The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was
passed in the Rajya Sabha amid criticism from the Opposition.
The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends
the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993
The bill provides that besides a former chief justice of India,
as is the current requirement, a former Supreme Court judge can also
become the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson.
Similarly, a former high court judge can also become a state
human rights commission chairperson besides a high court chief
The bill also provides for including the chairpersons of the
National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the
Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with
Disabilities as members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Further, the bill provides for a reduction in the tenure of
chairpersons of national and state human rights bodies to three years from
the current five years.
The bill also provides for increasing the Members of the
Commission from two to three of which, one shall be a woman.
The bill has been criticised by Opposition on the grounds that
it gives discretionary powers to the government to appoint the chairperson
of the NHRC chairperson. Further, it was criticised as it reduced the
tenure of chairpersons of national and state human rights bodies from five
years to three years
The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was enacted to provide
for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the
State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Human Rights Courts for
protection of human rights.
National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019 has been
introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The National Medical Commission Bill 2019 proposes to repeal
the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
If enacted, the current Medical Council of India (MCI) would be
replaced by a National Medical Commission. The bill seeks to replace the
MCI on the grounds that the Council was corrupt.
Further, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and
Family Welfare in its 92nd report (in 2016) reported that the process by
which the MCI regulated medical colleges was flawed.
The NMC Bill provides for the constitution of a 25-member NMC
selected by a search committee, headed by the Cabinet Secretary.
The Commission will have four autonomous boards: a) Undergraduate
Medical Education Board, b) Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, c)
Medical Assessment and Rating Board, and d) Ethics and Medical
The commission also be responsible for regulating fees and all
other charges for half the seats in private medical colleges and deemed
The bill proposes a common final year MBBS exam called National
Exit Test (NEXT) to start medical practice. It will also be used for
entrance into postgraduate medical courses, and act as a screening test
for foreign medical graduates.
The Bill also proposes to unify all entrance procedures for
medical courses in the country.
The Bill also puts a cap on fees on 50 per cent of seats in
MBBS and PG colleges.
South Africa has recently introduced a carbon tax. The carbon
tax aims to reduce 34% carbon emissions by 2020 and 42% emissions by 2025.
The carbon tax also seeks to ensure zero waste to landfill and
boost investments for low carbon alternatives.
A carbon tax is a type of carbon pricing. A carbon tax directly
sets a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions
or on the carbon content of fossil fuels.
Another form of carbon pricing is the emissions trading systems
(ETS), also referred to as the cap-and-trade system. ETS caps the total
level of greenhouse gas emissions and allows those industries with low
emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters.
The Defence Ministry has inaugurated Ujh Bridge in Kathua
district and Basantar Bridge in Samba district of Jammu & Kashmir.
The bridges have been constructed by Border Roads Organization
(BRO) under Project Sampark.
Ujh Bridge (1000 metre) is the longest bridge constructed by
the BRO. The bridge also has the distinction of using the technology of
Pre Cast Segmental Bridge with 60-metre span.
The bridges will provide smooth connectivity and are vital for
the mobility of security forces in the border areas.
Project Sampark was raised by Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
in 1975. It looks after the construction, improvement and maintenance of
approximately 2,600km of strategic roads in the border district of Jammu,
Kathua, Doda, Udhampur, Rajouri, Reasi and Poonch.
The BRO executes road construction and maintenance works along
the northern and western frontiers primarily to meet the strategic
requirements of the army. It functions under the control of the Ministry
of Defence since 2015.
Babies born per 1,000 male babies) in India has declined to 896
in 2015-17 from 898 in 2014-16.
Of the top 22 states for which data is available, 14 had a sex
ratio better than the all-India average; while in 8 states have sex ratio
worse than the national average. Haryana has the lowest sex ratio (833).
The sex ratio in rural India has declined from 902 in 2014-16
to 898 in 2015-17. For urban India, the sex ratio stood at 890 in 2015-17.
7 states had a poorer rural sex ratio than rural India’s
average, while 14 had a lower urban sex ratio than the average for urban
The SRS findings has brought focus into the Beti Bachao Beti
Padhao scheme. Launched in 2015, the major objectives of the scheme are:
a) preventing gender biased sex selective elimination, b) ensuring
survival and protection of the girl child and c) ensuring education and
participation of the girl child.
Recently, there were protests in districts with sizeable tribal
populations. The protests took place over two issues- a) proposed amendments
to the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927 and b) a Forest Rights Act (FRA) case
that will be heard in the Supreme Court.
In February 2019, the Supreme court had ordered eviction of
more than 10 lakh Scheduled Tribe and other forest-dwellers (OTFDs) households
from forestlands across 21 states after their claims over forest land
rights under the FRA, 2006 were rejected by states. Later, the SC had
stayed its order.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 seeks to recognize forest rights
of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been
occupying and are dependent on the forest land for generations. It
envisions the forest rights committee of a village as the central unit in managing
In March 2019, the government proposed the draft law called as
Indian Forest Act, 2019. The act is seeks to amend the Indian Forest Act,
The draft law proposes greater policing powers to the Forest
Department including the use of firearms, and veto power to override the
According to the proposed act, village forests are defined as
forestland or wasteland, which is the property of the government. It would
be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management
Committee or Gram Sabha.
According to activists, the amendment to Indian Forest Act
undermine the rights of tribal and experts would lead to conflicts during
implementation, particularly when seen in the context of the Forest Rights
According to experts, the Indian Space Research Organization
(ISRO) might collaborate with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
for a third lunar mission- Chandrayaan 3
Discussions about Chandrayaan 3 were first held between ISRO
and JAXA at the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum APRSAF-24-
organised by ISRO in Bengaluru in 2017.
APRSAF annual meetings are open fora for those who have
interest in cooperation in the field of space activities in the
Asia-Pacific region and are organised under four working groups namely
‘Space Applications’, ‘Space Technology’, ‘Space Environment Utilisation’
and ‘Space Education’.
Recently, there is a widespread enthusiasm and commercial
interest in several countries for moon missions.
China has proposed its Chang’e 5 mission which will be China’s
first sample return mission. It aims to come back with least 2 kg of lunar
soil and rock samples back to the Earth.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
has outlined plans to send humans back to the moon by 2024 in a mission
Russia has announced Luna 26 mission which will consist of a
Soyuz rocket to descend a lander that will engage in exploring the lunar
Japan has announced SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon)
Government had constituted a panel to examine all issues
related to cryptocurrencies. The panel has drafted a law, ‘Banning of
Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019’.
The panel has said that anybody who mine, hold, transact or
deal with cryptocurrencies in any form whether directly or indirectly
through an exchange or trading should attract a jail term of one to 10
The panel also proposes a monetary penalty of up to three times
the loss caused to the exchequer or gains made by the cryptocurrency user
whichever is higher.
The panel has also recommended that private cryptocurrencies
should be banned completely in India.
However, the panel has said that the government should keep an
open mind on the potential issuance of cryptocurrencies by the Reserve
Bank of India.
Further, the panel has also highlighted the benefits of the
underlying technology — the distributed ledger technology (DLT) and
The panel recommended that the RBI can examine the utility of
using DLT based systems for enabling faster and more secure payment
infrastructure especially for cross-border payments.
The panel has also recommended that various state governments
may examine the feasibility of using DLT for land-records management. This
can be beneficial for removing errors and frauds in land markets.
Crypto currency is a digital
currency. It allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while
confirming that the transaction is valid one. It is not owned or
controlled by any institution including both government institutions and
private institutions. Various cryptocurrencies used globally are Bitcoin, Ethereum
Blockchain is a distributed
ledger technology that stores information across multiple systems securely
and such data stored and distributed cannot be copied, hacked or tampered
with but records can only be added.
Andhra Pradesh has passed the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Employment of
Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Act, 2019.This will make A.P the
first state in the country to reserve jobs for locals.
The law seeks to reserve 75% jobs for locals in all private
industrial units and factories, irrespective of whether or not these
companies get financial or other help from the government.
The law states that if locals with the necessary skills are not
available, then the companies would have to train them in association with
the state government and then hire them. Expertssay that with this,
companies will not be able to hide behind the excuse of not finding
The act also says that only those units that are listed in the
first schedule of the Factories Act will be exempted from the act after
the government looks into each application and takes a call. These are
mostly hazardous industries like petroleum, pharmaceuticals, coal,
fertilisers and cement, among others.
The act also says that companies will have to comply with these
provisions within three years of the commencement of the act and will have
to provide quarterly reports about local appointments to a nodal agency.
Odisha has released five gharials into the Satkosia gorge of
Mahanadi- the southernmost limit of gharials home range in India.
Odisha is the only State in India having all three species of
crocodile — gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile.
Gharial is a species of crocodile. It derives its name from
ghara, an Indian word for pot because of a bulbous knob present at the end
of their snout.
It is listed as “Critically Endangered” in the IUCN Red List.
Presently, the wild populations of gharials can only be found in
Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
In India, Gharials are present in Son River, Girwa River, the
Ganges, Mahanadi River and the Chambal River.
The major threat to gharials in India include: a) construction
of Dam, barrages, and water abstraction, b) entanglement in fishing nets,
c) River bed cultivation and d) sand mining.
The National Chambal Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and
Uttar Pradesh) and Ken Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh) are
wildlife sanctuaries in India that are dedicated to conservation and
breeding programs of Gharial.
The Indian government had initiated Project Crocodile with
collaboration with UNDP and FAO in 1975. It included an intensive captive
rearing and breeding programme intended to revive dwindling gharial
Recently, Bombay High Court had directed that the Juvenile
accused in a particular case be tried as a minor. The court said that the
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 is reformative and not
The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 was amended in 2015 with a
provision allowing for Children in Conflict with Law (CCL) to be tried as
adults under certain circumstances.
The Act defines a child as someone who is under age 18. For a
CCL, age on the date of the offence is the basis for determining whether
he or she was a child or an adult.
The amended Act distinguishes children in the age group 16-18
as a category which can be tried as adults if they are alleged to have
committed a heinous offence means one that attracts a minimum punishment
of seven years.
However, the act does not make it mandatory for all children in
this age group to be tried as adults.
As per Section 15 of the JJ Act, there are three criteria that
the Juvenile Justice Board in the concerned district should consider while
conducting a preliminary assessment to determine whether the child should
be tried as an adult or juvenile.
The criteria are (a) whether the child has the mental and
physical capacity to commit such an offence (b) whether the child has the
ability to understand its consequences and (c) the circumstances in which
the offence was committed.
If the Board finds that the child can be tried as an adult, the
case is transferred to a designated children’s court, which again decides
whether the Board’s decision is correct.
Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan
Space Centre at Sriharikota.
Chandrayaan 2 is India’s second lunar mission and 1st Indian
expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with indigenous
technology. If successful, India will be the 4th country ever to soft land
on the lunar surface- after USA, Russia and China.
It seeks to land on the lunar south pole- unexplored by any
nation before. The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because a
larger section of its surface stays in the shadow than the North Pole.
There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently
shadowed areas around it. Also, the South Polar Region has craters that
are cold traps, containing a fossilised record of the early Solar System.
Chandrayaan 2 will use the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover to
attempt a soft landing in a high plain between two craters — Manzinus C
and Simpelius N.
Chandrayaan-2 will carry out extensive three-dimensional
mapping of the topography of the lunar South Pole region. It will also
determine its elemental composition and seismic activity.
The mission would also try to assess the abundance and
distribution of water on the lunar surface.
India’s Lightest Bullet Proof Jacket ‘Bhabha
Kavach’ was launched at the International Police Expo 2019.
The Bhabha kavach was Indigenously Developed by Ordnance
Factory Board (OFB) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI).
Bhabha kavach is a state-of-the-art jacket that can withstand
bullets fired from an AK-47 rifle and INSAS (Indian Small Arms System). It
has four hard armour plates that offers 360 Degree Protection to wearer
from the front, back and either side.
It is powered with nano technology from Bhabha Atomic Research
Centre (BARC).The BARC’s carbon nanomaterial sprayed on hard armour plate
instils the toughness and tenacity needed to slow down and trap a bullet
as it passes through the plate.
This jacket was launched due to rising graph of instances
related to terrorism, cyber-crime & various other kind of ethnic group
conflicts have increased demand for a robust homeland infrastructure in
Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is
an industrial organisation, functioning under the Department of Defence
Production of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
The BARC is India’s premier nuclear research
facility, headquartered in Mumbai, BARC is a multi-disciplinary research
centre with extensive infrastructure for advanced research and development
covering the entire spectrum of nuclear science, engineering and related
The 5th edition of International Police Expo was held at New Delhi,
The expo was organised by Nexgen Exhibitions. It is Asia’s
leading and established trade fair, exhibition and conference organizer.
The theme of the expo was “Challenges to strengthen peace and
The key features of the Expo are (a) Police Welfare (b)
Training for better Law Compliance (c) Healthcare & Fitness (d) Methods
for creating awareness among society (e) Safety & Protection to
society (f) Rescue Management techniques (g) Surveillance for preventive
measures and (h) Indian Ordnance Factories and Dealers.
At the Expo, more than 25 countries are showcasing
combat/armoured vehicles, advanced firearms and a plethora of disruptive
technologies in cyber security, homeland security, drones and safety and
Further, it is the only exhibition that focuses and offers an
interactive platform to police representatives belonging to different
nations where they can meet policing security equipment/technology
suppliers and discuss business opportunities related to fields of internal
The government has decided to declare all lanes in all toll
fees plazas on National Highways across country as dedicated ‘FASTag lanes‘from
1 December 2019.
This decision has been taken in order to promote faster payment
of fees through the digital mode so that vehicles can move through
seamlessly, and traffic jams at the toll plazas can be prevented.
However, among all lanes, one ‘hybrid lane’ will be allowed at
every toll plaza to facilitate and monitor over-dimensional or oversized
vehicles, where FASTag and other modes of payment will be accepted.
Further, this hybrid lane will also be converted into
FASTag-only lane in a time-bound manner. After December 1, non-FASTag
users will be charged double the fee if they pass through FASTag-only
FASTag is an electronic toll
collection device which is installed in vehicle mostly attached to the
windscreen to help drivers drive through toll plazas without having to
FASTag uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to
enable direct toll payments while vehicle is moving. The toll fare is
deducted directly from prepaid of saving bank account linked to FASTag.
The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to declare the
Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary a tiger reserve for better conservation of
The state had received an approval for the same from the
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary was
established in the year 1976.It has a forest area of around 688 sq. km
mainly comprising a beautiful teak forest.
Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary has a population of about 40 tigers
while the movement of 12 tigers has been reported in the forest area of
Bhopal. The whole area will be combined as one to declare it as a tiger
The NTCA is a statutory body under the
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. NTCA was constituted
under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for
strengthening tiger conservation.
China has launched a new stock market for homegrown technology companies
called as Science and Technology Innovation Board or STAR Market. The market is
modelled after a NASDAQ system.
According to the regulations, red-chip companies which means
Chinese based firms incorporated and listed outside China are allowed to be
listed on the STAR market.
The STAR Market is different as it has more lenient standards
for profitability and price volatility than the main exchanges. It permits
companies to list before they have earned a profit. Investors are allowed
to short-sell individual stocks for the first time in mainland China.
The STAR Market is seen as a move to keep Chinese tech firms
from listing in stock markets abroad. The country has been home to
high-profile companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, and JD.com.
But due to stringent profitability requirements at home, they
have chosen to list in New York City or Hong Kong. By providing a low
barrier for entry, the development seeks to incentivize Chinese technology
companies to list on home stock markets.
The Nasdaq is
an American stock exchange. It is the second-largest stock exchange in the
world by market capitalization behind only the New York Stock Exchange.
Commerce and Industry minister has met industry bodies to
review issues that India would need to keep in mind when continuing
deliberations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in
The associations has said that industries are apprehensive of
India signing RCEP because of fears that China will use it to enter and
dominate the Indian market by dumping it with cheaper goods.
The government has also assured the steel sector that items
that had earlier been removed from the purview of the RCEP, won’t be
brought back. But the steel makers had demanded that steel products be
However, the minister has expressed concerns that RCEP
countries currently account for over 40% of global trade. Hence, not
entering the agreement would leave India completely isolated from
technology transfers and without a competitive advantage.
The minister has also said that participating in the RCEP
agreement would give India the chance to improve upon its existing free
trade agreements with RCEP countries which have currently put the country
at a disadvantage as it has a trade deficit with most of them.
proposed mega trade pact between the ten member states of the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)
and the six states with which ASEAN has existing Free trade
agreements(FTA’s)(Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New
It aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and
non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s
consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates. It also
seeks to liberalise investment norms and do away with services trade
Britain has announced plans to develop and deploy a Europe-led
naval maritime protection mission to safeguard shipping in the Strait of
This decision was taken after Iran had seized a British oil
tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.UK has accused Iran for an act of state
piracy that must be met with a coordinated international reaction.
However, Iranian officials have said that the oil tanker was
seized in response to Britain’s role in seizing an Iranian oil tanker off
the coast of Gibraltar.
UK has also sought to put distance between Britain and the
United States. It said that this planned European naval mission was not
part of the U.S. policy of exerting maximum pressure on Iran.
The Strait of
Hormuz is a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil
producers to markets in Asia, Europe, and North America and beyond. It has
been at the heart of regional tensions for decades.
The waterway separates Iran and Oman linking the Gulf to the
Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. The Strait is 21 miles (33 km) wide at
its narrowest point, but the shipping lane is just two miles (three km)
wide in either direction.
A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait
from Middle East crude producers to major markets. It is also the route
used for nearly all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced by the
world’s biggest LNG exporter, Qatar.
Researchers have developed a wastewater treatment process. This
process uses a common agricultural byproduct to effectively remove
pollutants and environmental hormones known as endocrine disruptors.
In this process, the team has used rice hulls which are
discarded during rice harvesting to create eco-friendly and economical, biochar.
The surface of the biochar was coated with nano-sized manganese dioxide to
create Nano composite.
Environmental hormones are
chemical compounds that resembles endocrine hormones. These compounds are
able to activate the same endocrine receptors as their natural
counterparts and can thus disrupt hormonal activity.
Both wastewater and sewage that are unavoidably formed at any
industrial worksite usually consist of huge quantities of environmental
hormones (endocrine disruptors) and pollutants.
Since environmental hormones do not disintegrate easily, they
can have a massive adverse impact on the environment as well as on the
human body. This wastewater treatment process will help in removing these
NITI Aayog Vice Chairman has said that India will achieve
economic growth of 8% plus from fiscal year 2020-2021.
This growth will be achieved as foundation has been laid and
the transformation has begun with the passing of structural reforms like
the Goods and Services Tax and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
He also emphasised that a very large number of jobs have been
generated in the country in the last five years.
However, he acknowledged that the nature and quality of jobs is
not meeting the aspirations of the country’s young people and they want
better quality jobs that will engage them fully.
He also stressed on the potential in the agriculture sector
which has 43% of the workforce. He said that investment in the
agro-processing sectors and improvement in agricultural yields will help
exponentially in job creation.
He said that the NITI Aayog focus is on improving private
investment by improving the investment climate, accelerating growth,
generating jobs, and creating policies. At the same time, ensuring social
programmes benefits reach the bottom of the pyramid and to the last person
standing in the queue is also part of focus.
He acknowledged that a lot has been achieved through programmes
such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Ayushman Bharat. But challenges remain
such as water crisis, shortage of energy in parts of the country,
pollution and need to increase female participation rates.
According to Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor, an increase
in government borrowing runs the risk of flooding the debt market which
will make it expensive for companies to borrow.
He said that the disinvestment in public sector enterprises (PSEs)
would help in alleviating the effects of the government’s borrowing in the
He also said serious rationalisation could be undertaken
including cutting back on subsidies and programmes that are not delivering
long-term growth and instead focus should be on providing education,
health and infrastructure.
He also said that the Government could strengthen its
commitment to fiscal responsibility by setting up an independent fiscal
council as suggested by the Fourteenth Finance Commission.
The fiscal council could monitor the Government performance on
sticking to the fiscal targets and roadmap by assessing regularly the
progress in fiscal consolidation.
The government has resorted to stretching the Fiscal
Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) targets with an aim to aid the
growth process. For FY20, the Centre is targeting to get the fiscal
deficit at 3.3% of GDP.
US President has said that the United States and Pakistan are
jointly seeking a way to end the war in Afghanistan.
The US President wants to withdraw U.S troops in Afghanistan
and sees Pakistan’s cooperation as crucial to any deal to end the war.
In 2018, US had slashed millions of dollars of security
assistance to Pakistan after it accused it of serving as a safe haven for
militants. Pakistan has denied the accusations.
Taliban and the US are currently focusing on four key issues
that are going to decide any future agreement and the issues are (a)
counterterrorism (b) troop withdrawal (c) Intra-Afghan dialogue and (d)
The US has also been urging the Taliban to accept a cease-fire
and hold talks directly with the Afghan government. However, Taliban has
refused to engage with Afghan government as it considers the Afghan
The Taliban has ruled large parts of Afghanistan from 1996 to
2001, before being ousted in a US-led invasion. After years of insurgency,
it now controls half of the country once more, mostly rural areas.