(Current Affairs For SSC Exams) National Events | September : 2012

National Events

PRANAB MUKHERJEE WON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2012

Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the 13th President (in person) of India on 22 July 2012. Pranab Mukherjee defeated his rival PA Sangma with a huge margin as he secured nearly 69 percent of total valid votes. In an
electoral college of 10.5 lakh, Pranab Mukherjee secured a vote value of 713763, while, PA Sangma managed to get only a vote value 315987. The victory of Pranab Mukherjee was announced by Returning Officer for the Presidential election VK Agnihotri. Pranab Mukherjee will be sworn in as the thirteenth President of India on 25 July 2012. Out of the total 748 MPs, Pranab got the support of 527 while his rival, PA Sangma got
206 votes in his favour. Fifteen votes including that of Samjwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav were invalid. Of these, nine were to be in favour of Mukherjee while six for Sangma. Each MP had a vote value of 708 in the Presidential Election 2012. There are a total of 776 voters in both the Houses of Parliament. The Electoral College also consisted of 4120 MLAs in the states.

SOME IMPORTANT FACTS RELATED TO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Value of Vote of an MLA = State Population / (1000 X Total no. of elected MLA’s) On the basis of the above formula, the value of the vote of an  MLA from UP has the highest value and that from Sikkim the lowest.
Value of Vote of an MP = Total value of votes of MLA’s of all States / Total no. of elected MP’s (LS + RS) The 1971 census is currently under consideration. The election is held through the system of proportional representation by means of the single - transferable vote by secret ballot. The candidate who gets 50 percent of votes is considered elected. Supreme Court looks into all disputes related to Presidential election. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, was the only President who served two tenures in the office. VV Giri is the only person who was elected as the President of the country as an independent candidate in 1969.
Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was the only person to be elected to the office of President of India unopposed, as no other candidate filed nomination for the post of the President. He was elected to the office of President in July 1977.

INDIA RECORDED 3.8 % UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE YEAR 2010-11

According to the findings of unemployment survey conducted by the Labour Bureau of the Government of India, the country recorded 3.8 percent unemployment rate in the year 2010-11. The earlier figure (2009-
10) was 9.4 percent. The survey was conducted in all 28 states and 7 Union Territories. The findings of the survey were released on 9 July 2012. As per the survey report the official unemployment rate of the country was 3.8 percent, with urban unemployment and rural unemployment stood at at 5.1 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. Women unemployment at 6.7 percent stood significantly ahead of men unemployment rate which stood at 2.8 percent. The report stated that of those with a livelihood, the majority were self-employed or casual labour. While 48.6 per cent were self employed, 31 per cent were casual labour. On the basis of social stratum the rates of employment for the SC, ST, and OBC groups stood at 55.9 per cent, 59.7 per cent, and 53.3 per cent respectively, as compared to 48.5 per cent for the general category. The unemployment rate was found maximum in states such as Goa (16 percent), Kerala (9 percent) and West Bengal (7 percent), while Gujarat (1 Percent) had the lowest number of unemployment rate. Less developed states such as Bihar, Odisha and UP also recorded a moderate unemployment rate. The data was collected from a sample of 128298 households, while the size of the sample of previous survey was fourth of this size.

TAMIL NADU ALLOWED TO CARRY OUT SMALL MAINTENANCE WORKS ON THE MULLAPERIYAR DAM

The Supreme Court of India allowed Tamil Nadu government to carry out repair and maintenance works on the Mullaperiyar dam. However, the court instructed that the repairing and maintenance work is to be carried out in the presence of the Superintending Engineer of Kerala and an independent member nominated by the Chairman of the Central Water Commission. A fivejudge Constitution Bench of Justices DK Jain, RM Lodha,
Deepak Verma, CK Prasad and Anil R Dave gave the verdict after hearing an application filed by Tamil Nadu government for the  court’s permission to carry out certain maintenance works.

MULLAPERIYAR DAM

The Mullaperiyar Dam is constructed on the Periyar River in Kerala. The dam was constructed by the British government in 1895, to feed the water need of Tamil Nadu. The dam is located 2889 feet above mean sea level on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Thekkadi, Idukki District in Kerala. The height of the dam is 176 feet while, its length is 1200 feet. The Periyar National Park is located around the dam’s reservoir.

WHAT IS THE ISSUE?

The past few years have witnessed a bitter disagreement between the Tamil Nadu and Kerala government over the safety of the dam. Kerala has openly expressed its disagreement over the safety of the dam as it argues that dam is 117 years old and has well outlived the average life span of a dam that stretches out between 50 to 60 years. In the face of a disaster, it will be extremely difficult to prevent the loss caused by the breakage of dam. The rising concern over the safety of dam is mostly due to the insufficient safety maintenance and monitoring of the dam. The Kerala government argues that if the dam breaks, as it can in the event of a disaster like
earth quake, it will cause a massive loss of lives and property. On the contrary, the Tamil Nadu government contends that if the dam cease to work it will create a severe water scarcity in five districts of the state, leading to a draught in the region.

ANTI-RAGGING WEBSITE LAUNCHED

The Government of India launched an anti-ragging website. Kapil Sibal, the Union Human Resource Minister inaugurated the ‘Anti- Ragging Web Portal’ on 26 July 2012. The portal has been developed by The University
Grants Commission (UGC) in collaboration with Ed.CIL (India) Ltd. and Planet E-Com Solutions. Rajendra Kachroo, father of Aman who lost his life to ragging at a medical college in Himachal Pradesh in 2009 has also
contributed In the UGC managed portal. Supreme Court, in its judgment dated 8 May 2009 ordered implementation of a ragging prevention programme comprising, inter-alia, setting up toll-free anti-ragging helpline /call
centre, database of institutions/ students, engaging an independent non-government agency. All calls that would be received by the Anti-ragging Helpline (18001805522) will be managed and followed up in a structured software system. Moreover, students can see the progress of their complaint any time on www.antiragging.in. Online anti ragging affidavits can be downloaded by students from the site, www.antiragging.in.

P CHIDAMBARAM IS NEW UNION FINANCE MINISTER

In a small cabinet reshuffle carried out on 31 July 2012, the United Progressive Alliance government allocated P Chaidambaram the portfolio of Union Finance Ministry. Previously Chidambaram was serving as the Union Home Minister. Sushilkumar Shinde, was given the charge of Union Home  Ministry while, Corporate Affairs Minister Virappa Moily was given the additional charge of Power Ministry. President of India Pranb Mukherjee signed the notification on the reallocation of ministries. The cabinet reshuffle carried out following the resignation of Pranab Mukherjee from the union cabinet, who became the President of India on 25 July 2012. Mukherjee resigned as the Union finance minister on 26 June 2012 and since then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was looking after the portfolio.

P CHIDAMBARAM : UNION FINANCE MINISTER

Chidambaram, 66, was given the charge of Home Ministry following the resignation of Shivraj Patil who was forced to step down after the Mumbai Terrorist attack on 26 November 2008. Before taking over the Home Affairs, Chidambaram was holding the Finance portfolio. He was made the Finance Minister after the Congress led UPA came into power after 2004 general elections.

SUSHIL KUMAR SHINDE : UNION HOME MINISTER

Sushilkumar Shinde, a prominent Dalit leader from Maharashtra, has been first time given the charge of any of the key ministry. Shinde, who saw a  meteoric rise from a Police Sub Inspector in Maharashtra to the Union Home Minister, was given the charge of Home Ministry at a time when Assam, the northeastern state is burning in the fire of sectarian violence and the state government has starkly failed in its attempt to pacify the situation.
Before taking over as the Union Home Minister Shinde was looking after the Power Ministry.

National Events

VEERAPPA MOILY: UNION MINISTER FOR CORPORATE AFFAIRS AND POWER

Veerappa Moily, the veteran Congressman, who also holds the charge of corporate ministry, was given the additional charge of power ministry in the middle of the worst power crisis of the history of the country. The electricity crisis erupted as three power transmission grids Northern, Eastern and North-eastern failed, leaving the half of the country with a complete blackout.

SIMI IS AN UNLAWFUL ORGANISATION

A special tribunal in its decision pronounced approved the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) move to declare Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) as an unlawful association. The tribunal headed by sitting Delhi High Court Judge Justice VK Shali submitted its report to the Union Home Ministry. The tribunal was constituted to decide whether there was sufficient cause for declaring the association unlawful. The Union Home Ministry on 3 February 2012 had extended the ban on SIMI for another two years. SIMI was first designated as an unlawful association on 27 September 2001, given its alleged involvement in the numerous terrorist incidents in the country. The organization also believed to have a close rapport with dreaded terrorist organization like Lashker-e-Taiba. SIMI was founded by Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi on 25 April 1977, in Aligadh, Uttar Pradesh. The organization was banned under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. SIMI appealed against the ban in various courts including Special Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act tribunals, but it was not given any respite. Though a special tribunal in August 2008 had lifted the ban on SIMI, but the ban was soon restored by the then Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, on 6 August, 2008.

NCRB RELEASED THE CRIME STATISTICS FOR 2011

According to the latest crime statistics, released by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) - the statistical arm of Indian Police under ministry of home affairs (MHA) on 3 July 2012, rape with 24206 cases in 2011, emerged as the biggest crime in India in India. NCRB had started recording the cases of rape in 1971, while other cognizable offences have been recorded since 1953. Madhya Pradesh with 3406 rape got the maximum number of rape case registered in the country followed by West Bengal which recorded 2363 rape cases in year 2011. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan came next with 2042 and 1800 cases respectively. Kidnapping and abduction was the other major crime in the country followed by murder and  riots. Crime like feticide also witnessed a rise as there were 132 cases of feticide reported in the country in 2011, while the number stood at 111 in year 2010. Madhya Pradesh with 38 feticide cases topped the list of state with maximum number of feticide cases. The state was followed by Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh with 21, 15, 13
and 12 cases respectively. Number of farmers’ suicide also went up in 2011, as nearly 14027 farm suicide cases were reported in the entire year. Adding the total number of suicide cases  reported in 2011, the total number of farm suicides since 1995 has touched 270940. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh saw the maximum number of farmers taking their lives.

INDIA’S BIGGEST POWER BLACKOUT

India witnessed its biggest ever power blackout on 31 July 2012. Post the collapse of the northern power grid twenty states in India were left with no electricity till late evening. This is the second time that the country saw a power failure of a huge margin; interestingly both the failures happened in a time frame of over twenty four hours. The collapse happened at around one o clock in the noon, when the northern grid tripped, which then immediately led to a similar effect on the eastern and north-eastern grids, as the two are connected as a common grid.  The problem was compounded as several states had removed the under frequency relays that island
their systems when grid disruptions occur. Apparently, the failure of the three power grids despite a stable electricity supply was due to the mounting demand for electricity as monsoon rains remained deficient, outdated power transmission equipments and utter lack of discipline by state utilities in drawing power. Among the states affected were Delhi, Uttar Pradesh,  Haryana, West Bengal, Punjab,Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa, Bihar,
Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Assam, meaning that the power trip covered more than half of the country’s population. Amongst the worst hit were the two hundred coal miners trapped in West Bengal and Jharkhand as their shafts remained closed. Amongst the railways, almost three hundred trains remained stranded , also the Delhi Metro, which is a life line to many came to a stop leaving the traffic situation in the state a tizzy. During the peak hour the supply stood less than 40,000 MW against the demand of 130,000 MW. The situation came back to control later by evening on 31 July 2012, forty percent of the system was operating normally again and
power was eventually restored over the states. The first power cut of this kind happened just few hours back on the night of 30 July 2012.

ANNUAL HEALTH SURVEY REPORT

According to the data released by first Annual Health Survey (AHS), conducted by the census authorities, the incidents of child marriage fell significantly over the past few years. The data was released on 16 April 2012. The AHS, world’s largest demographic survey, was carried out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the Registrar General of India (RGI) and Ministry of Home Affairs of India. The survey was conducted in all 284 districts of the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states that includes Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam. The nine states account for half of the country’s population. The project was launched to assess the impact of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in all 284 districts. Until recently the only reliable source of such health data was the National Family Health Survey, which the health ministry has now discontinued. The survey was conducted by private agencies under the supervision of RGI. The key findings of the latest reports of the survey are as follows:

  • One-fifth of marriages in Bihar between 2007-09 involved women under 18.

  • In Jharkhand, the proportion of child marriage went down from 60 percent to 18 percent earlier.

  • Rajasthan with 22 percent cases of child marriage has the highest proportion of women under 18 getting married.

  • Contraceptive use remains low despite improvements in several regions.

  • Among the 9 states, Bihar has the lowest contraceptive use with just over a third of women aged 15-49 using any method of contraception.

  • Sitapur in UP emerged as the district with the lowest contraceptive use as only 20 percent of women found using any method of contraception.

  • Condition of maternal and infant health is still the subject of worry.

  • Less than 5 percent of women in UP had a full ante natal check-up.

  • Chhattisgarh, with 20 percent full ante-natal check-up, emerged as the bestperforming of these states.

  • Less than half of pregnant women in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have safe deliveries.

  • UP, Bihar and Uttarakhand saw 40 percent of safe deliveries.

NEW FREE DRUG POLICY IN INDIA

In a policy aimed at benefitting  country’s 120 crore population, the Union Government of India unveiled the 5.4 billion dollar free drug policy. Under the new policy, every citizen of the country will be provided free medicines in all public health centres spreaded across the country. As the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare kept branded drugs out of this policy, the patients will be given only generic drugs. The policy which will remain effective over the next five years will provide a much needed support to nearly 40 percent people of the country, which spends 1.25 dollar or less a day on health. The new free drug policy marks the first of its kind
endeavour by the government of India to address the grim health services condition in the country. India spends about 1.2 percent of its annual GDP on health, making it a country with least spending on public health services. The country also has a high infant mortality rate as 66 of per 1000 children die before the age of 5, compared with 19 in China and 21 in Brazil. If the report of Organisation for Economic Cooperation to be believed, only seven countries in the world have got their public health expenditure less than India in terms of GDP percentage.

National Events

NEW SCIENCE POLICY FROM NEXT YEAR

The government is expected to unveil a new science policy next year which will give primacy to global competitiveness on scientific discoveries and giving affordable solutions through science. The New Policy document  would seek to emphasise on global competitiveness of discovery science as well as affordability through solution science. Participating in a consultation exercise, he said the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)
Policy would help in achieving faster, sustainable and inclusive growth and proposed to introduce sound measurement systems based on global experience. The  emphasis of Policy will be to provide a renewed impetus for the science and technology sector while creating a vibrant innovation ecosystem that is intertwined with the overall S&T strategy, he said. In the last 10 years, S&T has undergone drastic changes and needs a new STI policy to contribute effectively to country’s economic growth,” Sharma said. The new policy would be framed with the aim of providing a transition from perception to evidence-based approaches for investment decisions  and gaining technological self-reliance through substantial budgetary support to S&T sector.

NATIONAL POLICY FOR CHILDREN 2012

The Ministry of Women and Child Development on 26 July 2012 drafted the National Policy for Children 2012. The revised draft policy reaffirms the government’s commitment towards children and addresses new challenges, seeking to realize the full potential of children’s rights throughout the country. It defines a child as a  person below eighteen years of age, and acknowledges the inalienable and inherent rights of the child and
aims to realize the full range of child rights for all children in the country. The draft has stated that every child has a right to be safeguarded against hunger, deprivation and malnutrition. According to the draft policy, the state is bound to secure the rights and entitlement of children in difficult circumstances such as migration, displacement, disasters and communal violence. The first National Policy on Children was formulated in 1974.
The first policy of 1974 described children as a supremely important asset and made the state responsible for providing equal opportunities for growth and development of all children. The policy primarily focused on health
and education of the children.

RELAXATION IN POLICIES RELATED TO TRANSFER OF GOVERNMENT LAND

The Union Government of India approved relaxation in policies relating to transfer of government land. The objective of the policy is to speed up private public partnership in the country and to fast-track pending infrastructure projects. The decision will ensure that infrastructure projects are not held up for procedural delays. A ban was imposed in 2011 on transfer of government-owned land to any entity except in cases where land
was to be transferred from one government department to another. This ban however excluded the cases where the land was to be transferred from one government department to another. The policy has also been relaxed for all land transfers from ministries to statutory authorities or PSUs (Public Sector Units). Besides, the government allowed use and development of railway land by Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), as per the provisions of Railways Amendment Act, 2005.

PROPOSAL TO MAKE RAPE A GENDER-NEUTRAL OFFENCE APPROVED

The Union cabinet approved a proposal that seek to make rape a gender-neutral offence. With the cabinet giving its nod to the proposal, now, the word rape will be replaced with sexual assault. Under the current definition of rape (Section 375 of Indian Penal Code) a man is said to commit rape when he has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will. The amendment will expand the definition to cover male victims of sexual assault. The cabinet also approved a proposal which said the IPC will have a separate section (326-A) that would cover injury, hurt, burns and disfigurement of any body part of a person (male or  female) by acid. The offence would
draw a punishment of 10-year imprisonment and a penalty of 10 lakh rupees. The cabinet further decided to change the definition of a minor. At present some sections of the IPC and the Criminal Procedure Code consider those below 16 as minor. Following the amendment a person below 18 would be considered as minor. The age of consent has also been raised from existing 16 years to 18 years. However, it is proposed that the sexual intercourse by a man with own wife being under sixteen years of age will not be considered as sexual assault.

DELHI HIGH COURT SCRAPPED TRAI’S LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF DAILY SMSES

Delhi High Court scrapped the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) guideline to cap daily SMS limit at 200. TRAI, the telecom watchdog of India, on 5 September 2011 had ordered the telecom companies to restrict the number of daily SMSes per SIM at 100. The number was however, increased to 200 subsequently. A division bench of acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv  Sahai Endlaw observed that such a  restriction on the number of SMSes per day violates the citizens’ fundamental right of freedom of speech and thus be scrapped. The judges however, upheld the capping of unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) SMSes.

COMMERCIAL AND TOURISM ACTIVITIES NEAR JARAWA HABITAT BANNED

The Supreme Court of India declared the area within a fivekilometre radius around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve in Andaman and Nicobar Islands no go zone. The Apex Court banned all commercial and tourism activities near the Jarawa habitat. A Supreme Court bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya in its  ruling prohibited entry of any person other than a member of tribe into the reserve area.The court’s verdict came
following a news report which showed some tourists throwing money, food and bananas at the tribal people. The news report had forced the government to order an inquiry. Jarawas are one of the oldest living indigenous people in the world. The tribe has their home in the forests of the Andaman Islands in India. The present number of Jarawa tribe is estimated to be about 250-400. Jarawas have been living in the forests of the Andaman Islands for past thousands of years.

1900 CRORE RUPEES ALLOCATED TO RAIN DEFICIENT STATES

The union government announced a financial assistance of 1900 crore under various schemes for the rain deficient states. It also extended a diesel subsidy of fifty percent to farmers to save the standing crops through groundwater irrigation which would be shared between the centre and the states. The decisions were taken at the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM). The meeting was chaired by Agriculture Minsiter, Sharad Pawar. Amongst the states facing the problems are Parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana. The overall kharif sowing is lower by 56.03 lakh hectares compared to the normal area, with a shortfall in the cultivation of rice, coarse cereals and pulses largely in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Apart from this, an interim assistance of Rs. Thirty eight crore for supply of drinking water would be given to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

SC QUASHED THE ACQUISITION OF LAND OF TWO INDUSTRIAL UNITS IN DEHRADUN

The Supreme Court of India in its ruling quashed the acquisition of land of two industrial units in Dehradun by the Uttar Pradesh government in 1986 on grounds of urgency. A two member Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla ruled that the state government failed to produce any material to show that invoking of the urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring the land, was bonafide. The Supreme Court Bench set aside an order of the Allahabad High Court, which had upheld the acquisition.

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA MODIFIED ORDER ON REHABILITATION OF SEX WORKERS

The Supreme Court of India modified one of its order on welfare and rehabilitation of sex workers. A special bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra modified its earlier order, saying “the modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution.” Modifying its earlier order, the bench clarified that it would only examine the conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The bench added that it was keen that sex workers should be given an opportunity to avail rehabilitation measures of the government and other agencies for them. While adjudicating a petition for rehabilitation of former sex workers, the Supreme Court had on July 19, 2011 had framed three terms of reference.Article 21 in the Constitution Of India states that no
person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

VIP QUOTA FOR HAJ PILGRIMAGE FROM 5050 SEATS TO 300

The Supreme Court of India on 23 July 2012 reduced the VIP quota for Haj pilgrimage from 5050 seats to mere 300. The remaining 4750 seats will be provided to the pilgrims from general category. A Supreme Court bench of judges Justice Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai ruled that under the reduced quota, the Indian president can recommend 100  pilgrims, the vice-president 75, the prime minister 75 and the Minister for External Affairs 50 pilgrims, while, the 200 seats would be reserved for the Haj Committee of India (HCI). The court was informed that 11000 seats have been reserved under government quota to be allocated for Haj 2012. After limiting the seats under discretionaries quota and the HCI, the remaining seats would go to the Haj committees of various states and Union territories. The court’s decision came following an affidavit filed by the government of India in compliance with the Apex court’s 8 May 2012 order. The court in its 8 May 2012 ruling had asked the Union government to come up with the details of the basis on which its discretionary quota seats for Haj pilgrims are allocated to applicants on recommendation by dignitaries and eminent persons.


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