Today’s News Updates – 9.January 2018

All India Whips’ Conference

The 18th All India Whips’ Conference was recently inaugurated at Udaipur, Rajasthan. The conference is hosting around 90 Delegates belonging to 19 States and Centre.

Significance of the conference:

The purpose of this conference is to strengthen the parliamentary democracy, its institutions and ultimately serve the people at large. The conference provides a platform to Whips of various political parties – ruling as well as opposition at the Centre as well as the States to exchange their views and experiences and discuss the challenges facing them in discharge of their Parliamentary duties and evolve norms for efficient working of parliamentary machinery.

Who is a whip?

A whip is an important member of a political party’s parliamentary body, having a central role in ‘Floor Management’ in both the Houses of Parliament and is responsible for discipline within the party. Their main job is ensuring that their members in Parliament and legislature vote in line with the party’s official policy on important issues and make sure that the members turn out for important votes.

Importance of whips in our political system:

In the parliamentary form of Government, Whips of various political parties are the vital links of the internal organization of parties, inside the legislatures. The efficient and smooth functioning of Parliament and State Legislatures depends, to a considerable extent, upon the office of the Whip. The Whips can be rightly said to be the managers of the parties within the legislatures.

Facts for Prelims:

It was 18th All India Whips’ Conference and was held at Udaipur, Rajasthan.
First All India Whips Conference was organized at Indore in 1952, in the very first year of general elections to the First Lok Sabha.
Organizing the All India Whips Conference is one of the functions assigned to the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs, under Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 made under article 77(3) of the Constitution.

Source:pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=175483


e-Sansad and e-Vidhan

Government has rolled out e-Sansad and e-Vidhan in Parliament and State Legislatures to digitize and make their functioning paperless.

About e-Sansad and e-Vidhan:

What are they? e-Sansad and e-Vidhan are mission mode projects of Government of India under Digital India, to make the functioning of Parliament and State Legislatures paperless. MoPA is the Nodal Ministry for implementation of both the projects.

Details: These projects would make the functioning of Parliament and State Legislatures participative, responsive, transparent, productive and more accountable to the public and make the entire Legislative process more efficient. Further, this environment friendly initiative is in line with the ‘Go Green’ initiative of the Government.


India unveils Pratyush, its fastest supercomputer yet

India has unveiled Pratyush, an array of computers that can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops. One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system. The machines will be installed at two government institutes: 4.0 petaflops HPC facility at IITM, Pune; and 2.8 petaflops facility at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast.

Facts for Prelims:

With this, India will now occupy the fourth position, next only to United Kingdom, Japan and USA in terms of dedicated capacity for HPC resources for weather and climate proposes. The UK leads with a capacity of 20.4 Petaflop, followed by Japan with 20 Petaflop and USA with 10.7 Petaflop.
It will also move an Indian supercomputer from the 300s to the 30s in the Top500 list, a respected international tracker of the world’s fastest supercomputers.
India had till now occupied the eighth position with a capacity of 1 Petaflop. With the new system, it has now jumped over Korea (4.8 Petaflop), France (4.4 Petaflop) and China (2.6 Petaflop).

Applications of Pratyush:

The Pratyush HPC will improve weather forecasts and extended range forecasts. It will also predict cyclones and tsunami accurately, with more lead time. It will also help those dependent on agriculture, hydrology and power sectors.


Indian Railways conceives to deploy “Drone” cameras

Indian Railways has decided to deploy “Drone” cameras (UAV/NETRA) for various railway activities especially project monitoring and maintenance of tracks and other railway infrastructure. In this regard, directions have been given to Zonal Railways to procure such cameras. This is in-line with Railways’ desire to use technology to enhance safety and efficiency in train operations.

Benefits:

Drone” cameras will help in monitoring activities of relief and rescue operation, project monitoring, progress of important works, conditions of track and inspection related activities.
It shall also be used to assess preparedness of Non-Interlocking (NI) works, crowd management during fairs and melas, to identify scrap and also for aerial survey of station yards.
Drones are also going to be instrumental in providing real time inputs related to safety and maintenance of tracks and other railway infrastructure.

Background:

Safety has been one of the biggest concerns in the Indian Railways system. While the number of accidents have gone down over the last few years, the number still remains over 100 accidents a year. Railway accidents happen due to several reasons. An incorrect signal, a mistake or an act of negligence by one of its staff directly associated with the running of trains, deficiency in tracks, a rash act by one of the millions of road users, an irresponsible act by a passenger who carries inflammable goods. Added to these are the acts of sabotage.

Suggestions by the World Bank:

The world bank has prepared a report titled ‘Strengthening Safety on Indian Railways’. Suggestions include:

As a measure to avert accidents, the trains are to be equipped with ‘ditch lights’ and painted bright yellow that will enable more visibility even during twilight hours.
The rail employees should be garbed in “high-visibility” clothes that can be worn round the year. A special heed is to be taken to ensure they wear it on duty at all times. The footwear and helmets are to be chosen by the employees that stay well within the allowance’s range and serve the purpose.
Every train must be equipped with fire extinguishers and the staff must be well guided on various fire prevention measures.
The level crossings and paths are to be painted with a crosshatched pattern that can alert and highlight the dangers for people to be in the area.
The current investigators who have been employed to investigate root-cause of accidents are to be trained for better analysis.
The authorities have been suggested to review timetables such that a maintenance block of four hours is provided weekly on all main lines as well as review safety performance in terminal operations with the intent of recognising prevailing risks.
An independent rail safety regulator is to be created by the railways to strengthen the powers of commissioner of railway safety and form a safety management system under the Chairman, Railway Board.
To address derailments, fires, or any other possible mishap, an emergency response plan is to be constituted.


Facts for Prelims:

Under this initiative, West Central Railways with headquarter at Jabalpur (M.P) has become the first Zonal Railway to procure “Drone” cameras in Indian Railways.

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