Polity & Governance
- FCRA tweaked to boost CSR spend
- Bihar Government partially bans sale of country-made and spiced liquor
- U.P. tops growth in enterprises, jobs: Sixth Economic Census
Environment & Ecology
- Ballast water bringing invasive species to coasts
Science & Technology
- Planet KELT-4Ab with triple-star system found
Polity & Governance
FCRA tweaked to boost CSR spend
The government has proposed an amendment with retrospective effect that will allow political parties to accept donations from overseas companies whose ownership of Indian entities is within the foreign investment limits prescribed for the sector.
- The amendments were proposed by the Finance Minister in the Finance Bill as part of the Union Budget of 2016-17.
- The amendment is retrospective and will come into effect from 2010, when the FCRA was introduced.
- Until now, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, or FCRA, banned political parties from receiving funds from any foreign source.
- The original law defines “foreign source” to include any company with foreign investment of above 50%.
About the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA):
The Ministry of Home Affairs is mandated to administer the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, for regulating the receipt and utilization of foreign contribution by the associations/NGOs.
- Expeditious action is taken as and when adverse inputs of violations of provisions of the Act are received against any association.
- The Government receives inputs from various security agencies, including Intelligence Bureau, from time to time, about the violations of FCRA, however, action is initiated against the alleged violators only after due scrutiny and following due process as prescribed in the said Act.
- If any NGOs/Civil Societies violate any of the provisions of the Act and Rules, then only, action is initiated as per provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
- Actions include compounding of offence, putting in prior reference category, suspensions of registration, freezing of accounts, cancellation of registration, prosecution etc.
Who are prohibited to accept foreign contribution?
Following persons are prohibited to accept foreign contribution except under specific situations:
- Candidate for election.
- Judge, government servant or employee of any entity controlled or owned by the government.
- Member of any Legislature.
- Political party or its office bearers.
- Organisations of a political nature as may be specified.
- Correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper.
- Associations or company engaged in the production or broadcast of audio news or audio-visual news or current affairs programmes through any electronic mode or form or any other mode of mass communication.
Bihar Government partially bans sale of country-made and spiced liquor
Bihar Government has banned the sale of country-made liquor and spiced liquor throughout the state in the first phase.
- Person found indulging in manufacturing trade, transportation, sale and consumption of country-made and spiced liquor across the state will be punished under the stringent provisions of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016.
- The country-made and spiced liquor had high consumption in rural areas.
- The state government has also banned the sale of ‘toddy’ in the state.
- The state government is also planning to ban the sale of foreign liquor in the second phase.
U.P. tops growth in enterprises, jobs: Sixth Economic Census
According to data from the Sixth Economic Census released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, among the larger States, Uttar Pradesh has seen the highest growth in enterprises and employment generation over the past decade, outstripping the economically strong states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab.
- Notably, Uttar Pradesh has been placed third in terms of growth in employment (79.4 per cent) over the last decade generated by its economic establishments, significantly ahead of the other states such as Gujarat (65.9 per cent), Maharashtra (37.9 per cent), Karnataka (19.9 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (22.5 per cent). The national average was 38 per cent.
About Economic Census:
- The Economic Census is conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- Indian economic censusis the census of the Indian economy through counting all entrepreneurial units in the country which involved in any economic activities of either agricultural or non-agricultural sector which engaged in production and/or distribution of goods and/or services not for the sole purpose of own consumption.
- In 1976, Government of India launched a plan scheme called Economic Census and Surveys. In 1977 Central Statistical Organisation conducted First economic census in collaboration with the Directorate of Economics & Statistics (DES) in the States/Union Territories.
- The Economic Census also provides data on whether the enterprises and employment have been created in rural or urban areas.
Economic Census conducted so far:
[Ref: Hindu; Wiki]
Environment & Ecology
Ballast water bringing invasive species to coasts
Scientists fear that ballast water carried by ships is providing a vehicle to bring in exotic invasive species across the Indian Coast.
- In this regard, a survey was conducted by the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala.
Key facts of the survey:
- In the survey the presence of as many as 10 invasive species was found in the biodiversity-rich intertidal habitats of the Kerala coast. Some of invasive species include one species each of seaweed, bryozoan, mollusc and seven species of ascidian. The distribution of invasive species from the Kerala coast is likely assisted by shipping.
- The survey argues that the expansion of ports in Kerala has opened ways for the introduction of alien species in marine and coastal areas.
- The survey also recorded the presence of a sea slug called Winged Thecacera ( Thecacera Pennigera ) in the southwest coast of India. Originally reported from the Atlantic coast of Europe, the presence of sea slug is currently reported from South Africa, West Africa, Pakistan, Japan, Brazil, eastern Australia and New Zealand.
What is Ballast?
- Ballast is a compartment in a ship that provides it stability. It holds water which moves in and out of it to balance the ship. It remains below the water level, to counteract the weight above the water level.
Concerns raised by the scientists:
- Ballast water is one of the biggest transporters of non-native marine species. Studies done by experts have indicated that over 10,000 marine species are being transported across the world in ballast water carried by ocean-going vessels for stability and safety.
- Ballast water is discharged when the ship enters a new port, releasing alien organisms into the local waters.
- The colossal loads of ballast water carried by ships could transport fish, viruses, bacteria, algae, zooplankton and benthonic invertebrates to harbours at a faster pace.
- Very few of the invasive species establish a beachhead in their newfound homes, but those that do have the potential to wreak havoc on the ecosystem by preying on local species or competing with them for food and habitat space.
- Ballast water is also considered a vehicle for toxic algae causing red tides and harmful algal blooms.
About Ballast Water Management Convention:
- The Ballast Water Management Convention, adopted in 2004, aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another, by establishing standards and procedures for the management and control of ships’ ballast water and sediments.
- All ships will also have to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.
India & Ballast Water Management Convention:
- India’s Union Cabinet has already approved accession to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (Ballast Water Management Convention) of International Maritime Organization (IMO).
[Ref: Hindu; Wiki]
Science & Technology
Planet KELT-4Ab with triple-star system found
Scientists have discovered a rare triple-star system with a gas giant planet similar in size to Jupiter.
- A team of researchers working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has announced the finding.
- Known planets with three stars appearing in their sky are rare and this new discovery is just the fourth.
- The team described how they came to see that a binary system once thought to be a single star, was actually a pair of stars orbiting one another, and how that led to the revelation of the triple-star system.
Findings about Planet KELT-4Ab:
- The main star is also brighter than the other stars that serve as suns for their planets which made it easier to study both the star and the planet.
- The objects under study in the new system are KELT-4Ab, a gas giant planet, similar in size to Jupiter—it takes approximately three days to make its way around the star KELT-A, which serves as its sun.
- The other two stars, named KELT-B and C, are much farther away and orbit one another over the course of approximately 30 years. The two other orbiting stars would appear much dimmer due to their great distance, shining no brighter than our moon.
- It takes the pair approximately four thousand years to orbit KELT-A.
Significance of the findings:
- The triple-star system offers a unique opportunity for scientists working to try to understand how it is that gas giants, such as KELT-4Ab, manage to orbit so close to their star.