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Current Events 03 March 2017

 

NEWS 

3 MARCH 2017

 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-PAKISTAN

India to attend Lahore meet on Indus Waters Treaty

2.

GS II :  BILATERAL INDIA-PAKISTAN

Key SAARC post for Pak. official

3.

GS II : SOCIAL - EDUCATION

Univs are places of debate, not violence, says President

4.

GS III : CORRUPTION BLACK MONEY

Rs. 70k crore in black money detected: SC-appointed SIT

5.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT NGT

No camps within 100mof Ganga: NGT

6.

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Respond to bar girls′ plea, SC tells Maharashtra

7.

GS III: DEFENCE

A weapon-locating radar for the Army

8.

GS III: DEFENCE

‘Kalvari’ test-fires anti-ship missile

9.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka to co-sponsor UN resolution

10.

GS III : ECONOMY

GST levy may go up to 40%, 4-slab structure to remain

11.

GS III : ECONOMY

‘Public procurement needs to be opened up’

12.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL EUROPE

Sweden to reintroduce conscription after 6 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-PAKISTAN

India to attend Lahore meet on Indus Waters Treaty

  •  Signalling a major shift in its position on talks with Pakistan on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), India has accepted an invitation to attend the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) to be held in Lahore in March, various sources confirmed.
  •  According to officials privy to the development, the move came after two months of diplomatic negotiations, with World Bank officials playing mediator in encouraging Pakistan to extend the invitation and for India to accept.
  •  The news closely follows the visit of World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva to Delhi, where she met with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, weeks after her visit in January to Islamabad, where she met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
  •  Officials acknowledged that the holding of the next annual round of the PIC, which was last held in July 2016 was a “positive” sign, given that India had announced it was “suspending” the talks after the Uri attacks in September.
  •  According to senior government officials at the time, the decision to suspend the talks had been taken when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with key officials, including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, to “review” the IWT.
  •  In November another controversy erupted over the World Bank decision to constitute a Court of Arbitration to look into complaints from Pakistan over India’s construction of Kishenganga and Ratle river water projects.
  •  India said the World Bank decision was biased in Pakistan′s favour, threatening to “take steps” against it.
  •   Eventually the matter was resolved after it was taken up at the highest levels between the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who also spoke over telephone to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and to his Pakistan counterpart Ishaq Dar

  

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA PAKISTAN

Key SAARC post for Pak. Official

  •  After months of difficulty posed mainly by India, Pakistan on 1 March 2017 succeeded in getting its official elected to the post of Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  •   Pakistan was backed by all members, including India, which made the selection consensus based.
  •  Officials at the SAARC secretariat, however, said the election was of administrative nature and diplomatic intent should not be read in it.
  •   “As the incoming chair, Pakistan was supposed to provide the next Secretary General and all members of SAARC allowed the smooth transition from Nepal to Pakistan,” said a source in the Secretariat in Kathmandu.
  •   The new chief of SAARC, Amjad Hussein B Sial, is a veteran Pakistani diplomat, who was expected to take charge a year ago. However, India′s tough stance on cross-border terrorism posed problem for the candidate, who has been in waiting since March 2016.
  •  Earlier, India had opposed holding of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016 following the terror strike in Uri.

 

GS II : SOCIAL - EDUCATION

Univs are places of debate, not violence, says President

  •  Asserting that there should be “no room in India for the intolerant Indian”, President Pranab Mukherjee on 2 March 2017 said it was tragic to see universities across the country “caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet”.
  •  Mr. Mukherjee said “universities must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest”.
  •  The President′s suggestion comes in the wake of a raging debate on the freedom of expression following the violent clashes at Ramjas College of Delhi University.
  •  Mr. Mukherjee said these temples of learning must resound with intellectual exercises, free thinking and free exchanges and creativity and that there should be space for legitimate criticism and dissent in the country.
  •  The President pointed out that “India was a world leader in the field of education when our universities like Nalanda and Takshshila were at the height of their glory. Nalanda and Takshshila are not mere geographical expressions but representations of the idea for free thought which flourished in these great universities of the past.


GS III : CORRUPTION BLACK MONEY

Rs. 70k crore in black money detected: SC-appointed SIT

  •  Justice (retd) Arijit Pasayat, deputy chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) on black money, disclosed that so far around Rs. 70,000 crore had been detected in black money, including over Rs. 16,000 crore by Indians stashing funds abroad.
  •  After a meeting with officers of several government agencies dealing with economic and financial affairs here, Justice Pasayat said the SIT would submit its sixth interim report to the Supreme Court in the first week of April.
  •  He said the SIT during the past two years had made several recommendations through its interim reports to the apex court to check the generation and tap the black money at source.
  •  “While most of our recommendations have been accepted by the government, some are under active consideration”, he said.
  •  “One of our proposals, on cash holding of Rs. 15 lakh or above to be presumed as undisclosed, is under serious consideration of the Central government”, Justice Pasayat said, adding that on our recommendation, the government has already declared that cash transaction beyond Rs. 3 lakh to be treated as illegal and punishable under law.


GS III : ENVIRONMENT NGT

No camps within 100m of Ganga: NGT

  •  The National Green Tribunal prohibited all camping activity from Shivpuri to Rishikesh on beaches along the Ganga which fall within 100 meters of the river.
  •  The roughly 50 km stretch between Shivpuri to Rishikesh is a hub of ecotourism and river rafting.
  •  “It cannot be disputed that river rafting is one of the significant components of ecotourism. It needs to be encouraged but with a clear mandate that it should not cause any environmental and biodiversity degradation particularly in relation to the flood plains and the forest areas adjacent to the sites identified for river rafting,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
  •  The bench relied on various studies conducted by the Uttarakhand government and the Wildlife Institute of India.
  •  As per the studies, of the total 56 beaches, 33 beaches were recommended for camping while 23 beaches were not. Out of the 33 sites recommended for beach camping, three fall outside 100 meters, eight sites are wholly within 100 meters while the remaining 22 sites are partially within the limit imposed by the NGT.
  •  The judgment came on a petition filed by environment activist Vikrant Tongad, who highlighted how unregulated camping was leading to pollution in the river and its adjoining areas. He also highlighted how tourists coming to the area left behind litter and polluted the river and the soil.
  •  The bench ordered the implementation of the management plan prepared by the State government while noting how the authorities allowed people to carry weapons, drink on the beaches and even raise permanent/ concrete structures at the camping sites. “The illegal and improper activities at the camping sites led to the pollution of (the) Ganga,” it said.

 

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Respond to bar girls’ plea, SC tells Maharashtra

  •  The Supreme Court on 2 March 2017 asked the Maharashtra government to respond to the bar girls who have challenged the State’s new law, calling it a deliberate legislative ploy to vilify their profession and criminalise women working for a livelihood.
  •  The Bharatiya Bargirls Union contended that the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act, 2016 had kept the definition of what qualified as obscenity in dance vague only to use the ambiguity against women working in the bars.
  •  The Act says an ‘obscene dance’ consists of “a sexual act, lascivious movements, gestures for the purpose of sexual propositioning or indicating availability of sexual access to the dancer, or in the course of which, the dancer exposes his or her genitals or, if a female is topless.”
  •  Legal experts said terms like “lascivious movements” were at best vague and exposed the dancer and her establishment to the whims of the authorities itching to crack down on them.
  •   A Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra gave the State government four weeks to file its response and posted the case for hearing on April 20.
  •  The 2016 Act was passed by the State Assembly subsequent to a Supreme Court judgment of 2015 that ordered that dance bars be throw open again and classified dance as a profession
  •  The Bench had already expressed its suspicion that this law was just a ruse to “circumvent” the apex court’s order of October 2015.
  •  The Supreme Court is already hearing petitions, including one filed by the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA), challenging the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the 2016 Act.


GS III: DEFENCE

A weapon-locating radar for the Army

  •  The DRDO formally handed over an indigenously developed Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) system called ‘Swati’ to the Army.
  •  DRDO officials said Swati provides quick, automatic and accurate location of all enemy weapons like mortars, shells and rockets firing within its effective zone of coverage and simultaneously handles multiple projectiles fired from different weapons at different locations.
  •  Swati can also direct artillery response based on the incoming enemy fire.
  •  The WLR has been a critical requirement of the Army, and in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict, it had to be imported from the U.S. in 2002 to fill critical needs.
  •  Swati has a range of 50 km which brings all artillery guns presently in service worldwide under its coverage. Four systems are currently in operation and another 30 are on order for the Army.
  •  Speaking at an event, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said it was an indigenous effort with an export potential. However, exports would take place after the Army’s requirements were fulfilled.
  •  The organisation also handed over a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) recce vehicle and NBC treatment drugs to the Army.


GS III: DEFENCE

 ‘Kalvari’ test-fires anti-ship missile

  •   Kalvari, the first of the Scorpene submarines being built in India, successfully conducted its maiden test-firing of an anti-ship missile in the Arabian Sea.
  •  Kalvari is scheduled to be commissioned into the Navy very soon.
  •  However, the submarines are still without a heavy weight torpedo, their primary weapon.
  •  Navy sources said the missile fired was a French SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka to co-sponsor UN resolution

  •  Even as Sri Lanka prepares to co-sponsor a UN resolution at the ongoing Human Rights Council session, seeking more time to fulfil its obligations, the country′s Tamil leadership has called for a time-table and strict monitoring of government initiatives.
  •  In October 2015, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that Sri Lanka co-sponsored, calling for a credible judicial process to probe the island′s civil war excesses.
  •  Sri Lanka assured the international community of a “four-pillar approach” to address truth, reconciliation, accountability and non-recurrence.
  •  Currently working on a draft with the U.S., the U.K. and Montenegro, Sri Lanka will soon submit a resolution that, it hopes, will give an extended deadline for the war-battered country to implement promises it made in 2015.
  •  Sri Lanka has sought a two year time frame to implement the 2015 resolution.
  •  However, the country′s main Tamil political alliance has expressed disappointment over the government′s failure to fulfil its obligations in the last 18 months.
  •  While the government′s apparently slow-paced efforts have made minority Tamils anxious, its attempt to draft a new Constitution has hit a roadblock without adequate consensus among various political actors.


GS III : ECONOMY GST

GST levy may go up to 40%, 4-slab structure to remain

  •  The GST levy may go up to 40% after the GST Council proposed raising the peak rate in the Bill to 20%, from the current 14%, to obviate the need for approaching Parliament for any change in rates in future.
  •  The model Goods and Services Tax Bill will replace the clause which states the tax rate “not exceeding 14%, with “not exceeding 20%” when it comes up for debate in Parliament during the second phase of Budget session beginning next week.
  •  The change in the peak rate will not alter the 4-slab rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28% agreed upon last year for the moment, but is only a provision being built into the model law to take care of contingencies in future.
  •  The revised draft of model GST law, which was made public in November 2016, provides for a maximum rate of tax under the new regime at 14% (14% central GST and an equal state GST, taking the total to 28 %).
  •   “There shall be levied a tax called the central/state goods and services tax (CGST/SGST) on all intrastate supplies of goods and/ or services... at such rates as may be notified by the central/ state government... but not exceeding 14 % on the recommendation of the Council and collected in such manner as may be prescribed,” the draft law states.
  •  Officials said this will now be changed to say the rate will not exceed “20%.”
  •  The GST Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising representatives of all states, has agreed to keep the upper band of the rate in the law at 20%.
  •  Mirroring the model GST law, the CGST, the SGST and the UTGST law will be firmed up by the Centre, states and Union Territories, respectively.
  •  The central and state officials will soon start the exercise to determine which goods and services should fall in which tax bracket and the same will be taken to the Council for approval soon.
  •  Together with this, they will also decide the goods and services that would attract a cess on top of the peak rate to create a corpus that can be used to compensate states for any loss of revenue from implementation of GST in the first five years.
  •  The union government is looking at GST rollout from July 1.


GS III : ECONOMY

Public procurement needs to be opened up′

  •  Public procurement in India should gradually be opened up in a fair manner to ensure greater competition, while privatisation of public assets has to be done keeping in mind the country′s socio-economic needs and objectives, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
  •  Public procurement (procurement by government/its agencies for their own consumption and not for commercial resale) in India is estimated to be about 30% of the country′s GDP, with sectors such as defence, railways and telecom — having state-owned enterprises — accounting for a major portion of it, Ms. Sitharaman said.
  •  Referring to the recent CCI orders imposing penalties on some cement companies for rigging bids for supply of cement to the government, as well as on firms for bid rigging of tenders floated by Indian Railways for procurement of ‘brushless DC fans,’ the minister said these regulatory orders are with an aim to ensure greater competition in India′s public procurement.
  •  “Collusive bidding and cartelisation (in public procurement) are very serious. The CCI has an important role to play to prevent them and to ensure that there is fair trade and ultimately the consumer benefits,” the minister said.


GS II : INTERNATIONAL EUROPE

Sweden to reintroduce conscription after 6 years

  •  Sweden announced that it will reintroduce compulsory military service starting this summer to respond to global security challenges, including from Russia.
  •  The Scandinavian nation, which has not seen armed conflict on its territory in two centuries, ended conscription in 2010 after it was deemed an unsatisfactory way of meeting the needs of a modern army.
  •  Sweden′s minority government is set to introduce to the Parliament a bill to restore conscription this summer for all Swedes born after 1999.
  •  Some 13,000 young Swedes are expected to be mobilised from July 1, but only 4,000 of them will be selected for military service based on motivation and skills.
  •  They will be called up each year after January 1 2018.
  •  Sweden is not a NATO member but has signed the body’s Partnership for Peace programme launched in 1994 to develop military cooperation between NATO and non-member countries.
  •  On defence issues, Sweden is very close to its Finnish neighbour, which has with Russia a border of 1,340 km.
  •  The Nordic and Baltic region′s only nonaligned countries, Finland and Sweden, have stepped up their military cooperation with U.S., following concerns over Russia′s increased military activity in northern Europe.

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