India, Pak. commit to Kartarpur corridor
- India and Pakistan exchanged letters committing to build the required infrastructure for visa-free direct travel by Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, allowing them to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.
- The move was described by a Pakistani Minister as the “victory of peace lobbies” in both countries.
- Officials of both countries will meet soon to discuss the logistics of the corridor and the point of border-crossing where the roads, which pilgrims will take on the Indian side from Dera Guru Nanak Dev in Gurdaspur district, will lead directly to the border and from the Pakistani side of the border directly to the Kartarpur Darbar Sahib Gurdwara.
Where waste is recycled into art
Bhubaneswar’s Open Air Museum of Waste-to-Art has 28 stunning sculptures
Waste disposal is a huge challenge for every Indian city, but Bhubaneswar has found a special use for some of its metal waste — it has transformed them into works of art. The Bhubaneswar Open Air Museum of Waste-to-Art, coming up in the Kalinga Nagar township, has 28 impressive sculptures created from metal scrap.
Finally, BBMP is gearing up to undertake tree census
- With trees either being felled to make way for development works or falling following spells of heavy rain, environmentalists and eco-warriors had, for long, been demanding that the BBMP conduct a tree census. After all, without a count of trees, it becomes difficult to tell which ones are being surreptitiously cut.
- The details of the tree census will be put in the public domain. The census will help the BBMP identify not just the different species, but also areas that need greening. Many trees have matured, need to be pruned or are diseased. Such trees often fall, causing damage to life and property. By identifying such trees, we can fell them and take up afforestation wherever required.
- Project Vruksha had earlier successfully mapped over 8,000 trees in three wards – Pattabhiramanagar, Jayanagar East and Byrasandra
City has a Tree Authority
- But, not many know about its existence or that it has been holding meetings
- For several years now, there has been a demand for the constitution of a Tree Authority, as proposed under the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976. The Tree Authority, however, was constituted only after directions from the Karnataka High Court, which was hearing a PIL in this regard.
- The court had also directed the BBMP to conduct a tree census. However, not many know that the Tree Authority exists or that it has been holding meetings. Recently, the authority met to discuss the tree census.
- Gokul Raju, Chief Conservator of Forests, who is the chairperson of the Tree Authority.
- The constitution of the Tree Authority was a long-pending demand. The functions of the authoritywere clearly laid out in the Act.
- The Tree Authority should guide a strategy for planting saplings, the kinds of species to be planted, where compensatory planting should be taken up and if any changes can be made to development plans to save the city's green cover.
Biometric attendance system to be installed in all govt. colleges
- In an attempt to clamp down on students playing truant from class, and reduce teacher absenteeism, the Higher Education Department has decided to instal biometric attendance system in all government colleges in the State by the end of this academic year.
- Once the biometric system is installed, the Department of Collegiate Education will get the attendance of all students at the end of the day.
- At the end of each month, parents will receive an SMS of the attendance that their child has in each subject. If it is found that the student does not have the mandatory 75% attendance, the system will not generate admission ticket.
North Sentinel Island
- An American national who tried to enter the North Sentinel Island in the Andaman was killed due to “misplaced adventure” in the highly-restricted area.
- This was his fifth visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and he had come on a tourist visa. He was killed with bows and arrows.
Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA)
- Civil-military relations in the Defence Ministry are strained once again, this time over the issue of junior officers staying in hotels and not Army guest rooms when on temporary official travel.
- Expressing concern at the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) asking for a Non-Availability Certificate (NAC) and rejecting refund claims by junior officers, the Army’s Southern Command shot off a letter to the Director-General Land Works and Environment in the Army Headquarters seeking clarification.
SC slams primeval conditions in jails & observation homes
- The Supreme Court asked the government on whether it viewed undertrial prisoners and children who suffered primeval conditions in jails and observation homes as “human beings.”
- Undertrial prisoners accounted for 62% of India’s prison population, against the world average of 18-20%. The statistic raised questions about the humaneness of our system.
Not consulted on changes in RTI Act: CIC
- Commission discussed them internally but chose not to take a stand, says Radha Krishna Mathur
- The Centre did not take the Central Information Commission into confidence on its proposed amendments to the Right To Information Act (RTI.
- The government had planned to introduce the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha in July this year. But the Bill was not tabled following protests from civil society and the Opposition. The Bill proposes to give the Centre the power to decide the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioners. Critics have warned that the amendments undermine the independence and authority of the Commission.
Move to regulate allied healthcare professionals
- The Union Cabinet has approved the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 for regulation and standardisation of education and services provided by professionals in the healthcare sector.
- The Bill aims to bring in high quality, multi-disciplinary care in line with the vision of Ayushmaan Bharat, moving away from a ‘doctor-led’ model to a ‘care accessible and team-based’ mode.
- State-level councils
- The Bill covers 15 major professional categories, including 53 professions in allied and healthcare streams.
- It also provides for setting up of an Allied and Healthcare Council of India and corresponding State Allied and Healthcare Councils which will play the role of a standard-setter and facilitator for professions of Allied and Healthcare.
- The Bill provides for structure, constitution, composition and functions of the Central Council and State Councils like framing policies and standards, regulation of professional conduct, creation and maintenance of live registers, provisions for common entry and exit examinations among others.
- The Central Council will comprise 47 members.
- The British government’s Brexit process reached another milestone as the European Commission said that the U.K. and the EU had agreed at a negotiator level and in principle the draft political declaration on the future relationship between the two sides.
- While observers continue to pick apart the statement — which has been leaked to U.K. media — to assess whether the government’s ambitions set out by the U.K. have been enmeshed in it, the development marks a symbolic victory for Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of a summit on Sunday. In the summit, EU leaders are set to finalise details of both the exit process and outline of future relations.
Falling crude puts OMC pricing under scanner
- There is a large gap in the extent of fall between oil and petrol prices; pricing mechanism of OMCs is opaque and complex
- While oil marketing companies (OMCs) deny that they are doing so, , analysts argue that the pricing mechanism is so opaque and complex that there would be no way to tell even if they were recovering it.
- The government had, in early October, said it would cut the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs.1.5 per litre each, and that oil marketing companies would administer a further Rs1 per litre cut in the price.
- Since October 1, the Indian basket of crude oil has seen prices fall almost 24% as of November 21, whereas the price of petrol has fallen only 8.8% during that period. While this disparity in price levels can be explained to some point by the manner in which petrol prices are set in India, analysts say that this does not explain the large and growing gap between oil and petrol prices.
- These various components in pricing add to the opacity behind how the final retail price is determined. For example, if the global price is $65 per barrel, then there are transportation costs, cross-subsidy losses, handling losses, export parity price, dealercommission, and then taxes added to this.
- In dissolving the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly without giving any claimant an opportunity to form the government, Governor Satya Pal Malik has violated constitutional law and convention. Mr. Malik’s stated reasons for his action — “extensive horse trading” and the possibility that a government formed by parties with “opposing political ideologies” would not be stable — are extraneous.
- The Governor ought to have known that the Supreme Court has deprecated such a line of reasoning. In Rameshwar Prasad (2006), the then Bihar Governor Buta Singh’s recommendation for dissolving the Assembly the previous year was held to be illegal and mala fide. In both instances, the dissolution came just as parties opposed to the ruling dispensation at the Centre were close to staking a claim to form the government.
- In Bihar, the Assembly was then in suspended animation as no party or combination had the requisite majority; in J&K, the State has been under Governor’s rule since June, when the BJP withdrew from the coalition and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, of the Peoples Democratic Party, resigned.
- As indicated in Rameshwar Prasad, a Governor cannot shut out post-poll alliances altogether as one of the ways in which a popular government may be formed.
- The court had also said unsubstantiated claims of horse-trading or corruption in efforts at government formation cannot be cited as reasons to dissolve the Assembly. Further, it said it was the Governor’s duty to explore the possibility of forming a popular government, and that he could not dissolve the House solely to prevent a combination from staking its claim.
- Malik’s remarks that the PDP and the NC did not show proof of majority or parade MLAs show shocking disregard for the primacy accorded to a floor test.
- The INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear ballistic missile submarine that completed its sea patrol, will contribute significantly to making India’s deterrence capability more robust.
- Submarine-based nuclear capability is the most survivable leg of a nuclear triad, and its benefit must be seen especially in the light of the growing naval capabilities of India’s potential adversaries.
- it had the 750 km range K-15 missiles on board, which is insufficient to reach key targets in, say, China or Pakistan unless it gets close to their waters, which would then make the Indian SSBN a target. While the K-4 missile (3,500 km range) currently under development would give the country’s sea deterrent the necessary range vis-à-vis its adversaries, INS Arihant would not be able to carry them on board.
- the naval leg of the nuclear triad also poses significant command and control challenges. As a matter of fact, communicating with SSBNs without being intercepted by the adversaries’ tracking systems while the submarines navigate deep and far-flung waters is among the most difficult challenges in maintaining an SSBN fleet.