Current Affairs

 Delhi High Court has declared 25 sections of Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 which have been extended to Delhi, as “unconstitutional”. With this, it has struck down legal provision criminalising begging in national capital. The court’s order came on PILs which had sought decriminalisation of begging in capital and beggar by challenging provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act. The PILs had argued that poverty can never be crime and if a person is destitute and begs for living, such person cannot be treated as criminal.
  • Delhi High Court Ruling
The court observed that people beg on streets not because they wish to, but because they need to. Begging is their last resort to subsistence as they have no other means to survive. It also held that begging is symptom of disease, of fact that person has fallen through socially created net. Government has mandate to provide social security for everyone, to ensure that all citizens have basic facilities and presence of beggars is evidence that state has not managed to provide these to all its citizens. Criminalising begging violates most fundamental rights of some of most vulnerable people in our society. People in this stratum do not have access to basic necessities such as food, shelter and health, and in addition, criminalising them denies them the basic fundamental right to communicate and seek to deal with their plight. State can bring in alternative legislation to curb rackets of forced begging, after undertaking an empirical examination on the sociological and economic aspects of the matter.
  • Background
The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act prescribes penalty of more than 3 years of jail in case of first conviction for begging and person can be ordered to be detained for 10 years in subsequent conviction. At present, there is no central law on begging and destitution but most states have adopted Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959.  This law functions as derivative figure for all state anti-begging laws. 20 States and two Union Territories have either enacted their own legislations or adopted legislations enacted by other State.

 Government has informed Lok Sabha that Non-Resident Indians (NRI) cannot file Right to Information (RTI) applications to seek governance-related information from Central government departments. It mentioned that only citizens of India have the right to seek information under the provisions of RTI Act, 2005 and NRIs  are not eligible to file RTI applications.
  • Right to Information Act 2005
This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005. It mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information by various public authorities under Central Government as well as the State Governments. The law imposes penalty for wilful default by government officials. Citizens can ask for anything that government can disclose to Parliament. Objectives of RTI are to empower citizens (as right to information is fundamental right of the citizens under Article 19), promote transparency and accountability in working of Government, check corruption and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. Public authorities defined under this law are required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days of the request. The law also mandates every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and proactively certain categories of information so that citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.
Note: Information that can prejudicially impact internal security, relations with foreign countries, intellectual property rights, breach of parliamentary privilege and impedes investigations cannot be shared with public under RTI. Cabinet papers are exempted from RTI until decision has been implemented. However, discussions within Cabinet are never disclosed under RTI.

 Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched Niryat Mitra mobile application for exporters and importers of the country. The app developed by Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the largest exporters organisation of the country. It is available both on Android and on IOS platforms.
  • Niryat Mitra app
The app provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures. It provides all the information at tariff line. The app works internally to map Indian Trade Clarification (ITC) Harmonized Item Description and Coding System (HS) code of other countries with that of India. It also provides all the required data without users bothering about HS code of any country. Presently, app has data of 87 countries. It also provides notifications of export promotion programmes organised by FIEO to provide opportunity to industry to participate in them.
  • Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO)
It is apex and largest trade promotion organisation in India. It was jointly established in 1965 by Ministry of Commerce and private trade and industry. It is responsible for representing and assisting Indian entrepreneurs and exporters in foreign markets. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

 All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), a premier institute of Ayurveda under the AYUSH Ministry has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IIT Delhi to boost research in traditional medicine and streamline hospital care facilities in the country.The MoU was signed at two-day conference of heads of AYUSH National Institutes organised by All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) aimed at upgrading the national institutes of traditional medicine at par with the IITs and IIMs. Under it, the faculties of IIT Delhi and AIIA will work together in projects to look at ways to integrate technology with Ayurveda. Under this partnership, projects developed will be given scientific validation to ancient medical science and integrate it with technology.
  • All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA)
AIIA is apex institute for Ayurveda in the country under Ministry of AYUSH. It is located in New Delhi. It aims at bringing synergy between traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern tools and technology. It offers postgraduate and doctoral courses in various disciplines of Ayurveda and focuses on fundamental research of Ayurveda, drug development, quality control, standardization, safety evaluation and scientific validation of Ayurvedic medicine. It also has 200 bed referral hospital for facilitating clinical research.

 The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (in Sikkim) has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from Indiathat has been included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). The decision to include Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in WNBR was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia. India has 18 Biosphere Reserves and with the inclusion of Khangchendzonga, the number of internationally designated WNBR has become 11, with 7 Biosphere Reserves being domestic Biosphere Reserves.
Source- Press Information Bureau (PIB)

 Ivan Duque was sworn in as the newly elected President of Colombia. He pledged to unite the country and improve economic growth.  He pledged changes to tackle corruption and invigorate the economy and vowed to change the peace deal with the FARC rebel group. 
Source- DD News

 Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs & National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH have signed an MoU together. The MoU aims to promote Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) forest produced for livelihood development of tribal people by promoting primary level value addition to MAPs produce from forest area at the grassroots level.
Source- Press Information Bureau (PIB)

 The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the following set of approvals. The important Cabinet Approvals are given as follows-
The Cabinet has approved- 
  • Approved the extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes in the Central List till November 2018. 
  • MoU between India and Indonesia on Health cooperation. 
  • Creation of two posts equivalent to Joint Secretary level in the Interpreters' cadre of the Ministry of External Affairs. 
  • MoU between "Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)" and "Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). 
  • MoU between India and Korea on Trade Remedy Cooperation. 
  • Joint issue of postage stamp between India and South Africa. 
  • MoU between India and Indonesia on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
  • raising of four additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to strengthen the India's disaster response set up at an estimated cost of Rs 637 crore. 
  • Source- Press Information Bureau (PIB)

     NDA candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh was elected the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman with 125 votes. The Opposition candidate BK Hariprasad managed to get 105 votes. Mr Singh is an MP from the Janata Dal (United) and a Parliamentarian from Bihar and a former journalist. 
    Source- The Times of India

     The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will transfer Rs50,000 crore of its surplus money to the government, the highest since 2015-16, in a partial relief for the latter struggling to replenish public sector banks. The transfer gives the government more elbow room to infuse capital into the banks it owns. In October 2017, the government had said it would infuse Rs2.11 trillion into public sector banks through a mix of recapitalization bonds (Rs1.35 trillion), direct infusion from budgetary allocations (Rs18,000 crore) and market borrowing (Rs58,000 crore). 
    Source- The Livemint

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