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Current Events 11 May 2017

 

NEWS

11 May 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Funds to parties: Govt. may amend FCRA again

2.

GS II: POLITY- JUDICIARY

Supreme Court plans to go paperless

3.

GS II: BILATERAL -INDIA - CANADA

India protests Canadian PM's presence at ‘Khalsa Day'

4.

GS II : SOCIAL- HEALTH

Multidrug-resistant TB will rise in India, says new study

5.

GS II: POLITY- JUDICIARY

Don't insist on Aadhaar for 17 govt. schemes, says petition in SC

6.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Trump fires FBI chief amid Russia probe

7.

GS II : REGULATORS

Rail regulator to define performance standards

8.

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Centre mulls financial assistance to fisherfolk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Funds to parties: Govt. may amend FCRA again

  • After being pulled up by the Delhi High Court for not initiating any action against the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which received foreign funds from two subsidiaries of Vedanta, a U.K.-based company, the Home Ministry will seek the Attorney-General's opinion to amend the repealed Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) 1976, which barred foreign donations to political parties.
  • The Representation of the People Act and the FCRA bar political parties from receiving foreign funds.
  • In 2016, the NDA government had amended the FCRA through the Finance Bill route, which allowed foreign-origin companies to fund NGOs here and also cleared the way for donations to political parties by changing the definition of "foreign companies."
  • The glitch was that although the amendment was done retrospectively it only made valid the foreign donations received after 2010, the year when the 1976 Act was replaced.
  • The retrospective amendment did not apply to donations prior to 2010 and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a political watchdog, moved a contempt petition against the Home Ministry in March 2017 pointing out that the directives of the High Court against the two political parties which received foreign funds were not followed.
  • Both the Congress and the BJP have been charged with illegally receiving foreign funds for political activities from Vedanta from 2004 to 2012.
  • The Delhi High Court had held that the donations were illegal in 2014, but the two parties challenged the order in the Supreme Court but later withdrew the petition.
  • The offence attracts an imprisonment of five years and fine or both to persons who assisted the political parties to receive the funds.
  • A senior Home Ministry official said that after the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms were progressively relaxed, there have been anomalies regarding the definition of "foreign companies" under the FCRA which were never corrected.
  • The original FCRA provision, which declared that any company with over 50 per cent FDI was a foreign entity, was inconsistent with the view of the Finance and Commerce ministries, which treated companies based in India and having Indian directors and employees as Indian subsidiaries.

 

GS II: POLITY- JUDICIARY

Supreme Court plans to go paperless

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 May 2017 inaugurated a significant step being taken by the Supreme Court: one that will take it from a being a paper court to becoming a digital court.
  • Millions of litres of water and thousands of trees can be saved.
  • Ten litres of water was used to make one A4 size paper, he said.
  • The Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS) will allow a litigant to digitally file a case and watch its progress on a realtime basis.
  • The system will help litigants access data and retrieve information online.
  • It will be a step towards a paperless Supreme Court.
  • Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said he proposed to integrate the system with all the 24 High Courts and the subordinate courts.
  • It would help usher in transparency, reduce manipulation and help the litigant track the progress of a case on a realtime basis.
  • Over 61,000 cases are pending in the apex court, while the 24 High Courts have 38.70 lakh pending cases, government data shows.
  • Addressing the gathering, Mr. Modi said the decision of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to sit during the summer break would help the poor get justice.


GS II: BILATERAL -INDIA - CANADA

India protests Canadian PM's presence at ‘Khalsa Day'

  • India indicated that it has taken up the issue of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's attendance at a Sikh community event in Toronto that saw a felicitation of separatist elements again, after earlier protests on similar issues appear to have gone unheeded by the government.
  • On April 30, Mr. Trudeau addressed a parade for ‘Khalsa Day', which included floats glorifying Sikh militant leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Amreek Singh and former General Shahbeg Singh who were killed in the siege of the Golden Temple and Operation Bluestar in June 1984.
  • The procession, organised by the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council, also felicitated the legislator from Mr. Trudeau's Liberal Party, Harinder Kaur Malhi who had moved a resolution on "genocide" against India for the anti-Sikh riots of November 1984, that was passed by the Ontario Assembly on April 6, 2017.

 

GS II : SOCIAL- HEALTH

Multidrug-resistant TB will rise in India, says new study

  • A month after the Health Ministry set itself the target of eliminating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, a new study in the medical journal Lancet says that India's TB crisis is likely to get worse.
  • Multidrug Resistant-Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a version of the disease where patients do not respond to first-line drugs, will become more common than it is now.
  • The report projects that, by 2040, the percentage of MDR-TB will make up 32.5% of all TB cases in Russia, 12.4% of the TB cases in India, 8.9% of the TB cases in the Philippines, and 5.7% of all TB cases in South Africa.
  • Not only does India shoulder the highest TB burden in the world, with over 2 million of the 10 million reported cases, it also accounts for the most drug-resistant patients - nearly 1.3 lakh people who do not respond to first-line drugs.
  • Nearly 40% of all drug-resistant cases occur in Russia, India, the Philippines, and South Africa - accounting for more than 230,000 cases of drug-resistant disease in 2015.
  • Two new TB drugs, Bedaquiline and Delamanid are being used in Europe and the U.S. for several years.
  • But they are yet to be made available in India's national healthcare system.
  • The drug is available only in six sites across the country, and according to the Health Ministry's TB report released on 5 May 2017, only 207 of the 79,000 patients who need the drug have access to it.

 

GS II: POLITY- JUDICIARY

Don't insist on Aadhaar for 17 govt. schemes, says petition in SC

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a joint petition filed by Magsaysay award winner Shanta Sinha and feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon for a stay of more than 17 government schemes insisting Aadhaar for availing benefits of midday meals, disability pension, Bhopal gas tragedy victims, among other programmes.
  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocates Vipin Nair and P.B. Suresh to approach the Chief Justice of India to tag the petition along with the batch scheduled to be heard by a Constitution Bench.
  • The petition said the UIDAI platform that is the Aadhaar database was being utilised to affect each and every aspect of the individual life - from holding a valid PAN card, filing income tax returns, maintaining a bank account, getting scholarship, giving examination, admissions to colleges, domestic air travel, to having a mobile phone connection.
  • The petition argued that mandatory requirement of Aadhaar for these schemes "constricts rights and freedoms which citizens have long been enjoying unless and until they part with their personal biometric information to the government."
  • Accordingly, from July 1, 2017, an individual who is not willing to part with personal biometric information will be denied social benefits which he or she is entitled to on the sole basis of non-production of an Aadhaar number, the plea said.
  • The petition termed the Aadhaar Act of 2016 unconstitutional.
  • It was passed on March 11, 2016 by the Lok Sabha when the attendance was merely 73 out of the total 543 members.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL USA

Trump fires FBI chief amid Russia probe

  • President Donald Trump on 9 May 2017 dismissed James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sparking criticism by Republicans and Democrats that the move could undermine the integrity of an ongoing agency investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • The President cited Mr. Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason behind his decision.
  • Senior lawmakers of both parties called for an independent prosecutor or a special Congressional committee to investigate Russian meddling and its possible links with Trump associates.
  • Mr. Comey, a Republican, was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2013, with a 10-year-tenure.
  • Mr. Trump had earlier fired acting Attorney-General Sally Yates for refusing to defend his executive order that barred travel from several Muslim-majority countries and federal attorney for New York Southern District Preet Bharara after he refused to resign, unlike all other federal prosecutors, following a White House demand.
  • Former President Bill Clinton fired FBI director William S. Sessions in 1993, and this is the second time an FBI chief has been fired.
  • Mr. Comey's conduct in recent months as he oversaw two politically sensitive investigations - against Hillary Clinton for unauthorised use of a private server as Secretary of State and on Russian attempts to influence the election allegedly to favour Mr. Trump in 2016 - has won him approval and disapproval from parties, as and when it suited them.

 

GS II : REGULATORY BODIES

Rail regulator to define performance standards

  • India's first rail regulator, Rail Development Authority (RDA), would not just look at tariff structures for passenger and freight operations but also set standards of performance and efficiency that would be enforceable under the Railways Act.
  • "RDA can define standards of performance and efficiency; such standards would be notified as rules under the Railway Act to give a binding force upon acceptance," said a resolution dated May 5 approved by the Railways Board, inching a step closer toward setting up a rail regulator.
  • "The regulator will provide guidance on quantity and quality of service provided to passengers. These may include setting standards including hours of service, frequency of trains, capacity per coach, cleanliness level, and quality of water, food, furnishing and linen," said a senior Railway Ministry official.
  • The Union Cabinet had last month approved setting up the rail regulator responsible for recommending passenger fares, setting performance standards for rail operations and creating a level playing policy for private sector participation.
  • The resolution states that the regulator will be mandated to "suggest measures for absorbing new technologies for achieving desired efficiency and performance standards."
  • The Railway Board also defined the structure of the RDA with a Chairman along with three members each for tariff, public private partnership and efficiency, standards and benchmarking.
  • The regulator will, however, not involve itself in policy making of the Indian Railways, operations and maintenance of the rail system, financial management, setting technical standards and compliance of safety standards, the resolution said.
  • It clarified that the regulator would only make recommendations on tariff and not impose a tariff on the Indian Railways.

 

 

 

GS II: GOVERNANCE POLICY

Centre mulls financial assistance to fisherfolk

  • With about four million people - mainly small-scale and artisanal fishers - in India depending on marine fisheries resources for livelihood, the Centre plans to provide them financial assistance and introduce norms to improve labour conditions in the sector.
  • However, it will ensure that the Indian fishing fleet does not engage in ‘Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated' (IUU) fishing, according to the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017.
  • The Indian marine fisheries account for an economic wealth of about Rs. 65,000 crore, according to the policy - meant to guide the coordination and management of India's marine fisheries during the next 10 years.
  • It noted that fishermen are having difficulties in availing institutional credit to buy fishing implements and crafts, and that the risky nature of returns has led to many fishermen falling into the debt trap of private financiers and middlemen.
  • Therefore, the Centre, with the help of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), will provide financial assistance to fishermen with liberal terms and conditions.
  • In addition, the Government will introduce new schemes to skill traditional fishermen.

National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 

  • The NPMF, 2017 is expected to meet the multi-dimensional and growing needs of the marine fisheries sector for the next one decade.
  • It will have an ‘Implementation Plan' that will specify the action points under each recommendation contained in the Policy.
  • These action points will be further elaborated with timelines for implementation, agencies responsible for the work and the likely sources of funds required for implementation.
  • The Implementation Plan will also have a ‘Monitoring and Evaluation' section that will address the timeliness and efficacy of implementation.
  • It is expected that through the implementation of this Policy, the marine fisheries sector in India will become a sustainable and well-managed entity, ensuring enhanced utilization of the harvest for human consumption; employment, gender equity and livelihoods; inter-generational equity and equality; provision of food security and nutrition; and creation of wealth and prosperity in the sector.
  • Mechanisms to achieve these objectives include Fisheries Management, Monitoring, Control and Surveillance, Fisheries Data and Research, Mariculture, Island Fisheries, Post-harvest & Processing ,Trade, Climate Change (Adaptation and new initiatives), Fisher Welfare, Social Security Nets & Institutional Credits, Gender Equity, Additional/Alternate Livelihoods, Blue Growth Initiative, International Agreements/Arrangements , Regional Cooperation, Governance and Institutional Aspects.
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