. Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Colombian President
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end his country’s 50-year civil war.
Mr Santos negotiated a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrilla group but the peace deal was rejected by a narrow majority of Colombians when it was put to referendum.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army is a guerrilla movement Involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict since 1964.
. SC blocks BCCI funds to State units
The Supreme Court snapped financial resources of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s 25 State cricket associations, barring them from using BCCI funds till they accept the Justice Lodha Committee’s reforms in “letter and spirit.”
The Supreme Court had, earlier, threatened to pass an order within 24 hours to stop all BCCI payments to State cricket associations for hosting domestic matches, including Ranji Trophy.
- It had warnedthat there will be no domestic cricket matches if the BCCI and its members do not fall in line with the Lodha committee reforms, The apex court indicated its intention to direct the reimbursement of Rs. 400 crore disbursed by the BCCI to State cricket associations on September 30 in a Special General Meeting (SGM).
Chief Justice Thakur directed that the pending Rs. 16.73 crore and any future funds would be released only after the State associations passed resolutions undertaking to comply with the reforms. This has to be followed by filing affidavits declaring their compliance before both the Lodha panel and the Supreme Court.
- As for the remaining 13 State associations, which have already received Rs. 16.73 crore, they can only use the money after passing resolutions to implement the Lodha Committee reforms.
- In case the State associations continue to resist the Lodha reforms, their shares would be invested in fixed deposit accounts until they change their minds.
Lodha Panel’s important recommendations
- One state, one cricket body: One association of each state will be a full member and have right to vote. One unit should represent one state.
- CEO-run organisation: Committee also suggested the restructuring of the BCCI’s administrative set-up, proposing the position of a CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council. An apex council for the BCCI comprising 9 members, of which 5 should be elected, 2 should be representatives of players association, and one woman. CEO to be assisted by 6 professional managers and the team of CEO and managers will be accountable to the apex council.
- Under RTI: To ensure transparency in its functioning, the panel has said that it is important to bring the body under the purview of the Right to Information Act.
- Ethics officer: The committee recommended the institution of the office of an Ethics Officer, who would be responsible for resolving issues related to the conflict of interest. Ethics officer would be a former High Court judge.
- Electoral officer: The committee has also suggested the appointment of an Electoral Officer to conduct the Board elections. The electoral officer would oversee the entire election process relating to the office-bearers namely, preparation of voters list, publication, dispute about eligibility of the office-bearers
- Ombudsman: The panel has also proposed an Ombudsman for dealing with internal conflicts. Ombudsman can take cognisance of complaints suo moto, or received complaint or referred complaint by the apex council.
- Legalize betting: Among the most sensational recommendation by Lodha panel was the suggestion to legalize betting. The panel felt that the move would help curb corruption in the game and recommended that except for players and officials, people should be allowed to place bets on registered sites.
- Monitoring of grants: The Panel also suggested that the grants given to state associations be properly monitored.
- It has also suggested that a person cannot be a BCCI office-bearer and a state association office-bearer at the same time.
. SC stays commercial release of GM mustard
The Supreme Court has stayed the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop for 10 days and asked the Centre to take public opinion on such seeds before releasing them for cultivation, even as the government approval is awaited.
Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November
Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November.
- The court is hearing a plea filed seeking a stay on the commercial release of GM Mustard crop and prohibition of its open field trials.
- The plea sought to prohibit open field trials and commercial release of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crops, including HT Mustard DMH 11 and its parent variants.
GM crops in India:
The GM mustard in question—DMH-11—has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants of Delhi University. If it gets the green light from the environment ministry’s GEAC, it will be the first GM food crop to be commercially cultivated in India. Right now, only GM cotton is allowed. GEAC is the environment ministry’s regulator for GMOs and transgenic products.
. Polygamy no longer progressive, SC told
The centre has informed the Supreme Court that it is opposed to the Muslim practice of triple talaq. It has also described this practice as “misplaced in a secular country.”
The constitution allows Muslims, the biggest religious minority group in the country, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code. The Supreme Court has been examining how much it can interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it hears a plea to end the practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times.
The court had asked the government to weigh in on the debate as to whether intervening in the law would violate the Muslim community’s fundamental rights.
What has the centre said?
The centre says “gender equality and the dignity of women are not negotiable” and told judges that “even theocratic states have undergone reforms in this area of law” which reinforces that these practices cannot be considered an integral part of practice of Islam.
According to the top decision-making body for Muslims in India, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the court cannot interfere in the religious freedom of minorities and “rewrite personal laws in the name of social reform”.
Situation at global level
The government listed names of “theocratic States”, which Pakistan at the top, followed by Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran, who have “regulated” their divorce law and polygamy in order to show that these are not “essential religious practices” that are beyond reform.
Activists want a well-defined law
Women’s rights activists have long called for reform of the Muslim personal law which they say discriminates against women. What they want instead is a well-defined law that criminalises polygamy, unilateral divorce and child marriage.
Campaigners say the “triple talaq” practice is unconstitutional because it violates the right to equality.
. Chittoor’s euthanasia seekers
Article deals in detail the problem of Euthanasia ailing the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
In this Andhra Pradesh District, Parents unable to cough up the money needed for treatment are moving petitions seeking euthanasia for their ailing children.
What is Euthanasia?
It refers to the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. It is also known as ‘Mercy Killing’.
Types of Euthanasia
Voluntary, Non-Voluntary and Involuntary Euthanasia
- Voluntary euthanasia: Euthanasia conducted with the consent of the patient is termed voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Jurisdictions, where euthanasia is legal, include the Netherlands, Colombia, Belgium and Luxembourg.
- Non-Voluntary euthanasia: Euthanasia conducted where the consent of the patient is unavailable is termed non-voluntary euthanasia. Non-voluntary euthanasia is illegal in all countries. Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal worldwide but decriminalized under certain specific circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.
- Involuntary euthanasia: Euthanasia conducted against the will of the patient is termed involuntary euthanasia. Involuntary euthanasia is usually considered murder.
Passive vs Active euthanasia
Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia can all be further divided into passive or active variants.
- Passive euthanasia entails the withholding of common treatments, such as antibiotics, necessary for the continuance of life.
Legal in India: Passive euthanasia is legal in India. On 7 March 2011, the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state. The decision was made as part of the verdict in a case involving ArunaShanbaug, who had been in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) for 42 years until her death in 2015.
- Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces, such as administering a lethal injection, to kill and is the most controversial means.
The shrinking health cover
Dismal health spending: A World Bank study in 2012 found that health spending was one of the important causes of poverty in India: “The country’s public financing for health care is less than one percent of the world’s total health expenditure, although it is home to over 16 per cent of the world’s population.
- Families meet almost 70 per cent of their health expenses out of their own pockets, placing considerable financial burden on poor households, often pushing them deeper into poverty.”
Pushed into death petitions
“Petitions seeking mercy killing form only the tip of the iceberg.
- Deaths due to poverty: Patients suffering from serious diseases are committing suicide simply because they are unable to bear medical expenditure
. Pension funds may fuel start-ups
Centre is considering policy measures to enable pension funds, insurance firms to invest in start-ups
To boost start-ups, the government will consider a slew of policies that could, among other things, enable pension funds as well as insurance firms such as LIC to invest in start-ups
Steps already taken
- The government had already set up a Rs.10,000 crore Fund Of Funds, which would in four years help mobilise private investments worth around Rs.50,000 crore for investments into start-ups.
- Centre had been trying to sensitise States on the need for supporting start-ups and incubators through their respective policies
It is the responsibility of start-ups to proactively inform lawmakers and government officials regarding the need for reforms in laws to ensure that they were in sync with the latest developments in the start-up sector.
- The Commerce and Industry Ministry had asked all the other ministries to annually make public their overall goods and services requirements and procure from start-ups as well
. ‘Regulatory norms need Parliamentary control’
Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairman U.K. Sinha has called for greater parliamentary oversight over the norms set by regulators
- “Regulators are removed from government, but are created by Parliament,
- “They have quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers that affect everybody ranging from the individual to the biggest corporation. Regulators have emerged as ‘mini states’.”
- While the operational autonomy of the regulators is very important, the “Parliamentary scrutiny of legislation by regulators needs to be more severe.”
- Sinha recommended that Parliamentary Committees be empowered with the required number of domain experts to aid them in their decision-making.
. Forex reserves touch record high of $372 billion
India’s foreign exchange reserves scaled a new high of $371.99 billion, up $1.223 billion for the week to September 30, as per the Reserve Bank data.
Reason for the increase
The increase was on account of a $1.468-billion surge in the foreign currency assets.
- In the previous week, the reserves had risen by $1.166 billion to $370.766 billion.
- Previously, they had touched a high of $371.279 billion in the week to September 9.
- Foreign currency assets which are a major component of the overall reserves surged by $1.468 billion to $346.71 billion
What is a forex reserve?
Foreign exchange reserves consist of any foreign currency held by a centralized monetary authority, like the RBI.
- Foreign exchange reserves include foreign banknotes, bank deposits, bonds, treasury bills and other government securities. The term can also encompass gold reserves or IMF funds.
- Currently, China holds the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, with more than 3.5 trillion of assets held in foreign currencies (mostly the dollar).