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GS-1


Social Issue

Abandoned cows: MP panel seeks penalty

Context

A state government committee has recommended on anti – cow slaughter that the existing law should be amended to include provisions to penalise owners who abandon their cattle.

The new provision for stray cattle:

  • The Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, the state anti-cow slaughter law has stringent provisions to punish those involved in the slaughter and illegal transportation of cattle, but there are no measures to punish owners who abandon their cows on the streets or in nearby villages.
  • Madhya Pradesh, accounting for nearly 10.27 per cent of country’s cattle population, has over the last few months struggled with the menace of abandoned cattle, with reports that abandoned cows were raiding crops and causing accidents on highways.
  • MP has nearly 1.96 crore cattle heads but there is no estimate of the stray cattle population.

What will be the penalty?

  • Penalty will be introduced for owners who abandon their cows.
  • The penalty will be slapped even if a cow is killed in road accidents as it’s proof that the owner has abandoned it.
  • The committee was looking at how to get stray cows off highways and city streets by next year.

The committee

  • Bureaucrats from the departments of animal husbandry, cooperation, urban development and environment are members of the committee, which was recently set up to suggest measures to conserve the cow.
  • The committee wants the nomenclature of the law changed to include “conservation.
  • District collectors are using drones to find out areas affected by stray cows. Only 604 of the 1,246 registered gaushals in the state were active and that owners of gaushalas “who lie about the number of cows they shelter” will also be penalized.

Other recommendations

  • Sterilisation (castration) of bulls of nondescript breeds.
  • Creation of gothan (structures where cows can rest)
  • Gau abhyaranya (cow sanctuaries)
  • Gau vanvyavihar (forest areas demarcated for cows); and
  • Freeing charnoi (grazing) land from encroachment.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1960 to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • As per the provisions of the law the government of India formed the Animal Welfare Board of India.
  • The act however makes a provision under heading “Saving as respects manner of killing prescribed by religion”. Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.

Constitutional Provisions for cow slaughter

  • Prohibition of cow slaughter finds a place in the Constitution, but not as an enforceable fundamental right.
  • It is included as a “Directive Principle of State Policy”, which is meant to guide the state in policymaking, but cannot be enforced in any court.
  • This Directive Principle (Article 48 of the Constitution) has excluded the question of religious sentiments.
  • Article 48 states: “The State shall endeavour to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle”.

What has the Supreme Court said?

  • The Supreme Court has consistently said that rules that contravene or rewrite the parent law, in this case the 1960 Act, should be rendered invalid for arbitrariness and unreasonableness.
  • However, the burden to disprove the presumption that these rules are constitutional and valid lies with the petitioner.
  • The petitioner has to prove that the government lacked legislative competence to make the subordinate legislation. That the rules are a violation of the guaranteed fundamental and constitutional rights.
  • The petitioner has to prove that there was a failure on the part of the Centre to conform to the 1960 Act and the rules are repugnant to the laws of the land. The court said: “Where a Rule is directly inconsistent with a mandatory provision of the statute, then of course the task of the court is simple and easy.
  • But where the contention is that the inconsistency or non-conformity of the Rule is not with reference to any specific provision of the enabling Act, but with the object and scheme of the Parent Act, the court should proceed with caution before declaring invalidity”.

GS-2


Rajasthan’s Nindar, where farmers launched a desperate protest against land acquisition

Context
To protest against land acquisition by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) for a housing project at Nindar, farmers performed an unusual demonstration by digging pits and trenches and buried themselves waist – deep in the earth.

Peasants’ plight.

  • The unique protest generated immense public sympathy and forced the government to hold talks with the farmers.

What did landowners object?

  • The Rajasthan government had acquired 1,350 bighas of land at Nindar in several stages since 2010 for a lavish housing project, despite the land owners refusing to accept compensation.
  • The farmers are trying to save their land from forcible acquisition.
  • Farmers are blaming JDA by saying that the JDA’s survey was faulty and the compensation was much below market prices.
  • After some farmers lost court battle, they surrendered 283 bighas. Nearly 5,000 families would have been affected.
  • However, the JDA insisted on getting possession of the entire 1,350 bighas, including 150 bighas of the mandir maafi (exempted for temples) land for which it deposited ₹60 crore in the court as compensation.
  • The JDA’s project was touted as its biggest scheme with 6,000 houses and residential plots.

What is the Land Policy?

  • Land acquisition in the State is governed by a policy framed in April 2016 under the Central law, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
  • The policy’s emphasis is on conducting negotiations with landowners and reaching consensus on compensation and rehabilitation by the Collector, while taking into consideration the land’s existing market value.
  • Separately, the State government has enacted a Land Pooling Schemes Act to consolidate small landholdings for the areas declared special investment regions.
  • The land acquisition at Nindar was the first instance of forcible takeover of farmland with the payment of inadequate compensation, primarily because the land was acquired in several stages, while compensation was offered at the rates prevailing in 2010.
  • Farmers have taken the matter to the High Court earlier in 2013, contending that the State Land Revenue Act entitled farmers to negotiations and the best price in lieu of the rights of agricultural land allotted for mining purposes.

Why did farmers bury themselves?

  • To intensify their agitation when they did not get a response from the government and came up with the novel idea of Zameen Samadhi Satyagraha.
  • On October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the farmers dug pits and buried themselves waist-deep in a “non-violent method” of showing their anger at the government.
  • Forty-year-old Nagendra Singh Shekhawat led the agitation as convener of the Nindar Bachao Yuva Kisan Sangharsh Samiti.

What lies ahead?

  • The State government and JDA officers did not respond initially, but with the protesters not budging despite dehydration and skin infection, sympathy among the residents of the nearby Vidyadhar Nagar increased and Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and C.P. Joshi visited them to express solidarity.
  • As public pressure mounted, the BJP government invited the farmers for talks.
    After prolonged negotiations, the JDA agreed to a fresh survey, in which all structures, tubewells and fruit-bearing trees would be included.
  • The Sangharsh Samiti called off the agitation on October 31.
  • The farmers are hopeful that the new survey will reflect the ground situation and ensure better compensation, against the previous assessment which marked several agricultural fields as barren and showed hamlets as vacant land.
  • The farmers are looking forward to the findings of the survey, for which new teams have been appointed by the JDA

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

  • The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister for Rural Development, Mr. Birender Singh on February 24, 2015.  The Bill amends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).
  • The Bill replaces the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.

In addition,  the Bill permits the government to exempt projects in these five categories from the following provisions, through a notification:

  • The LARR Act, 2013 requires that a Social Impact Assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired.
  • The LARR Act, 2013 imposes certain restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land and other agricultural land.  For example, irrigated multi-cropped land cannot be acquired beyond the limit specified by the appropriate government.
  • Return of unutilised land: The LARR Act, 2013 required land acquired under it which remained unutilised for five years, to be returned to the original owners or the land bank.

The Bill states that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be:

  • five years, or
  • any period specified at the time of setting up the project, whichever is later.

Time period for retrospective application:

  • The LARR Act, 2013 states that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply in certain cases, where an award has been made under the 1894 Act.  However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of the LARR Act, 2013, and the physical possession of land has not been taken or compensation has not been paid, the LARR Act, 2013 will apply.

The Bill states that in calculating this time period, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up:

  • due to a stay order of a court, or
  • a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or
  • any period where possession has been taken but the compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted.

Other changes:

  • The LARR Act, 2013 excluded the acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions from its purview.  The Bill removes this restriction.
  • While the LARR Act, 2013 was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the Bill changes this to acquisition for ‘private entities’.  A private entity is an entity other than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organisation, or other entity under any other law.
  • The LARR Act, 2013 stated that if an offence is committed by the government, the head of the department would be deemed guilty unless he could show that the offence was committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.  The Bill replaces this provision and states that if an offence is committed by a government official, he cannot be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the government.

What is Land Pooling?

  • Land Pooling is a concept that where small chunks of land are owned by group of owners who assemble for the development of infrastructure.
  • After the development of the land, the Land Pooling agency redistributed the land after deducting some portion as compensation towards infrastructure costs.
  • This is done to develop and bring out the potential of housing and infrastructure to reduce the load on the existing congested and saturated areas.

GS-3


Science and Tech

India’s homegrown Nirbhay cruise missile ready for fifth trial

Context

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) post two consecutive failures is all geared up for a fresh experimental trial of India’s first home-grown subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay scheduled for the next week, November 7 to 9.

Preparation underway

  • Hectic preparations are underway at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha. It will be fifth launch of the missile in the last five years.
  • Concluding checks of the missile sub-systems are on and hopefully the missile will be ready for test in the coming two days. A team of experts are monitoring the launch preparations.

How will it work?

  • Once powered by a turbofan engine, Nirbhay will be tested using a turbojet engine for the first time.
  • DRDO scientists are expecting a success this time as wing deployment and navigation software problems, detected during the pre-launch check-ups in May which led to its postponement, seem to have been rectified.

Failure of the previous tests

  • Of four tests so far, three have failed as the missile had achieved partial success during the second test in 2014.
  • Nirbhay’s last trial conducted on December 21, 2016, was aborted midway as the missile changed its course.

Controversy related to the missile

  • The missile project was stalled in controversy after ‘The Express’ raised doubts on its outcome prior to third and fourth trials since it was pushed for test with faults in the flight control and navigation software.

Features of Nirbhay

  • Nirbhay is a six-metre long two-stage missile that can strike a target from 1,000 km away.
  • With a diameter of 0.52 metres and wing span of 2.7 metres, it weighs around 1,500 kg and can carry warheads up to 200 kg.
  • Comparable with America’s Tomahawk missile as far as the stealth capability, it can cruise at a speed of Mach 0.8.
  • The Nirbhay is a land attack cruise missile armed with a 300-kilogram warhead capable of reaching speeds of 0.6-0.7 Mach, and designed to be launched from air, sea, and land.
  • Nirbhay blasts off like a rocket and unlike a missile it turns into a vehicle akin an aircraft.
  • While flying at tree-top level it can deceive enemy radars making it difficult to be detected.
  • Designed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and launched in 2004, the project is on an 18-month extension which expires in June 2018.

What are Cruise missiles?

  • Cruise missiles fly at a low altitude, mostly to avoid radar detection, and can be guided throughout its path.
  • They fly within the earth’s atmosphere and use jet engine technology. These vehicles vary greatly in their speed and ability to penetrate defences.

What were the problems with Nirbhay?

  • Nirbhay was initially conceptualized to counter Pakistan’s Babur Land-attack cruise missile. During its testing, nuclear-capable Nirbhay missile has suffered several setbacks.
  • Since March 2013, three Nirbhay test launches have been classified as failures. The missile was developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru.
  • After the design was finalized, the technology required for the missile was developed. It was integrated by R&D Engineers, Pune, a specialized arm of DRDO.

Conclusion

  • Even after India and Russia agreed to dobule the range of BrahMos to 600 kilometres, there is a need for a cruise missile with higher range.
  • Need for a sub-sonic missile becomes important when a striking asset capable of hovering over the target becomes necessary in tactical context.
  • This is something that BrahMos cannot do. Cruise missiles need to approach the target with stealth and must possess terrain hugging ability to go under the radar and hit the target with precision.
  • Pakistan has tested its Babur series of cruise missiles successfully (as it claims). It has a range of over 700 kms and its Babur 3 variant was last tested from a submarine on January 9, 2017.

IIT Guwahati uses superhydrophobic cotton to remove oil – spill

Context

A team of Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati has removing up to 95% of oil-spill of different densities, light and heavy oils, repetitively at least 100 times using super hydrophobic (extremely water repelling) medical cotton.

What was the experiment?

  • The researchers turned the medical cotton, which is extremely water absorbing, into a super hydrophobic (water contact angle of 157 degrees) material and used it for absorbing oil both in air and under water.
  • The efficacy of absorption is very high, above 2,000 weight percentage for both heavy and light oils.
  • One gram of the super hydrophobic cotton absorbs 20 grams of either heavy or light oils. The results were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
  • The absorbed oil can be recovered through physical compression. The super hydrophobicity remained intact even when the cotton was manually compressed up to 1,000 times and subjected to other physical manipulations.

Other characteristics of the experiment

  • It has the ability to absorb oil from three complex phases — light oil that floats in the air–water interface, sediment oil that settles at the bottom as it is heavy, and from water-in-oil emulsion.
  • The super hydrophobic property remains intact even when exposed to UV light for ten days, the material was able to absorb oil from river and sea water, and extremely acidic (pH 1) and alkaline (pH 12) water.

Treating emulsions

  • The cotton is inherently incompetent of removing oil from oil-in-water emulsion.
  • In the case of oil-in-water emulsion there is very little of oil present and as there is more water present, the super hydrophobic material does not come in contact with oil and thus it is unable to remove oil efficiently from oil-in-water emulsion.

Filtering oil

  • Selective filtration of oil under water against gravity in the case of heavy oil that has settled at the bottom was achieved.
  • To conduct the experiment, the researchers plugged one end of a tube with the super hydrophobic cotton and dips the tube so it comes in contact with the oil.
  • Once in contact with the sediment oil, the cotton absorbs the oil and due to hydraulic pressure, the oil gets removed from the cotton and accumulates inside the tube.
  • In the case of gravity-driven filtration, heavy oil mixed with water is poured into a funnel, the tip of which is closed with the super hydrophobic cotton. The heavy oil settles to the bottom and comes in contact with the cotton which filters it leaving the water in the funnel.
  • This method can be used in industry to remove the oil component from water before letting out the waste water.

Cotton processing

  • The hydroxyl group seen in cotton is first modified with branched poly (ethylenimine (BPEI) to make it functionalized with amine group.
  • A nanocomplex is prepared separately by mixing BPEI with dipentaerythritol pentaacrylate (5Acl) and added to the functionalised cotton.
  • The nanocomplex provides essential topography and makes the cotton chemically reactive, thus making it possible to further optimize the appropriate chemistry of the material.
  • The nanocomplex reacts with amine-based small molecules of choice to make the cotton hydrophobic to varying degrees.
  • The hydrophobicity from hydrophilic can be tuned to super hydrophobic using different amine-containing small molecules
  • It is a green synthesis without the use of any catalyst or hazardous material. The process of making super hydrophobic cotton is a simple three-step process and scalable.

What is Super hydrophobic coating?

  • A superhydrophobic coating is a nanoscopic surface layer that repels water. Droplets hitting this kind of coating can fully rebound in the shape of column or pancake.
  • In industry, super-hydrophobic coatings are used in ultra-dry surface applications. The coating causes an almost imperceptibly thin layer of air to form on top of a surface.
  • Super-hydrophobic coatings are also found in nature; they appear on plant leaves, such as the Lotus leaf, and some insect wings.
  • The coating can be sprayed onto objects to make them waterproof. The spray is anti-corrosive and anti-icing; has cleaning capabilities; and can be used to protect circuits and grids.

Use of super hydrophobic coating

  • Due to the extreme repellence and in some cases bacterial resistance of hydrophobic coatings, there is much enthusiasm for their wide potential uses with surgical tools, medical equipment, textiles, and all sorts of surfaces and substrates.
  • However, the current state of the art for this technology is hindered in terms of the weak durability of the coating making it unsuitable for most applications.
  • Newer engineered surface textures on stainless steel are extremely durable and permanently hydrophobic.
  • Optically these surfaces appear as a uniform matte surface but microscopically they consist of rounded depressions one to two microns deep over 25% to 50% of the surface. These surfaces are produced for buildings which will never need cleaning.
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