05 , December 2017

6th International Tourism Mart (ITM) is being held in Guwahati, Assam. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in association with the North Eastern States has organized this Mart.

The objective of the event is to highlight the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets. The International Tourism Marts are organised in the North Eastern States on rotation basis. The earlier editions of this mart have been held in Guwahati, Tawang, Shillong, Gangtok and Imphal.

Sentinel- 5P, a European satellite tracking the levels air pollutants around the world has beamed back new views of the Earth’s atmosphere, including images of pollution drifting away from power plants in India. The worst of this pollution runs from north of Patna in Bihar to south of Raipur in Chhattisgarh. The Sentinel-5P satellite is designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air.

It carries an instrument called Tropomi – a spectrometer that observes the reflected sunlight coming up off the Earth, analysing its many different colours. This helps detect the presence of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.

1.First Ever International Conference on AYUSH and Wellness ‘Arogya 2017’
Source: PIB

‘Arogya 2017’ has been jointly organized by Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Government of India including Pharmexcil in partnership with FICCI to showcase the strength and scientific valuation of traditional system of medicine.

  • ‘Aroyga 2017’ is a comprehensive exhibition cum conference on Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddhha, Sowa Rigpa, Homoeopathy and wellness.
  • More than 250 manufacturers of alternative medicine are showcasing their products and services at International Arogya 2017.
  • The mega event has brought key stakeholders of AYUSH sector together under one roof to showcase latest research and developments in alternative medicine systems of India and boost exports of AYUSH products.

A White Paper “AYUSH for the World” by Frost & Sullivan was launched at the event to offer a roadmap for AYUSH regulations and registration in ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries. It notes that India is the second largest exporter of Ayurvedic and alternate medicine to the world and has a potential to generate 3 million job opportunities. The Indian herbal market is valued at around Rs 5,000 crore currently, with an annual growth rate of 14%.

2.ISA to become a Treaty-based International Intergovernmental organization
Source: PIB

In terms of its Framework Agreement, with ratification by Guinea as the 15th country on 6th November 2017, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will become a treatybased international intergovernmental organization tomorrow on 6th December 2017. The ISA, headquartered in India, has its Secretariat located in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gwalpahari, Gurgaon, Haryana. ISA Interim Secretariat has been operational as a de-facto organization since 25th January, 2016.

As of date, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the Framework Agreement of ISA.

Programmes and Initiatives by ISA countries so far:

Three programmes:

  • Scaling Solar Applications for Agriculture Use,
  • Affordable Finance at Scale, and
  • Scaling Solar Minigrids have been launched.

These programmes will help in achieving the overall goal of increasing solar energy deployment in the ISA member countries for achieving universal energy access and speeding up economic development. In addition to the existing 3 programmes, ISA has initiated plans to launch two more programmes: Scaling Solar Rooftops and Scaling Solar Emobility and Storage.

Other Initiatives:

  • Developing a Common Risk Mitigating Mechanism (CRMM) for de-risking and reducing the financial cost of solar projects in the ISA member countries. The instrument will help diversify and pool risks on mutual public resources and unlock significant investments. An international expert group has been working on the blue print of the mechanism and it will be rolled out by December 2018.
  • Establishment of Digital Infopedia which will serve as a platform to enable policy makers, Ministers and corporate leaders from ISA countries to interact, connect, communicate and collaborate with one another. The interactive platform was operationalized on 18th May 2017. Digital Infopedia will have three heads: (a) Member countries counter for investment opportunities; (b) at least 1000 best practices on solar energy (audio/visual), and (c) Member countries of ISA and the ISA Secretariat audio and visual interaction.

The Paris Declaration establishing ISA states that the countries share the collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment solar generation assets. This will help pave the way for future solar generation, storage and good technologies for each prospective member countries’ individual needs, by effectively mobilizing more than US$1000 billion in investments that will be required by 2030.

3.Rape of minors to attract death in M.P
Source: The Hindu

With this, Madhya Pradesh becomes the first State where those convicted of such rapes will face the gallows. The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a Bill awarding death to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 and below. With this, Madhya Pradesh becomes the first State where those convicted of such rapes will face the gallows. The Bill will now be sent to the President for his assent, after which it will become a law

Capital punishment

Capital punishment would be awarded to convicts under Section 376 (A), which is related to rape, and Section 376 (D, A), pertaining to gang-rape

4.21st century India cannot shun leprosy patients: SC
Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court declared in an order on Monday saying:

  • Twenty­ first century society cannot justify shunning persons affected by leprosy or keeping them hidden in homes and away from the mainstream,

A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, acting on a PIL filed by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has asked the central government to respond in eight weeks to a call to repeal 119 Central and State laws in practice since the 1950s that discriminate against leprosy patients, stigmatize and isolate them despite the fact that modern medicine completely cures the disease. Bench found that these statutory laws continue to recognise superstitions that leprosy is “infectious and has something to do with genetics”

Petitioners’ position

  • The petition has urged the court to intervene and pave the way for recognising the fundamental right to equality, dignity and equal opportunity of persons affected by leprosy
  • These laws rob persons affected by leprosy by denying them equal treatment under personal laws, in matters of employment and appointment or election to public office, as well as access to and free movement in public places
  • Such unequal treatment irrationally treats persons affected by leprosy as a separate class even though with the latest medical advancements, leprosy is rendered non-infectious after the very first dose of Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), the World Health Organisation-recommended treatment regime for leprosy

How such laws discriminate?

There are 119 laws that discriminate against persons affected by leprosy in broadly the following five ways:

  • Cause stigmatization and indignity to persons affected by leprosy
  • Isolate/segregate persons affected by leprosy
  • Deny them access to public services
  • Impose disqualifications on them under personal laws
  • Bar them from occupying or standing for public posts or office

Discriminatory laws:

Some of the discriminatory provisions are part of laws named in the petition, which include the

  • Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation Act, 1981
  • Puducherry Municipalities Act, 1973
  • Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, 1920
  • Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957
  • Chennai Municipal Corporation Act, 1919
  • Kerala Khadi and Village Industries Board Act of 1957
  • Andhra Pradesh Public Libraries Act of 1969, which bans membership to persons affected by leprosy

MDT for leprosy:

The drugs used in WHO-MDT are a combination of rifampicin, clofazimine and dapsone for MB leprosy patients and rifampicin and dapsone for PB leprosy patients

  • Among these rifampicin is the most important antileprosy drug and therefore is included in the treatment of both types of leprosy

About Leprosy:

  • Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis.
  • Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to 20 years.
  • Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain, thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries or infection due to unnoticed wounds. Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.
  • Leprosy is spread between people. This is thought to occur through a cough or contact with fluid from the nose of an infected person. Leprosy occurs more commonly among those living in poverty. Contrary to popular belief, it is not highly contagious.
  • Leprosy is curable with a treatment known as multidrug therapy. The treatments are provided free of charge by the World Health Organization.

5.Opening bank account in new city to get tough
Source: The Hindu

If you are going to move cities, you will need to submit proof of your new address as validated by your passport, driving licence or voter card, within three months of opening a bank account.

This requirement stems from a change in the anti-money laundering rules as notified by the Finance Ministry that mandates five specific documents as proof of ‘present’ address that a customer needs to submit to a bank branch for opening a new account.

  • The five officially valid documents — passport, driving licence, voter’s identity card, job card issued by NREGA signed by an officer of the State government, letter issued by the National Population Registrar containing details of name and address — that can be accepted by banks as proof of present, or current, address

Practice at present:

  • At present, one needs to submit a proof of identity and proof of address. There are six official valid documents for proof of identity — passport, driving licence, voter identity card, PAN card, Aadhaar card and NREGA job card.
  • For proof of address, the RBI has allowed banks to accept documents such as rent agreement and utility bills.

6.Centre prepares to redefine ‘employment’
Source: The Hindu

Panel to bat for ‘pragmatic’ approach to classify formal work

The government’s own data showed that job creation in the formal sector was slowest in almost a decade, but it has said that it felt the ground reality on jobs was not being ‘properly’ captured as the existing system takes into account only the formal sector

The situation could change soon. Speaking to The Hindu, commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu said “all the economic activity in India, including in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and informal sectors, will soon get properly captured.

Task Force on Improving Employment Data

A task force was set up in May 2017 under the chairmanship of the then Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, Arvind Panagariya

Terms of reference of the task force: Assess the existing data systems and sources that provide information on jobs and job creation and then identifying alternate sources that could provide such data. Recommending mechanisms for capturing information on jobs and job creation on a regular basis for both the informal and formal sectors.

What could be expected?

  • Change in the definition of employment/workers as well as ways to include and measure employment in the informal sector as well.

Draft report by the task force:

  • According to the draft report, there is no fixed definition of formal workers currently in India.
  • It said all definitions were highly restrictive, and exclude many workers who have decent and steady jobs but either do not work in large enough enterprises or do not have written contracts.
  • The task force said it was desirable to adopt a new, more ‘pragmatic’ definition of formal workers.

Looking forward:

  • The plan now is to include workers covered the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (or other similar insurance), Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provision Act, 1952 (or other similar social security scheme), workers having coverage under private insurance or pension schemes or provident funds as well as workers subject to tax deduction at source on their income through submission of Form 16 or similar Income Tax form.
  • The panel had identified the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) scheme, which provides small, unsecured loans to enterprises, as an important source of job creation.
  • According to a report by the SKOCH Group on September 6, the MUDRA scheme had led to a total of 54,479,763 jobs being generated in just over two years. These included 37,753,217 direct jobs and 16,726,545 indirect jobs.

7.Centre passes notification, allows NGT to form one-member benches
Source: The Hindu

Amending the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedure) Rules, 2011, the Centre has passed a notification allowing the NGT chairperson to “constitute a single-member bench” in “exceptional circumstances.” However, the notification does not define the “exceptional circumstances”.

According to the earlier rules, the bench consisted of “two or more members” with at least one judicial member and another expert.


  • At present, the regional benches in Chennai and Kolkata are both functioning with one judicial member each and the expert members have retired.
  • The expert member in the principal bench in Delhi is expected to retire later this week.
  • Instead of the government taking the time to fill up vacancies, it is now attempting to reduce the bench to a single-member.
  • This may not hold water as a notification cannot amend the principal Act.
  • The essence of the NGT was to have both “technical and judicial” members. Otherwise, the tribunal will function no differently from a high court.
  • Vacancies also affect the institutional memories which are important to keep the continuity in hearing cases.


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