Daily Current Affairs:19 May 2018

HC quashes EC’s order disqualifying M.P. Minister

The Delhi High Court on Friday quashed the Election Commission’s order to disqualify Madhya Pradesh Minister Narottam Mishra for three years on charges of paid news.A Bench of Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Sunil Gaur said there was no proof to show he incurred expenses, directly or indirectly, on news articles favouring him. The court allowed the plea of Mr. Mishra, a five-time elected member of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, challenging the poll panel’s June 23, 2017, decision disqualifying him.

The EC had held that since Mr. Mishra had knowledge of all the 42 news items that had appeared in five Hindi dailies and he failed to disavow the same, it amounted to implied authorisation. Its order had come on a complaint by Congress leader Rajendra Bharti, who had contested against Mr. Mishra.

 Cauvery  water Dispute

The court also did not accept Karnataka’s submission that certain clauses in the draft scheme compelled the States to furnish an indent for the supplies required by them on each reservoir site.

It observed that this apprehension was “wholly unnecessary” as the Tribunal Award has already quantified the volume of river water to be shared and apportioned it among the States.

The court further found it unnecessary to pursue any contempt of court action against the Centre for not framing the draft scheme within the deadline given in the February 16 judgment.

Row over Bopaiah as pro tem Speaker

While the Speaker’s decision on disqualification of MLAs was upheld by the Karnataka High Court, the Supreme Court had quashed the disqualification. The Supreme Court had then made strong observations saying Mr. Bopaiah acted in “hot haste” and the proceedings he conducted on the disqualification application filed by B.S. Yeddyurappa did not meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play.

Convention ignored

Conventionally, the senior most MLA is appointed the pro tem Speaker. Mr. Bopaiah name was not in the list of three senior most MLAs recommended by the Karnataka Assembly Secretariat. However, the Cabinet with B.S. Yeddyurappa as its sole member now, chose to recommend Mr. Bopaiah’s name to the Governor, which was accepted, sources confirmed.

The three names recommended by the Assembly secretariat include R.V. Deshpande, a eight time Congress MLA, the senior most in the house, B.S. Yeddyurappa himself, also an eight time MLA from the BJP and Umesh Katti, a seven time MLA from the BJP.

Earlier, before the controversy over the pro tem speaker broke out, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi claimed legal victory with the Supreme Court ordering the floor test on Saturday but accused the BJP of trying to “steal” the mandate.

“Today’s Supreme Court order vindicates our stand that Governor Vala acted unconstitutionally. The BJP’s bluff that it will form the Govt., even without the numbers, has been called out by the court. Stopped legally, they will now try money & muscle, to steal the mandate,” Mr. Gandhi said on Twitter.

“I think the BJP knows that it is facing and staring at certain defeat, I think the BJP knows that it has lost politically, legally, constitutionally, but above all morally,” said Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior lawyer and Congress spokesperson.

Calling it a landmark judgment, former Law Minister said the order of the highest court comes as a welcome assurance that democracy and constitutionalism have taken deep roots in India. Hope fully no Governor will in future exercise high constitutional power whimsically and arbitrary.

Delhi HC slaps notices on Internet bigwigs

Poser while hearing Kathua rape case

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked several Internet giants and social media platforms whether they had “safeguards” in place to make people accountable for their posts.

The question was posed to Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites during the hearing of a case initiated by the court against media houses for disclosing identity of the Kathua rape victim. “You have to put some safeguard in place so that somebody who is posting something [on your platform] is made accountable,” a Bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar observed.

The Bench also issued notices to the companies after their Indian subsidiaries said they were not the concerned entity to reply to the court’s notice on the issue.

When the issue of self-monitoring of removing objectionable post or content came up during the hearing, the counsel for Facebook India said that the Supreme Court’s 2015 verdict in the Shreya Singhal case had made it out of bounds for them. The counsel said that any request for take-down of objectionable or offensive contents has to be though the appropriate government authority or a court order.

The Bench, however, pointed out that despite its order to remove posts and links on the Internet which reveal the identity of the Kathua rape victim, many individuals kept posting them, including from abroad. “This kind of publication is extremely irresponsible,” the court said.

Clean air policy needs more focus on health issue

Doctors say draft NCAP falls short

Twenty-four Indian healthcare professionals, including two who are currently posted at the Indian research station in Antartica, have told the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) that the draft policy for the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) falls short of their expectations.

‘Enough evidence’

“We believe there is enough research and evidence on the fact that air pollution is causing havoc to the health and well-being of people,” the doctors stated in the letter addressed to MoEFCC Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, suggesting that more emphasis be given to health. They recommend two measures — to mitigate adverse health impacts of air pollution and make provisions for the betterment of affected populations.

“This policy can bring down the disease burden drastically. Therefore, we want health to be given much more importance in the policy,” said Dr. Ravindra Khaiwal, Additional Professor, Environment Health, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, one of the 24 signatories. He added that air pollution is commonly linked only with respiratory diseases but it also contributes to non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular ailments.

The doctors cited a report that stated that household air pollution was responsible for 5% of the total disease burden in India in 2016, and outdoor air pollution for 6%. The contribution of air pollution to the disease burden remained high in India between 1990 and 2016, with levels of exposure among the highest in the world. “It causes burden through a mix of non- communicable and infectious diseases, mainly cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and lower respiratory infections”, the report stated.

Activists’ suggestions

The Clean Air Collective, a group of activists and citizens, has also sent its recommendations for the NCAP draft policy, demanding that it should cover emission targets, waste management, strengthening of non-motorized transport, among others.

“MoEFCC should incorporate 35% reduction in three years and 50% reduction in five years as targets to make NCAP effective and impactful. It must have a holistic approach to tackle the issue of stubble management. To decongest the traffic more emphasis must be given on promoting/strengthening the Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) and public transportation, which are long term sustainable solutions highlighted under the National Urban Transport Policy,” read a letter sent to the Ministry on Thursday.

Online resource for academicians soon

They can connect with experts, access books and journals in their fields of study

University and college teachers across the country will soon be able to connect with experts in their fields of study and also pose queries on academic questions that they wish resolved through suggestions offered by these experts or other teachers of their discipline.

A National Resource Centre, envisaged as a one-stop point for Indian academicians to enhance their research and teaching skills, will make such cooperation across universities possible with the launch of a portal within months from now.

The National Institute of Educational Research and Planning (NIEPA) is in the process of rolling out the centre, an initiative that is part of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Training (PMMMNMTT), an ambitious scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.

Detailed database

The centre will enable college and university teachers to access a detailed database of academic resources, including lists of books, top journals and subject experts in their area of interest. It will also suggest a mechanism to higher education institutions to assess students’ satisfaction with teaching and research in the institutions, so that the faculties are able to figure out what students think about their college/university and make improvements.

NIEPA will hold a series of intensive workshops with experts in various disciplines in the next two months to put together an effective resource centre, said an official who did not want to be named.

The PMMMNMTT calls for a National Resource Centre to be “set up with the vision of developing teachers who are able to enhance their potential and push the frontiers of knowledge through research, networking and sharing of existing resources in the competitive knowledge world”. The portal will be launched with detailed information on resources in some key subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. Education and Management will also feature among the chosen disciplines.

Governor’s discretion has its limits

SC ruled in 2016 that a Governor’s choice of action must not be arbitrary, fanciful

The core constitutional issue behind the Congress’s challenge is whether the appointment of K.G. Bopaiah by Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala is an “arbitrary” use of gubernatorial discretion.

Article 180 (1) of the Constitution gives the Governor the power to appoint a pro tem Speaker.

The Article says that if the chair of the Speaker falls vacant and there is no Deputy Speaker to fill the position, the duties of the office shall be performed “by such member of the Assembly as the Governor may appoint for the purpose”.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the appointment of a pro tem Speaker to conduct a floor test to decide the majority in the Karnataka Assembly on May 19. It is the Governor’s duty to make the appointment. Article 180 (1) is silent about the extent to which the Governor can use his or her discretion.

The BJP defends the Governor’s appointment of Mr. Bopaiah by quoting Article 163 (2) of the Constitution. The latter part of this Article mandates that “the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion”.

But the five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar in the Nabam Rebia judgment of 2016 ruled that Article 163 does not give Governors a “general discretionary power” as is often misunderstood.

“The area for the exercise of his [Governor’s] discretion is limited. Even this limited area, his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and tempered by caution,” the Constitution Bench, of which the current Chief Justice Dipak Misra, was a part of, held.

The Rebia case dealt with the problem of the Arunachal Pradesh Governor advancing the date for the sixth Assembly session.

Judicial review

An issue which may arise is whether the discretion of the Governor can be judicially reviewed by the Supreme Court. But a Constitution Bench judgment in 2006 in the Rameshwar Prasad case has held that the “immunity granted to the Governor under Article 361 (1) does not affect the power of the Court to judicially scrutinize the attack made to the proclamation under Article 361(1) of the Constitution of India on the ground of mala fides or it being ultra vires”.

Chelameswar, CJI share Bench

On his last working day, dissenting judge sits with him in court no. 1

Justice J. Chelameswar, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court who held a controversial press conference along with three other judges January 12, shared the Bench with Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on his last working day on Friday.

Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, sat on the Bench headed by the CJI along with Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as it was the last working day before the court breaks for the long summer vacation.

It is the custom in the top court that a retiring judge, on his last day, is given the honour of sitting with the CJI in the majestic Court no 1.

Justice Chelameswar, who has been at loggerheads with the CJI over the functioning of the court, including the allocation of sensitive cases and on recommendation of judges for appointment to the higher judiciary, maintained the tradition of sharing the Bench with the Chief Justice.

Earlier, there had been speculation in legal circles that he would not be part of the Bench. The speculation had gained momentum after he had refused the invite of the Supreme Court Bar Association for a farewell function.

High attendance

Many people, besides lawyers and litigants, thronged the court room in the morning.

There was no mentioning in court no. 1, which is usually flooded with cases and where 11 matters were listed for Friday.

The Bench sat for a brief period and rose for the day at 11.15 a.m.

Senior advocate Rajiv Dutta advocates Prashant Bhushan and Gopal Sankaranarayanan gave short farewell speeches.

Thanking Justice Chelameswar for “upholding democracy”, Mr. Bhushan said, “On behalf of the Bar, I would like to say that it was an honour to have appeared before you. Future generations will remember your contribution to democracy and to the country.”

Mr. Dutta thanked the judge for “upholding the ideals of the institution”, while Mr. Sankaranarayanan expressed his gratitude towards him for the grace he had shown towards junior members of the Bar and said this would always be remembered and appreciated. Justice Chelameswar left the courtroom with folded hands.

The judge also told the members of the bar that he had not accepted a farewell earlier when he was moving out of the Andhra Pradesh High Court to another high court.

GRACE mission

Context: NASA’s GRACE mission has confirmed that a massive redistribution of freshwater is occurring across the Earth, with middle-latitude belts drying and the tropics and higher latitudes gaining water supplies.

What’s causing this?

A combination of the effects of climate change, vast human withdrawals of groundwater and simple natural changes are behind this


If this continues, it could have profound consequences leading to a situation in which some highly populous regions could struggle to find enough water in the future.

Other findings:

The resulting map of the findings shows an overall pattern, in which ice sheets and glaciers lose by far the most mass at the poles, but at the same time, middle latitudes show multiple areas of growing dryness even as higher latitudes and the tropical belt tend to see increases in water.

The study emphasizes that the 34 separate changes that it detects do not all have the same cause – not even close.

There’s very strong suspicion that the melting of glaciers and ice sheets is tied to climate change. On land, it’s possible that some droughts and rainfall increases may be also, though the study is cautious about that, noting that natural variability can also be a major factor here.

There are also some major cases of humans increasing water storage in the landscape, particularly in China, where massive dam construction has created enormous reservoirs.

Mainly, though, what’s striking about the map is the way that a combination of human-driven water withdrawals and droughts seem to be punishing the central latitudes of the northern hemisphere in particular, but also the southern hemisphere to a significant extent.

GRACE mission:

The GRACE mission was selected as the second mission under the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program in May 1997. Launched in March of 2002, the GRACE mission mapped variations in Earth’s gravity field. Designed for a nominal mission lifetime of five years, GRACE operated in an extended mission phase till 2017.

GRACE is a joint partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States and Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Germany.

GRACE consists of two identical spacecraft that fly about 220 kilometers (137 miles) apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth. GRACE maps Earth’s gravity field by making accurate measurements of the distance between the two satellites, using GPS and a microwave ranging system.

WHO list of essential diagnostic tests

Context: WHO has published its first Essential Diagnostics List, a catalogue of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases. The aim is to provide a tool that can be useful to all countries, to test and treat better, but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests.

Key facts:

The list concentrates on in vitro tests – i.e. tests of human specimens like blood and urine. It contains 113 products.

58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions, providing an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients.

55 tests are designed for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of “priority” diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus and syphilis.

Some of the tests are particularly suitable for primary health care facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent. These tests do not require electricity or trained personnel. Other tests are more sophisticated and therefore intended for larger medical facilities.

For each category of test, the Essential Diagnostics List specifies the type of test and intended use, format, and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories. The list also provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and, when available, to prequalified products.

Significance of the list:

Similar to the WHO Essential Medicines List, which has been in use for four decades, the Essential Diagnostics List is intended to serve as a reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics. In order to truly benefit patients, national governments will need to ensure appropriate and quality-assured supplies, training of health care workers and safe use. To that end, WHO will provide support to countries as they adapt the list to the local context.

Need for diagnostic services:

An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment. However, many people are unable to get tested for diseases because they cannot access diagnostic services. Many are incorrectly diagnosed. As a result, they do not receive the treatment they need and, in some cases, may actually receive the wrong treatment.

For example, an estimated 46% of adults with Type 2 diabetes worldwide are undiagnosed, risking serious health complications and higher health costs. Late diagnosis of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis increases the risk of spread and makes them more difficult to treat.

Swachh Survekshan 2018

Context: The Swachh Survekshan 2018 results have been announced. It was organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), assessed 4203 Urban Local Bodies. Compared to the previous surveys, this year’s exercise allocated substantial weightage to the feedback from citizens based on their daily experience.

The on-field survey for Swachh Survekshan was conducted by an independent agency and the data for ranking of the cities collected from 3 sources:

Service Level Progress: To verify whether systems and processes are in place in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to implement Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in the most efficient way.

Direct Observation: To verify and assess general cleanliness in the cities by making random field visits in different parts of the city and public conveniences (Community/Public Toilets).

Citizens Feedback: To collect feedback directly from citizens and monitor the performance of Swachhata App, a citizen’s grievance Mobile App.

Performance of various cities:

Indore has emerged as the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh. Indore was the cleanest city last year as well.

Jharkhand has been adjudged as the best performing state, followed by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.

Cleanest State Capital/UT: Greater Mumbai.

India’s ‘Cleanest big City’: Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh).

India’s ‘Fastest Mover’ big City: Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh).

India’s Best City in ‘Citizens Feedback’: Kota (Rajasthan).

India’s Best City in ‘Innovation & Best Practices’: Nagpur (Maharashtra).

India’s Best City in ‘Solid Waste Management: Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra).

India’s Cleanest Medium City: Mysore (Karnataka).

India’s ‘Fastest Mover’ Medium City: Bhiwandi (Maharashtra).

India’s Best City in ‘Citizens Feedback’: Parbhani (Maharashtra).

India’s Best City in ‘Innovation & Best Practices’: Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh).

India’s Best City in ‘Solid Waste Management: Mangalore (Karnataka).

India’s Cleanest Small City: New Delhi Municipal Council.

India’s ‘Fastest Mover’ Small City: Bhusawal (Maharashtra).

India’s Best City in ‘Citizens Feedback’: Giridih (Jharkhand).

India’s Best City in ‘Innovation & Best Practices’: Ambikapur (Jharkhand).

India’s Best City in ‘Solid Waste Management: Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh).



EU moves to save Iran nuclear deal

Commission takes steps to shield firms from U.S. sanctions; EIB to back investments in Iran

The European Union took formal steps on Friday to shield its firms from U.S. sanctions on Iran as part of efforts to save the international nuclear deal with Tehran.

EU leaders meeting on Thursday in Bulgaria gave the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, the all-clear amid a deepening rift with Washington.

The commission said on Friday it “launched the formal process to activate the blocking statute by updating the list of U.S. sanctions on Iran falling within its scope.” The commission said it hopes the statute will be in force before August 6 when the first batch of reimposed U.S. sanctions takes effect.

President Donald Trump last week pulled Washington out of the 2015 international deal with Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for easing sanctions.

The statute, which the 28 EU member states and the European Parliament must endorse, is aimed at reassuring European firms that invested in Iran after the deal.

US team invents new device that may increase Smartphone battery life 100 times

Led by Indian-origin scientist Deepak K. Singh, it develops new magnetic material that employs a unique “honeycomb” lattice with distinctive electronic properties.

A team led by an Indian-origin scientist has developed a novel device that could increase the battery life of electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops, by more than a hundred-fold.

Researchers from the University of Missouri in the US developed a magnetic material that employs a unique structure — a “honeycomb” lattice that exhibits distinctive electronic properties.

“Semiconductor diodes and amplifiers, which often are made of silicon or germanium, are key elements in modern electronic devices,” said Deepak K. Singh, an associate professor at the University of Missouri.

His team developed a two-dimensional, nano structured material created by depositing a magnetic alloy, or Permalloy, on the honeycomb structured template of a silicon surface.

Unidirectional current

The new material conducts unidirectional current, or currents that only flow one way.

The material also has significantly less dissipative power compared to a semiconducting diode, which is normally included in electronic devices, researchers said.

The magnetic diode paves the way for new magnetic transistors and amplifiers that dissipate very little power, thus increasing the efficiency of the power source, they said.

This could mean that designers could increase the life of batteries by more than a hundred-fold. Less dissipative power in computer processors could also reduce the heat generated in laptop or desktop CPUs.

“Although more works need to be done to develop the end product, the device could mean that a normal 5-hour charge could increase to more than a 500-hour charge,” the associate professor said. “The device could also act as an ‘on/off switch’ for other periphery components such as closed-circuit cameras or radio frequency attenuators, which reduces power flowing through a device.

Source:The Hindu,PIB,

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