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July 2018 National Affairs

  • Women and Child Development (WCD) to move proposal to amend POCSO ActThe Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is set to move a proposal before the Cabinet this week for enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault of male children. 

    The Law Ministry has cleared the proposal to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, for enhancing punishment in cases of sexual assault against young boys, officials said. 

    Amendments to the POCSO Act for enhanced punishment for sexual assaults of young boys have been approved by the Law Ministry. 

    Sources said the Ministry was working on the proposal to amend the Act to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children below 12 years. 

    The move is being seen as an effort to bring in a gender-neutral law while dealing with cases of sexual assaults. 

    Boys who are sexually abused as children spend a lifetime in silence. 
  • National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) amendment Bill passedThe Lok Sabha on 23rd July, 2018 passed the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill to grant retrospective recognition to Central/State institutions that are conducting teacher education courses without NCTE approval. 

    All institutions running teacher education courses, such as B Ed and D.El.Ed have to obtain recognition from the NCTE under section 14 of the NCTE Act. 

    The NCTE Act, 1993, came into force in 1995 and applies to all parts of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. 

    The one-time measure put in place by the bill will apply to 20 public institutions that are running such courses without the UGC approval. 
  • Lok Sabha passes Bill on cheque bounce casesThe Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in January, 2018. 

    The Lok Sabha on 23rd July, 2018 passed the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill that allows a court hearing a cheque bounce case to direct the drawer — the person who wrote the cheque — to pay interim compensation to the person who filed the complaint. 

    The interim compensation, to be paid within 60 days of the court’s order, can be up to 20% of the value of the cheque. 

    It would bring down litigation and provide credibility to cheques and the banking system. 
  • Congress to bring privilege motion against PM on Rafale deal detailsAccusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of misleading the Lok Sabha on the Rafale deal, the Congress has decided to bring a privilege motion against them. 

    What is Privilege motion? 
    • A privilege motion is a notice by any member of either House of a state legislature or Parliament, against anyone who are accused of breach of privilege.
    • The concept called parliament privilege is borrowed from UK constitution
    • They are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by MP's, MLA's and MLC's, individually and collectively, so that they can effectively discharge their functions.
    • When any of these rights and immunities is disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament or the state legislature.
    • Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.

  • CJI’s courtroom can go live first: Centre tells Supreme CourtThe government on 23rd July, 2018 told the Supreme Court that live-streaming of court proceedings should start with the Chief Justice of India’s courtroom. 

    Live-streaming should be initially restricted to constitutional issues decided by the top judge. 

    The government was treating the proposal as a very serious and significant step to reach out to the ordinary litigant. 

    The court had referred to live-streaming as an extension of the “open court” system allowing the public to walk in and watch the court proceedings. 

    It would help litigants conveniently follow the court proceedings and assess their lawyers’ performance. People from far-flung States did not have to travel all the way to the national capital for a day’s hearing. 
  • Pushed by Supreme Court, Centre forms GoM, Secretary Panel to frame law against lynchingThe government informed on 23rd July, 2018 Lok Sabha that it had created a Group of Ministers (GoM) under Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and a high-level committee under Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to “deliberate” and “make recommendations” for a separate penal provision on incidents of mob violence. 

    The committee led by Gauba will submit its recommendations to the GoM in four weeks. The GoM, which includes External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, will examine these recommendations and submit its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

    The Gauba committee will include secretaries of the departments of Justice, Legal Affairs, Legislative Department and Social Justice and Empowerment as its members. 
  • Public Affairs Index, 2018 report released: Kerala tops in governanceThe Public Affairs Index 2018 released by Bengaluru-based think-tank Public Affairs Centre (PAC). 

    Around 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators were used to measure under PAI. 

    Kerala stands as the best-governed state in the country followed by Tamil Nadu. 

    Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat are ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar ranked the lowest on the index. 

    Released annually since 2016, the index examines governance performance in the states through a data-based framework, ranking them on social and economic development they are able to provide. 

    Among smaller states (with population less than two crore), Himachal Pradesh topped the list, followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura which figured among the top five states with good governance. Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya were ranked at the bottom of the index among small states. 
  • Lok Sabha passes anti-graft amendment BillThe Lok Sabha on 24th July, 2018 passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to punish bribe-givers and bribe-takers. 

    It provides for jail terms of three to seven years, besides fine, to those convicted of taking or giving bribes to public officials. 

    It also extends the ambit of public servants who will be protected by the provision of a prior government sanction for prosecution. There is also a provision now to get prior permission for starting an investigation and that has prompted many to say that the law has been “diluted” from its original draft. 
  • Monitoring of Social MediaPolice and public order are State subjects as per the Constitution. States are responsible for prevention, detection and investigation of cybercrimes through their law enforcement machinery as per the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000. 

    Law enforcement agencies monitor the web and social media and take appropriate action for blocking of such unlawful content under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. 

    Committee constituted under Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 periodically monitors the compliance of the directions issued under the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000. Government holds meetings with intermediaries from time to time for strengthening the cooperation framework to ensure better compliance. 
  • Sharp decline in maternal, infant mortality rates in IndiaIndia has achieved a remarkable feat in arresting maternal and infant mortality rates and would surpass SDG goals of reducing maternal mortality to 70 per lakh live births by 2025 instead of the target of 2030. 

    The maternal mortality rate (MMR) per lakh live births has reduced to 130 in the country while there has been a significant improvement in checking infant mortality rate (IMR) deaths

    MMR, IMR and under-five mortality has declined faster than the world pace. If we talk about MDGs, according to the 2014-15 records, the decline has been 77 per cent as against global 43 per cent. 

    Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have shown significant performance in this. 
  • India observes Kargil Vijay Diwas India observes Kargil Vijay Diwas on 26th July every year to mark the anniversary of the day we achieved victory over Pakistani infiltrators in the 1999 Kargil War. This day is also a day of remembrance for the hundreds of Indian soldiers who were martyred in this war initiated by Pakistan. 

    BackgroundThe Kargil war which broke out in May 1999 continued for 60 days up until 26th July when the war was officially declared over. 
  • Odisha Government Launches 'Green Mahanadi Mission'The Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik launched the 'Green Mahanadi Mission'. The CM launched the mission by planting a sapling on the bank of river Mahanadi during his visit to Boudh and Subarnapur districts in western Odisha. 

    The main objective of the mission is to stop soil erosion on river banks and recharge the groundwater reserve. 
  • Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog & MyGov Launches 'Innovate India Platform'Ramanan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission and Arvind Gupta CEO, MyGov launched the “#Innovate India Platform”, a collaboration between the Atal Innovation Mission and MyGov, a citizen-centric platform of the Government of India. 

    The #Innovate IndiaMyGov-AIM portal creates the innovations platform for registering both grassroots and deep-tech innovators at a national level. 
  • National Sports Day has been postponed to September 25, 2018The Sports Ministry has postponed the National Sports Day to September 25, 2018. It has also announced that the outstanding performances of players at the Asian games could be considered for the National Sports Awards. 

    Every year, the Sports Day is traditionally celebrated on August 29. But this year, with the Asian Games going on, the ministry has decided to postpone the event this time. The Asian Games are scheduled from August 18-September 2. Hence the National Sports Day will be held on September 25. 
  • Second Meeting of National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges Held in New DelhiMinistry of Women and Child Development organised a second meeting of under POSHAN Abhiyan in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, NITI Aayog. 

    It was declared that the month of September will be celebrated as National Nutrition Month every year. 

    During the meeting in-principle approval of the guidelines for construction of Anganwadicentres in urban areas/slums under Anganwadi services was also given. 
  • New Nuclear Power PlantsAt present, there are nine (9) nuclear power reactors at various stages of construction. 

    Twelve (12) more nuclear power reactors have been accorded administrative approval and financial sanction by the Government in June 2017. 

    Currently, pre-project activities are in progress on these projects. In addition, the Government has also accorded ‘in principle’ approval of sites for setting up nuclear power reactors in future. The details are as follows: 

    Nuclear Power Reactors under Construction:
    KAPP 3&4
    2 x 700
    RAPP 7&8
    2 X 700
    Tamil Nadu
    KKNPP 3&4
    2 X 1000
    GHAVP 1&2$
    2 x 700

    Nuclear Power Reactors accorded administrative approval and financial sanction:
    GHAVP 3&4
    2 x 700
    Mahi Banswara 1&2
    2 X 700
    Mahi Banswara 3&4
    2 X 700
    Kaiga 5&6
    2 X 700
    Madhya Pradesh
    Chutka 1&2
    2 X 700
    Tamil Nadu
    KKNPP 5&6
    2 X 1000

    Sites accorded ‘in principle’ approval for setting up more reactors in future:
    Capacity (MW)
    In Cooperation with
    6 X 1650
    Andhra Pradesh
    6 X 1208
    United States of
    6 X 1000*
    West Bengal
    6 X 1000*
    Russian Federation
    Madhya Pradesh
    4 X 700
    Indigenous PHWR
    Nominal CapacityThe names of the countries with whom negotiations have been held for the supply of fuel for the Atomic Power Plants are Russia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Uzbekistan, France and Australia. The reactors under construction and accorded administrative approval and financial sanction are expected to be completed progressively by 2031. In respect of reactors to be set up in future at sites accorded ‘in principle’ approval, the completion would depend on their respective start dates. 
  • Modernization of Police Stations in Andhra PradeshAs ‘Police’ is a subject, falling in List-II of the Seventh Schedule (State list) of the Constitution of India, the modernization of police stations is the primary responsibility of the States. However, to supplement the efforts of the States for equipping and modernizing their police forces, under the scheme of Modernization of Police Forces (MPF), the States have been provided central assistance for acquisition of latest weaponry, training gadgets, advanced communication and forensic equipment etc. The scheme has been continued for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 with the new name ‘Assistance to States for Modernization of Police’. 

    The States are grouped into two categories, namely Category ‘A’ and Category ‘B’ for the purpose of funding. 

    Category ‘A’ States, namely, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and 8 North Eastern States including Sikkim, are eligible to receive financial assistance on 90:10 Centre: State sharing basis. 

    The remaining States including the State of Andhra Pradesh are in Category ‘B’ and eligible for financial assistance on 60:40 Centre: State sharing basis. 

    The allocation to the States is based on a pre-determined criteria. So far as State of Andhra Pradesh is concerned an amount of Rs. 44.13 crore has been allocated for the year 2018-19. 
  • Lok Sabha passes Anti-Trafficking BillThe Lok Sabha on 26th July, 2018 passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. 

    The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking, which include buying or selling of persons for the purpose of bonded labour, bearing a child, as well as those where chemical substances or hormones are administered, and a survivor acquires life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS. 

    It proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases. 

    It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund with an initial allocation of Rs. 10 crore. 

    It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence. 

    Earlier this year (2018), the Cabinet had approved a proposal for making the apex anti-terror body — the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — the nodal authority for probing cases of human trafficking, for which the government is expected to bring a separate amendment to the NIA Act. 

    More provisions needed: 
    • Bill lacks safeguards to ensure that people who voluntarily enter into sex trade are not harassed.
    • Extension of the bill to transgender

  • Bengal House passes resolution to rename state as ‘Bangla’The West Bengal Assembly on 26th July, 2018 passed a resolution to change the name of the state to “Bangla” 

    The state government will now recommend this change of name to the Centre. 

    The change in name will put the state’s name at the fourth spot, after Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam in the 1st Schedule. 

    Art 3: Empowers the parliament to create states either by naming or by altering borders or by union or by division of states. 
  • ‘Mission Satyanishtha’ to wipe out corruptionIndian Railways will take turns to swear an oath publicly to “bring about integrity” and “eradicate corruption” – beginning with the top brass and carrying on to the lowest levels in the organization throughout the year. 

    The program will involve railway men attending formal training course on probity and integrity in public life. 

    As per CVC statistics released every year, maximum corruption complaints are always against railway employees. In the corruption watchdog’s annual report for 2017 tabled in Parliament this year (2018), 12,089 complaints were against functionaries of the national transporter among the total 23,609 complaints received that year. Railways has also featured as one of the few organisations which went against CVC advice on individual cases of corruption as per the Prevention of Corruption Act. 
  • Longest Lunar eclipse of 21st century
    • The total lunar eclipse on the intervening night of July 27 and 28 lasted for 103 minutes and thus be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
    • The longest total lunar eclipse of the previous century happened in its last year (2017), on July 16, 2000. It had lasted nearly four minutes longer, at an hour and 46.4 minutes.
    How the eclipse happened?
    • The alignment of the centres of the Sun, Earth and the Moon, and the distance of the Moon from Earth at the time of the eclipse, combine to determine its duration.
    • The centres of the three celestial bodies are almost in straight line, an arrangement called a syzygy. The Moon will also be near its farthest point from Earth – i.e. apogee – and so appear to be at its smallest. As a result, it will take the natural satellite more time to cross Earth’s shadow, making the eclipse last longer.
    • Eclipses are nothing but shadow play: during a lunar eclipse, the Sun gets behind Earth from the Moon’s POV, and Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon’s orbit.

  • Missile man remembered on July 27thBorn on October 15, 1931, in Tamil Nadu's Rameswaram, Dr APJ Kalam served as the 11th President of India between 2002 and 2007. 

    Kalam, who had penned several books and inspired millions through his philosophy of 'simple living and high thinking', died due to a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Shillong on July 27, 2015. 
  • Draft data protection bill: Panel frames tension; digital growth versus personal privacy
    Srikrishna committee reported on data protection to center. 

    The committee has identified two pillars as key to the protection of an individual’s autonomy: “Data minimization” (the entity should collect only that much data as is needed) and “purpose specification” (it should disclose the purpose why data is being collected) and made three suggestions:
    • Forbid re-identifying individuals amongst anonymized data.
    • Allow big data processing that improves services or purposes which are “reasonably expected” by the individual.
    • Narrow big data processing to ensure that there is no significant harm to the individual; no decision is specific to or an action directed at an individual and, if the action is specific to an individual, companies must seek explicit consent.

    • Both personal data processed by Indian companies, even if the processing occurs abroad, as well as personal data processed by foreign companies in India must be protected.
    • If foreign websites access India data in a way that is “neither large-scale nor capable of causing significant harm”, the Indian law should not apply.

  • Fill CIC, SIC vacancies in four weeks, says Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court put the government in the dock over long-pending vacancies in the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions, adjudicatory bodies under the Right to Information Act. 

    The court asked why four positions were still vacant in the CIC despite a government advertisement in 2016. 

    Expressing concern over pendency of cases in the SICs, the Bench asked Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Kerala, Odisha and Karnataka to respond with a timeline for filling vacancies. 

    Because of these vacancies over 23,500 appeals and complaints are pending with the CIC affecting the governance. 
  • In first meet, government panel on lynching discusses need to frame new lawA committee headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba is framing new legislation to prevent incidents of lynching. 

    The committee, formed on 23rd July, 2018 on the directions of the Supreme Court, is likely to meet again on Saturday and take up cases of lynchings reported from across the country. 

    Points discussed: 
    • The deliberations was to make changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)
    • Under Section 223 (a) of CrPC there are legal provision to “prosecute persons accused of the same offence committed in the course same transaction.” But legal experts say the provision falls far short for prosecuting lynch mobs.
    • It is also likely to recommend that those arrested on charge of mob violence should not be granted bail.
    • The committee identified rumors on child-lifting and cattle smuggling, the two main causes reported behind incidents of mob violence.
    • It recommending to Parliament the proposal to create a “separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same”.
    • It may also suggest forming a Central fund to pay compensation to mob violence victims in the light of the provisions under Section 357A of CrPC. The financial assistance can be paid by the state government under a Central scheme.
    • It will also deliberate on the need to further strengthen the framework relating to social media to ensure that rumors are checked.

  • MEA developing portal to serve summons, warrants against absconding NRI husbandsIn a bid to prevent such fraudulent marriages, the Ministry of External Affairs is developing a portal, where summons and warrants against absconding NRI husbands would be served, and if the accused does not respond he would be declared a proclaimed offender and his property would be “attached”. 

    There need to be amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) that would allow district magistrate to accept such summons and warrants put on the portal to be “deemed as served. 

    The move aims to prevent NRI marriages where husbands abandon their wives and abscond or mentally and physically abuse them after marriage in a foreign country. 

    Attachment is a legal process by which at the request of a creditor, designates specific property owned by the debtor to be transferred to the creditor, or sold for the benefit of the creditor. The creditor, in this case, would be the victim. 

    A Women and Child Development official has said the committee has received 70 complaints in the last two months based on which the National Commission for Women conducted its probe and recommended cancellation of eight passports. 
  • Unhappy with ISPs for not removing key words for child porn, Supreme Court warns them: Act, or face fineSupreme Court, ISPs, removing key words, child porn, Act, face fine) 

    The Supreme Court on Friday expressed anguish over lynching’s and observed that “all kinds of things” are appearing on social media, and that even as “people are getting lynched”, “no one seems bothered”. 

    The court had earlier directed internet service providers (ISPs) to remove certain key words used in search for child pornography, and was unhappy that its directive was not complied with. 

    The court warned the ISPs that it will give them one more chance to comply with its directions, and that any further delay will invite a fine of Rs 5 lakh per day. The court gave them time until August 27 to implement its directions. 

    Recent trend of introducing tabs right from LKG is creating a vulnerable scenario. 
  • Rajasthan signs MoU for first cow sanctuary in stateRajasthan will soon have its first ‘cow sanctuary’, a shelter for 10,000 bovines spread over an area of more than 220 hectares in Bikaner district. 

    Government signed (MoU) with a private trust in this regard

    The state already has a ministry dedicated to the welfare of cows and last year (2017) it had announced a 10 per cent surcharge on stamp duty towards cow protection. 

    The objective is to dedicate the entire area for cows, much on the lines of a wildlife sanctuary

    The cows which will be kept at the sanctuary would primarily be the animals which are abandoned by their owners after they stop producing milk and become stray animals. Animals rescued from cattle smugglers will also find a place in the facility. 
  • Companies pick holes in data protection BillAn expert panel headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna has submitted its report on data protection as well as the draft ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018’ after year-long consultations. 

    • While the draft Bill for protection of personal data of Indian citizens has been welcomed as a positive start, it is not without loopholes, such as the Bill’s broad exceptions for government use of data and data localization requirements.
    • It has been emphasized that the Bill in its current form should not be introduced in Parliament and further consultations must take place.
    • The recommendations made every offence cognizable and non-bailable, which would create more hurdles for businesses and individuals.
    • Data localization is bad for business, users and security.
    • This provision is anything but a proxy for enabling surveillance.
    • Mandating localization of all personal data is likely to become a trade barrier in the key markets.
    • It is not only regressive but against the fundamental tenets of our liberal economy.
    • The requirement that every data fiduciary should store one live, serving copy of personal data in India is against the basic philosophy of the Internet and imposes additional costs on data fiduciaries without a proportional benefit in advancing the cause of data protection.

  • Maharashtra’s women commission to ink pact with UNDPMaharashtra’s women commission will sign an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

    It has been signed for rescue and rehabilitation of women who are victims of sex trafficking, acid attack and domestic violence. 

    The MoU has been signed with the UNDP in the next 15 days. 
  • Delhi Metro first to become 100% ‘green’Delhi Metro is the first Metro system to become completely green in the world announced on 28th of July 2017. 

    The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had earlier received the green certificates for its Phase-3 stations, depots, and sub-stations. 

    Delhi Metro has also secured the platinum rating for adherence to green building norms for its 10 residential colonies from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). 

    DMRC has generated new solar power facilities that produce 2.6 MW across the Metro network. 

    DMRC also announced it is now generating 20 megawatt (MW) of solar power. 
  • No-confidence motion against Modi government Once again no-confidence motion against the Modi government for its failure to accord special category status to Andhra Pradesh is going to be initiated. 

    The TDP party of AP under leadership of Nara Chandra babu Naidu is collectively trying to initiates this step. 

    No confidence motion: A no confidence motion refers to a statement or vote where it is stated that an individual(s) in a position of responsibility in government or managerial post is no longer deemed fit to hold that position, may be because they are inadequate in some respect or are failing to carry out obligations, or are making decisions that other members feel are detrimental. 

    In case of a parliamentary motion, it states to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in one or more members of the appointed government. 
  • ISRO joins hands with J&K to set up telemedicine center at 12,700 feetThe Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) joined hands with J&K’s Directorate of Health Services-Kashmir (DHS-K) to set up a telemedicine center at an altitude of 12,700 feet to provide service to pilgrims en route to the Amarnath shrine. 

    The Panjtarni Base Camp Hospital on the Pahalgam cave shrine route will provide real-time treatment for high-altitude and other ailments that pilgrims frequently face in the region. An Intensive Care Unit will be set up to handle critically ill patients. 

    The country‘s top hospitals like Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, (PGIMER), Chandigarh; the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi; the Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar, etc. will be available through the telemedicine facility. 
  • Uttarakhand to Introduce Law to Give Death Penalty to Rapists of Minor GirlsThe state government will bring a legislation in the next session of the state assembly to make a provision for capital punishment for the rapists of minor girls. 

    The state government will ensure that those who perpetrate rape on minor girls are sent to the gallows. Efforts are underway to make strict laws in this regard so that such crimes are reined in

    A legislation will be brought in the next session of the state assembly to make an Act in this regard, he added. 

    Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana have already approved the provision of capital punishment for those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less. 

    The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years, will be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 18. 
  • To instil discipline, nationalism: Government discusses military training plan for disciplined 10-lakh ‘force of youth’The government has discussed a proposal to target 10 lakh young men and women every year with a military training programme

    Billed as the National Youth Empowerment Scheme or N-YES, aimed at “optimizing the Indian demographic advantage”, it proposes a slew of incentives to students fresh of Class X and XII and, currently, enrolled in college. 

    The incentives include a fixed stipend for the 12-month training and making N-YES an “essential qualification” for jobs in Defence, paramilitary forces and police. 

    According to the proposal, the scheme will instil values of nationalism, discipline and self-esteem into the youth, which, in turn will help make India a “Vishwaguru” 

    To finance this scheme, it was proposed that the government could use the existing budget meant for NCC and National Service Scheme (NSS), funds available with the Skill Development Ministry and also MNREGA funds. 
  • President Ram Nath Kovind clears Bill against witch-hunting
    In news
    State of Assam received the President’s approval for the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015

    President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Bill against witch-hunting that the Assam Assembly passed three years ago. 

    Now, killing or maiming people in the name of witchcraft will be punishable under the law. 

    Provisions of the ActUnder the Act every offence is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. 

    The Act prescribes a prison term of up to seven years and up to Rs. 5 lakh in fine for calling a person witch. 

    It also has provisions to come with Section 302 of the IPC -punishment for murder if someone is killed after being branded a witch. 

    Significance of the legislationThe legislation is crucial in the present context in which communication technology is being used to magnify superstitious beliefs, black magic and social prejudices with fatal consequences, primarily affecting the life of marginal groups. 
  • Fast-track lynching, mob violence cases, hand maximum sentence: Supreme CourtCalling for a special law to deal with incidents of lynching and vigilantism, the Supreme Court directed that a slew of “preventive, remedial and punitive” measures be adopted to deal with such offences across the country. 

    Directions given by Supreme Court: The court directed state governments to designate a senior police officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police and assisted by a DSP, as nodal officer in each district to take steps to prevent mob violence and lynching. 

    The two officers will in turn constitute a special task force to collect intelligence on those likely to commit such crimes or be involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news. 

    In 3 weeks, states should identify places where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the last five years. 

    The Secretary, Home department, of the states concerned shall issue directions to nodal officers to ensure that the officer in-charge of police stations remain vigilant. 

    The nodal officer shall hold monthly meetings with local intelligence units and Station House Officers to identify tendencies of vigilantism, mob violence or lynching and take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material through social media or any other means. 

    The Director General of Police of the state or Secretary, Home department, must hold regular review meetings with nodal officers and state police intelligence heads. 

    Union Home Ministry to take the initiative and work in co-ordination with state governments to sensitize law enforcement agencies in identifying measures for prevention of mob violence and lynching. 

    AlsoFor remedial measures, SC asked state governments to prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme within one month. 

    It should have a provision for interim relief to be paid to the victim(s) or next of kin within a period of thirty days of the incident. 

    Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts. 

    There should be day to day basis hearings and it should be “preferably concluded within six months from the date of taking cognizance. 
  • Activists oppose draft anti-trafficking Bill
    Why opposition? 
    As the bill says it would criminalize sex workers and transgenders. 

    Why is Anti-Trafficking bill important? It provides stringent punishment for trafficking and proposes decentralised rehabilitation and investigation frame work for victims from national to district level. 

    The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act looks at prostitution that is defined as sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes. 

    Even though it does not anywhere say prostitution is illegal, it surely mentions exploitation and abuse which in turn are crimes, and not sex work. Every act of prostitution – running a brothel, pimping, living on prostitution are criminalized. 

    If passed, it will probably be the most comprehensive of the anti-trafficking laws across the world. 

    Trafficking is done not just for prostitution. It could be for labour, trafficking could be for begging, for slavery, for forced marriage, for domestic work. One of the purposes is prostitution. 
  • Union government has proposed an amendment to the RTI Act The Union government has proposed an amendment to the RTI Act, which is listed in the coming Monsoon session of Parliament. 

    The government has proposed changes to three sections of the RTI Act, which are related to ranks, salaries, allowances and tenure of the Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners of the Centre and states. 

    The proposal is to amend Sections 13, 16 and 27. 

    Section 13(1) and Section 13(2): It is related to tenure of Chief Information Commissioner and Central Information Commissioners and say that it will be five years or up to the age of 65, the proposed bill says that their tenure will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. 

    Section 13(5): “The salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner; an Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner”. The proposed legislation says their salary “shall be such as may be prescribed by Central Government.” 

    Section 27: It is related to salaries. 
  • Rajya Sabha Chairman can reject notice for impeachmentRajya Sabha Secretary-General Desh Deepak Verma said that the Chairman of the Upper House was empowered to reject any notice of a motion of impeachment against a member of the higher judiciary. 

    Section 3(1) (b) of Judges Enquiry Act, “In the case of a notice given in the Council of States by not less than 50 members of that Council, then the Chairman may, after consulting such persons, if any as he thinks fit and after consulting such material, if any as may be available to him, either admit the motion or refuse to admit the same.” 

    Section 3(2) of the Act specifies that only if a motion against a member of the judiciary is admitted by the Chairman, does the question of setting up of a committee for the purpose of making further investigation shall arise. 
  • Maneka Gandhi wants all Missionaries of Charity institutes examined immediatelyUnion Minister Maneka Gandhi has directed state governments to ensure that all child care institutions are registered and linked to the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) within the next one month. 

    This decision is due to the cognizance of the alleged illegal adoptions carried out by Missionaries of Charity in Jharkhand. 

    The mandatory registration of the child care homes and linking to Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been provided in Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 which came into force more than two years ago. 
  • Union Home Ministry Committed to implementing treaty on BrusThe Union Home Ministry is committed to implementing the agreement signed to repatriate nearly 33,000 Bru refugees, currently living in camps in Tripura, to Mizoram, despite the community leader’s decision to walk out of the pact. 
  • Why the community leader decided to withdraw from the pact? Some refugees are not happy with the outcomes and benefits of the deal. 

    Outcomes of the deal: As per the agreement, signed by the Centre and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram besides the MBDPF leadership, each of the 5,407 families will get ?5,000 per month along with free ration for two years, besides house-building assistance of 1.5 lakh. 

    An one-time financial assistance of 4 lakh will also be given to each of the families but the amount will be kept as fixed deposit in the name of the family head. 

    There are a total 32,876 people belonging to the Bru community who are in relief camps in Tripura. They fled Mizoram in 1997 following an unrest and multiple efforts have been made since then to repatriate them. Around 8,000 Bru refugees have gone back to Mizoram since 1997 in six batches and they have been living peacefully in the state. 
  • Prehistoric rock art found in MadanapalleA rare rock art pertaining to the prehistoric period has been found on a boulder in the Noorukuppalakonda reserve forest of Madanapalle revenue division, which opens new vistas for research in the western belt of Chittoor district. 

    The painting is found on the surface of granite boulder at a height of 10 feet from the ground. 

    “It is painted in red color in a big space measuring about 5x5 metres. The painting consists of about 20 animal and human figures. The animal figures include leopard, antelope, dee, peacock, pangolin and cattle without humps. 

    The rock art is certainly as old as 2,000 years, observing that the painting referring to early human settlements could date to the period between 100 CE and 1000 BCE. 

    Strong indications that it belongs to megalithic period. 
  • Supreme Court panel urged to stop Kolleru denotificationEnvironmentalists striving to protect the Kolleru Lake, a wetland protected under the Ramsar Convention and a haven for lakhs of water fowls, have written to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to stop the National Wildlife Board (NWB) from denotifying the patta lands until a case forwarded by the Supreme Court to the Andhra Pradesh High Court was disposed of. 

    Kolleru Lake was Asia’s oldest and largest fresh water lake and a magnificent migratory bird habitat. The Union and State governments were obliged to protect the Ramsar site as the Government of India was a signatory to the Ramsar Convention. 

    Supreme Court in 2006-2007 intervened, several encroachments had been demolished. 

    When the Aziz Committee had rejected the State government’s resolution to downsize the sanctuary to contour + 3, the Union Government had constituted a study group headed by Raman Sukumar, a professor, to make fresh recommendations. 

    Prof Sukumar, recommended denotification of private patta land in the northern boundary of the sanctuary which is actually a bad move. 
  • Singareni plans for an integrated mine put on holdThe Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) is planning to open several new mines this year (2018) to improve its performance, its proposals for environmental clearance for one integrated (opencast-cum-underground) project and expansion of one opencast project have been put on hold by the expert appraisal committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) recently. 

    The coal company has plans to open/expand 13 mines this year as part of its five-year plan to take the production to 85 million tonnes from the present (2017-18) 62 million tonnes. 

    Accordingly, it has moved the MoEF seeking terms of reference as part of environmental clearance for KakatiyaKhani (KTK) Opencast-III and an underground project with 4.23 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) capacity in JayashankarBhupalapalli district. 

    The proposal has been put on hold by the expert committee of MoEF. 
  • Government taking steps to improve accuracy of IMD’s predictionThe Government is taking various steps to further improve the accuracy of predictions made by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). 

    The absolute error of the IMD’s monsoon forecast for seasonal rainfall has shown a significant decrease compared to previous years after the implementation of the new Statistical Ensemble Forecasting System in 2007. 

    The IMD was able to predict the deficient monsoon rainfall experienced during 2014 and 2015 accurately, adding that various measures have been taken to upgrade the IMD forecast system to “further improve prediction accuracy”. 

    Under the Monsoon Mission, a new dynamical prediction system for long range forecasting of Indian monsoon has been implemented by the IMD. 
  • WCD set to move proposal before Cabinet to make all future child marriages invalidThe Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is set to move a proposal before the Cabinet to make all future child marriages in the country invalid

    The proposal of the ministry, if approved, would amend the law that allows child marriages to continue till a case is filed in a district court by either of the two contracting parties within two years of becoming an adult, or through a guardian in case of minors. 

    Under the proposal of the ministry, all future child marriages would be made illegal and invalid from the outset. 

    The ministry seeks to amend section 3 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, under which a child marriage is only voidable at the option of the contracting parties. 
  • Rajya Sabha MP's can now speak in 22 Indian languages in HouseIt is announced that the Upper House now has a facility for simultaneous interpretation in all 22 Indian languages after addition of five more languages. 

    Members can now also speak in Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Santhali and Sindhi. 

    Of the 22 scheduled languages, the Rajya Sabha earlier had simultaneous interpretation services for 17 languages including Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. 

    However, members will have to give a prior notice for the interpreter in the secretariat. 
  • Where a man can enter, a woman can go’, CJI observes in Sabarimala caseA batch of petitions has challenged the prohibition on women of a certain age group from entering the Sabarimala temple

    The Bench is hearing the question whether the fundamental right of women to pray at the place of their choice can be discriminated against solely based “on a biological factor (menstruation) exclusive to the female gender.” 

    Article 25 (1) which mandates freedom of conscience and right to practise religion provides woman to pray and is not even dependent on a legislation as it is constitutional right. 

    The Chief Justice noted that the Sabarimala temple drew funds from the Consolidated Fund, had people coming from all over the world and thus, qualified to be called a “public place of worship.” 
  • Draft rules ready for child-friendly courtsThe Maharashtra state government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it has prepared draft guidelines for child-friendly courts in the State. 

    A suomotu public interest litigation was filed after the Supreme Court passed certain directions to all high courts to establish child-friendly courts. 

    Why to have such child friendly courts? 
    UN convention on the rights of children and it mentioned that a conducive environment must be created for the victim to express freely and this was also the backbone of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. 

    Purpose: The guidelines entail having a glass between the accused and the child where only the accused can see the victim. By taking this step, there will not be any pressure on the child to depose

    There is a proposal to not have uniforms for judges, lawyers or police officials in court so that the child feels comfortable. 

    The court asked if technology can be used so that the child need not even come to court for the trial. Ex: videoconferencing could be used for children to depose. 

    Cabinet nod to table bill in Parliament providing death for rapists of girls below 12 years. 

    The Union cabinet has approved the bill providing death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. The draft bill which was prepared by the Home Ministry will be tabled in the Monsoon Session of Parliament

    The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, once approved by Parliament, will replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21. 

    Background: It is following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of a woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • Rajya Sabha passes amendments to anti-corruption lawThe Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2013. It amends the archaic Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The bill will now go to the Lok Sabha for the Lower House’s nod. 

    Highlights of the BillThe Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 amends the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. 

    The Act covers the offence of giving a bribe to a public servant under abetment. The Bill makes specific provisions related to giving a bribe to a public servant, and giving a bribe by a commercial organisation. 

    The Bill redefines criminal misconduct to only cover misappropriation of property and possession of disproportionate assets. 

    The Bill modifies the definitions and penalties for offences related to taking a bribe, being a habitual offender and abetting an offence. 

    Powers and procedures for the attachment and forfeiture of property of public servants accused of corruption have been introduced in the Bill. 

    The Act requires prior sanction to prosecute serving public officials. The Bill extends this protection to former officials. 

    Key Issues and AnalysisThe Bill makes giving a bribe a specific offence. There are diverging views on whether bribe giving under all circumstances must be penalised. Some have argued that a coerced bribe giver must be distinguished from a collusive bribe giver. 

    The Bill has deleted the provision that protects a bribe giver from prosecution, for any statement made by him during a corruption trial. This may deter bribe givers from appearing as witnesses in court. 

    The Bill has replaced the definition of criminal misconduct. It now requires that the intention to acquire assets disproportionate to income also be proved, in addition to possession of such assets. Thus, the threshold to establish the offence of possession of disproportionate assets has been increased by the Bill. 

    By redefining the offence of criminal misconduct, the Bill does not cover circumstances where the public official: (i) uses illegal means, (ii) abuses his position, or (iii) disregards public interest and obtains a valuable thing or reward for himself or another person. 

    Under the Act, the guilt of the person is presumed for the offences of taking a bribe, being a habitual offender or abetting an offence. The Bill amends this provision to only cover the offence of taking a bribe. 
  • No proposal to ‘invade’ individual’s right to privacy: Government on social media hub plans
    Whether the government has proposed to set up a Social Media Communication Hub to monitor, collect and analyse data across all major social media platforms. 

    This question became significant when the Supreme Court asked the government whether its move to create a Social Media Hub was to tap people’s WhatsApp messages, observing that it will be like creating a “surveillance state

    Gov reply: The government proposes to set up the hub to “facilitate information flow regarding its policies and programmes through social media platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube etc. 

    However there is no proposal to “invade” an individual’s right to privacy and freedom of speech as stated by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting RajyavardhanRathore. 
  • Naga Accord: Prepare rehab scheme for cadres who surrender, House panel tells MHAA parliamentary standing committee asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to prepare a detailed and generous rehabilitation-cum-settlement scheme for the NCSN-IM cadres who will surrender as per of the Naga Accord. 

    The panel also expressed deep concern over the large number of kidnappings in Assam, mostly of women, and surge in insurgency in Arunachal Pradesh, which it termed as “alarming”, more than 81 per cent, of victims are women. 

    It recommended that an inter-state investigation may be carried out to find out reasons for this high rate of kidnappings of women. 

    It recommended that the “government should, nevertheless, proactively, stay prepared for any kind of scenario that may emerge in the aftermath of the agreement, and keep the security forces and intelligence agencies on the alert. 
  • Election Commission inaugurates a new Manufacturing Facility for EVM Production at Bharat Electronics Limited, BangaloreThe Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora has established state-of-the-art secure manufacturing facilities for manufacture of digital certified EVM/VVPATs as per the advise of Technical Experts Committee of ECI

    During this occasion Braille EPI Cards were also Distributed for the First Time in Karnataka to Visually Impaired Voters. 
  • Rajya Sabha adjourned over lack of quorumProceedings in the Rajya Sabha were adjourned on Friday due to a lack of quorum. The adjournment came immediately after a private member’s Bill seeking an amendment to the Constitution was withdrawn. 

    Quorum: Art 100(3): A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly (a body that uses parliamentary procedure, such as a legislature) necessary to conduct the business of that group. 

    It is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House. 

    For quorum, the presence of 25 MPs is needed in the 245-member House i.e. Rajya Sabha. In case of Lok Sabha, the presence of 50 MPs is required for quorum. 

    Private member bill: Members of parliament other than ministers are called private members and bills presented by them are known as private member's bills. 

    The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, passed by the Rajya Sabha on Friday is the first private member's bill to get the upper house's approval in the past 45 years. 
  • No-confidence motion against Narendra Modi government turned negativeThe no-confidence motion in Parliament on Friday the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government won the trust vote by 325-126 margin. 

    The Opposition attacked the government on a range of issues, including farmers’ distress, slow economic growth, and incidents of mob lynching. 
  • Government mulls single clearance for environment, forest for 288 mining leasesThe government has given in-principle approval to provide single clearance for environment and forest to the new leaseholders of the 288 mining leases expiring in two years. 

    Environment Ministry has agreed that there will be no need to have a separate environment clearance (EC) and forest clearance (FC) to the new lease holders (of the 288 mines) as it is already allowed in the Coal Ministry. 

    Of the 288 mining leases, 59 are working leases, which give substantial production of key minerals viz iron ore, manganese, chromite ore etc. The government had in March fixed the deadline at April 1, 2019 for general exploration of these 288 mining leases. 

    The development followed the amendment to the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017. 

    The government had said the auction process needs to be initiated well in advance to ensure a seamless transition from the existing to the new lessees so that mineral production is not affected due to expiry of these leases. 
  • New cell to resolve child custody disputesA mediation cell would be set up under the apex child rights body, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), to resolve child custody disputes arising from cases of transnational marital discord. 

    Centre had not yet taken a decision on either acceding to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or framing a domestic law on the issue. 

    The U.S. has been exerting pressure on India to sign the multilateral treaty. According to its Child Abduction Report 2018, with 104 cases of inter-country parental abduction, India was second only to Mexico which had 241 cases. 
  • Supreme Court Collegium reiterates Justice K M Joseph’s name recommends two othersThe Supreme Court Collegium has “reiterated” its decision to recommend Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph as an apex court judge. 

    The Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprising Justices RanjanGogoi, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri also recommended the names of Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran as Supreme Court judges

    No additional names were considered by the Collegium for elevation to the Supreme Court and the decision to recommend the two names, and the reiteration of Justice Joseph was taken unanimously. 

    The July 16 Collegium resolution also noted that more names were being recommended as the court was functioning with only 22 judges against a sanctioned strength of 31 “leaving 09 clear vacancies”. 
  • Chandrababu Naidu launches e-Pragati core platformNaidu launched ‘e-Pragati core platform’ at Undavalli. 

    E-Pragati, a forward-looking digital initiative, is aimed at connecting the citizen to 34 departments, 336 autonomous organizations and 745-plus services. 

    The State government intends to realize the vision of ‘Sunrise AP 2022’. 

    The e-Pragati authority will achieve the goals of the project by supporting the seven development missions launched in the areas of e-Governance, Social Empowerment, Skill Development, Urban Development, Infrastructure, Industrial Development and the Services sector. 

    E-Pragati would act as a platform to connect all departments and stand alone to resolve the issues. There should be coordination between citizens and the government to solve several issues. 

    Andhra Pradesh stood first with regard to Information Technology that could be done with IT and internet of things (IoT). 
  • Greenko’s 1550 MW renewable energy project clearedThe State government approved the proposal of Greenko Energies Private Limited (GEPL) for the establishment of India’s largest Integrated Renewable Energy Project (IREP) at Pinnapuram village in Panyammandal of Kurnool district. 

    The project comprises 1000 MW solar and 550 MW wind energy plants and 1200 MW standalone pumped storage facility. 

    The government has also approved the allocation of 1 tmcft of water on a non-consumptive basis from Gorakallu reservoir as per the industrial water supply guidelines subject to guidelines issued by the Irrigation Department, recognition as a Mega Industrial Project

    The government of A.P. targeted to create 18000 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2021-22 comprising 10000 MW solar and 8000 MW wind. 

    With the promotion measures initiated by the State government, the share of renewable energy in total power consumption has reached 18% during 2017-18. 
  • PM Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in Inaugurated World's Largest Mobile Factory in NoidaPrime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited Noida and inaugurated the New Mobile Manufacturing Plant of Samsung at Noida. 

    It will be one of the world's largest mobile factory. 

    With the beginning of this New Plant, India's Make in India and Skill India Will get a major Push in the country. Samsung has Invested close to 5,000 Crore Rupees in this plant and aims to Manufacture 12 Crore Mobile Handsets annually which will result in massive job creation. 

    It creates huge opportunities in hardware, software, testing fields. It will boost India’s service industry. 
  • Prakash Javadekar Inaugurates 17th World Sanskrit Conference in CanadaHuman Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar inaugurated the 17th World Sanskrit Conference held at Vancouver, Canada. 

    The purpose of this conference is to promote, preserve and practice the Sanskrit language all over the world by the people. The World Sanskrit Conference is being held in various countries across the globe once in every three years and so far it has been held thrice in India. 
  • Supreme Court to begin hearing petition against Section 377 IPC today (10th July, 2018) A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the CJI will begin hearing the petitions from Tuesday (10th July, 2018) 

    It dismissed center request for more time in filing the reply. 

    Why again hearing? A Constitution Bench will begin to re-visit its December 2013 verdict of the Supreme Court, which upheld the criminalization of gay sex and dismissed the LGBT community as a negligible part of the population while virtually denying them the right of choice and sexual orientation. 

    Though negligible group, LGBT community do have Art 21 as it is applicable for all. 

    So there is need to revisit2018 SC verdict. 

    July 2009:
     the Delhi High Court had read down the provision in so far as it criminalized same sex relations in private. 

    December 2013: the Supreme Court set aside the High Court order and asked Parliament to bring a law if it wanted to decriminalize it. Later, the apex court also dismissed the Centre’s review plea on the subject. 

    August 2017: The Supreme Court, in its landmark privacy ruling, termed sexual orientation as an essential attribute of privacy. This rekindled hopes in the LGBT community and fresh petitions came to be filed in the apex court which referred them for hearing to a Constitution Bench. 
  • Government to allow spouses of Indian nationals to convert visa category even if married abroadIrrespective of the place of the wedding, the foreign spouse can now convert the tourist visa to a dependent visa

    Spouses of the Indian nationals getting married abroad will no longer have to face difficulties in converting their tourist visa to dependent visa as the government plans to change existing rules. 

    What is the rule till now? As per the visa manual, tourist visa can be converted to X2 visa only when the marriage takes place in India and gets registered within the validity of the present tourist visa. 

    Contrary to that, if anyone wants to do so has to go back to his or her country and come back on an X2 visa. 

    With the amendment of the visa rules and streamlining the process, the conversion of tourist visa to X2 would be allowed even if the marriage takes place on foreign soil. 

    Exceptions: The facility will not be offered to the nationals of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Iraq, and citizens of Pakistani origin and stateless persons. 
  • Tamil Nadu assembly passes Lokayukta Bill amid protestsThe Tamil Nadu Lokayukta Bill 2018 was passed in the Assembly on Monday (09 July, 2018). 

    The Lokayukta will consist of a chairman and four members. 

    While the chairman should be current or former judge of the high court or should have served a minimum of 25 years in the field of anti-corruption, public administration, awareness, finance or law, two of the four members should have experience in the legal system. 

    The local administration and government contracts have not been brought under the Lokayukta. 

    If a false complaint was lodged with the Lokayukta, the complainant will be punished with a fine of Rs1 lakh, along with imprisonment of up to one year. 

    History: The Lokayukta Act was passed by the central government in 2013 and was notified by the Centre in 2014. 

    Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, states that every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta. 

    In April, the Supreme Court had asked 12 states, including Tamil Nadu, to explain why the government had not appointed Lokayuktas. 
  • Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of EminenceThe Government has shortlisted Six Institutions of Eminence (IoEs) including 3 from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector. 

    An Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) in its report recommended selection of 6 institutions (3 from public sector and 3 from private sector) as Institutions of Eminence. The details of these Institutions are as under: 

    Public Sector: (i) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka; (ii) Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and (iii) Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. 

    Private Sector: (i) Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category; (ii) Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and (iii) Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka. 

    Purpose: It is expected that the above selected Institutions will come up in top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually overtime. 

    To achieve the top world ranking, these Institutions shall be provided with 

    greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; 

    to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; 

    to offer online courses upto 20% of its programs; 

    to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; 

    free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; 

    flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree; 

    Complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others. 

    Each public Institution selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over the period of five years under this scheme. 
  • Rajya Sabha members can use all 22 scheduled languagesIt is decided that Rajya Sabha members can speak in any of the 22 scheduled languages from the monsoon session of Parliament beginning on July 18. 

    For this purpose the Secretariat inducted a panel of interpreters. 

    Of the 22 languages, the Rajya Sabha already has simultaneous interpretation for Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. 

    The interpreters of the Lok Sabha are being deployed for Bodo, Maithili, Manipuri, Marathi and Nepali. 

    Additionally the Secretariat arranging interpretation for five more languages: Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Santhali and Sindhi. 

    The members have to give notice of a reasonable period for the interpreter. 

    Indian constitutions recognizes 22 languages as on today which are placed under Schedule 8. 
  • Sec 377 is a Victorian morality, need to be strike down: Supreme CourtSupreme Court on Tuesday stated that there is a need to strike down Sec 377 as it is violation of Art 21 under Fundamental Rights. 

    Sec 377 is about criminalizing the choice of having same sex partner. 

    SC observed that Choice of having same sex partner can also be implied in Art 21 as one’s choice of “partner would include same sex partner too”. 
  • M. Venkaiah Naidu becomes first Chairman of Rajya Sabha to sign an MOURajya Sabha has, for the first time in 76 years since it came into being, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a foreign counterpart for promoting inter-parliamentary dialogue. 

    Venkaiah Naidu become the first Chairman of Rajya Sabha to sign such an agreement when he inked an MOU with the visiting President of the Senate of the Republic of Rwanda, Mr. Bernard Makuza. 

    Details of MOU: The MOU with 6 articles of cooperation seeks to promote Inter-Parliamentary dialogue, Capacity building of parliamentary staff, Organization of conferences, forums, seminars, staff attachment programs, workshops and exchanges, Collaboration in mutual interest in regional and international multilateral parliamentary bodies in furtherance of bilateral relations and friendship between the two countries. 

    Facts about Rwanda: The Parliament of Rwanda for having 60% of women legislatures. 

    The special role of the Senate of Rwanda in monitoring and punishing those responsible for the genocide policy in the country that resulted in the killing of about one million people and also overseeing implementation of the social justice programs. 

    Rwanda for being elected as the Chair of the African Union

    It also signed the African Continent Free Trade Agreement. 
  • Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Haryana Top Rankers in Ease of Doing BusinessDepartment of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, released the final rankings of States in Ease of Doing Business in New Delhi

    DIPP, Ministry of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the World Bank conducted an annual reform exercise for all States and UTs under the Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) 

    The top rankers are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Haryana. Jharkhand and Gujarat stood fourth and fifth respectively. 

    Purpose of BRAP: The aim of this exercise is to improve delivery of various Central Government regulatory functions and services in an efficient, effective and transparent manner. 

    The reform plan has expanded from 285 to 372 action points till 2017. 

    BRAP 2017 is based on a combined score consisting of Reform evidence score that is based on evidences uploaded by the States and UTs and Feedback score that is based on the feedback garnered from the actual users of the services provided to the businesses. 

    Parameters under reforms: States and UTs have enacted reforms in and by

    Public Service Delivery Guarantee Act to enforce the timelines on registrations and approvals. 

    Environmental clearances, 
    Single window system, 
    Construction permits, 
    Contract enforcement, 
    Registering property and inspections. 
  • Government leaves decision on Section 377 to the Supreme CourtThe government chose not to take sides on the question of the legality of Section 377 IPC, a provision which criminalizes homosexuality, leaving the decision entirely to the Supreme Court. 

    The government’s decision to not contest writ petitions against Section 377, however, came with a rider that the court should specify that the freedom to choose a partner does not extend to perversions like incest. 

    For example, the choice of partner should not be own sister as it is prohibited under the Hindu marriage law. 
  • Centre upholds Net neutrality proposalsIn a move that will ensure open and free Internet in India, the government has approved the principle of net neutrality. 

    SignificanceThis means that telecom and Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, site, platform, or application. 

    They cannot engage in practices such as blocking, slowing down or granting preferential speeds to any content. 

    India’s decision to uphold Net neutrality assumes greater significance given that in the U.S., the rules on Net neutrality were repealed. 

    Critical servicesBut certain emerging and critical services will be kept out of the purview of these norms. 

    A separate committee has been set up under the DoT to examine what these critical services will be. 

    These may include autonomous vehicles, digital healthcare services or disaster management. 
  • Union Home Minister institutes five Police MedalsThe Union Home Minister has instituted five Police Medals to promote professionalism and excellence in service and give recognition to those security personnel doing good work in stressful environment and in difficult areas. 

    These five non-cash awards which will supplement and strengthen the existing award schemes in the State Police Forces and Central Police Organizations and Armed Forces, 

    Union Home Minister's Special Operation Medal: Police Antarik Suraksha SevaPadak
    Utkrisht and AtiUtkrishtSeva Medals
    Union Home Minister's Medal for Excellence in Investigation
  • Himachal Pradesh Government to constitute commission for protection of cowsA commission would soon be constituted for the protection of cows by HP Government. 

    It will be the biggest in this hilly state and will have the capacity to provide shelter to about 500 cows

    Rs 1 cess had been imposed on the sale of every bottle of liquor in the state for construction and maintenance of ‘gausadans’ (cow shelter homes). 
  • 100 Anna Canteens opened across Andhra PradeshAnna Canteens offering subsidised food for the poor were launched in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across Andhra Pradesh

    The project is taken up by the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides the meals, in collaboration with the Municipal Administration and Civil Supplies Departments. 

    About 100 canteens were opened in 35 ULBs in the first phase. They would serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for just Rs.5 a plate on week days. 

    Each canteen is expected to serve at least 350 plates of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The capacity could be extended up to 500 plates when needed. 

    The second phase of the project worth Rs.83 crore, another 103 canteens would be inaugurated by August 15. 
  • Call to standardize Sabin IPVA global workshop organized by the Seattle-based not-for-profit PATH is underway in the city to chalk out a plan that would eventually lead to standardization of the Sabin inactivated vaccine. 

    What is Sabin vaccine? The Sabin vaccine is one of the two types available against polio. The Sabin IPV, in contrast to the original IPV, comprises inactivated polio virus types which are made from weakened polio virus used in Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). 

    The original IPV developed comprises inactivated wild-type viruses, which pose a risk of handling and containment. 
  • ASI issues order to permit photography within the premises of centrally protected monuments/sitesThe Archaeological Survey of India, an organization under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in an order issued today, decided to allow photography within the premises of all centrally protected monuments/sites (except 3). 

    The 3 monuments/sites in which the photography would not be permitted are
    Ajanta Caves 
    Leh Palace having paintings, 
    Mausoleum of Taj Mahal, Agra. 
  • Use of Aadhaar in Ayushman Bharat – Desirable and not “Must” Notification of the Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission being issued by MoHFW under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, merely enables the implementation agencies to ask for the beneficiary Aadhaar Card to authenticate their identity. 

    In order to authenticate the identity of beneficiaries accurately, the use of Aadhaar card is preferable, but it is not a “must”. There shall be no denial of benefit for want of Aadhaar number. 
  • First meeting of Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on coordination between MGNREGA and Agriculture held at NITI AayogThe First Meeting of Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on coordination between MGNREGA and Agriculture was held at NITI Aayog today (13 July, 2018). 

    Five critical areas in which MGNREGA could positively help came to the fore in the meeting. 

    These include – those related to reducing the cost of cultivation, enhancing the production through efficient use of water or other inputs, providing remunerative price to farmers by incentivizing aggregation and market infrastructure, rehabilitation of agricultural land and assets after natural hazards or re-plantation using MGNREGA fund and bringing diversification in agriculture to help occupational diversification and maximizing profit. Besides, incentivizing farm fencing to protect the farmer fields from wild animals was also suggested. 
  • Shri Nitin Gadkari to inaugurate port projects worth Rs 1062 Crores in VishakhapatnamShri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation will inaugurate five port projects worth Rs 1062 Crores in Vishakhapatnam. 

    In addition to this, he will also lay the foundation stone for two port connectivity projects worth Rs 679 Crores. 

    The projects to be inaugurated include upgradation of existing iron ore handling facility at Outer Harbour of Vizag Port at a cost of Rs 580 Crores. 

    The other projects to be inaugurated include Development Berths at the inner harbor of the port at a cost of Rs 243 Crores and Post Panamax Quay Cranes costing Rs.151 Crores. 

    He will also inaugurate the 4- laning of 4.15 Kms of port connectivity road – Phase-II, constructed at a cost of Rs. 77 Crore. 

    This will allow faster transportation of road bound cargo. Vishakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) hold 50: 50 equity in the project. Equity of Rs.20 crore by VPT is through Sagarmala. 
  • Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi urges the States to ensure effective implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005To provide immediate protection and relief to women facing violence within families, Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, wrote to all Chief Ministers to ensure that the provisions of the ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005’ are effectively implemented. 

    She particularly urged the States that sufficient number of Protection Officers (POs) be appointed with independent charge of the Act and that their details be made available in public domain so that they were accessible to any aggrieved woman. 

    She has further mentioned that for the convenience of women, Form IV of the Act, which enumerates the rights of the women, be translated into local languages. 

    She has also requested that a separate budget be allocated for the smooth functioning of POs, providing support to survivors, capacity building for staff and for generating awareness. 
  • Survey launched to rank States on rural cleanlinessThe Centre has launched the Swachh Survekshan Grameen, 2018, a nationwide survey of rural India to rank the cleanest and dirtiest States and districts on the basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluation. 

    This is the first comprehensive survey for rural India, which has been launched after three successful editions of a similar survey in urban India. 

    It is launched by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. 

    As part of Swachh Survekshan Grameen 6,980 villages in 698 districts across India will be covered. Total 34,000 public places namely schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places in these villages will be visited for survey. Citizens’ feedback will be collected from over 50 lakh citizens on SBM related issues through direct interaction as well as online feedback. 

    Parameters of survey: During the process, 65% weightage has been assigned to the findings and outcome from the survey and 35% to the service level parameters to be obtained from the IMIS of the MDWS. The weights to different elements of the SSG would be as below: 
    Direct Observation of sanitation in public places: 30%
    Citizen’s Feedback on sanitation parameters: 35%
    Service Level Progress on sanitation progress in the country as per SBMG- MIS: 35%
  • Proposal for construction of break water harbor in KonkanThe Nivati-Medha break water harbor in the Konkan region of Maharashtra is being considered under “12 Champion Sectors initiative” of the Ministry of Commerce. 

    Suresh Prabhu directed concerned officials to expedite the construction of the breakwater harbor once the Maharashtra Maritime Board approves the proposal. 

    In the absence of such a harbor the financial condition of fishermen in the area is deteriorating as they are totally dependent on the vagaries of the sea. 

    Building of the breakwater harbor will help the fishermen to haul a better catch even in adverse conditions and also give a boost to the tourism industry by allowing cruise ships to dock at the harbor. Other tourism activities will also get a fillip. This will raise the living standards of local people in the area noted the Minister. 
  • State’s annual credit plan pegged at Rs.1.94 lakh croreChief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu launched the State annual credit plan of 2018-19 with a total outlay of Rs.1,94,220 crore at the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) meeting held in Vijayawada. 

    The total credit for agriculture sector, including farm credit, agriculture infrastructure and ancillary activities, would be 13.53% more than previous year (2017). 

    The priority sector lending would go up by 19.11% as against last credit plan. 

    The SLBC also proposed a significant increase in credit for MSMEs, education, housing and other priority sectors. 

    Horticulture and aquaculture were also being promoted in a big way. 

    34% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) comes from agriculture sector. 
  • Governor wants banks to support ryot-friendly policiesGovernor E.S.L. Narasimhan has exhorted banks to extend their support to farmer-friendly policies initiated by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments for ensuring reduction of distress among the farming community. 

    Mr. Narasimhan participated as chief guest at the 37th Foundation Day of NABARD organized. 

    Short term refinance support of Rs. 4,740 crore had been released by NABARD to the cooperative banks and regional rural banks in the State in addition to long term refinance of Rs. 4,586 crore extended to banks towards their loans, asset creation and capital formation in the rural areas. 
  • President of India inaugurates the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of IndiaThe President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) in New Delhi. 

    Speaking on the occasion, the President said that adherence to a fair taxation system is much more than merely providing revenue to the government. It is part of the same social contract that underpins our Constitution. Under this Constitution we have given ourselves certain rights but also certain responsibilities. Taxes are what we pay to get social benefits in the form of public goods and services, health and education facilities, better infrastructure, law and order, and secure borders. It is crucial that this responsibility is shared by the widest possible number of citizens – whether they pay taxes directly or indirectly. It is the solemn duty of each one of us to contribute to the society that we share and the nation that we are part of. 
  • NFAI to host European Union Film Festival 2018National Film Archive of India will host European Union Film Festival 2018 from 6th July to 12th July in Mumbai. 

    Opening with the French film 9 Month Stretch, the seven days festival will feature24 films (with English subtitle) all belonging to member countries of the European Union, from a variety of genres such as drama, romance and comedy. 

    The films being screened at the festival have won awards and appreciation at various international festivals. 
  • Election Commission of India to hold a National Consultation on Accessible ElectionsThe Election Commission of India (ECI) has organized a two-day “National Consultation on Accessible Elections,” from the 3rd July, 2018 in New Delhi. It will be inaugurated by the Chief Election Commissioner O.P.Rawat, in presence of the Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa. 

    The event is a part of the ECI’s pursuit of its mission ‘leave no voter behind,’ with special focus on “Persons with Disabilities” (PwD). During the inaugural session, a dedicated portal for the ECI’s ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation’ (SVEEP) initiative will also be launched. 

    The national consultation will be participated among others by the Chief Electoral Officers of all states, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in the area of empowerment of the differently abled and senior officials of the Union Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment, Information & Broadcasting, Electronics and Information Technology, Youth Affairs and Sports, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Central Public Works Department and the National Literacy Mission Authority. 

    The whole exercise is to enhance their participation in the forthcoming state and Lok Sabha elections. 

    The theme of “Inclusion of PwD’s” has been given a special focus in the ECI’s Strategic Plan 2016-2025. Besides, “Accessible Elections” has been adopted as its central theme for this year’s National Voters’ Day celebrations. 

    The “National Consultation on Accessible Elections,” will be having three technical sessions over the course of the two days. The best practices on ‘Accessible Elections’ that were practiced in six states during their last Assembly Elections will be shared in the meeting. 
  • Intellectual Property Rules AmendedThe Union Ministry of Finance has amended Intellectual Property rules to revoke the power vested with Customs authorities to seize imported products based on complaints of patent infringement. 

    On June 22, the Ministry made two amendments to the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, 2007. Firstly, the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Amendment Rules, 2018, omits all reference to the Patents Act, 1970. 

    Another amendment incorporates further conditions that oblige the right-holder to notify the Commissioner of Customs of any amendment, cancellation, suspension or reaction that concern Intellectual Property rights, and require the Customs authorities to accordingly amend, suspend or cancel the corresponding protection provided by them. 

    Now, the amended law will permit the Customs authorities to cancel his patent from its records based on the order passed by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB. 
  • Interpol issues Red Corner Notice against Nirav Modi: CBI The Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, his brother Nishal Modi and his employee Subhash Parab on the request of the CBI, probing over USD 2 billion PNB scam, officials said. 

    The Interpol has issued the Red Corner Notice (RCN) on the basis of charge sheet filed by the CBI in a special court in Mumbai and the arrest warrant issued by the judge Special J C Jagdale there. 

    In its Red Corner Notice issued against a fugitive, the Interpol asks its 192 member countries to arrest or detain the person if spotted in their countries after which extradition or deportation proceedings can begin. 

    What is Red Notice? 
    It is issued by Interpol to seek location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action. 
  • Election Commission of India launches Mobile App “cVIGIL” to enable citizens to report on violation of election code of conductThe Chief Election Commissioner Shri. O.P. Rawat launched a mobile app, called ‘Cvigil,’ on July 3, 2018, for citizens to report any violation of the model code of conduct during elections. 

    “cVIGIL" is a user-friendly and easy to operate Android application. It will be operational only where elections are announced. 

    Upon successful completion of the trial that is underway, the application will be made available for general use by all, right from the forthcoming Assembly elections in the States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan. The practical use of the app during the four-state Assembly polls will also serve as a pilot initiative before it is put to extensive use during the next Lok Sabha General Elections. 

    The app requires an Android smartphone equipped with a camera, good internet connection and GPS access. The operating system should be Android Jellybean and above. The application supports all the latest Android smartphones. 
  • Ministry of Defence approves construction of 17 New Baffle Firing RangesMinistry of Defence has given a go ahead for construction of 17 new baffle firing ranges in Military Stations/Cantonments/Training Establishments at an approximate cost of Rs. 238 crores. This will add seven ranges to the Southern Command, Three to the Eastern Command, Two to the Northern Command, one each to the South Western and Central Commands. The one at Central Command is proposed for the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. These 17 will be in addition to the 60 similar firing ranges existing all over the country. The proposed baffle shooting ranges can facilitate firing from 300 to 500 meters. 

    Baffle firing ranges are covered shooting practice areas which prevent possible accidents due to stray bullet injuries. The possibility of such mishap has increased many folds in recent times due to growth of civilian population around the cantonments. To prevent such casualties without affecting the training requirements of the Armed Forces, MOD has approved additional baffle ranges. 
  • Consult UPSC for selecting police chiefs, Supreme Court tells StatesThe Supreme Court on 3rd July restrained the State governments from appointing Directors-General of Police without first consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). 

    The State government concerned has to send to the service commission the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGP is to retire. The UPSC will prepare a list of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back. It shall, as far as practicable, choose the people who have got a clear two years of service and must give due weightage to merit and seniority. The State, in turn, shall ‘immediately’ appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the commission. 

    A Bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, passed the directions on an application by the Centre for modification of a September 22, 2006 judgment on a petition filed by former DGPs Prakash Singh and N.K. Singh for reforms in the police forces. 

    In 2006, the court passed seven directives, primarily to “ensure that State governments do not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.” 
  • Chairperson NCST Presents Special Report on Indira Sagar Polavaram Project Affected Tribal People to President of IndiaDr. Nand Kumar Sai, Chairperson, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), presented a special report of the Commission on “Indira Sagar Polavaram Project Affected Tribal People” to the President of India Ramnath Kovind. The report and recommendations are under Article 338A(5)(e) of the Constitution on the measures to be taken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for the effective implementation of constitutional safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes who are affected on account of Polavaram Irrigation Project, Andhra Pradesh. 
    Recommendations made in the Report are as follows: 
    • The Commission, recommends that the state government should provide only land fit for agriculture to PDFs/PFs within the command area of Polavaram Irrigation Project with proper irrigation as the alternative land given to them in lieu of the acquired land is not cultivable - either it is rocky terrain or there is no water.
    • The Commission noted that many ST people without land holdings were also shifted. They were hitherto depending on minor forest produces for their livelihood. Now that they are shifted, they are deprived of their livelihood. The State Government needs to take care of them by providing alternative means of livelihood.
    • The Commission recommended that the destroyed houses should be re-built immediately to mitigate the sufferings of ST people.
    • The compensation packages in respect of Polavaram Irrigation project need to be revised on suo-moto basis by the Government of Andhra Pradesh keeping in view the observations and modalities suggested by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Special Leave Petition (SLP) NO.6933 of 2007 in the case of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd Versus Mathias Oram and others.
    • The Commission feels that a similar scheme as per the above Supreme Court order will help the Scheduled Tribe people affected by Polavaram Irrigation Project as their right to fair compensation. Further, the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act be kept in mind and used to the advantage of the tribals in the best possible manner.
    • While awarding compensation in respect of tribal people, “land for land” policy should be followed to the maximum extent. In this regard, the ceiling of 2.5 acres of land should be waived in case of ST people, and they should be provided equal or at least 2.5 acres of land within the Command Area of the Polavaram Irrigation Project.
    • In the resettlement colonies, focus/emphasis needs to be given for creation of social infrastructure like setting up of Colleges, University, Stadiums, Medical College on the pattern of AIIMs, Art and Music academies/centers, etc. in addition to their entitlement. The State Government should make adequate provision of land for creation of such infrastructure facilities through outright purchase, if necessary.
    • The State Government should consider that the entire rehabilitation and resettlement work is undertaken through R&R Commissioner as single point responsibility as well as accountability for R&R, while the actual implementation can be undertaken by other line departments/agencies.
    • The State Government must ensure that R&R work is completed and compensation paid to the project affected as well as project displaced families at least four months prior to submergence or commissioning of the project or their displacement, whichever is earlier.
    • The State Government should consider developing an industrial estate/hub adjoining the resettlement area to provide employment and economic opportunities to the displaced families. Both the State Government as well as the Central Government should consider declaring this industrial estate as tax free with a tax holiday for 10 years. There should be a condition that only the displaced people from the Polavaram Irrigation Project will be given employment for non-managerial jobs in this industrial estate.
    The Commission apprehended that once the dam project is physically completed and affected people are shifted to new places, the concerned R&R officials will be transferred to new responsibilities and it is likely that the people rehabilitated will be left to their destiny and will have to fend to themselves without any supporting institutional mechanism. Commission, therefore, strongly recommends that there should be a dedicated team of R&R officials to be stationed in rehabilitation area to oversee the developmental activities and other welfare measures for a period of at least 5 years from completion of the project. 
  • Lieutenant-Governor bound by ‘aid and advice’ of Council of Ministers: Constitution BenchA five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously held on 4th July that Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal is bound by the “aid and advice” of the Arvind Kejriwal government. In case of difference of opinion, the L-G should straightaway refer the dispute to the President for a final decision without sitting over it or stultifying the governance in the National Capital, the Bench said. It concluded that the governance of Delhi cannot rest upon the whims of one functionary — the Lieutenant-Governor. 

    “The Lieutenant-Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power. He has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra held in his opinion, shared by Justices A.K. Sikri and A.M. Khanwilkar. 

    Chief Justice Misra, along with Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan in their separate but concurring opinions, cautioned the L-G against sending every “trivial” dispute with the government to the President. 

    The judgment came on appeals filed by the NCT government against an August 4, 2016, verdict of the Delhi High Court, which had declared that the L-G has “complete control of all matters regarding the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and nothing will happen without the concurrence of the L-G.” 

    The Supreme Court followed the 1987 Balakrishnan report to conclude that Delhi is not a State. 

    The report had envisaged that Delhi could not have a situation in which the national capital had “two governments run by different political parties. Such conflicts may, at times, prejudice the national interest.” 

    Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in his leading opinion for the Bench, reproduced excerpts from the report, which said, “Delhi as the national capital belongs to the nation as a whole.” 

    The report foresaw that if Delhi becomes a full-fledged State, there would be a constitutional division of sovereign, legislative and executive powers between the Union and the State of Delhi. Parliament would have limited legislative access and that too only in special and emergency situations. The Union would be unable to discharge its “special responsibilities in relation to the national capital as well as to the nation itself”. 
  • Special Category Status (SCS) not feasible, Centre tells Supreme CourtThe Central government filed a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court on 4th July expressing its inability to give Special Category Status (SCS) to Andhra Pradesh and said all commitments under the A.P. Reorganisation Act (APRA), 2014 had been addressed. 

    It furnished details in the form of an annexure listing out the financial and other forms of assistance given to the State since bifurcation. 

    The affidavit was in response to a writ petition filed in the apex court by Telangana Congress leader Ponguleti Sudhakar, who pleaded for clarity on issues concerning his State and Andhra Pradesh post-bifurcation, setting up of the steel plant at Bayyaram and the extent of submergence likely to be caused by Polavaram project. 

    The Central government said in the affidavit Rs. 15,970 crore had been released to the successor State of A.P. for three years (2015-18) out of the post-devolution revenue deficit grant of Rs. 22,113 crore for 2015-20 on the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. 

    The Centre said of the State’s revenue gap which stood at approximately Rs. 4,120 crore, it released nearly Rs. 3,970 crore and the balance was being paid. 

    It said Rs. 2,500 crore was given towards the construction of capital city Amaravati and another Rs. 1,000 crore would be sanctioned in the coming three years at Rs. 333.30 crore per year. 
  • Election Commission (EC) launches Braille-enabled Voter IDs The Election Commission (EC) on 4th July launched Voter Identity cards with Braille signage features to ensure greater participation of persons with visual impairment in the electoral process. The Commission also unveiled a strategic framework on ‘Accessible Elections’. 
  • Law Commission Recommends Regulating BettingThe Law Commission recommended that gambling and betting on sports, including cricket, be allowed as regulated activities taxable under the direct and indirect tax regimes and used as a source for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). 

    The commission's report, 'Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India', recommends a number of changes in the law for regulating betting and generating tax revenues from it. 
  • Uttarakhand High Court declares animals as ‘Legal Persons’ In a first, the Uttarakhand High Court accorded the status of ‘legal person or entity’ to the animals in the state. The HC stated that "they have a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person." 

    The unique status was bestowed upon the state’s animals by a division bench of judges comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lokpal Singh while issuing a series of directions to prevent cruelty against animals. 
  • CJI is master of roster, says Supreme Court The 'Chief Justice of India' (CJI) is an individual judge and not the powerful collective of five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court called the 'Collegium', the Supreme Court held on Friday. 

    Both Justices Sikri and Bhushan concurred that neither Article 145 (rules of court) and the Supreme Court Rules say the 'Chief Justice of India' as the Collegium. 

    Unlike having the Collegium decide the appointment and transfer of judges, a collective deciding which cases should go to which Bench would affect the day-to-day functioning of the court. 

    Justice Sikri said the role of the CJI as the Master of Roster was qualified by the consensus from other judges. The CJI took into consideration the expertise, capacity and interest of his fellow judges while allocating cases to them. This duty should be left to his wisdom. 
  • HMDA launches two more machines to clean Sagar waterHyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) inaugurated two more garbage segregation machines in Bathukammakunta on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake. 

    The machines will clean the lakes polluted water and lessen the effect of foul smell. 

    The lake was getting polluted after the flow of sewage and wastage into the water body. 
  • Oncology Bus started in AmaravatiIn order to create awareness about Cancer, AP CM flagged off Oncology bus from Amaravathi. 

    The oncology bus will help identify oral, cervix and breast cancers and will have various investigations available like- oral examination, breast screening, mammography, pap smear, biopsy and lab investigations. 

    The state-of-the art Oncology Bus will have doctors and trained nurses and other paramedical staff round-the-clock. 

    The bus will cover 358 districts and 9,930 villages. 
  • e-Autos will be introduced in GunturIn order to control and reduce raising pollution, e-autos are to be introduced very soon in Guntur. 

    This initiative also helps to reduce the use of fuels which have to be imported from Middle East nations. 
  • National Testing Agency to be setupThe Union Cabinet had approved setting up of NTA to conduct entrance examinations such as NET, NEET, JEE (Mains) for higher educational institutions. 

    The NTA would also conduct National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) and Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT). 

    So far, The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducted NEET on behalf of the Medical Council of India and the Health Ministry and NET on behalf of the University Grants Commission (UGC). 

    The NTA would work as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions. 

    It will be chaired by an educationist appointed by Human Resource Development Ministry. 
  • Ministry of Railways approves digital Aadhaar and Driving License from Digital LockerMinistry of Railways approves digital Aadhaar and Driving License from Digital Locker as proof of identity of passengers for undertaking journey by Train. 

    The documents are accepted only if a passenger shows the Aadhaar/Driving License from the ‘Issued Documents’ section by logging into his/her Digi Locker account. 

    However, the documents uploaded by the user himself /herself (i.e. the documents in ‘Uploaded Documents’ section will not be considered as a valid proof of identity. 

    Digi Locker is a secure cloud based platform for storage, sharing and verification of documents & certificates launched by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. 
  • International Round Table Conference on “Data for New India” The Ministry of Statistics &Programme Implementation (MoSPI) is organizing a two-day International Round Table Conference “Data for New India” at New Delhi during 9-10th July, 2018. 

    The objective of the Round Table Conference is to identify innovative ideas for improving the statistical system in India, taking cue from the best practices followed in advanced countries like Canada, UK and Australia. 

    Such a Conference is being organized in India for the first time; the conference is expected to suggest measures paving way for initiating the reform process in the Indian Statistical System. 
  • Vice President visits infamous Cellular Jail in Port BlairThe Vice President of India as visited the infamous Cellular Jail in Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. 

    Valiant freedom fighters were confined solitarily and meted out most inhuman treatment by the British in the cellular jail. 

    The purpose of solitary confinement was to demoralize freedom fighters, keep them in small, solitary cells without any scope to interact with fellow prisoners and local people. 
  • Indian Warship INS Trikand reaches SriLanka in goodwill visitIndia's latest frontline warship INS Trikand has reached Sri Lanka in a goodwill visit. 

    INS Trikand is a state-of-the-art warship of the Indian Navy equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors capable. 

    It can address threats in all three dimensions - air, surface and sub-surface.


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