Polity & Governance
- Now, private citizens can seek sanction to prosecute IAS officers
- Seven Indian firms on Fortune 500 list; Rajesh Exports replaces ONGC
Environment & Ecology
- NDMC signs agreement with NEERI to develop sewage treatment plants
- New species of Gecko discovered in Chhattisgarh forest
- NDBs 1st AGM, board of governors meetings held in China
- PM Modi inaugurates Petrapole Integrated Check Post with PM Sheikh Hasina
- India, Japan ink social security deal; skilled workers to get benefits
Defence & Security Issues
- Panel to be formed on use of alternatives to pellet guns
Science & Technology
- India, US to jointly develop resource mapping satellite for launch in 2021
- New ‘giant thief’ dinosaur found in Argentina
Polity & Governance
Now, private citizens can seek sanction to prosecute IAS officers
In a major move, the Centre has agreed to permit private persons seek sanction for prosecution of State and central IAS officers under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- Under the existing rules, requests for sanction for prosecution of All India Services Officers (IAS/IPS/IFS etc.) can be initiated by the investigative agencies only.
- A decision to grant or deny the permission can be made only by a “competent authority” designated by the Centre.
- Ministry of Personnel had decided to entertain proposals/requests from private persons for sanction of public servants in compliance of a Supreme Court verdict of 2012 and intimated the procedures to be followed. It has asked all the stake holders to give their comments by August 12.
SC’s key observations in its 2012 verdict:
- The Supreme Court in its judgment in 2012 in Dr. Subramanian Swamy versus Dr. Manmohan Singh and another observed that “there is no provision either in the (Prevention of Corruption Act),1988 Act or the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.PC) which bars a citizen from filing a complaint for prosecution of a public servant who is alleged to have committed an offence.
- The apex court further observed that if the Competent Authority is satisfied that the material placed before it is sufficient for prosecution of the public servant, then it is required to grant sanction or refuse sanction if the evidence is not sufficient. In either case, the decision taken on the complaint made by a citizen is required to be communicated to him and if he feels aggrieved by such decision, then he can avail legal remedy.
Seven Indian firms on Fortune 500 list; Rajesh Exports replaces ONGC
Only seven Indian companies made it to the latest Fortune 500 list, which ranks the world’s biggest companies in terms of revenues.
- The list is topped by retail giant Walmart.
- Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC) is ranked highest at 161st among Indian firms, while another state-run firm Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) has moved out of the rankings for 2016.
- Among the seven Indian companies, four are from the public sector while Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is the top-ranked among private sector firms, followed by Tata Motors Ltd and Rajesh Exports.
- Among state-run majors, IOC is followed by banking behemoth State Bank of India (SBI), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL).
Environment & Ecology
NDMC signs agreement with NEERI to develop sewage treatment plants
In a bid to develop green areas and revamp big and small parks under its jurisdiction, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has signed an agreement with National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to develop 12 sewage treatment plants (STP).
- The project will help increase the green cover in NDMC areas and curb dust pollution.
- The agreement has a clause that NDMC will bear only pumping cost which is economic and NEERI will bear the cost of the project.
- Barren lands that have no use under NDMC areas will be developed into green areas under the same project.
The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) is a research institute created and funded by Government of India.
- NEERI is a pioneer laboratory in the field of environmental science and engineering and part of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
- NEERI has five zonal laboratories at Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
- NEERI falls under the Ministry of Science and Technology (India) of central government.
- To conduct research and developmental studies in environmental science and engineering.
- To render assistance to the industries of the region, local bodies, etc. in solving the problems of environmental pollution.
- To interact and collaborate with academic and research institutions on environmental science and engineering for mutual benefit.
- To participate in CSIR thrust area and mission projects.
New species of Gecko discovered in Chhattisgarh forest
A new species of gecko “EUBLEPHARIS SATPURAENSIS” (reptile) has been discovered for the first time in Chhattisgarh’s rich biodiversity forest at Bhoramdeo Wildlife Sanctuary in Kawardha district.
- The population of the new species looks quite dense and indicates that the eco-system suits it for further conservation.
- Earlier found only in Madhya Pradesh, the species was spotted during tiger census being conducted in the sanctuary on the hills of Satpuda range.
- Forest department now plans to write to Zoological Survey of India seeking suggestions to conserve Gecko in the region.
NDBs 1st AGM, board of governors meetings held in China
BRICS’ New Development Bank headed by eminent Indian Banker K V Kamath held its first annual general body and board of governors’ meetings in Shanghai, China where the institution is headquartered.
- The New Development Bank (NDB) has completed one year since its establishment in 2015.
- During the meeting of the Board of Governors of the NDB, it was decided that India will be the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Bank and the second Annual meetings of NDB will be held in India in 2017.
- The bank has issued its first loans this year worth about USD 911 million for projects in the BRICS member counties. The bank was expected to provide substantial loans by next year.
- The bank also plans to extend finance to private sector. The bank will also look at opportunities to co-finance projects with other Multilateral Development Banks.
- Ahead of the meeting, the NDB had issued its first bonds worldwide worth about USD 449 million to raise funds for clean energy projects in member states.
- The five-year green bonds, denominated in the Chinese currency renminbi or yuan, are worth three billion yuan (USD 449 million) and were sold in China’s onshore interbank bond market.
- It was the first time in seven years that a global financial institution based in Shanghai issued the yuan- denominated bond in China.
About the New Development Bank:
The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
- The bank is headquartered in Shanghai, China.
- The first regional office of the NDB will be opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Its first President is Kundapur Vaman Kamath.
- The New Development Bank was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013. The bank, with authorized capital of $100 billion, started work last year.
- Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.
- The New Development Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
- The establishment of the Bank will help India and other signatory countries to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects.
PM Modi inaugurates Petrapole Integrated Check Post with PM Sheikh Hasina
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated the Petrapole Integrated Check Post through video-conferencing.
- Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee also participated from Kolkata in the video-conference.
- Petrapole ICP will be the second ICP on the India-Bangladesh border after the Agartala ICP at the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) land border.
- It will also be the biggest land port in South Asia.
Trade through the Petrapole Integrated Check Post:
Petrapole-Benapole is an important land border crossing for India-Bangladesh trade.
- More than 50 per cent of the India-Bangladesh trade passes through Petrapole. Trade worth more than Rs. 15000 Crore takes place through the Petrapole ICP, which is more than all the other Indian Land Ports and Land Customs Stations put together.
- Approximately 15 lakh people and 150,000 trucks cross Petrapole-Benapole every year.
Significance of the Petrapole Integrated Check Post:
- The Petrapole ICP will provide better facilities for effective and efficient discharge of functions such as security, immigration, customs, quarantine, etc.
- It also provides support facilities for smooth cross-border movement of persons, goods and transport.
- It is expected that the capacity will double with the commissioning of the Petrapole ICP and the local business community will benefit immensely from reduced transaction time and costs.
- The commissioning of the Petrapole ICP will also serve to foster greater economic integration and connectivity between India and Bangladesh.
India, Japan ink social security deal; skilled workers to get benefits
India and Japan have signed a social security agreement expected to come into force on 1 October.
How will both the nations be benefited through this agreement?
It is expected to benefit thousands of Indian and Japanese professionals and skilled workers working in the two countries.
- The pact will help avoid double social security contributions. In other words, an Indian worker on a short-term contract in Japan will be exempt from making a social security contribution there. The same applies to Japanese workers in India.
- This exemption will be provided only if the Indian worker is covered under the social security system of India and continues to pay his or her contribution during the period of overseas contract.
- The pact will also help easy remittance of benefits in case of relocation.
- The India-Japan pact will favourably impact the profitability and competitive position of Indian and Japanese companies with foreign operations in either country by reducing their cost of doing business abroad.
- India has so far signed similar comprehensive social security agreements with 15 countries, including Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Austria, and Australia.
A pact with Portugal is in the process of being operationalized.[Ref: LiveMint]
Defence & Security Issues
Panel to be formed on use of alternatives to pellet guns
The government is planning to set up an expert committee to recommend non-lethal alternatives of crowd control after many members of Parliament expressed concern over the loss of lives and injuries in Jammu and Kashmir due to the use of pellet guns.
What are pellet guns?
They are a form of non-lethal crowd control methods used by police and military worldwide.
- The other popular methods are tear gas, water cannon, pepper spray, taser guns etc.
- Pellet guns are also popular in hunting and pest control.
What are they intended for?
- Pellets guns are intended to injure individuals and cause pain. They are effective over short ranges up to 500 yards but when fired from close quarters can be lethal, particularly when sensitive parts like eyes are hit. Pellets can penetrate soft tissues.
- Security forces were asked to open minimal fire at protesters and if necessary “below their waist.”
How does a pellet look like?
- A cartridge of a pellet gun contains few hundred pellets made of Lead. Pellets can be of various shapes either like ball bearings or irregular.
- When fired, the cartridge disperses few hundred pellets over few hundred metres depending on the type.
Who manufactures them?
- Pellet guns are manufactured at the Ordinance Factory, Ishapore.
When were they introduced?
- They are used by Jammu & Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). They were first introduced in August 2010. The CRPF has 600 such guns.
Where are they put to use?
- These guns are used in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas but they are mostly used in the Kashmir Valley.
Science & Technology
India, US to jointly develop resource mapping satellite for launch in 2021
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are jointly working on the development of a Dual Frequency (L&S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Imaging Satellite named as NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR).
- The project is slated to be completed and launched by 2021.
- ISRO will be responsible for design and development of S-band SAR, Spacecraft Bus, data transmission system, spacecraft integration and testing.
- The radar will be launched using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and ISRO will also be responsible for the in-orbit operations.
Usage of the L and S band microwave data:
The L and S band microwave data obtained from this satellite will be useful for variety of applications, which include
- Natural resources mapping & monitoring;
- Estimating agricultural biomass over full duration of crop cycle;
- Assessing soil moisture;
- Monitoring of floods and oil slicks;
- Coastal erosion, coastline changes and variation of winds in coastal waters;
- Assessment of mangroves; surface deformation studies and others.
New ‘giant thief’ dinosaur found in Argentina
A previously unknown species of meat-eating dinosaur from 80 million years ago has been unearthed in Argentina, adding to the dino family known as the “Giant Thieves,”
- The fossil found in Patagonia, an area rich in bone discoveries from the Late Cretaceous Period — is named Murusraptor barrosaensis and may reveal more about the origins of the group known as the megaraptorids.
- These dinosaurs walked on two legs, bore large sickle-shaped toe claws and were fast, agile and smart with voracious appetites that led to the nickname, “Giant Thief.”