Malaysian government decides to abolish capital punishment
The Malaysian Cabinet has decided to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions. The government has taken the decision to scrap capital punishment following strong domestic opposition to the practice.
Activists contended that the death penalty is barbarous, unimaginably cruel and pointless, as it has never been proven to deter serious crimes. They say, once the sentence is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad.
Capital punishment is currently mandatory in Malaysia for a wide range of crimes including murder, drug trafficking, treason, kidnapping, possession of firearms and acts of terror. The sentence is carried out in the nation by hanging, a legacy which has lived on since the British colonial rule.
Can capital punishment reduce crime rates?
Statistics have not been able to prove or disprove the efficacy of capital punishment as a deterrent. While the U.K. has seen an increase in murders since 1965 when capital punishment for murder was removed from the statute book, Canada has not seen any such impact since it abolished the death penalty in 1976. The underlying socio-economic conditions in a society that cause crimes seem to have as much of an impact on the increase or decrease of crimes as the law does.
Need of the hour:
It is not the severity of the punishment but the certainty and uniformity of it which will reduce crime. Even for capital punishment to work as a deterrent, the fairness of the investigation, the certainty of conviction, and the speed of the trial are vital. With the police and judicial independence being under a cloud, especially after the incidents in Kathua and Unnao, the deterrent value of capital punishment seems diminished unless police reforms and fast-track courts are a part of the package.
Source: The Hindu
India has been re-elected to UNHRC for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates.
Besides India, the 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 terms.
The UN body was established in 2006 with the aim of promoting and protecting human rights around the globe, as well as investigating alleged human rights violations.
It is made up of 47 member states, which are selected by the UN General Assembly on a staggered basis each year for three-year-long terms.
Members meet around three times a year to debate human rights issues and pass non-binding resolutions and recommendations by majority vote.
The council also carries out the Universal Periodic Review of all UN member states, which allows civil society groups to bring accusations of human rights violations in member states to the attention of the UN.
Source: The Hindu
100k Genome Asia Project
A group of Indian scientists and companies are involved with a 100k GenomeAsia project, led out of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, to sequence the whole genomes of 100k Asians, including 50,000 Indians.
About 100k Genome Asia Project:
A non-profit consortium called GenomeAsia 100K has announced an ambitious plan to sequence 100,000 Asian individuals in hopes of accelerating precision medicine applications for Asian populations.
It will also leverage on big data analytics and advances in data science and artificial intelligence. Participants from 12 South Asian countries and at least seven North and East Asian countries will be selected.
In the first phase, the project will focus on creating phased reference genomes for all major Asian ethnic groups—representing a major step forward in understanding the population history and substructure of the region.
The sequencing of 100,000 individual genomes will be paired with microbiome, clinical and phenotype information to allow deeper analysis of diseased and healthy individuals in the context of inferred local ancestries.
With recent insights into the genome diversity of Asian ethnicities, it will become possible to understand the biology of disease in the currently under-studied Asian populations that represent 40 percent of humankind.
Furthermore, the unique genetic diversity prevalent in South, North and East Asia provides a valuable source of clinical insights that should enhance our understanding of several rare and inherited diseases, as well as chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Source: The Hindu
Chandra X-Ray Observatory
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has entered protective “safe mode” due to a malfunction of some soft.
About Chandra X-Ray Observatory:
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is a NASA telescope that looks at black holes, quasars, supernovas, and the like – all sources of high energy in the universe. It shows a side of the cosmos that is invisible to the human eye.
It was previously known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF).
After more than a decade in service, the observatory has helped scientists glimpse the universe in action. It has watched galaxies collide, observed a black hole with cosmic hurricane winds, and glimpsed a supernova turning itself inside out after an explosion.
The telescope is named after the Nobel Prize-winning Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.
Source: The Hindu
International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018
International Day for Disaster Reduction was observed on October 13th.
Theme: The theme of the 2018 International Day for Disaster Reduction was ‘Reducing Disaster Economic Losses’.
The 2018 theme continues as part of the “Sendai Seven” campaign, centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework. This year focuses on Target C of the Sendai Framework, which is, ‘reducing disaster economic losses in relation to global GDP by 2030’.
In 1989, the UN General Assembly through a resolution had designated the second Wednesday of October as International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.
Later on December 21, 2009, the Assembly adopted a new resolution on in which it designated 13 October as the date to commemorate the Day and it also changed the day’s name to International Day for Disaster Reduction.
The main objective of the observance is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.
About Sendai Framework:
The “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030” was adopted during the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.
Key features of the Sendai framework:
The implementation of the Sendai Framework involves adopting integrated and inclusive institutional measures so as to work towards preventing vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery and strengthen resilience.
Source: The Hindu
WORLD EGG DAY 2018- October 12th
Alternative Nobel Literature Prize
Guadeloupean author Maryse Conde has won the New Academy Prize in Literature, an alternative award formed in protest to Nobel Literature Prize.
About New Academy Prize in Literature:
New Academy Prize in Literature was formed by New Academy consisting of more than 100 Swedish writers, artists and journalists in protest to denounce what its founders called bias, arrogance and sexism of Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel laureates. The New Academy Prize is accompanied by one million kronor, or around $112,000.
The world’s most innovative universities- 2018
The Reuters’ top 100 World’s Most Innovative University ranking recognises universities from across the world for their work in inventing new technologies, advance science and power new markets and industries. It was first published in 2015, since then there has been no mention of any Indian university in the list.
The 2018 edition:
For the fourth year running, Stanford University tops Reuters’ ranking of the World’s Most Innovative Universities. No Indian university is in the list.
In this top 100 list, 48 universities are from North America find mention on the list, 23 Asian universities, 27 from Europe and 2 from the Middle East. The list has no mention of universities from South America, Africa and Oceania countries that include Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
US dominated the list with 46 universities among the top 100. This year Chinese varsities have increased their presence in this with total five universities. The key factor was this year’s ranking was Geopolitical trends. Stanford University from US has topped this list for four consecutive years. The second and third spots have been held by US’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University respectively.