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19th December Current Affairs

N.K. Singh calls for a fresh look at the Seventh Schedule

In News:

Fifteenth Finance Commission chairman N.K. Singh has called for a fresh look at the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule, which forms the basis for allocating subjects to the Centre and States.

This is necessary to give more flexibility to States in implementing centrally sponsored schemes and to reinforce trust in fiscal federalism.

Seventh Schedule:

The seventh schedule under Article 246 of the constitution deals with the division of powers between the union and the states.

It contains three lists- Union List, State List and Concurrent List.

The union list details the subjects on which Parliament may make laws while the state list details those under the purview of state legislatures.

The concurrent list on the other hand has subjects in which both Parliament and state legislatures have jurisdiction. However the Constitution provides federal supremacy to Parliament on concurrent list items in case of a conflict.

Plasmodium ovale and other types of malaria

In News:

A not very common type of malaria, Plasmodium ovale, has been identified in a jawan in Kerala.

Types of malaria:

Malaria is caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito, if the mosquito itself is infected with a malarial parasite.

There are five kinds of malarial parasites Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium knowlesi.

Plasmodium ovale:

Symptoms include fever for 48 hours, headache and nausea, and the treatment modality is the same as it is for a person infected with P vivax. P ovale is no more dangerous than getting a viral infection.

Justice Jain committee

In News:

Constituted by the Supreme Court in September 2018.

Details:

Its work is to unravel the rogue officials responsible for the infamous ISRO “frame-up” case of 1994, which destroyed the life and reputation of Nambi Narayanan, one of the country’s prominent space scientists.

What’s the issue?

At the time of his arrest on November 30, 1994, Mr. Narayanan was working on cryogenic engine technology at the premier Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The police investigators had accused him of passing on documents and drawings of ISRO relating to Viking/Vikas engine technology, cryogenic engine technology and PSLV flight data/drawings to Pakistan.

What happened at the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2018 as a criminal frame-up based on “some kind fancy or notion”. It said Mr. Narayanan’s career was “smothered.”

The CBI, which took over the probe from the Kerala Police, had promptly filed a closure report in 1996. But Mr. Narayanan fought on to bring his accusers to justice.

The apex court, in its 2018 judgment, had called the treatment meted out to the scientist while he was in custody “psycho-pathological”.

The court ordered the Kerala government to pay Mr. Narayanan ₹50 lakh in compensation, though it said mere money was not enough to make up for the torture the scientist had endured for 24 years.

Also, the scientist had said that the prosecution launched by the Kerala police had a “catastrophic effect” on his career and personal life, besides setting back the technological advancement in space research.

Cryogenic technology:

Cryogenic technology involves the use of rocket propellants at extremely low temperatures.

The combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen offers the highest energy efficiency for rocket engines that need to produce large amounts of thrust.

Specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency) achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving it a substantial payload advantage.

Why this technology is important for India?

India is only the 6th country to develop the cryogenic engine after the USA, France, Japan, China and Russia.

It is important technology for India because India could launch heavy satellites (of weight more than 2500-3000kg) with the help of Cryogenic engines and its critical for the success of GSLV program.

The technology also holds importance in the context that India was denied this technology in 1990s by the USA when India was making deal with Russian agency to transfer of technology.

With this technology India does not have to depend on the other space agencies.

It will not just help ISRO probe deeper into space but will also bring it extra revenue, enabling it to make commercial launches of heavier satellites. By providing the cost effective and reliable services India can tap the Asian and African space markets, which are looking towards India on this front.

What is asset under management (aum)?

In News:

Heading for a contraction in the current fiscal, the first time in more than a decade, assets under management (AUM) of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) are set to grow again at a relatively subdued 5-6% next fiscal.

Details:

The turnaround will be led by larger entities with stronger parentage.

Challenges ahead:

Despite an estimated GDP growth of 10% next fiscal, the overall NBFC sector growth is likely to be slower because access to funding remains a challenge due to concerns about the impact of the pandemic on asset quality.

Additionally, competition is expected to be more intense from banks which are flush with low-cost deposits and better placed with improved capital buffer than in the previous years.

What are Assets under management?

It measures the total market value of all the financial assets which a financial institution manages on behalf of its clients and themselves.

AUM is an indicator of the size and success of a given fund house.

Declare exotic pets, avoid prosecution: how one-time scheme works

In News:

The Supreme Court has upheld an Allahabad High Court order granting immunity from investigation and prosecution if one declared illegal acquisition or possession of exotic wildlife species between June and December.

What is the government’s voluntary disclosure scheme?

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has come out with an advisory on a one-time voluntary disclosure scheme that allows owners of exotic live species that have been acquired illegally, or without documents, to declare their stock to the government between June and December 2020.

What can be the impact?

With this scheme, the government aims to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases, develop an inventory of exotic live species for better compliance under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and regulate their import.

What kind of exotic wildlife is covered?

The advisory has defined exotic live species as animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES.

It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.

A plain reading of the advisory excludes exotic birds from the amnesty scheme.

CITES:

CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in wild animals, birds and plants does not endanger them.

India is a member.

Appendices I, II and III of CITES list 5,950 species as protected against over-exploitation through international trade.

Many of these animals, such as iguanas, lemurs, civets, albino monkeys, coral snakes, tortoises, are popular as exotic pets in India.

How big a problem is illegal trade of exotic animals in India?

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which enforces anti-smuggling laws, says India has emerged as a big demand centre for exotic birds and animals with an increase in smuggling of endangered species from different parts of the world.

Most of this exotic wildlife is imported through Illegal channels and then sold in the domestic market as pets.