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Current Affairs Analysis

9th December 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), 2017; Triple Talaq; UDAY; 2016 Global Terrorism Index; Tropical Cyclonic Storm Vardah; Shilp Guru Awards; Haritha Keralam Mission; National Awards for Master craftspersons; SIMCON 2016; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
December 09, 2016

Contents

Social Issues

  • Triple talaq is ‘cruel’, ‘most demeaning’ to women

Economy

  • Himachal Pradesh becomes 18th State to join UDAY

Environment & Ecology

  • DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring

Bilateral & International Relations

  • US formally designates India as ”Major Defence Partner”

Defence & Security Issues

  • India ranks 7th in 2016 Global Terrorism Index

Science & Technology

  • A more muscular rice variety takes on wheat

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Package for promotion of digital & cashless economy
  • Tropical Cyclonic Storm Vardah
  • Shilp Guru Awards
  • Haritha Keralam Mission
  • National Awards for Master craftspersons
  • SIMCON 2016

 

Social Issues

Triple talaq is ‘cruel’, ‘most demeaning’ to women

The Allahabad High Court has ruled that the practice of triple talaq (Talaq-e-bidat) among Muslims is unconstitutional and violates the rights of women enshrined in constitution.

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Important observations made by the court:

Coming down heavily on the practice, the court has held that

  • This form of “instant divorce” is “most demeaning” which “impedes and drags India from becoming a nation”.
  • The view that “the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict instant divorce” does not tie in with Islamic laws.
  • Divorce is permissible in Islam only in case of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of marriage by Talaq or by Khola.
  • Personal laws of any community cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution that provides for equality and non-discrimination.
  • No Personal Law Board is above the Constitution i.e. it was indirectly referring to All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

What is the issue?

  • Talaq-e-bidat is Muslim man divorcing his wife unilaterally by pronouncing the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one go. Thus, it is oral talaq pronounced for irrevocable instantaneous divorce at one go.
  • Many activists say that this practice is not of Islamic origin.
  • AIMPLB, a non-government organisation always has held that Talaq-e-bidat is integral part of Muslims and courts have no role to play in Personal Law as it falls under the Fundamental Right to practice religion.
  • Supreme Court is also hearing a petition challenging the validity of triple talaq, as several individuals and NGOs have sought a ban on its practice.
  • Even, the National Commission of Women (NCW) considers it “highly misused” custom and asked Government to scrap it to protect the rights of Muslim women.

Background:

  • The constitution allows Muslims, the biggest religious minority group in the country, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.
  • Even the Supreme Court has been examining how much it can interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it hears a plea to end the practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times.
  • Besides, the centre had recently informed the Supreme Court that it is opposed to the Muslim practice of triple talaq. It had also described this practice as “misplaced in a secular country.”
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

Himachal Pradesh becomes 18th State to join UDAY

Government of India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of Himachal Pradesh and the State DISCOM under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), for operational and financial turnaround of the DISCOM.

  • Himachal Pradesh is the 18th State to sign MoU under UDAY.

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About UDAY:

The Power Ministry had launched UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) on November 20, 2015.

  • The scheme is expected to help discoms save around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the next three years. The cumulative debt of discoms is Rs 4.37 lakh crore.
  • The UDAY scheme is aimed at bringing ailing power distribution companies (discoms) to a state of operational efficiency, with state governments taking over up to 75% of their respective discoms’ debt and issuing sovereign bonds to pay back the lenders.
  • UDAY is an effort to make these DISCOMs financially and operationally healthy, to be able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, and enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification and 24X7 Power For All.
  • It envisages to reduce interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. Consequently, DISCOM would become sustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24×7 power supply.
  • UDAY has inbuilt incentives encouraging State Governments to voluntarily restructure their debts.
  • UDAY also provides for measures that will reduce the cost of power generation, which would ultimately benefit consumers.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment & Ecology

DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring

Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and Intel are collaborating to jointly initiate “DST-Intel Collaborative Research for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring”.

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  • Under the project, proposals from academic and research institutions are solicited on developing online River Water and Air Quality Monitoring (WAQM) systems.

Key facts:

  • The move is aimed
  1. To recognize the importance of developing the online River Water and Air Quality Monitoring (WAQM) systems.
  2. To develop key technologies for sensing, communication and analysis of large-scale data collected from autonomous networks of perpetual/long-lived sensor nodes, followed by integration and deployment for water and air quality monitoring in real-time.
  • This will be a joint programme of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
  • The program will be administered by the binational Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF).

Significance:

  • This will eventually lead to development and deployment of low-cost, low-power, autonomous wireless sensor networks to provide a fine-grained view of several critical water and air quality metrics over large geographic areas.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

US formally designates India as ”Major Defence Partner”

India has been designated as a major defence partner of the United States.

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  • It puts India on a par with the closest allies and partners of the US.
  • So far, US has bestowed this status upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries and the US treaty allies such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Philippines.

Significance of this designation:

  • The designation of this status is unique to India, a non-NATO ally of US.
  • It institutionalizes the progress made by US to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with its closest allies and partners.
  • It will facilitate US to transfer of advanced defence technology to India.
  • It will also strengthen institutional effectiveness of US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTII) and the durability of the India Rapid Reaction Cell in Pentagon.

National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), 2017

  • India’s Major Defence Partner status has been made a part of the India Amendment in the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), 2017 of US.
  • India will get formal official stamp on this status after this bill is passed by two chambers of the Congress House of Representatives and Senate before it receives assent of US President Barack Obama.
  • Under the NDAA 2017, India will be included in conventional arms transfer policy, defence services, or related technology, inform the review of requests to export defence articles under the Arms Export Control Act.

Indo-US defence relations:

  • India was designated Major Defence Partner status during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to US in June, 2016.
  • Since 2014 some major agreements were signed between India and US. It included Defence Framework Agreement in 2015, which laid a blueprint for collaboration between the defence establishments and the logistics support agreement Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Defence & Security Issues

India ranks 7th in 2016 Global Terrorism Index

According to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) India was ranked 7th among 163 countries in the list of most impacted by terrorism in 2015.

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  • The index was released by Sydney-based think-tank Institute for Economics & Peace.

Highlights of the report:

  • India is one of six Asian countries ranked in the top 10 nations most impacted by terrorism.
  • India was among the four countries where nearly half of all terrorist attacks occurred in 2015, besides Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Improvements continued to be recorded in India, which historically has had high levels of terrorist activity. In 2015, India had the highest number of attacks since 2000, whilst paradoxically it had the second lowest number of deaths for a single year since 2000.
  • 75% of attacks in India had no fatalities, compared to 44% globally.
  • Pakistan was also named among the five countries with the highest impact from terrorism, besides Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria. These five countries accounted for 72% of all deaths from terrorism in 2015.
  • Pakistan continued to see declines in its levels of terrorism due to infighting within the largest active group, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as well as to the operations of the Pakistan Army in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

About the index:

  • The GTI systematically rank the nations of the world according to terrorist activity.
  • It scores a country is calculated based on weightage assigned to four indicators. They are total number of terrorist incidents, injuries, fatalities and property damage sustained in the year in question.
[Ref: LiveMint]

 

Science & Technology

A more muscular rice variety takes on wheat

Karnataka’s University of Agricultural Sciences – Bengaluru has released a rice variety that packs more protein to match wheat.

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  • The rice strain, which offers an option to those who are not comfortable switching over to wheat for supplementary protein, is now available for commercial cultivation.
  • The high-protein variety has been under development at UAS-B for nearly 10 years, with Rs. 92 lakh in funding from the Union Department of Biotechnology.

Advantages of this new strain:

  • The new strain has 12 to13% protein content, which is higher than the 6 to 7.5% in normal rice. Wheat has about 14% of protein.
  • Using conventional breeding, researchers raised the amount of lysine, an amino acid that helps synthesize proteins, by about 20%. The higher protein leads to a decrease in starch, benefiting diabetics.
  • The rice protein is also easier to digest compared to what comes from non-vegetarian sources. It is particularly good for children and the elderly.
  • For the farmer, the new entrant is a lucrative option that can be grown like any other cereal, without extra costs.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Package for promotion of digital & cashless economy

The Union Government has announced package of incentives and measures for promotion of digital and cashless economy in the country.

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Tropical Cyclonic Storm Vardah

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  • The tropical cyclonic storm Vardah is the third cyclonic storm of the season after Cyclone Kyant and Nada, that were formed during the Northeast Monsoon season.
  • The Vardah over southeast Bay of Bengal is expected to hit Andhra Pradesh coast between Nellore and Kakinada.
  • It was created as depression (low pressure) over Andaman Sea and later slightly intensified further as cyclonic storm.
  • The reason for the intensification can be attributed to warm sea surface temperatures of Bay of Bengal and longer sea travel. Since then, the tropical cyclonic storm Vardah has moved north-northwestwards with a speed of 10 kmph about 990 km southeast of Visakhapatnam and 250 km west-northwest of Port Blair.

 

Shilp Guru Awards

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  • The Shilp Guru Awards were launched by the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) on 15th November, 2002, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the resurgence of Handicrafts in India.
  • Since 2002 up to 2014, 117 artisans responsible for maintaining craft traditions have been selected for the award.
  • The main objective of the awards is to give recognition to masters for their excellence in craftsmanship and valuable contribution to Indian Handicrafts.
  • The selection of Shilp Guru is done from amongst those who are hereditary masters, who received the National Award at the very inception of the scheme and who are alive or whose children are carrying on with the tradition and have made a valuable contribution in the development, creativity and expansion of knowledge in their craft.
  • Selection of Shilp Guru has to be from among some extraordinarily skilled masters whose work has not been recognized and who deserve the title of Shilp Guru because of their contribution in keeping alive the craft skill, reviving a languishing craft, setting up of institutions for training of Master Craftspersons.
  • Under exceptional circumstances Shilp Guru Award can be presented to a person who may not be a hereditary craftsperson, but who has mastered the technique and has been responsible for the revival of tradition, training of masters and contributing to the development of technology.
  • Individuals who have not trained masters to carry on the tradition shall not be considered for awarding the title of the Shilp Guru.
  • One important criterion of selection is the contribution of the Shilp Guru to the welfare and development of crafts community and to craft sector as a whole.
  • It will be awarded to a craftsperson only once in a lifetime, to encourage master craftspersons to maintain excellence in craftsmanship and keep alive our old tradition.
  • The Award consists a gold coin, Rs.2,00,000/- in cash, a Tamarapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate.

 

Haritha Keralam Mission

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  • Kerala Government has launched Haritha Keralam Mission, a comprehensive programme for creating new sustainable development perspectives in the state.
  • The mission is a multidimensional development project focuses on water conservation, sanitation, environmental protection, and paddy cultivation.
  • It aims to clear and remove waste from all water bodies in the state, ensure disposal of solid waste and removal of waste water and increase the area of land under cultivation

 

National Awards for Master craftspersons

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  • The Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) is implementing a scheme of National Awards for Master craftspersons since 1965.
  • The main objective was to give recognition to the outstanding craftspersons in the Handicraft sector. The awardees represent almost all states of the country, apart from different crafts styles of different locations in the country.
  • The Award consists of Rs.1,00,000/- in cash, a Tamrapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate.
  • Since 1965 to 2014, 1193 National Awards have been given, out of which 189 are women.
  • The main crafts in which Awards have been given are
  1. Metal Engraving,
  2. Terracotta,
  3. Warli Painting,
  4. Madhubani Painting,
  5. Paper Machie,
  6. Punjabi Tilla Juti,
  7. Miniature Painting,
  8. Gold Leaf Painting,
  9. Pichawai painting,
  10. Phad Painting,
  11. Hand Block Printing,
  12. Bone Carving,
  13. Sandal Wood Carving,
  14. Tie and Dye Clay Modelling,
  15. coconut shell carving,
  16. Lac work, Stone Dust,
  17. Patta chitra
  18. Paddy Jewellery
  19. Straw craft
  20. Maru Embroidery.
  • It will be awarded to a craftsperson only once in a lifetime, to encourage master craftspersons to maintain excellence in craftsmanship and keep alive our old tradition.

 

SIMCON 2016

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  • The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is organising the 28th State Information Ministers Conference.
  • Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for I&B will chair the conference.
  • The conference is being organised on the theme – “Reform, Perform & Transform – A New Dimension of Communication” and is expected to provide a synergy for a robust communication outreach process.
  • The two-day conference will promote partnership in the dissemination process between Centre and States, enabling effective communication to the people and on sector specific collaboration in the Films, Broadcasting & Information sector.
  • Being organized after 2009, the conference will deliberate on key policy issues in the Films & Broadcasting sector and new key initiatives undertaken in the information domain.

 

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