Polity & Governance
- Health Ministry launches the biggest Leprosy Case Detection Campaign in the country
- Sedition charges can’t be slapped for criticising government, clarifies Supreme Court
- Govt working on $5-billion fund to finance Railways projects
Environment & Ecology
- Ban on PET bottles for medicines questioned
Bilateral & International Relations
- Trial run of cargo vehicles between India and Bangladesh under BBIN MVA
- European Union and neighbouring states join global aviation emissions pact
- G20 nations for global forum to address excess steel capacity
Key Facts for Prelims
- IUCN Heritage Heroes
- G-20 Summit 2016
- QS World University Rankings 2016-17
- Urjit Patel
Polity & Governance
Health Ministry launches the biggest Leprosy Case Detection Campaign in the country
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the biggest Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) in the country across 149 districts of 19 states/UTs.
- This fortnight-long campaign will cover 1656 blocks/urban areas of these districts and screen a total of 32 crore people for leprosy.
- For this purpose, 297604 teams comprising of one lady ASHA worker and one male volunteer each would visit every house in their allotted area and screen all the family members for leprosy.
- The districts having a prevalence rate of more than one case per 10,000 population in any of the last three years have been included in this campaign.
About the campaign:
- The Leprosy Case Detection Campaign is a unique initiative of its kind in the world where each and every member of the targeted population will be examined by the search team constituted of one male and one female volunteer at household level.
- House to house visits will be done by the search team as per the micro plan prepared for the local area to detect hidden and undetected leprosy cases.
Objective of the campaign:
- The objective of the campaign is the early detection of leprosy in affected persons so that they can be saved from physical disability and deformity by providing them timely treatment and thus also halting the transmission of disease at the community level.
- The first LCDC was launched during March-April 2016 in 50 districts of 7 states namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh wherein a population of about 6.8 crores was covered. During this campaign 65427 suspected cases were identified out of which 4120 were later confirmed.
Sedition charges can’t be slapped for criticising government, clarifies Supreme Court
The Supreme Court clarified that sedition charges cannot be brought against a person merely for raising a voice against the government or its policies.
- The clarification became necessary in view of the controversy generated after sedition charges were recently slapped in a number of cases, sparking demands for the law to be scrapped.
Observations made by the SC:
- The authorities, while dealing with offences under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, shall be guided by the principles laid down by the Constitution Bench in Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar.
- The guidelines framed by the Constitution Bench 54 years ago were good enough in the present circumstances.
- The apex court had settled the controversy on sedition law way back in 1962 and had clarified under what circumstances the penal provision could be used.
- The court had clarified in its 1962 verdict that a “citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder”.
- The court had clarified that comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapproval of government actions, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence was not sedition.
- The court had pointed out two essential ingredients required to establish the crime of sedition –
- The acts must be intended to have the “effect of subverting the government” by violent means, and
- The acts must be intended to create disorder or disturbance of public peace and order by resort to violence and must incite violence.
- Seeking the court’s intervention to stop misuse of IPC Section 124A, the petitioner contended that it was high time the court examined the issue as the law was misused despite the apex court’s order.
- The law has not been amended after the Kedar Nath Singh judgment by the apex court and a constable does not understand the judgment, what he understands is the section in the IPC, he said.
- Referring to an NCRB report, the plea said 47 cases of sedition were filed in 2014 alone and 58 people arrested in connection with these cases.
The bench, however, was not convinced and refused to pass any direction.[Ref: TOI]
Govt working on $5-billion fund to finance Railways projects
The government is working on a proposal to create a $ 5-billion fund to finance various infrastructure projects of Railways.
- The proposed Railways of India Development Fund (RIDF) will be placed before the Cabinet for its nod after sorting out some hurdles.
About the proposed fund:
- Nearly 20% of the fund would come from the finance ministry.
- The remaining funds, which will be anchored by the World Bank for a period of seven years, will come from pension funds and sovereign funds.
- It is being planned that the World Bank will route the funds through the finance ministry, which will be invested in RIDF as equity.
- The proposed fund will mainly invest in major infrastructure projects of the transport behemoth.
- Earlier this year, the railway had predicted an expenditure of Rs. 1 lakh crore towards station re-development and logistics parks.
- It is estimated that the average cost of redevelopment of a station will range between Rs. 100 crore to Rs. 400 crore. This money can be raised privately.
Environment & Ecology
Ban on PET bottles for medicines questioned
A case related to phasing out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for pharmaceutical packaging is set to come up before the National Green Tribunal.
What’s the issue?
- Responding to an RTI application, the National Test House (NTH), based on whose tests the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) had taken a decision to phase out polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for pharmaceutical packaging, has clarified the tests were conducted on samples provided to them by clients for their own use.
- The controversy had threatened the Rs 4,000 crore PET pharmaceutical packaging industry in India.
- About 600,000 tonnes of PET is produced in India every year, of which the pharmaceutical industry uses 100,000 tonnes.
Bilateral & International Relations
Trial run of cargo vehicles between India and Bangladesh under BBIN MVA
The trial-run of cargo vehicles between India and Bangladesh was completed recently paving the way for seamless movement of traffic under Bangladesh-Bhutan India-Nepal Motor Vehicle (BBIN MVA) agreement between the Road Transport Ministries from both sides.
- The trial was organised to develop the protocols for implementing the agreement.
- A similar trial run of cargo vehicle from India was conducted in November last year from Kolkata to Agartala through Dhaka.
- The cargo truck was dispatched from Dhaka on August 27 as part of a trial run and arrived at the Inland Customs Depot (ICD).
- In India it travelled for more than 1,850 km through the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to reach the customs depot at Patparganj.
Significance of this trial-run:
- The trial run has demonstrated that time and cost can be saved through facilitation of seamless transport through the sub-region.
- Cargo trucks earlier often had to be off loaded at the border and also go through customs clearance. This led to delay and often also caused damage to the goods. The steps being taken to facilitate seamless movement of cargo vehicles will give a major boost to trade and business in the sub-region.
About the BBIN agreement:
- The BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement was signed at the BBIN transport ministers meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan, on 15 June last year.
- It is aimed to facilitate cross border movement of both passengers and cargo vehicles.
- Protocols to implement the agreement are being negotiated by the four countries for passengers and cargo vehicles separately.
- The pact was signed after Pakistan opposed a road connectivity pact mooted by India among South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in November 2014.
- Called the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement, it was to be signed along with the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement, but Pakistan objected to it citing the lack of internal approvals.
European Union and neighbouring states join global aviation emissions pact
The European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), a grouping of the EU and 16 other countries including Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia, are planning to join the first phase of a UN-brokered deal- GMBM (global market-based measure) scheme.
- It aims to limit carbon emissions from international flights.
- The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will shortly meet to finalise the deal.
- The proposed new deal on aviation will be voluntary between 2021 and 2026 and then mandatory from 2027 for the world’s largest emitters.
- The deal aims to cap the carbon pollution of all international flights at 2020 levels.
- Airlines in participating countries would need to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.
- Aviation was excluded from last December’s climate accord in Paris when countries agreed to limit the global average rise in in temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
G20 nations for global forum to address excess steel capacity
Major steel producers China, India and Japan along with other G20 nations have called for increased sharing of information as well as more cooperation by forming a global forum to address the issue of excess steel capacity.
- G20 leaders recognised the “structural problems, including excess capacity” in some industries, exacerbated by a weak global economic recovery and depressed market demand that have caused a negative impact on trade and workers.
- The leaders also recognised that “subsidies and other types of support from government or government-sponsored institutions” can cause market distortions and contribute to global excess capacity and therefore require attention.
Significance of this development:
The development assumes significance in the backdrop of:
- The problem caused in international markets due to excess steel capacity amidst softening of prices, which eroded sales and profits of firms across countries, especially at a time when the global economy recovery is weak.
- Nations such as the U.S. imposing heavy duties on imports of cheap steel from countries such as China.
Why is it important for India?
India, the world’s third largest steel producer, too is facing a spate of cheap imports from China, Japan and Korea.
- This has hit the sales and profits of domestic steel producers and also impacted their liquidity, which in turn has affected their capacity to repay loans and meet interest payment deadlines having a cascading effect on the number of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) with the banks.
- Steel sector in India accounts for the highest number of NPAs with the banks.
Key Facts for Prelims
Nuakhai is an agriculture festival celebrated primarily in western Odisha by farmers to thank ‘Mother Earth’ for being so bountiful. The festival is akin to Onam in Tamil Nadu. The festival is celebrated on the day after Ganesh Chaturthi. Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice of the season.
IUCN Heritage Heroes
Indian ecologist and conservation activist Bibhuti Lahkar became the first Asian to be awarded the prestigious Heritage Heroes Award by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). With this, he became the first Asian to win this prestigious environmental award.
The Heritage Heroes Award is aimed at recognising outstanding efforts around the globe in making a difference in the conservation of World Heritage sites in challenging situations.
G-20 Summit 2016
The 2016 Group of Twenty (G20) Summit was held in Hangzhou, China from 4th to 5th September 2016 to discuss efforts to reform global economic governance.
It was the eleventh meeting of the G20. It was the first ever G20 summit to be hosted in China and the second Asian country after 2010 G20 Seoul summit was hosted in South Korea.
The theme of 2016 G20 Summit: “Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”.
The G-20 comprising of world’s group of developed and developing countries represents over 85% of the world’s economy and two-thirds of global population.
QS World University Rankings 2016-17
Compiled by global higher education think tank Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the ranking saw Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) being ranked as the world’s best university for the fifth consecutive year.
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore continues to retain top spot among the Indian institutes but had slipped out of the top 150 rankings to 152nd place this year.
Dr. Urjit Patel has assumed charge as the 24th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Dr. Patel succeeds Raghuram Rajan who completed his tenure after serving a three-year term. He will have tenure of three years. Prior to this appointment (elevation) he was Deputy Governor of RBI. He is the eighth Deputy Governor to be elevated as Governor at RBI.