The HINDU Notes – 26th May 2019 - VISION

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 26th May 2019

πŸ“° Women’s strength in Lok Sabha up to a record 14.4%

BJP leads with 40; BJD, Trinamool have highest ratio

•At 78 elected women MPs, the 17th Lok Sabha would have the highest number of women representatives ever. They would account for 14.4% of the entire strength of the Lower House, an increase from the 12.5% (65) women MPs in the last Lok Sabha.

•“This is for the first time in independent India that such a large number of women MPs are sitting in Parliament,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech to the newly elected NDA MPs and senior leaders gathered in Parliament’s Central Hall on Saturday. “This has been made possible due to women power,” he added.

•With 40 women MPs, the BJP has the largest number of elected women representatives among the parties because of the sheer size of its victory. It is followed by Trinamool Congress (9), Congress (6), BJD (5) and the YSRCP (4), as per data compiled by the Association for Democratic Reforms.

•However, it is the regional parties that boast of a higher ratio of women MPs in the new Lok Sabha. Women account for 41.6% of BJD’s 12 Lok Sabha MPs and 40.9% of the TMC’s strength in the House. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik had pledged to respectively ensure 40% and 33% women’s representation among their party’s candidates.

Strike rate

•Women account for 18.2% of the winning candidates for Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP). Among the national parties, women make up a mere 13.3% of the BJP’s total strength in the Lok Sabha and 11.8% of the Congress’s MPs.

•Women candidates from the BJP also displayed a high winnability ratio, or strike rate, with 75.5% or 40 of the 53 women fielded by the party bagging a Lok Sabha seat. Similarly, 71.4% of women candidates fielded by the BJD won and 39.1% of women candidates given a ticket by the TMC were elected. In case of YSRCP, DMK and NCP, all women candidates fielded by them were elected as MPs.

•The 78 women elected as MPs were from a total of 716 women candidates who fought the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which is a success rate of 10.9%. This is much higher than the 6.4% success rate for male candidates.

•A higher success rate or winnability factor shown by women candidates is consistent with the past record.

πŸ“° No question of an FIR into Rafale deal, govt. tells SC

Denies misleading court on CAG report in Parliament

•There is no question of an FIR, much less a CBI investigation, into the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft, the government told the Supreme Court on Saturday.

•There is no need for a probe as the Supreme Court itself, in a December 14, 2018 judgment, found it unnecessary to intervene, it said.

•“Once the Supreme Court had come to the conclusion that on all the three aspects ie., the decision-making process, pricing and Indian Offset Partner, there is no reason for intervention on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft by the government, there is no question of registration of FIR much less any investigation by the CBI,” the Union of India said in its 39-page page written submissions filed in the Supreme Court.

•The submissions are in response to the review and perjury petitions filed by petitioners and former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

‘No criminality’

•The government countered there was no element of criminality as the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) had rubbished claims that each jet was priced Rs. 1,000 crore more than the earlier aborted deal by the UPA government.

•“In fact, the CAG has held that the 36 Rafale aircraft deal is 2.86% lower than the audit aligned price and in addition, there would be benefits on account of non-firm and fixed price. This itself negates the case of the petitioners,” the government submitted.

•The government denied misleading the court into believing that the CAG report was already submitted in Parliament before the December 14 verdict was rendered. The petitioners had said the court was made to believe this by the government when the reality was there was no such report at that point of time. The report was filed in Parliament only on February 15.

•But the government dismissed the error as “misunderstanding of language” about which the petitioners had created a “big hue and cry”. The Centre said the petitioners’ claim that the government tried to mislead the court was “completely false and preposterous”.

πŸ“° EC yet to receive data on VVPAT slips

‘No adverse report from any segment’

•The Election Commission is yet to receive country-wide data on the mandatory matching of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) results of five random polling booths in each Assembly segment.

•“However, given that there are no adverse reports from any segment, presumably there has been a 100% tallying of the EVM votes with the slips. In the previous elections also, no discrepancy was reported in the matching,” said a senior Commission official.

•The slips of 20,625 VVPAT machines were counted in over 4,000 Assembly segments falling under the 542 Parliamentary constituencies, as per the Supreme Court directive.

Close watch

•The Commission has laid down an elaborate procedure to ensure the integrity of VVPATs and EVMs. They are transported in GPS-fitted vehicles and their movement is kept under constant surveillance.

•Before the actual use of EVMs and VVPATs at polling stations, mock polls are conducted on the machines three times. The slips from each VVPAT machine are then counted and the result is tallied with the electronic result of control unit. The tally is shown to representatives of political parties.

•It was on August 14, 2013, that the Conduct of Election Rules was amended and notified to introduce VVPATs. These were first used in the byelection to the Noksen Assembly seat in Nagaland the same year.

•Then in October 2013, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to introduce the VVPAT in a phased manner.

πŸ“° NHRC serves notice on Gujarat govt.

•The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Saturday asked the Gujarat government to submit a detailed report on the fire that killed 22 students of a coaching centre in Surat on Friday.

•Taking suo motu cognisance of news reports, the NHRC said the incident amounted to a “grave violation of the human rights of the young students”. It asked the Chief Secretary to submit a report in four weeks, detailing criminal cases filed against the owner of the complex, where the centre was located, legal status of the building and the fire safety clearance given to it, and the relief granted to the families of the victims.

πŸ“° U.S. envoy calls on China to hold dialogue with Dalai Lama

Branstad visits Tibet, meets religious and cultural leaders

•The U.S. Ambassador to China has called on Beijing to open a “substantive dialogue” with the Dalai Lama in remarks made this week during a visit to Tibet, his Embassy said on Saturday.

•Terry Branstad visited northwest China’s Qinghai province as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region.

•“He encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences,” said an Embassy spokesperson.

•Since fleeing to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has been trying to reach a compromise with the Chinese government over the fate of his people. Having initially called for Tibet’s independence, the Buddhist leader is now campaigning for greater autonomy. But negotiations with Beijing have stalled since 2010.

Visit to Potala Palace

•Mr. Branstad, during his visit to Lhasa, visited the Potala Palace — the former residence of the Dalai Lama — as well as Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest temple, the Jokhang.

•He met with senior Tibetan religious and cultural leaders.

•“He also expressed concerns regarding the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan Buddhists’ freedom to organise and practise their religion,” the Embassy spokesperson said. “The Ambassador raised our long-standing concerns about lack of consistent access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region,” she added.

πŸ“° Defying Congress, Trump decides to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Weapons are meant to deter Iranian aggression: Pompeo

•U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday bypassed Congress to sell $8.1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, citing a threat from Iran, infuriating lawmakers who fear the weapons could kill civilians in Yemen.

•Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration would circumvent the required review by Congress to approve 22 arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, saying that the freeze on sales by Congress could affect the Arab allies’ operational abilities.

•The weapons, which include munitions and aircraft support maintenance, are meant “to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defence capacity,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement.

Not surprised: Senator

•The sale was announced earlier on Friday by Senator Robert Menendez. “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritise our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favours to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” said Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

•He said that the administration failed to meet the legal definition of an emergency as he vowed to work with lawmakers to counter the decision. “The lives of millions of people depend on it,” Mr. Menendez said.

•The sales come after Mr. Trump vetoed an attempt by Congress to stop U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, where tens of thousands have died and millions are at risk of starvation in what the UN calls the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

War in Yemen

•Mr. Pompeo has resolutely defended U.S. support for the Saudis, noting that the Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen are allied with U.S. adversary Iran and saying that Houthi rocket attacks into Saudi Arabia could kill Americans taking commercial flights.

•Mr. Trump has waged a major campaign to roll back Iran’s influence in West Asia and also announced on Friday that he was deploying 1,500 additional U.S. troops to the region.

•Mr. Pompeo said he considered the emergency sales to be a one-off and voiced frustration that the United States was no longer being seen as a “reliable security partner for our allies.”

•But Mr. Menendez said that the administration was putting arms sales at risk by bypassing Congress.

πŸ“° Afghan floods put famous minaret at risk of collapse

24 killed, 11 injured due to rainfall

•Deadly floods sweeping Afghanistan have put the celebrated minaret of Jam — one of the country’s most revered cultural, architectural and historical treasures — at risk of collapse, an official warned on Saturday.

•The Ministry of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs said the new floods have killed at least 24 people and injured 11 more.

•The rainfall has also threatened the minaret of Jam, a more than 800-year-old, 65-m Islamic religious tower and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in central Ghor province.

•“Water has surrounded the minaret. We have hired about 300 locals to help divert the flow of water,” said Abdul Hai Khatebi, a spokesman for the Governor of Ghor.

•The minaret is located in a remote area that is largely under Taliban control.

πŸ“° Indian Army officer appointed the commander of UN Mission in South Sudan

The 57-year-old will succeed Lieutenant General Frank Kamanzi of Rwanda who completes his assignment on May 26.

•UN Secretary, General Antonio Guterres, has appointed Indian Army officer, Lieutenant General Shailesh Tinaikar, as the new Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

•The UN chief made the announcement on Friday that 57-year-old Lieutenant General Tinaikar will succeed Lieutenant General Frank Kamanzi of Rwanda who completes his assignment on May 26.

•The decorated Indian Army officer “has had a long and distinguished career with the Indian Armed Forces spanning over 34 years,” a statement by the UN Spokesperson said. He has won the Sena Medal and the Vishisht Seva Medal for his service.

•Mr. Tinaikar graduated from the Indian Military Academy in 1983 and is currently serving as the Commandant of the Infantry School since July 2018.

•He previously served as the Additional Director General of Military Operations at the Army Headquarters from 2017 to 2018 and commanded a division, a recruit training centre and a brigade between 2012 and 2017.

•From 1996 to 1997, he served in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission III, and from 2008 to 2009, in the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

•He also holds a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in Defence and Strategic Studies from The University of Madras.

•India, the fourth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to the UN peacekeeping missions, currently contributes more than 6,400 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, the Middle East, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.

•The UN Mission in South Sudan, a country born in July 2011, has 19,400 personnel deployed with it as of March 2019.

•India is the second highest troop contributing country to UNMISS with 2,337 Indian peacekeepers, second only to Rwanda with 2,750. In addition, India currently contributes 22 police personnel to UNMISS.

πŸ“° IISc researchers confirm superconductivity breakthrough

Achieving it at room temperature and pressure represents major advance

•Superconductivity at ambient temperature has been the holy grail in physics for about a century and a team from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru led by Prof. Anshu Pandey has confirmed that the material they tested exhibits major properties of superconductivity at ambient temperature and pressure.

•A material is said to be a superconductor if it conducts electricity with nil resistance to the flow of electrons. Superconductors will help build very high efficiency devices leading to huge energy savings. Until now, scientists have been able to make materials superconduct only at temperature much below zero degree C and hence making practical utility very difficult.

•This is where the IISc’s work becomes particularly important. A revised article on the tests has been posted on May 21 in arXiv, a pre-print repository.

•The material that exhibited superconductivity is in the form of nanosized films and pellets made of silver nanoparticles embedded in a gold matrix. Interestingly, silver and gold independently do not exhibit superconductivity.

•The team examined 125 samples, of which 10 showed a drop in resistance, signalling the onset of superconductivity. The remaining samples were exposed to oxygen at the time of sample preparation leading to unsuccessful results. Reproducibility and repeatability are the cornerstones of science, and the IISc team was able to achieve it.

•“If this result is correct, it would be the greatest work done in India since the discovery of Raman effect,” said Professor T.V. Ramakrishnan from the Department of Physics at IISc. “They have found a sharp drop in resistivity [in their material]. This is potentially amazing.”

•“This looks like a case where granular superconductors play a role. I am excited that the key first step in this challenging field has been brought about by a systematic and detailed effort,” says Professor G. Baskaran from The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.

Identical noise

•The initial version posted in arXiv on July 23, 2018 by Prof. Anshu Pandey and Dev Kumar Thapa attracted criticism, raising doubts about the data and hence the study. The reason: the presence of identical pattern of noise (random fluctuations of data that hinders perception of a signal) for two presumably independent measurements of magnetic susceptibility. Noise, by its very virtue, is random and so finding nearly identical noise in measurements made under different conditions is highly improbable. Brian Skinner, a physicist at MIT, Boston, was the first to notice this.

•In one of his tweets in August 2018 he said: “…They [IISc team] are really not backing down from their claims. They emphasize that they are focused on providing validation of their data…” And the IISc team did just that. On May 22, 2019, Dr. Skinner tweeted “…I am gratified, to say that least, that it is a scientific story now, and not a story about social scandal.”

•Interestingly, the new data still show the repeated “noise” in some instances. However, the researchers have clarified that the magnitude of the noise is well above instrumental resolution. “This suggests a possible physical origin related to the sample as opposed to instrument artefacts,” they write.

πŸ“° New vine snake discovered in Odisha biosphere reserve

Ahaetulla laudankiawas spotted in Simlipal

•A group of researchers has discovered a tenth species of the vine snake of genus Ahaetulla after a gap of more than a century.

•Before this discovery, there were nine species of vine snakes reported from the country. The Ahaetulla laudankia , the newly-discovered snake, was first spotted by researchers in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve near Lulung in Odisha.

Rare species

•According to researchers, Odisha is home to three species: the common Indian vine snake, variable-coloured vine snake and the third being the recently-named Laudankia vine snake.

•This rare snake has been reported from Mayurbhanj, Balasore and Boudh districts of Odisha and other states such as Maharastra and Rajasthan. It has ochre brown dorsal body with an orange-red belly.

•The genetic distinctiveness has been proven through scientific studies.

•The study about the snake was published in the Journal of Natural History .

•“It was in January 2009, when Prof. Sushil Dutta, a renowned herpetologist, and I first spotted this snake in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve near Lulung while the snake was crossing the forest road around noon. Although we could identify it as a new variety being recorded in the State, it was after we studied two other individuals of the same variety from Boudh and Balasore of Odisha, that we realised it could possibly be a new species we are dealing with,” said Pratyush Mohapatra, a corresponding author of the research paper and a scientist with Zoological Society of India.

Meticulous study

•Dr. Mohapatra said, “Our search for similar-looking vine snakes across India yielded two more specimens at the National Zoological Collection of Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, collected from Mount Abu in Rajasthan.”

•It took the researchers almost 10 years to describe the species through meticulous observation. “We need to follow certain rules as per International Code of Zoological Nomenclature,” said Prof. Dutta, a co-author.

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