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Newspaper Bits 09-03-18

A compilation of Prelims and Mains related Current Affairs from various Newspapers and PIB
SC restores Hadiya’s marriage
  • The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a Kerala High Court order annulling the marriage of Hadiya to Shafin Jahan, whom she had married after converting to Islam.
  • A three-judge Bench observed that the High Court “should not have annulled the marriage”.
  • “Marriage and plurality are the fundamental core of our culture. Plurality in India should be zealously guarded,”
  • “The moment you allow public law (law of relations between individuals and the State) to encroach into marriage, you are letting the state interfere in individual choices of a citizen,”
  • Chief Justice Misra emphatically added that it is not just the state, but parents too cannot wield their influence against adults who marry a person of their own choice. It is not for the courts or the state or the parents to question a woman’s choice of her husband.
  • “marriage between two consenting adults is still a valid marriage” even if a reasonable number of persons happen to disagree with the wedlock. The Hindu
State flag unveiled
  • Karnataka unveiled the State flag (nada dhwaja)
  •  If approved by the Centre, Karnataka will be the second State to have a flag after Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The proposal will be now sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval, since a State has no powers to announce its own flag.
  • Suggested reading : Should States have their own flags
Should States have their own flags
  • Under the Constitution, a flag is not enumerated in the Seventh Schedule. However, Article 51A ordains that every citizen shall abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag, and the national anthem.
  • There is no other provision regulating hoisting of flags, either by the States or by the public. It is clear that there is no prohibition under the Constitution to hoist any flag other than the national flag.
  • Parliament has framed legislation regulating the hoisting of the national flag.
    • The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.
      • the statutory prohibition is only against “use for any trade, business, calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trademark of design, any name or emblem specified in the Schedule”.
    • The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
      •    there is no prohibition against any State hoisting its own flag. What is prohibited under this Act is insulting the national flag by burning it, mutilating it, defacing it, etc.
    • Flag Code of India, 2002
      • does not impose prohibitions on a State flag.
      • Code expressly authorises the flying of other flags under the condition that they should not be hoisted from the same masthead as the national flag or placed higher than it.
  • separate flag for each State would strengthen the federal structure and serve as a symbol for a much more specific identity.
  • In India, even the Army, Navy, Air Force, and paramilitary forces have separate flags. They use these regularly in all their official functions, in national parades, and on Republic Day.
  • Jammu and Kashmir is an exception; it cannot be made a rule. The Hindu
Female foeticide a shame
  • The “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” programme, implemented as the Union government’s social campaign to create awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls, was expanded from the existing 161 to 640 districts of the country.
  • PM also launched the National Nutrition Mission, aimed at improving nutrition levels of women and children and reducing low birth weight by 2% each year.
  • He said people should change their mindset towards the girl child in order to bring equality between men and women. He said mothers-in-law should take the lead to protect the girl child and stop the practice of female foeticide, which was a matter of “deep shame.”
  • He also highlighted the significance of proper nutrition among children and described the changes in the lives of women and children brought about by the “Indradhanush” immunisation programme.
NHRC notice to T.N. on woman’s death
  • The National Human Rights Commission on Thursday issued notices to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary and the DGP seeking a detailed report on the death of pregnant woman, who fell from a motorcycle after allegedly being kicked by a traffic police inspector in Tiruchi.
  • Topic : revise about NHRC
WHO launches plan for cheaper TB drugs
  • The World Health Organization (WHO), on Tuesday, invited pharmaceutical companies around the world to submit proposals to manufacture affordable versions of newer medicines for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).
  • Competition among Indian drug producers had then brought down the price of HIV medicines by 99% from $15,000 per patient per year to less than a dollar a day.
  • WHO has now requested drug makers to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) for Bedaquiline and Delaminid, two new-generation drugs, recommended for drug resistant-TB.
  • Under WHO norms, drugs submitted upon such requests and complying with its standards are included in a list for procurement by the UN and other organisations.
  • India has nearly 1.3 lakh DR-TB patients, the most in the world, but the Health Ministry gets only 10,000 doses of Bedaquiline and 400 doses of Delaminid. The medicines are obtained as donations from Janssen (US) and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (Japan), the respective manufacturers.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Previous question .
A new NAM for the new norm
  • From all accounts, the Cold War is breaking out again. The United States has identified both China and Russia as adversaries.
  • US is desperately clinging on to doctrines of ultranationalism and nuclear hegemony.
  • Russia has announced it has invincible doomsday machines like an underwater drone armed with a nuclear warhead powerful enough to sweep away coastal facilities, aircraft carriers and a hypersonic vehicle impossible to intercept as it flies in a cloud of plasma “like a meteorite”.
  • “axis of evil” has emerged once again under Iran’s leadership. This time it is a three-cornered Cold War, without any corner having committed countries to act together as military allies.
Context of the article
  • If the Cold War is here in a new form, can a reincarnation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) be far behind?
  • NAM is anathema today even to those who helped shape it and revelled in it for years.India had a stake in its integrity and India toiled tirelessly to keep it on the middle road
  • India argued vehemently against those who felt that NAM had outlived its utility. Since the essence of nonalignment was freedom of thought and action, India insisted that it was valid whether there was one bloc or no bloc.
  • One forum where we effectively used the NAM constituency was the Working Group on UN Reform,where we blocked an effort by the U.S. and others to add Germany and Japan as permanent members and close the doors for further expansion.
  • An effort was made in 2012 to craft a ‘Nonalignment 2.0’ in the context of the new global situation, India’s growing importance and the rivalry between the U.S. and China.
  • The report moved the concept of nonalignment away from its origins. It reiterated that India needed to move quickly to extend its global role and influence. But the authors said India’s big challenge would be to aim at not just being powerful but to set new standards for what the powerful must do.
  • India’s legitimacy in the world will come from its ability to stand for the highest human and universal values and at the global level, “India must remain true to its aspiration of creating a new and alternative universality.”
  • In a situation where the world is no longer bifurcated between two dominant powers, nonalignment today will require managing complicated coalitions and opportunities in an environment that is not structurally settled
  • or successive governments NAM was nothing but a relic of the Nehruvian past and it did not form part of his vocabulary.
  • The present PM has pursued his priorities of development, security, neighbourhood and the diaspora, maintaining a constituency of the poor nations of the world had no place. In his transactional foreign policy, it is easier to act alone rather than as the spokesperson of a group.
  • he did not find it necessary to attend the NAM Summit in Venezuela in 2016. India, which conceived and nursed the concept, was ready to cast it into the dustbin of history. We began a journey from the leadership of the super poor to become a super power.
Where we stand today
  • the new symphony in India-U.S. relations promised in 2016 has not quite materialised.
  • Doklam and the Maldives have shown that China is in no mood for a compromise,In fact, China has attributed the increase of its defence budget to the formation of the Quadrilateral, which is being seen as a direct threat to China.
What to do :
  • An obvious way is to revive NAM by breathing new life into it and making it fit to deal with the new norm. But it has baggage, which may be difficult to unload.
  • A movement conceived in the context of a bipolar world may not suit a tripolar world, which could become a multipolar world.
  • A partnership of near equals like IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) with similar interests without any ideological conflict is probably the best model to follow.
  • Given the present impasse in international relations with little leeway for game-changing initiatives, India will do well to move away from being a camp follower of one of the emerging poles to create our own fourth pole.
Friends with benefits
  • Ever since it became clear that the Centre was unable to grant Andhra Pradesh “special category” status, the Telugu Desam Party was under pressure to break off ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party and make a public show of its protest.
  • Union Finance Minister clarified that it was no longer possible to confer “special category” status on States after the Centre accepted the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission.
  • it is debatable whether A.P. qualifies for special status, which was earmarked for States on the basis of laid-down criteria such as difficult terrain, low population, strategic location, economic backwardness and non-viable finances.
  • FM promised to give A.P. the monetary equivalent of the special status, this was not good enough for the TDP, which wanted it institutionally recognised.
  • Besides procedural hurdles, the Centre feared this would lead to other States such as Bihar making similar demands.
Chance for peace
  • The visit by a South Korean delegation to Pyongyang and the subsequent North Korean offer to hold talks with the U.S. mark perhaps the most serious attempt in a decade to reduce tensions in the peninsula.
  • North Korea has promised to suspend nuclear and ballistic missile tests if talks with the U.S. are initiated.
  • This is a marked shift from the aggressive foreign policy that Mr. Kim has pursued since he succeeded his father in 2011.
Protecting couples from mobs
  • The Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances)
  • The proposed law, drafted by the Law Commission of India, is meant to penalise honour killings and uphold the right of adults to marry persons of their own choice without unlawful interference from caste panchayats or persons and relatives intent on harming the couple.
  • The Supreme Court has now stepped in to fill this legislative vacuum and is expected to frame guidelines in a judgment to protect adult couples from the fury of the mob.
  • Law Commission has concluded that honour killing does not require a separate provision. The definition of murder in Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code would suffice .
  • The 2011 Bill defines “unlawful assembly” as a group of persons who congregate with the “view or intention to deliberate on or condemn any marriage on the basis that such marriage has dishonoured the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned.”
  • “Marriage” under the draft legislation includes “proposed or intended marriage.”
  • Making exhortations that endanger the liberty of a couple is punishable,Criminal intimidation of the couple or their relatives or supporters is punishable with imprisonment.
  • The provisions under the proposed law do not negate the offences under IPC but only adds to them.
All in your name
  • E.V. Ramasamy (Periyar) had consciously dropped his caste title, which was also his surname, “Naicker”, from the masthead of the weekly Kudiarasu.
  • Not until the first Self-Respect Conference on February 17-18, 1929, did we see a more intensified organisational effort to drop caste titles.
  • In the contemporary Indian context, research by Sukhdeo Thorat and Paul Atwell in 2007 revealed the extent of name-based caste discrimination prevalent in the urban labour market.
  • For every 10 upper caste Hindu applicants selected for interview, only six Dalits and three Muslims were chosen.
  • It is a common argument against reservations that caste-based discrimination is a thing of the past. But the study showed that caste titles as names are undoubtedly markers of privilege and therefore continue to be inherently discriminatory.
  • By removing such caste titles from names, caste differences may not vanish, but the outward propagation of such differences will start to blur
Trump says new tariffs will be ‘very fair’
  • Mr. Trump made it clear that he will press ahead with tariffs of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on aluminium, while saying Australia and “others” could be exempt — in addition to America’s neighbours and NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada.
  • He cited Chinese overproduction and national security concerns as the main driver for the tariffs.
  • Trade experts at the Peterson Institute now believe U.S. allies — rather than China — will be disproportionately hit and imports to America cut by around $14 billion.
  • The European Union, Mexico and Canada have all warned they will retaliate, with the decision threatening to sour already vinegared trans-Atlantic relations.
Direct tax mop up rises 19.5%
  • Direct tax collections have risen 19.5% to Rs. 7.44 lakh crore in the April-February period of the current fiscal, buoyed by a strong pick up in corporate tax.
  • The growth rate for net corporate tax collections stood at 19.7% while for personal income tax is 18.6%.
Indian Express
France: India’s new Russia?
  • Can France replace Russia as India’s most valuable international partner?
  • Russia’s place in India’s international relations is unique and unchanging.
  • Some would dismiss the proposition by affirming that the United States has already replaced Russia as India’s privileged partner since the end of the Cold War.
  • France and India planning  to lay out a vision for bilateral strategic coordination for the Indian Ocean and back it with measures to facilitate operational cooperation between their security forces in the littoral.
Why has Russia won India’s political affections for so long?
  • After India gained independence, it was by no means inevitable that Soviet Russia would become a lasting partner for India. It was Russia’s repeated exercise of the veto to trump the Anglo-American tilt towards Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute that laid the foundation for Delhi’s enduring faith in Moscow.
  • It is not that the UN or anyone else can take Kashmir away from an India that is so much stronger than in the 1950s. But it is good to have a reliable friend in the UNSC who can block unfriendly moves by other powers. France, like Russia, is a permanent member of the UNSC and has a veto.
  • As Russia reaches out to Pakistan, that special position now belongs to France. For example, Paris has foregone the opportunity to sell major weapons systems to Pakistan and has focused on a strong defence partnership with India.
But what about India’s extraordinary military relationship with Russia developed over the decades?
  • When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi decided to diversify India’s defence ties in the early 1980s, she turned to Paris. Since then India’s defence relationship with France has steadily grown;
  • the Indian lease of Russian nuclear attack submarines and Moscow’s cooperation in the development of an indigenous line. France, too, builds nuclear submarines and it should not be impossible to imagine cooperation between Delhi and Paris on military nuclear propulsion and other sensitive areas.
Strong case for closer ties :
In the changed context of the 21st, India and France have many reasons to draw closer. The prospects of even limited American retrenchment, the rise of China and its power projection into regions as far away as the South Pacific, Africa and the Mediterranean, the tightening embrace between Moscow and Beijing, the breakdown of the detente between Russia and Europe, and the turbulence in the spaces between India and France demand that Delhi and Paris pool their resources and act together.
Hadiya’s freedom
  • Can a 24-year-old woman live and marry according to her wishes, even if that means defying her family and community? The Constitution of India’s answer is an unambiguous yes — an individual’s freedom is among the first principles and guarantees of democracy.
  • One of the ways in which democratic institutions empower a citizen is by listening to her, and recognising the validity of her voice.
How Telangana demand led to bifurcation
  • Andhra Pradesh was formally bifurcated by an Act of Parliament on June 2, 2014. Post the split, Telangana came into existence.Ending the decades old demand for separate state.
  • On November 1, 1956, the Telugu-speaking areas of the erstwhile Hyderabad province were merged with the Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh.
  • a violent agitation erupted in 1969 demanding a separate state of Telangana.
  •  But the movement took a new turn only in 2001 when K Chandrasekhar Rao, the current chief minister of Telangana, walked out of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to form the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)
  • Congress, which assumed power following the 2004 General Elections, entered into an alliance with the TRS the same year, promising the division of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The decisive turn, however, came in 2009 when Rao sat on an indefinite hunger strike. To rein-in the situation, the Congress-led Union government, initiated high-level talks. On December 9, 2009, the then Home Minister P Chidambaram announced that an appropriate resolution for the formation of Telangana would be moved in the Andhra Pradesh state assembly.
  • Centre held consultations with eight recognised political parties and set up a five-member committee in February 2010 headed by a former Supreme Court judge, Justice B N Srikrishna.The Srikrishna committee submitted its report a year later providing six options including bifurcation.
  • On July 30, 2013, the proposal for the creation of Telangana was approved by the UPA Coordination Committee and the Congress Working Committee
  • In December 2013, the Union Cabinet approved the AP Reorganisation Bill, thereby, paving the way for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Despite massive protests and chaos, the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, announced a special package for Andhra Pradesh on February 20 in the Rajya Sabha. Singh had said, “Special category status will be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh… for a period of five years”.
  • The Bill included appropriate fiscal measures — tax incentives to promote industrialization and economic growth in both states — that were to be adopted by the Centre.
  • It also provided for a special development package for backward regions of Andhra Pradesh, especially for Rayalaseema and districts in the northern coastal region.
Challenges of special status
  • The 14th Finance Commission, which was then going about its Constitutional mandate of determining the individual share of states in the pool of central taxes, did take into consideration the issue of special category states.
  • Constitution never categorised some states as special — treating all of them on an equal footing
  • Union Finance Ministe said that such a category did exist when the state was bifurcated in 2014 but after the 14th Finance Commission’s award, such treatment was “constitutionally” restricted to just the North Eastern and three hill states, which includes Jammu and Kashmir.
  • In the case of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the challenge of the 14th Finance Commission headed by another former RBI Governor, Y V Reddy, was the absence of audited finance accounts.
  • Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014
  • doesn’t mention ‘special category’, but mentions that the Centre would help Andhra Pradesh bridge any resource gap.
  • 14 Finance Commission did away with the ‘special category’ status for states, except for the Northeastern and three hill states.
  • Instead, it suggested that the resource gap of each state be filled through ‘tax devolution’, urging the Centre to increase its share of tax revenues to the states from 32% to 42%. If devolution alone could not cover the revenue gap for certain states, the Commission said, the Centre could provide a revenue deficit grant to these states.
  • If the special category status provision had survived and had been granted to AP, the state would have received funding for Centrally sponsored schemes (CSC) in the 90:10 ratio — with 90% of the funds coming from the Centre as against 60% for normal category states.
The Divided Point of view
  • The Centre has stated that it is willing to provide the “monetary equivalent” of a special category state
  • the Centre has agreed to fund all externally aided projects in Andhra Pradesh in the 90:10 ratio.
  • While accepting that the Centre has provided funds for various projects including for the construction of capital city Amaravati and the Polavaram Project under the special assistance measure, the TDP says that its bid to get “special status” is an emotional and sentimental issue in the state
Basel III capital regulations
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has informed that the Basel III capital regulations has been implemented from April 1, 2013 in India in phases, for full implementation by March 31, 2019.
  • Norms/guidelines regarding the capital required to be maintained by banks in India including the Basel III capital regulations, are issued by RBI.
National Health Policy
  • The Government has formulated and brought out National Health Policy, 2017, which aims at attainment of the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.

The National Health Policy,2017 states following targets for reduction in incidence and prevalence of certain disease conditions:

  •  HIV/AIDS: Achieve global target of 2020 (also termed as target of 90:90:90)
  •  Eliminate Leprosy by 2018, Kala-Azar by 2017 and Lymphatic Filariasis in endemic pockets by 2017
  •  Eliminate Tuberculosis by 2025: Achieving and maintaining a cure rate of >85% in new sputum positive patients and reduce incidence of new cases.
  •  Reduce prevalence of blindness to 0.25/ 1000 by 2025 and disease burden by onethird from current levels.
  •  Reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025.
“Public Health and Hospitals”  being a State subject, the primary responsibility for providing affordable health services lies with respective State/UT Governments. Technical and financial support under the National Health Mission (NHM) is being provided to States/UTs for strengthening their health system for provision of universally accessible affordable and quality healthcare.
Safe and Nutritious Food Initiative
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has undertaken several initiatives under the umbrella of ‘Safe and Nutritious Food’ (SNF) for citizen guidance and behavioral change in every sphere at home, school,  workplace or eating out viz: i) SNF@Home, ii) SNF@School, iii) SNF@Workplace and iv) SNF@Eatout.
  • Awareness and capacity building are key to usher in a culture of safe and wholesome food. Through focussed interventions, FSSAI would share and reiterate the message that safe and nutritious food has to be a way of life. The SNF portal i.e. www.snfportal.in serves as an online resource centre containing information pertaining to this initiative with access to resource materials developed by FSSAI, interactive guides on understanding food safety and nutrition and a gateway for everyone to participate in these initiatives through partnerships.
  • Ensuring safe and nutritious food for all Indian citizens on Pan-India basis calls for massive outreach efforts which can be achieved only in partnership with multiple stakeholders and role of state governments is paramount for adaptation, implementation and coordination of this initiative.

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