PRELIMS NEWS

 

  1. Election Commissioner

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

The Centre has appointed Rajiv Kumar as the Election Commissioner. He has been appointed in place of Ashok Lavasa, who has resigned to join the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Main Points

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country (Article 324).
  • It is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states. For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.
  • The Election Commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix.
  • Presently, it consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.

Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners:

  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the Commission.

Removal:

  • They can resign anytime or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from his office in the same manner and on same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • In other words, he can be removed by the President on the basis of a resolution passed to that effect by both the Houses of Parliament with special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
  • Thus, he does not hold his office till the pleasure of the President, though he is appointed by him.
  • Any other election commissioner or a regional commissioner cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the chief election

Limitations:

  • The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
  • The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission. The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.

Powers and Functions of the Election Commission

Administrative:

  • To determine the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
  • To prepare and periodically revise electoral rolls and to register all eligible voters.
  • To grant recognition to political parties and allot election symbols to them.
  • Election Commission ensures a level playing field for the political parties in election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties.

Advisory Jurisdiction & Quasi-Judicial Functions:

  • Under the Constitution, the Commission has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.
  • The opinion of the Commission in all such matters is binding on the President or, as the case may be, the Governor to whom such opinion is tendered.
  • Further, the cases of persons found guilty of corrupt practices at elections which come before the Supreme Court and High Courts are also referred to the Commission for its opinion on the question as to whether such person shall be disqualified and, if so, for what period.
  • The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by law.

 

  1. Synthetic Flavonoids

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune recently  found the first synthetic route for producing flavonoids molecules related to the treatment of tuberculosis and chikungunya.

  • ARI is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

Main Points

  • It is for the first time that scientists have been able to synthesize the flavonoid molecules such as rugosa flavonoids, podocare flavone and isoflavone in a lab.These three molecules have so far been isolated from plants only and are found to inhibit tuberculosis and chikungunya.

Flavonoids:

  • Flavonoids are part of the polyphenol class of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Along with carotenoids (organic pigments), they are responsible for the vivid colours in fruits and
  • Polyphenols have historically been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and are associated with skin protection, brain function, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation.
  • These are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits as well. A diet rich in flavonoids can protect from diseases related to heart, liver, kidney, brain and other infectious diseases.

Significance of the Research:

  • Availability: It will ensure their availability at all seasons without the dependence on natural timings of the plantations.
  • Uniformity: Inconsistency in natural products can occur in different seasons, places and species. Man-made molecules will have a uniform structure and medicinal properties similar to the natural product.
  • Less-exploitative: Acquiring them from labs will solve the problem of overexploitation of medicinal plants which puts an extra burden on the
  • Cost-effective: The development method in labs is simple and cost-effective as well.

Other Possible Use of Flavonoids:

  • Flavonoids can ease the lives of women who face problems in the premenopausal stage because its chemical structure is similar to the female hormone 17-beta-estradiol.
  • Estradiol is an estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone which is involved in the regulation of the estrous (oestrous) and menstrual female reproductive cycles.
  • Premenopausal stage refers to the time when female bodies make the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the menstrual cycles and reproductive years.
  • Preliminary indications and computational analysis show the capacity of these molecules to inhibit Covid-19 by targeting spike protein and proteases (an enzyme that catalyzes proteolysis, the breakdown of proteins). Since flavonoids boost-up immunity, a flavonoid-rich diet is recommended to stay safe from Covid-19.

 

  1. Namath Basai: Kerala

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

The Kerala State government is carrying out a unique programme called “Namath Basai” of teaching tribal children in their mother tongue.

Main Points

  • The programme is being implemented by the Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK). SSK is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12.
  • It aims at improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes.
  • It has succeeded in retaining hundreds of tribal children in their online classes using their mother tongue as language of instruction.
  • Teaching in the tribal language has to a good extent stopped students from dropping out, which is quite usual in hamlets
  • It offers pre-recorded classes through a YouTube channel in three tribal languages in Attappady valley in Palakkad District Kerala.
  • These languages belong to the Irula, Muduka and Kurumba tribes.
  • It is being introduced in the tribal belts of Wayanad and Idukki as well. Classes are offered in the Oorali, Muthuvan and Paniya languages in Idukki. Wayanad has the highest number of tribals in Kerala followed by Idukki.

Kurumba Tribe

  • Popularly known as Mala Pulayans, Hill Pulayans and Pamba Pulayans. Traditional occupation : Foraging and shifting cultivation Collect forest products like honey, wax, soapnut, turmeric, ginger and wild cardamoms. Art of body tattooing. Skilled in manufacture of baskets and mats
  • Religion: Animism (belief in spirituality of objects, places, and creatures) and Totemism (Worship of any species of plants or animals thought to possess supernatural powers)

Irula or Irular Tribe

  • Occupation: Agriculturists
  • Grow Paddy, Ragi, dhal, plantains, chillies and turmeric
  • Religion: The majority worship Vishnu under the name of Rangaswami and Siva without differentiation.
  • Some practice animism and worship the tiger.

Mudugars or Muduka

  • Have social divisions at kal (clan) level.
  • Traditional Occupation: Food gatherers and hunters.
  • Religion: Hinduism, Worship Shiva

 

  1. Indian Bison (Gaur)

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

Recently, a case of poaching of Indian Bison was discovered using a sniffer dog in West Bengal.

Main Points

Indian Bison or Gaur (Bos gaurus)

  • Location: Native to South and Southeast Asia.In India, they are found in Nagarhole, Bandipur, Masinagudi National Parks and BR Hills.
  • Conservation Status:
  • Vulnerable in IUCN Red List.
  • Included in the Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.

Important Facts:

  • It is the tallest species of wild cattle found in India and largest extant bovine.
  • Recently, the first population estimation exercise of the Indian Gaur (Bison) was carried out in the Nilgiris Forest Division, Tamil Nadu.
  • Recently, the conservation breeding of Gaur was started at Mysuru zoo under the conservation breeding programme of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

Threats:

  • Food Scarcity: Due to the destruction in the grasslands, planting of commercially important trees, invasive plant species and indiscriminate grazing of domestic animals
  • Poaching: For their commercial value as well as due to the high demand of gaur meat.
  • Habitat Loss: Due to deforestation and commercial plantations.
  • Human-Animal Conflict: Due to living in proximity with human habitations.

 

  1. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

For the first time five sports persons will be receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna on the occasion of the National Sports Day on 29th August.

Main Points

  • 27 sports persons have also been finalised for the Arjuna Award while five coaches will receive the Dronacharya Award.
  • Rani will become only the third Indian hockey player after Dhanraj Pillay and Sardar Singh to receive the Khel Ratna.
  • Shri Mariyappan T. is the only third Indian para-athlete to be awarded the Khel Ratna award, after former Paralympic medallists Devendra Jhajharia and Deepa Malik.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the highest sporting award given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years.
  • The award comprises a medallion, a certificate, and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
  • The National Sports Day is observed every year across India on 29 August to mark the birth anniversary of the legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand who was born on 29 August 1905.

 

  1. Tattoo Sensor for Monitoring Health

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

Recently the scientists from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore have fabricated a skin conformal tattoo sensor about 20 micrometre thick.

Main Points

  • The scientists were working on wearable sensors that can retract information from the human body using its skin (largest organ of the human body).
  • Features: The tatto sensor promises continuous monitoring of vital health parameters of an individual, like pulse rate, respiration rate, and UV rays exposure, skin hydration level, glucose monitoring, and so on.
  • It is non-invasive and does not interfere with the daily activities of the user. The sensor has a fast response and follows easy fabrication steps and can be patterned into any shape and size using a laser.
  • Benefit: The sensor serves as a single conduit for sensing respiration rate and pulse, dispensing with the need of mounting multiple sensors. It has the potential to replace rigid and bulky health monitoring devices.

 

  1. Dragonfly Festival

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

The first-ever State Dragonfly Festival, also known as Thumbimahotsavam 2020 will be organized in Kerala jointly by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-India State unit and Society for Odonate Studies (SOS).

Society for Odonate Studies (SOS)

  • SOS is a non-political, non-profit organization formed to impart knowledge to the public on the insect order of Odonata (which comprises dragonflies and damselflies) and to conduct scientific studies, with the objective of conservation of the species and their habitats.

Main Points

  • It will be the part of National Dragonfly Festival being organised by the WWF India, Bombay Natural History Society & Indian Dragonfly Society, The third edition of the National Dragonfly Festival was organized online in August, 2020.
  • It aims at building awareness about the importance of dragonflies and damselflies and the need to conserve them.
  • Dragonflies act as important bio-indicators of the ecological health of an area. The festival will consist of training resource persons, webinars, and competitions.
  • The festival will also provide an opportunity to people to undertake citizen science projects in their backyards during Covid-19
  • Some specific target groups for this festival include zoology teachers, members of biodiversity management committees, eco-clubs, Forest Department, people from ecotourism activities etc.

 

  1. Harit Path Mobile App

THE ISSUE IN NEWS

Recently, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has developed a mobile App, ‘Harit Path’ to facilitate creation of Green Highways across the country.

Main Points

  • Aim: The App will help to monitor location, growth, species details, maintenance activities, targets and achievements for each and every plant.
  • Monitoring: In order to track the growth and health of the plants, photographs along with data of the plants captured using Harit Path App shall be uploaded every 3 months on NHAI’s Artificial Intelligence powered Big Data Analytics platform – Data
  • Accountability: Highway contractors shall be accountable for proper upkeep and maintenance of the plantation and liable to replace the missing/dead plants.
  • Payment: Performance and growth of the plants shall be linked to the payment to the contractors for this work.
  • Harit Bharat Sankalp: Recently, NHAI has completed 25 years of its service, to commemorate this it has undertaken ‘Harit Bharat Sankalp’ a nation-wide plantation drive.
  • Under this initiative, NHAI planted over 25 lakh plants in 25 days along the stretches of the National Highways between 21st July to 15th August 2020

 

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