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AUGUST 16, 2017


Show collective will to build a New India, says Modi

  • In his shortest Independence Day address yet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sketched out the broad contours of his idea of a “New India” as one that was free of communalism, casteism, terrorism, corruption and nepotism, and also one that would require the citizens to do their bit to create it.
  • Making special mention of the fact that those born in the new millennium, in the year 2000, will be turning 18 next year, he underlined the fact that just as the period between 1942-47 was a decisive one for India’s struggle for independence and demonstration of a firm collective will for change, so too should the period of 2017-22 be for creating a “New India” with the same collective will.
  • The Prime Minister said communalism had no space in this conception of New India. “Violence in the name of faith is not something to be happy about, it will not be accepted in India. The sentiment in India should be Bharat jodo ,” he said, adding that the status quoist “ chalta hai ” attitude should be shunned.


Assam, Manipur can now decide on AFSPA

  • The AFSPA empowers the Army and Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone breaking the law and arrest and search any premises without warrantand shield the forces from prosecution. without the Centre’s sanction.“…we have decided to rescind the power of invoking the AFSPA in two States for now: Assam and Manipur. The States are competent to decide whether they want to continue with it in entirety or impose it in a few pockets where disturbance is expected,” the official said.
  • Another official clarified that there was no such proposal for Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Earlier, the Home Ministry used to issue a notification declaring States “disturbed areas” every six months. The duration was later changed to three months, pending a periodic review. On August 4, the Ministry extended the AFSPA in Assam for 27 days.
  • It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur (excluding seven Assembly constituencies of Imphal). In Arunachal Pradesh, it is in force in 16 police station areas and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam.


SC to plug loopholes in bail process

  • The accused in criminal cases take anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court or High Courts and use it to get regular bail from trial courts, taking advantage of the procedural labyrinth in criminal law.
  • The fallout is that in future, even if the higher court cancels or decides not to renew the interim bail, the accused would remain on bail on the strength of the trial court’s regular bail.


India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline

  • India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, senior officials on both sides confirmed.
  • The decision was came during the sixth joint Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation.


In Beijing’s shadow

  • Mr. Pradhan said India’s commitment to TAPI — first proposed in 1995 — “remains strong”, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the proposal to hold the TAPI steering committee meet in Delhi when he met the Turkmenistan President in Ashgkabad last year, which he has now accepted.


  • India’s effort is to tap Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gasfields, which are the fourth largest in the world.



Only some children with fever progress to AES, says doctor

  • Based on a study carried out in 2015, a team led by Dr. Manoj V. Murhekar, Director of the Chennai-based National Institute of Epidemiology, found scrub typhus to be responsible for acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in 63% of patients admitted to the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur.
  • It found that AES patients had 35 times greater possibility of having antibodies against scrub typhus compared with healthy children thereby confirming that AES was caused by scrub typhus.
  • The causation of the disease or etiology will not change from year to year. In 2015 and 2016 we have seen that scrub typhus was responsible for over 60% of AES and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) causes less than 10% of AES in children below 15 years. There is vaccination for JE virus but no intervention has been implemented widely for scrub typhus. So the etiology wouldn’t have changed compared with last year.


Kanjia lake undergoing restoration

  • The Kanjia lake — a wetland of national importance and lifeline for wildlife at the Nandankanan Biological Park (NBP) here — is now undergoing restoration as workers are clearing the dense thickets that eclipsed the lake’s beauty and choked its water discharge.
  • “The water from Kanjia is vital to the zoo as we supply them water from the lake after it is chlorinated. If the water is polluted, it will spell doom for the animals,”

Important wetland

  • According to NBP, it is an important wetland lying to the south of the Mahanadi delta head, within the boundary of the Nandankanan Biological Park. The zoological park remains to the south of the lake, whereas the botanical garden is situated to the north.
  • In 2006, the lake was recognised as a wetland of national importance by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.


Everyone gets equal chance: CJI

  • In his Independence Day address, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar made his own former identity as a Kenyan citizen and his rise to become the first Sikh Chief Justice of the country as an example of how India embraces people cutting across ethnicity and religious identities and treats them equally.

No discrimination

  • To buttress his point that the nation provides equal opportunity to all regardless of class, caste or religion, the Chief Justice pointed to the humble origins of the nation’s highest constitutional authorities — a President who is a Dalit and spent his childhood in a mud hut, a Vice-President who started his political career pasting posters and a PM who was a tea vendor.


Restore dignity to widows: SC

  • Widows choose to come to holy places like Vrindavan to escape social ostracisation, but only to fall into a mire of indignity and beggary, the Supreme Court said.
  • It condemned the modern-day stigma against widows, while setting up a committee of experts to study reports collected by the court during the past decade and come up with a plan to rehabilitate the hapless widows of Vrindavan and other ashrams by November 30, 2017.

Plan to use software

  • One of the suggestions is to kick into motion an Aadhaar-enabled software to identify widows when they enter as inmates of Swadhar homes.


Swiss hotel asks Jews to ‘take a shower’ before using pool

  • The Paradies apartment hotel in the Alpine village of Arosa in eastern Switzerland is being accused of anti-Semitism after an outraged guest posted to Facebook a picture of a notice plastered outside the hotel pool.
  • “To our Jewish Guests, women, men and children, please take a shower before you go swimming,” it said, adding that “If you break the rules I’m forced to (close) the swimming pool for you.”


Iran threatens to restart n-programme

  • Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of revitalising its nuclear programme within hours and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than when Iran reached a deal with world powers that limited its ability to produce nuclear weapons.
  • Mr. Rouhani’s comments are seen as a direct response to the new U.S. legislation earlier this month that imposed mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile programme and anyone who does business with them.
  • But Mr. Rouhani also tempered his own threat, adding that Iran seeks to remain loyal to its commitments under the nuclear deal, which opened a “path of cooperation and confidence-building” with the world.


Mastercard mulls using blockchain tech

  • Mastercard is looking to incorporate blockchain technology into its operations and would like a clear regulatory framework in India that lays down what blockchain can be used for.
  • “Blockchain is an emerging technology and like many other companies, we continue to explore the implications and opportunities in this space,” he added. “We believe that there is a role [for] blockchain in the future of commerce. This future needs to be developed in partnership with banks, merchants and industry participants.”
  • In India, an inter-ministerial committee is currently looking at how best to regulate blockchain technology, if it is allowed at all. One of the proposals is to bring it under market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

‘Bring it under RBI’

  • According to Mr. Tewary, one option that could be considered is bringing blockchain regulation under the proposed Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India. The Board is to have three members each from the central bank and the Centre.
  • Blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, which is a purely electronic currency that can also be traded on exchanges.

Concerns on anonymity

  • “That’s one of the reasons why Bitcoin, which uses blockchain technology, has not yet been recognised around the world, because of the anonymity it offers,”
  • “One of the things blockchain presupposes is that it is an open protocol, an open ledger system, and minimum regulation,”


ATM withdrawals rise, so do PoS transactions

  • Six months after the demonetisation exercise got over, cash withdrawals from automated teller machines have been steadily rising, latest data released by Reserve Bank of India shows. At the same time, transactions through point-of-sale terminals have also risen, the data revealed.
  • According to the data, cash withdrawals from ATMs were more than Rs. 2.22 lakh crore in June 2017, as compared to Rs. 2.54 lakh crore recorded in October 2016 — the month before the high-value notes were withdrawn. The demonetisation exercise began in November and ended in December, when the deposit window was closed.
  • Cash withdrawals from ATMs halved in November 2016 as compared with October, coming down further in December.

‘Signs of normalisation’

  • Cash withdrawals are going up as more than 82% of the currency has been remonetised. RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya had recently said “the currency in circulation is showing early signs of normalisation.”
  • While cash withdrawals from ATMs have gone up, so have debit card transactions at the point of sale (PoS) terminals. RBI data showed that in June, debit card transactions in PoS terminals stood at Rs. 37,524 crore as compared with Rs. 21,941 crore in October. The number of debit cards in the system has also gone up in the period — from 739.28 million in October to 793.28 million in June.Though PoS transactions have shown a somewhat steady rise recently, they are lower than the Rs. 58,031 crore attained in December.
  • Mobile banking transactions also received a boost following demonetisation, rising from Rs. 1.14 lakh crore in October to Rs. 2.13 lakh crore in May before coming down to Rs. 1.81 lakh crore in June.
  • Similarly, mobile wallet transactions increased from Rs. 3,385 crore to Rs. 5,350 crore between October and June, RBI data showed.