Minimum Qualifications for Coop. Society Elections

Rajasthan has become the country’s first State to lay down the minimum educational qualifications for contesting elections to village cooperative societies and various other cooperative bodies. The State Cooperative Societies Rules, 2003, were amended for the purpose and notified on Monday.

The educational qualifications will range from Class V to Class VIII for election as members of governing boards of dairy societies, farming societies, consumer societies, weavers’ societies, housing construction societies, urban banks, primary land development banks, credit societies, salary earners’ societies and cooperative unions.

Source: The Hindu

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Air-Sewa Web Portal Upgraded

The Ministry of Civil Aviation held a meeting of all stakeholders last week to invite suggestions for designing Air Sewa 2.0, the upgraded version of the Air-Sewa Web Portal and mobile app that was launched in November last year to make air travel convenient and hassle-free.

Flight delays, the problem in refunds, long queues, inadequate facilities at airports and complaints of lost baggage are the most common problems that air travellers face. There was a need to respond to these problems in a systematic manner rather than on ad-hoc basis. ­The Ministry had launched AirSewa web portal and mobile app on 26.11.2016 to address this need.
AirSewa is operated through an interactive web portal and a mobile app for both Android and iOS platforms. The e-portal includes a mechanism for grievance redressal, back office operations for grievance handling, flight status/schedule information, airport Information and FAQs.

Users can now check live flight status for all inbound and outbound flights in a single click.

Information regarding weather conditions and services for some selected airports is also available on this portal.

Flights can be searched by flight number or for all flights to or from a particular airport. Information such as airport services like wheel chair, transport/parking, rest and relax, Wifi services etc. can also be easily accessed.

Air Sewa is a one-stop solution for grievance redressal as passengers can now register any grievance on the mobile app or web portal. Th­ey can also upload voice or video along with an elaborate description of their issues.

Source: Press Information Bureau

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SC Stays Cattle Trade Rules

The Supreme Court, while hearing a matter on cow slaughter ban, said that Madras High Court’s stay on the government’s notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets is operational throughout the country.

The Story Till Now:

On May 25, the Central government, through an order imposed a ban on the sale of cattle, including cows, for slaughter and restricted cattle trade solely for agricultural purposes.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 to ensure that the sale of cattle is not meant for slaughter purposes. Regulating animal trade is a state business, but animal welfare is a central subject, thereby providing the window for the ministry to notify the rule.

There was widespread opposition to the order, with many states openly denying accepting the notification. Earlier, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had stayed the Centre’s notification on cattle slaughter ban.
The SC Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the statement of the Central Government that it was reconsidering the notification by taking into account various objections and suggestions of stakeholders and would come up with an amended notification.

The officials had cited animal cruelty and unregulated animal trade as reasons behind the ban, while critics believed the ban to be “unconstitutional” as it endangered the livelihood of millions of Indians employed in the cattle-related industries.The apex court’s suspension of the ban gives relief to the multi-billion dollar beef and leather industry. India’s bovine industry is one of the largest in the world and employs millions of people.

In the world market, India has been the top beef exporter till 2016. Increased cases of mob lynching in the name of saving cattle and the subsequent government ban on cattle trade hurt this industry. As the fifth largest meat producer, India produces 6.3 million tonnes of meat, which is about three percent of world’s total meat production — 220 million tonnes.
Much of India’s meat and leather trade takes place through the informal economy, meaning the impact of the closing of illegal slaughterhouses and ban on trading for slaughter is hard to measure. The decline in production of meat means fewer jobs for two of India’s poorest communities, and risks inflaming social tensions.

The May 23 notification had said those who wished to sell cattle — bulls, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and camels — may do so only after they formally stated that the animals had not been “brought to the market for sale for slaughter”.

Buyers of cattle at animal markets would have to verify they were agriculturalists and declare not to sell the animal/s for six months from the date of purchase. Animal markets wouldn’t be allowed to function within 25 km of a State border and 50 km from an international border.

The rules envisage the constitution of district animal market monitoring committee and an animal market committee.

Where did the ‘Beef ban’ perception come from?

The ban on cattle slaughter was seen as an indirect ban on beef consumption and an attempt by the Government to regulate eating habits and spread an ideology that demanded people uphold the status of the cow as a sacred animal, irrespective of religious beliefs.

The rules did not mention a ban on slaughter or consumption of beef. The government of India claims that the misconception has been brought about by a lack of understanding of the notification. But, a ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter at the cattle market is bound to restrict the supply of beef for local consumption.

Kerala led the charge against the supposed ban, by organising beef fests. Members of the Kerala Youth Congress drew ire for slaughtering a calf in the middle of the street in Kannur. Beef fests were witnessed in IIT-Madras too, with the organiser being attacked. While the accused has denied any affiliations to political parties, the DMK and the CPI (M) in Chennai organised rallies and protests outside the campus, giving the incident a communal colour.

If implemented, the new rules would have created a huge deficit in the meat that is consumed locally. Lower income groups and particularly Scheduled Caste community members rely on beef for their source of animal protein, as it is cheaper than other sources. Beef is about 50 percent cheaper than chicken may be because there is no quality check on the meat that is consumed in cities.

The issue has become highly emotive with a wave of attacks on Muslims suspected of either storing meat or transporting cattle for slaughter. Late last month, after months of silence on the violence, PM Modi condemned the lynchings. Media has reported at least two cases of attacks on Muslims since Modi spoke out.

Protests are taking place across India against rising attacks on Muslims and Dalits by vigilante cow protection groups. The social media campaign against mob lynchings, #NotInMyName, started with a Facebook post.

Muslims were the target of 51 percent of violence centred on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86 percent of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents, according to an IndiaSpend content analysis of the English media. As many of 97 percent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence – 32 of 63 cases – were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported.

Of the 28 Indians who died over the seven-year period, 24, or 86 percent, were Muslim. As many as 124 people were also injured in these attacks. More than half (52 percent) of these attacks were based on rumours
In the first six months of 2017, 20 cow-related attacks were reported – more than 75 percent of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010.

The attacks include mob lynching, attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment and assault.

While the government denies any pattern to the incidents, it is equally important for the government to ensure that even the perception of a pattern does not persist.

How will the legalities proceed?

The July 11 order effectively puts on hold the cattle slaughter ban across the nation, until new rules are put in place.It was added that once the new rules were notified, sufficient time would be given by the Centre for its implementation. The batch of petitions challenging the current cattle trade rules was accordingly disposed of.

Additional solicitor general P.S. Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, added that the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) was seized of the issue and was working towards defining the amended rules. The court also measures would be undertaken to enable aggrieved people to approach the court again once the new rules are notified.

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India to Celebrate Falun Gong

Falun Gong, the ancient Chinese holistic system that is banned in China, will be celebrated in India on July 15 with a parade and Human Word Formation in New Delhi. Falun Gong (literally, “Dharma Wheel Practice” or “Law Wheel Practice”) is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centred on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance

The practice emphasises morality and the cultivation of virtue and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to eliminate attachments, and ultimately to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Qigong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training

Source: The Hindu

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5 States & a Union Territory to implement e-Marketplace

In a spirit of cooperative federalism, 5 States and a Union Territory (UT) on Tuesday formally adopted the Centre’s initiative called the Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

GeM ensures that public procurement of goods and services in India worth more than Rs. 5 lakh crore annually is carried out through the online platform to ensure transparency and to eliminate corruption.

The States and the UT that signed an MoU with the Centre include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Telangana, Puducherry and Arunachal Pradesh.

Source : Hindu

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Sugar Import Duty Increased to 50%

The government on Monday raised the import duty on sugar to 50 per cent from 40 per cent to discourage dumping of cheaper supplies from abroad and as local prices stabilise after a spike earlier this marketing year.

The move will improve the ability of sugar mills to pay farmers for their supplies of cane, according to the sugar industry.

Relief for producers:

  • The hike in the duty comes as a relief for mills amid slowing domestic demand, especially after demonetisation.
  • Cost of production has also increased due to high cane prices.
  • This will help the sugar industry pay the cane price (fair and remunerative price), which has been raised by 11 per cent for the marketing year starting October 2017.

Sugar import:

  • In April this year, the government had allowed duty-free imports of raw sugar up to five lakh tonnes to improve domestic availability.
  • It was due to fear that a drop in domestic output in 2016-17 could trigger a spiral in prices to irrational levels.

This was for the first time since 2012 that imports of sugar under the open general license (OGL) was allowed at zero duty, albeit in limited quantity

Source: The Hindu

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Railways to Promote Small Entrepreneurs

Indian Railways has taken a big step in a plan to promote micro and small enterprises.

  • It has reserved 358 items including cleaning apparatus, stationery and leather items exclusively for procurement from the MSE sector
  • Besides, the sector has been exempted from paying tender cost and earnest money deposit for participating in the railway tender.
  • MSEs will be now encouraged to participate in the business of maintenance and operation of rolling stock and also in procurement of cables, linen, paints, wall paneling, cutting and drilling machines.
  • Recently the national transporter has organized a meeting to increase the participation of micro and small enterprises in railway procurement. The meeting was attended by Railway Minister and senior officials from the ministry and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) besides MSE vendors.

The Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO), the research wing of the Railways, was advised to extend its support to MSE vendors on technical issues and SIDBI was advised to provide financial support to MSEs.

Source : The Hindu

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Sensor Network to Map Pollution

A group of U.S. researchers is working on a system to map undulating pollution trends in the Godavari.

Using a mix of methods, including satellite monitoring, traversing stretches of the river to collect water samples and using special sensors to measure bacterial and chemical pollution, the researchers are trying to develop a cost-effective forecast system.

The team’s long-term objective is to be able to inform State officials and citizens of a probable spike in, say, levels of dangerous microbes or effluents, similar to weather and air pollution forecasts.

It is to be able to access “raw data” that could be used to inform the efficacy of a proposed faecal sludge treatment plant and whether behavioural interventions —including incentives or punishments —to restrict activities that pollute the river could actually work.

The project measures parameters such as total dissolved salts, nitrate, pH, temperature, turbidity and electrical conductivity. These are published on a website called Thoreau, a wireless sensing network maintained at the University of Chicago to map environmental parameters, for analysis.

Source: The Hindu

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Haldi to Cure Tuberculosis

Researchers have found that the basic ingredient of turmeric, when administered in a nanoparticle formulation has several favourable properties in the treatment of tuberculosis in mice.

The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology Results of the Research. During the research, regular curcumin was able to drastically reduce liver toxicity induced by TB drug isoniazid

  • Also, the treatment of TB with isoniazid along with 200 nanometre curcumin nanoparticles led to “dramatically reduced” risk of disease reactivation and reinfection.
  • Because of the increased bioavailability of curcumin, the duration of treatment to achieve complete eradication of the bacteria is reduced significantly Other positive effects of using ‘Curcumin’Quite often, patients stop taking anti-TB drugs for a few days due to liver toxicity
    Since the addition of curcumin reduces liver toxicity there can be better treatment and lesser risk of drug resistance emerging.
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