1. Election Symbols
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has frozen the ‘Bungalow’ election symbol of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in Bihar.
Election Commission’s powers in a dispute over the election symbol when a party splits
- According to Symbols Order, 1968, the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.”
- This applies to disputes in recognized national and state parties (like the LJP, in this case).
- For splits in registered but unrecognized parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.
What happens to the group that doesn’t get the parent party’s symbol?
The EC introduced a new rule under which the splinter group of the party — other than the group that got the party symbol — had to register itself as a separate party, and could lay claim to national or state party status only on the basis of its performance in the state or central elections after registration.
2. SC steps in to protect Home Buyers
The Supreme Court stepped in to protect home buyers from exploitation by builders, who delay the transfer of possession and often re-draft delivery schedules on their whim and fancy.
- There is an absence of “model builder-buyer and agent-buyer” agreements that provide uniform or standard terms and conditions of sale and purchase of residential flats across the country.
- This has been the main cause behind the fraud, lack of transparency, criminal conspiracies, and unfair and arbitrary trade practices which plague the real estate sector.
- The real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act of 2016 had hardly been implemented.
- The court prima facie said the RERA did provide “sufficient” enabling powers to the Central Advisory Council to make Rules to prevent buyers from being exploited.
RERA Act 2016
- The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 is an Act of the Parliament of India which seeks to protect home-buyers as well as help boost investments in the real estate industry.
- The Act came into force on 1 May 2016 with 69 of 92 sections notified.
- The Real Estate Act provides transparency and accountability in the realty sector.
- Its objective is to make known the status of building approvals, to enable customers to make accurate decisions.
- The Act aims to take steps to promote affordable housing for everyone.
- The first provision mandated the establishment of a Central Advisory Council.
- The second Section said the Council would ensure the implementation of the Act, drive major policy changes, assure that consumer interests were not thwarted by builders and promoters, and craft the faster growth of the real estate sector.
3. COVID-19 Compensation
The Supreme Court ruled that the State governments should not deny the ex gratia compensation of 50,000 to the families of persons who died of COVID-19 merely on the ground that their death certificates do not show the virus as the cause of death.
- A set of guidelines is proposed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for the grant of ex gratia to the kin of people who died of COVID-19.
- Directed the States to provide relief from their States Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
- The District Disaster Management Authorities would make the disbursements.
- would be settled within 30 days of submission of documents.
- The disbursement would be made via an Aadhaar-linked direct bank transfer procedure.
- District-level committees would deal with grievances regarding certification of death and issue amended documents.
- Committees should be able to directly access hospital medical records to ascertain claims, this would help resolve cases in which families claim ex gratia but do not have medical records of COVID treatment to show.
- The committees would record the reasons for rejecting claims.
- The payment would continue for future COVID deaths until further notification.
- The guidelines have said families of those who committed suicide within 30 days of a COVID-positive diagnosis would also be eligible for ex gratia.
4. Drone Response and Outreach
- ICMR’s Drone Response and Outreach in North East (i-Drone) is launched which is aimed at ensuring that life-saving vaccines reach everyone.
- This is for the first time that a ‘Make in India’ drone has been used in South Asia to transport COVID vaccine over an aerial distance of 15 km in 12-15 mins
- It transports from the Bishnupur district hospital to Loktak lake, Karang island in Manipur for administration at the primary health center.
- The actual road distance between these locations is 26 k.m.
- It may prove a game-changer in addressing the challenges in health care delivery, particularly health supplies, in difficult areas.
- Launching the initiative which would facilitate vaccine delivery to tough and hard-to-reach terrains
- This i-Drone has been designed to overcome these challenges by deploying Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV)/drones to remote areas and hard-to-reach terrains.
- Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Manipur and Nagaland, as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Telangana launched Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS) flights to deliver a payload comprising vaccines.
- The Medicine from the Sky project — a collaboration of the Telangana government, World Economic Forum, HealthNet Global, and NITI Aayog
- It seeks to deliver medicines, vaccination, and units of blood to remote, rural areas by means of drones.
5. Inner Line Permit
In a bid to reopen the tourism sector, the Arunachal Pradesh government has decided to withdraw suspension on issuing ILP and Protected Area Permit to travelers as the COVID-19 situation in the northeastern state is under control.
- ILP is an official travel document that allows inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period.
- It is implemented under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) 1873
- An imaginary line known as the inner line was created to divide between the two communities so that neither party could go beyond the line without a permit from the appropriate authorities.
- It is a special permit obligatorily required by “outsiders” from other regions of the country to enter the notified states.
- It is issued by the concerned State Government and can be issued for travel purposes solely.
- Foreigners need a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit tourist places that are different from ILPs needed by domestic tourists.
- Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order 1958, all areas falling between the ‘Inner Line’, as defined in the said order, and the International Border of the State have been declared as a Protected Area.
- A foreign national is normally not allowed to visit a Protected/Restricted Area unless it is established to the satisfaction of the Government that there are extraordinary reasons to justify such a visit
Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act
- This Act was enacted during the British era to protect the Crown’s own commercial interests by preventing ‘British subjects’ (Indians) from trading within these regions.
- In 1950, the Indian government replaced ‘British subjects’ with ‘Citizen of India’.
- Under Section 2 of the Regulation of 1873, the ILP was only applicable to the three North-Eastern States viz. Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland.
- On 11th December 2020, the President signed the order extending ILP to Manipur, which became the fourth state where the ILP regime is applicable.
- Under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, the ILP regime restricted entry and regulated the stay of outsiders in Arunachal Pradesh.
6. Draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Amendment Rules, 2021
The draft amendment introduces some key additions and revisions to the Electricity (Rights of Consumer) Rules, 2020.
Rights and Obligations
- It is the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of the Act.
- It is the right of consumers to have minimum standards of service for the supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.
Release of new connection and modification in an existing connection.-
- Transparent, simple, and time-bound processes,
- The applicant has an option for online application,
- The maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connection and modify an existing connection:
- No connection shall be given without a meter
- The meter shall be the smart pre-payment meter or pre-payment meter.
- Provision of Testing of meters
- Provisions for replacement of defective or burnt or stolen meters specified
Reliability of supply
- The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture.
- The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.
Consumer as prosumer
- While the prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have the right to set up Renewable Energy (RE) generation units including rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by themselves or through a service provider.
- Net metering for loads up to ten kW and for gross metering for loads above ten kW.
- Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.
- The standards of performance for which the compensation is required to be paid by the distribution licensee
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7. Indian Astronomical Observatory: Hanle
The Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) located at Hanle near Leh in Ladakh is becoming one of the globally promising observatory sites, according to a recent study.
- It is due to its advantages of more clear nights, minimal light pollution, background aerosol concentration, extremely dry atmospheric condition, and uninterrupted monsoon.
- Researchers carried out a detailed study of the nighttime cloud cover fraction over eight high altitude observatories, including three in India.
- The researchers used reanalysis data combined from assimilation and observation extending over 41 years, along with 21 years of data from satellites.
- The study classified the quality of observable nights for different astronomical usages like photometry and spectroscopy on a daily basis.
- The team found that the Hanle site which is as dry as the Atacama Desert in Chile and much drier than Devasthal and has around 270 clear nights in a year
- It is also one of the emerging sites for infrared and submillimetre optical astronomy because water vapor absorbs electromagnetic signals and reduces their strength.
- They found Paranal, located in a high-altitude desert in Chile, to be the best site in terms of clear skies with around 87% of clear nights in a year
- IAO Hanle, and Ali observatories, which are located around 80 km from each other, are similar to each other in terms of clear night skies.
- It is found that Devasthal has a slightly larger number of clear nights compared to the other sites in the subcontinent but are affected by monsoons for about three months in a year.
- Night observations at IAO Hanle from 2m-Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) are possible throughout the year without any interruption due to monsoon.
- Eight observatories the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) are in
- Hanle (Ladakh)
- Merak (Ladakh)
- Devasthal (Nainital) in India,
- Ali Observatory in the Tibet Autonomous Region in China
- South African Large Telescope in South Africa
- University of Tokyo Atacama Observatory
- Paranal in Chile
- National Astronomical Observatory in Mexico.
8. Hara Bhara
- India’s first aerial seeding campaign using the Seedcopter drone was launched by Marut Drones, an aerial seeding company, in collaboration with the State government of Telangana.
- The idea of the campaign is to accelerate the mission of reforestation through the planting of one billion trees using drones by 2030 in the country.
- As part of the campaign, 1.5 lakh seeds were planted using the Seedcopter in KBR park.
- The aerial seeding company will also be planting 50 lakh seeds in 12,000 hectares of land in forests across all 33 districts in the State.
- It is a technique of plantation wherein seed balls that are covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char, and other components are sprayed on the ground using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters, or drones.
- Seeds balls or seed pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by the low-flying drones.
- They fall to the ground with the help of the coating of clay, compost, char, and other material, that provides the required weight for seeds to drop on a predetermined location rather than disperse in the wind.
- These pellets will then sprout when there is enough rain, with the nutrients present within them helping in the initial growth.
9. Landslide and Flood Early Warning System
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research -National Geophysical Research Institute (CSIR-NGRI) has launched an ‘Environmental Seismology’ group to develop a ‘Landslide and Flood Early Warning System’ for the Himalayan region.
Landslide and Flood Early Warning System
- The scientists at the NGRI in collaboration with German scientists at GFZ, Potsdam have launched this system.
- It will be based on real-time monitoring with dense seismological networks, coupled with satellite data, numerical modeling, and geomorphic analysis.
- The greatest strength of the broadband seismic network is that it enables complete spatiotemporal tracking of the entire disaster sequence using polarization and back-tracing approaches.
- Early warning systems help to reduce economic losses and mitigate the number of injuries or deaths from a disaster
- It provides information that allows individuals and communities to protect their lives and property.
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10. Cinnamomum Verum
Realizing that people in India have been consuming inferior quality cinnamon (dalchini) having serious ill effects on health, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) -Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) has, for the first time, begun to organized cultivation of ‘true’ variety of cinnamon plant in the country at Himachal Pradesh.
- The true cinnamon is derived from Cinnamomum Verum whereas the majority of cinnamon being sold in the market is derived from Cinnamomum cassia.
- Cinnamomum cassia is yet another species whose bark is used in place of Cinnamomum Verum and it has a high content of courmarin
- Courmarin is not good for health and is known as a kidney destroyer due to which it is banned in the US and other countries
- Cinnamon derived from Cinnamomum cassia (commonly sold in the market ) was used in large quantities while making cakes or pies.
- Many people consume large quantities of dalchini for medicinal purposes which indirectly causes more harm than doing any good.
- Cinnamomum Verum was mainly grown in Sri Lanka, while it was grown in small quantities in the countries like Seychelles, Madagascar, and India (in an unorganized sector)
11. Ex Milan
- India is set to host its largest naval exercise, Ex Milan.
- Ex Milan is being planned for February 2022 and invites have been sent to 46 countries.
- The exercise will see the participation of all Quad countries with the U.S. being invited for the first time.
- Milan, which began in 1995, is held biennially and brings together the Navies of all the countries in the region.
- It has so far been held at Port Blair but is now being shifted to Visakhapatnam which offers more space and infrastructure
12. Job Losses due to COVID-19
Women have borne a disproportionate brunt of job losses during COVID-19, Sona Mitra, Principal Economist, Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE).
Impact of COVID-19 on employment
- The Consumer Pyramid Household Survey (CPHS) data of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) tells us that COVID-19 had a devastating impact on overall employment
- The net shortfall is 6.3 million jobs or a loss of 1.5% of all jobs between March 2020 and March 2021.
- Urban male employment was the worst hit in the second wave and women fared worse in all quarters between March 2020-21.
- While women account for only 10% of the jobs, they accounted for 23% of the loss of jobs from March 2020 until March 2021.
- Of the 399.9 million jobs, women accounted for only 41.8 million jobs.
- The most disproportionate loss of jobs because of the first wave of COVID-19 was among urban women.
- Urban women account for about 3% of total employment, but they accounted for 39% of total urban job losses.
13. Zircon Missile
- Zircon missile was launched from the Severodvinsk submarine and hit a designated mock target in the Barents Sea.
- The launch marked Zircon’s first launch from a submarine.
- It previously has been repeatedly test-fired from a navy frigate.
- Zircon would be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000km (620 miles).
- Zircon’s tests are to be completed later this year and it will be commissioned by the Russian navy in 2022.
- Zircon is intended to arm Russian cruisers, frigates, and submarines.
- It is one of several hypersonic missiles under development in Russia.
14. Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act
- Singapore’s Parliament has approved a law that gives broad powers to the government to deal with foreign interference
- It joins nations such as Australia that have passed laws in recent years to deter foreign interference.
- The bill, formally known as the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA), was passed.
- FICA allows authorities to compel internet, social media service providers, and website operators to provide user information, block content, and remove applications.
- Those deemed or designated as “politically significant persons” under the law will have to comply with strict rules relating to donations and declare their links to foreign entities.
- Instead of court, an independent tribunal, chaired by a judge, will hear appeals against the Minister’s decisions, a move the government says is necessary to protect national security.
- The tribunal’s decisions will be final.
15. World Habitat Day
- World Habitat Day is commemorated every year on the first Monday of October
- It is to remind all the world’s citizens of their duty towards shaping the future of cities and towns.
- The day is commemorated every year worldwide to throw light on the condition of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
- The theme for World Habitat Day this year is accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world.
- Cities are responsible for some 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions with transport, buildings, energy, and waste management accounting for the bulk of urban greenhouse gas emissions.
World Habitat Day history
- World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with its theme ‘Shelter is my right’.
- It was hosted by Nairobi city during that year.
- The habitat ‘Scroll of Honour award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989.
- It is currently the most prestigious human settlement award in the world.