Polity & Governance
- SC Issues Directions to Curb Female Foeticide
- 500, Rs. 1,000 notes no longer legal tender
Bilateral & International Relations
- No change in our stand on India’s NSG entry bid: China
- Indo-Japan MOU for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)
Defence & Security Issues
- Centre extends AFSPA to check Naga factions
Science & Technology
- Water detected on metallic asteroid Psyche
Key Facts for Prelims
- Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE 2016 Award
- New series of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes
Polity & Governance
SC Issues Directions to Curb Female Foeticide
The Supreme Court has issued 16 directives to curb sex-selective abortion in the country.
- These directions aim to ensure immediate and effective implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act and the Rules framed thereunder.
- The Court, expressing concern over the worsening sex ratio in the country, has also said that any discrimination against women was “constitutionally impermissible”.
- The court passed the verdict while disposing of a PIL by NGO Voluntary Health Association of Punjab urging it to intervene in the matter in view of decreasing number of girls-boys ratio in the country.
Highlights of the directions:
- All the States and the Union Territories in India shall maintain a centralised database of civil registration records from all registration units so that information can be made available from the website regarding the number of boys and girls being born.
- The information that shall be displayed on the website shall contain birth information for each District, Municipality, Corporation or Gram Panchayat so that a visual comparison of boys and girls born can be immediately seen.
- The states and UTs which do not have any incentive schemes for the girl child shall frame the same.
- If there has been violation of any of the provisions of the Act or the Rules, proper action has to be taken by the authorities under the Act so that the legally inapposite acts are immediately curbed. The courts dealing with such complaints shall be fast tracked and the concerned High Courts shall issue appropriate directions.
- Courts dealing with such complaints shall hear these matters in promptitude and submit the quarterly report to the High Courts through the concerned Sessions and District Judge.
- The Chief Justices of all the High Courts should constitute a Committee of three judges to periodically oversee the progress of these cases.
- The judicial officers who are to deal with these cases under the Act shall be periodically imparted training in the Judicial Academies or Training Institutes, as the case may be, so that they can be sensitive and develop the requisite sensitivity as projected in the objects and reasons of the Act and its various provisions and in view of the need of the society.
- The court has also directed the authorities concerned to carry out awareness campaigns on this issue and asked the State Legal Services Authorities to give emphasis on these campaigns.
Rs. 500, Rs. 1,000 notes no longer legal tender
In a surprise address to nation Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that Rs. 500, Rs. 1,000 notes will cease to be legal tender.
- The currency notes of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 rupee will remain unaffected by this decision and remain legal tender.
- Persons holding old 500, Rs. 1,000 notes must deposit these notes in their bank or post office accounts from 10th November till 30th December 2016 without any limit.
- Those who are not able to deposit 30th December 2016 can go to the specified offices of RBI up to 31st March 2017 and deposit the notes after submitting a declaration form.
- However, for immediate needs, old 500, Rs. 1,000 notes can be exchanged in any bank, head post office or sub post office by showing identity proof like Aadhaar card, voter card, ration card, passport, PAN card or other approved proofs.
- The limit for such exchange will be four thousand rupees till 24th November, and will increase from 25th November till 30th December 2016.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will issue new 500 and Rs. 2,000 notes from 10 November 2016.
- There will no restrictions of any kind on non-cash payments by cheques, demand drafts, debit or credit cards and electronic fund transfer.
Purpose of the move:
- The demonetisation drive of these two currency units was taken to root out the menace of black money, corruption and fake currency from the country.
What is Demonetisation?
- It is an act of stripping a currency unit of its status as legal tender.
- Demonetization is mandatory whenever there is a change of national currency. In this process, the new currency unit replaces the old unit of currency which is retired.
Demonetisation in India:
This is not the first time the Government or the RBI has demonetised currency in India.
- For the first time in January 1946, Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 banknotes were demonetised.
- However, these two denominations were reintroduced in 1954 along with currency notes of Rs 5,000.
- But all these three denominations were again demonetised in January 1978.
- The RBI more recently in 2014, had demonetised all banknotes printed before 2005.
Bilateral & International Relations
No change in our stand on India’s NSG entry bid: China
China has decided to once again block India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership ahead of plenary meet of NSG in Vienna, Austria.
- Earlier, China along with few other member countries of NSG had blocked India’s membership proposal in the plenary meet of NSG in Seoul, South Korea in June 2016.
What is China’s concern?
- China says that India’s membership and also of Pakistan will be considered only after rules for the entry of non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) countries is finalised by the elite group.
- It supports the notion of the two-step approach within the NSG to address the question of membership. The first stage includes reaching agreement on a non-discriminatory formula applicable to all the non-NPT states and in second stage to take up country-specific membership issues.
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
- The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
- Currently, it has 48 members and European Commission is its Permanent Observer.
Indo-Japan MOU for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)
Union Cabinet has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
- The advancement of academic research in the field of Earth Sciences for the benefit of the peace and human welfare is the prime objective of the MOU.
- The cooperation between parties and under Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be pursued primarily through joint survey, cruise and research and development activities, exchange of scientific visits, joint scientific seminars, workshops and meetings or exchange of information and data.
Significance of the MoU:
- The collaboration with JAMSTEC will not only enhance capability in the field of atmospheric and climate research, ocean technology observation and hazard mitigation but also provide much needed exposure and hands-on experience to Indian scientists.
Defence & Security Issues
Centre extends AFSPA to check Naga factions
The Centre has decided to extend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is being extended in the districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, all bordering Assam.
- The three districts were being declared as “disturbed area” under Section 3 of the AFSPA.
What are the reasons?
- One of the primary reasons cited by the Centre is “extortion and intimidation” by the cadres of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), who are “contriving to dominate areas hitherto occupied by NSCN (Khaplang).”
- Naga underground factions including NSCN-IM and NSCN-K continue to indulge in extortion, area domination, recruitment of locals and inter-factional rivalry.
- The notification has been issued even after the government signed a ‘framework agreement’ with NSCN-IM in September 2015 to find a final solution to the six-decade-old Naga issue.
- However, the government defends its move by saying that the ceasefire signed with NSCN-IM is only for Nagaland. It does not include Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
Currently, AFSPA is in force in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area). In Arunachal Pradesh, only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam come under its purview and in Meghalaya AFSPA is confined to a 20-km area bordering Assam.
What are ‘disturbed’ areas?
- The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.”
Science & Technology
Water detected on metallic asteroid Psyche
Scientists have detected the presence of water on Psyche, the largest metallic asteroid in our solar system.
- It was detected based on the new observations from the NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii.
- The telescope observations show evidence of water or hydroxyl on its surface.
- The source of these hydroxyl or water molecules on Psyche remains a mystery.
- Researchers believe that Water-rich minerals detected on Psyche may have been delivered by carbonaceous asteroids that may had impacted it in the distant past.
- Based on the previous observations of Psyche, it was believed that the asteroid did not have water-rich minerals on its surface.
About NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF):
- It is a 3-meter telescope optimized for use in infrared astronomy.
- It is located at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.
About Psyche Asteroid:
- Psyche is made of almost pure nickel-iron metal and is about 300 kilometres across. It is located in the asteroid belt.
- It is considered as the remnant core of a budding planet that was mostly destroyed by impacts billions of years ago.
Key Facts for Prelims
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE 2016 Award
- President Pranab Mukherjee presented the Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Awards to the children winning IGNITE competition at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
- APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE 2016 competition –is a national competition of original technological ideas and innovations by children up to class 12 or those out of school up to the age of 17 years.
- It is organised by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) every year to promote creativity and originality among children.
- The awards of IGNITE competition are announced every year on October 15th, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s birthday, which is celebrated as the Children’s Creativity and Innovation Day by NIF.
- Starting in 2008, in the last eight years, 173 awards have been given to 246 children.
- Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Award is an effort to focus primarily on the creativity of the children and promote inclusive and compassionate thinking among them.
New series of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued new series of notes for 500 rupees and 2,000 rupees denomination with improved features and newer sizes.
- Both are very friendly towards the visually-impaired by having features which make it accessible for all sections.
- It will be for the first time 2,000 rupees note denomination has been issued. It will be called as the ‘Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series’. It has a motif of the Mangalayan, the low-cost mission of ISRO to Mars on the reverse side and Mahatma Gandhi on front side.
- 500 rupee note has different colour, size, theme, design and location of security features compared to the old notes. It has portrait and electrotype watermarks. It will be in a stone grey in colour. The motif Delhi’s Red Fort is on reverse side and Mahatma Gandhi on front side.