04, February 2017

1.Centre of Integrative Oncology inaugurated to help develop integrated approach to cancer prevention and management
Source: PIB

The Centre of Integrative Oncology (CIO) was inaugurated at the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR) at Noida on the eve of world Cancer Day (4th February).

The main objective of the Centre is to build collaborations in the areas of cancer prevention, research and care in an integrated approach involving both modern and traditional medicine. This would pave the way to carry forward the ongoing bilateral dialogue and facilitate collaboration with stake holders, both national and international, like National Cancer Institute, USA.

The idea about collaboration between AYUSH and NICPR was given by a team of scientists from USA. This collaboration will definitely lead to development of novel drugs for cancer prevention and management.
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2.Joint Military Exercise between India and Maldives
Source: PIB

India and Maldives conduct joint military exercise named ‘Exercise EKUVERIN’ alternatively in India and Maldives with participation of an Infantry platoon from each side. The latest exercise was conducted in Maldives in December 2016.

  • The objectives of the exercise are to enhance defence cooperation and interoperability between the army of both countries with emphasis on Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist operations under UN mandate.

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3.Tribal Health Care Project
Source : PIB

The Tribal Health Care Research Program (THCRP) was started by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS).

CCRAS: It is an autonomous organization under Central Government.

Scope of work:

  • The project involves studies of the living condition of tribal people including Health Traditions (LHT).
  • Use of common medicinal plants in the area are researched.
  • Propagation of knowledge about hygiene and prevention of diseases.
  • Extending medical aid at door steps.

The objectives of the project:

  • Provide health care facility to tribal population.
  • Promote healthy living among tribes.
  • Collect and document the folk claims and local health traditions to enable research etc.

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4.Steps taken for Welfare of Jute Workers
Source: PIB

In order to assess the living conditions of jute workers, a study on the Socio-Economic Conditions of Jute Mill Workers was conducted in 2015-16 by National Jute Board (NJB).

The findings of the study, indicate that 96.4% workers have electricity in their houses; that 91% of the families have piped water supply; that 99% of the workers have access to toilets; and that the mill workers have health coverage under ESI.

Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPM), 1987:

  • Government of India provides an assured market to the jute sector under the Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPM), 1987.
  • Under this Act, Government has mandated that 90% of foodgrains and 20% of sugar be packed in jute bags.
  • The annual subsidy for this amounts to Rs.5,500 crores approximately.
  • Apart from this, the National Jute Board (NJB) has been implementing several measures for the benefit of workers, artisans and small producers and for promotion of the jute industry.

Welfare Schemes:

  1. Workers’ Welfare Scheme (Sulabh Sauchalaya) for improvement of sanitation, health facilities and working conditions of jute mill workers.
  2. Incentives to Children of Jute Mill Workers for extending support to the Workers’ families towards education of their children through a scholarship scheme.
  3. Export Market Development Assistance Scheme to facilitate registered manufacturer exporters of jute products to participate in international fairs and take business delegations abroad for export promotion of lifestyle and other diversified jute products.
  4. Retail Outlet of Jute Diversified Products Scheme for providing assistance to jute entrepreneurs for opening of outlets of jute lifestyle jute products in Metro Cities, State capitals, District Head Offices and Tourist spots.
  5. Focused Market Initiatives for organising and participation in Jute Fairs, National Fairs / Regional Fairs, Export oriented fairs in India & abroad to extend marketing support to the artisans, small and micro entrepreneurs.

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5.India’s accession to Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
Source: PIB

The MWCD held a National Consultation to discuss issues related to India’s accession to Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The consultation was chaired by the Minister of Women and Child Development.

Issue:

  • Chairperson said that a large number of women married to Indians abroad are compelled to return to India with their children when they undergo violence in their marriages.
  • She expressed concern at the difficulties being faced by the affected parent, whether men or women and their children as a result of breakdown of marriages abroad.
  • A model legislation to safeguard not only the interests of the child but also of the parents, especially women must also be developed.

Commission set:

  • Chandigarh Judicial Academy Chandigarh along with NRI Commission of Punjab to examine in detail the legal issues involved by taking all viewpoints into account including those of suffering women.
  • They will give recommendations as to how the problems of parents and children involved in such situations can be addressed.
  • They will also study the draft Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016.It was decided that this exercise will be completed in four months.

Current situation:

  • Currently, there is no specific Indian legislation addressing issues related to abduction of children from and into India.
  • Law Commission of India had submitted the 218th Report titled “Need to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980” on 30th March, 2009.
  • In view of this report, before acceding to the Convention, the Ministry of Women and Child Development prepared a draft Bill titled: “The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016”
  • The Law Commission of India has recently suggested some modifications in the above mentioned Bill and re-named it as the “The Protection of Children (Inter-country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016”

Hague Convention:

  • Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty which came into existence on 1st December, 1983.
  • The convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.
  • The convention is intended to enhance the international recognition of rights of custody and access arising in place of habitual residence.
  • It aims to ensure prompt return of the child who is wrongfully removed or retained from the place of habitual residence.
  • It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.
  • The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

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6.Measures to improve the quality of indigenous silk
Source: PIB

Bivoltine silk is the high quality mulberry silk produced in India as an import substitute silk.The following measures are taken to produce Bivoltine silk in India:

  • Strengthening the Research & Development system to improve the levels of cocoon production and productivity.
  • Bivoltine hybrids have been developed and are being used for production of better quality BV silk in Southern region throughout the year.
  • Two new bivoltine hybrids developed for better yield and adaptation are under popularization.
  • Cold Storage facilities and Bivoltine grainages have been strengthened to produce quality Bivoltine silkworm seed.
  • Silkworm Seed Act is being implemented to bring quality standards in silkworm seed production to improve the productivity and quality of silk.
  • Intensive Bivoltine Sericulture project to promote Bivoltine silk, under North Eastern Region-Textiles Promotion Scheme (NERTPS).

Production of Vanya Silk (Muga, Eri and Tasar):

  • Integrated Sericulture Development Project (ISDP): Under North Eastern Region Textiles Promotion Scheme (NERTPS), Government has approved 14 Sericulture Projects to promote Vanya Silk.
  • Central Silk Board has developed latest technology packages, improved farm machineries, indigenous automatic reeling units and Vanya silk reeling and spinning units to reduce drudgery and improve quality and productivity of Vanya silk.

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7.Simpler rules may help MSMEs become companies
Source: The Hindu

  1. A majority of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country are family owned businesses that are not limited liability companies.
  2. Because of this, they would not be able to benefit from the Budget proposal to cut the corporate tax rate for MSMEs with turnover less than Rs 50 crore.
  3. Just 3% of the MSMEs are registered as limited companies; And only these will enjoy lower tax according to the budget proposal .

Not enough incentive: Though the micro-units risk losing their competitiveness to corporate peers, the 5% lower tax may not be enough incentive to spur them to become limited companies .

Way forward: The Centre could frame simpler rules for micro and smaller companies, especially family-owned firms, so that more MSMEs are encouraged to become LLPs or limited companies

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8.A 21st century find spotlights prehistoric rock art
Source: The Hindu

Discovery: An important prehistoric rock art site has been spotted in the foothills of the Ambukuthi hills — in the Edakkal village located in Sulthan Bathery taluk of Kerala’s Wayanad district.

  • The discovery comes nearly 123 years after British police officer Fred Fawcett’s chance discovery of the world-famous Edakkal Caves and their Neolithic petroglyphs.
  • The site has been discovered by independent researcher, writer and national award-winning filmmaker O.K. Johnny.
  • Earlier: His efforts had earlier attracted leading historians and archaeologists to the Edakkal Caves.
  • In 1984, Mr. Johnny had discovered a set of petroglyphs at Thovari hillocks, also in Sulthan Bathery taluk.

Details: Petroglyphs [carvings] and petrographs [drawings, paintings] are commonly found in rock shelters but in Ambukuthi they are being discovered on some granite blocks that are independently located.

Relation to Edakkal: The rock engravings are very similar to the Edakkal and Thovary petroglyphs and they are situated between the Ambukuthi hill and Thovari rock and that too at a distance of just 5 km.

  • It is likely that the same artists who created the engravings in Ambukuthy and their descendants created the petroglyphs in Thovari and Edakkal.
  • The Ambukuthi valley engravings are seen on six small rocks located on a lakeside, and they have a striking similarity to the Thovari carvings — in their style, motifs and workmanship.
  • Both in Thovari and in the Ambukuthi valley, there are no human or animal figures in motion as seen in the Edakkal caves.
  • Like in Thovari, Ambukuthi valley engravings are abstract and made of thick long lines.

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9.India to host key RCEP meeting at Hyderabad in July
 Sources: The Hindu.

India in July would host the negotiations for mega trade deal RCEP which aims at liberalising norms for trade in goods and services and boost investment among 16-member countries.

  • Hyderabad has been chosen to host the meeting.

About RCEP:

RCEP is the proposed mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 16 Asia-Pacific countries including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

  • The RCEP seeks to achieve a modern and comprehensive trade agreement among members.
  • The core of the negotiating agenda would cover trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation and dispute settlement.
  • The partnership would be a powerful vehicle to support the spread of global production networks and reduce the inefficiencies of multiple Asian trade agreements that exist presently.

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10.Cant compare US vetting order with Indian Bill
Sources: The Hindu.

Amid a debate comparing U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on “extreme vetting” of visitors from seven countries to the United States and India’s own Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, chairman of a joint committee of Parliament on the Bill, Satyapal Singh has denied that an equivalence can be drawn between the two.

U.S. President’s order had different connotions than the Amendment Bill.

  • The U.S. order is to prevent people who the administration feels will possibly indulge in radical terror activities to enter the country, and has more to do with public order and security.

Our Bill aims to give succour to those persecuted on religious grounds. There are many cases of religious persecution and people fleeing to India and it has to be taken into account. “Communities other than Hindus are also included in the Bill,”

  • Under the Citizenship Act of 1955, an applicant for citizenship requires to have resided in India for the last 12 months and for 11 years.
  • The Amendment Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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11.Bill in LS to make holding of scrapped notes punishable
Source : Times of India

Government has introduced in Lok Sabha the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill that provides for holding, transfer and receiving of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes a criminal offence, punishable with a minimum fine of Rs 10,000.

  • The Bill seeks to end the liability of RBI and the government on the currency notes demonetised in November last.
  • Once passed by Parliament, the bill will replace an ordinance promulgated on December 30 last which provides for a fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher, on holding of more than 10 banned 1,000 and 500 Rupee notes.
  • The bill states that the government took the demonetisation decision on the recommendations of the RBI’s central board to eliminate unaccounted money and fake currency notes from the financial system.
  • Apart from aiming at ceasing the liability on old notes, the bill also provides that an Indian citizen, who was outside the country between November 9 and December 30, will be entitled to tender the demonetised noted within the grace period under rules provided by the RBI.
  • It also prohibits the holding, transferring or receiving of these notes from December 31, 2016.
  • It also seeks to impose penalty for contravention of the ordinance, which it will replace, and to confer power upon the court of a first class Magistrate to impose penalty.

Background:

The ordinance provided for amending the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act, 1934 to provide legislative support for extinguishing the central bank and government’s liability on the demonetised banknotes that are not returned.

The main objectives of the ordinance were to provide clarity and finality to the liability of the RBI and the Government of India for the specified bank notes (of 1,000 and 500); to provide an opportunity to those persons who were unable to deposit the SBNs within the time provided; and to declare holding, transferring or receiving SBNs as illegal, with provisions for penalty for contravention of any of the provisions of the Ordinance.

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12.Govt introduces bill for wage payment via e-mode, cheques
Source : Times of India

Government has introduced The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill 2017 in Lok Sabha to enable Centre and states to specify the industries which will have to pay wages to workers only through cheques or crediting it to their bank accounts without obtaining written authorisation of the employees.

  • The bill will replace the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 15, 2016 & also seeks to repeal the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 promulgated on December 28, 2016.

The bill provides that “appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify the industrial or other establishment, the employer of which shall pay to every person employed in such industrial or other establishment, the wages only by cheque or by crediting the wages in his bank account”.

  • The amendment enables the Centre as well as state governments to notify industries where employers shall have pay wages either through cheque or crediting that into workers’ bank accounts.
  • The bill also enables employers to pay through cheque or e-mode without the written authorisation of the worker. It provides that non-notified industries will have the option to pay “in current coin or currency notes or by cheque or by crediting wages in the bank account of the employee”.
  • As per the bill, the new procedure will serve the objective of “digital and less-cash economy”.
  • At present, with the written authorisation of an employee, wages can be given through cheque or transferred to his or her bank account.

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13.RTI Act comes into force in Sri Lanka
 Sources: The Hindu.

  • The Right to Information (RTI) Act has come into force in Sri Lanka.
  • This legislation is aimed at restoring transparency and good governance in a country that has been plagued by corruption and misrule.
  • The government had last week gazetted the categories of public authorities that fall within the purview of the RTI.
  • The authorities are bound to respond to these requests as per the specified guidlines, within a maximum period of 28 days.

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