Appointments to fill at least four vacancies on the
Central Information Commission will be finalised on December 11, the Centre
told the Supreme Court this week, according to one of the petitioners in the
The government’s counsel also informed the court that
the Centre intends to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, said the
petitioner Anjali Bhardwaj.
The 11-member Commission, the highest appeal body
available to applicants seeking information under the RTI Act, is currently
operating with only three members in the wake of multiple retirements. The
eight vacancies include the Chief Information Commissioner, who completed
his tenure last month.
While the Centre listed the RTI Amendments Bill, 2018,
for introduction in the monsoon session of Parliament, Opposition MPs had
protested, citing concerns that the proposed amendments to salary and tenure
norms would compromise the independence of the commissions at the Central
and State levels.
India, with 18% of the world’s population, has a
disproportionately high 26% of the global premature deaths and disease
burden due to air pollution. Moreover, one in eight deaths in India was
attributable to air pollution in India in 2017, making it a leading risk
factor for death.
This is according to the first comprehensive estimates
of reduction in life expectancy associated with air pollution in each State,
published by the India State-Level Disease Burden.
The key findings from the paper include the fact that
12.4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included
6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh
deaths due to household air pollution.
Over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in
persons less than 70 years of age. In 2017, 77% population of India was
exposed to ambient particulate matter PM2.5 above the recommended limit by
the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The report states that the
highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north
Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.
India has signed an agreement with Iran to pay for
crude oil it imports from the Persian Gulf nation in rupees, sources in know
of the development said.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed
following the U.S. letting India and seven other nations to keep buying
Iranian oil despite sanctions were reimposed on the Islamic state on
Under U.S. sanctions, India can export foodgrains, medicines
and medical devices to Iran.
Under the 180-day exemption, India is allowed to
import a maximum of 300,000 barrels a day of crude oil. This compares to an
average daily import of about 560,000 barrels this year.
India, which is the second biggest purchaser of
Iranian oil after China, has since then restricted its monthly purchase to
1.25 million tonne or 15 million tonne in a year (300,000 barrels per day),
down from 22.6 million tonne (452,000 barrels per day) bought in 2017-18
financial year, sources said.
India, the world’s third biggest oil consumer, meets
more than 80% of its oil needs through imports. Iran is its third largest
supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia and meets about 10% of total needs.
Besides blocking of banking channels from November,
shipping firms are unwilling to transport Iranian oil. To get around this,
Iran is using its own ships to transport crude to India. Its insurance
companies are also providing insurance cover for such shipments, sources
A large-sized organisation in India incurs an average
of $10.3 million in economic losses due to cyberattacks, according to a
Frost and Sullivan study commissioned by Microsoft.
The study also said cyberattacks cost a mid-sized
organisation an average of $11,000 in economic losses.
Cybersecurity attacks have also resulted in job losses
across different functions in more than three in five (64%) organisations
that have experienced an incident during the survey period,” it added.
It found that more than three in five organisations
(62%) surveyed in India have either experienced a cybersecurity incident
(30%) or were not sure if they had one as they had not performed proper
forensics or data breach assessment (32%).
The survey factors in three kinds of losses that could
be incurred due to a cybersecurity breach — direct (financial losses
associated with the incident), indirect (the opportunity cost to the
organisation such as customer churn due to reputation loss), and and induced
(impact on the broader ecosystem and economy, such as the decrease in
consumer and enterprise spending).
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) tentatively agreed an oil-output cut on Thursday but was waiting to
hear from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia before deciding the exact volumes for
a production reduction aimed at propping up crude prices, two sources from
the group said.
The price of crude has fallen almost a third since
October but U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded the Organisation of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries make oil even cheaper by refraining from
OPEC delegates have said the group and its allies
could cut by 1 million bpd if Russia contributed 150,000 bpd of that
reduction. If Russia contributed around 250,000 bpd, the overall cut could
exceed 1.3 million bpd.
Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States have been
vying for the position of top crude producer in recent years. The United
States is not part of any output-limiting initiative due to its anti-trust
legislation and fragmented oil industry.
Iranian exports have plummeted after the United States
imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran in November. But Washington gave sanctions
waivers to some buyers of Iranian crude, further raising fears of an oil
glut next year.
An Indian scientist in the U.K. is working on a way to
grow crops in arsenic-contaminated soil, a study which is likely to have
wide ranging impact for farmers in northeastern India.
Dr. Mohan T.C., from Dr. Alex Jones Laboratory at the
School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, conducted a pilot
study in transgenic Barley and is now looking at doing it in rice plants
following funding from the Medical and Life Sciences Research Fund, U.K.
The university made the announcement on Wednesday, to
mark World Soil Day on December 5. “To stop the cancer-causing arsenic entry
into the food chain, it is essential to develop safe crops, through
restricting the translocation of arsenic to edible part,” he said.
“In our current project, we are trying to manipulate
cytokinin hormone in rice plants through genetic engineering and we expect
to increase the roots detoxification capacity of the transgenic rice,” he