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Current Events 13 January 2017

 

NEWS 

13 JANUARY 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT - BIODIVERSITY

Fewer migratory birds at Najafgarh Lake this year

2.

GS II :  INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Relief for US firm in trademark dispute

3.

GS II : POLITY - ELECTION

Remove PM photos from hoardings: EC

4.

GS II: SOCIAL - EDUCATION

Review RTE Act: Niti Aayog

5.

GS II: SOCIAL - EDUCATION

UGC lists journals for granting academic points

6.

GS II :  POLITY - JUDICAIRY

SC refuses plea on alleged dilution of whistleblower law

7.

GS II : POLITY - JUDICIARY

Supreme Court: Jallikattu ban to stay

8.

GS III:  ECONOMY

Industrial output at 4-year high of 5.7% in November

9.

GS III:  ECONOMY

Retail inflation at two-year low

10.

GS III : S&T

Biodegradable bullets that sprout plants?

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT -BIODIVERSITY

Fewer migratory birds at Najafgarh Lake this year

  • The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2017, carried out at Najafgarh Lake by a team of volunteers accompanied by AWC Delhi State coordinator and ecologist T. K. Roy, has recorded a decline in the number and species of birds.
  • The AWC is part of the International Waterbird Census (IWC) of Wetlands International.
  • Experts hold global climate change responsible for change in the migration trend of birds as well the decline and shrinking of wetlands, due to which fewer birds are coming in.

Wetlands International

  • Wetlands International is the only global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands.
  • Wetlands International is dedicated to maintaining and restoring wetlands— for their environmental values as well as for the services they provide to people.
  • Head office is based in the Netherlands.

 

GS III :  S&T-  IT

Relief for US firm in trademark dispute

  • The Delhi High Court set aside an arbitration award by which an IT company registered in the US was denied relief against an Indian company using its trademark.
  • The issue was between  Thought-Works Inc., a company organized under the laws of Delaware, USA, that engaged in IT consulting and software development v/s Indian company, which  was using ‘ThoughtWorks’ as its domain name.
  • The arbitrator, National Internet Exchange of India, returned the finding saying that the US company had not satisfied the essential elements of a domain name dispute under the INDRP policy as it failed to show that the Indian company’s domain name was identical, or that it had no legitimate interest in it, and that the domain name was a registered trademark.
  • The Bench also noted that the arbitrator had failed to take note of the trademark registration certificate in favour of the US company.

National Internet Exchange of India

  • The National Internet Exchange of India is the neutral meeting point of the ISPs in India.
  • Its main purpose is to facilitate exchange of domestic Internet traffic between the peering ISP members.
  • This enables more efficient use of international bandwidth, saving foreign exchange.
  • It also improves the Quality of Services for the customers of member ISPs, by avoiding multiple international hops and thus reducing latency.


GS II : POLITY - ELECTION

Remove PM photos from hoardings: EC

  • The Election Commission wrote to the Cabinet Secretary calling for removal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph from hoardings at petrol pumps in Goa and in gas consumer certificates in Uttarakhand.
  • “The Commission had received a complaint that in Goa, hoardings with photographs of the Prime Minister were displayed at petrol pumps,” said the letter.
  • The EC said that it had also received a press clipping showing that certificates bearing the Prime Minister’s photograph were being distributed by oil companies to LPG consumers in Uttarakhand who had surrendered gas subsidy.
  • “This is not permissible under the Model Code of Conduct or under the ECI instructions.
  • You are requested to ensure that the instructions are brought to the notice of all concerned for strict compliance in letter and spirit,” the Commission told the Cabinet Secretary.

 

GS II: SOCIAL - EDUCATION

Review RTE Act: Niti Aayog

  • The Niti Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009 that stipulate that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eighth grade.
  • This means that a child is entitled to an eighth grade even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.
  • The Aayog pointed out that the purpose behind this provision is to minimise the drop-out rate, since demoralization resulting from failing a class leads to children withdrawing from school altogether.
  • “But despite this good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete.
  • The RTE Act needs to be revisited,” it said in its review of the 12th Five Year Plan. 

 

GS II: SOCIAL - EDUCATION

UGC lists journals for granting academic point

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has come out with a comprehensive list of about 38,000 journals that will be recognized for granting points — under the Academic Performance Indicators (API) system — to college and university faculty members who get their papers published in them. The journals span a wide variety of fields, covering areas such as engineering, agriculture, medicine, humanities and social sciences, environment, business and ecology.
  • The API system awards points — counted for promotion and also while applying for teaching jobs — for publications, which are seen as a sign of an academic being actively involved in research.
  • A person gets 30 points for publishing a book brought out by an international publisher, 20 for a book brought out by a national publisher, 15 points for publishing an article in a refereed journal and 10 points for an article in other reputed journals.
  • The UGC had decided to compile the list in view of complaints that academics were publishing in substandard, and sometimes paid for, publications.

University Grants Commission

  • The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
  • It provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognised universities and colleges.
  • Its headquarters is in New Delhi, and six regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore.


GS II :  POLITY - JUDICIARY

SC refuses plea on alleged dilution of whistleblower law

  • The Supreme Court refused to examine a petition alleging dilution in the Whistleblower Protection Act and seeking interim measures to protect whistleblowers who expose corruption in public administration and governance.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said Parliament is already seized with the law and the judiciary would be encroaching on the legislature’s turf by entertaining allegations now.
  • The tone of the court hearing was in complete contrast to the earlier hearing in January 2016, when the apex court had pressed the Centre to put in place a fool-proof interim mechanism to receive complaints and protect the lives of whistleblowers till the law was enacted.
The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015
  • The Bill amends the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014, which provides a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption, wilful misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by public servants.
  • The Bill prohibits the reporting of a corruption related disclosure if it falls under any 10 categories of information. These categories include information related to:

(i)                 sovereignty, strategic, scientific or economic interests of India, or the incitement of an offence;

(ii)               Records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers;

(iii)             That which is forbidden to be published by a court or if it may result in contempt of court;

(iv)             A breach of privilege of legislatures;

(v)               Commercial confidence, trade secrets, intellectual property (if it harms a third party);

(vi)             That relayed in a fiduciary capacity;

(vii)           That received from a foreign government;

(viii)         That which could endanger a person’s safety etc.;

(ix)             That which would impede an investigation etc.;

(x)               Personal matters or invasion of privacy.

  • However, if information related to (ii), (v), (vi), and (x) is available under the Right to Information Act, 2005, then it can be disclosed under the Bill.
  • The Act permits disclosures that are prohibited under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923. The Bill reverses this to disallow disclosures that are covered by the OSA.
  • Any public interest disclosure received by a Competent Authority will be referred to a government authorised authority if it falls under any of the above 10 prohibited categories. This authority will take a decision on the matter, which will be binding.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that the 10 prohibited categories are modelled on those under the RTI Act, 2005. However, this comparison may not be appropriate. Unlike the RTI Act, disclosures under the Bill are not made public but in confidence to a high level constitutional or statutory authority.
  • With regard to the 10 prohibited categories, the RTI Act allows (i) the public authority to disclose information if he considers it to be in public interest; and (ii) a two stage appeal process if information is not made available. The Bill does not contain such provisions.
  • A Competent Authority is required to refer a prohibited disclosure to a government authority for a final decision. However, the Bill does not specify the minimum qualifications required or the process of appointment of this authority.

GS II : POLITY - JUDICIARY

Supreme Court: Jallikattu ban to stay

  • The Supreme Court refused to be hurried into pronouncing its verdict on a government notification allowing the bull taming sport, jallikattu, before Pongal.
  • The notification, issued by the Centre on January 7 2016, had sought to circumvent an apex court ban on jallikattu in 2014.
  • The notification had reintroduced bulls into the fold of ‘performing animals’ under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, thus giving an indirect nod to jallikattu, which the apex court had described as an act of “inherent cruelty.”
  • The apex court had stayed the notification on pleas by animal welfare activists.

Jallikattu

  • Jallikattu, is an event of hugging or embracing the bull and it is held in Indian state Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Maatu Pongal day.
  • Bulls are bred specifically by people of the village for the event and attended mainly by many villages' temple bulls (koil kaalai).
  • A temple bull is like the head of all cattle in a village; special rituals will be performed for this temple bull during important days.
  • During the event, prizes are announced to encourage the youth to participate. After the event, tamed weak bulls are used for domestic activities and agriculture, meanwhile the untamable strong bulls are used for breeding the cows.
  • Thus wild nature of the bulls are inherited to its next generation, even though these country bulls are domesticated a very long time ago.
  • Jallikattu has been known to be practiced during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BC). It was common among the ancient people Aayars (Yadava) who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country.


GS III:  ECONOMY

Industrial output at 4-year high of 5.7% in November

  • Industrial output expanded by 5.7% , the fastest pace in more than four years, largely on account of a low base effect, government data showed.
  • The base effect had a significant impact in November 2016 because many sectors had witnessed a significant contraction in November 2015.
  • The manufacturing sector, for example, contracted 4.5% in November 2015, while the capital goods sector contracted 24.4% that month.
  • This led the capital goods sector to show growth for the first time in a year in November 2016, with the sector growing 15%.
  • Consumer goods production grew 5.6% in November, with consumer durables growing 9.8% .

 

GS III:  ECONOMY

Retail inflation at two-year low

  • Retail inflation eased for the fifth straight month in December to a more than two-year low, with price gains based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slowing to 3.4% compared with the same month of the previous year.
  • Inflation as measured by the CPI was slower than this only in November 2014, when it was at 3.27%.
  • The main contributor to slower inflation was the softening in food prices, with inflation in the ‘food and beverages’ category of the CPI falling below the 2% mark (1.98%) for the first time since January 2012.
  • On the other hand, fuel inflation is trending upwards, with the ‘fuel and light’ segment seeing inflation accelerate to 3.77% in December compared with 2.8% in November.

 

GS III : S&T

Biodegradable bullets that sprout plants?

  • The U.S. Army is planning to use biodegradable bullets loaded with special seeds that sprout into environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants, reducing soil pollution in training grounds.
  • Spent shells litter U.S. Army training facilities around the world as there is no efficient way to clean them up.
  • The shells, which contain metal and other chemicals, can rust and pollute soils and groundwater.
  • The plants that grow from the seeds could also help remove soil contaminants or feed local wildlife.

 

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