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Current Affairs - 04 September 2018


Draft charter of Patients’ Rights released
  • If the draft Charter of Patients’ Rights released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare comes into force, patients will not just have the right to emergency medical care and informed consent, but will also have the right to non-discrimination, seek a second opinion and choose alternative treatment options, if available.
  • The draft, prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has been put up on the Health Ministry’s website on August 30 for comments and suggestions. 
  • The draft charter that includes 17 rights with description, draws upon all relevant provisions, inspired by international charters and guided by national level provisions, with the objective of consolidating these into a single document. 
Court questions press meet by police on activists’ arrests
  • The Bombay High Court was surprised to learn that the Maharashtra police had conducted a press conference on the arrest of five human rights activists accused of being a part of the Elgar Parishad and instigating the subsequent clashes at Bhima-Koregaon in December last year.
  • A division bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and Mridula Bhatkar raised questions about Maharashtra Additional Director General (Law and Order) Param Bir Singh reading out documents and letters, which could be used as evidence, at the August 31 press conference.
  • “How can the police do this? The matter is sub judice. The Supreme Court is seized of the matter. In such cases, revealing information pertaining to the case is wrong,” the Bench said.
  • The court was hearing a petition filed by one Satish Gaikwad, seeking the transfer of the Bhima-Koregaon case from the Pune police to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Panel urges plan to save springs
  • A NITI Aayog constituted group of experts has urged the government to set up a dedicated mission to salvage and revive spring water systems in the country’s Himalayan States, given their vital importance as a source of water for both drinking and irrigation for the region’s inhabitants.
  • Spanning States across the country’s north and northeast and home to about 50 million people, the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) has been heavily reliant on these natural groundwater sources, that are under increasing threat from the urbanisation caused by a constant push for development and climate change.
  • “Almost half of the perennial springs have already dried up or have become seasonal and tens of thousands of villages are currently facing acute water shortage for drinking and other domestic purposes,” the group noted in its report titled ‘Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security.’
  • “Almost 60% of low-discharge springs that provided water to small habitations in the Himalayan region have reported clear decline during the last couple of decades,” the report noted.
  • The extent of the crisis plaguing the mountainous region was recently evident when more than half a dozen districts of Himachal Pradesh and the State capital Shimla faced a severe drinking water crisis this May after major water sources either went fully or partially dry. 
  • While Meghalaya with 3,810 villages with springs had the highest number of these water sources in the Eastern Himalayan States, Sikkim had the greatest density with 94% of its villages having a spring. In the Western Himalayas, Jammu & Kashmir had both the highest number of villages with springs at 3,313 and the greatest density of 50.6%.
  • The task force moots an 8-year programme to overhaul spring water management. This includes: preparing a digital atlas of the country’s springsheds, training ‘para-hydrogeologists’ who could lead grassroots conservation and introducing a ‘Spring Health Card.’
Talks on for logistics deal with Russia

    • India and Russia are in the process of concluding a logistics agreement, with both sides targeting to conclude consultations before the annual summit in October between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    • The proposed agreement follows a series of such agreements India has signed since the first logistics agreement with the U.S.
    • “A draft logistics agreement has come from Russia. At the end of July, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had sent it to the Integrated Defence Staff and the three services for their comments,” an official source with knowledge of the matter said.
    • The Army and Navy have since sent back their observations on the draft. Another official said the agreement with Russia will be on the lines of those signed with the U.S. and France.
    • India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA), with the U.S. in August 2016 after a decade of negotiations.
    • Since then it has concluded several such agreements with France, Oman, Philippines, Singapore and for access to the Sabang port in Indonesia.
    • Australia too has sent a draft agreement.
    • Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.
    • Officials underscored the fact that India and Russia have had deep rooted military cooperation for several decades.
    India, Cyprus vow to curb money laundering
    • India and Cyprus on Monday signed two agreements on combating money laundering and cooperation in the field of environment as President Ram Nath Kovind met his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades and held wide-ranging talks here.
    • Mr. Kovind is in Cyprus on the first leg of his three-nation visit to Europe to continue India’s high-level engagements with European countries.
    • Mr. Kovind and Mr. Anastasiades exchanged views on economic cooperation.
    • “We welcomed the signing of the MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit, India, and Unit for Combating Money Laundering of Cyprus. This agreement would further strengthen the institutional framework to facilitate investment cross-flows. We also emphasised that the revision in the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement made in 2016 provided greater opportunities for our investment partnership to grow,” Mr. Kovind said.
    • Mr. Kovind and Mr. Anastasiades held discussions on issues of mutual interest, including promotion of business collaboration in teh fields of IT, tourism, and renewable energy, Mr. Kumar said.
    PSU refiners to use Iranian tankers for oil imports
    • India will allow public sector refiners to import Iranian oil with Tehran arranging tankers and insurance after firms, including the country’s top shipper Shipping Corp of India (SCI), halted voyages due to U.S. sanctions, sources said.
    • New Delhi’s attempt to keep Iranian oil flowing mirrors a step by China, where buyers are shifting nearly all their Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC).
    • The moves by the two top buyers of Iranian crude indicate that the Islamic Republic may not be fully cut off from global oil markets from November, when U.S. sanctions against Tehran’s petroleum sector are due to kick in. U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the re-imposition of economic curbs after withdrawing the U.S. from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. No one trading with Iran will do business with America, he said.
    • New Delhi turned to the NITC fleet after most insurers and re-insurers had begun winding down services for Iran, wanting to avoid falling foul of the sanctions given their large exposure to the United States.
    • SCI had a contract until August to import Iranian oil for Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), two sources familiar with the matter said.
    • The move would benefit Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and MRPL, which plan to lift Iranian cargoes during the rest of the fiscal year. 
    • India wants to continue buying oil from Iran as Tehran is offering almost free shipping and an extended credit period.
    Replace ‘Dalit’ with SC: I&B Ministry tells media
    • The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued an advisory to all media outlets not to use the word “Dalit” to refer to people belonging to the Scheduled Castes.
    • The advisory is based on an order of the Bombay High Court on June 6, based on a petition filed by Pankaj Meshram. “It is advised that the media may refrain from using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’,” the guideline said.
    • In a circular on March 15 this year, the Ministry of Social Justice had issued a similar advisory to all State governments that all official communications should use the constitutional term Scheduled Caste instead of the word “Dalit”.


    Xi offers $60 bn aid to Africa
    • China has pledged a $60 billion fund to bolster industry, counter hunger, and enhance security in Africa, a continent that has been chronically plagued by piracy and terrorism.
    • In his inaugural address at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Xi Jinping was authoritative in messaging that Beijing had become the locomotive of Africa’s all-round progress.
    • He listed eight focal areas of funding that would premise the emergence of the “China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era”.
    • Ahead of the presidential address, Chinese officials had cited a 2017 study by McKinsey, a U.S. consulting firm, which had spotlighted that China has become Africa’s most important and unrivalled economic partner.
    • Among the eight verticals flagged , President Xi highlighted China’s intent to set up additional economic and trade cooperation zones to promote industrialisation in Africa. Local currency settlements, instead of hard currency usage such as the U.S. dollar, would be encouraged to settle transactions.
    • For financing, China will nudge African countries to tap new multilateral lenders such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the New Development Bank (NDB) of the emerging economies, as well as the Silk Road Fund marshalled by China.
    • The Chinese have taken umbrage against allegations of involvement in “debt trap” diplomacy by saddling smaller countries with unplayable loans and using them as levers for political gain. President Xi stressed that out of the $60 billion that were on offer, $15 billion would be disbursed as aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans. A $20 billion credit line would be established, while another $10 billion would be channelled into a special fund for China-Africa development. A $5 billion special fund will also be set up only for African imports.
    • China would also support Africa to achieve “general food security by 2030,”.
    • hina, he said, would set up a peace and security fund in partnership with Africa. Apart from military aid to the African Union, Beijing will support countries in the Sahel region and others bordering the piracy-ridden Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Guinea. China has already established a naval base in Djibouti on the edge of the strategic Gulf of Aden, which links the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.
    • Mr. Xi said 50 China-Africa security assistance programmes will be launched under the flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 
    • A China-Africa environmental cooperation centre will be set up where research on environmental issues will be conducted. 

      No construction sans solid waste management policy’
      • The Supreme Court said it was “pathetic” that some States and Union Territories had not bothered to frame a solid waste management policy.
      • The court ordered that further construction activities be stopped in some States and Union Territories that remained unmindful of the interests of their people to live in a clean environment.
      • A Bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur imposed fines on some States and the Union Territory of Chandigarh for not placing on record their respective policies under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
      • While Andhra Pradesh was ordered to pay ₹5 lakh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh were imposed costs of ₹3 lakh each.
      • The amount would have to be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within two weeks and would be used for juvenile justice issues.
      • The court scheduled the case for further hearing on October 9. It is hearing the case suo motu since the death of a seven-year-old boy due to dengue in Delhi in 2015.
      • Justice Lokur had condemned the attitude of the authorities at one point, saying “if they want the people to live in dirt, filth and garbage, what can be done then.”
      Reserve Bank tightens ombudsman scheme
      • The Reserve Bank of India has tightened the banking ombudsman scheme with the objective to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism for customers.
      • The banking regulator has asked all commercial banks having 10 or more banking outlets to have an independent internal ombudsman (IO) to review customer complaints that are either partly or fully rejected by the banks.
      • The instructions are not applicable for Regional Rural Banks sponsored by commercial banks.
      • According to bankers, the Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018 mandates banks to grant a fixed term of three to five years, which cannot be renewed, to the IO. The IO can be removed only with prior approval from RBI. The remuneration would have to be decided by the customer sub-committee of the board.


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