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Current Events 07 March 2017

 

NEWS

7 MARCH 2017

 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

Babri case: SC questions discharge of Advani, others

2.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-PAKISTAN

‘Pakistan-based groups were behind 2008 Mumbai attacks’

3.

GS II : SOCIAL -HEALTH

Meditation, reiki at yoga week

4.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

Law to regulate use of air conditioners

5.

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

SC questions govt. on deposit of old notes

6.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL USA

Trump signs ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ order

7.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL NORTH KOREA

N. Korea fires 4 missiles, 3 reach Japanese waters

8.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-UK

Study highlights foreign students’ role

9.

GS III : ECONOMY INFRASTRUCTURE

NIIF in talks with two sovereign funds

10.

GS II : GOVERNANCE POLICIES

Centre mulls modifying definition of start-up

11.

GS III : ECONOMY INDICATORS

Centre may unveil IIP, WPI with new base year

12.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA

‘IT industry must stress mutual gains to the U.S.’

13.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION

‘Polluted environment kills 1.7 million children a year’

14.

GS II : SOCIAL -HEALTH

Doctors ring warning bells against antibiotics resistance in children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

Babri case: SC questions discharge of Advani, others

  • In a huge blow to BJP leaders, the Supreme Court on 6 March 2017 indicated it may consider reviving the conspiracy charge against them in the December 6, 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.
  • The sudden development came on an appeal filed in the Supreme Court by the CBI in 2011, during the UPA era, against the dropping of the conspiracy charge against L.K. Advani and other leaders such as Uma Bharti, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Sadvi Ritambara, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia.
  • Noting that “there is something very peculiar going on in this case” , a Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton F. Nariman said it would examine in detail why the conspiracy charge was dropped on mere technical grounds and never revived all these years.
  • However, Mr. Advani’s counsel and senior advocate K.K. Venugopal strongly objected to the turn of events and argued that the conspiracy charge against Mr. Advani and other leaders was already dropped, and its revival would mean the re-examination of the 186 witnesses who had deposed in the case.

The two crime files:

  • The Babri Masjid demolition case stemmed from two crime files: Crime No: 197/ 1992 and Crime No: 198/ 1992. Both were filed shortly after the disputed structure of Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992.

1.     Crime no. 197/1992 was registered in the Ayodhya Police Station against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks.” This FIR dealt with the actual demolition of the masjid.

  • It lined up a bunch of serious offences, including robbery or dacoity with attempt to commit murder, causing hurt by an act endangering life or safety of others, deterring public servants from doing duty and promoting enmity between different religious groups. The most severe of these offences could get the offender up to 10 years in jail.

2.     The second one, Crime no. 198/1992, was registered against 12 persons, including Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya,Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti and Sadvi Ritambara, who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj when the masjid was being demolished.

  • They were accused of promoting enmity, making imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration and statements conducing to public mischief.
  • Maximum punishment, if found guilty for these offences, was up to five years’ imprisonment. The cases are being tried in courts in Lucknow and Rae Bareilly, respectively.

CBI takeover

  • The CBI took over Crime 197 in Lucknow, while 198 remained with the State CID in Rae Bareilly. Eventually 198 also got transferred to the CBI and began being heard in the Lucknow Court.
  • Now with the CBI investigating both crimes as one, a joint charge sheet was filed on October 5, 1993 accusing Mr. Advani and other top parivar leaders of conspiracy.
  • The CBI charge sheet had alleged that a secret meeting took place at the residence of Katiyar on the eve of the demolition during which the final decision to bring down the disputed structure was taken.
  • In February 2001, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court found a technical error in the manner Crime 198 was transferred to the CBI without consulting the High Court.
  • Though it did not touch upon the conspiracy charge against the top leaders, the High Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to correct the flaw.
  • Subsequent governments failed to act and Crime 198 finally got detached and returned to Rae Bareilly.
  • On May 4, 2001, Special Judge, Lucknow, Shrikant Shukla dropped the conspiracy charge against Mr. Advani and 20 others on the ground that Crime 197 – the Special Court was only trying this crime – was only regarding the actual demolition and not the hatching of any conspiracy.
  • On May 20, 2010, the Allahabad High Court upheld Judge Shukla’s order while dismissing the CBI’s revision petition.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-PAKISTAN

‘Pakistan-based groups were behind 2008 Mumbai attacks’

  • The Mumbai attacks of 2008 were carried out by terror groups based in Pakistan, former Pakistani National Security Adviser Maj. Gen. (retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani said at the 19th edition of the Asian Security Conference on ‘Combating Terrorism: Evolving an Asian Response,’ organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
  • In 2009, Maj. Gen. Durrani was sacked from the post of NSA after he called for action against those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.
  • Responding to questions on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief, Mr. Durrani said Hafiz Saeed had no utility for Pakistan. “He should be punished.”
  • India has repeatedly submitted proof of Mr. Saeed’s role in the Mumbai attacks and has called for action by Pakistan. However, Pakistan has maintained that there was no “concrete evidence” against him.
  • Delivering the inaugural address at the conference, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said terrorism was the single biggest threat to international peace and security.
  • India, he said, would continue to work tirelessly for a cohesive global response. He reminded the audience that India had first submitted a resolution in the United Nations for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) way back in 1996.

 

 

 GS II : SOCIAL -HEALTH

Meditation, reiki at yoga week

  • The week-long International Yoga Festival at Rishikesh – the unofficial yoga capital of the world –witnessed participation from nearly 100 countries.
  • The festival began on March 1 and had 70 presenters from 20 countries who gave classes to over 1,000 yoga practitioners and students from over 100 countries.
  • “Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Ganga Yoga, and Somatics Yoga were a few of the more than 150 different offerings throughout the week.
  • There were also classes on meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and spiritual discourses to be held by revered spiritual leaders from India and abroad.
  • Agent of change Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had addressed the festival through video conferencing, said that yoga could help combat climate change and terrorism.
  • “The world today is also threatened by the twin challenges – terrorism and climate change. The world looks at India and Yoga for a durable and sustainable answer to these problems. When we talk of global peace, there should be peace among nations… only peaceful individuals can make peaceful families,” Mr. Modi had said.
  • The PM said yoga was the way to create such harmony and peace within individuals, families, societies and nations. 

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

Law to regulate use of air conditioners

  • To coax establishments to use electricity more efficiently, the Union Environment Ministry is mulling laws that will require buildings — commercial spaces, airports, offices — to ensure that air conditioners function at preset temperatures.
  • At a conference to discuss India’s roadmap to phase out particular gases used in refrigerants and air-conditioners because they contribute to global warming, M.K. Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests said the government could bring in a notification, after due public consultation, and have rules that define operating parametres for ACs.
  • This was because several places frequently set their air conditioners to extremely low temperatures — irrespective of whether the weather required it to be so — and thereby consumed an excess of electricity.
  • In Japan, there are regulations that require air-conditioners be set at a specific temperature depending on the season,” Mr. Singh told on the sidelines of the conference.
  • Since the summer of 2005, the Japanese Ministry of Environment requires all government departments and commercial establishments to pre-set their air conditioners to 28°C (82°F) during the summer, with employees expected to eschew formal business-wear for comfortable casuals.
  • The panel was part of conference to announce updates on India’s ongoing plans to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), chemicals widely used in refrigerants and airconditioners.
  • Originally brought in as replacements for refrigerant-chemicals but later found to have a high global warming potential, India is one of the largest consumers of HCFCs after China, and is expected to use even more of it because of the projected growth in the sale of air-conditioners. It has, however, agreed to stop the use of HCFCs by 2030.



 



GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

SC questions govt. on deposit of old notes

  • The Supreme Court asked the government to respond why it went back on its promise to extend the date of deposit of demonetised notes to March 31, 2017.
  • A Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, D.Y. Chandrachud and S.K. Kaul gave the government time till 10 March 2017 to respond to a bunch of petitions filed by companies and individuals that the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, promulgated on December 13, 2016, penalised those who deposited demonetised money after December 31, 2016.
  • The petitioners said the Prime Minister’s speech on November 8, 2016 announcing the demonetisation scheme and the subsequent Reserve Bank of India notification on the same night had both promised that citizens would be able to deposit demonetised notes beyond the cut-off date of December 31, 2016 till March 31, 2017 in case they were caught in a genuine predicament and were unable to do so by December 31, 2016.
  • In its order, the Bench highlighted the petitioners’ main prayer that despite the explicit postulation that the final date of deposit would be extended till March 31, 2017, “no individual was allowed to deposit after December 31, 2016.”


GS II : INTERNATIONAL USA

Trump signs ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ order

  • The Donald Trump administration issued a new executive order on 6 March 2017, temporarily banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries to the U.S, after an earlier order ran foul of the country’s judiciary.
  • The new executive order bans travel from six countries — Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, leaving out Iraq among countries that was in the earlier order’s list.
  • In an attempt to pass the judicial scrutiny, the order says that current visa and green card holders from these countries will not be affected. It also explains the basis for including the six countries, trying to remedy a lacuna in the earlier version.
  • The order said each of the six countries was either a “state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organisations or contains active conflict zones”.
  • It also gives country-wise details, justifying the inclusion of each and also explains the exclusion of Iraq. “Iraq presents a special case. Portions of Iraq remain combat zones,” the order said, but added that the country’s commitment to “combating [IS] justify a different treatment”.
  • Further, it avoids the preferential treatment offered to Christian refugees in the earlier order.
  • The new order will not come into effect until March 16, in contrast to the earlier order that became effective immediately.
  • There will be a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of these six countries, and the refugee programme will be suspended for 120 days.
  • The number of refugees to be admitted this year has been reduced to 50,000 from the 1,10,000 cap set by the Obama administration. 


GS II : INTERNATIONAL - NORTH KOREA

N. Korea fires 4 missiles, 3 reach Japanese waters

  • Nuclear-armed North Korea launched four ballistic missiles on 6 March 2017  in another challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump, with three landing provocatively close to America’s ally Japan, in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — waters extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its coast..
  • Seoul and Washington began annual joint military exercises last week that always infuriate Pyongyang, with the North’s military warning of “merciless nuclear counter-action”.
  • Under leader Kim Jong-un, Pyongyang has ambitions to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland — which Mr. Trump has vowed will not happen.



 

 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-UK

Study highlights foreign students’ role

  • Pressure is building on the U.K. government to review its approach to international students, as a new study revealed the huge economic contribution they make to the economy, and official figures showed a sharp drop in numbers.
  • International students add around £25.8 billion to the U.K. economy, with their contribution spread across the country, including the more deprived regions, according to research by Oxford Economics for Universities U.K., the body that represents the nation’s universities.
  • Students from non-European Union (EU) countries accounted for a large percentage of fees paid, totalling £4.2 billion.
  • According to immigration figures published by the official statistical agency last month, 41,000 fewer international students came to study in the U.K. in 2016, the lowest since 2002.
  • Indians accounted for just 6% of student visas granted in 2016, with a total of 10,798 visas granted.
  • Pressure has been building for a while now for the U.K. to reform its approach to international students.
  • While there is no cap on the number of students who can come to the U.K., and Britain insists that it welcomes the “brightest and the best”, there are a number of factors that are making Britain a less-attractive destination for Indian students, including restrictions on their ability to work here following the end of their degree.
  • The Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced last year that the government was considering a tougher regime for international students.
  • Further, earlier this year, the government rejected a bid by members of the House of Lords to remove international student numbers from migration figures.

 

GS III : ECONOMY INFRASTRUCTURE

NIIF in talks with two sovereign funds

  • The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has begun talks with two sovereign wealth funds to become the first investors to come on board, following the signing last fortnight of a government commitment to infuse Rs. 20,000 crore into the fund, CEO Sujoy Bose said on 6 March 2017.
  • The NIIF plans to leverage the Centre’s financing – equivalent to $3 billion – to invest a far higher amount in infrastructure firms and projects, in partnership with global, long-term investors eyeing infrastructure assets, and fund managers that could create dedicated infra sector funds.
  • A big milestone was cleared two weeks ago when the Centre signed off on its initial commitment of Rs. 20,000 crore to the NIIF.
  • The anchor investment by the government in NIIF will be split into two buckets – a billion dollars will be earmarked for a ‘NIIF Direct’ fund that could directly invest in existing or new infrastructure firms or projects.
  • Sovereign funds, pension and insurance companies would bring in a similar amount, while the government’s stake would be kept at 49% of this fund, he said.
  • “With the rest of the $2 billion equivalent, we will look to work with fund managers to see if we can create funds that can become partners with us in investing,” he said.
  • The NIIF will also back ‘platform companies’ that can scale up and deliver bigger projects as the sector has seen fragmented players, the fund’s chief executive said.

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)

  • It is a fund created by the Government of India for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country.
  • NIIF is proposed to be set up as a Trust, to raise debt to invest in the equity of infrastructure finance companies such as Indian Rail Finance Corporation (IRFC) and National Housing Bank (NHB).
  • The idea is that these infrastructure finance companies can then leverage this extra equity, manifold.
  • In that sense, NIIF is a banker of the banker of the banker.
  • Its creation was announced in the Union Budget 2015-16. The operational framework was approved on 20 August 2015.
  • NIIF got registered with SEBI as Category II Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) on December 28, 2015.
  • Financial Times (London) had adjudged NIIF as the Most Innovative structure in Asia Pacific under Finance category.

 


GS II : GOVERNANCE  POLICIES

Centre mulls modifying definition of start-up

  • The Centre is considering proposals to amend the definition of ‘start-up’ in the policy and looking to review applications seeking benefits of start-up policy which were rejected, according to a top official.
  • Feedback from entrepreneurs asserted that the definition of start-up in the policy hampered their ability to claim benefits.
  • A provision in the Start-up India policy states that for the purpose of claiming the benefits of the government schemes, ‘startup’ means an entity, incorporated or registered in India:

(a) not prior to five years,

(b) with annual turnover not exceeding Rs. 25 crore in any preceding financial year and

(c) working towards innovation, development, deployment or commercialisation of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property.

  • “There may not be any need to have a single time period (like five years) and turnover (like Rs. 25 crore) for all sectors. Maybe there is a need to have different time period and different turnover for different sectors,” said the official.
  • He said the government would retain the criterion of “innovation” as it is deliberately kept in the policy to differentiate between a traditional firm and a start-up.
  • However, he added the government would consider suggestions on making the definition of start-up more broad-based.
  • He said entrepreneurs from the biotechnology and medical devices sectors have informed the government of the need for relaxation of the five-year time period to eight or ten years as more time was required in such sectors for an entity to take off financially.
  • He said there were also suggestions that instead of ‘turnover,’ the policy should consider the number of employees in a firm or investment in plant and machinery.


GS III : ECONOMY  INDICATORS

Centre may unveil IIP, WPI with new base year

  •  The government may unveil two macroeconomic indicators — the index of industrial production and the wholesale price index — with a new base year 2011-12, by April end, to ensure compatibility with growth numbers.
  •  The change in the baseline for IIP and WPI, currently at 2004-05, is expected to bring in more accuracy in mapping the level of economic activity and calculating other numbers like national accounts.


GS II : BILATERAL INDIA - USA

 ‘IT industry must stress mutual gains to the U.S.’

  • The Indian IT industry must educate U.S. policymakers on the mutual benefits of strong India–U.S. trade ties in IT services, according to Nasscom.
  • Nasscom said, by helping thousands of U.S. businesses improve their operations, create new products and services and gain market share, India based IT companies doing business in the U.S. were protecting and creating jobs for Americans.
  • Nasscom also said additional restrictions on H-1B or L-1 would hurt thousands of the U.S. businesses by hindering access to talent.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had said it will temporarily suspend premium processing for H-1B visa applications.
  • The suspension of premium processing of H-1B visa does not indicate any change in the U.S. policy on work visas.
  • USCIS has suspended premium processing in the past also, to clear the backlog of H-1B petitions.
  • Premium processing involves a USCIS commitment to respond on a particular petition within 15 days, for an extra fee.USICS processes more than 85,000 new H-1B visas. The agency has to process amendments and extensions of people who are already in the U.S. on H-1B visas.
  • “As the number of H-1B visa holders in the U.S is increasing every year, the time taken for processing extensions and amendments has shot up in the last couple of years, Ms. Dave said.
  • H-1B petitions are usually approved for three years. However in the recent years, USCIS has approved several petitions just for one year. Before the end date on the H-1B petition an extension must be filed.
  • If within the H-1B approved period, the employee changes the company, or the work location of the employee changes within the same company, an H1B amendment needs to be filed.


GS III: ENVIRONMENT

‘Polluted environment kills 1.7 million children a year’

  • A quarter of all global deaths of children under five are due to unhealthy or polluted environments, including dirty water and air, secondhand smoke and a lack of adequate hygiene, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
  • Such unsanitary and polluted environments can lead to fatal cases of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, the WHO said in a report, and kill 1.7 million children a year.
  • “A polluted environment is a deadly one — particularly for young children,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.
  • “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”
  • In the report — “Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children′s health and the environment” — the WHO said harmful exposure can start in the womb, and then continue if children are exposed to air pollution and second-hand smoke.
  • This increases childhood risk of pneumonia as well as the lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL -HEALTH

Doctors ring warning bells against antibiotics resistance in children

  • The warning — “antibiotic resistance is growing, and we′re fast running out of treatment options” — was loud and clear.
  • Issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) recently, the warning only reinforced the findings of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) research, which showed that antibiotic resistance can affect individuals of any age, even children.
  • It found that nearly 26% of babies with sepsis died since multiple drug resistance (MDR) made the ailment untreatable.
  • We′re also concerned about declining research in the field of newer antibiotics and support the formulation of a national antibiotic policy.
  • Paediatricians say children are becoming increasingly powerless in the fight against even common ailments like urinary tract infection due to antibiotic abuse.”
  • Bacterial infections, resistant to multiple antibiotics, is a concern especially in children. This as there are a limited number of stronger antibiotics currently approved for children compared to adults, putting them at higher risk of worse clinical outcomes.
  • Taking cognizance of the impact of antibiotic resistant infections, the IMA has proposed several initiatives to tackle this public health threat — ‘Jaroorat Bhi Hai Kya’, ‘3As — Avoid Antibiotic Abuse campaign’, ‘Use Wisely Not Widely’ and ‘Think Before you Ink’.
  • To assist in the “treatment” of antibiotic resistance and its impact on patients and communities, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) is working on a book on and titled “When Not to Use Antibiotics”. K.K. Aggarwal of the IMA said: “This is a public health problem, one that’s rapidly spreading across the globe and without enough resources to control it.
  • The IMA noted that the WHO had warned about a “a post-antibiotic era” — in which common infections and minor injuries will kill — is far from being an apocalyptic fantasy and is, instead, a very real possibility for the 21st century”.
  • Doctors and patients should be aware of and advocate only judicious use of antibiotics. Over-prescription and self-prescription both need to be checked, it added.

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