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Current Affairs - 08 January 2018

General Affairs 

Uniform civil code an uphill task, says law panel chief
  • As debate over criminalisation of triple talaq rages, Law Commission chairman Justice BS Chauhan has indicated that drafting of a uniform civil code will not be an easy task and suggested that the best option could be making suitable religion-wise amendments in personal laws to end gender discrimination.

    The Law ministry had in July 2015 asked the Law Commission to examine the feasibility of a uniform civil code and submit a report.

    Emphasising that a personal law cannot be touched "beyond the extent permitted by the Constitution", Chauhan said "We have to be careful that whatever we suggest must be within the parameters of the constitutional laws. Even the Supreme Court has been observing in various cases that if you bring uniform civil code, it will provide for national consolidation and national integration. But the question is we must bring in a law acceptable to the people. Because enforcement of law depends upon its acceptability by the large number of people and the society as a whole."

    The remarks assume importance as it came at a recent function where the law panel chief received drafts of uniform code on marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship and custody and succession submitted by students of 11 law colleges as part of national competition on drafting a model UCC.

    Significantly, the contest was hosted by a minority institution, Mar Gregorios College of Law, Thiruvananthapuram, run by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI).

    "Our whole attempt is we want to bring uniformity keeping the diversity in view. If we cannot being uniformity... if we cannot bring in a composite form of uniform civil code we must try to remove the discrimination. There can be uniformity in plurality. Law may be different according to different religion but we must try our best to bring gender justice and remove discrimination".

    Explaining his point that it was difficult to enforce a law which is not acceptable to the public, Chauhan said the best example was the Child Marriage Restraint Act.

    "We first brought it in 1929. Replaced it with another act in 2016 and we thought child marriage has been prohibited but even today 46% of our children get married before they attain majority. Why is it so? Because people have not accepted this kind of act", he said.

    The term civil code is used to cover the entire body of laws governing rights relating to property, marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance.

    At present there are different laws governing these aspects for different communities in India.

    Laws governing inheritance or divorce among Hindus are different from those pertaining to Muslims of Christians and so on.

    The demand for a uniform civil code essentially means unifying all these personal laws to have one set of secular laws dealing with these aspects that will apply to all citizens of India irrespective of the community they belong to.

    BJP had promised UCC in its poll manifesto ahead of the 2014 general elections. Pointing to the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act, Transfer of Property Act, Chauhan said already a lot of our laws were uniform but the difficulty arose in family laws due to personal laws we had in our religions.

    "When the constitution was being drafted, the difficulty for the UCC arose due to the diversity".

    The law panel chief said the most difficult problem towards unification of personal laws arose in tribal areas and North-East states due to various customs and practices.

    "In one North East community, entire property is inherited by the youngest daughter in the family. After her marriage, her husband settles at her home. He also becomes the husband of the girl's mother. This practice is called Nokuram. The son-in-law steps into the shoe of his father-in-law for all purposes and not only property. Now this cannot be touched under UCC as the unique custom has the protection of the constitution," said Justice Chauhan.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and Yogi Adityanath trade barbs over starvation deaths, farmer suicides
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday advised Yogi Adityanath to visit ration shops and Indira canteens in Karnataka for ideas to tackle starvation deaths in Uttar Pradesh, on the pretext of tweeting a message of welcome.

    Within hours, Adityanath replied with a tweet bursting with allegations. "I heard (the) number of farmers committing suicide in Karnataka was highest in your regime, not to mention the numerous deaths and transfer of honest officers," he wrote. He didn't forget to thank his Congress counterpart for the welcome.

    Today's visit to poll-bound Karnataka isn't a first for the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. He recently attacked Siddaramaiah in Hubballi for supporting beef consumption and staging celebrations for Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary.

    Today, in his tweet, Adityanath told Siddaramaiah that as Uttar Pradesh's leader, he was "working to undo the misery and lawlessness unleashed by your allies."

    I welcome UP CM Shri @myogiadityanath to our state. There is a lot you can learn from us Sir. When you are here please visit a Indira Canteen & a ration shop. It will help you address the starvation deaths sometimes reported from your state. #YogiInBengaluru

    - Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) January 7, 2018
    Thank you for the welcome @siddaramaiah ji. I heard number of farmers committing suicide in Karnataka was highest in your regime, not to mention the numerous deaths and transfer of honest officers. As UP CM I am working to undo the misery and lawlessness unleashed by your allies.

    - Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) January 7, 2018
    Last month, the Congress and the BJP, the parties Siddaramaiah and Adityanath represent, wrapped up a bruising, no holds-barred campaign in Gujarat. After its slender win in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, the saffron party will swap roles with the Congress in the Karnataka election: Here, the lotus is the challenger, the hand of the INC the incumbent.

    The Karnataka is one of the two large states still governed by the Congress, the other one being Amarinder Singh's Punjab.

Amit Shah says Tripura coach not willing to join Modi's development train, blames CM Sarkar
  • In his first visit to the northeast in 2018, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah is leaving no stone unturned to impress upon the people of Tripura how important it is for them to bring the party to power.

    Shah, who is on a three-day tour to the poll-bound northeastern, addressed two rallies in Tripura today and attacked the Manik Sarkar government. The rally ground was enthusiastic crowd, who gave a roaring welcome to the BJP chief.

    Udaipur (Tripura): This huge support reflects the anger against the misrule of Manik government and trust in PM @narendramodi ji's leadership among the people of Tripura. The state is all set to bid farewell to the ‘Red Flag’.

    &; Amit Shah (@AmitShah) January 7, 2018
    "Under Modi ji's governance, the development train is running fast but the Tripura coach is not willing to join. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar does not want development in his state. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had done nothing in terms of development. I can highlight many instances of corruption in the states ruled by the CPI-M," Amit Shah said.

    Addressing the huge gathering, Shah said that BJP had demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the Rose Valley chit fund scam in the north-eastern state.

    "The Left Front government did not order a probe to protect their own interest. They didn't do anything because if they took any action, every counsellor would have been behind the bars," the BJP chief said.

    I would like to tell the Manik govt that BJP will not cower down by violence. The more you spread the mud of violence, the better will the Lotus blossom: BJP President Amit Shah in Agartala

    &; ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2018
    Taking a dig at the Sarkar government on the state's health front, Amit Shah said that even though there are no cases of malaria in the rest of the states, Tripuria still witnesses many such deaths.

    "There is no facility for good healthcare, electricity and drinking water in the villages. There is no state as backward as Tripura," he added.

    Alleging that Tripura has not developed a bit in the last 25 years of the CPI(M) rule, Shah said that the only option they now for them is to have a BJP government.

    More than 7 Lakh people, out of the 37 Lakh population of Tripura, are registered under unemployment list. The health facilities here are inadequate. This is what was done here in 25 years: BJP President Amit Shah in Agartala

    &; ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2018
    "Unless the Left Front government was changed in the north-eastern state, it would be reduced to a backward state," he said.

    Amit Shah is very keen on expanding the party base in the upcoming state elections in Tripura and Meghalaya, Left and Congress bastions respectively. But this comes with the challenge of almost no or little party existence there. 

UP govt to start removing unauthorised loudspeakers at religious, public places from Jan 20
  • After receiving flak from the Allahabad High Court over noise pollution in Uttar Pradesh, the state government today set Jan 15 as the deadline to seek permission to install loudspeakers at public places in the state.

    The government also issued detailed directives on the use of permanently installed loudspeakers at these places.

    The Allahabad High Court last month had asked the UP government whether the loudspeakers or public address systems installed at mosques, temples, churches, gurdwaras etc. were installed after obtaining a written permission from the authorities concerned.

    Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said, "On the directions of the court regarding ensuring implementation of noise pollution control rules, a government order giving detailed instructions has been issued".

    "This practically implies that sound should not go beyond the periphery of the public or private place," Kumar said.

    The 10-page-order requires survey of loudspeakers permanently installed and issuance of show cause notice to those using it without requisite permission.

    If the permission to install loudspeakers at religious or public places is not sought before January 15, the government would start removing it from January 20 to avoid action under noise pollution control laws.

    A format for applying for permission, issuance of permission and action against those who neither apply for permission nor comply with terms and conditions of permission has also been issued.

    It also requires DMs to categorise areas into industrial, commercial, residential and silence zones. Each area has separate maximum limits for permissible sound levels.

    The loudspeakers installed in public places cannot have sound level more than 10 dB above ambient noise level at the periphery of a public place and 5 dB above ambient noise level at the periphery of a private place, Kumar said.

    The Lucknow bench of the high court had on December 20 sought to know as to what action has been taken against such unauthorised installations and also against the officers who failed to ensure mandatory requirement of obtaining written permission in their area.

    It directed the principal secretary (home) and the chairman of UP Pollution Control Board to file their personal affidavits along with the aforesaid information on February 1.

    The division bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Abdul Moin issued the directions on a PIL moved by lawyer Moti Lal Yadav, seeking strict compliance of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules that had been framed in 2000.

    Reiterating that right to live in freedom from noise pollution and right to sleep being a facet of Article 21 of the Constitution, the bench cautioned the officials to appear in person before it, if their personal affidavits were not filed till the next hearing.

Wherever I go, am told Indians are hardworking, law-abiding, says proud Sushma Swaraj
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Sunday that wherever she goes, she's told that Non Resident Indians (NRIs) are hard working, good neighbours, and law-abiding citizens, ANI reported.

    Swaraj, who was speaking at an event in Singapore, said this filled her with "immense pride," the news agency added.

    Sushma Swaraj is in Singapore to inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) of ASEAN countries.

    Her trip to the island city is part of a three-nation visit - a part of New Delhi's efforts to hold bilateral interactions in various sectors with countries of the South East Asian region within the framework of India's Act East policy.

    Wherever I have gone, I have been told a few things about Non Resident Indians - Indians are a good neighbor, Indians are hard working people, Indians are law abiding citizens. This fills me with immense pride: EAM Sushma Swaraj in Singapore

    - ANI (@ANI) January 7, 2018
    Swaraj added that India's increasing dominance and reputation on the world stage could be attributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personality.

    "In whichever country he goes, he makes strong individual friendship in addition to establishing good relations between two countries," ANI quoted her as saying.

    The increasing dominance & reputation of India in the world is because of the personality of Prime Minister Modi. In whichever country he goes, he makes strong individual friendship in addition to establishing good relations between two countries.

Business Affairs

    Sensex hits fresh lifetime high, Nifty scales 10,600 for first time; Sun Pharma, YES Bank, Dr Reddy's top gainers
    • The Sensex and Nifty carried forward their gains from the last trading session and scaled new highs in trade today on the back of higher Asian markets tracking US stocks. The Sensex has gained 1.6% or 540 points since the beginning of this year. The Nifty is up 177 points or 1.7% during the same period.

      While the Sensex hit an all-time high of 34,356, Nifty was trading above 10,600 for the first time ever, rising more than 50 points from Friday's close.

      BSE midcap and small cap indices led the surge rising 156 and 136 points, respectively

      Pharma and banking stocks gained the most among the 19 BSE sectoral indexes rising 292 points and 201 points, respectively.

      Among pharma stocks, SMS Pharmaceuticals (8.23%), Wockhardt Pharma (7.16%) and Kopran 5.59% were the top gainers on BSE healthcare index

      Bank Nifty too rose 136 points to 25,728 level. Of 50 Nifty stocks, 45 were in trading the green.

      On the Sensex, 28 stocks were in green with Bharti Airtel (2.78%) and Asian Paint (0.32%) being the sole losers. Sun Pharma (3.16%), YES Bank (1.61%) and L&T (1.19%) were top gainers on the Sensex.

      Jindal Steel (8.61%), Sobha Developers (8.28%) and Wockhardt Pharma (6.20%) were the top gainers on BSE.

      Market breadth is positive with 1,633 stocks rising against 580 falling on BSE.

      Meanwhile, Tech Mahindra hits a fresh 52-week high of 538.80 on the BSE. The stock was trading 2.43% or 12.75 points higher to 536 level in early trade.

      The rupee opened at 63.33 to the dollar versus its previous close of 63.375.

      Meanwhile, real estate developer Sobha Ltd rose as much as 14.8 per cent to its highest since March 12, 2008 after the company reported a 52 percent rise in sales volume and 92 percent rise in total sales value for December-quarter compared to the same period an year ago.

      The firm logged highest ever quarterly sales performance in terms of value and average realisation in the quarter.

      On Friday, market marked record closing highs, posting their fifth consecutive weekly gain, as financials and metal stocks rose tracking global markets on strong economic data.

      Sensex and Nifty closed at all time high on Friday at 34,153.85 and 10,558.85, respectively.

      Global markets

      Asian shares neared all-time peaks on Monday after Wall Street boasted its best start to a year in over a decade, with brisk economic growth and benign inflation proving a potent cocktail for risk appetite.

      MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.1 percent having climbed 3.1 percent last week, its strongest performance in six months.

      At 587.99 the index is within spitting distance of the record top of 591.50 hit in November 2007.

      Australian stocks gained 0.3 percent to notch another decade summit, while South Korea rose 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei was closed for a holiday but touched its highest since 1992 last week.

      In Europe, markets closed higher with FTSE100 notching record high as investors' monitored Eurozone inflation data and US non-farm payrolls on Friday. Auto stocks led the gains.
      Wall Street has already enjoyed its best start to a year in more than a decade, with the Dow up 2.3 percent last week and the S&P 500 2.6 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led the charge with a rise of 3.4 percent.

    Green shoots already visible from structural reforms, says Arun Jaitley
    • Asserting that India is the only economy to undertake a number of structural reforms, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that these measures can create a "transient hiatus" but "green shoots" are already coming out.

      Jaitley said that even when the world economy had slowed down India continued to grow at a reasonable pace.

      "We are one of the largest economies (and) for three years in a row, the fastest growing economy in the world and we were perhaps the only economy in the world" which had the courage to initiate structural reforms, Jaitley said at the UCO Banks Platinum Jubilee celebration here.

      On a cautious note, he said that structural changes can create a "transient hiatus" in the economy.

      Jaitley was apparently referring to structural changes in form of steps like demonetisation announced on November 8, 2016 and Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout from July 1 last year.

      These measures "can create a temporary challenge. Then as soon as the challenge gets over, the curve starts moving again, it moves for the better and we can see those green shoots already coming," he said.

    Don't privatise Air India, give it 5 years to revive: Parliamentary panel
    • This is not an appropriate time to divest government stake in Air India, which should be given at least five years to revive and its debt written off, a parliamentary panel is likely to tell the government.

      The panel is also understood to have concluded that the equity infusion in the national carrier, as part of the turnaround plan (TAP), was made on a "piece meal basis", adversely affecting its financial and operational performance and "forcing" the airline to take loans "at a higher interest rate to meet the shortfall".

      The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture concluded that the government should review its decision to privatise or disinvest Air India and explore the possibility of "an alternative to disinvestment of our national carrier which is our national pride".

      Observing that Air India has always "risen to the occasion" at times of need like calamities, social or political unrest in India or abroad, the Committee said "it would be lopsided to assess and evaluate the functioning of Air India solely from business point of view, as has been done by the NITI Aayog."

      In its revised draft report on the airline's proposed disinvestment, the panel noted that the TAP and financial restructuring plan (FRP) was for a period of 10 years from 2012 to 2022 and Air India has shown "an overall improvement in various parameters and every indication is that it is coming out of the red".

      "At the end of TAP period, government may evaluate the financial and performance status of Air India and take a decision accordingly," the panel said.

      The parliamentary committee, after hearing the views of all stakeholders, "strongly feels that it will not be appropriate at this stage to disinvest when Air India has started earning profit from its operations."

      It also said that as some of its subsidiaries Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL), Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited (AISATS), Alliance Air and Air India Express were making profits, these units should "not be disinvested."

      Strongly recommending that the airline's debt "should be written off by the government", the revised draft report said, "Air India should be given a chance for at least five years to revive themselves". The tenure of five years indicates the end of the TAP and FRP period in 2022.

      It said the airline's debt was "due to policy directions of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Air India may be permitted to function as a government PSU with less government control."

      The Committee also expressed apprehension that Air India's strategic disinvestment "would result in job loss of many people" and asked the government to "make an assessment" of the job loss before deciding on stake sale.

      "If the disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries is inevitable, the Committee emphatically recommends that the interests of employees should be protected," the revised draft report said.

      It asked the Ministries of Finance and Civil Aviation to "develop a strategic package to protect the rights and interests of officers and staff of Air India and its subsidiaries in respect of their pension, gratuity and VRS and also the wages of contractual workers engaged by government from time to time in case the disinvestment of Air India is inevitable."

      The panel found merit in the views of some of its members that if Air India is withdrawn from the aviation scene, "private airlines would indulge in gouging and that (will not be) in the interest of the consumers."

      Air India has a total debt of about Rs 48,877 crore at the end of March 2017, of which about Rs 17,360 crore were aircraft loans and Rs 31,517 crore were working capital loans.

      The airline is expected to report a net loss of Rs 3,579 crore for 2017-18, as per budget estimates projected for 2017 -18 from a provisional net loss of Rs 3,643 crore for 2016-17.

      The airline is projected to increase its operating profit to Rs 531 crore (BE projected) for 2017-18 from a provisional operating profit of Rs 215 crore for 2016-17, as per latest figures tabled in Parliament.

    1,463 bad loan accounts owe PSU banks more than Rs 100 crore
    • As many as 1,463 entities account for bad loans of Rs 100 crore or more in 21 public sector banks (PSBs), finance ministry data showed.

      In State Bank of India (SBI) alone, 265 accounts had bad loans of more than Rs 100 crore each, totalling Rs 77,538 crore, at the end of the September quarter.

      Among the nationalised banks, Punjab National Bank topped the chart with 143 non-performing asset (NPA) accounts carrying over Rs 100 crore each. They collectively owed the Delhi-headquartered bank Rs 45,973 crore.

      PNB was followed by Canara Bank with maximum number of accounts with NPAs of more than Rs 100 crore.

      Among smaller PSU lenders, Union Bank had 79 such accounts, Oriental Bank 68 and UCO Bank 62, the finance ministry data revealed.

      Gross non-performing assets of state-owned banks stood at Rs 7.34 lakh crore by the end of second quarter this fiscal.

      The RBI has issued directions to certain banks for referring 12 accounts, with fund and non-fund based outstanding amount greater than Rs 5,000 crore and with 60 per cent or more classified as non-performing as of March 31, 2016, to initiate insolvency process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

      Rising NPAs have curtailed the lending capacity of state-owned banks as they have make extra provisions for bad loans.

      In order to strengthen them, the government has come out with a Rs 2.12 lakh crore recapitalisation plan and has already taken nod of Parliament to pump in Rs 80,000 crore through recapitalisation bonds in the current fiscal ending March, 2018.

    Baba Ramdev's Patanjali plans mega online push, to partner with Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm Mall
    • Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali Ayurved is likely to partner with eight leading etailers and aggregators to give a big push to online sales of its swadeshi range of FMCG products, said a company official.

      The Haridwar-based company is expected to enter into agreements this month with major online retailers -- Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm Mall, 1MG, bigbasket, grofers, shopclues and snapdeal -- a step through which its range of products will be available on various online platforms.

      Ads by ZINC

      Patanjali is organising a function on January 16 and representatives of all the online companies are expected to attend it along with Ramdev and its MD Acharya Balkrishna.

      "We are now going into massive way. Now, we would have an organised and systematic agreement with the players to place our all product online, so that it could reach to customers to the end point," Patanjali spokesperson S K Tijarawala told PTI.

      These partnerships with etailers will be in addition to its own portal, where the company is selling its products online. "This would change the scenario of whole FMCG trade through online" he added.

      Some of Patanajali's products are already available on several online platforms through various other sellers but this would allow the Haridwar-based firm to systematically place its range of products.

      "The retailers and aggregators would share the dias...They are coming and make announcement together that they would be working with brand Patanjali," Tijarawala said, adding that through this arrangement Patanjali's product could be served across the globe.

      However, he refused to share further details and arrangements with the online retailers. Recently, Patanjali had forayed into kids and adult diapers and affordable sanitary napkins segments.

      Last month, it had also announced to venturing into solar equipment manufacturing. Besides FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) segment, Patanjali Ayurved is present in other sectors such as education and healthcare.

      In 2016-17, it had crossed a turnover of Rs 10,500 crore and aims a two-fold growth this fiscal.

    General Awareness

    Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. Central Water Commission.
    • Context: Central Water Commission has received Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP) Special Recognition Award 2018 for Excellence in Health & Safety of Large Dams.

      The award has been given in recognition of the contribution made by the Central Water Commission (CWC) for promoting the health and safety of large dams in India through the World Bank aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP).

      About DRIP:

      The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, with assistance from the World Bank, is implementing the DAM REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (DRIP), which would be a six-year project. The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission, assisted by a Consulting firm, is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.

      Goals: The project originally envisaged the rehabilitation and improvement of about 223 dams within four states namely, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu and later Karnataka, Uttarakhand (UNVNL) and Jharkhand (DVC) joined DRIP and total number of dams covered under DRIP increased to 250. The project will also promote new technologies and improve Institutional capacities for dam safety evaluation and implementation at the Central and State levels and in some identified premier academic and research institutes of the country.

      The project development objectives of DRIP are: (i) to improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner, and (ii) to strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level.

      Facts for Prelims:

      About CWC: Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

      Functions: The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development. It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.

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