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AUGUST 9, 2017

Only govt. can take call on yoga in schools: SC

  • The petition, that cited the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the NCERT, the NCTE and the CBSE as parties, sought a direction to “provide standard textbooks of ‘Yoga and Health Education’ for students of class one to eight keeping in spirit various fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution such as right to life, education and equality.”
  • Petition had sought a direction to the government to frame a National Yoga Policy, saying that right to health was part of the right to lead a dignified life under Article 21.
  • Noting that it is not “our business” to check what is being taught in schools, the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition for a direction to the government to make yoga education a compulsory part of the syllabus for Classes one to eight.

Kerala, Haryana top sanitation survey

  • Almost all rural households in Kerala and Haryana had access to a toilet while Bihar fared the worst, as per the findings of a government commissioned survey on rural sanitation.
  • The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation on Tuesday released the findings of the survey of 1.4 lakh rural households, undertaken by the Quality Council of India (QCI) between May and June this year.
  • The survey, covering 4626 villages across all States and Union territories, claimed that 62.45% of the households had access to a toilet.
  • The survey also pointed that 91.29% of the people who had access to a toilet also used it, indicating a change in sanitation behaviour.

NE States top performers

  • Northeastern States of Sikkim, Manipur and Nagaland were top performers with 95% rural households covered by toilets. And so were the Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with over 90% toilet coverage of the rural houses.

Gujarat does better

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State fared better in terms of rural sanitation as 85% of rural households had access to toilets.
  • Apart from Kerala, Tamil Nadu was the other performer as 79% rural households had access to a toilet.
  • However, neighbouring Puducherry scored poorly with just 43% .
  • In the run up to the 70th Independence Day, the Ministry has drawn up a plan to celebrate a “Freedom from Open Defecation Week.”’

Model Ganga villages

  • Tomar also announced that on Saturday he and his colleague, Uma Bharti, will travel to Allahabad to declare 24 villages by the banks of the Ganges — also called Ganga grams — as model Ganga villages.

Discarded bottles providing refuge to endangered fish

  • Endangered spotted handfish in Australia are taking refuge in discarded beer bottles on river beds to save themselves from extinction, scientists have found.
  • The spotted handfish walks along the Tasmanian seabed on long fins resembling hands and is the first marine species in the world to be classified as critically endangered.
  • Boat moorings and invasive pest species like the North Pacific seastar are damaging their breeding grounds, said researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia.

Breeding sites

  • However, discarded beer bottles are proving to be an ideal breeding ground for the rare fish, they said.

Unique initiative to promote small family norm

  • In a unique initiative, the Rajasthan government’s Medical and Health Department has decided to organise “Saas-Bahu Sammelans” (meetings of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law) in over 16,200 villages of 14 districts next month to promote the small family norm with emphasis on development of local communities.
  • The 14 districts of the State have reported a high fertility rate in the past. In order to achieve the family planning targets, the State government has launched a mission family development programme in collaboration with some development partners in these districts.

Start-up funding may come under SEBI lens

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is concerned with the manner in which start-ups are being funded through unregulated entities and is examining the manner in which alternative fund-raising platforms and crowd-funding ventures can be regulated to bring in transparency and regulatory oversight in such deals.


  • The Committee on Financial and Regulatory Technologies will, among other things, deliberate on financial technology solutions for “further widening and deepening of the Indian securities market” through traditional and alternative platforms, including peer to peer lending and equity crowd-funding.
  • There are many entities such as Grex, Venture Catalysts, Indian Angel Network, LetsVenture, Traxn and TermSheet that help start-ups connect with investors. It could not be immediately ascertained whether all these entities have received the SEBI notice.
  • Under the current legal framework, issue of shares to more than 200 persons constitutes a public issue and needs SEBI approval. Earlier, the cap was 49 and was increased to 200 when the Companies Act was revised in 2013. Industry participants said that SEBI has a provision under Section 28 of Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act (SCRA) that allowed the regulator to recognise such alternative investment platforms.

‘Framework critical’

  • “While a notification under section 28 of SCRA providing legal recognition to alternative investment platforms would be a welcome step, a lot would depend upon the framework to ensure clearing and settlement and audit trail of transactions,” said Sumit Agrawal, partner, Suvan Law Advisors and a former SEBI law officer.