CURRENT AFFAIRS 19TH APRIL 2015 TO 25TH APRIL, 2015
THE COMMERCIAL COURTS BILL 2015
The Union Cabinet has approved to introduce a Bill namely, “The Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts and Commercial Courts Bill, 2015” in the current session of Parliament, while taking into consideration the Law Commission’s recommendations. The salient features of the proposed Bill are as under:
- ‘Commercial dispute’ is defined broadly to mean dispute arising out of ordinary transactions of merchants, bankers, financiers and traders such as those relating to mercantile documents; joint venture and partnership agreements; intellectual property rights; insurance and other areas.
- Commercial Divisions are to be set up in those High Courts which are already exercising ordinary original civil jurisdiction such as Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and Himachal Pradesh High Court. Commercial Divisions will exercise jurisdiction over all cases and applications relating to commercial disputes. The Commercial Division shall have territorial jurisdiction over such area on which it has original jurisdiction.
- Commercial Courts which will be equivalent to District Courts are to be set up in (i) The States and UTs where the High Courts do not have ordinary original civil jurisdiction, and (ii) In the States where the High Court has original jurisdiction, in respect of those regions to which the original jurisdiction of a High Court does not extend. The minimum pecuniary jurisdiction of such Commercial Courts and commercial division is proposed as Rs. One Crore.
UNION MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING RECEIVED ISO 9001:2008 CERTIFICATION
The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) received the ISO 9001:2008 certification from the British Standards Institute (BSI). ISO certification is generic and is intended to be applicable to all organization which includes such the type, size and product provided. The ISO www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  certification was granted in respect of various licences issued by ministry for the broadcasts, print media and films for a quality management system. The Union Ministry has put in place a well-defined procedure and measures in order to ensure quality of services offered to the customers on the basis of ISO 9001:2008.
AMENDMENTS TO THE JUVENILE JUSTICE CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN BILL-2014
The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014. The amendments to the draft Bill strike a fine balance between the demands of the stakeholders asking for continued protection of rights of juveniles and the popular demand of citizens in the light of increasing incidence of heinous crimes by juveniles. The amended version of the Bill is the result of an elaborate consultative process undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development which included regional/ national consultations as well as consultations with state governments. The draft Bill was placed on the website for views of the [ 6 ] Weekly Current Affairs 19th April 2015 to 25th April, 2015 www.ias100.in public. The Ministry had received an unprecedented number of inputs/suggestions which have been duly taken into account while drafting the Bill.
INDIAN RAILWAYS E-SAMIKSHA PROJECT
With an aim of monitoring implementation of various ongoing projects including Rail Budget proposals, Railways launched E-Samiksha, an online monitoring mechanism. Now each and every project implementation can be monitored on realtime basis. Designed by NIC, the software is currently being used by Cabinet Secretariat, PMO and other Ministries for monitoring progress www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  implementation of various programmes and followup of meetings.Apart from budget-related projects, the E-Samiksha can also be used for monitoring the infrastructure target and board meeting followup.
SKILL DEVELOPMENT MINISTRY TO GET MORE POWER
The Union government transferred the Training and Apprenticeship verticals of the Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGET) from the Labour Ministry to the newly constituted Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. It means that nearly 12,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across the country will now be governed by the Skill Development ministry. The government, however, did not transfer the Employment vertical of DGET, which governs all the employment exchanges in the country, from the Labour Ministry.
GLOBAL E-WASTE VOLUME HITS NEW PEAK IN 2014: UNU REPORT
The amount of global e-waste — discarded electrical and electronic equipment — reached 41.8 million tonnes in 2014, according to a new United Nations University report. The Global E-waste Monitor 2014: Quantities, Flows and Resources provides an unprecedented level of detail and accuracy about the size of the world’s e-waste challenge, ongoing progress in establishing specialized e-waste collection and treatment systems, and the outlook for the future. The bulk of global e-waste in 2014 (almost 60%) was discarded kitchen, laundry, and bathroom equipment. Personal information and communication technology (ICT) devices — such as mobile phones, personal computers, and printers — accounted for 7% of e-waste last year.
2015 PULITZER PRIZE
The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded by the Pulitzer Prize Board for work during the 2014 calendar year. Books, Drama and Music Fiction – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Drama – Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis. History – Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth A. Fenn. Biography – The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer. Poetry – Digest by Gregory Pardlo. General Nonfiction – The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert.
NISHAN-E-PAKISTAN AWARD CONFERRED ON XI JINPING
Pakistan conferred its top civilian award ‘Nishan-e-Pakistan’ on Chinese President Xi Jinping for his outstanding contribution in promotion of relationship between the two countries. Established on 19 March 1957, the Nishan-ePakistan (Order of Pakistan) is the highest of civilian award and decoration given by the Pakistan Government and is awarded to a person for his highest degree of service to the country and nation of Pakistan. It is conferred on them for their merit and distinguished services to the country, foreign relations and international community. The only Indian to receive this award was former Prime Minister of India Morarji Desai in 1990.
INDIAN-AMERICAN DR. VIVEK MURTHY TAKES OATH AS US SURGEON GENERAL
Vivek Murthy became the highest ranking official of Indian origin in the Obama Administration when the 37-year-old was swornin as the 19th US Surgeon General by Vice President Joe Biden . Murthy, who took the oath on the Indian Holy book “BhagvatGita” in the presence of his family, also became the youngest-ever in-charge of the country’s public health. As the US Surgeon General, Murthy carries the rank of Vice Admiral.
RUSSIA, ARGENTINA SIGN AGREEMENTS ON ECONOMIC & ENERGY CO-OPERATION
Russia and Argentina have signed a series of framework agreements on economic and energy co-operation following talks in Moscow. The agreements include Russian investment in a hydroelectric plant and a nuclear power plant in Argentina. Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation also agreed to build a new reactor at Argentina’s Atucha 3 nuclear power plant. There was also a memorandum of co-operation on defence. Among the framework agreements was a Russian pledge to finance a hydroelectric power plant on Argentina’s Neuquen River. Kremlin is keen to boost trade relations with Latin America to offset the effects of sanctions imposed by Europe and the US over the Ukrainian crisis.
THE WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT 2015
The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The first report was published in 2012, the second in 2013, and the third on April 23, 2015. Leading experts across fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The reports review the state of happiness in the world today and show how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness. They reflect a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criteria for government policy. The report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which is a global initiative for the United Nations. It takes into account factors like GDP per capita, social support of having someone to count on in times of trouble, freedom to make life choices, healthy life expectancy, generosity and percep.
INDIA & WORLD
INDIA AND JORDAN AGREEMENT ON MARITIME TRANSPORT
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister gave its approval for signing of a shipping agreement between India and Jordan. Recognizing the significant mutual benefit that can be derived from cooperation in the area of shipping between the two countries, it has been decided to sign the agreement with a view to strengthening cooperation and to provide sustained mutual assistance and advice on merchant shipping and other related maritime matters.
ONLINE LTV APPLICATIONS SYSTEM FOR PAKISTANI NATIONALS
The government has rolled out an online system for long term visa (LTV) applications for Hindu refugees from Pakistan in what could be a first step to grant them Indian citizenship.Under the new system, they can apply online, and also monitor and track their applications as various government agencies process it. The decision has been taken by the home ministry to address the difficulty being faced by Hindu minorities of Pakistan who come to India with the intention to settle permanently.
NRL & BPC SIGNED MOU TO EXPORT PETROLEUM PRODUCTS TO BANGLADESH
State-run oil refiner-marketer Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s Assam based refinery, Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) has inked MOU with Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) for export of petroleum products. The MOU was inked at Dhaka and provides for export of petroleum products from NRL’s Marketing Terminal in Siliguri, West Bengal, India to Bangladesh Petroleum’s Depot at Parbatipur through the proposed ‘Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline (IBFPL)’ of length 130 kms and capacity 1 MMTPA (million metric tonnes per annum) The pipeline will be implemented through a joint venture company formed by NRL and Bangladesh Petroleum. In 2007 NRL has exported 4800 MT of diesel to Bangladesh using the waterways. The value of the export was around Rs 15 Crore. Bangladesh has shortfall of 1.5 million metric tonnes of petroleum product. NRL is planning for expanding its refining capacity from 3 to 9 MMTPA.
GOVERNMENT ALLOWS INVESTING 5 PER CENT OF EPFO CORPUS IN STOCK MARKETS In a move that could see over Rs 7500 crore of retirement savings of workers going into the capital markets for the first time, Labour ministry has notified the new investment pattern for the Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). The new pattern allows the retirement fund body to invest 5% of its incremental income in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) from the current financial year. The limit of investment in ETFs, starting from 1% with effect from April 1 and reaching 5% by the end of the year, is the lower end of the range recommended by the finance ministry that had proposed 5-15% in equities.
INDIAN ECONOMY TO GROW AT 7.5 PER CENT IN 2015:
MOODY’S Indian economy is expected to grow marginally higher at 7.5 per cent during the year compared with 7.2 per cent in 2014 and interest rate cuts will buttress private sector spending, said a group company of global rating agency Moody’s. Earlier this week, International Monetary Fund projected that India will overtake China as the fastest growing emerging economy in 2015-16 by clocking a growth rate of 7.5 per cent, helped by its recent policy initiatives, pick-up in investments and lower oil prices. World Bank too has similar GDP growth forecast for India for the current fiscal year.
SCIENCE & TECH
NEW INVENTION PROMISES SUN-LIKE ENERGY
A Gujarat-based research institute has claimed to have made a breakthrough in confining plasma, the fourth state of matter, in a Steady State Super Conducting Tokamak (SST-1). A Tokamak is a device that uses a magnetic field to confine plasma. The invention by Institute of Plasma Research will help in boosting energy generation. Researchers have produced and confined the high temperature plasma from hydrogen with the help of superconducting magnets inside the machine (Tokamak). It is similar to creating sunlike energy inside a laboratory. The plasma is confined and given heat inside SST-1. The most important source of energy for our earth is the sun which is a perfect spherical ball of hot plasma, the fourth state of matter, with internal convective motion and generates a magnetic field like a dynamo process.
NASA HUNT FOR ALIEN LIFE
After more than 30 years of studying the Earth, a team at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York will adapt its global climate model to simulate conditions on potentially habitable exoplanets. The effort is part of a broader push to identify Earth-like worlds. NASA’s space-based Kepler telescope has found more than 1,000 alien planets. At least five of these planets are similar in size to the Earth and located in the habitable zone where liquid water could persist. The next step would be to detect light passing through exoplanet atmospheres, which could hold clues to conditions on these distant worlds.
ASTRONOMERS SPOTTED 11 RUNAWAY GALAXIES
Astronomers have spotted 11 runaway galaxies that have been flung out of their birthplaces to wander the void of intergalactic space. An object is a runaway if it’s moving faster than escape velocity, which means it will depart its home never to return. In the case of a runaway star, that speed is more than 500 km per second. A runaway galaxy has to race even faster, travelling at up to 3,000 km per second. Astronomers stated that these galaxies are facing a lonely future, exiled from the galaxy clusters they used to live in. They initially set out to identify [ 1 6 ] Weekly Current Affairs 19th April 2015 to 25th April, 2015 www.ias100.in new members of a class of galaxies called compact ellipticals.
NASA 3D PRINTS FIRST COPPER ROCKET ENGINE PART NASA
engineers have developed the first fullscale, 3D printed copper rocket engine part – a combustion chamber liner that operates at extreme temperatures and pressures. Building the first fullscale, copper rocket part with additive manufacturing is a milestone for aerospace 3D printing. Additive manufacturing is one of many technologies that are embracing to help scientists to continue journey to Mars and even sustain explorers living on the Red Planet. Numerous complex parts made of many different materials are assembled to make engines that provide the thrust that powers rockets.
THREE NEW HAVENS FOR TIGERS
In a move that comes soon after the tiger census in January 2015 showed an overall rise in numbers of the big cat, the Centre is set to form three new tiger reserves. In-principle approval has been accorded by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for creation of reserves in Ratapani in Madhya Pradesh, Sunabeda in Odisha and Guru Ghasidas in Chhattisgarh. Odisha is among the States where the tiger population has dwindled. The NTCA also accorded final approval to a proposal to declare Kudremukh National Park in Karnataka and Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand as tiger reserves. Seeking to provide more protected spaces for the endangered species, State governments have been asked to send conservation proposals for the following areas: Suhelwa in Uttar Pradesh, Mhadei in Goa, Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary/ Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary/ Varushanadu Valley in Tamil Nadu, Dibang in Arunachal Pradesh and Cauvery-MM Hills in Karnataka.
NGT ADDS ARMOUR FOR PROTECTION OF RHINOS
After shocking revelations of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India about the dire state of management of Kaziranga National Park, home to one-horned rhinoceros, the National Green Tribunal has issued notices to 71 hotels, resorts and dhabas which have encroached into the ecosensitive zone of the Park. The CAG report titled “Performance audit of Kaziranga National Park – Issues and Challenges” revealed how 71 resorts, hotels, dhabas and other commercial ventures such as eco-camps and even residential houses have come up within one to three kilometres of the boundary of the KNP thereby endangering wildlife, which is already at risk of unchecked poaching.
INDIA HAS 988 SPECIES ON IUCN ‘RED LIST’
India has added 15 more species to the “Red List” of threatened species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2014, but the country has climbed down a spot to the seventh position. By the year-end, India had 988 threatened species on the list, which lists critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species. In 2013, the number was 973. With 659 species in 2008, the increase over seven years is 50 per cent, in part due to better research identifying more threatened species and deforestation. By adding 37 species, China.
NEWS IN BRIEF NEWS MAKERS Vivek Murthy
Indian-American Vivek Murthy was sworn-in as the U.S. Surgeon-General by Vice-President Joe Biden. He became the youngest-ever in-charge of the country’s public health. Dr. Murthy is now the highest ranking Indian-American in the Obama administration. Dr. Murthy is the country’s 19th Surgeon General. According to the Surgeon- General’s website, Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard. From there, he earned his medical degree and master’s in business administration at Yale University. In addition to practising internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he in 2009 started a non-profit, Doctors for America, composed of thousands of doctors supporting President Barack Obama’s healthcare initiatives.
THE SECRECY REGIME
A committee set up by the Union government to look into the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (OSA) in light of the Right to Information Act, 2005, had its first meeting recently. This marks a step in making a transition from a secrecy regime towards open and transparent governance. Although the move is currently entangled in specific controversies over declassifying files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, its broader and longterm implications are of enormous significance. The legal position is clear. Whenever there is a conflict between the two laws, the provisions of the RTI Act override those of the OSA. Section 22 of the RTI Act states that its provisions will have effect notwithstanding anything that is inconsistent with them in the OSA. Similarly, under Section 8(2) of the RTI Act a public authority may allow access to information covered under the OSA, “if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests”. It is the interpretation of ‘public interest’ that is the challenge. National security laws should balance the need to ensure state sovereignty with principles of transparency and accountability.
NO FRISSON IN TALKS OVER FISSION
The 2015 Review of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will take place in New York from April 27 to May 22 and the process is expected to be stormy and contentious. The event marks some significant anniversaries of conflict: the 100th — of the use of chemical weapons in Ypres, Belgium; the 70th — of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the 20th — of the indefinite extension of the NPT. A new set of geopolitical drivers will work the agendas of nuclear and non-nuclear members of the Treaty.
MORE LEADERS, BETTER RELATIONS Author:
V.R. Raghavan: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu recently visited China, not just as an ambassador for his State, but with the larger objective of improving bilateral relations between India and China. He was chosen by the Ministry of External Affairs to lead this delegation. During his six-day visit, Mr. Naidu met, among others, the Mayor of Beijing, the Chinese VicePremier Wang Yang, Sichuan Governor Wei Hong and the Mayor of Chengdu, Tang Liangzhi. He also interacted with a number of potential investors in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu (Sichuan Province).