1) India PV EDGE 2020:
The summit is being organized in order to catalyze cutting-edge solar cell manufacturing in India.
- There will be sessions including the plenary session, sessions on ‘Wafers and Cells, Session on ‘Modules and Production Equipment’ and a session on ‘Supply Chain.
- The solar deployment is a flagship green growth story of the last decade. In the line, the summit would act as an instrument to accelerate the growth and build a climate-resilient world.
International Solar Alliance (ISA)
- India also proposed and set up the International Solar Alliance (ISA) with it’s headquarter at Gurugram, Haryana. India is a founder member.
- Apart from that. India has also put forward the “One Sun One World one Grid” concept and “World Solar Bank” in order to harness the solar power globally.
Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh states will participate in the conclave.
- This will be followed by an ‘Investors Roundtable’, which will discuss and deliberate upon issues related to India’s solar manufacturing sector viz. Affordable financing, role of developers in building the ecosystem of cutting edge solar manufacturing etc.
- Solar deployment has been the flagship green growth story of the last decade and this would be instrumental to stimulate growth and build a climate-resilient world.
- India has become the third-largest solar capacity country in the world and set an ambitious target of 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, comprising 300 GW of solar capacity.
- The major factor behind the rise of solar deployment is giga-scale solar manufacturing and the continuous adoption of innovations to reduce prices.
- Hence, solar PV manufacturing is one of the strategic sectors announced by the Indian government as part of the post-Covid Aatmanirbhar Bharat recovery initiative.
- Subsequently, efforts are underway to make India a global hub for solar PV manufacturing, and significant giga-factory announcements are being made by local and global firms.
Cutting-edge giga-scale solar manufacturing stands on three pillars:
- Disruptive PV chemistries,
- Manufacturing by custom-engineered advanced production equipment, and
- Utilization of innovative BOM components like special glasses and coatings.
That is why companies involved in all the three pillars are invited to present and engage the Indian industry in the symposium, which will catalyze the momentum for further discussions and collaborations.
- India’s NDC document of the Paris Agreement in 2015 called for extraordinary vision, leadership, compassion, and wisdom to combat climate change.
- India PV EDGE 2020 is one small step towards that ambition
2) Vaccine to reduce yield loss due to diseases in rice:
- A scientist has uncovered the mechanism by which a bacterium called Xoo that causes a serious bacterial leaf blight disease in rice interacts with rice plant and cause disease.
- Research group is working to identify and develop few molecules which are derived from either the Xoo bacterium or from the infected rice cell walls.
- The team is developing new disease control strategies which they can use as vaccines that activate the rice immune system and provide resistance to rice plants from subsequent infections by pathogens.
- Xanthomonas oryzaepv. Oryzae, or commonly known as Xoo infection, cause huge yield losses to rice cultivation throughout the world.
- Treatment of rice with cellulase, a cell wall degrading enzyme secreted by Xoo induces rice immune responses and protects rice from subsequent infections by Xoo.
- Currently, the research group is working on a cellulase protein secreted by Xoo.
- This cellulase protein has the features of a typical vaccine as it is a potent elicitor of rice immune responses.
- Pre-treatment of rice plants with this protein provides resistance to rice against subsequent Xoo infection.
- So far, improving the resistance of rice plants by introducing Resistance “R” genes has been the best way to control this disease which involves breeding or gene manipulation techniques that are laborious and time-consuming.
- Also, the introduced of “R” genes provide only race-specific resistance that will prevent infections by only specific strains of Xoo.
- But the elicitor molecule that will be identified in this work will have the potential to induce a broad-spectrum resistance, which will be effective not only against Xoo but also against other pathogens.
3) New species of pipeworts from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra & Karnataka:
- Two new species of a plant group known for their varied medicinal properties have been discovered in the Western Ghats – one of the thirty-five hot-spots of biological diversity in the world.
- The plant group known as pipeworts (Eriocaulon), which completes their life cycle within a small period during monsoon, exhibits great diversity in the Western Ghats, having around 111 species in India.
- Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas, and around 70% of them are endemic to the country.
- One species is well known for its anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.
- Some are is used against liver diseases. E. Madayiparense is an anti-bacterial from Kerala.
- The medicinal properties of the newly discovered species are yet to be explored.
- Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have recently found two new species of pipeworts in Maharashtra and Karnataka
4) POCSO Act:
Context: Question over presumption of guilt cropped up when the court was hearing bail plea of a man in a sexual assault case
- The Delhi High Court has ruled that the presumption of guilt engrafted in Section 29 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act gets triggered and applies only once trial begins, that is after charges are framed against the accused.
Section 29 of the POCSO Act
- When a person is prosecuted for committing an offence of sexual assault against a minor, the special court trying the case “shall presume” the accused to be guilty.
- This reverse burden on the accused to prove his innocence was incorporated in the POCSO Act keeping in view the low conviction rate of sexual offences against children.
- The question of whether the presumption of guilt applies only at the stage of trial or does it also apply when a bail plea is being considered cropped up while hearing the bail plea of a 24-year-old man arrested for alleged sexual assault of a minor.
- Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani clarified that if a bail plea is being considered before charges have been framed, Section 29 has no application. ‘
- Trial commences when charges are framed against an accused and not before that, Justice Bhambhani said
- It is only once charges are framed that the accused knows exactly what he is alleged to be guilty of
- And therefore, what guilt he is required to rebut, adding an accused cannot be asked to disprove his guilt even before the foundational allegations with supporting evidence that suggest guilt are placed by the prosecution before the court.
- Justice Bhambhani also set out fresh norms while deciding a bail plea at the post-charge stage. “In addition to the nature and quality of the evidence before it, the court would also factor in certain real-life considerations,” Justice Bhambhani said.
- This include whether the offence alleged involved threat, intimidation, violence or brutality.
- Also the court, hearing the bail would consider, whether the offence was repeated against the victim.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau data of 2016 the conviction rate in POCSO cases is 29.6 % while pendency is as high as 89%
- The prescribed time period of two months for trial in such cases is hardly complied with
- In order to effectively address the heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, the Ministry of Women and Child Development championed the introduction of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
- The Act has been enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and related matters and incidents.
- The Act was amended in 2019, to make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child.
Salient features of the Act and its amendment
- The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
- The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child
- It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
- People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act.
- The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
- It defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which include photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child, and image created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict a child
5) Involuntary administration of narco or lie detector:
Context: The reports that the Uttar Pradesh government wants to subject the Hathras rape and murder victim’s family members to these tests.
- Tests is an “intrusion” into a person’s “mental privacy,” a Supreme Court judgment of 2010 has held.
- The consequences of such tests on “individuals from weaker sections of society who are unaware of their fundamental rights and unable to afford legal advice” can be devastating.
- It may involve future abuse, harassment and surveillance, even leakage of the video material to the Press for a “trial by media.”
- Such tests are an affront to human dignity and liberty, and have long-lasting effects.
- An individual’s decision to make a statement is the product of a private choice and there should be no scope for any other individual to interfere with such autonomy
- The judgment is significant amid reports that the Uttar Pradesh government wants to subject the Hathras rape and murder victim’s family members to these tests.
Restraint on liberty
- The judgment in Smt. Selvi versus State of Karnataka observed that involuntary administration of these scientific tests was “sufficient to constitute a custodial environment.”
- Amounted to a “restraint on personal liberty.”
- Forcible interference with a person’s mental processes is not provided for under any statute it most certainly comes into conflict with the right against self-incrimination.
- Forcing an individual to undergo any of these tests violates the standard of ‘substantive due processes.
- A threat from authorities or police to employ such techniques creates mental trauma and may prompt a person to make incriminatory statements, the court reasoned.
- The judgment dealt with the harm of involuntary administration of narcoanalysis, polygraph examination and the Brain Electrical Activation Profile (BEAP) test.
- The conflict was between the desirability of efficient investigation and the preservation of individual liberties.
- A Truth serum is a local name for any of the range of psychological drugs used in an effort to obtain informal information from subjects who are unable or willing to provide it otherwise
- These include ethanol, scopolamine, sodium thiopental etc.
- Among a variety of such substances have been tested, serious issues have been raised about their use scientifically ethically and legally
- There is currently no drugs proven to cause consistent or predictable enhancement of truth telling.
- Subjects questioned under the influence of substances have been found to be suggestible and their memory subject to reconstruction and fabrication
- When such drugs have been used in the course of investigating Civil and criminal cases, they have not been accepted by western legal systems and Legal Experts as genuine investigating tools
6) Sugarcane Pricing:
Context: Mills in Uttar Pradesh owe a staggering Rs 8,400 crore-plus of payments to farmers against cane supplies made during 2019-20.
- In 2019-20 (October-September), UP mills crushed a record 1,118.02 lakh tonnes (lt) of cane worth Rs 35,898.15 crore at the state government’s ‘advised’ price (SAP) of Rs 315-325 per quintal.
- But as on September 30, the end of the last sugar year, they had paid farmers only Rs 27,451.05 crore. That translates into dues of Rs 8,447.10 crore
- Sugar year is from October to September 30
Sugarcane pricing policy
- The price of sugarcane is governed by statutory provisions of the Sugarcane (Control) order, 1966 issued under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955
- Minimum price was replaced with the fair and remunerative price, amendment 1996 to 2009
- Fair and remunerative price is announced at the recommendations of the commission of Agricultural costs and prices CACP
Factors for fixation of FRP of sugarcane
- Cost of production of sugarcane
- Inter-crop price parity
- Reasonable margins for the growth of sugarcane on account of risk and profits
- Recovery of sugar from sugarcane
- Price at which sugar is sold by sugar producers
- The realization made from the sale of by products or there imputed value
- Availability of sugar to consumers at a fair price
FRP and SAP:
- The federal of Central Government announces Fair and Remunerative Prices which are determined on the recommendation of Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices CACP, and our the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs which is chaired by Prime Minister
- The State Advised Prices SAP are announced by sugarcane producing States which are generally higher than FRP
- Fair and Remunerative Price is the minimum price which the sugar mills have to pay the farmers for their sugar cane.
- Citing differences in cost of production, productivity levels and also as a result of pressure from farmers groups, some States declare state-specific sugarcane prices called State Advised to Prices (SAP), usually higher than the SMP/FRP
- Since early 1970s, State Advised Price SAP came into existence in states like UP, Tamilnadu, Punjab, and Haryana etc.
Problems of dual sugarcane pricing policy
- Sugarcane pricing through FRP and SAP distort sugarcane and sugar economy
- Higher saps without any linkage with output prices is unviable
- Higher SAP than FRP led to year on year rise in Cane price arrears
- CACP in 2015-16 report recommended that SAP of rejected variety, if any be kept at rupees 20 per quintal lower than that of common variety to help improve recovery rate and overall efficiency
Dr. C Rangarajan committee 2012
- One advantage of sugarcane price with realization of sugar and its first level of bi products
- Minimum price fixed for sugarcane FRP
- The payment for cane dues would happen in 2 steps. The first would be payment of frp at floor price as for extant mechanism
- Balance payment of cane dues will be done subsequently to Publication of half-yearly ex-mill prices and values of the by-products
7) Insurance regulatory and Development Authority of India – IRDAI:
- Is an autonomous, statutory body to regulate and promote insurance and reinsurance industries in India
- It was constituted by insurance regulatory and Development Authority Act 1999, an act of Parliament passed by the government of India
- Headquarters – Hyderabad, Telangana
- 10 member body including the chairman, 5 full-time and four part-time members appointed by government of India
Functions of IRDAI
- Issuing, renewing, modifying, withdrawing, suspending or cancelling registrations
- Specifying qualifications code of conduct and training of intermediary and agents
- Inspecting and investigating Insurers, intermediaries and other relevant organizations
- Regulating rates, advantages terms and conditions which may offer insurance not covered by the Tariff Advisory Committee under section 64 of the insurance act 1938
- Adjudicating disputes between insurance and intermediaries or insurance intermediaries
- Supervising the Tariff Advisory Committee