08, September 2016

Modi at ASEAN summit:

Source: The Hindu

While addressing the 14th ASEAN-India summit PM Modi expressed deep concern over the rising “export of terror”, in an apparent reference to Pakistan, saying it is a common security threat to the region as he sought a coordinated response from ASEAN member nations to combat the menace. Prime Minister also noted that growing radicalism through the ideology of hatred and spread of extreme violence are the other security threats. “The threat is local, regional, and transitional at the same time. Our partnership with ASEAN seeks to craft a response through coordination, cooperation at multiple levels,” PM said.

Prime Minister said that ASEAN is central to India’s Act East policy. “Our engagement driven by common priorities bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region”. He said enhancing connectivity was central to India’s partnership with ASEAN. “Seamless digital connectivity between India and Southeast Asia is a shared objective. India committed to Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity,” PM said.

Securing seas was a shared responsibility, he said, adding that sea lanes are “life lines of global trade.”  India supports freedom of navigation based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

All three pillars of our partnership — security, economic and socio-cultural have registered good progress,” he said, adding that engagement of India-ASEAN is of “economic optimism.”

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Publish FIRs online within 24 hours: SC

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has ordered all the States and Union Territories to upload, on police or government websites, First Information Reports (FIRs) within 24 hours of their registration in police stations.

A move to uphold the right of an accused to information and putting a check on the authority of the police to deprive a person of his liberty. This will usher transparency in Police work. SC Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan noted that an accused had every right to know what he was accused of. “Where liberty of a person is at stake and the criminal law is set in motion, the accused should have all the information,”

FIR would help the accused prepare his defense and “seek redressal of his grievances.”

The court order came on a writ petition by the Youth Bar Association of India earlier this year seeking such a direction to the Union government, States and UTs.

The Bench however exempted from publication FIRs in certain cases. These include cases of insurgency, child abuse, sexual offences and terrorism. The FIRs registered in these categories would continue to be away from the public eye owing to issues of privacy and national interest.

The decision to not post the FIRs in such cases would be taken by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police or the District Magistrate, either of whom would have to communicate the decision to the jurisdictional magistrate.

Driving Licenses and Vehicle Registration Certificates can now be accessed through Mobile App

Source: PIB, Indian Express

The government has launched a new service through which a user can access their driving license and registration certificate digitally and need not carry a physical copy all the time.

The Press release said “Driving Licenses and Vehicle Registration documents can now be issued directly to the DigiLocker of individuals in digital formats.”  The digital copies of driving license and registration certificate can also be shared with other departments for verification purpose.

Benefits:

  • The integration will bring a paradigm shift in the vision of paperless governance.
  • It will serve to bring agility and efficiency to the entire process of issuance of driving licenses and vehicle registration certificates through IT enablement.
  • This platform is a major step forward towards ensuring greater transparency and cutting down corruption and red-tapism.
  • The move will benefit a large number of people by facilitating ease of access to the documents.

About DigiLocker:

The DigiLocker mobile app was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, 2015. DigiLocker aims at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

It is a platform for issuance and verification of documents and certificates digitally. When a person signs up for a DigiLocker he gets access to a dedicated cloud storage space for his important documents.

India signs open skies pact with Greece

Source: Business Standard, The Hindu

India has signed a MoU with Greece to allow unlimited number of flights into each other’s countries.

This initiates an air service agreement with Greece for open skies with them. Greece will become the first country with an open sky arrangement under our new civil aviation policy.

What the New Civil aviation policy says?

Under the new civil aviation policy, India plans to enter into ‘open sky’ air service agreements (ASA) with SAARC countries and with countries beyond 5,000 km radius from Delhi.

Countries sign ASAs through bilateral negotiations to decide on the number of flights that airlines can fly into each other’s countries. Under the open sky pact, there is no restriction on flights or seats.

Present Open Sky Agreements:

India has an open sky agreement with the U.S. and a near open sky agreement with the U.K. under which there are certain limitations on the number of flights that can be operated at the Mumbai and Delhi Airports. For ASEAN or SAARC countries, India has an open sky agreement with more than a dozen countries.

India will soon hold talks with Dubai to increase the bilateral seat entitlements with them.

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Maharashtra under pressure, to tweak draft of internal security Act

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

The Maharashtra government has decided to tweak the newly-drafted Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act following public outcry over its contentious clauses.

The government will incorporate three changes:

  • Reduction in punishment from the current three years to half.
  • Increase in restrictions on public assembly to 2,500 from the proposed 100.
  • Include a clause defining that the draft of the Act will not be applicable on private functions such as marriages and parties.

Background:

The Act was introduced earlier this month with an emphasis on ‘maintaining law and order, combating terrorism, insurgency, caste violence, communalism, and bringing nuclear reactors, dams, major projects and coastal areas under its ambit’.

But, the State was forced to withdraw the draft in the face of protests over clauses allowing the police’s arbitrary power to interfere in public gatherings and carry out security checks in public places. The draft also defines critical infrastructure sectors and proposes setting up of special security zones where movement of arms, explosives and inflow of unaccounted funds will be prohibited.

Saudi law a hurdle in rescuing T.N. fishermen, Centre tells HC

Source: The Hindu

The External Affairs Ministry has informed the Madras High Court that employment laws in Saudi Arabia were tough compared to other countries and hence there was a delay in bringing back 62 Tamil Nadu fishermen stranded in the country. The fishermen had accused their employer of ill-treating them and refusing to return their passports.

Issue:

A sponsorship system called Kafala, which regulated residency and employment of foreign workers, was followed in Saudi Arabia and hence no employee could get in or get out of the country without the consent of the employer.

Background:

The submission was made during the hearing of a habeas corpus petition filed by a relative of a stranded fisherman. Early this year, the fisherman had circulated a video through WhatsApp highlighting their poor plight

President gives assent to the Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill, 2014

Source: Economic Times

The legislation amending the Constitution to enable goods and services tax (GST) has become a law with President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent to the bill ratified by more than 50 per cent state assemblies.

Significance:

This is a significant milestone achieved in the implementation of GST that sets the stage for GST Council, which will work out the details of the tax, including the rate at which it will be levied.

About GST:

The Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill allows for introduction of GST that will replace multiple indirect taxes levied by center and states, creating one national market that is expected to bump up GDP by as high as 2 per cent.

The GST will subsume central taxes such as excise duty and service tax and state taxes including VAT, octroi, entry tax.

Once the date of the new tax is notified all state and central taxes that it subsumes will cease to exist. The government is looking to implement the new tax regime from April 1, 2017.

GST Council:

The GST Council, a body of states and Centre, is expected to be constituted shortly with Union finance minister as its chair and state finance ministers as its members.

The Centre will have one-third weight in the council while states together will have the remaining two-third. Decisions will have to pass by three-fourth vote, implying the need for consensus.

The council will take crucial decisions including the rate, laws, rules and procedures and administrative framework that will form the core of the CGST law and the IGST law, which will have to be passed apart from the state GST laws before the tax can be rolled out.

A committee headed by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian has suggested a revenue neutral rate of 15-15.5 per cent and standard rate of around 18 per cent.

08 September: International Literacy Day

Source: FirstPost, Indian Express

The world will celebrate 50th International Literacy Day under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”. The event was first celebrated in 1966 when the UNESCO officially proclaimed September 8 as the International Literacy Day.

The idea was to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.

Literacy in India:

According to the Census 2011 report, the illiteracy rate in India is 22 per cent.

Jains are the most literate community above 7 years of age among religious communities with 86.73 per cent of them as literate and only 13.57 per cent as illiterate.

Illiteracy is highest in Muslims (42.72 per cent) while Hindus are at 36.40 per cent, 32.49 per cent among Sikhs, 28.17 per cent among Buddhists and 25.66 per cent among Christians.

About 61.6 per cent men and 38.4 per cent women have studied up to graduation or above.

As per UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, India is expected to achieve universal primary education in 2050, universal lower secondary education in 2060 and universal upper secondary education in 2085.

According to 2011 census, Kerala is the most literate state with 93.91 per cent, Lakshadweep at 92.28 per cent, Mizoram at 91.58 per cent, Tripura at 87.75 percent and Goa at 87.40 percent

Bihar and Telangana have the lowest literacy with only 63.82 percent and 66.50 percent literate people respectively.

In 2014, the literacy rate of India increased by 10 percent.

India’s literacy rate has increased six times since the end of the British rule — from 12 per cent to 74 per cent in 2011. However, India has the world’s largest population of illiterates.

Bengaluru hosts first edition of IoT India Congress:

Source: The Hindu

The first edition of ‘IoT (Internet of Things) India Congress, 2016’ began in Bengaluru, Karnataka

The congress aims to bring together key stakeholders across the value chain and verticals to collaborate, ideate and share a common roadmap for IoT implementation.  It will bring the IoT practitioners (hardware-devices, portables, sensors, software, business) and IoT enablers (regulatory, training, investors in IoT, end users) to work together.

It seeks to create an IoT platform that is industry efficient as well as robust. For this purpose it has brought top executives from multinational companies and tech start-ups on one platform. The event will also host the “IoT Start-Up Awards 2016” and “IoT Thought Leadership Awards 2016”.

What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

 IoT is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, or people that are provided with unique identifiers.

Thus it can be said that it is an internetworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity.

The internetworking has ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

IoT is also dubbed as the infrastructure of the information society.

It allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure. Thus it creates opportunities for more direct integration of physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved accuracy, efficiency and economic benefits.

GSLV-F05 lobs advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR into orbit:

Source: PIB, the Hindu, Indian Express

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s GSLV-F05 rocket successfully placed INSAT-3DR advanced weather satellite in the intended orbit. The satellite is expected to provide a variety of meteorological services to the country.

INSAT-3DR is the second heaviest satellite placed in orbit by an indigenous cryogenic engine propelled GSLV. The 2,211kg satellite, which will provide meteorological and search and rescue data services to the country, was injected into the geostationary transfer orbit. The satellite, with the help of its propellant, will be raised to the final geostationary orbit after two days.

It was GSLV’s 10th flight. It was GSLV’s fourth flight with the Indigenous cryogenic engine CE-7.5, with the first three being developmental flights. GSLV is a three-staged vehicle and cryogenic engine is used in the third and final stage.

INSAT-3DR

INSAT-3DR, configured with an imager and two transponders, will continue the services rendered by previous satellites and further augment the capability to provide both meteorological and search and rescue services.

A data relay transponder will provide meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic data from remote uninhabited locations through automatic weather stations, rain gauges and agro met stations. The other is a satellite aided search and rescue transponder that will pick up and relay alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users.

The imager in the satellite will generate images of the Earth disk from an altitude of 36,000km once in every 26 minutes and provide information on various parameters including radiation, sea surface temperature, snow cover, cloud motion and fog.

India has six meteorological satellites out of which three — Kalpana-1, INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR — are exclusively for providing weather services.

Cryogenic technology:

ISRO had conducted three developmental flights with the indigenous cryogenic engine, which it was forced to develop after it used up all the Russian-supplied engines. However, the maiden flight with the indigenous engine carrying a 2,220kg GSAT-4, an experimental advanced communication satellite, plunged into the Bay of Bengal minutes after it took off from Sriharikota on April 15, 2010.

A study conducted later revealed that the turbo pump supplying fuel to the engine had stopped working. Since then, critical modifications were made to both the engine and the rocket before its first successful flight in 2014 and later in 2015.

ISRO had faced several challenges during the development of the engine. Cryogenic engines were basically essential to put satellites in geostationary orbit, but the technology was quite sophisticated.

The reasons were obvious – burning a super-cooled fuel at extremely high temperatures. ISRO was faced with the task of developing a material that can withstand the high temperature and pressure during combustion.

‘Swachh Survekshan’ for rural areas released by the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation

Source: PIB

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj released the ‘Swachh Survekshan’ for rural India, revealing Mandi (Himachal Pradesh) and Sindhudurg (Maharashtra) as the cleanest districts in India.

Mandi was judged as the cleanest district in “Hills” category and Sindhudurg as the cleanest in the “Plains” category, with districts of Sikkim, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), Nadia (West Bengal) and Satara (Maharashtra) featuring at the top of the index.

The Ministry had commissioned Quality Council of India (QCI) to carry out the assessment. Each district has been judged on four distinct parameters. Maximum weightage was places on accessibility to safe toilets and water. The parameters to judge sanitation status include:

  • Households having access to safe toilets and using them (toilet usage, water accessibility, safe disposal of waste) (40%)
  • Households having no litter around (30%)
  • Public places with no litter in the surrounding (10%)
  • Households having no stagnant wastewater around (20%)

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