Polity & Governance
- Right to convert is part of fundamental right of choice: Supreme Court
- Health Ministry bans over-the-counter sale of 14 steroid creams
- NITI Forum for Northeast outlines 5 development missions
- Checking NPAs: 11 public sector banks now on RBI watchlist
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- CWC Chairman pats TS on Kaleshwaram project
Bilateral & International Relations
- Ban Ki-moon named Boao Forum chair
- “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign
Science & Technology
- World’s first microfactory to help tackle e-waste hazard
Key Facts for Prelims
- Delhi’s IGI airport among the top 20 busiest airports:
- India donates USD 1 mln for Swaziland’s national disaster management agency
- Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy appointed UPSC member
- Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
- April 10: World Homoeopathy Day
- New source of global nitrogen discovered
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Polity & Governance
Right to convert is part of fundamental right of choice: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has held that a person’s right to choose a religion and marry is an intrinsic part of her meaningful existence.
- Neither the State nor “patriarchal supremacy” can interfere in her decision.
- The observations are part of the 61-page reasoned judgment published by the Supreme Court in the case of Hadiya, a 26-year-old Homeopathy student who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man. The case first gained attention as a case of forced conversion.
Observations made by the SC:
- Freedom of faith is essential to his/her autonomy; Choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality and sans it, the right of choice becomes a shadow.
- Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe, are at the core of constitutional liberty. The Constitution exists for believers as well as for agnostics.
- Constitution protects the ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith to which she or he seeks to adhere. Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity. Society has no role to play in determining choice of partners.
- The absolute right of an individual to choose a life partner is not in the least affected by matters of faith. The Constitution guarantees to each individual the right freely to practise, profess and propagate religion. Choices of faith and belief as indeed choices in matters of marriage lie within an area where individual autonomy is supreme.
Article 25 and forced conversions:
- Article 25 states that subject to public order, morality and health, and to the other fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, all persons are equally entitled to “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”
- The word “propagate” mean “to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets,” but does not include the right to convert another person to one’s own religion.
- It has to be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees ‘freedom of conscience’ to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion and that, in turn, postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one’s own religion because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, as distinguished from his effort to transmit or spread the tenets of his religion, that would impinge on the ‘freedom of conscience’ guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike.
Health Ministry bans over-the-counter sale of 14 steroid creams
The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has banned over-the-counter sale of 14 steroid creams to prevent indiscriminate sale of ointments containing steroids and antibiotics without prescription.
- These 14 preparations were included under Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 to impose the ban.
- The move comes in the wake of dermatologists’ complaints that pharmaceutical companies were selling steroid-based creams and ointments without medical guidance.
- The decision was made following consultation with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board which recommended a ban on the sale of such creams without prescription and had also submitted their recommendations to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation.
About Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO):
- The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
- Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
- Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.
About Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB):
- The DTAB is the highest decision-making body under the Union health ministry on technical matters.
- Director General of Health Services (DGHS) is the ex-officio chairman of this statutory body which is constituted by the ministry under section 5 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
What are Schedule H drugs?
- Schedule H is a class of prescription drugs listed under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 which governs manufacture and sale of all drugs in India.
- These drugs cannot be purchased over counter without the prescription of a doctor.
NITI Forum for Northeast outlines 5 development missions
The first meeting of the newly constituted NITI Forum for Northeast was held in Agartala, Tripura.
- It was was organised by NITI Aayog and Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER) and North Eastern Council (NEC).
- It was co-chaired by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajeev Kumar and Minister of State (Independent Charge), for DoNER, Jitendra Singh.
- Representatives of all eight member northeastern states Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura participated in it.
About NITI Forum for Northeast:
- ‘NITI Forum for North-East’ has been set up to identify constraints and recommend suitable interventions for speedy and sustainable growth in northeast region.
Composition of the Forum:
- Members of the Forum will include Secretaries of Ministries of Road Transport & Highways, Railways, Power, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, New & Renewable Energy, Health & Family Welfare, Human Resource Development, Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
- Chief Secretaries of Northeastern states of Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram will also be members of the Forum. Secretary, North East Council (NEC), Shillong will be Member Secretary. Joint Secretary (NE), MHA, besides a number of experts from various fields will also be members of the Forum.
- The forum will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER).
Functions of the Forum:
The NITI Forum for Northeast is tasked
- To identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the North East Region of the country
- To recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints.
- To review the development status in the NER.
The forum may also examine and address any other issues which are of importance but not specifically spelt out in its Terms of Reference. It may devise its own procedure to conduct its business, meetings, field visits or constitution of Sub-Groups etc.[Ref: PIB]
Checking NPAs: 11 public sector banks now on RBI watchlist
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has placed 11 public sector banks (PSBs) out of 21 State-owned banks under its Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework because of deteriorating performance.
- This comes months after the central government had allocated capital of Rs 52,311 crore to 11 “weak banks” to maintain their minimum capital requirement.
- Three-four more PSBs are expected to be brought under PCA framework.
What is Prompt Corrective Action (PCA)?
- PCA norms allow the regulator to place certain restrictions such as halting branch expansion and stopping dividend payment.
- It can even cap a bank’s lending limit to one entity or sector.
- Other corrective action that can be imposed on banks include special audit, restructuring operations and activation of recovery plan.
- Banks’ promoters can be asked to bring in new management, too.
- Under PCA, the RBI can also supersede the bank’s board.
When is PCA invoked?
- The PCA is invoked when certain risk thresholds are breached.
- There are three risk thresholds which are based on certain levels of asset quality, profitability, capital and the like.
- The third such threshold, which is maximum tolerance limit, sets net NPA at over 12% and negative return on assets for four consecutive years.
What are the types of sanctions?
- There are two types of restrictions, mandatory and discretionary.
- Restrictions on dividend, branch expansion, directors compensation, are mandatory while discretionary restrictions could include curbs on lending and deposit.
- In the cases of two banks where PCA was invoked after the revised guidelines were issued — IDBI Bank and UCO Bank — only mandatory restrictions were imposed. Both the banks breached risk threshold 2.
What will a bank do if PCA is triggered?
- Banks are not allowed to renew or access costly deposits or take steps to increase their fee-based income.
- Banks will also have to launch a special drive to reduce the stock of NPAs and contain generation of fresh NPAs.
- They will also not be allowed to enter into new lines of business.
- RBI will also impose restrictions on the bank on borrowings from interbank market.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
CWC Chairman pats TS on Kaleshwaram project
Central Water Commission (CWC) recently appreciated the Telangana government for the speedy execution of work on the Kaleshwaram irrigation project aimed at creation of over 18 lakh acres of new irrigation potential and stabilising another 18 lakh acres of the existing command area.
About Kaleshwaram irrigation project:
The Kaleshwaram project is an off-shoot of the original Pranahitha-Chevella Lift Irrigation Scheme taken up by the Congress government in 2007 when Andhra Pradesh was not divided.
- After the formation of Telangana in 2014, the TRS government redesigned the project on the ground that the original plan had too many environmental obstacles and had very low water storage provision — only about 16.5 tmc ft.
- After conducting a highly advanced Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey for a couple of months, the government separated the original component serving the Adilabad area as the Pranahitha project and renamed the rest as Kaleshwaram by redesigning the head works, storage capacity and the canal system based on the data of availability of water at different locations along the course of the Godavari and its tributaries.
- The Kaleshwaram project has provision for the storage of about 148 tmc ft with plans of utilising 180 tmc ft by lifting at least 2 tmc ft water every day for 90 flood days.
- The project is designed to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares (over 18.47 lakh acres) uplands in the erstwhile districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy.
- According to engineers, KLIP has many unique features, including the longest tunnel to carry water in Asia, running up to 81 km, between the Yellampally barrage and the Mallannasagar reservoir.
- The project would also utilise the highest capacity pumps, up to 139 MW, in the country to lift water.
Bilateral & International Relations
Ban Ki-moon named Boao Forum chair
Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was elected as Chairman of Boao Forum for Asia replacing Japan’s Yasuo Fukuda.
- Former governor of People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan was appointed vice-chairman.
- Both the appointments took place during second session of annual Boao Forum, known as “Asian Davos” underway in China’s Hainan province.
About Boao Forum for Asia (BFA):
BFA is non-profit organisation that hosts high-level forums for leaders from government, business and academia in Asia and other continents to share their vision on most pressing issues in this dynamic region and world.
- The forum sometimes is known as the “Asian Davos”. It takes its name from town of Boao in China’s southern Hainan province, which has been permanent venue for its annual conference since 2002.
- It is modelled on annual World Economic Forum (WEF) held annually in Davos, Switzerland.
- The Forum is committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries even closer to their development goals.
- It was established in 2001. Its first meeting was held in April 2002 and since then it is held annually.
- Its fixed address is held annully in Bo’ao, Hainan province, China although Secretariat is based in Beijing.
“Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign
To commemorate the launch of Champaran Satyagraha over a century ago on 10th April, 1917, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in coordination with the Government of Bihar, is working to spread the message of Swachhata across the country by initiating the “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign.
About the campaign:
- Under the campaign, Swachhagrahis from different parts of the country were invited to Bihar, where they worked with 10,000 Swachhagrahis from Bihar to “trigger” behaviour change throughout the 38 districts of the State and build momentum of the jan andolan further.
Significance of the campaign:
- Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran Satyagraha over a century ago, on 10th April, 1917, to give the country freedom from foreign rule.
- April 10th, 2018 marks the end of the centenary year celebrations of the Champaran Satyagraha, and is going to be celebrated through the “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign, which is aimed at achieving freedom from filth.
About the Champaran Satyagraha:
- Champaran Satyagraha was undertaken in the erstwhile undivided Champaran district in northern Bihar.
- Mahatma Gandhi went there in April, 1917 on learning about the abuses suffered by the cultivators of the district, forced into growing indigo by British planters/estate owners.
- Even Gandhi was reluctant to commit himself to task in the beginning. But he was so thoroughly persuaded by Rajkumar Shukla, an indigo cultivator from Champaran that he decided to investigate into the matter.
- Gandhi’s method of inquiry at Champaran was based on surveys by the volunteers. The respondents who willingly gave statements should sign the papers or give thumb impressions.
- For those unwilling to participate, the reasons must be recorded by the volunteers. The principal volunteers in this survey were mostly lawyers like Babu Rajendra Prasad, Dharnidhar Prasad, Gorakh Prasad, Ramnawami Prasad, Sambhusaran and Anugraha Narain Sinha.
Outcomes of the Champaran Satyagraha:
- In June 1917, the British administration declared the formation of a formal inquiry committee with Gandhi aboard.
- The Government accepted almost all its recommendations. The principal recommendation accepted was complete abolition of Tinkathia system.
- It was a major blow to the British planters who became resentful. But they could not prevent the passage of Champaran Agrarian Act in Bihar & Orissa Legislative Council on March 4, 1918.
Science & Technology
World’s first microfactory to help tackle e-waste hazard
An Indian-origin scientist in Australia has launched the world’s first microfactory that can transform the components from electronic waste items such as smartphones and laptops into valuable materials for re-use.
What is a microfactory?
- A microfactory is one or a series of small machines and devices that uses patented technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products into new and usable resources.
- The e-waste microfactory that reforms discarded computers, mobile phones and printers has a number of small modules for this process and fits into a small site.
Use of e-waste:
- These transformed materials from the micro-factory includes metal alloys and range of micromaterials.
- These can be used in industrial-grade ceramics and specific quality plastics from computers, printers and other discarded sources can be used to produce filaments suitable for 3D-printing applications.
- The metal alloys can be used as metal components for new or existing manufacturing processes.
- The e-waste microfactory has the potential to reduce the rapidly growing problem of vast amounts of electronic waste causing environmental harm and going into landfill.
- It can also turn many types of consumer waste such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products.
Key Facts for Prelims
Delhi’s IGI airport among the top 20 busiest airports:
- As per Airports Council International’s (ACI) World Airport Traffic Forecasts, the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, operated by the Delhi International Airport Ltd, has emerged as one of the busiest airports in the world and is in fact among the top 20.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) was ranked the busiest airport in the world.
- As per the latest statistics of Airports Council International, IGI Airport jumped six notches to be in the top 20 busiest airports in the world for 2017 in terms of traffic volume. It jumped from 22nd rank in 2016 to 16th.
- Delhi has also been ranked first in airport service quality for airports above 40 million passengers per annum along with the Mumbai airport.
Location of Equatorial Guinea
- Equatorial Guinea is a small country on the west coast of Africa.
- Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language.
- It is made up of a mainland territory called Rio Muni, and five islands including Bioko, where the capital Malabo is located.
Why in news?
- President of India is visiting Equatorial Guinea.
- This is the first time ever that a head of state from India is visiting Equatorial Guinea.
India donates USD 1 mln for Swaziland’s national disaster management agency
- India donated US $1 million to support Swaziland’s National Disaster Management Agency as well as food grains.
- India also expressed commitment to developmental partnership to create local capacities Swaziland and across Africa.
- Indian President Kovind visited Swaziland on the second leg of his three-African nation tour which also included Equatorial Guinea and Zambia.
Location of Swaziland:
- Swaziland is a landlocked sovereign state in Southern Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique to its northeast and by South Africa to its north, west and south.
Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy appointed UPSC member
Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy took charge as member of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
- She was administered oath of office and secrecy as member by Vinay Mittal, Chairman, UPSC.
- UPSC is a constitutional body that conducts the prestigious civil services examination.
- It has been established under Article 315 of the Constitution of India and consists of a Chairman and ten Members, who are appointed and removed by President.
- Article 316 of Constitution deals with appointment and term of office of members.
- The chairman and members of the Commission hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
The CISF (established in its present form in 1983) is a Central Armed Police Force in India.
- It is directly under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and its headquarters are at New Delhi.
- The CISF provides security cover to 300 industrial units, government infrastructure projects and facilities and establishments located all over India.
- CISF is just a unique organisation in paramilitary forces for India, which works for sea ways, airways and some of the major installations in India.
- In CISF there are some reserved battalions which works with the state police to protect law and orders.
- CISF plays a major role in Disaster Management, for Disaster Management course the personnel are trained from NISA, Hyderabad.
- Another unique thing which the CISF has is a Fire Wing which helps during fire accidents in Industries where CISF is on guard.
- Its current active strength is 142,526 personnel. In April 2017, the government raised the sanctioned strength from 145,000 to 180,000 personnel.
April 10: World Homoeopathy Day
- The World Homoeopathy Day is observed every year on April 10.
- It commemorates the 263rd birth anniversary of the founder of Homoeopathy, Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician.
- On this occasion, AYUSH Ministry, had organised International Convention on World Homoeopathy Day with theme “Enhancing Quality Research in Homoeopathy through scientific evidence and rich clinical experiences”.
- Observance of the day seeks to spread more knowledge about this form of medicine in the mainstream public health.
New source of global nitrogen discovered
- According to recently published study, over quarter of nitrogen on Earth comes from weathering of planet’s bedrock.
- For centuries, prevailing science indicated that all of nitrogen on Earth available to plants comes from atmosphere.
- The study has found that up to 26% of nitrogen in natural ecosystems is sourced from weathering of rocks, with remaining fraction from atmosphere. But input of this nitrogen source in global land system is unknown.
- This study could greatly improve climate change projections.