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    Free notes of GK & Current Affair for 21 December 2017

    Daily Current Affair 20 Dec, 2017

     

    Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

     

    IIM Bill

     


                                 


     

    Context: Parliament has unanimously passed the IIM Bill, 2017 that grants the Indian Institutes of Management the power to grant degrees instead of post-graduate diplomas.

     

    Key features of the Bill:

    ·         IIMs would become institutes of national importance with power to grant degrees.

    ·         The boards of the institutes are proposed to be vested with full autonomy including the power to appoint chairperson as well as the director.

    ·         Power to review the performance of each IIM is also vested with the board.

    ·         Board to be the principal executive body of each institute.

    ·         Chairperson of the board will be appointed by the board for a period of four years.

    ·         Director of each IIM will be appointed by the board for a period of five years via a search-cum-selection panel. Once the bill becomes an act, the board is not required to seek the human resource development ministry’s approval for this.

    ·         The Board will have the power to remove a director.

    ·         The IIMs’ accounts will be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

    ·         There will be an IIM Coordination Forum to be notified by the central government. It shall function as an advisory body and will be headed by an eminent person.

    ·         The bill says the central government may frame rules to give additional powers and duties to the IIM Boards and, it will decide the terms and condition of service of directors although the appointment will be made by the board. It will notify the IIM coordination forum to be headed by a eminent person.

    ·         All rules and regulations framed either by the central government or the IIM Boards will need to be tabled in parliament.

     

    Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

     

    Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017

     

    The Lok Sabha has passed the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill seeks to amend the Central Road Fund Act, 2000, through which the cess levied and collected on high speed petrol and diesel is distributed for development of rural roads, national highways, railways, state roads and border area roads.

     

    Highlights of the Bill:

    Inclusion of inland waterways: The Bill defines national waterways as those that have been declared as ‘national waterways’ under the National Waterways Act, 2016.  Currently, 111 waterways are specified under the 2016 Act.

    Utilisation of fund: Under the 2000 Act, the fund can be utilised for various road projects including:

    (i) national highways,

    (ii) state roads including roads of inter-state and economic importance, and

    (iii) rural roads.  The Bill provides that in addition to these the fund will also be used for the development and maintenance of national waterways.

     

    Powers of central government: Under the Act, the central government has the power to administer the fund.  The central government will make decisions on the:

    (i) investments on national highways and expressways projects,

    (ii) raising funds for the development and maintenance of national highways, and rural roads, and

    (iii) disbursement of funds for national highways, state roads and rural roads.  The Bill provides that central government will make all the above decisions for national waterways as well.

     

    Allocation of cess: Under the Act, the cess on high speed diesel oil and petrol is allocated towards different types of roads.  The Bill seeks to decrease the allocation of cess towards the development and maintenance of national highways from 41.5% to 39%.  It allocates 2.5% of the cess towards the development and maintenance of national waterways.

     

    About Central Road Fund:

    The Central Road Fund was established by the government as per the Central road fund act 2000 to fund the development and maintenance of National Highways, State Highways and Rural roads.

    In order to mobilise the fund, the Central Road Fund Act 2000 proposed to levy and collect by way of cess, a duty of excise and duty of customs on petrol and high speed diesel oil. The fund is utilised for the development and maintenance of National highways, State roads, Rural roads and for provision of road overbridges/under bridges and other safety features at unmanned Railway Crossings.

     

    Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

     

    E-cigarettes

     

     


                     


    Context: The government is examining the legal implications and health effects of e-cigarettes.

    The Health Ministry has constituted three groups to study the various aspects of e-cigarettes. One was to study the legal implications of this e-nicotine drug induce system, another was to go into the health effects and the other was to study advocacy.

     

    What are e-cigarettes?

    An electronic cigarette (or e-cig) is a battery-powered vaporizer that mimics tobacco smoking. It works by heating up a nicotine liquid, called “juice.” Nicotine juice (or e-juice) comes in various flavors and nicotine levels. e-liquid is composed of five ingredients: vegetable glycerin (a material used in all types of food and personal care products, like toothpaste) and propylene glycol (a solvent most commonly used in fog machines.) propylene glycol is the ingredient that produces thicker clouds of vapor.

    Proponents of e-cigs argue that the practice is healthier than traditional cigarettes because users are only inhaling water vapor and nicotine.

     Need for regulation:

    §  In India smoking devices are easily available through online shopping portals and with little information out in the public domain about the ill-effects of e-cigarettes there is a misconception that it is less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

    §  Smart marketing and inadequate information on the nicotine content in e-cigarettes has created a false impression that these devices are not as harmful as regular cigarettes. In the absence of a regulation the use of e-cigarettes has grown; they are easily accessible to even the non smokers.

    §  Along with the traditional cigarette manufacturing, there is a parallel industry of e-cigarette like devices growing in India, which is under-regulated.

     

    Harmful effects of e cigarettes:

    Although they are generally thought to be less harmful than smoking real cigarettes, because they contain no tobacco, they do still contain the addictive chemical nicotine. Scientists have confirmed that e-cigarette vapours to contain the same potentially dangerous chemicals.

    Research has also confirmed that e-cigarette vapours contain free radical chemicals previously thought only to be found in tobacco cigarettes and air pollutants. Free radicals are highly reactive agents that can damage DNA or other molecules within cells, resulting in cell death. Cigarette smoke contains 1014 free radicals per puff. Though e-cigarette vapour contains far fewer free radicals than cigarette smoke – one percent as much – their presence in e-cigarettes still suggests potential health risks.

     

    Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

     

    Amendments to Companies Act

     

    Context: The Rajya Sabha has passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017. It was adopted by the Lok Sabha in July this year. The Bill provides for more than 40 amendments to the Companies Act, 2013.

     

    Highlights of the Bill:

    §  The amendment seeks to strengthen corporate governance standards, initiate strict action against defaulting companies and help improve ease of doing business in the country.

    §  The major changes include simplification of the private placement process; rationalization of provisions related to loans to directors; replacing the requirement of approval of the central government for managerial remuneration above prescribed limits by approval through special resolution of shareholders and aligning disclosure requirements in the prospectus with the regulations made by Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India).

    §  The Bill also provides for maintenance of register of significant beneficial owners and makes offence for contravention of provisions relating to deposits as non-compoundable.

    §  It also provides for stringent penalties in case of non-filing of balance sheet and annual return every year, which will act as deterrent to shell companies. This would facilitate ease of doing business, and result in harmonization with Sebi, RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and rectify certain omissions and inconsistencies in the existing Act.

     

    Money-laundering and its prevention.

     

    Crackdown against Bitcoins

     

     

                                                 


     

    Context: The rising craze for bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that has rocketed to shocking highs, has come under the government’s lens. The government has begun a crackdown on illegal uses of this unregulated virtual currency.

    Widening its probe into bitcoin investments and trade, the Income Tax (IT) department is set to issue notices to 4 to 5 lakh high networth individuals (HNI) across the country who were trading on the exchanges of this unregulated virtual currency.

     

    Concerns associated with the use of bitcoins:

    §  Bitcoin can be an easy way to evade tax or snare unsuspecting small investors in ponzi schemes. The regulators are worried about their use for illicit and illegal activities, subjecting the users to an unintentional breach of laws against money laundering and terror finance.

    §  Concerns also emanate from some unscrupulous entities indulging in illicit money-pooling activities—commonly known as ponzi schemes—with the promise of huge returns from investment in bitcoins and other variants, which they claim are minted through blockchain, a distributed ledger technology that was created to mint bitcoins and comprises of extremely complex algorithms with several thousand nodes for each chain.

    §  There is a suspicion that some so-called cryptocurrencies and bitcoin investments may actually have nothing to do with any blockchain-developed virtual currency and are just new ways devised by scamsters to ride the wave and what they may be offering could be ‘e-ponzi’ schemes.

     

    Background:

    While some of the countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan have declared Bitcoins as a means of payment illegal and in violation of the state law, a majority are yet to take a stand on it. In December 2013, RBI issued a warning with caution to users, holders and traders of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, about the potential financial, operational, and legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to. Bitcoins are currently unregulated in India. There are no specific legal frameworks for Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies in India yet.

     

    Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

     

    Blockchain technology

     



                                         


    Context: The West Bengal government is planning to introduce the blockchain technology to protect its documents from cyber attacks.

     

    Key facts:

    ·         The state government’s proposed Cyber Security Centre of Excellence would be entrusted to execute the new ‘blockchain’ mechanism at various departments.

    ·         The cyber security centre will bring the best in academic, law enforcement and other sections under one roof for the best practices to counter cyber crimes.

    ·         The centre will also conduct research and development on cyber crimes for which the state government will partner with private firms.

     

    Background:

    Recently, computers at some offices of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited were crippled by ‘WannaCry’ virus, a global ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

     

    What is Blockchain?

    Blockchain is an online ledger of digitally recorded transactions which is encrypted in the form of blocks, each of which is connected by a network of computers.

     

    How it works?

     

    Blockchain enables two entities that do not know each other to agree that something is true without the need of a third party. As opposed to writing entries into a single sheet of paper, a blockchain is a distributed database that takes a number of inputs and places them into a block. Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block using a cryptographic signature. This allows blockchains to be used as a ledger which is accessible by anyone with permission to do so.  If everyone in the process is pre-selected, the ledger is termed ‘permissioned’. If the process is open to the whole world, the ledger is called unpermissioned.

     

     Benefits of blockchain technology:

    A blockchain is anonymous, protecting the identities of the users. This makes blockchain a more secure way to carry out transactions. The algorithm used in blockchain reduces the dependence on people to verify the transactions.

     

     

    Conservation.

     

    Methanol Economy Fund

     

     

                                              


    Context: Niti Aayog is planning to set up a Methanol Economy Fund worth Rs 4,000-5,000 crore to promote production and use of the clean fuel. The government think-tank is aiming at generation of the fuel by converting high ash content coal into methanol and such a plant is expected to be set up by Coal India.

    Niti Aayog plans to move a Cabinet note soon on the methanol economy and the plans to set up production plants. It expects that two plans can be commissioned in the next 3-4 years.

     

    Methanol as an alternative fuel:

    Methanol is a promising fuel as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present. Across the world, methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future.

    Methanol can be blended with gasoline in low-quantities and used in existing road vehicles, or it can be used in high-proportion blends such as M85-M100 in flex-fuel or dedicated methanol-fueled vehicles. Technology is also being commercialized to use methanol as a diesel substitute.

     

    Why Methanol?

    §  Methanol can be used as an energy producing fuel, transportation fuel and cooking fuel, cutting down India’s oil import bill by an estimated 20% over the next few years. Unlike CNG, using methanol as a transportation fuel would require minimal alteration in the vehicles.

    §   

    §  Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions — such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter — and can improve air quality and related human health issues.

    §   

    §  Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide.

    §  As a high-octane vehicle fuel, methanol offers excellent acceleration and power. It also improves vehicle efficiency.

     

     

    Facts for Prelims:

     

    HAMESHA VIJAYEE:

    What is it? It is an exercise by armed forces being conducted in the deserts of Rajasthan to evaluate the capability of the armed forces to strike deep into enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle.

    Significance of the exercise: Unique in scope and scale, the exercise being conducted in battle like conditions, aims at fine tuning surveillance and destruction mechanisms to support precision strikes and manoeuvres by network enabled forces. With emphasis on joint operations, the exercise would test robust sensor to shooter grids by employing a vast array of surveillance and air assets networked with land based strategic and tactical vectors.

     

    Important Points

     

    ·         Niti Aayog to set up -  Methanol Economy Fund

    ·         Lok Sabha passed the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 on - 19th December 2017

    ·         International Human Solidarity Day 2017 observed across the world on - 20th December 2017

    ·         India signs US$ 125 million worth financing agreement with World Bank on -19th December 2017

    ·         2nd phase of joint oceanographic survey completed by - India and Sri Lanka

    Details

     

    Niti Aayog to set up -  Methanol Economy Fund

     

    Government’s think-tank Niti Aayog is thinking to set up a Methanol Economy Fund with a collection of Rs 4,000-5,000 crore. It focuses to promote manufacturing and utilization of the clean fuel with this fund.
    The Niti Aayog is conscious to produce the fuel by transforming high ash content coal into methanol and such a plant is probably to be set up by Coasubstitutel India.


    Niti Aayog is projecting to move a Cabinet note on the methanol economy and soon it will set up manufacturing plants. 

    By the end of December, it is also projecting to propose a roadmap to attain its goal of increasing the penetration of Methanol as an alternative fuel to petrol and diesel.

     

     

    Objective of Methanol Economy Fund 

    ·         Methanol Economy Fund will be used to promote the utilization of methanol fuel, which is safer, cheaper, and pollution free. 

    ·         Methanol manufacturing plants will be set up using coal and stranded gas assets. In India methanol can be manufactured at Rs 16-21 per liter. It is supposed to be commissioned in the coming 3-4 years.

    ·          

    Benefits of Methanol

    ·         Methanol can be utilized as a transportation fuel, energy forming fuel and cooking fuel. 

    ·         It could play a mega role in bringing down India’s oil import bill by an approximated 20 percent over the coming few years.

    ·         Using methanol as a transportation fuel would need minimal changes in the vehicles, unlike CNG.

    ·         China is the world’s largest manufacturer of methanol. 

    ·        
    Aayog's Future Plan

    ·         The Aayog is also working on transforming certain diesel-powered rail engines to work on methanol. Ideas are in progress to make confident that ships and boats in the inland waterways enterprises are also run on methanol.

    ·         The Aayog is also in talks with some automobile organizations such as Tata and Volvo to manufacture buses running on methanol.

     

    Lok Sabha passed the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 on - 19th December 2017

     

    The Lok Sabha on 19th December 2017 passed the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill looks forward to amend the Central Road Fund Act, 2000. The bill was launched in the Lok Sabha on 24th July 2017.


    According to the Central Road Fund Act, 2000, the cess levied and gathered on high speed petrol and diesel is dispersed for development of rural roads, railways, national highways, state roads and border area roads. 

     

    Important Highlights

    ·         The Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 looks forward to allocate 2.5% of the funds gathered to accelerate the development and maintenance of national waterways by decreasing the equal percentage from the portion of national highways.

    ·         The Bill is focused at tentatively collecting about Rs 2300 crore earnings for national waterways. 

    ·          

    Need to amend the Central Road Fund Act, 2000

     

    ·         National Waterways has issued logistically efficient, cost effective,  and environment friendly of transport mode.

    ·         Its evolution as a supplementary mode will authorize diversion of traffic from the over-crowded roads and railways. 

    ·         In the past year, with the validation of the National Waterways Act, 2016, the total number of national waterways summed out to be 111. 

    ·         However, infrastructure such as jetties, navigational channels and terminals continues to be problems for better shipping and commercial navigation. 

    ·         In order to expand national waterways with modern infrastructure, sustainable source of funding is required as a budgetary support as funds from multilateral institutions are insufficient. 

    ·         One of the sustainable sources of collection for the development of waterways is to earmark definite percent of cess levied and gathered on high-speed diesel and petrol under the Central Road Fund Act, 2000.

     

    International Human Solidarity Day 2017 observed across the world on - 20th December 2017

     

    The International Human Solidarity Day was noticed across the world on 20th December 2017. 

    In the Millennium Declaration, solidarity is recognized as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the 21 Century, wherein those who benefit least deserve aid from those who benefit most. 
    The Day focuses to raise public awareness of the significance of solidarity and encourages discuss on the ways to enhance solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development objectives including poverty eradication.

     

    Did you know?

     

    ·         The UN General Assembly started the World Solidarity Fund on 20th December 2002 as a trust fund of the UN Development Program. Its aim was to eliminate poverty and encourage human and social development in developing nations.

     

    ·         Later on 22nd December 2005, the General Assembly recognized solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values via its resolution 60/209. According to the resolution, solidarity should basic relations between peoples in the 21st century.

     

    ·         Thus, the assembly also finalized to proclaim 20th December of every year as the International Human Solidarity Day.

     

    India signs US$ 125 million worth financing agreement with World Bank on -19th December 2017

    India on 19th December 2017 signed a financing accordance worth US$ 125 million with the World Bank for ‘Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (Strive) Assignment”.
    The accordance for the IDA credit was signed by the Government of India with the World Bank in the New Delhi.
    While Sameer Kumar Khare, the Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance signed the deal on behalf of the Union Government, Hisham Abdo, the Acting Country Director of World Bank (India) signed on behalf of the World Bank.

     

    Key Objective

    ·         The main aim of the operation is to upgrade access to quality and market-driven vocational training and apprenticeships.

    ·         The final areas for the project include:

    ·         Enhance Performance of Industrial Training Institutes.

    ·         Enlarge Capacities of State Government to Support Industrial Training Institutes and

    ·         Apprenticeship Training.

    ·         Enhance Teaching and Learning.

    ·         Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.

     

    2nd phase of joint oceanographic survey completed by - India and Sri Lanka

     

    The Indian Navy in collaboration with the Sri Lankan navy completed the second phase of the joint oceanographic survey conducted off the South Western Coast of Sri Lanka successfully. The survey was initiated with the arrival of the Indian Naval Ship Sutlej in Sri Lanka on 26th October 2017.

    The survey charts were handed over by the Indian side to the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy on 19th December 2017. The survey extended to a depth contour of 200 m from the coastline which is ranging from Colombo to Galle. 

     

    Main Objective behind this Survey

    ·         The main aim to launch the joint oceanographic survey was to update all the navigational charts, covering the waters of southern Sri Lanka with the latest hydrographic data.

    ·         It is also aiming to bolster cooperation between both the countries in the field of hydrography.

    ·         The exercise also provides an opportunity for both the naval sides to learn from each other and to build on the already existing high level of compatibility between these two nations.

     

    Important Highlights

    ·         The move is expected to increase the navigational safety level of all ships visiting Sri Lanka.

    ·         Thus, it will be benefitting the international shipping traffic passing through the southern coast of Sri Lanka and in turn pave the way for the blue economy development.

    ·          

    More about the joint oceanographic survey

    ·         The Indian Navy and Sri Lanka Navy conducted the first phase of the survey betweeb 30th March and 11th May 2017.

    ·         The first survey task was undertaken by Indian Naval ship INS Darshak, which is an indigenously designed and constructed vessel, fitted with the latest state of the art survey equipment.

    ·         The joint survey task also included the imparting of extensive training to the Sri Lankan Navy personnel who were embarked onboard the ship to help in capacity building of Sri Lankan Navy’s Hydrographic Department.

    ·         The third phase is expected to be undertaken in next year only i.e 2018.

     Cleaning up: on reviewing laws in India

     

    A permanent mechanism is needed to review laws and weed out the obsolete ones

    If law-making is a long and tedious process, it appears that unmaking existing laws is an equally arduous task. How else does one explain the fact that until three years ago, a huge number of obsolete Acts remained in the law books despite losing their relevance and utility? It has been only in the last three years that nearly 1,800 obsolete laws have been repealed. In the latest round, 235 outdated Acts and nine pre-Independence Ordinances have been repealed. These pieces of legislation may have been relevant and necessary at the time they were introduced, but in the absence of a periodic review they continue to burden the statutory corpus. These laws are archaic mainly because the social, economic and legal conditions that required their enactment does not obtain today; they are also not in tune with the progress of democracy since Independence. Among the Acts repealed are the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act, 1911, the Bengal Suppression of Terrorist Outrages (Supplementary) Act, 1932, and the Preventive Detention Act, 1950. The country still has a body of ‘anti-terror’ legislation as well as preventive detention laws. Although such laws remain in the statute books, these particular enactments are redundant. Other questionable legal provisions, for example, those on ‘sedition’ or exciting disaffection against the state, remain; so do ‘adultery’ and ‘sex against the order of nature’. Such obsolete concepts and notions that underlie law-making also require an overhaul.

     

    In a 2014 interim report, the first of four such reports on obsolete laws, the Law Commission noted that the panel had been identifying Acts for repeal in many of its reports in the past. Its 96th and 148th Reports recommended a good number of such laws. In 1998, the P.C. Jain Commission recommended the withdrawal of a large body of legislation, and also noted that as many as 253 Acts identified earlier for withdrawal still remained on the statute book. Nine ordinances issued by the Governor-General between 1941 and 1946, covering subjects such as war injuries, war gratuities and collective fines, are being removed from the statute book only now. It is odd, even amusing, that the Howrah Offences Act, 1857, the Hackney-Carriage Act, 1879, and the Dramatic Performances Act, 1876, have been in force well into the current century. The problem with not removing archaic laws is that they could be invoked suddenly against unsuspecting and otherwise law-abiding citizens. It is a welcome sign for good governance that the present government is updating and trimming the statute book. Given that legislation is quite a prolific activity, especially in the State Assemblies, it would be advisable to have a permanent commission to review the existing body of law and identify those that require repeal as often as possible.

     

       Wait and watch: on U.S. security strategy

     

    India should be wary of being drawn too tightly into the U.S. security embrace

    India has unequivocally welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of the National Security Strategy (NSS) for his country during his tenure. To be sure, the positive words used in the international section of the 55-page strategy paper represent an affirmation of India’s stature, and acknowledge “India’s emergence as a leading global power”. It mentions plans to “encourage Indian economic assistance in the region”, and outlines U.S. support to India’s “leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region” as a priority. Mr. Trump’s views of China’s assault on the “sovereignty” of South Asian nations and of Pakistan’s continued support to terror groups are closely aligned with India’s concerns in the neighbourhood. It is significant that the U.S. has highlighted them. In its response, New Delhi has “appreciated the strategic importance” given to India as well as the common objectives that India and the U.S. now share. Predictably, the five countries singled out by the U.S. for criticism have not been as warm in their response. China has accused the U.S. of pursuing what it calls a “cold war mentality and the zero-sum game”. Russia has said that the strategy reeks of “imperialism” as the NSS accuses China and Russia of using their military might to deny America access to what it calls “critical commercial zones”. Pakistan, Iran and North Korea have also been dismissive.

     

    India must be mindful, therefore, that in welcoming the U.S.’s categorisations of its security threats, it doesn’t unthinkingly get swept into an American clinch. To begin with, the U.S. articulation of its perceived challenges has swung wildly over the past year of the Trump administration. It would be wise to await a stabilisation in Mr. Trump’s policies, or at least concrete action to back its words. For example, while the U.S. has talked of countering China’s influence in South Asia, it has not backed this with actual financial assistance for infrastructure critical to the region. Equally, while Mr. Trump’s words on Pakistan and terrorism are sharp, the U.S. has yet to show its hand, either in terms of military action or withholding of coalition support funds. While the U.S. strategy deals with global concerns, the past year has seen American withdrawal from pacts ranging from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Paris agreement on climate change. A tough U.S. security strategy can only be realised through cogent policymaking — whether it is on Israel-Palestine, North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan, Mr. Trump has been publicly at odds with his key advisers. A watch-and-wait stance is still India’s best option to preserve the autonomous and pluralistic nature of its engagement in areas where the U.S. faces its greatest challenges.

     

    Divorce as crime: on instant triple talaq

     

    Making triple talaq a criminal offence is unnecessary and possibly counter-productive

    The Centre’s proposal to make instant triple talaq an offence punishable with three-year imprisonment and a fine is an unnecessary attempt to convert a civil wrong into a criminal act. By a three-two majority, the Supreme Court has already declared, and correctly, that the practice of talaq-e-biddat, or instant divorce of a Muslim woman by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice, is illegal and unenforceable. While two judges in the majority said the practice was arbitrary and, therefore, unconstitutional, the third judge ruled that it was illegal because it was contrary to Islamic tenets. Its consequence is that the husband’s marital obligations remain, regardless of his intention in pronouncing it. When Parliament enacts a law to give effect to the judicial invalidation of talaq-e-biddat, it must primarily ensure protection to Muslim women against its use. Although the details are not yet available, the proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, appears to have provisions for maintenance or subsistence allowance to the wife and children in the event of triple talaq being pronounced. It seeks to preserve the woman’s entitlement to custody of her children. While these are welcome and necessary features of a law aimed to protect the rights of Muslim women against arbitrary divorce, it hardly requires iteration that the civil character of these aspects of marital law must be preserved.

     

    Instant triple talaq is viewed as sinful and improper by a large section of the community itself. Therefore, there can be no dispute about the need to protect Muslim women against the practice. But it is also well established that criminalising something does not have any deterrent effect on its practice. That there have been 66 cases of its use after the Supreme Court verdict only underscores the need for protecting women against desertion and abandonment, but is it justified to send someone to jail? Also, the fine amount under consideration could as well be awarded as maintenance or subsistence allowance. The All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen president, Asaduddin Owaisi, has argued in a letter to the Union Law Minister that there is no need for a fresh criminal provision when existing laws, under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code or provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, already allow the prosecution of a husband for inflicting physical or mental cruelty, emotional and economic abuse, and for deprivation of financial resources. Regardless of whether instant talaq would fall under any of these forms of cruelty or domestic violence, criminalising it risks defeating the objective of preserving the husband’s legal obligations, and the payment of maintenance. The Centre would do well to reconsider its draft and limit its scope to providing relief to women, instead of creating a new offence out of a civil matter.

     

    Making triple talaq a criminal offence is unnecessary and possibly counter-productive

    The Centre’s proposal to make instant triple talaq an offence punishable with three-year imprisonment and a fine is an unnecessary attempt to convert a civil wrong into a criminal act. By a three-two majority, the Supreme Court has already declared, and correctly, that the practice of talaq-e-biddat, or instant divorce of a Muslim woman by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice, is illegal and unenforceable. While two judges in the majority said the practice was arbitrary and, therefore, unconstitutional, the third judge ruled that it was illegal because it was contrary to Islamic tenets. Its consequence is that the husband’s marital obligations remain, regardless of his intention in pronouncing it. When Parliament enacts a law to give effect to the judicial invalidation of talaq-e-biddat, it must primarily ensure protection to Muslim women against its use. Although the details are not yet available, the proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, appears to have provisions for maintenance or subsistence allowance to the wife and children in the event of triple talaq being pronounced. It seeks to preserve the woman’s entitlement to custody of her children. While these are welcome and necessary features of a law aimed to protect the rights of Muslim women against arbitrary divorce, it hardly requires iteration that the civil character of these aspects of marital law must be preserved.

     

    Instant triple talaq is viewed as sinful and improper by a large section of the community itself. Therefore, there can be no dispute about the need to protect Muslim women against the practice. But it is also well established that criminalising something does not have any deterrent effect on its practice. That there have been 66 cases of its use after the Supreme Court verdict only underscores the need for protecting women against desertion and abandonment, but is it justified to send someone to jail? Also, the fine amount under consideration could as well be awarded as maintenance or subsistence allowance. The All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen president, Asaduddin Owaisi, has argued in a letter to the Union Law Minister that there is no need for a fresh criminal provision when existing laws, under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code or provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, already allow the prosecution of a husband for inflicting physical or mental cruelty, emotional and economic abuse, and for deprivation of financial resources. Regardless of whether instant talaq would fall under any of these forms of cruelty or domestic violence, criminalising it risks defeating the objective of preserving the husband’s legal obligations, and the payment of maintenance. The Centre would do well to reconsider its draft and limit its scope to providing relief to women, instead of creating a new offence out of a civil matter.

     

    ONE LINERS

     

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    First Bank in India to launch Talking ATMs for differently able person is – Union Bank Of India

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    First Cooperative Bank of India - Anyonya Cooperative Bank


























































































































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