Polity & Governance
- Karnataka Cabinet clears anti-superstition bill
Government Schemes & Policies
- CARA launches monthly “Jan Sampark” Program to facilitate adoption
- Cabinet approves umbrella scheme of Modernisation of Police Forces
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- 13th Formation Day of the National Disaster Management Authority
- A new species of non-venomous aquatic snake discovered in Western Ghats
Bilateral & International Relations
- Inter-bank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement and Cooperation Memorandum relating to Credit Ratings
- Cabinet approves pact to collaborate in modernization of Afghan police
- Cabinet approves Bilateral Investment Treaty between India and Belarus
- Saudi Arabia women hail end of driving ban
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Polity & Governance
Karnataka Cabinet clears anti-superstition bill
The Karnataka Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the much-delayed and debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, popularly known as the anti-superstition Bill.
- The Bill, if cleared by the State legislature, is expected to put an end to various inhuman practices such as black magic, witchcraft, or any act in the name of religion that causes harm to humans and animals.
- However, acts such as Kesh Lochan (plucking of hair), vaastu and astrology have not been barred.
What is banned?
- Performing any black magic, inhumane act and evil practices in search of treasure or bounty, tantric acts which include physical and sexual assault.
- Practices such as parading people naked, ostracising a person in the name of a ritual and encouraging inhumane acts during said rituals also come under the purview of the bill.
- Rituals of exorcism, assaulting people under the pretext of exorcism, misinformation and creating a panic-like situation under the pretext of ghosts and black magic will also be banned.
- Other practices such as making claims of having healing power, propagating practices that involve self-mutilation and coercing people to perform fire-walking will also be banned.
What is not banned?
- The form of the worship such as Pradakshina, Yatra, Parikrama performed at religious places
- Harikata, Keerthana, Pravachana, Bhajana, teaching of ancient and traditional learning and arts, practice, propagation and circulation
- Miracles of the deceased saints propagation, publicity and circulation of the same and the propagation, publicity and distribution of literature about miracles of the religious preachers which do not cause physical injury
- Performance of prayers, upasana and religious rituals at home, temple, darghas, gurdwara, pagoda, church, and other religious places which do not cause physical injury
- All religious celebrations, festivals, prayers, procession and other act relating other rituals
- Piercing of ears and nose of children in accordance with rituals and performance of religious ritual such as Kesh Lochan by the Jains
- Advice in regard to vaastu shasthra, and advice by jyothishya and other astrologers
Government Schemes & Policies
CARA launches monthly “Jan Sampark” Program to facilitate adoption
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) of the Ministry of Women & Child Development has started a monthly “Jan Sampark” program to enable the public to have interaction with its officials and staff for seeking information related to Adoption as well as flagging their concerns.
- The first of its kind programme under it was held recently in New Delhi.
- Nearly 150 Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs), adoptive parents and representatives of agencies participated in session.
- The Jan Sampark program will now be held regularly every month apart from the quarterly Facebook live chat by CEO CARA.
- During the event, details pertaining to Immediate Placement and Special Needs Adoption Module of Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS) will be shared with all the stakeholders.
- The will serve as platform for counselling and motivating PAPs to go for adopting older children.
About Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA):
CARA is statutory body of Ministry of Women & Child Development established under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
- It is a nodal body for adoption of Indian children.
- It is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
- CARA primarily deals with adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated /recognised adoption agencies.
- It deals with inter-country adoptions according to Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993 ratified by India in 2003.
Cabinet approves umbrella scheme of Modernisation of Police Forces
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for implementation of umbrella scheme of “Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF)” for years 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- The financial outlay for the scheme over the three year’s period is Rs.25,060 crore, out of which the Central Government share will be Rs.18,636 crore and the States’ share will be Rs.6,424 crore.
- It is biggest ever internal security scheme in country.
Salient Features of the scheme:
- Special provision has been made under the Scheme for internal security, law and order, women security, availability of modern weapons, mobility of police forces, logistics support, hiring of helicopters, upgradation of police wireless, National Satellite Network, CCTNS project, E-prison project etc.
J&K, North Eastern and LWE States:
- Under the umbrella scheme, central budget outlay of Rs.10,132 crore has been earmarked for internal security related expenditure for Jammu & Kashmir, North Eastern States and left wing extremism affected States.
- Scheme of Special Central Assistance (SCA) for 35 worst LWE affected districts has been introduced with an outlay of Rs.3,000 crore to tackle the issue of underdevelopment in these district.
- An outlay of Rs.100 crore has been earmarked in the North Eastern States for police infrastructure upgradation, training institutes, investigation facilities etc.
- Under the scheme, new initiatives will be introduced to provide assistance to States for upgradation of police infrastructure, forensic science laboratories, institutions and the equipment available with them to plug critical gaps in the criminal justice system.
Integration of Police Stations:
- Police Stations will be integrated to set up a national data base of crime and criminals’ records.
- It will be linked with other pillars of criminal justice system such as ‘prisons, forensic science laboratories and prosecution offices.
Forensic science laboratories:
- The umbrella scheme also provides for setting up of a State-of Art forensic science laboratory in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh and upgradation of Sardar Patel Global Centre for Security, Counter Terrorism and Anti Insurgency in Jaipur and Gujarat Forensic Science University in Gandhi Nagar.
Significance of the scheme:
- Implementation of this scheme will help to bolster Government’s ability to address challenges faced in different theatres such as areas affected by LWE, Jammu and Kashmir and North East effectively.
- It will also aid to undertake development interventions which will catalyze in improving quality of life in these areas and help combat these challenges effectively at same time.
- It is expected that the scheme will go a long way to boost capability and efficiency of Central and State Police Forces by modernizing them.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
13th Formation Day of the National Disaster Management Authority
The 13th Formation Day of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was celebrated in New Delhi on 28 September 2017.
- The theme of this year’s Formation Day is School Safety.
- NDMA released the National Disaster Management Guidelines on School Safety Policy in February, 2016 with an aim to strengthen the risk resilience of schools across the country.
About National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA):
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex body for Disaster Management in India under aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- Setting up of NDMA and the creation of an enabling environment for institutional mechanisms at the State and District levels is mandated by the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- It is also apex body to lay down policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.
- Its primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.
Functions of NDMA:
- Lay down policies on disaster management;
- Approve the National Plan;
- Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan;
- Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan;
- Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects;
- Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management;
- Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation;
- Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government;
- Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary;
- Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.
A new species of non-venomous aquatic snake discovered in Western Ghats
A new species of non-venomous aquatic snake – Aquatic Rhabdops, which was misidentified since 1863, has finally been described and identified as a new species from the northern Western Ghats.
Key Facts about the Aquatic Rhabdops:
- Aquatic Rhabdops snakes belong to genus Rhabdops which are endemic to India.
- It is named after its aquatic nature since adults of these species are mostly associated with freshwater forest streams and juveniles are seen in water-logged areas, mostly on rocky plateaus.
- They are three-foot-long nocturnal snake and mostly prey underwater like other water snakes.
- Adult Aquatic Rhabdops have off-white bellies and black spots on their olive brown skin, juveniles are olive green, with yellow undersides. This colour difference in life stages may be due to different local habitats.
- Aquatic Rhabdops is found only in the laterite plateaus of the northern Western Ghats in Goa, southern Maharashtra and northern Karnataka which are mostly areas facing high human pressure.
Aquatic Rhabdops Vs. Olive Forest Snake:
Earlier the new species, Rhabdops aquaticus, was considered as variant of Olive Forest Snake, first described in 1863.
- But new study has confirmed that Aquatic Rhabdops has different colours and patterns and also vary in other features of size, shape and structure, and also genetic make-up.
- The Aquatic Rhabdops snake are found in the North western ghats including Maharashtra, Goa and nothern parts of North Karnataka while the olive forest snake is restricted to Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Bilateral & International Relations
Inter-bank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement and Cooperation Memorandum relating to Credit Ratings
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the signing of the (i) Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement and (ii) Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings by Exim Bank with participating member banks under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.
- As both the Agreement and the MoU are umbrella pacts, and are non-binding in nature, the Board of Directors of Exim Bank has been authorized to negotiate and conclude any individual contracts and commitments within their framework.
Significance of these Agreements:
- They will promote multilateral interaction within area of mutual interest which will deepen political and economic relations with BRICS nations.
- It will position Exim Bank in international platform along with large development finance institutions of BRICS member countries.
- They will enable Exim Bank to leverage these agreements and can enter into bilateral agreement with any of these member institutions to raise resources for its business.
- It will enable lending in single currency by any two member institutions.
- Exim Bank finances, facilitates and promotes India’s international trade.
- It provides competitive finance at various stages of business cycle covering import of technology, export production, export product development and export credit at pre-shipment and post-shipment stages and investments overseas.
- It raises resources in off-shore market in diverse currencies and swaps to mitigate the risk.
Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement
- It is a framework mechanism to extend credit lines in local currencies to the BRICS’ Interbank Cooperation Mechanism (ICM) members.
- The initial Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under BRICS ICM had validity of five years and expired in March 2017.
- Under it some member banks of BRICS had entered into bilateral agreements for local currency financing under Master Agreement signed in 2012.
Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings
- It enables sharing of credit ratings amongst BRICS member banks, based on request received from another bank.
- It serves as ideal mechanism to mitigate credit risks associated with cross-border financing.
- It can also serve as pre-cursor to proposal of having an alternate rating agency by BRICS nations.
Cabinet approves pact to collaborate in modernization of Afghan police
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing an MoU between India and Afghanistan on Technical Cooperation on Police Training and Development.
- The MoU will help in capacity building of Afghanistan National Police and improving the security apparatus in the region.
- It has been approved for a period of 5 years from the date of signing the MoU and shall be extended for a further period of 5 years on the condition that are not further changes and or revision.
- India and Afghanistan have friendly relations.
- The police personnel of Afghanistan National Police come regularly for training purposes in different training institutes of India.
- India and Afghanistan have already signed an “Agreement on strategic partnership” between the two countries in October, 2011.
- Afghanistan delegates expressed their desire for assistance from India in the field of Police training, police development, law enforcement, strengthening the rule of law in Afghanistan and building sustainable long-term cooperation.
India’s support to Afghanistan:
- India has played a major role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime and has invested over $2 billion in various reconstruction and infrastructure projects.
- The construction of the major Salma Dam, the new Afghan parliament building, Zaranj-Delaram highway, and some other projects are among the key investments India has done so far in the country.
- In the security and defense, India has provided four attack helicopters along with transport choppers besides providing scholarships to the Afghan army cadets.
Cabinet approves Bilateral Investment Treaty between India and Belarus
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing and ratification of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the India and Belarus on Investments.
- The Treaty is likely to increase investment flows between the two countries.
- The agreement is expected to improve the confidence of the investors resulting in an increase in FDI and Overseas Director Investment (ODI) opportunities and this will have a positive impact on employment generation.
- The signing and ratification of a BIT between the two countries will work as a strategic initiative as Belarus is the member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
- India has already initiated the BIT text with the Kyrgyz Republic and is in talks with the Russian Federation for a new BIT, based on the Model BIT text released in December 2015.
Location of Belarus:
Saudi Arabia women hail end of driving ban
Saudi Arabia has reversed its long-standing and widely criticized ban against women driving.
- A ministerial body will be set up to give advice within 30 days.
- The royal order will be implemented by 24 June 2018.
- The Gulf kingdom is the only country in the world that bans women from driving – and women are still subject to strict dress codes and gender segregation.
- Until now, only men were allowed licences and women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.
- Rights groups in the kingdom have campaigned for years to allow women to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.
- Female activists organised collective protests in 1990, 2011 and 2013, and posted online videos of themselves driving.
- In recent years, some members of the Saudi royal family have expressed support for ending the ban.
- Last year, the government launched the Vision 2030 plan to modernise the economy – which was seen as a sign the country was moving towards reform.
Significance of the move:
- With more than half the country aged under 25, the latest move is seen as catering to the aspirations of younger people.
- The country further aims to loosen social restrictions, which has so far not translated into more political or civil rights and also seeks to ease criticism over recent arrests.
Lifestyle limits remain for Saudi women:
- Saudi law enforces a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism and is known for its gender segregation rules.
- Women have to adhere to strict dress codes, must not associate with unrelated men, and if they want to travel, work or access healthcare they must be accompanied by – or receive written permission from – a male guardian.