05, April 2017

1.U.S. to enforce H-1B visa laws

Source: The Hindu

U.S. Enforce the laws related to the H-1B visa programme that went unenforced until now,  even as the Justice Department warned companies against using the programme to displace American workers.

Key facts:

  • TheS Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a slew of measures to crack down on companies that might be misusing the programme, including more stringent checks at sites where H-1B workers are employed.
  • The H-1B visa programme should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country.
  • Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.
  • Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programmes is a priority for USCIS,” the agency said in a statement announcing site visits across the country.
  • The USCIS, responsible for selecting 85,000 H-IB beneficiaries, also clarified, purportedly for administrative reasons, that computer programmers with two-year degrees do not qualify as speciality occupation as defined by the programme.
  • In a third statement, the Justice Department said it would not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers. Therefore “U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavoured status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims
  • The USCIS inspections will specifically target cases where it cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data, employers who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work at another company or organisation’s location. The last category comprises body shops that contract workers for big IT firms.

Way ahead:

  • Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B programme may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers.
  • USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide.
  • These site visits are not meant to target non-immigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system.

2.CAG to audit UN Secretariat in New York

Source: Business standard

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India will audit the UN Secretariat in New York, a job which till now was the exclusive domain of developed countries.

  • The CAG is the external auditor of several UN organisations and India’s Shashi Kant Sharma is the Chairman of the UN Board of Auditors.
  • At present, Auditors General of Germany and Tanzania are the members and Sharma is the Chair of the Board. The CAG of India’s term runs from 2014 to 2020.

UN Board of Auditors:

  • The General Assembly established the United Nations Board of Auditors (Board) in 1946 as an important mechanism to promote accountability and transparency in the United Nations.
  • The members of the Board have collective responsibility for the audits.
  • Currently the heads of the SAIs of India, Tanzania and Germany are the members of the Board.
  • The Auditors-Generals of UN member states are elected to the Board.
  • The lead auditors of UNICEF, UNJSPF, UNOPS etc. Germany is the lead auditor of peacekeeping missions and Tanzania leads audit efforts on UNDP. However, the Board as a whole is responsible for all the audits

Functions of the board:

  • The Board performs external audit of the accounts of the United Nations organization and its funds and programmes and reports its findings and recommendations to the Assembly through the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
  • The Board provides independent assurance to Member States and other stakeholders regarding proper use of the resources of the United Nations and its funds and programmes.
  • It reports on financial matters as well as on regularity and performance issues.
  • It plays a significant role in assisting the United Nations to improve its operations and its internal control systems.
  • The findings and recommendations of the Board have led to continuous systematic improvements in the functioning of the United Nations.

3.New tree-living crab species found in Kerala

Source: The Hindu

  • Scientists have discovered a new species of long legged, tree-dwelling crabs in Western Ghats of Kerala. This is the first report of its kind to offer a record of an arboreal crab — a species that lives in trees.
  • The new species named Kani maranjandu after the Kani tribe in Kerala, are substantially different from other congeners.
  • The characteristic traits of the crab include the structure of its hard upper shell, its male abdominal structure and reproductive parts and diagnostic elongated walking legs.

4.e-nagarpalika mobile App

Source: Indian Express

The Madhya Pradesh government has launched an app to provide various municipal services online.

  • Citizens should get the municipal services conveniently and on time. There is no paucity of funds in urban bodies. Rs 83,000 crore will be spent in the next three-four years for development in state’s urban bodies.
  • This mobile app is a part of Rs 225-crore ‘e-nagarpalika’ project, under which all municipal services would be made available online on a unified web platform.

5.Padayani Dance

Source: The Hindu

Padayani is a traditional folk dance and a ritual art from the central portion of the Indian state of Kerala. A ceremonial dance involving masks, it is an ancient ritual performed in Bhagavati temples.

Background:

  • Padayani was performed by magico-medicine men of Kerala to heal the illnesses not amenable to medical modalities of intervention. It is believed that it is evolved from a symbolic past reminiscent of fencing march of martial art Kalari.
  • Eventually in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala, the Nair folk became the performers of the modern form of Padayani art, but the design and making of costumes vested with Kaniyar people.
  • The dance is performed in honor of Bhadrakaali.
  • Meaning, a row of warriors, Padayani is an art form that blends music, dance, theatre, satire, facial masks, and paintings.
  • Padayani is unique to central Travancore, comprising the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.
  • Padayani is regarded as a remnant of the Dravidian forms of worship that existed before the advent of Brahmanism.
  • Kalan Kolam is the major attraction in padayani. This is about a child who is begging his life to lord siva while death comes in his 16th birthday.
  • A major attraction of padayani is the song associated with it. Traditionally only a single type of instrument is used to associate the song, thappu.



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