News 1: Dark sky reserve to come up in Hanle, Ladakh
Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the setting up of India’s first dark sky reserve at Hanle in Ladakh.
Hanle and dark sky reserve:
Hanle, which is about 4,500 metres above sea level, hosts telescopes and is regarded as one of the world’s most optimal sites for astronomical observations.
A dark sky reserve is a designation given to a place that has minimal artificial light interference. The designation is provided by The International Dark Sky Association which is a U.S.-based non-profit organization.
Ideal conditions of the reserve
Located atop Mt. Saraswati in the Nilamkhul Plain in the Hanle Valley of Changthang, it is a dry, cold desert with sparse human population.
The cloudless skies and low atmospheric water vapour make it one of the best sites.
Implications of setting up Hanle Dark sky reserve:
It will help in boosting local tourism and economy through interventions of science and technology.
This will promote astro-tourism, villagers will be trained to help people with astronomical observations and villages will be encouraged to promote homestays equipped with telescopes that visitors can use to view the night sky.
News 2: Scientists remain sceptical about how nano urea benefits crops
Nano urea, a fertilizer patented and sold by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO), has been approved by the government for commercial for its potential to reduce import bill.
Nano urea and it’s benefits:
IFFCO’s nano urea contains nitrogen, an element critical for plant development, in the form of granules that are a hundred thousand times finer than a sheet of paper.
Nano urea process used “organic polymers” that kept the nano particles of nitrogen stable and in a form that could be sprayed on plants.
Unlike the coarse particles that is thrown by farmers during sowing, the nano particle form of nano urea, when applied on to the leaves, stimulates enzymes such as nitrase and nitrite reductase, which help plants metabolise nitrogen.
As nano particles are so small and numerous, they have a lot more surface area relative to their volume, and thus plants are exposed to nearly 10,000 times more in nitrogen.
Nano urea have a shelf life of a year and it does not cake when it comes into contact with moisture.
It increases crop productivity and reduces water and soil pollution.
Application of 1 bottle of Nano Urea can effectively replace at least 1 bag of Urea
Small size (20-50 nm) of Nano Urea increases its availability to crop by more than 80%.
Issues with nano urea:
Plants need nitrogen to make protein and they source almost all of it from soil bacteria which live in a plant’s roots and break down the atmospheric nitrogen, or from chemicals such as urea into a form usable by plants. But not all urea cast on plants will be able to utilize it completely.
Several agricultural scientists are of the view, that chemically packaged urea contains 46% nitrogen, which means a 45-kg sack contains about 20 kg of nitrogen. Contrastingly, nano urea sold in 500-ml bottles has only 4% nitrogen (or around 20 g). The challenge is how nano urea will be able to compensate the requirement of nitrogen required by plants.
Another criticism is that Urea is highly water soluble and can reach the lowest form of concentration when absorbed. The issue is how increase in nanoparticles can increase the uptake effectiveness of nitrogen.
News 3: Hasina’s visit to focus on water sharing
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s September 5-8 India visit is expected to focus on issues such as water sharing, energy cooperation, uninterrupted commercial flow and greater connectivity.
Irritants in relations:
Teesta water dispute is a long term issue as West Bengal objected to water sharing agreement of 2011 which allocates the share of water between India and Bangladesh about 42.5% and 37.5% respectively.
The China factor plays a crucial role in upholding the security interests of India by Bangladesh while balancing its economic interests, which becomes difficult in this constantly changing geopolitical equation of South Asia.
The rolling out of National Register for Citizens by India has caused concern in Bangladesh as the identification might lead to deportation to Bangladesh, which will face another issue in accommodating these migrants along with Rohingya refugees.
Convergence of India – Bangladesh interests:
India and Bangladesh have historical links, common culture and social affinities which will promote tourism as strengthen ties and ultimately lead to open a golden chapter in our bilateral relations.
Bangladesh is India’s South Asian Largest Trade partner.
Bangladesh and India have signed motor connectivity pacts such as Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative Motor Vehicles Agreement.
India shares its longest border with Bangladesh and the continued cooperation between both the countries has led to apprehending of smugglers and non-state actors and successful ratification of India- Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement.
The Maitree Thermal Power project will be inaugurated by the two prime ministers and this will strengthen ties in the domain of energy security.
News 4: Road accidents in India
Former TATA Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry was killed in a road accident on National Highway in Maharashtra.
Precarious condition of roads:
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB),1.5 lakh deaths occur on roads of India, of which National Highways account for one-third.
Road accidents has dipped from 4,45,730 accidents in 2017 to 4,30, 116 in 2021.
Death due to accidents has increased from 1,50,093 people in 2017 to 1,55,622 in 2021.
As per World Bank Publication ,”Traffic Crash Injuries and Disabilities: The Burden on Indian Society”, in 2021 mentions that India accounts for 1% of vehicles of the world but has a share of 10% of death due to crash.
During lockdown, deaths and accident cases came down.
Reason behind accidents:
Due to low visibility in the months of December and January in the period between 6 pm – 9pm.
Highest cases is attributed to negligent driving and speeding.
New 5: NCRB data regarding sedition cases
Assam recorded the most number of sedition cases in the country in last eight years, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
NCRB report on sedition cases:
In between 2014-2021, India had 475 cases of sedition, of which Assam accounted for 69 cases, which means that 1 in 6 sedition cases are from Assam. It is followed by Hryana with 42 cases and Jharkand with 40 cases.
Cases registered under Section 124A of the IPC have been mentioned under the subhead ‘Sedition’ and cases registered under Section 121, 121A, 122 and 123 IPC have been given under the subsection ‘Others’.
Sedition, which falls under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870.
In 1962, the Supreme Court decided on the constitutionality of Section 124A in Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar and upheld the constitutionality of sedition but limited its application.
In 1995, the Supreme Court, in Balwant Singh v State of Punjab, held that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition.
News 6: Chile votes on proposed Constitution
Chileans on Sunday voted in a plebiscite to adopt a new Constitution which will change the polity of South American country.
The proposed charter is intended to replace a Constitution imposed by the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet 41 years ago.
In 2021, Chileans elected delegates to a constitutional convention.
It was the first in the world to be written by a convention split equally between male and female delegates.
The new constitution focuses on social issues and gender parity, enshrines rights for the country’s Indigenous population, and puts environment and climate change at forefront.
It also introduces rights to free education, health care and housing.
The new Constitution would characterize Chile as a pluri-national state, establish autonomous Indigenous territories and recognize a parallel justice system in those areas.
Type of Government: Unitary presidential republic
Currency: Chilean peso
Chile is world’s top copper producer.
India and Chile have a preferential trade agreement
In plebiscite, the opinion of the people is obtained on any issue of general public importance. It is generally issued to solve territorial disputes.
News 7: Tamil Nadu reiterates plea for a bench of Supreme Court in Chennai
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Sunday yet again reiterated the State’s request for establishing a Regional Bench of the Supreme Court in Chennai and allowing Tamil to be used in the Madras High Court as one of its official languages. He also insisted on representation of all sections in the appointment of judges.
Article 130 of Constitution declares Delhi as seat of the Supreme Court. It also authorises Chief Justice of India to appoint other place or places as seat of Supreme Court and can take this decision with the approval from the President.
Setting up regional benches:
18th law commission of 2019 recommended setting up of regional benches of Supreme Court of India.
It might lessen the binding force of decisions of Supreme Court
Huge infrastructure cost of setting these benches will again strain the public exchequer.
It has been argued that setting up virtual courts is more effective than setting up regional benches
Arguments in Favour:
It will ensure the reduction of pendency of cases and will lead to speedy disposal of cases.
It will make litigations less expensive for petitioners from areas aside from New Delhi as constant travelling causes a serious strain.
It will ensure that justice is not denied to citizen due to any disabilities and will align to the core aim of Article 39A.
Setting up regional benches will increase number seats of judges and will enhance the pace of justice delivery
News 8: PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
PETA India has exposed the abuse of Assam’s elephant Joymala (known as Jeymalyatha in Tamil Nadu), including the use of weapons such as pliers by the latest mahout, who was brought in after numerous other mahouts were caught on video beating her. The shocking report also reveals that she was beaten so ruthlessly she can be heard screaming in pain in a viral video at the holiest of places – the sanctum sanctorum of the Krishnan Kovil temple, where she is kept chained to the floor.
Indian Elephant – Endangered
PETA-People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
It is an American animal rights nonprofitorganization based in Norfolk, Virginia, and led by Ingrid Newkirk, its international president,
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
Provides for the protection of the country’s wild animals, birds, and plant species, in order to ensure environmental and ecological security. Among other things, the Act lays down restrictions on hunting many animal species.
It provides for the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, etc.
It helped India become a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES – also known as the Washington Convention and was adopted as a result of a meeting of IUCN members)
The Act created six schedules which gave varying degrees of protection
Schedule I and Schedule II (Part II) get absolute protection, and offences under these schedules attract the maximum penalties.
Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
Animals under Schedule V, e.g. common crows, fruit bats, rats and mice, are legally considered vermin and may be hunted freely
The specified endemic plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting
Constitutional Provision for Protection of Wildlife:
Article 48A of the Constitution of India directs the State to protect and improve the environment and safeguard wildlife and forests. This article was added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976.
Article 51A imposes certain fundamental duties for the people of India. One of them is to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.