Topic 1: International Organisation of Legal Metrology certificates
Why in news: India has become an OIML certificate-issuing authority recently.
What is the OIML?
- The OIML (International Organisation of Legal Metrology) was established in 1955 and headquartered in Paris.
- The OIML is an international standard-setting body.
- It develops model regulations, standards and related documents for use by legal metrology authorities and industry.
- It plays a crucial role in harmonising national laws and regulations on performance of measuring instruments like:
- clinical thermometers,
- alcohol breath analysers,
- radar speed measuring instruments,
- ship tanks found at ports, and
- petrol dispensing units.
- India became a member of the OIML in 1956.
What is the OIML certificate?
- The OIML-CS is a system for issuing, registering and using OIML certificates, and their associated OIML type evaluation/test reports, for instruments like digital balance, clinical thermometers, etc.
- With the addition of India, the number of countries authorised to issue OIML certificates has increased to 13.
How will this help the Indian economy?
- The move is expected to help the Indian economy in several ways, including increase in exports, earning of foreign exchange, and generation of employment.
- It will help in reducing redundancy and saving resources.
Topic 2: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Why in news: A policy that allowed young undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has been declared illegal by a US court.
What is DACA?
- People who came to the United States as children illegally can request deferment or delay in legal action against them for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
- The government agency lists certain criteria for qualifying for DACA.
- the person must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, they should have come to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday,
- they should have certain educational qualifications,
- not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanour and
- do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- Such people are then eligible to request work authorisation and legally hold a job.
- It described deferred action as an exercise of “prosecutorial discretion”, to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time.
- Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
Topic 3: Hindi Diwas
Why in news: September 14 is observed as Hindi Diwas, or Hindi Day, to commemorate the Constituent Assembly of India making Hindi the official language of the Union government.
What the Constitution said on official language:
- As part of the Munshi-Ayyangar formula, Article 343 of the Constitution as adopted in 1950 said the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.
- The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.
- For a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before such commencement.”
- When the 15-year period came to an end, protests broke out over the fear of imposition of Hindi in large parts of non-Hindi speaking India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
- The resistance resulted in the Centre passing the Official Languages Act, which stated that English would continue to be upheld as an official language along with Hindi.
- In the years that followed, the government has made several efforts to propagate Hindi as the unifying language of India, the celebration of Hindi Diwas being one among them.
Hindi’s reach in numbers
- The 2011 linguistic census accounts for 121 mother tongues, including 22 languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
- Hindi is the most widely spoken, with 52.8 crore individuals, or 43.6% of the population, declaring it as their mother tongue.
- The next highest is Bengali, mother tongue for 9.7 crores (8%) — less than one-fifth of Hindi’s count.
- In terms of the number of people who know Hindi, the count crosses more than half the country.
- Nearly 13.9 crore (over 11%) reported Hindi as their second language, which makes it either the mother tongue or second language for nearly 55% of the population.
The status of English in India
- English, alongside Hindi, is one of the two official languages of the central government, but it is not among the 22 languages in the 8th Schedule.
- It is one of the 99 non-scheduled languages.
- In terms of mother tongue, India had just 2.6 lakh English speakers in 2011.
- As a second language, 8.3 crore spoke it in 2011, second only to Hindi’s 13.9 crore
Topic 4: Saudi Arabia and India relations
Why in news: The relationship between New Delhi and Riyadh has been improving steadily.
- Saudi Arabia, India and USA recenly announced the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, a massive infrastructure project that would connect India to Europe via West Asia, and could rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Saudi Arabia co-chaired with India the first meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council.
- The two sides signed eight agreements, including on:
- upgrading their hydrocarbon energy partnership to a comprehensive energy partnership for renewable,
- petroleum and strategic reserves, and
- to create a joint task force for $100 billion in Saudi investment.
- They also discussed the possibility of trading in local currencies, and expediting negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council of which Saudi Arabia is a member.
Evolution of Indo-Saudi ties:
- The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1947.
- The visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 was a watershed moment in the relationship which resulted in the signing of the Delhi Declaration.
- It was followed in 2010 by the Riyadh Declaration that elevated bilateral ties to a strategic partnership.
- In 2016 the King of Saudi conferred on the Prime Minister of India the kingdom’s highest civilian honour, the King Abdulaziz Sash, indicating the importance Saudi Arabia attached to its relationship with India.
- In 2019 it was announced that the kingdom would invest approximately $100 billion in India, and six MoUs/ Agreements were signed in a range of fields.
- An agreement was also signed to pave the way for Saudi Arabia to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) launched by the Prime Minister.
- In 2019 The Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement was signed which established a high-level council to steer the Indo-Saudi relationship.
- The SPC now has separate subcommittees on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation, and on Economy and Investments.
Pillars of the relationship
- Economic Ties
- India is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trade partner;
- Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trade partner.
- Bilateral trade in FY2022-23 was valued at $52.76 billion.
- Trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for 4.53% of India’s total trade in FY23.
- Investments by India:
- As of 2022, there were 2,783 Indian companies registered as joint ventures/ 100% owned entities with investments worth approximately $2 billion in the kingdom.
- Investments by Saudi:
- Saudi direct investments in India amounted to $3.15 billion.
- Among the major proposed investments is the $44 billion West Coast Refinery & Petrochemicals Project in Maharashtra, which is being jointly built by Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and an Indian consortium that includes Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation.
- Energy Cooperation
- Saudi Arabia is a key partner for ensuring India’s energy security, and was its third largest crude and petroleum products source for FY23.
- India imported 39.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of crude from the country in FY23, amounting to 16.7% of India’s total crude imports.
- India’s LPG imports from Saudi Arabia stood at 7.85 MMT, and 11.2% of its total petroleum product imports, in FY 23.
- Defence Partnership
- There is extensive naval cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia, and two editions of the bilateral naval exercise, Al Mohed al Hindi, have been concluded so far.
- Both sides also cooperate closely in the domain of defence industries and capacity-building.
- Indians In Saudi
- The Indian community in the kingdom is more than 2.4 million strong, widely respected for its contribution to the development of Saudi Arabia, and seen as a living bridge between the two countries.
- Saudi also supported the evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in Sudan through Jeddah under Operation Kaveri, and for facilitating Indian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
Topic 5: The idea of fraternity in India
- The idea of fraternity should be mainly understood in the domain of the political.
- That is to say that the concept involves the emancipation and empowerment of the people despite its variegated history, since the time of Plato.
- Though neglected, it remains a significant tenet of liberal political philosophy along with the idea of liberty and equality.
The Indian context
- India’s independence struggle, and the subsequent emergence of constitutional democracy saw the necessity of liberty, equality and fraternity for a complex Indian society at the precipice of becoming an independent republic.
- The framers of the Indian Constitution knew the significance of fraternity in a society, divided on the basis of various hierarchical social inequalities.
- Fraternity also happens to be the constitutional value that has received the maximum neglect both in the world of ideas and in the political field of action.
- While fraternity remains one of the chief goals of India’s parliamentary democracy, and is actually the foundational political objective of its constitutional democracy, the current nature of India’s fraternity is different from the political fraternity espoused in its Constitution.
Origins of the concept
- In Plato’s Lysis, the philosopher invokes the word philia (love) for the strong desire to pursue wisdom.
- That is, love and friendship with others becomes more meaningful through the sharing of knowledge.
- The emphasis is on ‘share’ which gives us an early idea on the discourse of fraternity in ancient Greece.
- In Aristotle, we see the emergence of the polis — the logical location of a man who remains, first and foremost, a political being, and hence is part of the polis and not of the wild.
- Justice and friendship among citizens came to be the most enduring features of the polis.
- Here, is the birth of the idea of political fraternity.
- In the middle ages, fraternity flourished mostly through religion, within the churning of Christian society in Europe.
- The concept of fraternity then eventually found its entry into politics with the French revolution of 1789 in the triptych of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’.
The limits to fraternity
- Certain preconditions are necessary in order to achieve the kind of political fraternityinculcated by the Constitution of India.
- Fraternity does not mean anything if it glosses over social inequalities and then invokes social solidarity.
- Such a solidarity comes riding on the hate against an imaginary other, and tends to maintain social status quo which bolsters the already privileged at the cost of the continued subjugation of the underprivileged.
- The call of such a fraternity is increasingly replaced with the rhetoric of belligerent nationalism which castigates a home grown religious minority as its arch enemy.
- Religious minorities have faced such social and political opprobrium countless times in this country.
- Any sorts of fundamentalism jettisons the possibility of fraternity — a fanatic can be anything but fraternal in the true sense.
- Fraternity does not mean anything if it glosses over social inequalities and then invokes social solidarity.
- To conclude, in India, caste and the idea of political fraternity, given its social milieu, cannot coexist.
- One has to give way for the other to emerge.
- And to figure out which one survives and which goes, is the task of the politics of the future.
Topic 6: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Why in news: World Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Day observed by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD)
- World Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Day is observed each year to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
- The purpose of the day is to support efforts that will improve the quality of life for those who have dystrophinopathies through education, advocacy, and social inclusion.
- A rare degenerative illness called Duchenne muscular dystrophy makes muscles weaker over time until it affects the entire body.
- One in five thousand boys are born with the condition.
- It results from an X-chromosome mutation.
- This year’s World Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Day theme is Duchenne: Breaking Barriers.
About Duchenne muscular dystrophy:
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe type of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects boys.
- Muscle weakness usually begins around the age of four, and worsens quickly.
- Most are unable to walk by the age of 12.
- Some may have intellectual disability.
- About two thirds of cases are inherited from a person’s mother, while one third of cases are due to a new mutation.
- It is caused by a mutation in the gene for the protein dystrophin.
- Dystrophin is important to maintain the muscle fiber’s cell membrane.
- Although there is no known cure, physical therapy, braces, and corrective surgery may help with some symptoms.
- Assisted ventilation may be required in those with weakness of breathing muscles.
- Medications used include:
- steroids to slow muscle degeneration,
- anticonvulsants to control seizures and some muscle activity, and
- immunosuppressants to delay damage to dying muscle cells.
- Gene therapy, as a treatment, is in the early stages of study in humans.
Topic 7: National Judicial Data Grid
Why in news: The Supreme Court recently onboarded its case data on the National Judicial Data Grid.
What is the National Judicial Data Grid?
- The NJDG portal is a national repository of data relating to cases instituted, pending and disposed of by the courts across the country.
- It includes case details of 18,735 District and subordinate Courts and High Courts.
- It has been created as an online platform under the eCourts Project.
- Its key feature is that the data is updated in real-time and has granular data up to the Taluka level.
Who runs the NJDG?
- The NJDG was built as part of Phase II of the e-Courts project, which is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
- The platform has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- A monitoring tool:
- NJDG works as a monitoring tool to identify, manage & reduce pendency of cases.
- For instance, for the year 2023, the total pendency of registered cases in SC is 64,854.
- But the Cases instituted last month were 5,412 while cases disposed of in the last month were 5,033.
- This shows that the pendency in SC is largely due to legacy cases since the Court is currently disposing of approximately the same number of cases filed on an annual basis.
- Identification of limitations in judiciary:
- It also helps identify specific bottlenecks in judicial processes.
- For example, if the number of land disputes in a particular state shoots up, it helps policymakers look into whether the law needs to be strengthened.
- Referring to the data of year-wise pendency of cases, the CJI said the apex court has less than a hundred cases pending before 2000 and it gives data tools to the Chief Justice to re-organise work and dispose of the oldest cases.
- Inputs for specific laws:
- It also helps generate inputs related to particular areas of law.
- For example, to track cases related to land disputes, Land Records data of 26 States have been linked with NJDG.
Topic 8: Expansion of Ujjwala Yojana
Why in news: Cabinet approves expansion of Ujjwala Yojana
- As per the existing modalities of Ujjawala 2.0, the first refill and stove will also be provided free of cost to Ujjwala beneficiaries.
- A targeted subsidy of Rs.200 per 14.2 kg LPG cylinder for upto 12 refills per year is being provided to PMUY consumers.
About Ujjwala Yojana
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a government scheme under the Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to distribute LPG cylinders to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL).
- The aim of the Ujjwala Scheme is to provide alternate clean fuel to prevent health issues associated with burning unhealthy fuel.
- Under this scheme, 8 crore identified beneficiaries were distributed 50 million LPG gas connections, in the names of adult women of the family.
Women’s ease of living through clean cooking
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 2.4 billion people worldwide (which is around one-third of the global population), rely on open fires or inefficient stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (such as wood, animal dung, and crop waste), and coal for cooking.
- This leads to harmful household air pollution, contributing to an estimated 3.2 million deaths annually in 2020.
- Achieving a sustainable and pollution-free future requires addressing the issue of household air pollution, especially to prevent suffering among women and children.
- Non-renewable wood fuels for cooking cause a gigaton of CO2 emissions, and burning residential solid fuels comprise 58 percent of black carbon emissions.
- They are also a significant contributor to household air pollution (HAP) due to incomplete combustion of solid biomass.
- Girls and women face increased exposure to solid fuels.
- Significance of the scheme:
- The PMUY scheme has empowered women economically and socially.
- With easier access to LPG, women are no longer burdened with the task of collecting firewood or other traditional fuels.
- This convenience allows them to participate more actively in community life and take up other income-generating opportunities.
- The Ujjwala scheme has contributed to enhancing the safety and security of women, as they no longer need to venture into isolated and potentially unsafe areas to collect firewood or fuel.
Initiatives to expand LPG coverage
- PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hastantarit Labh):
- Instead of providing LPG cylinders at subsidized price, those were sold at market price, and applicable subsidy was directly transferred to individual’s bank account electronically.
- This reduced “ghost” accounts and illegal use of household cylinders for commercial purposes, ensuring that only the intended beneficiaries receive the benefits.
- GIVE IT UP:
- Instead of removing subsidies forcefully, people were encouraged to voluntarily surrender their subsidies.
- Through extensive promotion, millions of people willingly gave up the subsidies, which helped redirect the funds to those who genuinely needed assistance in acquiring LPG cylinders.
- Garib KalyanYojana:
- During Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, free refill scheme under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana was implemented.
Topic 9: Divya Kalamela
Why in news: Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) organizes unique event – Divya Kala Mela’.
- It showcases the products and craftsmanship of Divyang entrepreneurs/artisans from across the country.
- This is a unique initiative of DEPwD towards economic empowerment of PwD/Divyangjan.
- The Divya Kala Mela presents a bigger platform for marketing and showcasing the products and skills of Divyangjan (PwD).
- The Divya Kala Mela, Varanasi is the seventh one in series starting from 2022.