Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 3 February 2018
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 3 February 2018
Jallikattu – a cultural right?
The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a Constitution Bench to decide
whether the people of Tamil Nadu can preserve jallikattu as their cultural
To see it under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution and demand its
A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali
Nariman referred to a five-judge Bench a batch of petitions filed by People
for Ethical Treatment of Animals and activists.
They wanted to strike down the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil
Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017.
They contended that the amended laws had opened the gates for the
conduct of the popular bull-taming sport in the name of culture and
In 2014 ban by the Supreme Court.
It is for the first time the Supreme Court is considering the question
of granting constitutional protection to jallikattu as a collective cultural
right under Article 29 (1), Article 29(1) is a fundamental right guaranteed
under Part III of the Constitution to protect the educational and cultural
rights of citizens.
Though commonly used to protect the interests of minorities, Article
29(1) mandates that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory
of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture
of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.
“It has never been looked into whether a State can claim constitutional
protection under Article 29 (1) for what it thinks is a cultural right,”
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had orally observed.
The case reserved for final judgment in the previous hearing.
The Constitution Bench would also look into whether the 2017 jallikattu
and bullock-cart races laws would actually sub-serve the objective of
“prevention” of cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act of 1960.
On the other hand, the apex court frames the question, “does it
perpetuate cruelty to animals and therefore, can it be said to be a means of
cruelty to animals?”
Changes in FCRA
The Union government has proposed to amend the repealed Foreign
Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976 retrospectively.
This move that will benefit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the
Congress held guilty by the Delhi High Court for receiving foreign funds
from two subsidiaries of Vedanta, a U.K.-based company.
The Representation of the People Act and the FCRA bar political parties
from receiving foreign funds.
In 2016, the government amended the FCRA through the Finance Bill route,
allowing foreign-origin companies to finance non-governmental organisations
and clearing the way for donations to political parties by changing the
definition of “foreign companies”.
The amendment, though done retrospectively, only made valid the foreign
donations received after 2010, the year when the 1976 Act was amended.
The retrospective amendment did not apply to donations prior to 2010.
In a move to extend relief to the two parties, the government has again
proposed an amendment through the Finance Bill, 2018.
It says, “Clause 217 of the Bill seeks to amend Section 236 of the
Finance Act, 2016 which relates to amendment to sub-clause (vi) of clause
(j) of sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation)
Act, 2010 …. effect from the 5th August, 1976 the date of commencement of
the FCRA, 1976, which was repealed and re-enacted as the FCRA, 2010.”
The Home Ministry had sought the Attorney-General’s opinion to amend the
The original provision in the FCRA, which declared that any company with
over 50% FDI was a foreign entity, was inconsistent with the view of the
Finance and the Commerce Ministries, which treated companies based in India
and having Indian directors and employees as Indian subsidiaries.
Mandatory Dust Mitigation Plan
The Environment Ministry has made it mandatory for companies seeking
environment clearance to ensure that they put in place a dust mitigation
The requirements, specified in a gazette notification on January 25, say
that roads leading to or at construction sites must be paved and
There could be no soil excavation without adequate dust mitigation
measures in place. No loose soil, sand, construction waste could be left
A water sprinkling system was mandatory, and the measures taken should
be prominently displayed at the construction site.
Moreover, the grinding and cutting of building materials in open area
were prohibited and no uncovered vehicles carrying construction material and
waste would be permitted.
The standards were developed by the Central Pollution Control Board as
part of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and will now
empower the organisation to fine companies and agencies for not complying
A study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and commissioned
by the Delhi government reported, in 2015, that road dust and burning of
biomass and municipal solid waste, constituted the lion’s share of the
city’s air pollution.
Road dust contributed 56% of all PM10 pollution, while it was 38% for
Another estimate by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune
had different numbers but still ranked dust as the major contributor — 52% —
to the city’s PM10 load.
Before PM2.5 became the focus of attention — for its role in lodging
itself in the lungs and for being a key component of diesel emissions — dust
was the key villain for a long time.
Dust is a generic term for a vast mix of metals and non-metals —
silicon, aluminium, titanium, manganese, copper, barium, antimony, selenium
Health scheme to be well funded
Calling it ‘historic’, ‘bold’ and ‘committed to the common man’, Union
Health Minister J.P. Nadda welcomed Budget 2018, which had seen an 11.5%
increase in the allocation for the health sector.
Stating that the Budget would change the socio-economic scenario of the
country and aid in increased productivity for the common man.
The Minister told: “The Budget will spur growth and development. It is
aimed towards all sections of the country. This is a visionary and
The Minister spoke about the National Health Protection Scheme, which
will cover 10 crore households by providing an annual package of Rs. 5 lakh
for hospitalisation needs.
“This will change the face of health care in India and we will no longer
have families breaking down under the financial burden of medical care,” the
The government was working on the intricate details of the scheme and
would come out with a definite plan soon.
“We are confident about the scheme. Finances will never be a problem.
Details will be given out as soon as we are ready to implement it,” he said.
Asked who will pay the premium, Mr. Nadda said: “The government will pay
the premium with the States’ share. Rs. 2,000 crore has been kept for it as
A day after the Centre deferred February 1 rollout of the e-way bill in
the wake of ‘technological glitches’ that left trucks stranded for hours
across the country, transporters urged the Centre to fix all issues before
introducing the measure.
The e-way bill portal had crashed on 1st day leaving transporters
waiting in vain for hours to generate the bills.
“Today things are back to normal,” said Ramesh Agarwal, Chairman,
Agarwal Movers Group.
“Government took a wise decision to put it [ rollout] on hold. Otherwise
by Saturday lots of factories would have closed down,” he said.
The Centre’s use of twitter to announce the decision added to the
“It will take time in India to accept information disseminated through
twitter,” said Devendra Patne, CEO, DTIX.org, a transport industry
“Lots of people did not give credence to it and waited for logging into
S.R. Hatti, VP of VRL Logistics in Bengaluru, said the firm had started
moving goods from Friday morning with normal invoices as all States were
Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told PTI the measure would be
reintroduced in the “next few weeks” after the system was fully ready.
KUSUM to boost farmer’s solar power use
The Centre has announced a Rs. 1.4 lakh-crore scheme for promoting
decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers.
The Centre will spend Rs. 48,000 crore on the ten-year scheme which was
announced in the Union Budget 2018-19.
KisanUrjaSurakshaevamUtthaanMahaabhiyan or KUSUM scheme would provide
extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power
to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands, the
It would help in de-dieselising the sector as also the DISCOMS, he said.
India had about 30 million farm pumps that include 10 million pumps
running on diesel.
The Minister said the positive outcomes that are expected when the
scheme is fully implemented across the country include promotion of
decentralised solar power production, reduction of transmission losses as
well as providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the
subsidy burden to the agriculture sector.
The scheme would also promote energy efficiency and water conservation
and provide water security to farmers.
The components of the scheme include building 10,000 MW solar plants on
And providing sops to DISCOMS to purchase the electricity produced,
‘solarising’ existing pumps of 7250 MW as well as government tube wells with
a capacity of 8250 MW and distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps.
The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared
between the Centre and the States while 30% would be provided through bank
The balance cost has to be borne by the farmers.
Jobs in leather sector to increase
The leather industry has welcomed the Budget proposal to cut the minimum
period of employment.
The new norms mandate 150 days as the minimum period of employment in
the footwear and leather industry, as has been the case for the apparel
sector. Earlier, it was 240 days.
The move is aimed at creating new employment opportunities, Union
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his Budget speech.
The Centre has made these changes along with certain amendments to
Employment Provident Fund Act to encourage employment of more women.
Earlier, this relaxation was available to the textile sector and the
anomaly has been set right.
Panaruna Aqeel, vice chairman, Council for Leather Exports, said, “The
extension of 25% reduced corporate tax to [firms] having turnover of up to
Rs. 250 crore in FY17 will be immensely beneficial to the leather and
footwear industry as about 90% of the industry is concentrated in the MSME
Floating Treatment Wetland in Hyderbad lake
Gently floating on the surface is an artificial ‘island’ made of
meticulously chosen plant species, inthe Neknampur Lake in Hyderabad city.
The island is a floating treatment wetland (FTW).
Several plants on this FTW help clean the lake by absorbing nutrients
such as excess nitrates and oxygen present in the water.
They thus reduce the content of these chemicals.
The FTW on Neknampur Lake was inaugurated on February 2, World Wetlands
Day. Measuring 3,000 sq. ft., the FTW is a joint effort of Dhruvansh, the
Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, the Ranga Reddy district
administration and other organisations.
It has already been recognised by the India Book of Records as the
largest FTW in the country.
Based on the soil-less hydroponics technique, the FTW comprises four
layers. Floatable bamboo forms its base, over which styrofoam cubicles are
The third layer consists of gunny bags. The final layer is of gravel.
Hydroponics permits plants to grow only on sunlight and water. There is
no need of soil.
There are small holes at the bottom, which facilitate the flow of
nutrients from the water to the plants (biological uptake process), which
are held upright by the gravel layer.
Cleaning agents planted on the FTW include vetivers, canna, cattalis,
bulrush, citronella, hibiscus, fountain grass, flowering herbs, tulsi and
Micro-organisms growing on the FTW and plant root systems break down and
consume the organic matter in the water through microbial decomposition. The
root systems filter out sediments and pollutants.
FTW is strong and can hold the weight of as many as four people.
Compared to sewage treatment plants, this method is much cheaper.
Periodic biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) readings are taken from the
Pollution Control Board. When the project began, the BOD was 27 mg/l.
Hoping that in four to six months there will be a fundamental change
because of the FTW.
Sanitation vs Stunting
Stunting among children, or low height for age, is common in developing
countries with poor sanitation.
Scientists hypothesise that this is because open defecation and unclean
water expose children to faecal bugs.
Even if these pathogens do not cause diarrhoea, they inflame a child’s
gut and hamper the food absorption
However, two studies from Bangladesh and Kenya show that this hypothesis
may need a rethink.
The studies, which targeted over 13,000 families, showed that water
purification, sanitary latrines and hand-washing (WASH) interventions in
select households were not enough to prevent stunting in those households.
The findings, published inThe Lancet Global Healthon January 29, mean
one of two things.
First, WASH interventions may need to be very widespread to make a
Second, factors other than WASH may be critical to stunting.
The two studies, to test whether WASH interventions could reduce
gut-inflammation, and consequently, stunting, began in 2012.
One group, led by Stephen Luby of US’s Stanford WOODS Institute of
Environment, enrolled 5,551 pregnant women from around Dhaka, and divided
their families into seven groups.
Three groups received the three individual WASH interventions, while a
fourth received nutritional counselling and dietary supplements for
The fifth group received all three WASH interventions, the sixth
received WASH as well as nutrition, while a seventh served as a control.
Once the pregnant women gave birth, stunting, diarrhoea and mortality
rates were tracked among their children for two years.
Another research group, led by Clair Null, a child-health researcher at
USA’s Mathematica Policy Research, carried out a similar experiment on 8,246
pregnant women in Kenya.
After two years, the Bangladeshi study found children in the WASH groups
to be no taller than controls.
Improved diet did not make a big difference either – it corrected only a
sixth of the height deficit in the nutrition groups. The Kenyan study
reported similar findings.
The findings were a surprise to Luby, because previous research supports
the link between hygiene and stunting.
But Luby cautions that it is too early to dismiss the link, because the
WASH interventions may have failed at fully cutting exposure to faecal bugs
Such exposure could occur in several ways. While the interventions were
restricted to household compounds and human faeces, children also come in
contact with the outside environment and animal faeces.
Plus, while chlorine is a good disinfectant, it may not work against
protozoa like Giardialamblia.
Governments must still focus on WASH because it is a basic human right.
But should we expect sanitation to solve stunting? It will not.
Proof of militans submitted to Pakistan : Afghanistan
Afghanistan has given Pakistan confessions and other proof showing that
the militants who carried out a recent series of attacks were trained in
Pakistan and that Taliban leaders there are allowed to roam freely, Afghan
Interior Minister Wais Ahmed Barmak told a news conference that the
evidence was presented at a meeting a day earlier in the Pakistani capital,
Afghanistan’s spy chief, Masoom Stanekzai, also attended the meeting,
along with senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials.
Mr. Stanekzai, addressing the same news conference, said Afghanistan
laid out its proof and asked Pakistan to take action to prevent further
A Pakistani delegation is due in Kabul on Saturday, said Mr. Stanekzai.
Nearly 200 people have been killed over the past month in attacks
claimed by the Taliban and a rival Islamic State affiliate.
“The Taliban, with these actions, cannot call themselves a political
organisation,” Mr. Stanekzai said.
“They are a terrorist organisation... We expect action, not just talk,”
The Afghan officials said some of the latest evidence came from
confessions by captured militants.
They said they told the Pakistani side that some of the militants
had been trained at Islamic seminaries in the Pakistani border town of