ForumIAS: Facts in News (December 15th – 21st)

Facts in news is published on a weekly basis that consists a gist of all crucial news articles from ‘The Hindu’ that may bear relevance to Civil Services Preparation.

Here is the Summary of all current happenings from around the world for the Third week of December.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

Bills, Programs, Policies, Schemes, Orders, Judgments
Parsi woman allowed to perform last rites, SC informedContext:
• A Parsi Trust informed a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that it will allow a woman, who married a Hindu under the Special Marriage Act, to pray at the Tower of Silence and take part in the ceremonies following the death of her parent.
Special Marriage Act:
• The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India.
• It has been enacted to provide a special form of marriage.
• It is applicable for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
• The Special Marriage Act, 1954 replaced the old Act III, 1872.
Objectives of Special Marriage Act:
• The new enactment has 3 major objectives:
• To provide a special form of marriage in certain cases,
• to provide for registration of certain marriages and
• to provide for divorce.
LS passes 2 bills to repeal 245 old lawsContext:
• The LokSabha passed two Bills to repeal 245 obsolete and archaic laws.
• Including the 158-year-old Calcutta Pilots Act of 1859 and the 1911 Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act.
Hackney Carriage Act 1879:
• Some of the old acts that have been repealed are the Hackney Carriage Act 1879 which was legislated for the regulation and control of hackney-carriages and Dramatic Performance Act 1876 when theatre was being used a medium of protest against the British rule.
The Ganges Tolls Act, 1867:
• Another such old act which was repealed by the LokSabha was ‘The Ganges Tolls Act, 1867’ which provided for collecting toll “not exceeding 12 annas” on certain boats and steamers plying on the Ganga to improve navigation of the river between Allahabad (UP) and Dinapore (Bihar).
UIDAI tightens norms for Aadhaar-bank account linkingContext:
• Following the Airetel India- Aadhaar subsidy fiasco, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has tightened the norms for mapping Aadhaar number to a different bank account.
The change in norms:
• The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will disable the override feature.
• UIDAI said that it was being misused by many banks while seeding Aadhaar to accounts without informed consent of residents.
• As a result subsidy from the government was being credited to new accounts without their knowledge
• The UIDAI further said that there have been complaints pertaining to customer verification.
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI):
• The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a statutory authority.
• It is established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) on 12 July 2016.
• It is administered by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
No plan to take away J&K’s special status, says CentreContext:
• The government informed Parliament that there was no proposal as of now for abolition of Articles 35A and 370 which give special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 35A:
• Article 35A was added to the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954.
• It empowers the State legislature to define the State’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
Article 370:
• Article 370 is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.
• It gives autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Cabinet nod for Bill making instant triple talaq a crimeContext:
• The Union Cabinet approved a Bill that makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence.
• A Muslim husband resorting to instant talaq can be jailed for up to three years.
Instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat:
• In instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a man pronounces talaq thrice during a sitting, on phone or writes in a talaqnama or text message.
• Here the divorce is considered to be immediate and irrevocable even if the husband wants to later on re-conciliate.
• Under this the only way for the couple to get back together is through a nikah halala.
• Under this process the woman has to get remarried, consummate the second marriage, get divorced, observe the three-month iddat period and return to her husband.
Bill to amend the company lawContext:
• A Bill has been forwarded to amend the company law.
• It aims to strengthen corporate governance standards, initiate strict action against defaulting companies, and help improve the ease of doing business in the country, was passed by Parliament on Tuesday.
Provisions of the Bill:
• The Bill provides for more than 40 amendments to the Companies Act, 2013, which was passed during the previous UPA regime.
• The Companies Act, 2013 has already been amended once under the present government.
• The latest legislation would help in simplifying procedures, make compliance easy, and take stringent action against defaulting companies.
• The Minister dismissed apprehensions raised by members that the government was not doing enough to ensure that companies complied with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) provisions.
Karnataka HC strikes down rule on stringent tobacco pack warningsContext:
• The Karnataka High Court declared the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 as unconstitutional.
Rule of 2014 amended:
• It had enhanced to 85% the area of pictorial warning on the principal area of packages of cigarette and other tobacco products.
Rules of 2008 still in force:
• The 2008 rules which had prescribed that 40% of the specified pictorial warning be printed on the principal area of the packages would be still in force until the Union government frames a fresh rule or amends the 2008 rules afresh.
Make offices accessible to disabled: SCContext:
• The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the right to dignity of the disabled while directing that government buildings providing public services should be made fully accessible to differently-abled persons by June 2019.
Right to live with human dignity:
• In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [iii], the Supreme Court gave a new dimension to Art. 21.
• It held that the right to live is not merely a physical right but includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity.
Supreme Court gives the nod for setting up 12 special courts to try cases against politiciansContext:
• The Supreme Court gave the green signal for the Centre’s scheme to set up 12 fast track courts to exclusively prosecute.
• It is to dispose 1,581 criminal cases pending against Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies within a year.
Fast track courts:
• The Eleventh Finance Commission recommended a scheme for creation of 1734 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) in the country for disposal of long pending Sessions and other cases.
• It is the primary responsibility of the State Governments to establish these courts in consultation with the concerned High Courts.
SDMC frames new parking policy, rates set to shoot upContext:
• The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has formulated a new parking policy, which could potentially be a model followed by the entire city.
Features of the new policy:
• The approach and model adopted by the SDMC is comprehensive
• It is in complete adherence to the Transport Department’s vision in this regard.
• If passed, the parking rates will shoot up in commercial and busy areas.
South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC):
• Municipal Corporation of Delhi is the second largest civic body.
• It was trifurcated in the 2012 into South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
• SDMC is serving the population of almost 56 Lacs citizen.
• It has been vested with a responsibility of monitoring, upgrading and developing civic amenities efficiently.
International Issues
Looking for balance in powerContext:
• The Russia-India-China trilateral meet is New Delhi’s attempt to overcome challenges in ties with Moscow and Beijing.
Topic of discussion covered:
• Political scenario in West Asia and North Africa,
• numerous challenges in putting the world economy back on the growth track,
• concerns relating to terrorism,
• transnational organised crime,
• illicit drug trafficking, food security, and
• climate change
Russian’s stance:
• Russia’s role was key as its loss of power and influence on the world scene was a major cause of concern for its leadership
• Russia tried to establish itself as the hub of two bilateral security partnerships that could be used to counteract U.S. power and influence in areas of mutual concern.
China’s stance:
• China emerged as a rising power that saw the U.S. as the greatest obstacle.
• As a consequence, China recognised the importance of cooperating with Russia to check U.S. expansionism in the world, even if only for the short term
• In fact, American policies towards Russia and China moved the two states closer to each other, leading to the formation of a new balance of power against the U.S.
India’s stance
• India, on the other hand, had different considerations, as it was still far from becoming a global power of any reckoning.
U.S. partnership vital in Asia-Pacific: IndiaContext:
• The Indo-U.S. partnership helps maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Indo-US partnership:
• As two responsible democracies, India and the U.S. share common objectives, including combating terrorism and promoting peace and security throughout the world.
• A close partnership between India and the U.S. contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region as well as to the economic progress of the two countries.
• India has been campaigning for banning Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar at the UN.
Wait and watch: on U.S. security strategyContext:
• India has unequivocally welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of the National Security Strategy (NSS) for his country during his tenure.
National Security Strategy (NSS):
• The National Security Strategy (NSS) is a document prepared periodically by the executive branch of the government of the United States for Congress.
• It outlines the major national security concerns of the United States and how the administration plans to deal with them.
• The legal foundation for the document is spelled out in the Goldwater-Nichols Act.
• The document is purposely general in content (contrast with the National Military Strategy, NMS).
• Its implementation relies on elaborating guidance provided in supporting documents (including the NMS).
Sri Lanka urged to repeal Prevention of Terror ActContext:
• Human rights activists and some politicians in Sri Lanka visiting UN experts on urged the government to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1978 :
• The Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1978 is a law in Sri Lanka.
• It provides the police with broad powers to search, arrest, and detain suspects.
• Under the PTA of Sri Lanka, a person can be detained for periods up to 18 months (renewable by order every three months) if the Minister has reason to believe or suspect that any person is connected with or concerned in any unlawful activity.
Centre raises duty on electronic itemsContext:
• The Centre has increased customs duty on several electronic items including televisions, mobile phones and microwaves.
• It shall make the import of these goods more expensive.
Custom Duty:
• Customs Duty is a tax imposed on imports and exports of goods.
• The rates of customs duties are either specific or on ad valorem basis, that is, it is based on the value of goods.
NitiAayog to set up Methanol Economy FundContext:
• NitiAayog plans to set up a Methanol Economy Fund worth Rs 4,000-5,000 crore.
Objective of Methanol Economy:
• It aims to promote production and use of the clean fuel.
• The government think is aiming at generation of the fuel by converting high ash content coal into methanol and such a plant is expected to be set up by Coal India.
• Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol among others, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH).
• Methanol acquired the name wood alcohol because it was once produced chiefly as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood.
• Today, industrial methanol is produced in a catalytic process directly from carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen.
Shift to e-way billsContext:
• The Centre needs to do more to ease the shift to e-way bills for transport of goods.
E-way bill:
• E-way bill is an electronic way bill for movement of goods which can be generated on the GSTN (common portal).
• A ‘movement’ of goods of more than Rs 50,000 in value cannot be made by a registered person without an e-way bill.
• E-way bill will also be allowed to be generated or canceled through SMS.
• When an e-way bill is generated a unique e-way bill number (EBN) is allocated and is available to the supplier, recipient, and the transporter.
Another tool of resolutionContext:
• The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill does not take away from the government’s implicit guarantee to depositors.
Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill:
• The FRDI Bill is far more depositor friendly than many other jurisdictions.
• It provides for statutory bail-in, where consent of creditors / depositors is not required for bail-in.
• The FRDI Bill does not propose in any way to limit the scope of powers for the Government to extend financing and resolution support to banks, including Public Sector Banks.
• The Government’s implicit guarantee for Public Sector Banks remains unaffected.
Raise social security budget, Jaitley toldContext:
• Sixty of India’s leading development economists wrote to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asking for a big increase in the budget allocation for social security pensions and maternity entitlements.
Social security:
• Social security is any of the measures established by legislation to maintain individual or family income or to provide income when some or all sources of income are disrupted or terminated or when exceptionally heavy expenditures have to be incurred.
• Social security may provide cash benefits to persons faced with sickness and disability, unemployment, crop failure, loss of the marital partner, maternity, responsibility for the care of young children, or retirement from work.
• Social security benefits may be provided in cash or kind for medical need, rehabilitation, domestic help during illness at home, legal aid, or funeral expenses.
‘PSBs not meeting recap target’Context:
• The Finance Ministry said it had not provided the entire amount towards capital infusion in public sector banks as most of them failed to meet the performance target.
Indradhanush Plan:
• As part of the Indradhanush Plan to revitalise state-owned lenders, the government had proposed to infuse Rs. 70,000 crore out of Budgetary Allocations in them.
• The plan envisaged Rs. 25,000 crore each in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and Rs. 10,000 crore each in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
• So far, it has infused Rs. 51,858 crore in public sector banks (PSBs).
• These include State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and Bank of India.
Price of oil rose this yearContext
• The price of oil rose this year as the supply-cut agreement signed by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2016 managed to survive despite a lot of speculation otherwise.
Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC):
• The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental Organization.
• It was created at the Baghdad Conference on September 10–14, 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
• The mission of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its Member Countries.
• It seeks to ensure the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.
No systemic risk due to bitcoins as yet: TyagiContext:
• The Finance Ministry said that it had not provided the entire amount towards capital infusion in public sector banks as most of them failed to meet the performance target.
Current status of Bitcoin:
• Recently, the price of a Bitcoin zoomed from $10,000 to more than $19,000 within a few days.
• On the issue of Bitcoins, the government is looking into it in consultation with the RBI and the SEBI.
• Currently, Bitcoins do not come under the purview of any regulator in India though the RBI.
SC rejects plea to verify 25% of VVPATContext:
• The Election Commission of India to count and cross-verify at least 25% of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper trail with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) votes polled in the State Assembly elections fell flat in the Supreme Court.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) or Verifiable Paper Record (VPR):
• Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) or Verifiable Paper Record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system.
• A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.
• It contains name of the candidate (for whom vote has been casted) and symbol of the party/ individual candidate.
NGT directs Chief Secretary, L-G to fix site for new landfillContext:
• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the Delhi Chief Secretary and the Lieutenant¬ Governor to convene a meeting to fix an alternative landfill site and find land to set up waste to energy plants in the Capital, and submit a report within two weeks.
• A landfill is a carefully designed structure built into or on top of the ground in which trash is isolated from the surrounding environment (groundwater, air, rain).
• This isolation is accomplished with a bottom liner and daily covering of soil.
Two types of landfill:
• A sanitary landfill uses a clay liner to isolate the trash from the environment.
• A municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill uses a synthetic (plastic) liner to isolate the trash from the environment.
Usage of landfill:
• The purpose of a landfill is to bury the trash in such a way that it will be isolated from groundwater, will be kept dry and will not be in contact with air.
• Under these conditions, trash will not decompose much.
Environmentalists allege winter forest fires in Charmadi range are ‘engineered’Context:
• Forest fires in the otherwise completely green landscape of the Western Ghats during the winter at Somanakadu valley of Barimale in the Charmadi range has set off alarm bells among the greens in the locality.
Forest fires:
• A wildfire or wildland fire is a fire in an area of combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or rural area.
• Depending on the type of vegetation where it occurs, a wildfire can also be classified more specifically as a brush fire, bush fire, desert fire, forest fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, or veld fire.
Reconsider the Rules: on 2017 Wetland RulesContext:
• The 2017 Wetland Rules limit monitoring and omit important wetland types.
Legal framework for wetlands:
• This year, a new legal framework for wetlands was passed,
• The Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, has replaced the earlier Rules of 2010.
• Also this year, the Supreme Court passed an order directing States to identify wetlands in the country within a stipulated timeframe.
• A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.
• The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.
• Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability.
• Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life
Security and Defence
Narendra Modi formally commissioned the first of six Scorpene diesel-electric submarines into the NavyContext:
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally commissioned the first of six Scorpene diesel-electric submarines into the Navy on Thursday.
Scorpene diesel-electric submarines:
• The Scorpène-class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines.
• It is jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales(DCN) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by DCNS.
• It features diesel propulsion and additional air-independent propulsion (AIP).
• The Scorpène class of submarines has four subtypes:
• the CM-2000 conventional diesel-electric version,
• the AM-2000 AIP derivative,
• the downsized CA-2000 coastal submarine, and
• the enlarged S-BR for the Brazilian Navy, without AIP.
Science and Technology
Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IOT) for India Context:
• A new wave of Indian software developers will soon be able to plug into China’s next wave of industrialisation, based on Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IOT).
Artificial Intelligence:
• Artificial intelligence (AI, also machine intelligence, MI) is intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals.
• It is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
The Internet of Things (IoT):
• The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers.
• It has the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
For a safe cyberspaceContext:
• India is one of the key players in the digital and knowledge-based economy, holding more than a 50% share of the world’s outsourcing market.
What is cyberspace?
• Cyberspace refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, is an electronic medium used to form a global computer network to facilitate online communication.
• It is a large computer network made up of many worldwide computer networks.
• It employs TCP/IP protocol to aid in communication and data exchange activities.
• Cyberspace's core feature is an interactive and virtual environment for a broad range of participants.



Print Friendly and PDF