Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
NSG remains undecided on India’s bid
The annual session of the 48 member Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) ended without taking any decision on India’s application for membership. Several countries expressed concerns over the entry of members who are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that India has refused to sign.
NSG was divided on the question of India’s entry. While US supported India, China’s attempts were to block any discussion, countries like Brazil and Turkey calling for a “criteria-based” process to be put in place first, and others like Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland raising the NPT question, India’s chances were scuttled.
Government officials held that at least 32 countries had made positive interventions on India’s behalf, but the NSG’s actions are governed by consensus and not by majority. In a reference to the discussions, the NSG joint statement said they spoke of “Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of non-NPT States in the NSG” and decided to continue its discussion”.
What is the Nuclear Suppliers Group? – Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975. The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development. Nations already signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment, materials or technology.
What will be the benefit to India from NSG membership? – The External Affairs Minister has said that there is a difference between sitting outside a room seeking the indulgence of others and being inside making the rules. This explains India’s quest for NSG membership. Arguments in favour of the membership are that though India has got a waiver from NSG now but it can be revoked, China could create trouble for India.
But there are valid arguments for not pursuing the membership so vigorously. Firstly, the waiver was not specific to the agreement with the U.S., it covered all the items in the NSG’s lists, and it has no sunset clause; India needs no further waiver to import from willing exporters anything it needs for “IAEA-safeguarded civil nuclear facilities”; from 2011, of course, this would exclude enrichment and reprocessing. It can only be revoked by consensus.
Neither China nor any other member can create problems for India within the terms of the waiver: whether any member sells to us or not will be dependent entirely on other factors, including its domestic laws and the strength of our bilateral relations.
The government probably sees the NSG membership as a stepping stone to join other powerful groupings like the Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group and last most importantly the permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
India joins as full member of MTCR
India has joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as a full member on 27th June 2016, three days after it failed to get NSG membership due to stiff opposition from China and a few other countries.
The MTCR Point of Contact in Paris has conveyed the decision regarding India’s accession to the regime through the Embassy of France in New Delhi as well as the Embassies of The Netherlands and Luxembourg.
What is MTCR? – MTCR aims at restricting the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogramme payload for at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States. China, which stonewalled India’s entry into the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at the Seoul plenary, is not a member of 34-nation MTCR.
India’s efforts to get into the MTCR also got a boost after it agreed to join the Hague Code of Conduct, dealing with the ballistic missile non-proliferation arrangement.
What is the benefit to India? – MTCR membership will enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia.
Protecting Kashmir’s poplar trees
The Jammu and Kashmir High court in 2014 had banned the sale, purchase and plantation of female Russian poplars ( Populus deltoides ) following a public outcry and medical warnings that their cotton shedding laden with pollen, during late spring was the main cause of allergies in Srinagar.
Thereafter, lakhs of poplar trees were cut down across the Valley. A compliance report submitted to the court by the Deputy Commissioners of Kulgam and Pulwama district in June this year claimed that it targeted felling of six lakh poplars.
There is a counter movement taking place that argues High Court’s decision to fell poplars is not only an “exceptional exercise but also a misinformed decision.” Poplar-induced allergy stands at number six as a cause of allergy. While dust remains the main cause, it is followed by lawn grass, deodar, kikaarand chinar pollen as per civil society activists.
Instead of felling the trees, Dr. Sajad Gangoo, an expert from Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Agricultural Sciences, argues that pruning these trees during autumn would cut down cotton circulation by 80 per cent in spring.
What is the benefit of poplar trees? – The poplar trees are central to rural economy. The tree grows faster [than the local species]. Poplars live up to 40 years and mature in just three years. They attain height up to 20-30 feet. The wood of poplars is relatively soft and hence is mostly used to make cardboard boxes, crates, paper, and veneer.
It’s a source of livelihood for many because fruit boxes are made of it. it consumes water, purifies it more than any other tree and could be helpful for water bodies too.
Amendments to Specific Relief Act being pondered
The centre is pondering over amendments to the Specific Relief Act, 1963, to limit the compensation and relief that courts can grant in cases relating to execution of infrastructure and development projects.
The proposed changes, among other things, seek to lay down guidelines for reducing the discretion granted to courts and tribunals while granting performance and injunctive relief. This move is among a series of actions contemplated by the Centre to enhance “ease of doing business.”
The provisions of the act act as a hinderance by drawing the litigation process.
What are the recommendations? – The government constituted a five-member expert committee to review the Act and suggest changes needed to remove bottlenecks in execution of contract-based infrastructure development, public private partnerships and other public projects. In its report to Union Law and Justice Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, the committee recommended changes in the law to limit the powers of courts to award relief. There are several petitions being heard by the Supreme Court and several High Courts challenging proposed infrastructure ventures on various grounds including damage to ecology.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Shantaram Naik suggested an amendment to Article 226 to limit the powers of review of courts. The MP contended that Article 226 should be amended to restrict the powers of High Courts and improve ease of doing business rather than effect a change in the 1963 Act.
What are the provisions of Specific Relief Act? – The ‘Specific Relief Act 1963’ is an Act of the Parliament of India which covers large number of remedial aspects of law including recovery of possession of property, specific performance of contracts and preventive relief.
The base of almost all economic relations are made of contracts. Every profession is contract bound. Moreover a particular contract is not an isolated transaction. Often it is a link in the chain of several contracts. A failure at one place could cause serious dislocation to economic and social life. Contracts, thus must be enforced. But awarding compensation to an injured person is the only way that the law of contract can enforce a contract. However, in many cases compensation fails to serve the economic purpose of a contract. For example, a hospital is interested in the fulfillment of its requirements and not in receiving compensation from a failed supplier. Thus there was a need for a remedy which would compel a defaulting contractor to actually perform his contract. This is the special performance provision of the act.
What is Article 226? – Article 226 is power of High courts to issue writs. Notwithstanding anything in Article 32 every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.
Shailesh Nayak Committee on coastal zone regulation
The Report of the Committee to Review the Issues relating to the Coastal Regulation Zone, 2011, was submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in January 2015. The report was however not made public. After an RTI request the Central Information Commission directed the government to release the report.
The Shailesh Nayak Committee report has proposed for allowing housing infrastructure and slum redevelopment activities, tourism, ports and harbor and fisheries-related activities in coastal regulation zones.
The report proposes the devolution of powers to state and union territory governments along with local authorities as sought by several states. The Committee is of the opinion that the MoEF&CC should restrict itself to policy making in the area of coastal management and monitoring of activities. Such clearances for small projects could be undertaken by the State/UT Governments or other agencies.
Dividing areas as densely populated rural areas and rural areas, the report imposes lesser regulation for the former through the reduction of the no development zone to 50 metres and 200 meters of the high tide line for others. The Committee strongly supported that new opportunities and initiatives need to be taken to address the economic and social development of coastal communities.
What will be the impact on coastal ecology? – The committee recommended developmental activities in private mangrove land can be taken up. Construction of walkways, interpretation centres, promenades, public facilities for developing parks, research facilities related to mangrove biodiversity, facilities for conservation and the like can be set up in the 50-metre buffer suggested for vegetation extending more than 1,000 sq metres.
The buffer could also be developed as a greenbelt to prevent encroachment, illegal dumping, construction activity and slum redevelopment and such unauthorised and illegal activities which are harmful to mangroves.
The report has allowed extensive development of the coastal areas which could lead to decrease in mangrove forest cover.
Source: TheHindu, Business Standard
Bio Ink for 3D printing
A new stem cell-containing bio-ink that allows 3D printing of complex living tissues that may be used for surgical implants has been developed by a team of scientists. The bio-ink contains two different polymer components: a natural polymer extracted from seaweed, and a sacrificial synthetic polymer used in the medical industry.
The synthetic polymer causes the bio-ink to change from liquid to solid when the temperature is raised, and the seaweed polymer provides structural support when the cell nutrients are introduced.
The result is a material that is printable, strong enough to maintain its shape when immersed in nutrients, and that is not harmful to the cells. The special bio-ink formulation was extruded from a retrofitted benchtop 3D printer, as a liquid that transformed to a gel at 37 degrees Celsius, which allowed construction of complex living 3D architectures.
The team was able to differentiate the stem cells into osteoblasts – a cell that secretes the substance of bone – and chondrocytes, cells that have secreted the matrix of cartilage and become embedded in it, to engineer 3D printed tissue structures over five weeks, including a full-size tracheal cartilage ring.
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