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Showing posts from March 10, 2017

Not just air, level of noise pollution in Delhi is also deadly: study(downtoearth)

In 2011, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) conducted a decibel survey which showed that Delhi had some of the noisiest roads in India. A new study by a hearing test app, Mimi, too, confirms CSE’s findings. According to the study, which analysed data of 200,000 people in 50 cities across the world—including Delhi and Mumbai—worst noise pollution was reported in Delhi. More so, citizens of Delhi had the maximum amount of hearing loss proportionate to their age. Noise pollution in cities is directly linked to 64 per cent of hearing loss, said the study.

Zurich, Vienna, Oslo, Munich and Stockholm were ranked lowest in terms of hearing loss and noise pollution, according to the study done by the hearing test app. While Guangzhou in China reported the highest incidence of noise pollution, Delhi came second.

The results were calculated on the basis of noise pollution data from the hearing app—which tests participants’ hearing on the basis of their age and gender— the World Health…

Lok Sabha passes Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill; paid leaves increase (downtoearth,)

Almost six months after the Rajya Sabha had passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, the Lok Sabha also approved it today (March 9, 2017), ensuring more maternity benefits for working women. It will extend the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the employees in private sector.

The amendment to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 will increase maternity benefit or leave period from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for women with two surviving children and 12 weeks in case of more than two children. In case of adoptions, commissioning and adopting mothers will get 12-week-long maternity benefit as per the new amendment.

The new bill mandates crèches in offices with 50 or more employees. It also asks workplaces to facilitate work from home.

On August 10,2016, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its ex-post facto approval to amendments in the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

Rising winter temperatures make rain and snowfall erratic in the valley, deplete streams (downtoearth,)

In 2016, Kashmir witnessed its lowest rainfall in 14 years along with low snowfall. The water levels in the Jhelum river also reached a 61-year-low. Meteorologists say while the rainfall levels in 2016 can be considered an aberration, the steady increase in the valley’s winter temperatures is a cause for concern. This, in turn, leads to lesser snowfall in the area and a thinning snow cover.

Elusive rains

The low rainfall does not suggest a permanent change in the valley’s rainfall pattern, but the extent of the deficit is definitely worrying. Data from the meteorology department in Srinagar suggests that in 2016 Srinagar received just 3.6 mm rainfall, which is four times less than 2007, the last time the rainfall levels dropped substantially. Similarly Gulmarg, one of the valley’s popular winter tourist destinations, received just 1.2 mm rainfall in 2016, which is 40 times lower than the 48.4 mm rainfall recorded in 1998. “Kashmir witnessed an extreme dry spell in 2016. For about six…

A common class of insecticides puts farmers at high risk of diabetes (downtoearth,)

IN 2011, a 15-year-old girl from Madurai was admitted to hospital for diabetes ketoacidosis. It is a life-threatening condition that develops when cells in the body are unable to get the sugar (glucose) they need due to the lack of insulin. Krishnan Swaminathan, an endocrinologist and president of the Coimbatore-based Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital, saw that the girl was not responding to treatment. “We reinvestigated the case and found high residues of an organophosphate (OP) insecticide in her blood and urine samples. When we asked her parents, they told us she had consumed the insecticide because she had scored less marks in her school examination,” he says. Derived from phosphoric acid, OPs are a popular class of pesticides. They are also notorious as the poison chosen by farmers to commit suicide.

Around the time, the case of a 12-year-old boy suffering from a similar condition was reported from Mysuru, Karnataka. The boy had eaten tomatoes from a field without washing them o…

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 09 March 2017

Q.1- With reference to the use of nano-technology in health sector, which of the following statements is/are correct?

1. Targeted drug delivery is made possible by nanotechnology.
2. Nanotechnology can largely contribute to gene therapy.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2- Which of the following is correct regarding Electoral bonds?

1. Electoral bonds can be purchased at any bank via any mode of payment
2. Bonds can be given only to parties registered with EC
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None

Q.3- The total number of members states in United Nations are?

A. 192
B. 193
C. 194
D. 197.

 Answer 1-C,2-B,3-B

Putin set to host Erdogan for talks focusing on Syria (the hindu )

President Vladimir Putin is set to host his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Friday for talks focusing on Syria, where Russia and Turkey have launched mediation efforts and coordinated military action.

The two countries brokered a cease-fire in December that helped reduce the scale of fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the opposition, and they also co-sponsored two rounds of talks this year between Assad’s government and its foes. A third round is set for next week.

At the same time, Russia and Turkey coordinated their operations against the Islamic State group in Syria. A Russian air raid last month accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers, but the incident didn’t derail the military coordination.

Earlier this week, the chief military officers from Russia, the United States and Turkey met in the Turkish city of Antalya in an apparent attempt to work out additional steps to prevent incidents and help assuage mutual mistrust between Turkish-backed Syrian…

On Trump trademarks, China says treats applicants equally (the hindu )

A top Chinese regulator says China assesses all applications for trademarks equally, including those submitted by now-President Donald Trump.

The chief of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce, Zhang Mao, said on Friday the process by which Mr. Trump was granted preliminary approval for 38 trademarks “strictly conforms” to regulations.

Critics fear foreign governments might gain leverage from Mr. Trump’s global portfolio of brands. Democrats in Congress were critical of Mr. Trump after The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the potentially valuable trademarks had been granted, raising questions of conflict of interest.

Mr. Zhang, whose administration oversees the country’s trademark office, says all domestic and foreign trademark applications are evaluated uniformly and the system is transparent.

The recent provisional approval of Trump’s trademarks came at a pace that some experts view as unusually quick.

Amal Clooney: don’t let Islamic State get away with genocide (the hindu)

“Killing ISIS on the battlefield is not enough. We must kill the idea behind ISIS by exposing the brutality and bringing individual criminals to justice,” she said.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney urged Iraq and the world’s nations on Thursday not to let the Islamic State extremist group “get away with genocide.”

The wife of actor George Clooney, who represents victims of IS rapes and kidnappings, told a U.N. meeting that what’s “shocking” is not just the group’s brutality but the “passive” response by the world’s nations to the campaign to investigate its crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.

She urged Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send a letter to the U.N. Security Council so it can vote to set up an investigation into crimes by the group in Iraq where IS once controlled about 40 percent of the country’s territory but is now being routed by government and coalition forces.

“Justice is what the victims want...” Ms. Clooney said, “but justice will be forever out o…

Pakistan Parliament passes landmark Hindu marriage bill (the hindu )

The Hindu marriage bill will help Hindu women to get documentary proof of their marriage.

Pakistan’s Parliament has finally passed the much-awaited landmark bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in the country.

Pakistan’s Hindus were set to get an exclusive personal law to regulate marriages after the National Assembly unanimously adopted the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2017, on Thursday.

The law was passed after a lengthy process of enactment.

It was the second time that the National Assembly passed the bill. It passed the bill in September last year but had to pass it again as its version of bill was changed by the Senate when it adopted the bill in February.

As per rules, the same text should be passed by the two Houses of the Parliament before it is sent to the President for his signatures and promulgation for implementation.

Dawn News reported that the Senate included an amendment to the draft approved by the National Assembly in September.

The final text approved by both house…

Post clash, movement through disputed land on India-Nepal border suspended (the hindu )

Coordination committee to monitor the situation to ease the tension.

Movement through a disputed land close to pillar number 200 near Basahi (Kheri) on the India-Nepal border was suspended after a clash between Nepalese citizens and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawans.

Officials of both the countries agreed to maintain the status quo till a joint survey by officials is carried out to ascertain the exact status of pillar number 200, a senior official here said.

After hours-long discussions between District Magistrate Akashdeep, Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Jha, SSB commandant Dilbag Singh, Kanchanpur (Nepal) chief district officer, the SSP and senior officers of the Nepal armed police force, it was decided not to carry out any construction work at the disputed land till a survey is carried out.

A decision was taken to form a joint coordination committee comprising Pallia (Kheri) Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Shadab Aslam; Deputy Superintendent of Police, Pallia; Dilbag Sing…

Justice Karnan threatens to prosecute SC judges (the hindu)

Alleges that he was targeted by the apex court for “being someone from a Scheduled Caste community.''

Judge of the Calcutta High Court C.S. Karnan on Friday threatened to prosecute seven senior Judges of the Supreme Court who had issued a contempt notice against him.

At a press conference in Kolkata, he said he was targeted by the Supreme Court for “being someone from a Scheduled Caste [SC] community.”

“The way they [Supreme Court] has issued notices against me and summoned me it is unprecedented and the [Supreme] Court has no right to do act the way it did. This is because I am from the SC community,” he said.

The 62-year-old Judge wrote a letter earlier to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others alleging corruption among judges and in the judiciary. He has been pursuing his allegation for close to a decade.

The mystery of police reform (Hindu)

That police is a State subject complicates matters, but self-correction within the force is essential

“Police reforms are going on and on. Nobody listens to our orders.” This is how a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar reacted last week, while declining the plea of a lawyer demanding immediate action to usher in major police reforms in the country. The lawyer had earlier been permitted to implead himself in a pending PIL on the subject.

It is sad that the highest court of the land is so helpless in the matter. Its anguish, however desperate and well-meaning it may have been, is understandable. It epitomises the pathetic state of affairs in public administration in the country, and it can only embolden our political heavyweights to brazenly halt the few contemplated reforms.

While the National Police Commission (1977-79), set up by the Janata government that displaced the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi, kick-started reforms, the credit for keeping the de…

Stability in the time of change (Hindu.)

As the liberal order yields to an age of uncertainty, a new initiative is needed if the nuclear taboo has to hold.

In recent weeks, there has been a flood of commentary lamenting the demise of ‘the liberal rule-based international order’; the system that came into being after World War II and has since been led and shaped by the West under U.S. leadership for the last seven decades. While cracks in this ‘order’ have been showing up in recent years, it is after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President that a conviction has grown that the seven-decade-old ‘order’ is dead and change is now upon us.

Yet the lengthening shadows of this change have been visible in other parts of the world for nearly a decade; at least from 2008 with the global financial crisis which presaged the unravelling of the Washington Consensus. History tells us that the wheels of change never stop. Sometimes, when they move slowly, it is only possible to judge the distance travelled by looking in the rear-vie…

Open gateshi (Hindu.)

EU countries must stand up for ‘European values’ with humane asylum policies

The ruling of the European Union’s top court giving member-states the right to grant or deny asylum has come as welcome news for populist hardliners hostile to the surge of refugees desperate to escape the humanitarian catastrophe in West Asia. In a defining verdict this week on the immigration crisis, of a magnitude not seen since World War II, the final judgment of the European Court of Justice of the 28-nation bloc overturned the opinion of its prosecutor, which is rather unusual for the institution. Its prosecutor had said in February that governments should issue humanitarian visas to people at risk of torture and degrading treatment, consistent with their obligations under the European charter on human rights. In overruling that stance, the common judicial arbiter for the bloc held that member-states were not obliged to issue visas to people from third countries who had no prior links in Europe. Under …