28 , July 2017

82-year-old Sri Lankan teacher wins Ramon Magsaysay award

  • A Japanese historian who helped Cambodians preserve the Angkor temples and a Sri Lankan teacher who counselled war widows and orphans to overcome their nightmares are among the six winners of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Awards, regarded as Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize.
  • The other recipients named Thursday are an Indonesian working for the return of large tracts of forest land to indigenous communities, a Singaporean who leads the cooking of 6,000 meals a day for the destitute, a Philippine theatre group which stood up to a dictatorship and a Filipino who oversaw the opening of job-generating export processing zones.
  • The awards, named after a Philippine president who died in a 1957 plane crash, are to be presented in Manila on August 31.

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The World Hepatitis Day is being observed every year on July 28 around the world by World Health Organisation (WHO) to spread awareness about viral hepatitis. This year the theme of the Day is – “Eliminate Hepatitis”.

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Tax authorities of the BRICS- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have signed BRICS Taxation Cooperation Memorandum to establish a mechanism for taxation cooperation. The landmark document is the bloc’s first document that elevates taxation cooperation to the institutional level. It was signed at the fifth meeting of BRICS Heads of Tax Authorities.

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The 2017 Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting held in Chongqing, China.

Labour and Employment Ministers from BRICS counters discussed topics ranging from skills-driven development to a universally sustainable social security system. They passed BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Declaration. It covers a variety of areas that are of critical importance to all BRICS countries including India and called upon strengthening collaboration and cooperation on these through appropriate institutionalisation. These areas covered under the declaration consist of Governance in the Future of Work, Universal and sustainable social security systems, Skills for development in BRICS, BRICS Social Security Cooperation Framework, BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutions and BRICS entrepreneurship research. They also presented four documents, including one on common ground in labour market governance and an action plan on skills-driven poverty alleviation. They also held that they should work together to boost employment and inclusive growth, enhancing the skills of professionals to alleviate poverty.

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Two C-130J aircraft arrive

The Air Force Station at Panagarh in Bardhaman district of West Bengal has got its first set of the U.S.-made C-130J Super Hercules multi-skilled transport aircraft.The first batch of six C-130Js envisaged the second squadron of aircrafts. This is the fruition of an old plan.Two of these aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin have arrived.

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1.Privacy built into Aadhaar Act, says UIDAI
Source : The Hindu

“Privacy is non-negotiable, confidentiality is non-negotiable under the Aadhaar Act”, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the nodal agency implementing the Aadhaar scheme, has said in the Supreme Court.

Issue:

  • Right to privacy is not absolute and cannot prevent the state from making laws imposing reasonable restrictions on citizens, the Supreme Court observed recently.
  • A day after conceding that right to privacy was a fundamental right, the government on Thursday asserted before the Supreme Court that privacy and confidentiality were non-negotiable under the Aadhaar Act.

The assertion came after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta after a nine-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India J.S.Khehar expressed concern over the data collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for Aadhaar.

The court was, responding to a submission by Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, that citizens not claim informational privacy when the state asks for data for a legitimate purpose such as Aadhaar.

  • The court said ‘right to privacy’ is in fact too ‘amorphous’ a term.
  • To recognize privacy as a definite right, it has to first define it.
  • Defining privacy would be nearly impossible as an element of privacy infiltrates all the fundamental rights treasured in the Constitution.
  • The court identified that an attempt to define the right to privacy may cause more harm than good.
  • An exhaustive labeling by the court of what all constitutes privacy may limit the right itself.

Justice S.A.Bobde wondered whether the Aadhaar Act of 2016 itself had any provisions to protect privacy. Mr. Venugopal then pointed to Section 28 of the statute dealing with “security and confidentiality of information”. It was in the State’s legitimate interest to keep personal data secure as this would make Aadhaar acceptable to one and all.”

Justice Chandrachud said informational privacy was the most “vexed” portion of the ongoing debate as part of personal data was already in the public domain.

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2.Home Ministry submits report on proposal to amend Official Secrets Act
Source: PIB

  • After a detailed review of the Official Secrets Act 1923, the hone ministry has submitted a report to the Cabinet secretariat with various suggestions on how to amend the Act
  • The exercise was aimed at amending the OSA to make a seamless transition from the secrecy period of the 20th century to a modern and democratic transparency regime
  • The Right to Information Act, which facilitates access to government records, came into existence in 2005 and the new amended OSA may try to remove the contradictions between the two
  • Currently, the RTI Act overrides the provisions of the Official Secrets Act and any other law which has provisions inconsistent with the transparency law

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3.Carbon dating confirms T.N. site is from Sangam era
Source: The Hindu

Samples sent from archaeological excavations at Keezhadi have been identified as nearly 2,200 years old

  • For several years, experts had surmised that the archaeological site at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu dates back to the Sangam era.
  • Now, carbon dating has confirmed that two samples sent from the site are indeed nearly 2,200 years old.
  • The Keezhadi dig that started in 2013 provides archaeological evidence of ancient Tamil life that has so far been known largely from texts like Sangam literature.
  • “Radio Carbon dating suggests that the samples go back to 2,160+30 years and 2,200+30 years,” stated the Ministry.
  • Archaeologists found deposits up to 4.5 metres deep and the samples (of carbon elements) sent for carbon dating were from the middle part – i.e. 2 metres

Major find

Unlike many other archaeological sites excavated in Tamil Nadu, Keezhadi is a major habitation site.

“The last time habitation sites were excavated in Tamil Nadu was at Arikamedu. We zeroed in on Keezhadi after studying both banks of Vaigai river through its entire stretch from Western Ghats till the point it reaches the Bay of Bengal,” he says.

A total of 72 potsherds with Tamil Brahmi script were found at Keezhadi which had several Tamil names.

Iyanan, Uthiran, Vendhan, Santhanavathi and Saathan were some of the Tamil names found,”

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4.SC orders safeguards to prevent misuse of anti-dowry provision
Source: The Hindu

No suspect shall be arrested in a dowry case immediately after a complaint is registered.Police and the courts will have to wait for the committee’s inquiry report. The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the setting up of ‘family welfare committees’ in all districts under the aegis of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Much abuse :

  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit said Section 498A (dowry harassment) of the IPC had come under much abuse. Dowry complaints were being filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues.
  • The three-member family welfare committees will be set up by the district legal services authorities. Members can be appointed from para legal volunteers, social workers, retired persons, “wives of working officers” and other citizens.
  • Every complaint received by the police and the Magistrate will be passed on to the local committee, which will enquire into the genuineness of the complaint and file a report with the police official or Magistrate concerned within a month. The committee can directly get in touch with the parties involved, but the members will not be called as witnesses in case there is a trial.
  • Till the report of the committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected, the court said.
  • Trial judges should close Section 498A cases based on matrimonial disputes once parties reached a settlement. In fact, bail should be given the same day, the court directed.

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5.Panel seeks details on AI divestment
Source: The Hindu

A Parliamentary Standing Committee has sought details from the government on its strategic disinvestment plans for national Air India.

  • The decision to divest to stake in Air India was based on government think-tank NITI Aayog’s recommendations may this year.
  • The Aayog had given the rationale for the disinvestment of Air India and has attributed the main reason as fragile finances of the company. Air India has been incurring continuous losses and has huge accumulated losses.
  • NITI Aayog in its report on Air India says that further support to an unviable non-priority company in matured and competitive aviation sector would not be the best use of scarce financial resources of the Government.
  • Air India’s market share on domestic routes had declined to 14.2% in 2016-17, from 17.9% in 2014-15.
  • Air India had accumulated total debt of Rs 48,876 crore till March 31, 2017.
  • The carrier has been reporting continuous losses due to its high debt with its net loss at Rs 3,728 crore in 2016-17, compared with Rs 3,836 crore in 2015-16.
  • Air India, which has a debt burden of more than Rs 52,000 crore, is staying afloat on taxpayer’s money.
  • The previous UPA government had extended bailout package worth little over Rs 30,000 crore to the national carrier for a period of 10 year starting from 2012.

Key points:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on June 28 gave its in-principle approval for the strategic disinvestment of Air India and subsidies.
  • The CCEA also set up a group of minister under Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to examine the modalities of the national carrier’s stake sale. The Ministerial group will decide upon the “treatment of unsustainable debt of Air India, hiving off of certain assets to shell company, de-merger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries, quantum of disinvestment and the universe of bidder.
  • Union Cabinet gave its nod for Air India’s strategic disinvestment, India’s largest low-cost carrier IndiGo expressed interest in acquiring the flag carrier’s airline business, mainly related to its international operations.

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