures that water bodies and aquaculture ponds stay clean and healthy.
    • This system comprises of several key elements: 
      • Smart Sediment Aeration System: It helps to bring more oxygen to the bottom of water bodies.
      • Smart Climate-Driven Water Quality Monitoring System: It helps to control the level of nutrients in the water and how much oxygen is in it.
      • Smart Weed Harvester System (PLASHBOT): This system removes unwanted plants from water bodies. 
      • Communication System and Data Protection: This system uses a special kind of technology to send and receive data between devices. 

    Important Terms

    • The term “blue economy” focuses on protecting the health of marine ecosystems while using ocean resources sustainably.
    • The term ‘Circular water Economy’, is a strategy focussed on preserving and effectively utilising water resources in order to reduce waste and advance sustainability.

    Technology Development Board-Department of Science and Technology (TDB-DST)

    • It is a statutory organization that supports technical advancements, economic development, and environmental preservation initiatives.

    Source: PIB

    Arunachal Pradesh bans rodent-catching glue traps

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation

    Context

    • Arunachal Pradesh has prohibited the manufacturing, sale, and use of glue traps after the appeal from PETA India.

    About

    • Arunachal Pradesh has prohibited the Statewide manufacture, sale, and use of glue traps for catching rats and mice following an appeal from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India.
      • In its appeal, PETA India requested to take immediate steps to implement the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) directions against glue traps.
    • Similar circulars have been issued in States such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal.
    • The use of glue traps is a punishable offence under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. A bird can damage its wings and feathers if it gets stuck in a glue trap.
    • It is also a violation of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, which prohibits the ‘hunting’ of protected indigenous species.

    About People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India:

    • PETA India, based in Mumbai, was launched in January 2000, operates under the simple principle that animals are not to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.
    • It focuses primarily on the areas in which the greatest numbers of animals suffer the most, like in laboratories, food industry, leather trade, and entertainment business.
    • It educates policymakers and the public about animal abuse and promotes an understanding of the right of all animals to be treated with respect.

    Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)

    • It is a statutory and advisory body for the Government of India, advising on animal welfare laws, and promotes animal welfare in the country of India.
    • It was established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960.
    • HQ in Ballabgarh in Faridabad District of Haryana.

    Source: TH

    Central Banker Report Cards 2023

    Syllabus: Prelims/Current Events of national importance

    News: 

    • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has been rated ‘A+’ in the Central Banker Report Cards 2023

    About: 

    • The Central Banker Report Cards, published annually by Global Finance since 1994, grade the central bank governors of 101 key countries. 
    • Global Finance’s annual Central Banker Report Cards celebrate those bank governors whose strategies outperformed their peers through originality, creativity and tenacity.
    • The Bank Governors who earned an ‘A+’ grade in the Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards 2023 are Shaktikanta Das from India, Thomas J. Jordan (Switzerland) and Nguyen Thi Hong (Vietnam).

    Source: LM

     Film and Television Institute of India (FTII)

    Syllabus: GS-1/Art and Culture

    Context

    • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has appointed actor R Madhavan as the president of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Society and chairperson of the governing council.

    About Film and Television Institute of India (FTII):

    • It is the premier training facility for acting, filmmaking, video editing, direction, and production.
    • It is an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
    • It was founded in 1960 and is officially recognized under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.
    • It is located in Pune, Maharashtra, in the premises of the former Prabhat Film studios.
    • It is also a member of International Liaison Centre of Schools of Cinema and Television (CILECT), an organization of world’s leading schools of film and television..

    Source: IE