Daily Current Affairs, 10 January 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms,
Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context: The folk painting of Madhubani will soon be seen decorating
the walls of various government buildings in Bihar, the eastern Indian state
where the art hails from. The idea behind painting the town in Madhubani is to
give visitors a firsthand experience of how the paintings are blended with the
Madhubani, which means ‘forest of honey’, is a style of folk
painting old enough to find mention in some of the ancient Indian texts like
the holy Ramayana. It
is also known as Mithila, for its origin is said to be the Mithila region
the Madhubani paintings are created using fingers and twigs, and items like
matchsticks have come to be used in their creation in recent times.
§ Their various styles include Bharni,
Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar, which would historically be painted only
by women from the upper strata in the caste system, who would make them on mud walls on special occasions.
§ The norms
have now changed and the paintings can be enjoyed by anyone and in various
forms. Madhubani is now found on apparel, paper, canvas, and other products,
which boast of designs inspired by Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama,
Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswati, all of whom have been painted in Madhubani since
ancient times. Other subjects of Madhubani paintings include peacocks, fish and
human connection with nature.
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and
Haryana becomes first state to
launch High Risk Pregnancy portal
has achieved the distinction of becoming the first state in the country to
launch High Risk Pregnancy (HRP) Portal.
The Union ministry of health and family welfare and Niti Ayog have acknowledged
the portal as a good practice to be implemented.
the HRP portal:
What is it? This innovative web application has been designed to
track every high risk pregnant woman till 42 days after delivery, so that she
receives adequate treatment during the ante-natal period for healthy outcome of
pregnancy. This portal not only helps in early identification of high-risk
pregnant cases up to the grass-roots level but also ensures their timely
referral to the civil hospitals for further management and delivery by
Background: The High Risk Pregnancy Policy has been implemented
across the state since November, 2017, for identifying 100 per cent name-based
high-risk pregnancy cases, and ensuring their delivery by specialists at civil
hospitals. This initiative is aimed at increasing the pace of decline in
Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Still Birth
Incidence as morbidity and mortality is quite high in high risk pregnant cases.
companion strategy: Haryana is also
implementing birth companion strategy under which one female attendant would be
allowed during delivery in the labour room. The presence of a female birth
companion during delivery is a step towards improving the quality of care in
labour rooms for improving the maternal and neo-natal outcome and for respectful
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
The Committee for the Purpose
of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA)
Context: A one-day National Conference on Welfare of Laboratory
Animals was recently organised by CPCSEA, Ministry of Environment, Forest and
Climate Change, with the theme of “Implementation of 3Rs (Replacement,
Reduction and Refinement) while using animals in academic research and
regulatory testing in India.
The conference laid emphasis on the issue of ethical use of
animals in academics and regulatory testing in India. The discussions were
focussed on evaluating the possibilities of exemption of animal experiments in
academics and regulatory testing.
What is it? The Committee for the Purpose of Control and
Supervision of Experiments on Animals(CPCSEA) is a statutory Committee, which
is established under Section 15(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
1960. All establishments engaged in research and education involving animals,
are required to comply with the various guidelines, norms and stipulations set
out by CPCSEA.
Background: India is one of the pioneering countries to institute
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1960 whereas such Act was instituted in
France in 1963 and in USA in 1966. The detailed rules for experimentation on
animals were first enacted by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1968 and were
implemented by CPCSEA.
main functions of CPCSEA are:
of establishments conducting animal experimentation or breeding of animals for
and appointment of nominees in the Institutional Animal Ethics Committees of
of Animal House Facilities on the basis of reports of inspections conducted by
for conducting experiments involving use of animals.
for import of animals for use in experiments.
against establishments in case of violation of any legal norm/stipulation.
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution,
features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
No viable alternative to
hanging, Centre tells court
Context: Considering the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to
adopt painless methods of causing death, the court had asked the government to
explore viable methods other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners.
The centre has said that there is no viable method at present
other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners.
The court has favoured a re-look at the practice of hanging to death
as “the Constitution of India is an organic and compassionate document which
recognises the sanctity of flexibility of law as situations change with the
flux of time”. The court notes that a condemned convict should die in peace and
not in pain. A human being is entitled to dignity even in death.
Also, execution was not only “barbaric, inhuman and cruel”, but
also against the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social
The court is hearing a writ petition which has sought the court’s
intervention to reduce the suffering of condemned prisoners at the time of
death. The petitioner notes that a convict should not be compelled to suffer at
the time of termination of his or her life. When a man is hanged to death, his
dignity is destroyed, the petition says.
The petitioner has also referred to Article 21 (Right to Life) of
the Constitution and said it also included the right of a condemned prisoner to
have a dignified mode of execution so that death becomes less painful.
of death penalty:
Constitutionality of death penalty has been well-settled by the
apex court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan
Singh case reported in 1980. Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging,
of the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been upheld.
The Law Commission in its 187th Report had noted that there was a
significant increase in the number of countries where hanging has been
abolished and substituted by electrocution, shooting or lethal injection as the
method of execution. It had categorically opined that hanging is undoubtedly
accompanied by intense physical torture and pain.
The present procedure can be replaced with intravenous lethal
injection, shooting, electrocution or gas chamber in which death is just a
matter of minutes. While in hanging, the entire execution process takes over 40
minutes to declare prisoner to be dead, the shooting process involves not more
than few minutes. In case of intravenous lethal injection, it is all over in 5
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,
environmental impact assessment.
Microbeads ban takes effect
Context: A UK-wide ban on the manufacture of products containing
microbeads has come into force on 9 January. Manufacturers can no longer add
tiny pieces of plastic to wash-off cosmetic and personal care products (such as
exfoliating scrubs, shower gels and toothpaste).
Exemption: However, this isn’t a complete ban – ‘leave-on’ products
(such as sunscreen and makeup) will still be allowed to contain microbeads
following the cosmetic industry’s resistance.
In a nutshell, microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic found in many
beauty products, such as exfoliating scrubs, toothpastes and more.
are microbeads bad for the environment?
Evidence has shown that microbeads can find their way from your
bathroom to the sea. Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in
the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the
else are they banned?
The United States passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015,
which required companies to stop using microbeads in beauty and health products
by July 2017, and Canada’s ban on manufacturing the pellets took effect at the
beginning of this year. New Zealand’s ban on microbeads is to take effect in
June. Several countries in the European Union have campaigned for a similar ban.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space.
What happens to the human body
Context: Space is a dangerous and unforgiving place, and spending
time away from gravity takes its toll on the human body, as many astronauts
have found out after returning to Earth.
Recently, Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai announced that he had
stretched a staggering 9cm (3.5in) in just three weeks onboard the
International Space Station (ISS). However, he later admitted he had
miscalculated the figure and it was actually just 2cm (0.9in), but significant
height changes are actually normal for astronauts spending time in space.
do they stretch?
The effect happens as the astronauts’ spines stretch out, because
of the reduced gravity on board the floating lab. Because the vertebrae aren’t
being pushed together as much as they are on Earth, they are able to float
apart and lead to the strange stretching phenomenon. They shrink back down to
their usual size once back on Earth and affected by its gravity.
issues for astronauts to overcome:
§ The rapid
change of gravity in space can cause a loss of bone density of up to 1% a
month. This could lead to osteoporosis-related fractures and long-term health
§ Lack of
gravity can also cause body fluids to shift upwards, which may cause swelling,
high-blood pressure and vision and organ problems. Nutrition and exercise
become very important, and special measures like medications and body cuffs aim
to reduce the risk of long-term medical problems associated with muscle and
§ Living in
isolation and confinement can cause behavioural and psychological issues.
Without a natural body clock, depression and sleep disorders can develop. The
space station uses LED technology to imitate light on Earth to improve body
§ A closed
environment also means microbes in the body can transfer more easily. The
environment can weaken the immune system, so urine, saliva and blood samples
are carefully monitored to make sure dormant viruses have not been reactivated.
exposure is far higher in space than it is on Earth. Without the shielding of
Earth, you could be more at risk of cancer and damage to the nervous system.
Space radiation can also cause sickness and fatigue. The ISS sits just within
the protective field on Earth to reduce risks, but missions further afield will
need to overcome this.
Facts for Prelims:
Ancient Rock Art in India Is Oldest Depiction
Scientists in India have discovered rock art that appears to
depict a supernova and the surrounding stars, buried inside the wall of an
ancient dwelling place. Thought to date from 3,600 BC, the carving would be the
oldest-known depiction of such a cosmic event.
Where was it found? The carving was found in the Burzahama region
in Kashmir, India.
Editorial: The problem of land hoarding
As per the details from to the Government Land Information System
(GLIS), the government owns at least 13,505 square km.
The government owns more land than it admits, large swathes of which are unused
Government Land Information System (GLIS)
In 2012, a committee headed by former finance secretary Vijay
Kelkar had recommended monetising the government’s unutilised and
under-utilised land to finance infrastructure projects in urban areas.
§ It is a first-of-its-kind centralised database
created by the ministry of electronics and information and monitored
by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
§ The GLIS portal records total area,
geo-positioning maps, and details such as ownership rights.
to the portal, the railways
is the biggest landowner among Union ministries. The defence ministry,
which owns a large share of the government’s land holding, has given only
partial details citing security concerns.
Though the track record of the railways, as well as other
government agencies, on land asset management is incomplete, the move to make
an inventory is a step towards better utilisation of government land.
The problem of unused land
What is worse is that a large proportion of government land lies
unused. According to reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India
(CAG), the 13 major port trusts have 14,728 hectares of land lying idle.
These numbers are staggering and incomplete. They exclude several
departments of the Centre and, more importantly, don’t take into account excess
land holding by the States.
1. Generates artificial scarcity of Land
Due to excessive holdings, a precious but scarce economic resource
remains unutilised. This generates
an artificial scarcity of land for developmental purposes, and increases
project costs and is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban
real estate prices.
Moreover, the allocation of unused land is rife with corruption.
At the State level too, instances abound of public land being resold to private
entities in dubious deals.
2. Inadequate ownership records
The CAG reports that none of the government agencies maintains
adequate ownership records. For instance, the 13 major ports have failed to
produce title deeds for as much as 45% of their land holdings. This makes squatters difficult to evict,
and so they gravitate to these areas.
The need of the hour
1. Increase Floor Space Index
Land is a crucial and often constraining input for production, not
only in agriculture but also in secondary and tertiary sectors. The problem of
land scarcity has been aggravated by grossly wasteful land use by government
While stock of land is fixed, its supply as an input in production
is not — it crucially depends on land use patterns. A useful measure of this is
the floor space index
(FSI), which is the total floor area built per square metre of land.
The demand for land increases with both population density and
economic growth. Therefore, to maintain efficiency, the FSI should also
increase. By this token, the FSI should be the highest in major city centres,
where the demand for space is highest, and it should taper off gradually
towards the periphery. Apart from supplying space for economic activities, such
an arrangement would also help maximise the gains from transport infrastructure.
2. Increase investment per square metre
The investment per square metre gradient of Indian cities is very
low and haphazard. Increasing investment per square metre could solve the
problem of wastage, generate employment and pull masses out of poverty, thereby
aiding the economy to grow fast.
3. Furnish details about usage of acquired
People have the right to know the size and use of land holding by
government agencies which have been acquired by way of compensation.
One of the solutions is that all the departments should identify
their surplus land. Unfortunately, agencies seem to be loath to cooperate.
4. Comprehensive inventory of land resources
A comprehensive inventory of land resources and usage patterns for
all government branches is the need of the hour. It should include
information on the location of each property, its dimensions, the legal title,
current and planned use, and any applicable land use restrictions.
This will enable effective identification of suboptimal land use,
as well as of the land that is surplus.
5. Use of surplus land
Surplus land should be utilised to meet the ever-growing demands
for services, such as water
and waste disposal, as well for government-sponsored housing and transportation projects.
Monetising land for infrastructure is not only a noble goal but
also necessary to optimise the use of resources for development.
Land intended for future use can be rented out till such time it
is needed, through a transparent auctioning process. This will not only buoy
the public exchequer but prevent plots of land lying waste for years.
Given the importance of land for the country, we need to be
creative in finding solutions. A public-government partnership seems to be the
We could take a cue from Britain. There, the government has
pledged to provide details of ownership, location, and intended use for all
properties. Citizens are invited to contest official land use and suggest
alternatives under a ‘right to contest’.
The Indian government should also agree to disclose its land use
and release of excess land, the use of which it cannot justify.