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March 2018 National Affairs

  • Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad arrests ten persons on terror-funding charges 
    The Anti-Terrorist Squad, ATS of the Uttar Pradesh police has arrested ten persons, who it claimed were linked with Lashker-e-Taiba and allegedly involved in terror-funding activities. 

    ATS IG Asim Arun said, these persons were arrested from Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Pratapgarh and Rivan (MP) on 24th March by the ATS. He said, these persons were involved in terror-funding on the directives from Pakistan. 

    He said, a member of Lashker-e-Taiba used to remain in contact with them and ask them to open bank accounts in fake names and direct them as to how much money is to be transferred to which account. 

    Indian agents used to get 10 to 20 per cent commission for this. He said, ATM cards, Rs. 52 lakh cash, swap machines, magnetic card readers, three lap-tops, passbooks of different banks, a country made pistol and cartridges were recovered from the possession of the accused. 

  • Indian President Ram Nath Kovind lays foundation stone of several road projects of NHAI in Varanasi
    Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has stressed on modern development of Varanasi with its religious souls and traditional values. He was addressing a function after laying the foundation stone of five road projects of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and distributing appointment letters to the candidates selected under Skill Development department mission. 

    Mr Ram Nath Kovind said Varanasi is known for its religious and spiritual values in the world and it should be saved. He said that Varanasi is the only city in the country which has produced 5 Bharat Ratnas. 

  • Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurates Saras Aajeevika Mela
    Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on 26th March inaugurated Saras Aajeevika Mela at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. 

    Mr Narendra Singh Tomar said, his Ministry is working for the empowerment of rural women and the Aajeevika Programme and Self Help Groups have given the much-needed employment to the rural population especially women. 

    He said, the programme has been successful in bringing a socio-economic change. The Minister announced that from now onwards two Saras melas will be organized in each state. 

    The SARAS Aajeevika Mela 2018 in New Delhi is an endeavour of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihoods Mission. It aims to provide a national platform and an opportunity to the rural women producers to showcase their products and seek buyers, either individuals or bulk buyers for sale nationally or internationally. 

    This year, 700 women from 28 states are selling their products in over 350 stalls in the Mela. Mr Narendra Singh Tomar also released a directory of the products of all the women who will be showcasing their products in the Aajeevika Mela 2018. 

  • Supreme Court bans interference by Khap Panchayats into marriages of inter-faith or inter-caste couples
    In a relief to inter-faith or inter-caste couples who often face threat to their lives due to their relationship, Supreme Court on 27th March banned any interference by illegal assemblies like 'khap panchayats' into their marriages terming the intrusions as absolutely illegal. 

    A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also laid down guidelines to prevent such interferences. The apex court said, the norms laid down by it will remain in force till a suitable legislation is enacted by the Parliament. 

    'Khap' panchayats are caste or community groups, present largely in rural areas of north India which at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs. Several cases of women and men falling victim to 'khap' diktats have been reported over the years, particularly in states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. 

    The apex court had also asked khap panchayats not to behave like "conscience keepers of the society" and said that a marriage between two adults was governed by the law. 

    'Khap panchayats' had earlier told the court that they were encouraging inter-caste and inter-faith marriages and had referred to provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act which prohibit a union between 'sapinda' relationships or close blood relatives among Hindus. 

    They had claimed that they were performing their duties as conscience keepers of the society. 

    The court had invited 'khap panchayats' to hear their views before issuing an order to stop them from harassing or killing couples purportedly to protect the honour of a family, caste, community or faith. 

  • Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat announces schedule of Karnataka Assembly elections
    The Karnataka Assembly polls will be held on 12th May and the votes will be counted on 15th May, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat announced at a conference in New Delhi on 27th March. He said there will be a single phase election for the 224-member assembly. All electronic voting machines will be linked to Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. 

    Centre not for SC/ST creamy layer
    The government on 28th March opposed the idea of a “creamy layer” within the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes category. The government told a Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the principle of creamy layer could not be applied to the presidential order on quota for SC/ST groups. 

    The court was hearing a petition to exclude the affluent members, or the “creamy layer”, of these communities from accessing reservation benefits. Additional Solicitor-General P.S. Narasimha said the government would not do anything to dilute benefits due to them. 

    The Bench asked the government to file a categorical affidavit. The petition filed by Samta Andolan Samiti, representing the poor and downtrodden strata of the SC/ST community in Rajasthan, contended that the rich among the SC/ST communities were “snatching away” quota benefits while the deserving and impoverished among them continue to “bite the dust.” 

    It is this lack of percolation of reservation benefits down to the poor and really backward among SC/ST communities that has led to social unrest, Naxalite movements and perennial poverty, the petition said. 

    This is the first time that a petition has been filed urging the Supreme Court to introduce the “creamy layer” concept to the SC/ST communities. 

    In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case or the Mandal case, as it was popularly known, upheld caste-based reservation for OBCs as valid. The apex court had also directed that the creamy layer of OBCs (those earning over a specified income) should not avail reservation facilities. 

    The Mandal judgment however confined the exclusion of the creamy layer only to the OBCs and not to the SC/STs. 

  • NITI Aayog launches baseline ranking of 115 aspirational districts
    The NITI Aayog has launched the baseline ranking for 115 aspirational districts based on 49 indicators across five sectors that include health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development, and basic infrastructure. 

    This would be followed by delta ranking of these districts from May 2018 based on their "incremental progress".

    According to NITI Aayog, the dashboard developed for real-time data collection and monitoring will be open for public viewing from April 1. 

    The NITI Aayog had organised a workshop on March 23 to train representatives of the districts to familiarise them to the dashboard and its functioning, including data input, verification and presentation. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the 'Transformation of Aspirational Districts' programme in January to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts of the country. 

  • Supreme Court order on SC/ST Atrocities Act
    Government decides to file a review petition in the Supreme Court in connection with the Apex Court's order on SC / ST Atrocities Act; Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot reiterates, the Government is committed to welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

    Government has decided to file a review petition in the Supreme Court over the recent ruling on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 

    According to the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Thaawarchand Gehlot union government is committed for the welfare of the SCs and STs in the country. Recently, in its order, the Supreme Court had introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the Act while directing that there will be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law. Opposition parties as well as some NDA allies had raised the voices to file a review petition in the matter. 

  • Supreme Court asks Centre to frame a model scheme in six months for welfare of construction workers
    The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to frame a model scheme, before 30th September, to address the issues of education, health, social security and pension for construction workers. 

    A bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta said construction workers build not just infrastructure, but also the nation. 

    The bench also directed all states and Union Territories to constitute an expert committee and bring out statutory rules in this regard in a time-bound manner. 

    It said the exercise should be completed preferably within six months and in any event by 30th September. The court posted the matter for hearing on 1st May. 

  • Supreme Court caps fee charged by High Courts for information under RTI law at 50 rupees
    The Supreme Court has capped the fee charged by High Courts for responding to queries filed under the RTI Act at 50 rupees per application, bringing cheers to activists seeking information under the transparency law. 

    The bench comprising Justices A K Goel, R F Nariman and U U Lait also asked the High Courts not to force applicants to disclose the reason for seeking information under the Right to Information law. 

    The bench passed the order on a batch of petitions challenging the RTI rules of various High courts, and other authorities like the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, which imposed exorbitant fees for application and photocopying. 

  • 39 Indians have been killed in Iraq 
    Giving a detailed account of government's efforts to trace the 39 missing Indians in Iraq, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed Parliament as soon as she got the information, that she had conclusive proof that they had been found killed in Iraq. 

    Government had not kept the families of murdered Indians in dark, but had waited to be absolutely certain before pronouncing them dead. She said government not aware about the date of their deaths. The dead include 27 from Punjab, four from Himachal Pradesh, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal. 

    On 20th March, Sushma Swaraj confirmed in Rajya Sabha that out of 40 Indians kidnapped in 2014 by ISIS in Iraq, 39 have been killed while one of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh. 

    Deep penetration radar confirmed the death of the hostages. Their mortal remains were exhumed and sent to Baghdad for DNA sample verification. 

    These people who lost their lives were construction workers from Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal. 

  • Union Cabinet approves launch of Ayushman Bharat- National Health Protection mission
    The Union Cabinet has approved the launch of Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection mission. 

    The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 21st March

    The Scheme has the benefit cover of 5 lakh rupees per family per year. The target beneficiaries under the scheme will be over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families. The benefits of the scheme are portable across the country. 

    A beneficiary will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public and private empanelled hospitals across the country. 

    The scheme will subsume the ongoing centrally sponsored schemes- Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and senior citizen health insurance scheme. 

  • Health Ministry Jagat Prakash Nadda grants approval for admission under Disabilities Quota
    In accordance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the percentage of seats for admission to PG medical courses to be filled up by persons with disabilities has been increased from 3% to 5%.

    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has granted approval to amend the regulation in order to expand the scope of persons with disabilities getting benefit of reservation. 

    The benefit will accrue to all 21 benchmark disabilities as per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Accordingly, the software used by DGHS for central counseling has also been amended to allow registration of all such candidates. 

    Registration/allotment of seats would be followed by a medical examination to ascertain the level of Disability before finally granting admission to candidates selected under the reserved quota. 

  • Union Cabinet Decisions
    Inclusion of Parivara and Talawara communities in list of STs in Karnataka
    Union Cabinet has given in principle approval to the inclusion of two communities in Karnataka in the list of Scheduled Tribes. Parivara and Talawara will be synonyms of "Nayaka" in the list of STs in Karnataka. 

    An official statement said, the decision will fulfill a long-term demand of the Parivara and Talawara communities for Scheduled Tribe status in Karnataka. 

    Final extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes
    Cabinet approved the second and final extension of the term of the Commission constituted to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes in the Central List, beyond 27th of March this year for a period of twelve weeks to 20th June. 

    Keeping in view the voluminous data obtained by the Commission from all quarters and the time required for a scientific analysis of the data to prepare a comprehensive report, it has sought extension of its term. 

    Continuation of the National Health Mission
    Cabinet approved the continuation of the National Health Mission (NHM) with effect from 1st April 2017 to 31st of March 2020 with a budgetary support of over 85 thousand crore rupees as Central Share over this period. 

    It will boost the health infrastructure. The NHM will continue to strengthen the public health systems, particularly in high priority districts that include aspirational districts. 

    Amendments in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016
    Cabinet approved moving of official amendments in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016. The bill, proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories. 

    The proposed legislation ensures effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian infertile couples. 

    Continuation of the Prime Minister’s Development Package for Jammu and Kashmir 2015
    Cabinet approved continuation of the Prime Minister’s Development Package for Jammu and Kashmir 2015 - “Stepping up of support under creation of Infrastructure in District Hospitals, Sub-district Hospitals and Primary Health Centers over 5 years with budgetary support of over 625 crore rupees. It will be effective from 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2020. 

    North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017
    Cabinet approved the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017 with financial outlay of 3,000 crore rupees upto March, 2020. 

    Government will provide necessary allocations for remaining period of scheme after assessment before March 2020. 

    NEIDS is a combination of the incentives covered under the earlier two schemes with a much larger outlay. 

    In order to promote employment in the North East States, Government is incentivising primarily the MSME Sector through this scheme and is also providing specific incentive through it to generate employment. 

    Double taxation avoidance agreement between India and Qatar 
    Cabinet approved revision of double taxation avoidance agreement between India and Qatar. The existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Qatar was signed on April 7, 1999, and came into force on January 15, 2000. 

    The revised DTAA updates the provisions for exchange of information to latest standard, includes Limitation of Benefits provision to prevent treaty shopping and aligns other provisions with India's recent treaties. 

    Opening of 18 new Indian Missions in Africa
    Cabinet also approved the opening of 18 new Indian Missions in Africa over a four year period from 2018 to 2021. The decision will enhance India's diplomatic outreach in the African continent and allow India to engage with Indian diaspora in African countries. 

    With this, the number of Resident Indian Missions in Africa will go up from 29 to 47. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a scheme called Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry from 2017-18 to 2019-20 at a cost of over 2,161 crore rupees. 

    The scheme has four major components which includes Research and Development, Seed Organizations and farmers extension centres, Coordination and Market Development for seed, yarn and silk products. 

    The scheme will be implemented by Ministry of Textiles through the Central Silk Board. The scheme will promote Women Empowerment and livelihood opportunities to SC, ST and other weaker sections of the society. 

    Continuation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan
    The CCEA gave its approval for continuation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) from 1st of April 2017 to 31st of March 2020. 

    The Abhiyan seeks to increase the gross enrollment ratio of the country to 30 per cent by 2020. It also seeks to increase the spending on higher education by the State governments. 

    The scheme, in its 2nd phase, aims at creating 70 new model degree colleges and 8 new professional colleges. 

  • Government decides to declare 2018 as National Year of Millets
    The government has decided to declare 2018 as 'National Year of Millets to boost the cultivation of millets like ragi and jowar on a mission mode to achieve nutritional security. 

    This was stated by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh. The Minister said millet cultivation has declined due to change in dietary habits and unavailability of millets. As a result of this, level of nutrients like proteins, Vitamin-A, iron and iodine fell in women and children. 

    He said this has led to a special focus on millets, which are being promoted under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM). The push will promote cultivation of jowar, bajra, ragi. Under NFSM, maize and jau are also promoted separately. 

  • Delhi High Court sets aside Centre's notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs
    The Delhi High Court on 23rd March set aside the Centre's notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs in the office-of-profit case. The bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar remanded the plea of AAP MLAs back to the Election Commission which will hear it afresh. 

    Terming the Election Commission's recommendation on disqualification as vitiated, the bench said, there was a violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Delhi Assembly. 

  • Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot launched the first Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary 
    Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot on 23rd March launched the first Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary of three thousand words at a function in New Delhi. 

    The basic aim of developing the ISL Dictionary is to remove communications barriers between the deaf and hearing communities as it is focused on providing more information in Indian sign language. 

    Its aim is to give deaf people the constitutional right to speech and opportunity of freedom of expression and also bringing them into the mainstream of the society. 

    The dictionary has been developed by Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. 

    The Minister said that soon many new words will be added in this dictionary. He also said, the ISL dictionary has focused on providing more information in Indian Sign Language and hoped that more and more people use this dictionary and get the benefit. 

  • 14 years jail to Lalu Prasad Yadav in fourth fodder scam case
    RJD President and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad has been sentenced to 14 years in jail in the fourth fodder scam case. A special CBI court in Ranchi awarded him a 7-year imprisonment under Indian Penal Code and another 7 years under Prevention of Corruption Act. The court also imposed 60 lakh rupees as fine. 

    The court was pronouncing the quantum of punishment for all the 19 convicts in the case. All the convicts were present through video conferencing. 

    The case relates to fraudulent withdrawals of over 3 crore rupees from December 1995 to January 1996 from the Dumka treasury. 

    The court had, convicted Lalu Prasad after finding him guilty on the charges of conspiracy and corruption in the case. The RJD Chief is already serving a jail term in Ranchi's Birsa Munda Central Jail since last December after his conviction in three other fodder scam cases. 

  • Telangana Legislative Assembly passed a bill making teaching and learning Telugu compulsory in the state
    The Telangana Legislative Assembly on 24th March passed a bill making teaching and learning Telugu compulsory in the state. The Telangana (Compulsory Teaching and Learning of Telugu in Schools) Act, 2018 was supported by all parties, including BJP, TDP, AIMIM and CPI (M). 

    According to the Act, Telugu shall be taught as a compulsory subject from Classes 1 to 10 in all schools, commencing from the academic year, 2018-19 in a phased manner. 

    It said the schools affiliated to the CBSE, ICSE, IB or Cambridge Boards in Telangana shall implement the Telugu language as provided in the Act. 

  • PM Narendra Modi announces solar technology mission for research & development in the sector
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on 11th March co-chaired the first Founding Conference of International Solar Alliance, ISA at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The one day summit seeks to mobilise one trillion dollars of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy. 

    Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Modi stressed on inclusiveness and presented 10 action points. 

    These include making affordable solar technology available to all nations, raising the share of electricity generated from photovoltaic cells in the energy mix and framing regulations and standards to support the initiative. 

    He said solar energy policy should contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals, SDGs. 

    The Prime Minister also called for concessional financing and less-risky funds for solar projects to raise the share of solar power in the energy basket provide cheaper electricity and cut carbon emissions. He said India will generate 175 gigawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2022. 

    This would be more than double the present renewable energy capacity and would be enough to overtake renewable expansion in the European Union for the first time. 

    The Prime Minister said, of the 121 countries, 61 have joined the alliance and 32 have ratified the Framework Agreement. 

    The ISA is the first treaty-based inter governmental organisation to be based in India. 

  • Maharashtra farmers call off protest after state government conceded most for their demands
    The farmers’ agitation in Maharashtra was called off on 12th March after the state government conceded most for their demands and agreed to implement the conditions agreed upon in the next six months. 

    A 12-member delegation representing farmers met a ministers’ committee. It was given a letter, signed by the chief secretary, in which the government agreed to address complaints and appeals under the Forest Act, 2006, in the next two months and relax some of the conditions for loan-waiver eligibility. 

    The government also agreed to issue ration cards to farmers in tribal areas immediately to help them prove their land claims. 

    Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the farmers that he will take up with the Centre the matter of minimum support price (MSP) at one-and-a-half times the cost of production as suggested by the Swaminathan committee. 

    Some of the other main demands were an unconditional farm loan waiver, as some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government’s initiative last year, and transfer of forest land to tribal farmers who have been tilling it for years. 

    The Forest Act, which came into force in 2006, led to farmers losing their rights over land on which they continued farming.
    • Now, the government has assured that their claims would be decided on in six months.
    • Other demands include irrigation facilities and tweaks to land acquisition laws.
    • The government has assured farmers this will be looked into.
    • Fadnavis told the farmers that land acquisition for the Mumbai-Nagpur corridor and other major projects such as the bullet train would be through consent and a fair mechanism.
    • As far as farm loan waiver was concerned, three-fourths of the claims had already been met.

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches campaign to eradicate TB from India by 2025
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13th March launched a campaign to eradicate Tuberculosis, TB from India by 2025, five years ahead of a globally-set deadline. 

    After inaugurating the Delhi End-TB Summit in New Delhi, the Prime Minister launched the TB-free India Campaign to take the activities under the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination forward in a mission mode for ending the epidemic. 

    A target has been set to end TB globally by 2030 and Government of India has set aim to eradicate it from India five years ahead by 2025. 

    TB was declared emergency by WHO 25 years ago and India has come a long way in the fight against Tuberculosis. 

    TB is responsible for 1.7 million deaths in 2016, despite most cases being curable while over 10 million people contract TB every year. 

  • Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio wins vote of confidence
    Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio on 13th March won the vote to prove majority on the floor of the House. On invitation from the Speaker, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio moved the motion to prove People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), headed by him has the majority in the House of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. 

    Maintaining that since the House had newly sat, there was no requirement for any discussion, Speaker Yoshu put the motion to signature voting. 

    Rio won the confidence of the House with all 33 NDPP-led PDA members in the 60 member House voting in his favour, while the 26 NPF legislators voted against him. The Speaker did not cast his vote. 

  • Centre forms Tribunal to solve Mahanadi Water dispute between Odisha & Chhattisgarh
    The Centre has constituted a three-member Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal to adjudicate the dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over sharing the river's water. 

    Supreme Court Judge AM Khanwilkar will be the Chairman of the tribunal, with Justice Ravi Ranjan of the Patna High Court and Justice Indermeet Kaur Kochhar of the Delhi High Court being the other two members. 

    The Tribunal, which will have its headquarters in Delhi, has been constituted following the Supreme Court orders in January in a suit filed by the Odisha Government. 

    The apex court had sought to refer the dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956

  • Telangana Assembly speaker Madhusudhana chary expels two Congress MLAs, suspends 11 for unruly behavior
    Telangana Assembly speaker Madhusudhanachary on 13th March expelled two congress members from the house and suspended 11 more Congress members, including the leader of the opposition Janareddy, from the rest of the session for their alleged unruly behavior during Governor's speech on 12th March. 

    Six Congress members have also been suspended from the Legislative Council for the rest of the budget session. 

    Komatireddy Venkatreddy and Sampath Kumar were expelled from the Assembly following their unruly behavior on 12th March.
    • They allegedly injured Legislative Council Chairman Swamy Gowd by hurling a headphone when the Governor was delivering his address to the Joint session of Legislature on the first day of the Budget Session. Eleven other Congress members were also suspended for their alleged misbehaviour during the same time.

  • Strength of women judges be raised to 50 per cent recommends Bhupender Yadav panel
    A parliamentary panel has recommended that the strength of women judges be raised to 50 per cent of the total strength of judges. 

    The Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice headed by Bhupender Yadav presented its report in Parliament to this effect on 13th March

    It called up the Centre to request the State Governments to introduce quota for women in law universities and subordinate judiciary. 

    The Committee desired that all Benches of the higher judiciary should be reflective of the country’s social diversity. 

    The Committee underlines that in States, such as Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Assam, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have introduced up to 35 percent reservations for women in the subordinate judiciary. 

  • Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley declines 3 per cent GDP allocation for Defence 
    The Finance Ministry has declined a recommendation from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence to have a fixed allocation of 3% of GDP for the Defence Ministry, a report of the Committee has stated. 

    The recommendation of the Standing Committee for keeping a definite percent of GDP was referred to MoF for their consideration, the same was not approved by MoF

    The Committee has on several occasions expressed favour for having a benchmark percentage of GDP earmarked for deciding on the allocation to the defence sector to continue modernisation. 

    Thus, defence expenditure as definite percentage of total government expenditure/GDP cannot be ensured considering the fact the resource allocations are made on need basis.” 

    Finance Ministry further added that rationalisation of the expenditure is the prime objective of the government while finalising the revised estimates during mid-year review. 

    The Vice Chief of Army Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand has deposed before the Committee that this year’s budgetary allocation has dashed their hopes, and the capital allocation does not even cater for the committee liabilities for the year. 

  • Nitin Gadkari inaugurates fifth 'Nadi Mahotsava' in Hoshangabad 
    Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari on 16th March inaugurated the 5th 'Nadi Mahotsava' in Hoshangabad District of Madhya Pradesh. 

    Nadi Mahotsava started by late Union Minister Anil Madhav Dave will not only revive rivers, but also improve the condition of people living on their banks. 

  • Haryana Assembly third State for capital punishment to sexual offenders
    The Haryana Assembly on 15th March unanimously passed a Bill which provides for death penalty to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less. 

    After Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Haryana has become the third State where the Assembly has approved the provision of capital punishment for such sexual offenders, the House was informed. 

  • Parliamentary Panel asks Centre to make five-year military service must for new government officers
    Taking note of alarming shortage of officers and other ranks in the armed forces, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has recommended five-year compulsory military service for those aspiring for gazetted jobs in the state and central governments. 

    It comes after the Centre told the panel that the Defence Ministry had sent a recommendation to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to make military service of five years compulsory for those aiming for direct recruitment in the central and state government services. 

    The Standing Committee's report tabled in Parliament this week said the government had informed it that the "recommendation regarding providing five years of compulsory military service to such aspirants... with a view to overcome the shortage of officers in the armed forces, has been taken up with the DoPT." 

    The panel, however, rapped the Defence Ministry, saying that "apparently, the Ministry of Defence has not taken up the matter with due seriousness with the DoPT". 

    The committee, while recommending five-year compulsory military service to such aspirants, has taken into account the fact that there is a perennial and alarming shortage of officers and PBOR (Personnel Below Officer Rank) in the armed forces, which needs to be corrected. The committee, once again expresses the desire that the issue of shortage of officers needs to be given priority for being addressed

    There is a shortage of 7,679 officers and 20,185 Junior Commissioned Officers/Other Ranks in Army; 1,434 officers and 14,730 sailors in Navy; and 146 officers and 15,357 airmen in the Indian Air Force. 

    As per the information furnished in another report of the committee, in case of Army officers, the sanctioned strength is 49,932 whereas the held strength is 42,253. 

    With regard to JCOs/ORs, the existing strength is 11,94,864 as against an authorised strength of 12,15,049. 

    In the Navy, against a sanctioned strength of 11,827 officers, the strength is 10,384. In case of naval personnel, the present strength is 57,310 against a sanctioned strength of 71,656 men. 

    In the IAF, the sanctioned strength of officers is 12,549 while the actual personnel figure is 12,340. In the case of airmen, the present sanctioned strength is 1,42,529 while the present strength is 1,27,510. 

  • UIDAI alerted public while sharing Aadhaar number online
    The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has asked people to take due precautions while sharing their personal information such as Aadhaar number on the internet for availing any service. 

    In a statement, UIDAI asserted the robustness of the Aadhaar identity system. It said, publication or posting of Aadhaar cards on internet by some unscrupulous people have absolutely no bearing on UIDAI and not the least on Aadhaar security. 

    The nodal body, which issues the 12 digit biometric identifier, emphasized that just like any other identity document, Aadhaar too is not confidential document. 

    UIDAI argued that mere knowledge about someone's Aadhaar card is not sufficient to impersonate that person as biometric authentication is needed to establish ones identity. 

    It also said, publication of someone's personal information does not threaten or impact security of Aadhaar and its database which remains safe and secure. 

    The statement by UIDAI come in backdrop of reports claiming that information about Aadhaar may be available from third party websites, and that a Google search may lead to Aadhaar details of several people. 

  • NDPP-BJP alliance and NPF stake claim to form govt in Nagaland
    NDPP-BJP alliance Chief Ministerial candidate Neiphui Rio on 4th March staked claim to form the government in Nagaland. In this regard, Mr Rio called on the Governor of Nagaland, PB Acharaya at Raj Bhavan in Kohima, and handed over the letter of support from BJP, JD(U) and Independent legislators. 

    A press release issued by the Office of Mr Rio said that the handing over the letter of support was done in the presence of BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav, newly elected JD (U) MLA G. 

    Kaito Aye and newly elected Independent MLA Tongpang. NDPP President Chingwang Konyak, BJP Nagaland State Unit President Visasolie Lhongou and others were also present on the occasion. 

  • Central government sets up committee headed by Subhash Chandra Garg to study issues in Fintech space
    The government has set up a steering committee to consider various issues relating to the development of Fintech space in India with a view to make Fintech related regulations more flexible and generate enhanced entrepreneurship. 

    The move is a follow up to the announcement made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech of 2018-19. The eight-member committee headed by Economic Affairs Secretary, Subhash Chandra Garg will also focus on how Fintech can be leveraged to enhance financial inclusion of MSMEs. 

    According to the terms and reference, the Committee will take stock of the developments in the fintech sector globally, and in India. It will also work with Government agencies like UIDAI to explore creation and use of unique enterprise identification number. 

  • Multi-national Naval Exercise 'Milan-2018' 
    The Andaman Nicobar command of the Indian Navy is organising the biennial get-together of foreign navies, called 'Milan-2018' at Port Blair from 6th March. 

    The command has been organising the get-together since 1995. Altogether sixteen countries are participating in the biennial exercise which will conclude on thirteen March. 

    During multilateral Exercise at sea with an aim to enhance regional cooperation for combating Unlawful Activities at sea will be organised. An international maritime seminar cultural and social exchange, band concert, ship visit, sports and city parade are the highlights of Milan 2018. 

    For the first time, Oman is also participating in this exercise. 38 delegates from the sixteen participating countries, making it the largest gathering since its inception in 1995. 

  • Iran signs deal with China to connect key port to rail network
    China will build a train line connecting the Iranian port of Bushehr to the rest of the country's railway network under a 700 million USW dollar deal signed on 7th March. The agreement was inked in Tehran in the presence of Iranian Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi and officials from China Machinery Industry Construction Group. 

    It will see the group build a 400-kilometre railway line between the Gulf port and the southern city of Shiraz. 

    This would complete the "North-South Railway Corridor" in line with Iran's goal of becoming a transport hub for goods between the Gulf, the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Central Asia. China is Iran's biggest economic and trading partner. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches National Nutrition Mission 
    PM Modi launches National Nutrition Mission and expansion of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' campaign to mark the International Women's Day celebrations in the country. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8th March inaugurated the pan-India expansion of flagship programme--Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao. 

    Giving a fillip to the Government's initiative to save and educate the girl child, the programme expanded from the existing 161 districts to 640 districts all over the country. 

    Prime Minister also launched the National Nutrition Mission nationwide. He said that this will be executed in a mission mode using technology for maximum benefits. 

  • SC allows passive euthanasia, recognises ‘living will’ of terminally ill patients
    In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on 9th March allowed the 'living will' made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on a petition seeking recognition of the 'living will', allowed passive euthanasia for patients with terminal-illness, with guidelines and procedures. 

    The bench, comprising justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan also laid down guidelines as to who would execute the will and how the nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. 

    The top court said that directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue. The 'living will' is a concept where a man or woman decides in much advance whether he or she wants to be kept on life support or vegetative condition, in case of a terminal illness. 

  • PM inaugurates two-day National Legislators Conference on ‘We For Development
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10th March inaugurated a two-day National Legislators Conference at the Central Hall of Parliament House. 

    The motive of the conference is to bring MPs and MLAs on a single platform where ideas and plans for development can be exchanged. Role of public representatives in development and optimum use of resources will be the subjects on agenda for discussions. 

    The conference will hold discussions on how women help in the development work being done for the country where ideas on projects and plans can be debated. 

    NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will give a presentation on the first day and the plenary will be presided over by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai while Union Minister Nitin Gadkari will preside over the conference on the second day. Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu will address the concluding session. 

  • Sridevi died of accidental drowning, says report
    UAE government's forensic report says, veteran cine actor Sridevi died of accidental drowning. According to the Forensic Report, traces of alcohol were also found in the blood. 

    The Report suggests that Sridevi died of accidental drowning in the bathtub of her hotel apartment after losing consciousness. Initial reports suggested that she died of cardiac arrest. 

    Meanwhile, Dubai Police has transferred the case to local Public Prosecution, which will carry out regular legal procedures followed in such cases. The actor's body will only be released on advise of the Public Prosecution. 

    Indian Consulate is currently working closely with the local authorities to expedite the repatriation procedures. 

  • Andaman and Nicobar Command to host Milan 2018
    The second week of March will witness Andaman & Nicobar Command hosting a multinational mega event MILAN 2018. MILAN is a congregation of littoral navies conducted biennially by Indian Navy at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command. 

    Besides fostering co-operation through naval exercises and professional interactions, MILAN also provides an excellent opportunity to the participating navies to come together in a spirit of collaboration and mutual understanding to nurture stronger ties. 

    MILAN made modest beginnings more than two decades ago when it was first held in 1995. The first edition saw participation of four littoral navies. 

    The event achieved strident success during the ensuing years owing to high standards of professional content of the event. The growing participation over the years bears testimony to the success of this multilateral initiative. 

    From an event of sub- regional context, MILAN has now grown into a prestigious international event and encompasses participation by maritime forces from not just the Bay of Bengal and South East Asia but the larger Indian Ocean Region (lOR). 

    MILAN 2018 is being held at Port Blair from 06 March to 13 March 2018. With the underlying theme of 'Friendship Across the Seas', MILAN 2018 will witness a diverse mix of professional exercises and seminars, social events and sporting fixtures. 

    The interactions during MILAN encompass sharing of views and ideas on maritime good - order and enhancing regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea. 

    The theme of this year’s MILAN International Maritime Seminar is ‘In Pursuit of Maritime Good Order - Need for Comprehensive Information Sharing Apparatus’. 

  • All India Radio and National Book Trust sign MoU to preserve and promote cultural heritage
    All India Radio and National Book Trust, NBT, on 27th February signed a MoU to preserve and promote cultural heritage and folk songs sung on various occasion across the country. Several traditional and folk songs have been recorded under the Akashvani Lok Sampada Sanrakhshan Mahapariyojana. 

    The MoU was inked in presence of Director General, All India Radio, F. Shehreyar and National Book Trust Chairman, Baldeo Bhai Sharma in New Delhi. 

    Through, NBT, All India Radio will provide information to people about the rich heritage of folk songs preserved by it. The NBT will publish the Sanskar and folk songs. 

  • Union Cabinet approves Trafficking of Persons Bill
    The Cabinet on 28th March approved Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 for introduction in Parliament. 

    The Bill broadly addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation. 

    In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment and forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for the crime. 

    The Bill has provision for time-bound trial and repatriation of the victims within a period of one year from taking into cognizance. It also focuses on immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. 

    A rehabilitation fund has been created for the first time which will be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care, psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation etc. 

    Designated courts in each district will be established for the speedy trial of the cases. The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central Level. 

    These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. 

    National Investigation Agency will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the Home Ministry. The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. 

    The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations. 

    The Bill has the provision of punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of a person which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements, or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies. The punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than 1 lakh rupees. 

  • Central Government approves Rs 2900 crore to make cities safer for women
    Women and Child Development Ministry has approved projects worth over Rs 2,900 crore under the Nirbhaya fund for eight major cities to make them safer for women. These cities are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. The decision was taken after a meeting of Empowered Committee, which is headed by Women and Child Development Secretary. 

  • 10 Maoists killed in encounter on Telangana-Chhattisgarh border
    The encounter, a joint operation by the Telangana and Chhattisgarh Police took place in the Pujari Kanker forests under Pamed police station area, around 500 km from Raipur. A greyhound commando of Telangana Police was martyred in the gunfight. 

    Based on an intelligence report about a gathering of a large group of ultras, the Greyhounds personnel launched an operation on the Maoist camp as part of a joint operation with the Chhattisgarh Police. 

    At least 10 bodies have been recovered along with some automatic weapons. GreyHounds is a special force of the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh which undertakes operations against Naxals. 

    Police have confirmed that at least 6 of the killed maoists were women. Police suspect that there could be senior cadre members among the ultra killed. 

  • BJP wins in Tripura; Hung assemblies in Nagaland, Meghalaya
    Major surge for BJP in North East, record Historic win in Tripura, 25 year old left ends, BJP coalition also set to form government in Nagaland, no party gets majority in Meghalaya. Prime Minister Modi terms this in a series of tweets as win for the development agenda. 

    Putting up a remarkable show, the BJP and its alliance partner Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, IPFT surge ahead of the ruling CPI-M led Left Front in the counting of votes for 59 Assembly constituencies in Tripura. 

    BJP has got an absolute majority on its own getting 35 seats. Indigenous People's Front Of Tripura bagged 8 seats. While CPI(M) has got 16 seats. 

    Victory celebrations erupted in BJP state office in Agartala as the news of BJP emerging victorious in Tripura polls poured in. 

    In Nagaland, BJP and its alliance NDPP have crossed halfway mark in the state. Bharatiya Janata Party got 11 while its ally Naga Peoples Front bagged 27 seats in the state. While NDPP won 15 seats


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