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Showing posts from October 13, 2017

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Top 10 stories of the day - October 13, 2017 (.hindu )

Status quo remains over Rohingya crisis
The Supreme Court on Friday orally indicated that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevailed over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

Supreme Court refers case of ban on women’s entry into Sabarimala temple to Constitution Bench
The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench a bunch of petitions challenging the age-old practice in Kerala's famed Sabarimala temple of not allowing women aged between 10 and 50 to enter the temple.

Supreme Court refuses to modify October 9 order on cracker sales in Delhi-NCR
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to modify its October 9 order suspending the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 1. The court said it knew that "some people are trying to give a communal tinge to our order... but we will consider that as people expressing their anguish at our order".

Nine-nation Test champio…

Rohingya deportation: Circular on illegal immigrants still operative, says Centre (hindu)

Supreme Court has not asked for withdrawal of order on the Rohingya, says official.

A day before the Centre for the first time acknowledged in the Supreme Court that the latter’s remark on its order to deport Rohingya could have international ramifications, the Home Ministry brainstormed on steps to be taken if Myanmar refused to accept the undocumented migrants.

With no concrete “plan” in place to deport the Rohingya, the Ministry convened a meeting on Thursday to decide the logistics and financial implications if the illegal migrants were not accepted by Myanmar.

On August 9, the Ministry issued a circular asking State governments to initiate the procedure to deport illegal immigrants, including the Rohingya.

A Ministry spokesperson said the SC’s oral order on Friday was “neither a stay nor an interim order” on the circular. An official said the circular was still operative and the apex court had not asked the Centre to withdraw it.

“Since the circular asked State governments to id…

SC does a re-think on dowry harassment ruling (hindu)

‘Previous order dilutes woman’s right against dowry’

Two months after the Supreme Court stopped immediate arrests of accused in dowry harassment cases, the court on Friday did a re-think, saying its order dilutes the right of a woman to seek justice against the evil of dowry.

On July 27, a Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit had concluded that Section 498A (dowry harassment) of the Indian Penal Code has come under much abuse. Dowry complaints are being filed in the heat of the moment by women over trivial issues. Innocent relatives, including parents of advanced age, siblings and grandparents, suffer harassment. Their judgment directed ‘Family Welfare Committees’ to sift the genuine cases of dowry harassment from the trivial ones. Police would take action only on the basis of the committee’s report.

These committees were directed to be made up of social workers, homemakers, retired persons and other citizens.

In an absolute U-turn, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of I…

Six steps to job creation (hindu)

It is crucial to align policy across sectors and upgrade the country’s social infrastructure

In India’s highly segmented labour market, one can still discern at least three demographic groups that are in urgent need of jobs: a growing number of better educated youth; uneducated agricultural workers who wish to leave agricultural distress behind; and young women, who too are better educated than ever before. India is indeed the fastest growing large economy in the world; yet with investment low, credit offtake low, capacity utilisation in industry low, agricultural growth low, plant load factor low, it is hardly surprising that job growth is low as well.

Although growth is relatively high (though slowing for last several quarters), it is the pattern of growth that is the problem. Among many dimensions of this problem is the fact that in the quarter century since economic reforms began, it is not manufacturing that has been the leading sector driving growth. Manufacturing should drive …

"ISRO has capabilities to build geostationary satellites for air quality monitoring” (downtoearth)

Pawan Gupta's findings on trans-boundary movement of pollution (Punjab to Delhi) from biomass burning in 2015 spurred debates. He participated in discussions with Indian regulators early September at the Better Air Quality Conference in Busan on the advantages of using satellite data for air quality monitoring.

He explains to Down to Earth how air quality monitoring is done using satellite data.

How is satellite data used to measure air pollution?

Satellites that provide information on atmospheric pollutants are normally (not always) in the low earth orbits (400-1000 km above the Earth’s surface). A single satellite can carry one or more remote sensing instruments onboard that look down to earth and obtain information about the object in the field of view of satellite sensor.

The Earth receives electromagnetic radiation from the sun, which travels through space and reaches the earth-atmosphere system. The radiation then interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere and the surface. That …

Notable agriculture initiatives discussed at COP 22 (downtoearth)

Agriculture is part of the solution in the fight against climate change—this was the sentiment echoed by various stakeholders gathered at COP 22 in Marrakech.

This is established by their respective climate action plans or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Almost 95 per cent of countries covered agriculture, and 89 per cent discussed water management in their plans. Most of the countries have considered agriculture among their adaptation or mitigation priorities to help limit global temperature rise, in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Working towards sustainable agriculture also addresses other global challenges: fighting hunger and malnutrition and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. However, the progress made at COP 22 related on agriculture was very slow and the issues related to agriculture will now be discussed in May 2017.

Three new initiatives discussed at COP 22 highlight the potential in agricultural adaptation: Adaptation of…

World needs a collective strategy to deal with US at Bonn climate conference (downtoearth)

The latest move by the Donald Trump administration to repeal Clean Power Plan (CPP), reckoned as the major instrument to cut emissions of the single largest source—US power plants—is only one of the many regressive steps adopted by the US administration. This is in line with its Executive Order, ‘Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth’ which largely serves to put fossil fuel back on the US economic agenda. CPP was intended to cut emissions from US power plants by 32 per cent by 2030, and move to cleaner sources of energy; its repeal would further encourage the growth of the fossil fuel sector in the US.

Against the backdrop of the Executive Order designed to repeal, revoke, revamp any action that can potentially burden the development of domestic energy resources, the US is aggressively taking climate regressive steps to subsidise its fossil fuel industry and protect redundant coal plants at the cost of clean energy sources. And this is when the US itself has been affected…

Centre contradicting own reports and stand on air pollution issues (downtoearth)

Senior advocate and amicus curiae Harish Salve, on Wednesday (October 11, 2017), told the Supreme Court that the union government is contradicting its own reports and stand on various air pollution issues. While reading out the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) in response to Comprehensive Action Plan prepared by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), Salve told the bench consisting of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta that the government is saying that air pollution is not a problem in Delhi and the international reports/studies, which showed health impacts of air pollution in Delhi, are very misguiding.

The ministry, according to Salve, filed the affidavit after being briefed by the SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers).

Salve pointed out that while the government, in its affidavit, said that CNG should not be promoted as it “is one of the major contributors of NOX and it is also expected to i…

High dose of Vitamin C and B3 can kill colon cancer cells: study (downtoearth)

In a first, a team of researchers has found that high doses of Vitamin C and niacin or Vitamin B3 can kill cancer stem cells. A study published in Cell Biology International showed the opposing effects of low and high dose of vitamin C and vitamin B3 on colon cancer stem cells.

Led by Bipasha Bose and Sudheer Shenoy, the team found that while low doses (5-25 micromolar) of Vitamin C and B3 proliferate colon cancer stem cells, high doses (100 to 1,000 micromolar) killed cancer stem cells. Such high doses of vitamins can only be achieved through intravenous injections in colon cancer patients. The third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, colon cancer can be prevented by an intake of dietary fibre and lifestyle changes.

While the next step of the researchers is to delineate the mechanisms involved in such opposing effects, they also hope to establish a therapeutic dose of Vitamin C and B3 for colon cancer stem cell therapy. “If the therapeutic dose gets validated under in vivo an…

India's rank slips further in global hunger index, fares worse than North Korea, Iraq (downtoearth)

India stood a poor 100th among 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released on October 12, an indication of the vast prevalence of hunger and nutrition-related problems in the country. India’s score on the index calculated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was 31.4, worse than countries like North Korea and Iraq. It was one of the worst performers in Asia, better than only two other countries—Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The poor rank makes sense, as more than one-fifth (21 per cent) of the children, younger than the age of five, suffer from wasting, which means they weigh too little for their height and over a third of the children in this age group are too short for their age.

The GHI ranks countries based on four key indicators: undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.

The 12th edition of the index ranked countries in the developing world, nearly half of which have “extremely alarming”, “alarming” or “serious” hunger le…

Pollution scare back in Delhi as neighbours fail to prevent crop residue burning (downtoearth)

This year, Delhi’s air quality started to worsen since the end of September with both PM2.5 and PM10 level showing a gradual rise. So, will the city once again be choked by deadly smog? A lot depends on its neighbouring states and how they address the issue of crop residue burning.

In both Haryana and Punjab, the state governments’ claims of offering support to farmers to prevent them from burning crop residue have been questioned. While Haryana government claims that they are holding awareness camps in villages and farmers are being offered subsidies up to Rs 63,000 on equipment to help clear crop stubbles without burning, reports suggest that stubble burning incidents continue unabated with farmers complaining of getting no help from the local authorities. Moreover, the authorities reportedly harassed marginal farmers in Panipat district by imposing fines for burning crop residue.

Similarly, the Punjab government claimed that it has adopted farmers from Kalar Majri—a ‘model’ villag…

More developing nations now dependent on commodity exports: UN report (downtoearth)

Nine more developing economies became dependent on commodity exports between 2010 and 2015, bringing the total to 91—two-thirds of all the 135 developing countries, a recently published UN report claims.

Titled ‘The State of Commodity Dependence Report’, the report also shows that during the same period the value of commodity exports from developing countries increased from US$2.04 trillion to $2.55 trillion, a jump of 25 per cent.

Total commodity exports: 2009-10 and 2014-15. Credit: UNCTAD
Total commodity exports: 2009-10 and 2014-15. Credit: UNCTAD

Out of the nine new Commodity Dependent Developing Countries (CDDCs), seven of them are from Africa and two from Asia and Oceania. Most of the CDDCs were mainly exporters of agricultural products in 2014-15, claims the report. They were followed by exporters of fuels, minerals and metals.

The trend of strong commodity dependence was observed in more countries (61) in 2014-15 as compared to 2009-10 when the trend was present in 56 countr…

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…