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7 August Current Affairs

Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018

In News:

Parliament has passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The main highlight of the bill is that it seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes punishment of death.

Highlights of the Bill:

Punishment:

  • It provides for stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
  • The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
  • In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts’ “natural life”.
  • The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.
  • Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence. Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.

Speedy investigation:

The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.

The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

Bail related provisions:

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years. It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

Need for a stringent law:

The number of reported cases of rapes of children increased in India by 82% in 2016 compared to 2015. A climate of violence, social and economic insecurity, alienation, and a progressive undermining of the status of women and children seem to have given an impetus to carry out crimes against women and children.

Therefore, the legal system must give a clear signal that we as a nation consider the rape of children below the age of 12 as among the most heinous of offences. Making such crimes punishable by capital punishment certainly gives such a signal.

Is it sufficient?

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.

What is needed?

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.

Facts for Prelims:

Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have passed a Bill providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls of 12 years and below.

Source: The Hindu

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

In News:

NITI Aayog has identified 117 districts as ‘Aspirational Districts’ for Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).

Selection of the districts:

These districts have been selected on the basis of the composite index which includes published data of deprivation enumerated under Socio-Economic Caste Census, Health & Nutrition, Education and Basic Infrastructure.

Key facts:

Support by the Centre: Under the scheme, central assistance is provided for opening of new Model Degree Colleges(MDCs) in these districts and in unserved & underserved districts in North Eastern and Himalayan States.

Kind of support: The central support provided under the component of new MDCs is infrastructural in nature in which funds are released for creation of Colleges with requisite infrastructure such as appropriate number of class rooms, library, laboratory, faculty rooms, toilet blocks and other essential requirements for technologically advanced facilities.

States’ role: Under this component, a commitment is given by the State Governments that all recurring expenditure (including salaries) in respect of the MDC being established, will be borne by the respective State Government. Additionally, under a separate component of RUSA viz., Faculty Recruitment Support, central support is provided for creation of additional posts of Assistant Professors.

About RUSA:

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched in 2013 aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.

Funding:

The central funding (in the ratio of 60:40 for general category States, 90:10 for special category states and 100% for union territories) would be norm based and outcome dependent.

The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.

The funding to states would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.

Objectives:

The key objectives of RUSA are to improve access, equity and quality in higher education through planned development of higher education at the state level. Objectives include creating new academic institutions, expanding and upgrading the existing ones, developing institutions that are self-reliant in terms of quality education, professionally managed, and characterized by greater inclination towards research and provide students with education that is relevant to them as well the nation as a whole.

Components:

  • RUSA would create new universities through upgradation of existing autonomous colleges and conversion of colleges in a cluster.
  • It would create new model degree colleges, new professional colleges and provide infrastructural support to universities and colleges.
  • Faculty recruitment support, faculty improvements programmes and leadership development of educational administrators are also an important part of the scheme.
  • In order to enhance skill development the existing central scheme of Polytechnics has been subsumed within RUSA. A separate component to synergise vocational education with higher education has also been included in RUSA.
  • Besides these, RUSA also supports reforming, restructuring and building capacity of institutions in participating state.

Source: PIB

Startup India’s Academia Alliance Programme

In News:

Startup India launched the Startup Academia Alliance programme.

Details:

Aim: The Startup Academia Alliance aims to reduce the gap between scientific research and its industrial applications in order to increase the efficacy of these technologies and widen their impact.

Key Highlights:

The first phase of Startup Academia Alliance will be implemented in partnership with Regional Centre for Biotechnology, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and TERI School of Advanced Studies.

Renowned scholars from these institutes, from fields including renewable energy, biotechnology, healthcare and life sciences were taken on board to provide mentorship and guidance to the startups working in relevant areas.

Source: PIB

‘8888’ uprising

In News:

August 8 marks the 30th anniversary of this uprising.

Details:

It was a series of nationwide protests, marches and civil unrest in Burma (Myanmar) that peaked in August 1988. Key events occurred on 8 August 1988 and therefore it is known as the 8888 Uprising.

Overview of the uprising:

‘8888’ was a people’s movement that challenged the then ruling Burma Socialist Programme Party’s grip on political, economic and social affairs which led the country into extreme poverty.

The objective of ‘8888’ was two-fold: to push for the transfer of power from the military to a civilian leadership and a change in the political system from an authoritarian regime to a multi-party democracy.

Outcomes:

The protests and the bloody crackdown gave rise to the National League for Democracy (NLD), a political party which paved the way for the current Myanmar State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi’s entry into politics and for the pro-democracy movement to continue.

The present set up:

The democratic transition in Myanmar thus far has been meticulously designed by the military. The primary objective, which is laid out in the country’s 2008 Constitution, is to give the military a dominant role in politics. In a parallel to the ‘Burmese way to socialism’ introduced by former military leader Ne Win in the 1960s, Myanmar now practices what can be called the ‘Burmese way to democracy’ as introduced by former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in 2003 when he announced the military’s seven-step road map to a flourishing democracy.

Way ahead:

For democracy to strike deep roots in Myanmar, the role of the ‘8888’ leaders remains important. The military must note that the people of Myanmar as well as members of the international community want a democracy that respects the rights of all its people, including the minorities.

The military may hesitate to roll back its dominant role in Myanmar’s politics but it should note that no democracy can succeed when the military holds the reins and is unaccountable to an elected civilian leadership.

Source: The Hindu

RISECREEK

In News:

They are industry-standard microprocessors developed by scientists from IIT- Madras. They are produced under Project Shakti and have been fabricated free at Intel’s facility at Oregon, U.S., to run the Linux operating system.

Key features:

These microprocessors can be adapted by others, as the design is open source. They optimise power use and compete with international units such as the Cortex A5 from Advanced RISC Machines (ARM).

At a frequency of 350 MHz, RISECREEK can meet the demands of defence and strategic equipment such as NAVIC (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite) and Internet of Things (IoT) electronics.

Project Shakti:

The Shakti plan started in 2014 as an IIT-M initiative. Last year, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology funded a part of the project.

The Shakti project is not aimed at only building processors. It also aims to build high speed interconnects for servers and supercomputers based on variants of the RapidiIO and GenZ standards. These are key to build large clusters of processors to get Petaflop and Exaflop level supercomputers.

Source: The Hindu

Chandrayaan-2

In News:

The mission, Chandrayaan 2, has been postponed again from its proposed October launch to January 2019. This time, the delay was caused because the indigenously developed lander was having trouble with rethrottling. The lander has now gone back to the design table for a design change.

Background- timeline of the mission:

Chandrayaan 2’s journey has been rather slow so far. Although the mission was envisioned way back in November 2007, as a joint mission between India and Russia, it had faced a series of setbacks.

As per the tie-up, Russia was supposed to provide the lander for the mission, while India would develop the rover and orbiter. ISRO had its prototype ready for a 2013 launch but Russia delayed delivering the lander. Later, Russia said it would not be able to provide a lander for ISRO.

India then called off the deal and decided to make the Chandrayaan mission completely indigenous. The development has taken time, and given that it is the first time India is developing a lander, the programme has faced many glitches like the present one.

About Chandrayaan-2:

Chandrayaan-2 includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface. It is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration.

The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface — all three sending data and pictures to Earth.

It is planned to be launched as a composite stack into the earth parking orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km by GSLV-Mk II.

Source: The Hindu

Uakitite

In News:

It is a new mineral has been discovered in a meteorite in Eastern Russia.

Key facts:

It is named “uakitite” after the Uakit region of Siberia where the meteorite was discovered.

98% of the Uakit meteorite is an iron alloy called kamacite, which so far has only been found in other meteorites. The other two percent is comprised of minerals that form in space.

Lack of enough data:

Scientists don’t know a lot more about this mysterious space rock as they were unable to obtain all physical and optical properties of the mineral because of its small size.

Source: The Hindu

Maitree 2018

In News:

It is an annual joint military training exercise between India and Thailand. The 2018 edition of this exercise is being held in Thailand.

Details:

Aim: The aim of this exercise is to build and promote closer relations while exchanging skills and experiences between the two armies.

Last exercise was held in Himachal Pradesh’s Bakloh in 2017.

Source: PIB

Xingkong-2

In News:

It is China’s hypersonic “waverider” flight vehicle. It is also called Starry Sky-2.

Key features of the aircraft:

It is capable of flying independently and of carrying nuclear warheads.

It glides at high speeds using shockwaves generated by its own hypersonic flight with the air.

Source: PIB

Startup Academia Alliance Programme

  • Startup India under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has recently launched the Startup Academia Alliance programme.
  • It is a unique mentorship opportunity between academic scholars and startups working in similar domains.
  • It aims to reduce the gap between scientific research and its industrial applications in order to increase the efficacy and impact of these technologies.
  • The first phase of the programme was launched in partnership with Regional Centre for Biotechnology and TERI.

National Commission for Backward Classes

  • The 123rd constitutional amendment bill to provide consitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes secured parliament’s approval.
  • The Present NCBC is a statutory body, created in 1993.
  • It’s power is limited only to recommend to the government inclusion or exclusion of a community in the central list of OBCs.
  • Also, the power to hear complaints of the OBCs and protect their interests remained with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
  • After this amendment, NCBC will be able to enforce the safeguards provided to the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) and solve their grievances.
  • The bill gives the proposed Commission the power to inquire into complaints of deprivation of rights and safeguards.
  • It gives it the powers of a civil court trying a suit and allows it to summon anyone, require documents to be produced, and receive evidence on affidavit.
  • It will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes.
  • These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.

Biggest land survey exercise

  • The State government of Maharashtra, along with the Survey of India, had initiated a project, which will survey about 1.20 lakh hectares using drones.
  • If the current method “Electronic Total Stations (ETS) ” are used, it will take 30 years to survey such a big area.
  • ETS is a field instrument for surveying of land, which establishes maps and boundaries for landowners.
  • Survey of India will procure the drones, survey the lands, process the images and then hand over the data to the Settlement Commissioner office of Maharashtra.

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