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19th May Current Affairs

“Gifted child”- qualifying criteria by AICTE

(GS-II: Issues related to Education)

In News:

Last month, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) stated that it will allow institutions to set aside two more seats under the “gifted child” category.

It has now released the criteria for this.

The criteria:

A prizewinner of at least one national/international level competition organised by a government or a recognised private body.

Has received funding from a government agency for pursuing innovative projects.

Is a candidate having high-quality original research article publications in peer-reviewed journals as the first author.

Is the primary holder of a patent granted by an Indian or international patent office.

Is the owner of an app on Google/Apple/Windows stores or has launched or is in process of launching a technology based innovative product in the market (with more than 10,000 downloads).

Benefits for students under this category:

Institutions admitting students under this scheme are committed to give a complete tuition waiver to the admitted students.

Need for awareness:

Many gifted students remain unidentified as high achievers as they are laid back.

They are not counted probably due to the poor score in school, but can be potentially high achievers.

The provision of two reserved supernumerary seats is intended to maximise the innate potential of students who scored lower or did not take the admission exam.

Ethanol blend in petrol to be raised to 20% in 3 years

(GS-II: Energy and conservation related issues)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018.

As per the amendments:

The deadline for fuel firms to raise the ratio of ethanol in gasoline to 20% will be 2025.

From April 1, 2023, the policy of introducing 20% ethanol will take effect.

Benefits of 20% ethanol blending (According to NITI Aayog report):

  • Saving ₹30,000 crore of foreign exchange per year.
  • Increased energy security.
  • Lowered carbon emissions.
  • Better air quality.
  • Self-reliance.
  • Better use of damaged foodgrains.
  • Increased farmers’ incomes and greater investment opportunities.

Ethanol blending -. India’s journey so far:

As of March 13, 2022, India had attained a 9.45 percent ethanol blend. By the conclusion of the fiscal year 2022, this is expected to touch 10%.

Challenges:

A 10% blend does not necessitate major engine changes, but a 20% blend may necessitate certain changes and may even raise vehicle prices.

More blending might imply more land being diverted for water-intensive crops like sugarcane, which the government presently subsidises.

An ethanol demand of 10.16 billion litres by 2025: This will require six million tonnes of sugar and 16.5 million tonnes of grains per annum by 2025.

The increased allocation of land also puts into question the actual reduction in emissions that blending ethanol with petrol brings about.

What is ethanol?

It is the organic compound Ethyl Alcohol which is produced from biomass. It is also an ingredient in alcoholic beverages.

It has a higher octane number than gasoline, hence improves the petrol octane number.

Since ethanol contains oxygen, it is supposed to help in complete combustion of fuel, resulting in lower emissions.

NHRC flags pollution effect on human rights

(GS-III: Pollution related issues)

In News:

A latest Lancet Commission report on Pollution and Health has highlighted the impact of increasing pollution on human health in India.

Details:

Following this, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued an advisory to the Centre and State Governments on preventing, minimising and mitigating the impacts of environmental pollution and degradation on human rights.

Highlights of the Report:

India specific findings:

Air pollution was responsible for 16.7 lakh deaths in India in 2019, or 17.8% of all deaths in the country that year.

This is the largest number of air-pollution-related deaths of any country.

9.8 lakh were caused by PM2.5 pollution, and another 6.1 lakh by household air pollution.

Pollution sources associated with extreme poverty (such as indoor air pollution and water pollution): This number has reduced; but, this reduction is offset by increased deaths attributable to industrial pollution (such as ambient air pollution and chemical pollution).

Worst affected places: Air pollution is most severe in the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This area contains New Delhi and many of the most polluted cities.

Causes: Burning of biomass in households was the single largest cause of air pollution deaths in India, followed by coal combustion and crop burning.

Lead: 27.5 crore children are estimated to have blood lead concentrations that exceed 5 µg/dL.

Economic losses due to modern forms of pollution have increased as a proportion of GDP between 2000 and 2019 in India. It amounts to 1 percent of GDP.

Global findings:

Globally, air pollution alone contributes to 66.7 lakh deaths.

Overall, pollution was responsible for an estimated 90 lakh deaths in 2019 (equivalent to one in six deaths worldwide.

More than 80 crore children are estimated to have blood lead concentrations that exceed 5 µg/dL.

The factors responsible for this include rising ambient air pollution, rising chemical pollution, ageing populations and increased numbers of people exposed to pollution.

The global cost of fossil fuel air pollution is estimated to be about US $8 billion per day.

Efforts by India to combat air Pollution:

India has launched:

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana programme.

Q National Clean Air Programme.

In 2019, a Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region.

Challenges ahead:

India’s air pollution control initiatives are not guided by a centralised administrative organisation.

The general quality of the air has improved very gradually and unevenly.

Article 142

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

The Supreme Court has invoked its extraordinary powers to do complete justice under Article 142 of the Constitution and ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

What necessitated this?

The court ordered Perarivalan’s freedom after considering his extended detention of almost 30 years.

The court used its constitutional rights because of the extended wait and the Governor’s unwillingness to take a decision on the pardon petition.

What is Article 142?

From the Union Carbide Case in 1989 to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir judgment in 2019, the top court has many a time invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

Article 142 “provide(s) a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties,e., where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner which would befit the facts of the case.

Why did the Constituent Assembly feel the need to incorporate Article 142?

The Constituent Assembly emphasised the importance of including such an article in the Constitution.

The writers of the Constitution believed that this provision was critical for individuals who are forced to suffer because of the legal system’s disadvantageous position in granting required remedies.

Pardoning powers of the President vs Governor:

The court dismissed the Centre’s argument that the President exclusively, and not the Governor, had the power to grant pardon in a case under Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Because, this argument would declare Article 161 a “dead letter,” resulting in an exceptional situation in which Governors’ pardons in murder cases dating back 70 years would be rendered invalid.