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Current Affairs - 01 September 2018

NATION

No need for uniform civil code now, says law panel

  • The Law Commission of India said a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.” The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country. 
  • The Commission, led by former Supreme Court judge B.S. Chauhan, said, “Cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.”
  • “Efforts have to be made to reconcile our diversity with universal and indisputable arguments on human rights,” the Commission said. 
  • Difference does not always imply discrimination in a robust democracy, the government’s topmost law advisory body said.
  • The term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assures the expression of any form of difference. 
  • This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority, the Commission said. 
  • At the same time, it said, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.
Census 2021 to collect OBC data, use maps
  • Adding another category, Census 2021 will collect data on Other Backward Classes (OBC), the Centre said.
  • The decennial exercise will involve 25 lakh enumerators, and “maps/geo-referencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration,” a Home Ministry statement said.
  • A senior Minister said the decision to count the OBCs in the Census was taken to get a correct perspective on the social status in the country.
  • The 2011 caste data collected as part of the Socio-economic Caste Census (SECC) is yet to be released by the Centre
  • “It was emphasised that improvements in design and technological interventions be made so as to ensure that the Census data is finalised within three years after conducting of Census. At present it takes seven or eight years to release the complete data,” the statement said.
  • The enumerators will start “house listing” in 2020, and the headcount will begin in February 2021. 
  • The Home Minister also emphasised the need for improvement in the Civil Registration System, especially on registration of birth and death in remote areas, and strengthening sample registration system for estimating the data namely, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and fertility rates,” the statement said.
  • The Census Organisation was set up on an ad-hoc basis for each Census till the 1951 Census, when the Census Act was enacted in 1948 to provide for the scheme of conducting population census with duties and responsibilities of census officers. 
  • Earlier, the Home Ministry notified that the data collected during Census 2021 would be stored electronically, also a first.
  • At present, the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals) carried by enumerators to households were being stored in the physical form at the government’s storehouse in Delhi. It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, occupation and so on are sorted and published.
SC puts off hearing on Kashmir special status
  • The Supreme Court bowed to the Centre’s wish to postpone hearing on the legality of Article 35A, that accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir, till the panchayat elections in the State are over in order to avoid law and order problems.
  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, for the Centre, said proceeding with the case now would affect peace in the State.
  •  “We do not want to precipitate things when the elections are due,” Justice Chandrachud observed as the petitioners objected to the government’s request to postpone.
  • Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Jammu and Kashmir, submitted that hearing the case at this point would be a threat to peace.
  • The Bench scheduled the petitions for the second week of January next year.
  • One of the main petitions is filed by NGO We the Citizens, which argues that Article 35A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens.”
Root out terror: BIMSTEC
  • Describing terrorism as a “great threat” to international peace and security, India and six other BIMSTEC nations called for identifying and holding accountable states and non-state entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and falsely extol their virtues.
  • The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is a regional grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • The Kathmandu Declaration issued at the end of the two-day fourth BIMSTEC summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deplored terror attacks in all parts of the world, including in BIMSTEC countries, and stressed that there could be no justification for any act of terrorism.
  • The unanimously adopted declaration said the “fight against terrorism should target not only terrorists, terror organisations and networks but also identify and hold accountable states and non-state entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups and falsely extol their virtues.”
  • The declaration did not name any specific country, but Pakistan is often accused by its neighbours, including India, of providing safe havens to terrorists.
  • The declaration underlined the importance of multidimensional connectivity, which promotes synergy among connectivity frameworks in the region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity.
  • An MoU was signed on establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection.
Call for expert group on climate change
  • Voicing concern over the adverse impact of climate change, India and six other BIMSTEC nations decided to explore the possibility of establishing an inter-governmental expert group to develop a plan of action for a collective response as they reaffirmed their commitments to the 2016 Paris Agreement. 
SAARC meet to allow India-Pak. interface
  • The first face-to-face engagement between the new Pakistani government and India could come later this month when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi attend the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) Council of Ministers’ meeting in New York, officials in Delhi and Islamabad confirmed.
  • The SAARC meeting, which will most likely include a lunch attended by the Foreign Ministers of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, is scheduled for September 27.
  • Sources confirmed  that preparations for the informal meeting of Ministers of the grouping are being made by the SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu.
  •  External Affairs Ministry sources confirmed the meeting would be attended by Ms. Swaraj “as in previous years,”.
  • Despite the recent “overtures”, there has been little movement in scheduling the SAARC summit due to be held in Pakistan, after it was called off in 2016 following the Uri attack.
  • Nepal, which hosted the last SAARC summit in Kathmandu in November 2014, has been keen to pass on its chairmanship of the regional grouping, which it can do only when India and other members agree to attend the summit in Islamabad.
India invites Pak. experts to hydel sites in J&K
  • India has invited Pakistan to visit sites of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal hydro-electric projects on the Chenab.
  • India and Pakistan concluded the 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Lahore from August 29-30.
  • “Yes we have asked them to visit. But this according to existing provisions of the treaty,” U.P. Singh, Secretary, Union Water Resources Ministry.
  • As per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, technical discussions were held on implementation of various hydroelectric projects including Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • “Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty-mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides. Deliberations were also held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission for matters under the Treaty,” said a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs.
  •  Though a routine affair, the talks in Lahore were the first bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office. 

ECONOMY

GDP grows 8.2% in April-June
  • The Indian economy grew 8.2% — the highest in two years — in the April-June quarter, driven by robust growth in the manufacturing, construction and farm sectors.
  • The figures raised hopes of a higher than estimated annual growth of 7.5%.
  • The pace of growth was the highest since the 9.3% rise reported for the January-March quarter of 2016. The latest figures, however, come on a lower base of 5.6% growth in the first quarter of 2017-18.
  • The manufacturing sector grew 13.5% in the first quarter of 2018-19, as against a contraction of 1.8% a year earlier, while the construction sector grew 8.7%, compared to a growth of 1.8% in the first quarter of last year.
Telecom panel okays National Trust Centre
  • The Telecom Commission said a National Trust Centre would be created for certifying devices and applications for machine-to-machine communication, a new-age technology that is at the heart of concepts like smart homes.
  • It has also decided to form an apex body for this technology segment and its members will include representatives from other regulatory authorities like National Highways Authority of India and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications form the basis of automated information exchange between machines.
Vodafone, Idea merge; overtake Bharti
  • Idea Cellular has merged Vodafone India with itself to create the country’s largest telco with a subscriber base of 408 million, overtaking Bharti Airtel.
  • The merged entity, Vodafone Idea Ltd., will have Kumar Mangalam Birla as the chairman.
  • However, both Vodafone and Idea that have a strong consumer base across metro, urban, rural and interior markets, will continue to exist.
SPORTS

ASIAN GAMES
  • The India’s women’s hockey team falterred in the final and ended their campaign with 1-2 loss to Japan in the final game.
  •  In boxing, India’s Vikas Krishan had to pull out of his semi-final due to medical reason and finished with bronze. 
  • India clinched three medals in sailing with Varsha Gautham and Sweta Shervegar clinching silver in the 49er FX women’s event and Harshita Tomar claiming bronze in the Open Laser 4.7 .Varun Thakkar and K.C. Ganapathy won bronze with a total of 53 after race 15 in the 49er men’s event.
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