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Current Affairs 27 April 2017

 

NEWS 

27 April 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

 GS II: POLITY  JUDICIARY

 Aadhaar-PAN linkage meant to plug tax leaks, says SC

2.

 GS III: ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

 A shrinking home for endemic birds

3.

 GS III: ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION

 High Court spells out steps to stop pollution in Dal Lake

4.

GS II: POLITY  JUDICIARY

 SC seeks law to regulate NGO funds

5.

 GS II: REGULATORY BODIES

 SEBI to grant one licence to brokers, clearing members

6.

 GS III: S&T  INDIA

 A data glove for the speech-disabled

7.

 GS III: S&T  SPACE

 Finally, NASA's super balloon lifts off to collect near space data

8.

 GS III: S&T  HEALTH

 Artificial womb experiment delivers hopes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II: POLITY  JUDICIARY

Aadhaar-PAN linkage meant to plug tax leaks, says SC

  • Slamming a tendency in the country to evade taxes, the Supreme Court referred to the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Income Tax returns as an instance of the government's efforts to bring "new and new laws to stop leakages.
  • The court was hearing petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 139AA inserted in the Income Tax Act by the Finance Act, 2017.
  • The provision makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a PAN.
  • Possession of Aadhaar card is necessary for the continuing validity of an existing PAN and for filing returns under the income tax law.
  • Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said there were "five to 10 lakh fake PAN cards generated every year". "What are you propagating here in the name of public interest, fake PANs," he asked the petitioners.
  • To prove that Aadhaar was not foolproof, Mr. Datar responded that 132% of the population of Delhi is shown to have taken Aadhaar cards and 104% all over the country.
  • "The state is seeding Aadhaar everywhere, in your bank accounts and in income tax returns. In no time, the state will know what your persuasions and beliefs are without you even having to tell it," he submitted.
  • The Bench responded that Section 139AA was a product of the legislative mandate of Parliament.
  • The Bench observed that Parliament cannot be held accountable for any "solemn undertakings" given by the government to the Supreme Court.
  • The court had passed orders in September 2013, March 2014, August 2015 and September 2016 on the basis of the government's assurances that the requirement of Aadhaar for welfare schemes would continue to be voluntary.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

A shrinking home for endemic birds

  • Birds endemic to the biodiverse Western Ghats appear to be in greater danger than they were thought to be, because the range of places they live in may have been overestimated by.
  • Researchers from four American universities who analysed range maps used by the influential global authority, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found that for 17 of 18 bird species, the distribution was smaller than IUCN estimates.
  • An example is the Malabar grey hornbill which IUCN classifies as ‘Least Concern', was found in habitats nearly 81% less than the estimates. This would put the bird in the ‘Near Threatened' category.
  • Again, the Nilgiri pipit appears to have lost 88% of its habitat, making it "endangered" rather than "vulnerable"..
  • IUCN uses expert sightings and other records, while the study used land cover, forest type (satellite imagery), temperature, precipitation and ‘citizen science' using the eBird online birding checklist.


GS III: ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION

High Court spells out steps to stop pollution in Dal Lake

  • Coming down heavily on the caretaker body Lakes and Waterways Department Authority (LAWDA) and the civil administration for their "lax approach and insufficient staff", the Jammu & Kashmir High Court pulled them up for "failing" to preserve the famous Dal Lake.
  • The court ordered a slew of measures to contain the ever-growing pollution, and encroachments in and around the water body, which is central to the Valley's tourism.
  • Noting that existing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) "were not functioning effectively and needed to be upgraded", the court said: "Re-structuring and refurnishing of existing STPs should also be examined. By any chance the existing STPs are stopped, the impact it may have on pollution in Dal lake will be irreversible."
  • It asked the authorities to rope in non-governmental and other organisations "for technical experience" and to install CCTV cameras "to strengthen" the LAWDA's Enforcement Wing.
  • The court directed the State government to ensure rehabilitation of residents at Rakh-I-Arth housing colony, a rehabilitation project for lake-dwellers who are being displaced as part of the conservation programme.
  • The court also stressed the need to seek guidance of the World Wildlife Fund, which has created a network called the India Water Stewardship Network and Alliance for Water Stewardship, "to ensure sustainable water management".
  • "We further suggest that the Monitoring Committee [set up by the High Court in 2002] consider and recommend to the government whether a non-profit trust can be formed, like a ‘Dal Lake Fund'. It can be given the task of restoration of the lake," the judges observed.
  • The court held that school and college students can be asked to take part in community service programmes, focusing specifically on clean environment in and around the lake.
  • "This will encourage good Samaritans help to save the lake," the court observed.

 

GS II: POLITY  JUDICIARY

SC seeks law to regulate NGO funds

  • The Supreme Court suggested that the government ought to frame a statutory law to regulate the flow of public money to the NGOs even as Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) recommended the registration of 159 FIRs against various NGOs for swindling government funds.
  • CAPART works under the Rural Development Ministry.
  • A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar suggested introducing a law after perusing guidelines handed over by the government to the court, appointing NITI Aayog as the nodal agency for NGO registration.
  • But the court said the guidelines might not prove sufficient for "systematising the entire process of accreditation, fund utilisation and audit of NGOs".
  • The Centre on April 4 handed over to the Supreme Court the new guidelines framed for accreditation of nearly 30 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisation in the country.
  • The Union Rural Development Ministry had framed the accreditation guidelines to regulate the "manner in which the VOs/NGOs, which are recipient of grants, would maintain their account, the procedure for audit of the account, including procedure to initiate action for recovering of the grants in case of misappropriation and criminal action".
  • CBI records filed in 2016 in the Supreme Court had shown show that only 2,90,787 NGOs file annual financial statements of a total of 29,99,623 registered ones under the Societies Registration Act.
  • In some States, the CBI said the laws do not even provide for the NGOs to be transparent about their financial dealings.
  • In the Union Territories, of a total of 82,250 NGOs registered and functioning, only 50 file their returns.
  • New Delhi has the highest number of registered NGOs among the Union Territories at 76,566. But none of these organisations submit returns, the CBI chart showed.
  • Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of NGOs at 5.48 lakh among 26 States, has only about 1.19 lakh filing returns.
  • The Supreme Court had expanded the scope of Mr. Sharma's PIL petition alleging misuse of funds by Anna Hazare's NGO Hind Swaraj Trust to include the status of all NGOs.


GS II: REGULATORY BODIES

SEBI to grant one licence to brokers, clearing members

  • UPDATED:APRIL 26, 2017 20:50 IST
  • Market regulator SEBI decided to grant a unified licence to brokers and clearing members to operate in commodity derivative as well as equity markets.
  • "The integration of stock brokers in equity and commodity derivative markets while having many synergies in terms of trading and settlement mechanism, risk management, redressal of investor grievances, etc would benefit investors, brokers, stock exchanges and SEBI," the regulator said.
  • Besides, it will increase economic efficiency in terms of meeting operational and compliance obligations at the member level, potentially resulting in ease of doing business.
  • Also, the integration will help in widening market penetration and facilitate effective regulatory oversight by stock exchanges and SEBI.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech for 2017-18, had announced that the "commodities and securities derivative markets will be further integrated by integrating the participants, brokers, and operational frameworks".
  • Bolstering steps to curb any flow of illicit funds in markets, SEBI also decided to bar resident as well as non-resident Indians from making investments through participatory notes.
  • The decision is part of efforts to strengthen the regulatory framework for offshore derivative instruments (ODIs), commonly known as participatory notes (P-Notes), which have been long seen as being possibly misused for routing of black money from abroad.
  • The notional value of these instruments has declined over the years from 55.7% of overall FPI investments in June 2007 to just 6.7% in December 2016.
  • There are also fears that the P-Note investments may start coming from other jurisdictions like the U.S., France and the Netherlands after tightening of rules for inflows from Mauritius, Singapore and Cyprus.

GS III: S&T  INDIA

A data glove for the speech-disabled

  • A data glove, which measures the individual joint angles of all the five fingers to understand the activity of daily living, developed by Nayan Bhatt, Research Scholar from the Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, recently won the Budding Innovators Award given by the Delhi-based National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).
  • The data glove has 15 sensors (plus an additional reference sensor) that help in gathering information about kinematics or hand motion.
  • Each sensor is connected to a microcontroller board using a flexible wire to collect data.
  • Mr. Bhatt said, "In the case of people with Parkinson's disease, the data glove will provide information about hand kinematics and help clinicians assess the severity of disease. It will complement the traditionally used Universal Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale."
  • The development may find application in animation and other industries.
  • "We are using the prototype to develop products for speech-related disability," Dr. Varadhan said. "By using specific movements of a finger for specific words, the data glove can help speech-disabled people to communicate. We can use a speech synthesiser and speaker to generate sound." Work has to be done to first map specific words to specific movements of the finger.

 

GS III: S&T  SPACE

Finally, NASA's super balloon lifts off to collect near space data

  • A stadium-sized pressure balloon launched by NASA in New Zealand began collecting data in near space, beginning a 100-day planned journey after several launch attempts were thwarted by storms and cyclones.
  • The balloon, designed to detect ultra-high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy as they penetrate the earth's atmosphere, is expected to circle the planet two or three times.
  • "The origin of these particles is a great mystery that we'd like to solve. Do they come from massive black holes at the centre of galaxies? Tiny, fast-spinning stars? Or somewhere else?" a lead investigator on the project said.
  • The balloon's monitoring was only the start of a long quest which would next involve a space mission currently being designed by NASA, she added.
  • The balloon, launched in Wanaka, a scenic spot on New Zealand's South Island, will collect data from 34 km above the earth.
  • New Zealand was also the base for NASA's scientific balloon programme in 2015 and 2016.

GS III: S&T  HEALTH

Artificial womb experiment delivers hopes

  • An artificial womb filled with clear liquid, successfully tested on pre-natal lambs, could help extremely premature babies avoid death or life-long disability, researchers reported.
  • Today, infants brought into the world after only 22 or 23 weeks of gestation rather than the full 40 have a 50/50 chance of living, and - for those that survive - a 90% change of severe and lasting health problems.
  • The new system mimics life in the uterus and could, if approved for human use, dramatically improve those odds.
  • The researchers are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prepare human trials, which could start within three years.
  • The foetus - breathing liquid, as it would in the womb - lies in a clear-plastic sack filled with a synthetic amniotic fluid.
  • The umbilical cord is attached via tubes to a machine outside the bag, which removes CO2 and adds oxygen to blood passing through it. There are no mechanical pumps - it is the foetus' heart that keeps things moving.
  • For the study, the researchers tested six preterm lambs transferred from their mothers' wombs to the device at 105 to 112 days of gestation - the equivalent of 23 to 24 weeks in a human. They remained in the artificial wombs for up to 28 days.
  • Sheep have long been used in experiments for prenatal treatment, especially because lung development is highly similar.
  • While nestled in the devices, "the lambs showed normal breathing and swallowing, opened their eyes, grew wool, became more active, and had normal growth, neurological function and organ maturation," said Mr. Flake.

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