Polity & Governance
- Ministry seeks law panel’s opinion on uniform civil code
- FSSAI signs pact with ASCI to check misleading advertisements
- NSSO survey: Among durables, households spend highest on vehicles
- Development of Port-Rail Connectivity Projects approved under Sagarmala Programme
Environment & Ecology
- Climate change threatening penguins in Antarctica: Study
- India’s thriving biodiversity: 445 new species added in 2015
- India abstains on vote for LGBT rights at U.N.
Defence & Security Issues
- Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” inducted into the Indian Air Force
Also in News
- Kendriya Vidyalaya, CRPF, Guwahati wins Youth Parliament Contest
Polity & Governance
Ministry seeks law panel’s opinion on uniform civil code
The Union Law Ministry has asked the Law Commission to examine in detail all issues pertaining to the Uniform Civil Code and submit a report to the government.
What is the Uniform Civil Code?
- Uniform civil code is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set governing every citizen.
- These laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance.
- Article 44 of the Directive Principles in India sets its implementation as duty of the State.
- According to Article 44, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”.
- Since, the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.
Controversy over UCC:
- Apart from being an important issue regarding secularism in India, it became one of the most controversial topics in contemporary politics during the Shah Bano case in 1985.
- The debate then focused on the Muslim Personal Law, which is partially based on the Sharia law and remains unreformed since 1937, permitting unilateral divorce and polygamy in the country.
FSSAI signs pact with ASCI to check misleading advertisements
The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has joined hands with ASCI in its bid to check misleading advertisements in the food and beverages sector.
- This partnership will put in place a mechanism to monitor misleading advertisements and lead to streamlining advertisements effectively through structured guidelines and appropriate action.
- Under the MoU, Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) will comprehensively monitor these advertisements across various media. The council has been given a suo motu monitoring mandate by FSSAI to process complaints against misleading advertisements of food and beverages.
- The agreement also requires ASCI to report to FSSAI non-compliance of ASCI’s decisions for further action as required per provisions of the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act.
- FSSAI will also redirect complaints against misleading food and beverages advertisements to ASCI, which will be reviewed using ASCI’s code and guidelines.
- The review will include violation of the FSS Act and regulations related to advertisements making misleading, unsubstantiated or false claims.
- Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is a self-regulatory voluntary non-governmental organization (NGO) of the advertising industry in India.
- Its aim is to maintain and enhance the public’s confidence in advertising.
- It was established in 1985 by three main constituents of advertising industry viz advertisers, advertising agencies and media.
NSSO survey: Among durables, households spend highest on vehicles
According to a study by the National Sample Survey Office, households spent the highest proportion of their consumer durable expenditure on vehicles during 2014-15 (July-June).
- The study, Key Indicators of Household Expenditure on Services and Durable Goods, was based on a survey carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation.
- The survey collected information on household expenditure from July 2014 to June 2015. It covered 47,535 households in rural areas and 36,065 households in urban areas
Highlights of the survey:
- In rural areas, within the durable goods category, households allocated the most to expenditure on transport equipment. Expenditure on transport equipment accounted for 83 per cent of total expenditure on durable goods when the purchase was done mainly for enterprise purpose.
- It was followed by expenditure on heating, cooling and electricity generation devices, information technology (IT) communication devices and productive equipment accounted for four per cent of the budget separately.
- A similar pattern was observed in urban areas. Expenditure on transport equipment accounted for a lion’s share of total expenditure on durables, followed by expenditure on heating, cooling and electricity generation devices (about 7.9 per cent) and IT and communication devices (7.8 per cent) for enterprises and jewellery for domestic consumption.
According to a new report released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, roughly two-thirds of households in rural and urban areas travel by buses and trams. Auto-rickshaws are the second most widespread mode of transport. It is followed by taxi, railways and rickshaws.[Ref: BS]
Development of Port-Rail Connectivity Projects approved under Sagarmala Programme
Ministry of Railways will take up 21 port-rail connectivity projects under the government’s Sagarmala project to strengthen evacuation network and boost last-mile connectivity to the country’s ports.
- In addition, another six projects are being considered by the Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL).
- The Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL), which has been incorporated by the Ministry of Shipping, would take up the projects after prioritizing them.
- IPRCL has already awarded 3 port connectivity projects for Vishakhapatnam and Chennai ports for quick evacuation of cargo, and another 19 projects are in the pipeline.
About Sagarmala port project:
- The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
- The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
- The project aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
- It also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
- It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ).
- The project, envisaging port-led development, targets to provide one crore employment, direct employment to 40 lakh persons and indirect employment to 60 lakh persons.
About National Perspective Plan for Sagarmala Programme:
The National Perspective Plan for Sagarmala Programme which was released in April by the Prime Minister identifies projects under the 4 major objectives of the programme –
- Port Modernization & New Port Development,
- Port Connectivity Enhancement,
- Port-led Industrialization and
- Coastal Community Development.
- More than 150 projects have been identified which will mobilize investment of more than Rs. 4 lac crore and generate approximately 1 crore new jobs, including 40 lac direct jobs, over a period of 10 years.
- These projects are expected to generate annual logistics cost savings of close to Rs 35,000 crore and provide boost to India’s merchandise exports by $110 billion by 2025.
Environment & Ecology
Climate change threatening penguins in Antarctica: Study
A new study has warned that continued warming of Antarctica due to climate change may lead to decline of 60% of Adelie penguin colonies by the end of this century.
Key points of the study:
- According to the study, climate change in Antarctica, cooling in some places and warming in others, is causing a dramatic shift in the population of Adelie penguins.
- Researchers found that recent climate warming along the West Antarctic Peninsula corresponded to population declines, while stable or cooling conditions in other parts of the continent corresponded to stable or increasing populations.
- Over time, Adelie penguins were once positively affected by warming and negatively affected by cooling.
- Researchers found that further warming is no longer beneficial at some locations on Antarctica, although some cooler regions could serve as a refuge and buffer the effects for a while.
- According to the researchers, continued warming is expected to lead to population declines at approximately 30 per cent of colonies by 2060 and 60 per cent of colonies by 2099.
About the Adelie penguin:
- The Adelie penguin is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence.
- The Adelie Penguin is the smallest and most widely distributed species of Penguin in the Southern Ocean and is one of only two species of Penguin found on the Antarctic mainland (the other being the much larger Emperor Penguin).
- According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Adelie penguin is accorded the status of ‘Near Threatened’ species.
India’s thriving biodiversity: 445 new species added in 2015
According to a report on animal and plant discoveries of 2015, around 445 species have been identified in India in 2015.
- The figure includes 262 animal species and 183 plant species.
- On the sidelines of the publication of the report, the Environment Minister also announced the setting up of two new regional centres of ZSI at Bhuj in Gujarat and Gangtok in Sikkim. At present, the ZSI has 16 regional centres.
- Some of the notable additions to the list of animals include a rock gecko (Hemidactylus yajurvedi) found in Kanker Chhattishgarh, a new frog species (Fejervarya gomantaki) from the Western Ghats, and a shiny new species of fish (Barilius ardens), also from the Western Ghats.
- Among the plants, a new species of ginger Zingiber bipinianum has been found in the South Garo hills of Meghalaya, and a species of mushroom (Bondarzewia zonata) has been collected from north Sikkim at an altitude of 2,829 m.
- The most discoveries were made in the Eastern Himalaya region, which accounts for 19% of the total discoveries followed by the Western Ghats (18%) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands at about 15%.
- All regions in the country have recorded new species. More than 15% of the new species are higher vertebrates.
- India is home to 97,514 species of animals.
India abstains on vote for LGBT rights at U.N.
India abstained from voting in the UN Human Rights Council on a resolution to appoint an independent expert for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community.
- The issue of LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders) rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations.
- Recently, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva decided to appoint, for a period of three years, an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- It also adopted a resolution on youth and human rights.
- It was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 18 against and six abstentions.
What would be the mandate of the independent expert?
- The resolution said the mandate of the independent expert would be to assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination.
About the United Nations Human Rights Council:
- The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations System inter-governmental body whose 47 member states are responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world.
- The UNHRC is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR), and is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly.
- The General Assembly established the UNHRC by adopting a resolution in 2006, in order to replace the previous CHR, which had been heavily criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.
- The UNHRC addresses mostly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and occasionally addresses rights-related situations in countries such as in Burma, Guinea, North Korea, Côte d’Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Libya, Iran, and Sri Lanka, though with much lesser frequency.
- The UNHRC also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
- The UN General Assembly elects the members who occupy the UNHRC’s 47 seats.
- The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
- The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
- The seats are distributed among the UN’s regional groups as follows: 13 for Africa, 13 for Asia, six for Eastern Europe, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), and seven for the Western European and Others Group (WEOG).
- The General Assembly, via a two-thirds majority, can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership.
Defence & Security Issues
Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” inducted into the Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force has inducted the first indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas’ into its No. 45 squadron, also called the ‘Flying Daggers’.
- The induction of the aircraft will be done in a phased manner.
- Its motto is “Ajeet Nabha”.
- The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before it is moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.
Key features of the Tejas:
- Tejas is the first advance Fly-by-wire (FBW) fighter aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in India.
- Conceived as a MiG-21 replacement, the aircraft has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- It is to the credit of its designers, manufacturer, technicians and test crew, that LCA has flown more than 3000 sorties / 2000 Hrs till date without any accident.
- Tejas is a 4th Plus generation aircraft with a glass cockpit and is equipped with state of the art Satellite aided Inertial Navigation System.
- It has a digital computer based attack system and an autopilot. It can fire Air to Air Missiles, Bombs as well as Precision Guided Munitions.
- Tejas has been developed for the IAF and the Navy by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) starting 1985 and produced by the public sector aircraft manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, both based in Bengaluru.
- The aircraft was named “Tejas” (meaning radiance in Sanskrit) by Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister.
Also in News
Kendriya Vidyalaya, CRPF, Guwahati wins Youth Parliament Contest
Kendriya Vidyalaya, CRPF, Guwahati has won the National Youth Parliament Competition for 2015-16 organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
About the National Youth Parliament Competition:
- Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has been organizing National Youth Parliament Competition from 1966 for schools, colleges and Universities.
- The objective of the Competition is to familiarize the students with the practices and procedures of Parliament, techniques of discussion and debate and development of leadership qualities, spirit of self-discipline and tolerance of diverse opinions.