- The 52nd Amendment, which came into force in 1985 when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, inserted the Tenth Schedule in the Constitution, popularly known as the ‘anti-defection law’, which laid down a process for the disqualification of legislators on grounds of defection.
- A provision in the law that is relevant to the situation in Karnataka prohibits the breaking away of any section of legislators smaller than two-thirds of the strength of their party in the House.
- The anti-defection law has generally been seen as providing stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
- However, a summary of the draft working paper of the Law Commission on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Assemblies circulated last month lists, among its possible recommendations, that “in order to prevent a stalemate… in the case of Hung Parliament/Assembly, the rigour of ‘Anti-Defection law’… be removed as an exception”.
Indus river dolphin
- The Beas river is the only habitat of the Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor), an endangered species.
- However, the bhullan (the one with the long lips, as it is locally called) is not as popular as the Ganga river dolphin, the national aquatic animal, which is supported by a Dolphin Action Plan and conservation programmes.
- There are fewer than 2,000 Indus dolphins in the world, all in India and Pakistan, and studies have indicated that their habitat has shrunk by 80%. The bhullan cannot be lost.
- The tokay gecko or gekko gecko, a lizard species with orange-spotted blue-grey skin, is protected under the Schedule III of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act.
- The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) is one of the largest geckos in the country and the world; at about 15 inches the males are gigantic! This is a nocturnal arboreal gecko, ranging from northeast India, to Nepal and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea. They are very colourful lizards too.
- Occurring in the rainforests, it is primarily a tree-dweller.
- According to TRAFFIC, the Tokay Gecko remains poorly protected by national legislation throughout most of its range and is not listed for protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
International Classification of Diseases (ICD):
- The International Classification of Diseases is the standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management, and clinical purposes.
- This includes the analysis of the general health situation of population groups.
- It is used to monitor the incidence and prevalence of diseases and other health problems, providing a picture of the general health situation of countries and populations.
- The first international classification edition, known as the International List of Causes of Death, was adopted by the International Statistical Institute in 1893.
- WHO was entrusted with the ICD at its creation in 1948.
- The ICD is revised periodically and is currently in its 10th revision.
Khadi and Village Industries Commission
- The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament.
- PMEGP (Pradhan Mantri Employment Generation Programme) is a central sector scheme administered by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MoMSME).
- At the national level, the Scheme is being implemented by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) as the single nodal agency.
- At the State level, the Scheme will be implemented through State KVIC Directorates, State Khadi and Village Industries Boards (KVIBs) and District Industries Centres (DICs) and banks.
- Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has created a new world record of distributing the maximum number of bee-boxes in a single day.
- KVIC beat the previous best record of 841 in Israel around two years ago.
- Mission Innovation is a global platform of 23 countries and European Union.
- It is aimed at accelerating clean energy innovations through enhanced Government funding, greater public-private sector partnership and enhanced global cooperation.
- India is the founding member of Mission Innovation.
- The Minister will also explore opportunities for research cooperation with Mission Innovation countries for affordable clean energy innovations.
Banihal-Qazigund road link
- Banihal-Qazigund tunnel along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is likely to be operational by next year.
- The existing Jawahar tunnel, under the Banihal pass, is at an elevation of 2,194 metres making it prone to avalanches.
- The new Banihal-Qazigund tunnel’s elevation is 400 metres below the Jawahar tunnel.
- This makes it less prone to avalanches.
- The tunnel has two parallel tubes, one for each direction.
- The tunnel will have forced ventilation for extracting smoke and stale air and for infusing fresh air.
- It will have state-of-the-art monitoring and control systems for security.
Balance of Payments
- The balance of payments (BoP) record the transactions in goods, services and assets between residents of a country with the rest of the world for a specified time period typically a year. There are two main accounts in the BoP – the current account and the capital account.
- The current account records exports and imports in goods and services and transfer payments. The trade balance is obtained by subtracting imports of goods from the exports of goods. When exports exceed imports, there is a trade surplus and when imports exceed exports there is a trade deficit. Trade in servicesdenoted as invisible trade (because they are not seen to cross national borders) includes both factor income (net income from compensation of employees and net investment income, the latter equals, the interest, profits and dividends on our assets abroad minus the income foreigners earn on assets they own in India) and net non-factor income (shipping, banking, insurance, tourism, software services, etc.). Transfer payments are receipts which the residents of a country receive ‘for free’, without having to make any present or future payments in return. They consist of remittances, gifts and grants. They could be official or private. Adding trade in services and net transfers to the trade balance, we get the current account balance.
- The capital account records all international purchases and sales of assets such as money, stocks, bonds, etc. We note that any transaction resulting in a payment to foreigners is entered as a debit and is given a negative sign. Any transaction resulting in a receipt from foreigners is entered as a credit and is given a positive sign.
- It is thus clear that a trade deficit does not necessarily imply either current account deficit, capital account deficit or balance of payments deficit.
Lokpal selection committee
- Former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi has been appointed as ’eminent jurist’ in the high-profile Lokpal selection committee led by the Prime Minister.
- Besides the Prime Minister, the selection committee is composed of the Chief Justice of India and the Lok Sabha Speaker.
- Though passed in 2014, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 was not implemented all these years because there was no Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the 16th Lok Sabha.
- The 2013 statute includes the LoP as a member of the selection committee.
- The Act intends the LoP to be the part of the selection committee of the PM, the CJI and the Speaker, which has to first appoint an eminent jurist among their ranks.
Sarkaria Commission recommendations
As per the Sarkaria Commission recommendations, which were affirmed by a Constitution Bench of the SC in Rameshwar Prasad v Union of India in 2005, here are the option for the governor in case of a fractured mandate:
1. The governor can invite an alliance of parties that was formed prior to the elections.
2. The governor can invite the single largest party which stakes a claim to form the government with the support of others, including independents.
3. The governor can invite a post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining the government.
4. The governor can invite a post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a government and the remaining parties, including independents, supporting the government from outside.
Research and Information System for Developing Countries
- RIS is a New Delhi–based autonomous policy research institute (under the Ministry of External Affairs) that specialises in issues related to international economic development, trade, investment and technology.
- RIS is envisioned as a forum for fostering effective policy dialogue and capacity-building among developing countries on global and regional economic issues.
- The focus of the work programme of RIS is to promote South-South Cooperation and collaborate with developing countries in multilateral negotiations in various forums.
- RIS is engaged across inter-governmental processes of several regional economic cooperation initiatives.
- Through its intensive network of think tanks, RIS seeks to strengthen policy coherence on international economic issues and the development partnership canvas.
- BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.
- It will set off in 2018 on a journey to the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System.
- When it arrives at Mercury in late 2025, it will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C and gather data during its 1 year nominal mission, with a possible 1-year extension.
- The mission comprises two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).
- BepiColombo will be looking to deepen and extend the knowledge gained at Mercury by the US space agency’s recent Messenger mission.
Abu Ghraib prison
- The Abu Ghraib prison in the town of Abu Ghraib was one of the most notorious prisons in Iraq during the government of Saddam Hussein. The prison was used to hold approximately 50,000 men and women in poor conditions, and torture and execution were frequent.
- Three categories of prisoners were imprisoned at Abu Ghraib by the U.S. military. These were “common criminals,” individuals suspected of being leaders of the insurgency, and individuals suspected of committing crimes against the occupational force led by the U.S.
- During the war in Iraq that began in March 2003, personnel of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Shanghai Five mechanism
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
- It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism that consisted of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
- Presently, membership of the SCO includes Pakistan and India.
- Scientists have detected an unexpected rise in atmospheric levels of CFC-11, a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) highly damaging to the ozone layer. Banned by the Montreal Protocol in 1987, CFC-11 was seen to be declining as expected but that fall has slowed down by 50% since 2012. Researchers say their evidence shows it’s likely that new, illegal emissions of CFC-11 are coming from East Asia. These could hamper the recovery of the ozone hole and worsen climate change.
- CFC-11 is also known as trichlorofluoromethane, and is one of a number of CFCs that were initially developed as refrigerants during the 1930s.
- They were also used as propellants in aerosol sprays and in solvents.
- However, it took many decades for scientists to discover that when CFCs break down in the atmosphere, they release chlorine atoms that are able to rapidly destroy ozone molecules.
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are widely used in fridges, air conditioning and aerosol sprays…. Delegates meeting in Rwanda accepted a complex amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will see richer countries cut back their HFC use from 2019.
- Greenhouse gases whose contribution passes unnoticed are dubbed ‘Cinderella’ gases. Examples include CFCs and Nitrous Oxide.
- A common herb of the Himalayas, the Himalayan trillium, could soon go locally extinct in many parts of its range in India if its excessive harvests are not regulated.
- The Himalayan trillium — found across India, Bhutan, Nepal and China — is a natural source of steroidal saponins which are important components of steroidal drugs. The plant is popular in traditional Chinese medicine.
- It would be important to include it as a schedule species under the Wildlife Protection Act to ensure more protection.
Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal eco-tourism getaway for the wildlife lovers of Maharashtra. The major portion of the park has a good number of forests of firewood, timber, and teak.
- Since the park is watered by the important rivers such as Krishna, Bhima, Tapti, Purna and spread over different altitude, here one expect good no of flora species.
- a huge variety of species like Hyena, Chital, Blackbuck, Sambar, Jackal, Wild Boar, Peacock, Monkey, Blue Bull, Wildcat, Bear and much more.
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
- Located in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state in India. It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.
- Tadoba reserve covers the Chimur Hills, and the Andhari sanctuary covers Moharli and Kolsa ranges.
- It’s bounded on the northern and the western side by densely forested hills.
- Thick forests are relieved by smooth meadows and deep valleys as the terrain slopes from north to south. Tadoba reserve is a predominantly southern tropical dry deciduous forest with dense woodlands comprising about 87 per cent of the protected area. Teak is the predominant tree species. The climber kach kujali (velvet bean) found here is a medicinal plant used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
- The leaves of bheria are used as an insect repellent and bija is a medicinal gum. Beheda is also an important medicine found here.
- Aside from the keystone species, the Bengal tiger, Tadoba Tiger Reserve is home to other mammals, including: Indian leopards, sloth bears, gaur, nilgai, dhole, striped hyena, small Indian civet, jungle cats, sambar, barking deer, chital, chausingha and honey badger. Tadoba lake sustains the marsh crocodile, which were once common all over Maharashtra.
- Reptiles here include the endangered Indian python and the common Indian monitor. Terrapins, Indian star tortoise, Indian cobra and Russel’s viper also live in Tadoba.
Kawal Tiger Reserve:
- The Kawal Tiger Reserve in Mancherial district is the most unsafe place for wild animals in Telangana.
- The crimes in Kawal include poaching of a four-horned antelope, also known as a Chowsingha, which is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- There are deers, sambars, wild buffaloes and good number of langoors which can be at sight if you are lucky. The Govt of India has declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as a Tiger Reserve in 2012.
- There are two rivers enriching the place with their beautiful ambience, Godavari and Kadam.
- Two marsupial species whose males die after marathon sex sessions have been put on Australia’s endangered list, with scientists warning on Tuesday that they are racing against the clock to save them.
- The tiny black-tailed dusky antechinus and silver-headed antechinus — discovered in 2013 and found in wetter, higher-altitude regions of Queensland state — are known for suicidal mating habits that include up to 14-hour sex sessions.