|121.||SC strikes down instant Triple Talaq|
The Supreme Court of Indian has declared Islamic practice of instant divorce through triple talaq as unconstitutional, illegal and void and not protected by Article 25 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution.
The verdict was given by the 5 member multi-religion constitutional bench of the SC. Justice Kurian Joseph (Christian), Justice U.U Lalit (Hindu) and Justice Rohington F, Nariman (Parsi) gave majority judgment. Chief Justice J.S. Khehar (Sikh) and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer (Muslim) dissented against majority judgment.
In a 3:2 majority judgment, the SC held that triple talaq (referred as Talaq-e-Biddat) is against the basic tenets of Quran and hence, is unacceptable.
The three majority judges held that triple talaq is manifestly arbitrary and violative of the constitution and fundamental right under Article 14 (equality before law) so it must be struck down. Two dissenting judges were in favour of putting the practice on hold for six months and asking the government to come out with a law.
Triple Talaq is a personal practice followed by Muslim communities in the country as a form of divorce wherein a man can unilaterally and arbitrarily end his marriage by merely pronouncing the word Talaq thrice. The man pronouncing the divorce may deliver it through a letter, text message, email or even through a video recording. This practice also does need valid reason to be provided either.
The controversy surrounding the issue arises from the fact that the divorced woman is not provided any legal safeguards under the rule of law against such a divorce or any injustice arising from it. It was alleged that this practise adversely impact rights of women to a life of dignity.
It is also held that this practice against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc. It also undermines gender equality is a sacred principle of our constitution and modern society. Event 21 Islamic theocratic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan have abolished it.
|122.||Former Manipur CM Rishang Keishing passes away|
Former Manipur Chief Minister and Veteran Congress leader Rishang Keishing passed away in Imphal following a brief illness. He was 96.
He was freedom fighter and member of India’s first parliament (1952-57). He had served as the Chief Minister of Manipur for four terms from 1980 to 1988 and 1994 to 1997.
About Rishang Keishing
Rishang Keishing was born 25 October 1920 and hailed from Bungpa village in Ukhrul district of Manipur. He was the last surviving member of India’s first post-1947 Parliament. He had started his career as a teacher before entering into active politics.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha in the first parliamentary elections held in 1952. He had won Lok Sabha elections as a Socialist Party candidate from Manipur Outer constituency in 1957 and 1962. Later in 1964, he joined Congress party at the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He retired from the Rajya Sabha as its oldest member in 2014 after serving two terms since being elected in 2002.
|123.||Cabinet approves India-Nepal MoU on Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs|
The Union Cabinet approved signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Nepal on Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
The MoU lists out the areas of cooperation on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, their precursor chemicals and related matters between both neighbouring countries. It also indicates mechanism of information exchange and competent authorities between both countries responsible for the implementation of the MoU.
Features of MoU
Develop mutual cooperation: to effectively resolving the issue of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, cooperate in drug demand reduction through prevention, education, awareness and community based programmes, treatment and rehabilitation.
Exchange of information: It will be in operational, technical and general nature in drug matters. Morever, there will be exchange literature on their existing laws, rules, best practices and methods of curbing illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs.
India has always supported global efforts to counter drug trafficking. It is party to several multilateral and bilateral initiatives in this regard as also United Nations (UN) led initiatives. India has entered into mutiple bilateral agreements/MoUs with neighbouring countries and countries having direct bearing on country’s prevailing drug situation in accordance with the spirit of UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs. Such bilateral agreements have already been executed with various countries.
|124.||Cabinet approves commission on sub-categorisation of OBCs|
The Union Cabinet approved a proposal for setting up of Commission under article 340 of the Constitution to examine the issue of sub-categorization of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The Commission shall be known as the Commission to examine the sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs). It will submit its report within 12 weeks from date of appointment of the Chairperson.
Terms of references of Commission
The Commission will examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes included in the broad category of OBCs, especially with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list. It will work out the mechanism, norms, criteria and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs. It will also take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/sub-castes/communities synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India case (1992) had observed that there is no Constitutional or legal bar on states for categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward. It had also observed that it is not impermissible in law if a State chooses to do sub-categorization. So far, 9 states/UTs viz., Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, Telangana, Puducherry, Wst Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already carried out sub-categorization of OBCs. There is no sub categorisation in the central list.
|125.||NITI Aayog launches Mentor India Campaign|
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has launched Mentor India Campaign, a strategic nation building initiative to engage leaders for guiding and mentoring students at Atal Tinkering Labs.
The Mentor India Campaign aims at maximising the impact of Atal Tinkering Labs by engaging leaders who will nurture and guide students in the Atal Tinkering Labs.
Under this initiative, NITI Aayog is looking for leaders who can spend one to two hours every week in one or more such labs to enable students learn, experience and practice future skills such as design and computational thinking.
Atal Tinkering Labs
More than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs have been established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission. These labs are meant to be non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors. They are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India.
Atal Innovation Mission
NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country and to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country. It aims to give substantial boost to the innovation ecosystem and to catalyze the entrepreneurial spirit in the country.
It prime objective is to provide an innovation promotion platform involving academics, researchers and entrepreneurs, drawing upon national and international experiences to foster a culture of innovation in India. It will also promote a network of world-class innovation hubs, Start-up businesses and other selfemployment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.
NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs. It is essentially an advisory body that seeks to provide critical directional and strategic inputs across spectrum of key elements of policy to the centre.
|126.||Nasikabatrachus bhupathi: New frog species with pig face discovered|
Indian scientists have discovered Nasikabatrachus bhupathi, a new species of frog that has a snout-shaped nose, just like a pig in West Ghats. It has been named after the Indian herpetologist S. Bhupathy.
Nasikabatrachus bhupathi species show comparisons with the Purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) which was discovered in 2003 in Seychelles.
Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is soiled-dwelling species of purple frog. It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, near the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.
It differs from the Purple frog morphologically and acoustically. It is dark brown in colour and each of its calls consists of four distinct pulses while the Purple frog pauses once between its three-pulse-call.
Significance of Discovery
The discovery is significant as it constitutes additional evidence in favour of the continental drift theory. The Purple frog inhabitant of Seychelles, and discovery of Nasikabatrachus bhupathi in India suggests that Indian subcontinent was part of ancient landmass of Gondwana before splitting from Seychelles 65 million years ago.
|127.||Cabinet approves alternative mechanism Framework for consolidation of Public Sector Banks|
The Union Cabinet has approved Framework for Consolidation of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) through an Alternative Mechanism (AM).
The decision would facilitate consolidation among the nationalised banks to create strong and competitive banks and also improve their competitiveness and efficiency.
Features of approved Framework for Consolidation of PSBs
Under this framework, the decision regarding creating strong and competitive banks will be solely based on commercial considerations based on approval of the Boards of Banks (PSBs). The proposals of Banks to formulate schemes of amalgamation must be approved by the Alternative Mechanism (AM).
There will be a ministerial committee to oversee the mechanism. The members of the panel will be decided by the Prime Minister. After in-principle approval from AM, the Banks can take steps in accordance with law and Security Exchange Boad of India’s (SEBIs) requirements. The final amalgamation or consolidation scheme will be notified by the Union Government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The decision is expected to facilitate the creation of strong and competitive banks in public sector space to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and have the capacity to raise resources without depending unduly on the state exchequer. It will further add commercial strength and prevent multiplicity of resources being spent in same area.
The banking scenario has changed since 1970/80s when banks were nationalised, with an increased banking presence from PSBs, non-banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), Payment Banks and Small Finance Banks (SFBs). There are now 20 PSBs other than SBI.
In 1991 after announcement of liberalisation of economy, it was suggested that there should fewer but stronger PSBs in the country. However, the effective action for consolidating PSBs began in May 2016 after announcement of amalgamation of six subsidiary banks into the State bank of India (SBI). The merger was completed in record time, unlike earlier mergers of PSBs.
|128.||CCEA approves closure of Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company|
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved closure of Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company Limited (BWEL). BWEL is a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under Ministry of Railways (MoR).
Proposal in this regard was forwarded to CCEA by the MoR. The CCEA decision will stop flow of financial support from public funds for carrying on the operations of BWEL resulting in savings for the Government.
CCEA decision comes in view of the continues poor physical and financial performance of the BWEL for more than 10 years, in spite of financial assistance and other support provided by MoR. The decision to wound up BWEL comes after its low probability of revival in future.
Bharat Wagon and Engineering Company Limited (BWEL)
BWEL was incorporated as a CPSE in 1978 after taking over two sick private sector companies – Arthur Butler & Company, Muzaffarpur and Britannia Engineering Company, Mokama. It was engaged in manufacture and repair of wagons. It was having two manufacturing units at Muzaffarpur and Mokama in Bihar.
The administrative control of BWEL was transferred to the MoR from Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) in August, 2008, as approved by the CCEA. The Company was referred to BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction) in December, 2000 and was declared sick in the year 2002. Since then it remained sick (loss making) company.
|129.||TRAI ink LoI with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission|
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has signed a letter of intent (LoI) with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) deepen bilateral cooperation in telecom and broadcasting regulation.
The LoI was signed on the sidelines of ongoing ITU-TRAI Asia-Pacific Regulators’ Roundtable jointly organised by the International Telecom Union (ITU) and TRAI in New Delhi.
The LoI will help both regulators to jointly conduct capacity building exercises in the fields of broadcasting and telecommunications regulation. It will help them to work closely in enhancing mutual cooperation and bilateral relations.
It will also facilitate exchange of information and regulatory best practices in the fields of broadcasting and telecommunications, including new and emerging areas. It will also help in exchange, deployment and attachment of experts from both the countries.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
The TRAI is an independent regulator of the telecommunications business in India. It came into existence by the Act of the Parliament in 1997. It was established in wake of entry of private sector in telecom industries after Government had launched the National Telecom Policy (NTP) to attract domestic and FDI investment in the telecommunication sector. Its mandate is to deliver a fair and transparent environment for fair competition in telecom market. TRAI also fixes or revises the tariffs for telecom services in India.
|130.||ISA extends India’s exclusive rights to explore Polymetallic Nodules|
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) in its 23rd session recently held at Kingston, Jamaica has extended India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).
These rights extend over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by ISA for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules. The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential of this area is around 380 million tonnes, containing nickel (4.7 million tonnes), copper (4.29 million tonnes), cobalt (0.55 million tonnes) and manganese (92.59 million tonnes).
India was the first country to receive the status of a pioneer investor for exploration and utilization of polymetallic nodules. It was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) in 1987. India is one among the top 8-countries to implement a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules. Through Ministry of Earth Sciences it carries survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy.
Polymetallic nodules (also called as manganese nodules) are small potato-sized (from millimetres to tens of centimetres in diameter) lumps of minerals found in deep sea. They contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, cadmium, vanadium, molybdenum, titanium in various proportions of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance. They are found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea.
International Seabed Authority (ISA)
ISA is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. It was established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Its headquarters are in Kingston, Jamaica.
Its mandate is to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond limits of national jurisdiction (exclusive economic zone), an area underlying most of world’s oceans. India actively contributes to the work of ISA. It was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA in 2016.