Exemption from SC’s Highway Liquor Ban

Supreme court of India had banned the sale of liquor within 500 metres of National and State Highways to prevent drunk driving, one of the major killers plaguing Indian roads.

  • The Supreme Court allowed Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands to join the club of Sikkim and Meghalaya, both of which enjoy full exemption from the court’s ban on the sale of liquor within 500 metres of National and State Highways.

The reasons for exemption:

  • The geographical quirks of Arunachal Pradesh and the islands.
  • The north-eastern States of Sikkim and Meghalaya got a full exemption from the 500-m no-liquor zone ban after the court took into consideration their hilly terrain and also the fact that 82% of its area was forest land and over 90% of its liquor shops would be closed if the ban was imposed strictly in its original form.

Source: The Hindu

Water in The Atmosphere

Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air. Water vapour is the gaseous state of water and is invisible. Humidity indicates the likelihood of precipitation, dew, or fog. There are three main measurements of humidity: absolute, relative and specific. Absolute humidity is the water content of air at a given temperature expressed in gramme per cubic meter. Relative humidity, expressed as a percent, measures the current absolute humidity relative to the maximum (highest point) for that temperature. Specific humidity is a ratio of the water vapour content of the mixture to the total air content on a mass basis.

There is a limit to the amount of water vapour which can be held by the air. This limit changes with temperature. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold air. Air containing maximum moisture it can hold at the given temperature is said to be saturated. Hence, the amount of water vapour that is needed to achieve saturation increases as the temperature increases. As temperature decreases, the amount of water vapour needed to reach saturation also decreases. As the temperature of a mass of air becomes lower it will eventually reach the point of saturation without adding or losing water mass.

When air reaches saturation, the water which it cannot hold gets precipitated as rain, snow hail etc. The temperature at which the air gets saturated without the addition of water vapour is called dew point.

The humidity is affected by winds and by rainfall. At the same time, humidity affects the energy budget and thereby influences temperatures in two major ways. One, water needs the energy to convert itself into vapour. This energy is absorbed from surroundings causing a cooling effect. This heat is returned to the surroundings when precipitation occurs.

Second, water vapour is the most abundant of all greenhouse gases. Water vapour, like a green lens that allows green light to pass through it but absorbs red light, is a “selective absorber”. Along with other greenhouse gases, water vapour is transparent to most solar energy, as you can literally see. But it absorbs the infrared energy emitted (radiated) upward by the earth’s surface, which is the reason that humid areas experience very little nocturnal cooling but dry desert regions cool considerably at night. This selective absorption causes the greenhouse effect.

Clouds are classified according to how they look and how high the base of the cloud is in the sky. This system was suggested in 1803. There are different sorts of clouds because the air where they form can be still or moving forward or up and down at different speeds. Very thick clouds with large enough water droplets can make rain or snow, and the biggest clouds can make thunder and lightning. There are five basic families of clouds based on how they look.
Cirrus clouds are high and thin. The air is very cold at high levels, so these clouds are made of ice crystals instead of water droplets. Cirrus clouds are sometimes called mares’ tails because they look like the tails of a horse.
Stratus clouds are like flat sheets. They may be low-level clouds (stratus), medium-level (altostratus), high-level (cirrostratus), or thick multi-level clouds that make rain or snow (nimbostratus).

Stratocumulus clouds are in the form of rolls or ripples. They may be low-level clouds (stratocumulus), medium-level (altocumulus), or high-level (cirrocumulus).

Cumulus clouds are puffy and small when they first form. They may grow into heap clouds that have a moderate vertical extent (nothing added to the name) or become towering vertical clouds (towering cumulus).
Cumulonimbus clouds are very large cumulus-type clouds that usually develop cirrus tops and sometimes other features that give them their own unique look.

Based on the height of formation of clouds, they are classified into different types.

High clouds form from 10,000 to 25,000 ft (3,000 to 8,000 m) in cold places, 16,500 to 40,000 ft (5,000 to 12,000 m) in mild regions and 20,000 to 60,000 ft (6,000 to 18,000 m) in the very hot tropics. They are too high and thin to produce rain or snow.

High-level clouds include Cirrus (Ci), Cirrocumulus (Cc), Cirrostratus (Cs)
Medium-level clouds or Middle clouds usually form at 6,500 ft (2,000 m) in colder areas. However, they may form as high as 25,000 ft (8,000 m) in the tropics where it’s very warm all year. Middle clouds are usually made of water droplets but may also have some ice crystals. They occasionally produce rain or snow that usually evaporates before reaching the ground.

Medium-level clouds include Altocumulus (Ac), Altostratus (As)
Low-level clouds are usually seen from near ground level to as high as 6,500 ft (2,000 m). Low clouds are usually made of water droplets and may occasionally produce very light rain, drizzle, or snow.

Low-level clouds include Stratocumulus (Sc) and Stratus (St). When very low stratus cloud touches the ground, it is called fog.

Moderate-vertical clouds are clouds of medium thickness that can form anywhere from near ground level to as high as 10,000 ft (3,000 m). Medium-level Cumulus does not have ‘alto’ added to its name. The tops of these clouds are usually not much higher than 20,000 ft (6,000 m). Vertical clouds often create rain and snow. They are made mostly of water droplets, but when they push up through cold higher levels they may also have ice crystals. They include Cumulus (Cu) and Nimbostratus (Ns)

Towering-vertical clouds are very tall with tops usually higher than 20,000 ft (6,000 m). They can create heavy rain and snow showers. Cumulonimbus, the biggest clouds of all, can also produce thunderstorms. These clouds are mostly made of water droplets, but the tops of very large cumulonimbus clouds are often made mostly of ice crystals.

Rain is when water falls from clouds in droplets that are bigger than 0.5 mm. Droplets of water that are about 0.2mm to 0.45mm big are called drizzle. Rain is a kind of precipitation. Precipitation is any kind of water that falls from clouds in the sky, like rain, hail, sleet and snow.

When the Sun heats the Earth’s surface, the ground heats the air above it. Convection makes the air rise and cool. When it cools to the dew point, clouds form and rain follows. This type of rainfall often causes summer showers and thunderstorms. This type of rainfall is called convectional rainfall.

Relief rain usually occurs along coastal areas where a line of hills runs along the coast. When the wet onshore wind from the sea meets a mountain, hill or any other sort of barrier, it is forced to rise along the slope and cools. When the air temperature falls to its dew point, water vapour condenses to form clouds. When the clouds can no longer hold the water droplets, relief rain begins to fall on the windward slope of the mountain. On the leeward slope, air sinks, it is warmed and further dried by compression. Therefore, the leeward slope is known as the rain shadow. Moist winds blow in from the sea and are forced to rise over the land. The air cools and the water vapour condenses, forming raindrops. Relief rain is also a very dense and cold mixture of precipitation.

Relief or orographic rain is formed when the air is forced to cool when it rises over relief features in the landscape such as hills or mountains. As it rises it cools, condenses and forms rain. The highest annual rainfall totals occur in mountain areas. There is often a rain shadow effect whereby the leeward (downwind) slope receives a relatively small amount of rain.

Frontal rain happens when cooler and warmer, humid air meets in a weather front. The less dense warm air rises and condenses forming clouds. These clouds grow and eventually create rain. In some places in the northern temperate zone, the cold air front tends to come from the North West and the warm air front comes from the south-west.

Other forms of precipitation include snow, sleet, dew, frost, and hail. Fog and mist are not precipitation but suspensions. In that case, the water vapour does not condense sufficiently to precipitate.

Snow forms when water in the atmosphere becomes frozen. When the dew point is below the freezing point of water, water crystallises as snow and falls down. Sleet is a type of precipitation where ice pellets fall down from the sky. When drops of rain fall through a mass of air below freezing point, the drops get solidified to become ice pellets.

Dew is a thin film of water that has condensed on the surface of objects near the ground in the morning or evening. These objects cool in the night. When they cool, the thin layer of air around them cools too. This makes some water vapour condense on the object. Frost is ice that is formed when water vapour freezes onto a surface. It has a white, powdery appearance. It forms on cold surfaces when the temperature of the air is very low.

A piece of hail (called a hailstone) is a lump of ice that falls out of a storm cloud. A hailstone begins as a small water droplet or as a rounded snow pellet in a cloud. The drop grows by collecting many cloud drops. The little drop is blown by a strong wind inside the cloud to where it meets with some extremely cold water drops. These supercooled drops are still liquid water even though the temperature is below freezing. When the little drop mixes with these extremely cold drops, they join, and the little drop has now become a hailstone.

The little hailstone is thrown up inside the cloud, still collecting other cold drops. The hailstone gets bigger and bigger until it goes to the top of the cloud. Then, because there is no more wind, it falls back down through the cloud. While it is falling it gets even bigger as it bangs into more supercooled drops. If it goes down very fast it can hit the Earth at up to 90 mph (144 kph), bouncing like popcorn. If the hailstone hits the dirt, it can actually bury itself.
The patterns of precipitation and wind decide the climate on different places of the earth. Climate means the usual condition of the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, the wind, rainfall, and other meteorological elements in an area of the Earth’s surface for a long time. Climate is different from weather. Weather is the condition of these elements right now, for shorter periods of time that are up to two weeks.

The latitude, ground, and height can change the climate of a location. It is also important to note if oceans or other large bodies of water are nearby. Climates are most commonly classified by temperature and precipitation.
Weather is the day-to-day or hour-to-hour change in the atmosphere. Weather includes wind, lightning, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, rain, hail, snow, and lots more. Energy from the Sun affects the weather. Climate tells us what kinds of weather usually happen in an area at different times of the year. Changes in weather can affect our mood. We wear different clothes and do different things in different weather conditions. We choose different foods in different seasons, like ice cream in the summer, or hot chocolate in the winter.

Hence geography and climate decide the lifestyle and economic activities in an area and study of geography is essential for understanding the distribution and utilisation of resources.

SEBI to Regulate Bitcoin Trade

  • The government is considering the introduction of a regulatory regime for virtual or crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, that would enable the levy of the Goods and Services Tax on their sale.
  • The new regime may possibly bring their trading under the oversight of the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • In India, they are neither legal nor illegal.

Why such a move?

The idea is to treat such currency in a manner similar to gold sold digitally so that it can be traded on registered exchanges in a bid to “promote” a formal tax base, while keeping a tab on their use for illegal activities such as money laundering, terror funding and drug trafficking.

Source: The Hindu

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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