Cabinet clears Bill to restore the provisions of SC/ST Act
The cabinet has given its nod to introduce a Bill to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which the Supreme Court had struck down in a March ruling.
The Amendment Bill seeks to insert three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act:
The first stipulates that for the purposes of the Act, “preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report against any person.”
The second stipulates that the arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval.
The third says that the provisions of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which deals with anticipatory bail — shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court.”
What necessitated this?
On March 20, the Supreme Court issued a slew of guidelines to protect people against arbitrary arrests under the Act, directing that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority, while in the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it. A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR was registered to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated, the court ruled.
The ruling was greeted by a storm of protest from Dalit groups, which said the order diluted the law. However, the court refused to stay its ruling, leading to the demand from Dalit groups that the government introduce an ordinance or an Amendment Bill to restore the provisions.
About SC/ST Act:
The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act. The SC/ST Act was enacted on September 9, 1989. The rules for the Act were notified on March 31, 1995.
The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community. This includes denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process.
According to the SC/ST Act, the protection is provided from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities like forceful drinking or eating of inedible food sexual exploitation, injury etc, atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation.
For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a Court of Session to be a Special Court to try offences under this Act in each district.
The prime objective of the SC/ST Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.
‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’
Union Ministry of Culture has launched- ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’– a scheme to reimburse central share of CGST and IGST on food, prasad, langar or bhandara offered by religious and charitable institutions.
The ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’ has a total outlay of Rs 325.00 crore for financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
About Seva Bhoj Yojana:
The scheme seeks to reimburse the central government’s share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on purchase of raw items such as ghee, edible oil, atta, maida, rava, flour, rice pulses, sugar and jaggery, which go into preparation of food/prasad/langar/bhandara offered free of cost by religious institutions.
The main objective of the scheme is to lessen the financial burden of such charitable religious institutions, which provide free of cost without any discrimination to the general public and devotees.
The charitable religious institutions including temples, gurudwara, mosque, church, dharmik ashram, dargah, monasteries, which fulfill the following criteria are eligible for the grant:
Source: The Hindu
Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS)
The Union Cabinet has approved the first extension of Concessional Financing Scheme(CFS) to support Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad. Under the CFS, the Govt. of India has been supporting Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad since 2015-16.
Under the Scheme, MEA selects the specific projects keeping in view strategic interest of India and sends the same to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).
The strategic importance of a project to deserve financing under this Scheme, is decided, on a case to case basis, by a Committee chaired by Secretary, DEA.
Once approved by the Committee, DEA issues a formal letter to EXIM Bank conveying approval for financing of the project under CFS.
The Scheme is presently being operated through the Export-Import Bank of India, which raises resources from the market to provide concessional finance.
Government of India (GoI) provides counter guarantee and interest equalization support of 2% to the EXIM Bank.
Under the Scheme, EXIM Bank extends credit at a rate not exceeding LIBOR (avg. of six months) + 100 bps. The repayment of the loan is guaranteed by the foreign govt.
Significance of the scheme:
Prior to the introduction of CFS, Indian entities were not able to bid for large projects abroad since the cost of financing was very high for them and bidders from other countries such as China, Japan, Europe and US were able to provide credit at superior terms, i.e., lower interest rate and longer tenures which works to the advantage of bidders from those countries.
Also, by having projects of strategic interest to India executed by Indian entities, the CFS enables India to generate substantial backward linkage induced jobs, demand for material and machinery in India and also a lot of goodwill for India.
Reconsider the ban on oxytocin
The Union Health Ministry’s ban on the retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin will kick off from September 1.
Oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behaviour, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
It acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.
The release of oxytocin by the pituitary gland acts to regulate two female reproductive functions: Childbirth and Breast-feeding.
Why is it used?
The drug, a synthetic version of a human hormone, is a life-saver for women. Doctors use it to induce labour in pregnant women and to stem postpartum bleeding. So critical is its role in maternal health that the World Health Organization recommends it as the drug of choice in postpartum haemorrhage.
Why is it being banned?
The government’s ban ignores its critical uses, and is motivated instead by the misuse of the hormone in the dairy industry. Because oxytocin stimulates lactation in cattle, dairy farmers inject the drug indiscriminately to increase milk production. This has spawned several unlicensed facilities that manufacture the drug for veterinary use.
Much is unknown about the ill-effects of oxytocin on cattle. One of the concerns was that oxytocin leads to infertility in dairy animals, and some studies show this to be true.
It has also been linked to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder. Milk consumers worry about exposure to it through dairy products.
What needs to be done?
Even if the ill-effects of oxytocin are real, a ban is not the answer. The right approach is to strengthen regulation, and crack down on illegal production.
Oxytocin is simply too important to Indian women, 45,000 of whom die due to causes related to childbirth each year.
Source: The Hindu
Policy Framework for exploration and exploitation of Unconventional Hydrocarbons
The Union Cabinet has approved the policy to permit exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons such as Shale oil/gas, Coal Bed Methane (CBM) etc.
It will be carried out under the existing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), CBM contracts and Nomination fields to encourage the existing Contractors in the licensed/leased area to unlock the potential of unconventional hydrocarbons in the existing acreages.
Significance of the move:
With the approval of this policy, there will be complete shift from ‘One hydrocarbon Resource Type’ to ‘Uniform Licensing Policy’ which is presently applicable in Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) and Discovered Small Field (DSF) Policy.
This policy will enable the realization of prospective hydrocarbon reserves in the existing Contract Areas which otherwise would remain unexplored and unexploited.
With this policy dispensation, new investment in Exploration and Production (E&P) activities and chances of finding new hydrocarbon discoveries and resultant increased domestic production thereof is expected.
Exploration and exploitation of additional hydrocarbon resources is expected to spur new investment, impetus to economic activities, additional employment generation and thus benefitting various sections of society.
This will lead to induction of new, innovative and cutting-edge technology and forging new technological collaboration to exploit unconventional hydrocarbons.
Need for new framework:
As per existing contractual regime of PSCs, existing Contractors are not allowed to explore and exploit CBM or other unconventional hydrocarbons in already allotted licensed/leased area. Similarly, CBM Contractors are not allowed to exploit any other hydrocarbon except CBM. Acreages held at present by various Contractors in PSCs and CBM blocks and National Oil Companies (NOCs) in nomination regime constitute a significant part of India’s sedimentary basin.
About Coal Bed Methane:
Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is an unconventional form of natural gas found in coal deposits or coal seams. CMB is formed during the process of coalification, the transformation of plant material into coal. It is considered a valuable energy resource with reserves and production having grown nearly every year since 1989. Varied methods of recovery make CBM a stable source of energy.
About Shale Gas:
Shale gas is a natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations. It is unconventional source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations). It is colourless, odourless gas, lighter than air. It is cheaper than natural gas, releases 50% less CO2, hence better source for generating electricity. It also provides feedstock for petrochemicals industry, which is turned into fertilizer, plastics and other useful stuff.
Source: The Hindu
‘State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index’
‘State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index’ has been released by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).
About the index:
The nationwide Index is a joint effort of the NITI Aayog and BEE. The index assesses state policies and programmes.
The Index will help in implementing national energy efficiency initiatives in states and meet both State as well as national goals on energy security, energy access and climate change.
It has 63 indicators across Building, Industry, Municipality, Transport, Agriculture and DISCOM with 4 cross-cutting indicators.
The Index examines states’ policies and regulations, financing mechanisms, institutional capacity, adoption of energy efficiency measures and energy savings achieved.
Performance of states:
States are categorised based on their efforts and achievements towards energy efficiency implementation, as ‘Front Runner’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Contender’ and ‘Aspirant’.
The ‘Front Runner’ states in the inaugural edition of the Index are: Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Rajasthan based on available data.
Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Haryana have been categorised in the second best category of ‘achiever’ states.
Significance of the Index:
Such an index assumes significance in a country that is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and which is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.
India unveils geographical indication logo, tagline
India has unveiled a tagline and a tricolour logo for geographical indication (GI) certified products. From now on, the GI-registered goods will sport the logo and the tagline to make them more attractive.
Tagline: “Invaluable Treasures of Incredible India”.
A total of 320 products have been conferred the GI status in India so far.
Karnataka comes first with 38 GI products, followed by Maharashtra which has 32 products.
Tamil Nadu comes third with 25 GI products.
About GI tag:
A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Significance of a GI tag:
Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
Provisions in this regard:
GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.
At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.
Source: The Hindu
It is an optical remote sensing satellite, launched by China as part of its high-resolution Earth observation project. It will aid in the Belt and Road Initiative. It was the 282nd flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket.
Applications: The satellite can be used for land survey, urban planning, road network design, agriculture, and disaster relief.
Part of CHEOS: Gaofen-11 will become part of the China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS), initiated in 2010 to provide all-weather, all-day coverage by 2020 with optical and synthetic aperture radar satellites, and could also include airborne and near-space systems such as stratospheric balloons.
Agricultural Scientists’ Recruitment Board (ASRB)