Sharp drop in smoking tobacco in India, says WHO report
- According to a WHO report, smoking tobacco in India has dropped down to 11.5% in 2005 from 19.4% in 2000.
- The percentage is expected to drop down further to 9.8% by 2020 and 8.5% by 2025.
- Although the reduction is insufficient to meet globally agreed targets aimed at protecting people from death and suffering from cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
- Tobacco usage causes cancer, lung diseases, heart diseases and stroke.
- The Global Adult Tobacco Survey revealed a serious lack of knowledge of the multiple health risks associated with tobacco.
- In China, over 60% of the population was unaware that smoking could cause heart attacks.
- Tobacco usage has decreased more slowly in low and middle income countries than high income countries.
- Because control policies in such countries is influenced by lobbying from tobacco industries.
- The report covered tobacco usage only in smoking form, but tobacco is also used in chewing form in India.
- More than 3/4 tobacco users consume it in chewing form.
- Thus a policy is required to address the overall usage of tobacco in India.
- Percentage of all tobacco users in the country reduced from 35% in 2009 to 29% in 2016-17
U.S. Pacific Command renamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
- The United States renamed its strategically important Pacific Command (PACOM) to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
- Renaming the combatant command is strategically significant for US.
- Firstly it reflects US keenness to count India as a key partner in its strategic planning. It is India’s re-entry into the US government’s “Asia” orbit.
- Secondly, renaming reflects the existing geographic coverage of the command and the acknowledgment of the increasing connectedness between the two oceans – Indian and Pacific Ocean.
- Thirdly, recognition within the U.S. government that East Asia and the Indian Ocean Region are gradually becoming a single competitive space.
- Fourthly, it reflects US willingness to invest in Indo-Pacific stability and bolstering the free and open rules-based international order that has enabled this region to grow.
- Fifthly, it helps to counter China’s one belt one road initiative. China continues to improve both the size and the capability of its armed forces in hopes to supplant the U.S.
- Sixthly, it is also viewed as shrewd marketing. It is a way of reaffirming India and rest of the world that India is, and ought to be, an indispensable part of Asian order for US.
- Although, the U.S. and India have different ideas of what constitutes the Indo-Pacific. India includes the whole Indian Ocean region. It covers The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) and United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) cover as well.
- However, the effectiveness of an Indo-Pacific defence and security strategy and U.S.-India cooperation would still depend on the level of discussion and coordination across combatant commands and bureaus.
- The first two-plus-two ministerial dialogue between India and the U.S is scheduled for July first week.
- Two plus Two’ is the term used for the institutionalisation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries consisting of the key ministries of defence & external affairs.
- India recently got waiver from anti-Russian sanctions mandated by the U.S Congress. Waiver for India is important as it has significant defence cooperation with Russia.
Modi, Mahathir hold ‘productive’ talks
- Prime Minster Narendra Modi held his first meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohammad in Kuala Lumpur.
- The two leaders exchanged views on strengthening strategic partnership.
- They also discussed ways to boost economic and cultural relations between the two countries.
- This visit comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Modi’s three-nation tour namely Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
- His last visit to Malayasia was in November 2015.
- Mahathir Mohammad is the world’s oldest elected leader.
- He was sworn in as Prime Minister of Malaysia on May 10th, 2018.
Tata, EU steel firms brace for tariff war
- US will extend imposition of 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
- This trade action brings an end to potential exemptions and raises the risk of trade war.
- Due to tariff U.S steel and aluminium industries aimed to increase their capacity by 80%.
- US has also threatened to impose car tariff on car imports and will take actions against Beijing for stealing its technology by imposing tariffs.
- EU’s steel producers will be particularly injured by the tariff.
- The tariffs are criticized as unjustified and against the rules of World Trade Organisation.
- EU would announce imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from US.
- The Tariff war will distort steel market.
What will the caretakers take care of?
- Akbar Zaidi is a political economist from Karachi argues about the credibility of caretaker government in Pakistan.
- Pakistan for the first had a caretaker government from the judiciary which comprise of Chief justice of Pakistan.
- The rise of Pakistan’s judiciary is considered as transitions of power towards civilian government.
- Caretaker governments are an institutionalized interim government to facilitate a smooth transfer of power from one elected government to another.
- A caretaker government serves the period of time between the dissolution of parliament and the formation of a new government.
- The main aim of caretaker governments is to carry on the ordinary business of government and ensure administrative continuity during an electoral period while preventing any major decisions from being taken.
- Military dominance
- Pakistan has witness three-decade-long military dictatorships rule.
- Till date Pakistan had 10 general elections since 1970 all which were neither free nor fair because of military’s dominance in government.
- The judiciary was only constitutional ally throughout the military period.
- The Lawyers’ Movement
- The Lawyers’ Movement in 2007 acted as pressure group to bringing back democracy to Pakistan.
- The Lawyers’ Movement became one of popular movements against military rule.
- The Lawyers’ Movement calls for superior judiciary that will be independent, pro-democratic and will ensure fair the electoral process against military hegemony.
- Positive aspects of Judiciary
- The judiciary was seen to emerge as a free and independent force defending the Constitution.
- Judiciary is viewed as overstepping to rule the dominance power of military in Pakistan.
- Judiciary ruled government will try to promote accountability and transparency in the government.
- The Supreme Court is viewed as “self-righteous” for coordination between administration and political party.
- The judiciary is being perceived as being partial to certain individuals and institutions.
- The judiciary practiced ‘judicial activism’ by deporting two elected Prime Ministers, one for contempt of court and the other for not being a sagacious and righteous Muslim.
- ‘Judicial martial law’ and ‘judicial imperialism’ have now become part of Pakistan’s public priority.
- Numerous independent newspapers and research organizations have reported that military is taking all its tolls to influence the upcoming election in Pakistan so that no party win with absolute majority.
- Pakistan’s military has been undertaking prepoll rigging and electoral engineering to favor part for interest or to create a hung Parliament.
How to be Garbage Free
- Author Samir Nazareth observes that there is a need for attitudinal change to achieve cleanliness
- Recently, the government in Goa has announced to make the state garbage-free by 2020.
- The author takes up the example of Candolim beach in Goa and highlights the need for inculcating civic sense among people to achieve cleanliness
- Major reasons for littering and pollution in Candolim Beach:
- Lack of civic sense among tourist
- No mention of fines and responsibilities for tourists
- Inefficient waste management system- lack of dustbins along the beach, lack of attention by authorities, no police or authority to enforce law
- Lack of responsibility on the part of restaurants, shopkeepers
- Way out:
- Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) model to bring attitudinal change.
- Tourist focused waste management
- Proper waste management- installation of dustbins, proper collection and enforcement of regulations through policing
Settling disputes out of court- Mandatory Pre-litigation Mediation
- Chitra Narayan, Chennai based Mediator has shared her views about Mandatory pre-litigation mediation in commercial disputes by the recent Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, which amends the Commercial Courts Act of 2015.
- Mandatory Pre-litigation mediation is an important step to improve the ease of doing business.
- Mediation is a process of resolution of disputes by the parties to them.
- The participation of the disputants is voluntary.
- The process is managed by a neutral person called the mediator, who may evaluate the disputes and weigh in on options for settlement (a variant called conciliation) but has no authority to impose a settlement.
- It involves discussion of the conflicts, moving out of the loop of allegations and counter-allegations, and assessing where interests lie in resolving the disputes.
- Options for settlement are explored and a settlement is worked out through joint evaluation.
- The terms of settlement, if the parties do settle, are decided by the parties. The discussions are confidential.
- Mandatory mediation is not new in India. Some earlier provisions are
- The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, makes a settlement arrived at through conciliation enforceable like a court decree.
- The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Act, 2006, mandates conciliation when disputes arise on payments to MSMEs.
- Under the Code of Civil Procedure, judges can refer cases to mediation.
- Important Feature of ordinance
- It defines “commercial disputes” which include regular commercial and business contracts, construction contracts, shareholder agreements, licensing agreements, etc.
- The law makes changes for reduction of timelines, tightening processes and designating special commercial courts and commercial divisions to deal with these disputes, among others.
- The mediation is mandatory and will be conducted within a period of three months (extendable by another two months with the consent of the parties). However, if an urgent interim relief is required, this pre-litigation mediation can be dispensed with.
- Any settlement arrived at through mediation will have the status of an arbitral award on agreed terms and be enforceable like a decree of court.
- Also, the time limits for filing cases will pause during the time the pre-litigation mediation is underway.
- Concern with amendment
- The mandatory nature of pre-litigation mediation is in conflict with voluntary nature of mediation.
- The ordinance is silent on whether the pre-existing mediation agreement be enforced or not
- There is no mention of about the status of cross-border mediation.
- Most disputes seek urgent orders for preservation of status quo or restraint orders on filing. This process is not so effective there.
- Mediation policies in other countries mandate mediations through various mechanisms, with good effect. In Italy mediation process is highly successful.
- In India, there is a need for a comprehensive policy on mediation, rather than the abbreviated and disconnected steps so far. When seen in the context of a deliberate and well-considered law, mediation as a process would be more credible to disputants.
- The role and professional responsibilities of mediators, the rights and obligations of parties in the process, and the outcome of the mediation agreement should be well defined to get desired result.
Indian economy grew 7.7% in Q4
- The Indian economy grew at 6.7% for the entire fiscal year 2017-18 government data shows.
- The economy grew at of 5.6 percent, 6.3 percent and 7% percent in the first three quarters of 2017-18. The fourth quarter grew at 7.7%. It is the fastest and strongest growth in the entire FY1 2017-18.
- Rapid growth of the economy is driven by the capital market, manufacturing and construction sector.
- Growth has been primarily driven by domestic factors as the contribution of net export growth being negative in all four quarters of 2017-18
- However some analyst observe that at present Indian economy is in a good position. Because most macro-prints data are on positive side, especially seen in terms of broad-based industry growth, improving sales data, and positive sentiment as evidenced through the purchasing managers’ index (PMI)
- However, economic growth of 6.7% slowed in 2017-18 compared to 7.1% in 2016-17.
- Sector wise growth rates:
- Manufacturing sector grew at 9.1% (4th quarter) and 5.7% for the entire FY18.
- Construction sector grew at 11.5% (4th quarter) and 5.7% for the entire FY18.
- Agricultural sector grew at 4.5% (4th quarter) and 3.4% for the entire FY18.
- Grossed fixed formation grew at 7.6% for the entire FY18.
- Private final consumption expenditure grew at 6.6% for the entire FY18.
- The economy may be affected by external risks such as rise in crude price and input costs.
Intra-State e-waybills to take effect in final 8 States
- The central government has announced the implementation of e-waybill for final 8 states in June 2018.
- The central government has implemented the e-waybill from 1 April 2018.
- E-Way Bill is an electronic generated document which require to be generated for transport of goods of more than Rs. 50,000.
- The Eight states to be covered include:
- Jammu & Kashmir
- West Bengal
- Tamil Nadu
- The e-waybill system is successfully and more than 6.3 crore e-waybills including more than two crore e-waybills for the intra-State movement of goods has been generated till date.
- According to data more than 12 lakh e-waybills are being generated every day.
- Government confirms that e-way bill is working smoothly and without any glitches.
Mother of all lizards lived in Italian Alps
- The science journal Nature has tracked the oldest lizard Magechirella in Italian Alps.
- Key observation of the Scientist about Magechirella
- Magechirella reptile is mother of all lizard and was ancestor of lizards and snakes.
- The tiny bone in Megachirella’s lower jaw that is unique to the squamate family.
- Magechirella is a tiny creature that has lived 240 million year ago.
- The squamates reptiles had split from other ancient reptiles before the Permian/Triassic mass extinction some 252 million years ago. Up to 95% of marine and 75% of terrestrial life of that time on earth was lost.
- Magechirella was discovered 20 years ago and was buried in compacted sand and clay layers in the Dolomites mountain range in northeast Italy was initially mis-classified as a close lizard relative.