No religious minority tag to Lingayat/Veerashaiva community
The Union government has told the Karnataka High Court that it has rejected the recommendation of the State government to grant religious minority status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva community.
The Union government has reiterated the earlier stand of the Centre that Lingayat/Veerashaiva community is part of Hindu religion.
The community has been demanding status of a separate religion for a long time. One part of the community demands the minority status for both Veerashaiva and Lingayats considering them the same, while another wants it only for the Lingayats as it considers Veershaivas to be Hindus.
The Karnataka government, in March this year, decided to declare Lingayats as a religious minority and include the Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna as a group within the community.
Who are Lingayats?
Lingayats are followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and his vachana (verses) philosophy. Their beliefs, practices and faith are different. Veerashaivas worship Lord Shiva, the one mentioned in Hindu mythology. However, the Shiva that Basavanna referred to in his vachanas (verses) is not the Hindu god Shiva but the ishtalinga (formless God), which people of the community wear around their neck.
Who are Veerashaivas?
Veerashaivas are a sub-sect of Lingayats and ardent followers of Lord Shiva. They preceded Basavanna, the founder of Lingayatism. Veerashaivism has its roots in the Vedas and Agamas, and Veerashaivas do not worship any god other than Shiva; they can be found spread across Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Who is Basavanna?
Basavanna was a 12th-century social reformer. The revolution that Basavanna led came years after the Buddha. It was Basavanna and his contemporary Sharanas who launched a very strong spiritual, social and religious rebellion against Brahminical hegemony. Basavanna had declared that “work is worship”. He gave women equal status in his movement through the vachanas (verses). In order to take the social movement closer to the people, Basavanna and all the other Sharanas voiced their concerns in simple Kannada vachanas so that even lay people could comprehend them.
Source: The Hindu
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (Land Acquisition Act), 2013
The Supreme Court has asked five states to give their response to a petition filed by social activists questioning the state amendments made to the land acquisition law, which the petitioners claim have diluted the safeguards the central law provides for against forcible acquisition.
The activists have questioned the changes made to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (Land Acquisition Act), 2013 by Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. The petitioners have contended that the amendments by the states are identical and go against the “basic structure” of the central law.
According to the petition the states amended the act by way of ordinances to exempt broad categories of land projects from consent provisions, social impact assessment, objections by affected citizens and participation of local bodies. Projects exempted are linear category projects such as industrial corridors, expressways, highways etc.
Petitioners have challenged the power of the states to introduce such amendments that are conflicting with the central law and want them to be declared as illegal.
Petitioners contend that the amendments made by the states were in violation of Article 21, which guarantees the right to live with dignity and personal liberty.
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act):
Main features of act:
Clearly defines various types of “public purpose” projects for which, Government can acquire private land.
Acquiring land: For private project, 80% affected families must agree. For PPP project, 70% affected families must agree. Only then land can be acquired.
Social impact assessment: Under Social impact assessment (SIA) even need to obtain consent of the affected artisans, labourers, share-croppers, tenant farmers etc whose (sustainable) livelihood will be affected because of the given project.
Compensation: Compensation proportion to market rates. 4 times the market rate in rural area. 2 times in urban area. Affected artisans, small traders, fishermen etc. will be given one-time payment, even if they don’t own any land.
To ensure food security: Fertile, irrigated, multi-cropped farmland can be acquired only in last resort. If such fertile land is acquired, then Government will have to develop equal size of wasteland for agriculture purpose.
Private entities: If Government acquires the lands for private company- the said private company will be responsible for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people. Additional rehabilitation package for SC/ST owners.
Safeguards: State Governments have to setup dispute settlement Chairman must be a district judge or lawyer for 7 years.
Accountability: Head of the department will be made responsible, for any offense from Government’s side. If project doesn’t start in 5 years, land has to be returned to the original owner or the land bank. Establishment of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority for speedy disposal of disputes.
The Central Act of 2013 was brought to give effect to pre-existing fundamental right to livelihood of citizens. It ensures that livelihood will not be taken away unless(i) it is in public interest and that is seen by social impact assessment (ii) The affected citizens are given rehabilitation. The amendments made without considering the above factors will take away fundamental rights of the citizens.
Source: The Hindu
Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs)
According to a study, of the 110 anti-TB (tuberculosis) Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) available in India, only 32 (less than 30%) have been approved by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the country’s drug regulator.
As of April, the CDSCO had approved 1,288 FDCs. This is disproportionately high compared with the availability in a tightly regulated market like USFDA, which has only a few hundred approved FDCs.
What’s the main concern now?
The problem of unapproved FDCs mainly affects those who get treated in the private sector. In the absence of a strong pharmacovigilance mechanism in India, there is no data on adverse events of these unapproved FDCs.
What’s ailing the system?
There are multiple deficiencies in the CDSCO’s approval process for FDCs. Main amongst them are institutional problems such as understaffing, lack of skills, and inadequate infrastructure. However, the most significant issue is the issuance of manufacturing licenses by the State Licensing Authority without the prior clearance of the Drug Controller General of India DCG(I), the head of CDSCO.
What are FDCs?
An FDC is a cocktail of two or more active drug ingredients in a fixed ratio of doses. According to US healthcare provider IMS Health, almost half the drugs sold in India in 2014 were FDC, making it a world leader in combination drugs.
Why are they popular in India?
FDCs’ popularity in India is due to advantages such as increased efficacy, better compliance, reduced cost and simpler logistics of distribution. FDCs have shown to be particularly useful in the treatment of infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, where giving multiple antimicrobial agents is the norm. FDCs are also useful for chronic conditions especially, when multiple disorders co-exist.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.
Source: The Hindu
Health Ministry notifies four more devices under Drugs and Cosmetics Act
Commonly used medical devices such as nebulizers, blood pressure monitors, digital thermometers and glucometers have been notified as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, a step which will enable the government to ensure their quality and performance.
The Drug Controller-General of India (DCGI) would regulate the import, manufacture and sale of these devices from January 1, 2020.
All these devices will have to be registered under the quality parameters prescribed under Medical Devices Rules 2017 and other standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) certification.
Also, companies which are engaged in the manufacture and import of these equipment, will have to seek the necessary permission or license from the Drug Controller-General of India.
Currently, only 23 medical devices are monitored for quality by the country’s drug regulator. With four new devices being notified, 27 medical devices now fall under the definition of drugs under the Act. The other medical equipments are sold without any quality checks or clinical trials.
The Drug Technical Advisory Body (DTAB), the country’s highest drug advisory body, had approved the proposal to include nebulizers, blood pressure monitoring devices, digital thermometers and glucometers under the purview of the Drug Law.
Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) is the highest decision-making body under the Union health ministry on technical matters.
Director General of Health Services (DGHS) is the ex-officio chairman of this statutory body which is constituted by the ministry under section 5 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Source: The Hindu
India successfully test-fired nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-5, which has a strike range of 5,000 km, from Dr Abdul Kalam island off the Odisha coast recently.
Key features of the missile:
Agni- 5 is the intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile. It is the latest in India’s “Agni” family of medium to intercontinental range missiles.
Agni-5 has a range of over 5,000 km and can carry about a 1500-kg warhead. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe.
The 17-metre long Agni-5 Missile weighs about 50 tonnes and is a very agile and modern weapon system.
The surface-to-surface missile is a fire-and-forget system that cannot be easily detected as it follows a ballistic trajectory. India describes the Agni – 5 missile system as a ‘weapon of peace’.
India has already joined an elite club of nations that possess the ICBM launch capability when the maiden test-firing of Agni-V was successfully conducted in April, 2012. Only the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United States and Britain, along with Israel, have so far possessed such long-range missiles.
Source: The Hindu
NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft
NASA’s Voyager 2 has entered interstellar space, leaving behind the solar system.
Accomplishments so far:
Voyager 2 is the only probe ever to study Neptune and Uranus during planetary flybys.
It is the second man-made object to leave our planet. It is now 11 billion miles from Earth, following behind it’s sister spacecraft, Voyager 1, which is 6 years ahead of it. The probe is estimated to be travelling at 34,000 mph.
Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited all four gas giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — and discovered 16 moons, as well as phenomena like Neptune’s mysteriously transient Great Dark Spot, the cracks in Europa’s ice shell, and ring features at every planet.
What is Interstellar space?
Scientists use the heliopause to mark where interstellar space begins, although depending on how you define our solar system it can stretch all the way to the Oort Cloud, which begins 1,000 times farther away from the sun than Earth’s orbit.
The heliosphere is a bubble around the sun created by the outward flow of the solar wind from the sun and the opposing inward flow of the interstellar wind. That heliosphere is the region influenced by the dynamic properties of the sun that are carried in the solar wind–such as magnetic fields, energetic particles and solar wind plasma. The heliopause marks the end of the heliosphere and the beginning of interstellar space.
About Voyager mission:
The Voyager mission was launched in the 1970’s, and the probes sent by NASA were only meant to explore the outer planets – but they just kept on going.
Voyager 1 departed Earth on 5 September 1977, a few days after Voyager 2 and left our solar system in 2013.
The mission objective of the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM) is to extend the NASA exploration of the solar system beyond the neighborhood of the outer planets to the outer limits of the Sun’s sphere of influence, and possibly beyond.
The Voyager spacecraft are the third and fourth human spacecraft to fly beyond all the planets in our solar system. Pioneers 10 and 11 preceded Voyager in outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun but on February 17, 1998, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant human-made object in space.
Source: The Hindu
Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) 2018
World Bank has released its report — Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) 2018 — charting global progress on sustainable energy policies. The report was released on the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(COP24).
Highlights of the report:
Many of the world’s largest energy-consuming countries significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010.
Progress was even more marked in energy efficiency, with the percentage of countries establishing advanced policy frameworks growing more than 10-fold between 2010 and 2017.
Among countries with large populations living without electricity, 75 per cent had by 2017 put in place the policies and regulations needed to expand energy access. But there were still significant barriers to global progress on sustainable energy.
While countries continue to be focused on clean energy policies for electricity, policies to decarbonize heating and transportation, which account for 80 per cent of global energy use, continued to be overlooked.
This momentum was particularly marked in renewable energy. Among the countries covered by RISE, only 37 per cent had a national renewable energy target in 2010. By 2017, that had grown to 93 per cent.
By last year, 84 per cent of countries had a legal framework in place to support renewable energy deployment, while 95 per cent allowed the private sector to own and operate renewable energy projects.
Among the four SDG7 target areas — renewable energy, energy efficiency, electricity access and access to clean cooking — the last one continued to be the most overlooked and underfunded by policymakers.
There has been little progress on standard-setting for cookstoves or on consumer and producer incentives to stimulate adoption of clean technologies.
India has gained a great success in renewable energy auctions that delivered record-setting low prices for solar power. However, to realize its full potential, the country needs to address critical gaps, such as failing utilities, clean cooking, and the slow progress on decarbonizing heating and transport.
Source: The Hindu
Kerala becomes first state to have four international airports
With the inauguration of the Kannur airport, Kerala has now become the first state in India to have four international airports, with Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode being the other three.
Kaiga power station-1 creates a world record yet again:
Karnataka’s Kaiga has once again made the country proud by creating a world record for the longest uninterrupted operation for 941 days, thereby breaking the earlier record of 940 days by the United Kingdom.
KGS-1 at Kaiga, located 56 km from Karwar has been generating electricity continuously since May 13, 2016. It isan indigenously-built PHWR run by domestic fuel (uranium). It began commercial operations on November 16, 2000, and has produced 500 cr. units of power so far. In June, KGS-1 had set a national record for continuous operation of 766 days.
National Pension Scheme