07, March 2017

World’s oldest aircraft carrier INS Viraat decommissioned

The world’s longest serving warship INS Viraat was decommissioned by the Indian Navy at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, Maharashtra after nearly six decades of service. This marks the end of an era of Viraat being the flagship of the Indian Navy as it had provided utmost protection to the country during many tense situations. The decision on the warship’s future has not been taken yet.

Odisha achieves highest decline in IMR

The IMR in Odisha which was 96 per 1000 births in 2000 has been reduced to 40 in 2015-16, according to the 4th round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-2015-16. During the same period, the national average of IMR has reduced by 27 points as it has come down to 41 from 68.

  • Odisha performed better than the national average on indicators like under-5 mortality rate, underweight, malnourishment and total fertility rate
  • That programmes like Mukhya Mantri Swasthya Seva (MMSS) Mission and SAMPURNA will help to decline the IMR and MMR in the state.


1.Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)

Source: PIB

The signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).

  • The proposal seeks to provide technical support to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in strengthening capacities of governance institutions including Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) to better leverage opportunities created for gender equality through legislation, policies and programmes.

Key facts:

  1. Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) and UN-Women have worked in collaboration with each other to promote participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), to focus on building capacities of Elected Women Representatives to empower them and enhance their effectiveness.
  2. The parties agree that engendering the initiatives of MoPR, including capacity development efforts, will be of mutual benefit, and will further their shared mission of good governance, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  3. In the long run, it will enable an improvement in the status of rural women in India, as well as contribute to meeting India’s commitment to the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  4. The proposed MoU will facilitate the achievement of time-bound results in the implementation of specific activities identified jointly by MoPR and UN Women within the broader framework for cooperation under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework ((UNDAF).


The India UNDAF 2013-17 provides the framework for the collective work of the UN in India.

The UN agencies that have the privilege of serving in India support the Government of India’s national development priorities and internationally agreed development goals and standards including the Millennium Development Goals.

In support of the Government of India’s 12th Five Year Plan

  • Inclusive Growth,
  • Food and Nutrition Security,
  • Gender Equality,
  • Equitable Access to Quality Basic Services,
  • Governance, and
  • Sustainable Development.

Activities under this MoU will be implemented at the district and sub-district level in six States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Odisha, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

2.Cabinet approves India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention)

Source: PIB

The Convention will help Indian traders to have access to fast, easy, reliable and hassle free international system for movement of goods by road or multi- modal means across the territories of other contracting parties.

Significance of this convention

  • By joining the convention, the need for inspection of goods at intermediate borders as well as physical escorts en route shall be obviated(removed) due to reciprocal recognition of Customs controls.
  • Customs clearance can take place at internal Customs locations thereby avoiding clearances at Border Crossing Points and ports that may often be congested.
  • Movement under the TIR can be allowed by checking only the seals and the external conditions of the load compartment or the container thereby reducing border delays, transport and transaction costs thereby leading to increased competitiveness and growth for the trade and transport sectors.

Key facts:

  • Compliance with the Convention shall ensure enhanced security in the supply chain as only approved transporters and vehicles are allowed to operate in terms of the Convention.
  • As the TIR Carnet represents a guarantee for Customs duties and taxes and traffic in transit, there is no need for payment of such taxes and duties en route.
  • The TIR carnet also serves as a Customs declaration, and hence it precludes the need to file multiple declarations satisfying national laws of the different transiting countries.
  • The TIR Convention can be an instrument for movement of goods along the International “North-South” Transport (INSTC) Corridor and would be helpful in boosting trade with the Central Asian Republics and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), particularly using ports in Iran like the Chabahar port.

The proposal does not result in any direct financial implication for the Government of India as it pertains to India’s accession to an international convention.

Background: TIR Convention

The Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets, 1975 (TIR Convention), is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to facilitate the seamless movement of goods within and amongst the Parties to the Convention. At present there are 70 parties to the Convention, including the European Union.

It covers the whole of Europe and reaches out to North Africa and the Near and Middle East

3.Donald Trump signs ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ order

Source: The Hindu

New travel ban applies to 6 countries but excludes Iraq; green card, visa holders to be unaffected

The new executive order bans travel from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, leaving out Iraq that was also in the list of barred countries.

  • In an attempt to pass the next round of inevitable judicial scrutiny, current visa and green card holders from these countries will not be affected by this order. The order also explains the basis for including the six countries trying to remedy a lacuna in the earlier order. The new order also avoids the preferential treatment offered to Christian refugees in the earlier order.

The order said each of the six countries was a “state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organisations or contains active conflict zones.” The order gives country-wise details justifying the inclusion of each and also explains the exclusion of Iraq. “Iraq presents a special case. Portions of Iraq remain combat zones,” the order said, but added that the country’s commitment to “combat ISIS justify different treatment for Iraq.”

4.U.S. THAAD deployment in S. Korea to be operational as early as April: Yonhap

Source: The Hindu

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.

  • The U.S. military the first elements of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system had arrived in South Korea for deployment. This came after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles on Monday, angering Seoul and Japan.

What is an anti ballistic missile?

An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a surface-to-air missile designed to counter ballistic missiles (see missile defense). Ballistic missiles are used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory.

Explaining Thaad, and Why It So Bothers China

  • The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as Thaad, is supposed to help South Korea protect itself from a North Korean military attack. But China sees Thaad as a threat that will break “the strategic equilibrium in the region.”
  • North Korea has threatened to obliterate South Korean cities in rains of fire, conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests (including some this week) and vowed to advance its well-documented nuclear weapons capabilities.

what is China worried about?

  • It’s concerned that Thaad’s surveillance capabilities might be able to offer early tracking data to parts of the American ballistic missile defense system, eroding China’s ability to target the U.S. in the event of war.
  • The U.S. already has a Thaad battery deployed in Guam, two radars in Japan, space assets, plus a range of ship-borne radars and larger land based radars in other parts of the Pacific. Thaad would perhaps improve early tracking of some Chinese missiles but might not make interception of the missiles much easier.

How is China responding?

So far, it’s ordered travel agencies to stop selling tour packages to South Korea and taken steps against Lotte Group, one of South Korea’s largest family-run conglomerates (or chaebol), which offered up the land that will host Thaad’s missile battery.



5.4th Annual Devolution Conference to focus on good governance

Source: Business standard

The 4th Annual Devolution Conference, would focus on increasing good governance and public accountability.

  • Minister of State for Finance is representing India and has reached Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, for the conference to share experience of the devolution system and its progress in India, a statement from the Finance Ministry.
  • In this regard, it would specifically highlight the 73rd-74th Constitutional Amendments and provisions their under for strengthening the local governance in the Republic of India.

Objectives of Conference:

  • The Conference on the revenue sharing between the Centre and the States as well as showcase the smooth devolution on the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission from the earlier 32% share in 13thFinance Commission to 42% of Union’s net tax receipts, to the States.
  • The objective of the Conference also includes sharing of good experience of devolution system and through the platform of Devolution Conference how it can be used to increase Good Governance and Public Accountability for the Social & Economic Development internationally.
  • In this International Conference, around ten thousand delegates will participate from different regions including African Nations and China. The Members of Parliament, Leaders of Opposition from all States, professionals, representative of various civil societies, religious & social organizations from Kenya will also take part in the aforesaid Conference.

The overall objective of the conference will be to safeguard the gains, enhance the understanding and appreciation of devolution as a system of governance that focuses on public accountability and learning new ways of socio-economic development and delivering services. The conference has the following objectives:

  • To review the socio-economic impact of devolution over the past four years.
  • To discuss how devolution has been a tool for socio-economic integration in the country in promoting equity and inclusivity.
  • To demonstrate the achievements in adopting the “Big Bang” Devolution implementation approach over the past four years.
  • To identify opportunities for change, growth and enhanced cooperation in changing perspectives, changing the narrative and entrenching devolution in Kenya.
  • Review the financial burden in applying two thirds gender principle as opposed to an inclusive policy in an electoral system.

6.Polluted environment kills 1.7 million children a year

Source: The Hindu

According to recently released World Health Organisation (WHO) report titled “Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children’s health and the environment”, polluted environment kills around 1.7 million children a year.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the environment’s impact especially air pollution on children’s health, illustrating the scale of the challenge.

Highlights of Report

  • Every year, environmental risks such as outdoor and indoor air pollution, unsafe water, second-hand smoke, lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene results in quarter of all global deaths of children under five.
  • Large portion of the most common causes of death among children are diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia due to pollution.
  • Harmful exposures also increase the risk of premature birth.
  • When infants and pre-schoolers are exposed to air pollution they have an increased lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
  • Exposure to air pollution may also increase their lifelong risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer.
  • Children’s developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them vulnerable pollution.

  1. Trade Mark Rules 2017

Source: Indian Express

The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 have come into effect, streamlining and simplifying the processing of Trade Mark applications. The new rules were released by Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry and will replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules, 2002.

Salient features of revamped Rules

  • Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms have been reduced to 8 from 74.
  • For the first time, the rules have laid out, modalities for determination of well-known trademarks.
  • The TM applications fee for online filing has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing to promote e-filing.
  • The provisions related to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trade mark extended upto registration stage. Earlier, it was only upto examination stage.
  • Modalities for service of documents from applicants to the Registry and vice-versa through electronic means have been introduced to expedite the process. e-mail has been made an essential part of address for service to be provided by the applicant or any party to the proceedings so that the office communication may be sent through email.
  • Hearing through video conferencing has been introduced. Number of adjournments in opposition proceedings has been restricted to a maximum of two by each party to dispose off matters in time.
  • Procedures relating to registration as Registered User of trademarks have also been simplified. Over all fees have been rationalized by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.

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