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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Curbing Bottom Trawling

Sri Lanka recently passed amendments to Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act banning the fishing practice of bottom trawling in their waters.

What is Bottom-trawling?

  • It is a fishing practice, which involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea floor.
  • It is known to cause great depletion of fishery resources.

Ever since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009, fishermen of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority north have been trying to start fishing. For decades, they had been denied access to the sea by the armed forces and the LTTE. They began rebuilding their lives with very limited resources and huge loans. They are confronting the challenge of bottom-trawlers, originating from Tamil Nadu and trespassing into their waters.

Sri Lankan fishermen want an immediate end to incursions by Indian trawlers, and those from Tamil Nadu insist on a three-year phase-out period.

What measures taken by Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka recently banned the destructive fishing practice of bottom trawling in their waters, making violators liable for a fine of LKR 50,000 (approximately Rs. 20,000) and face two years imprisonment.

  • It was made by amending the country’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act.
  • The amendment is aimed at stopping local trawlers as well as deterring trawlers from Tamil Nadu.

What are the impacts?

  • The development could directly impact a section of fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who engage in bottom-trawling.
  • They have often been found trespassing in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.
  • It also sparked resistance from a small section of northern Sri Lankan fisher folk who had also begun using trawlers to maximise profits.
  • If this practice continues to gain ground even among local fishermen, the long-term consequences on fishing resources in the contested Palk Bay region will be irremediable.

The Central and State governments plan to provide 500 deep sea fishing boats with long lines and gill nets this year, as part of a plan to replace 2,000 trawlers in three years.

A Joint Working Group set up by both countries last year is in place.
Ultimately, the solution lies in the transition from trawling to deep sea fishing.
Ultimately, the solution lies in the transition from trawling to deep sea fishing.
An appropriate response from Tamil Nadu would be to expedite the conversion of its trawlers to deep sea fishing vessels, and not merely condemn Sri Lanka.

Besides the fisheries conflict, they need to discuss marine conservation, thus giving equal importance to protecting livelihoods and sustainable fishing.

Image Courtesy: marelec.com

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Ahmedabad Gets World Heritage Tag

The Walled City of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, has been declared India’s first World Heritage City.

    • The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO made the announcement
    • The UNESCO had preferred Ahmedabad over Delhi and Mumbai.
    • The 5.5 km walled city area with an approximate population of four lakhs, living in century-old wooden residences is regarded as a living heritage.
    • It has now joined the privileged club of heritage cities like Paris, Cairo, Edinburgh and two cities in the subcontinent, Bhaktapur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka.


The walled city of Ahmedabad on the eastern banks of Sabarmati river presents a rich architectural heritage from the Sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods.

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Committee Formed to Study Legalities for Separate State Flag

The Karnataka State government has constituted a nine-member committee headed by Principal Secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture, to study and submit a report to the government on the possibility of “designing a separate flag for Karnataka and providing it with a statutory standing.”

The constitutional and legal position of the State having its own flag:

R. Bommai v/s Union of India (Supreme Court 1994) case verdict:

  • The Supreme Court has declared that federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution and States are supreme in their sphere.
  • This being the Constitutional position, there is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the State flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag. It has to be always below the national flag.
  • The national flag code specifically authorises the use of other flags subject to the regulation by the court. So State flag is not unauthorised.
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India-Japan-U.S. Joint Exercise

The 21st edition of the ‘MALABAR-2017’ naval exercise began in the Bay of Bengal on Monday and will last until July 17.
The primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the three navies of India, U.S. and Japan and to reiterate the strong and resilient relationship between them in many areas, including maritime security operations.

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National Waterways Act 2016

  • The National Waterways Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha on May 5, 2015, by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Mr Nitin Gadkari.
  • Under Entry 24 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law.
  • The Bill identifies additional 101 waterways as national waterways.  The Schedule of the Bill also specifies the extent of development to be undertaken on each waterway.
  • The Bill repeals the five Acts that declare the existing national waterways.  These five national waterways are now covered under the Bill.
  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that while inland waterways are recognised as a fuel-efficient, cost-effective and environment-friendly mode of transport, it has received lesser investment as compared to roads and railways.  Since inland waterways are lagging behind other modes of transport, the central government has evolved a policy for the integrated development of inland waterways.

(Policy Research & Studies)

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