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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – 17 February 2017



Front Page / NATIONAL

[1]. Talaq case may go to Constitution Bench

[2]. Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC

[3]. India, Afghanistan take a hard line on Taliban at Moscow conference

[4]. Potent malaria vaccine on the anvil

Editorial/OPINION

[1]. The bumps ahead

ECONOMY

[1]. ‘Low solar tariff viability depends on cost of debt’

Indian Express

[1]. Costs of denial: The State of Global Air report is another warning

Live Mint

[1]. A fiscal-consolidation budget that falls short on reforms


Click here to Download 9 PM Daily Brief PDF (17th Feb. 2017)

Front Page / NATIONAL


[1]. Talaq case may go to Constitution Bench

Talaq case may go to Constitution Bench


The Hindu

Context

The Centre’s question as to “whether personal law is ‘law’ under Article 13” is significant

What has happened?

Indicating that a Constitution Bench may hear the question whether triple talaq and polygamy violate the fundamental rights of Muslim women, the Supreme Court has said it had to examine if these personal law practices were the “fundamental traits” of the minority religion

Centre’s question: Whether personal law comes under the ambit of Article 13

The Centre asked the Supreme Court to determine whether personal laws can be brought under the ambit of Article 13 (laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights) of the Constitution

All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)’s stance

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board had submitted that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to strike down any provisions of personal law, but organisations and Muslim women from various walks of life across the country urged the court to strike down triple talaq and polygamy as “un-Islamic.”

Significance

This is the first time that aggrieved persons — individual Muslim women — themselves have approached the Supreme Court in person to settle the law on whether religious law is immune from constitutional standards enshrined in the fundamental rights

What happens if petition succeeds in the SC?

If the Supreme Court agrees that personal laws are included in the definition of laws under Article 13, the door will be opened wide for an aggrieved person to challenge in court a particular personal law of a religion as violative of the fundamental rights. In case the challenge succeeds in court, the personal law, to the extent of its inconsistency, shall become void

Conflicting decisions of the court

The courts have made conflicting observations about the immunity enjoyed by personal laws

  • The Bombay High Court in State of Bombay versus NarasuAppa Mali had held that personal law is not ‘law’ under Article 13.
  • The court had observed that reformation of personal laws is best left to the legislature as “chosen representatives of the people” and not the judiciary. It said the phrase ‘customs and usages’ in Article 13 does not include personal laws of various religions. It held that Article 44 acquiesced the existence of varied personal laws. This 1951 judgment was never challenged in the Supreme Court.
  • In Ahmedabad Women Action Group versus Union of India , the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether unilateral divorce by triple talaq and polygamy were violative of Articles 14 and 15. The court rejected the claim, saying it was for the legislature to determine.

 

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[2]. Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC

Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC


The Hindu

Context

‘Order to Internet giants is to make search engines responsive to Indian law’

What has happened?

The Supreme Court has ordered three Internet giants — Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to keep tabs on and delete online pre-natal sex determination advertisements

  • A Nodal Agency: This step is in addition to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s move to set up a nodal agency to receive complaints on violation of Section 22 of the 1994 Act

Legal clause

Section 22 of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act of 1994 prohibits advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of sex and imposes punishment. However, ads continue to appear online, rendering the law toothless

Directions by the court

  • Appoint in-house experts: The court ordered that the search engines “shall appoint their ‘In-House Expert Body’ which shall take steps to see that if any words or any key words that can be shown on the Internet which has the potentiality to go counter to Section 22 of the 1994 Act, should be deleted forthwith
    • The in-house expert body “shall on its own understanding” delete anything that violates the letter and spirit of language of Section 22 of the 1994 Act. In case of doubt, they are free to approach the Ministry’s nodal agency and be guided by the latter

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[3]. India, Afghanistan take a hard line on Taliban at Moscow conference

India, Afghanistan take a hard line on Taliban at Moscow conference


The Hindu

Context

Oppose view of Russia, China, Pakistan to involve Taliban in reconciliation efforts

What has happened?

India and Afghanistan took a hard line at the six-nation talks in Moscow, opposing the dominant view from Russia, China and Pakistan to involve the Taliban in reconciliation efforts

Occasion

Russia hosted representatives from six countries for discussions aimed at encouraging the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government

  • Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran and India took part in the gathering, which came less than two months after a similar meeting between Russia, China and Pakistan.
  • The United States, for the second time in a row, was not invited

India’s stance

  • Denying “safe havens or sanctuaries to any terrorist group or individual in countries of our region,” was essential to stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan
  • Reconciliation efforts must be driven by the Afghanistan government and could only be facilitated by “friends and well-wishers of Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s stance

  • Referring to Pakistan’s stand on “good/bad Taliban” echoed by officials in Moscow, and the talks between China and Taliban officials last year, Afghanistan’s representative said
    • The key challenge to the process remains a policy selectivity by some to distinguish between good and bad terrorists, even though terrorism is a common threat that confronts the whole region, where if one of us doesn’t stand firm against it, others’ counter-terrorism efforts will not bear the results we all seek
  • Afghanistan also made a strong pitch for the United States to be included as one of its most important partners

 

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[4]. Potent malaria vaccine on the anvil

Potent malaria vaccine on the anvil


The Hindu

Context

Encouraged by the trials, researchers say the registered vaccine will reached the market in two years

What has happened?

A malaria vaccine that mimics a mosquito bite yielded encouraging results in human trials, raising hopes for thwarting a parasite that kills a child every two minutes.

Name of the drug

The candidate drug, called PfSPZ, provided up to 100% protection for 10 weeks in a trial in Germany, although a trial in real life conditions in Mali gave a lower level of defence, they reported in two separate studies

  • PfSPZ is being developed against the Plasmodium falciparum mosquito-borne parasite, by far the deadliest type. Further trials are to follow in Mali, Ghana, the U.S. and Gabon.

Working

PfSPZ uses a live, immature form of the malaria parasite, called a sporozoite, to stimulate an immune reaction in humans. Two types of vaccine is there,

  • One, in which sporozites are radiated before being injected (Irradiated sporozites). In this case a high dosage of live malaria parasites i.e. sporozites was administered to volunteers. The highest dose conferred up to 100% immunity
  • Second is the one in which Sporozites are not exposed to radiation. These are injected along with Chloroquine. In this case a low dosage was administered to volunteers

Observations

All the volunteers in the high-dose group enjoyed malaria protection 10 weeks after the last dose, compared to six out of nine in the medium and three out of nine in the low-dose groups

Another vaccine

Another vaccine called RTS,S, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, is being tested in children — the most affected population.It is considered the most advanced candidate, but results last year from a Kenyan trial showed it was only about four per cent effective after seven years


 

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Editorial/OPINION


[1]. The bumps ahead

The bumps ahead


The Hindu

Context

Assessing inflation risk in the time of spiking prices and damp consumer sentiment

Nothing relevant in particular. Article talks about increasing wholesale inflation and future risks that might destabilize government’s fiscal calculations.

Give it a light read


 

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ECONOMY


[1]. ‘Low solar tariff viability depends on cost of debt’

‘Low solar tariff viability depends on cost of debt’


The Hindu

Context

Article talks about the observations made in the recently released ICRA report

 What has happened?

The recently-concluded bid for three 250 MW units in the Rewa plant in Madhya Pradesh saw tariffs falling below ₹3 per unit, sparking some concern in the industry that tariffs were becoming unviably low

ICRA (Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency)
After CRISIL, ICRA is India’s second credit rating agency which was set up in 1991

Observations

  • Major improvement in cost competitiveness: The recently-concluded bid for three 250 MW units in the Rewa plant in Madhya Pradesh signifies a major improvement in the cost competitiveness of solar energy against both alternate renewable as well as conventional energy sources
    • With competitive bidding route adopted for award of solar projects &fall in PV module price levels, cost competitiveness of solar PV bid tariff has thus significantly improved as evident in decline from ₹6.5/kwh in calendar year 2014 to ₹5.0/kwh in calendar year 2016, and further to ₹3.3/kwh for bidding of project capacity in the Rewa Solar Park

What is competitive bidding?

Transparent’ procurement method in which bids from competing contractors, suppliers, or vendors are invited by openly advertising the scope, specifications, and terms and conditions of the proposed contract as well as the criteria by which the bids will be evaluated

  • Such low tariffs in Madhya Pradesh were enabled by a few favourable factors in the project power purchase agreements such as a
    • State government guarantee for the contracted capacity by the utility
    • Compensation for deemed generation(This means the producer is paid even if the electricity is not taken due to grid issues)in case of non-availability of the grid

 What is deemed generation?

The energy which a station was capable of generating but could not generate due to the conditions of grid or power system, beyond the control of generating station

Wind vs Thermal plants

The average feed-in tariff for wind energy and competitively bid thermal plants in the last 24 months has remained at ₹ 4.8/kwh and ₹4-5/kwh, respectively


 

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Indian Express


[1]. Costs of denial: The State of Global Air report is another warning

Costs of denial: The State of Global Air report is another warning


Indian Express

Context

Article talks about the perverse effects of air pollution referring particularly to the recently released State of Global Air report prepared by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the Washington University

Observations from the report

  • Premature deaths: Polluted air caused 91 early deaths out of 1 lakh Indians in 2015 while China, the world’s most populous country, lost 85 of its citizens
  1. Globally, there was 60 per cent rise in ozone attributable deaths, with a striking 67 per cent of this increase occurring in India.
  2. In 2015, long-term exposure to PM2.5 contributed to 4.2 million deaths and to a loss of 103 million years of healthy life. China and India together accounted for 52 per cent of the total global deaths attributable to PM2.5.
  3. It found that increasing exposure and a growing and aging population have meant that India now rivals China for among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths due to it in 2015.
  4. According to the report, while 1108100 deaths were attributed to PM2.5 exposure in China in 2015, in India, it was 10,90,400
  5. Around 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas with “unhealthy” air.
  6. Bangladesh and India, have experienced the steepest rise in air pollution levels since 2010 and now have the highest PM2.5 concentrations among the countries.
  7. Among the world’s 10 most populous countries and the EU, the biggest increase (14 per cent to 25 per cent) in seasonal average population-weighted concentrations of ozone over the last 25 years were experienced in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil.
  8. China, India, Bangladesh, and Japan increases in exposure, combined with increases in population growth and aging, resulted in net increases in attributable mortality.
  9. Meanwhile, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India had PM2.5 attributable Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) rates that were 5 to 10 times the lowest rates, which were found in the US and Japan.

Source: KSG

Ignorance is not bliss

Author states that governments in India have largely been indifferent when it comes to environmental reports. But the government would be well-advised to not ignore the State of the Global Air report for several reasons.

  • GBD Data: The report draws on the Global Burden of Diseases data which is becoming an important tracker of health trends the world over. The State of Global Air Report ranks outdoor air pollution as the third leading health risk in the country

Graded Action Plan

The report comes a month after government announced its plan for a graded response to pollution

  • The plan involves upgradation of the Central Pollution Control Board infrastructure and additional monitoring stations within six months
  • Roadmap for rest of the country: The plan is intended towards Delhi-NCR region but it will provide a roadmap to the rest of the country
  • Including Ozone: Author states that the plan should take into account a new pollutant mentioned in the report i.e. Ozone, as the increasing rate of Ozone-related deaths are alarming. The report notes a 148 per cent increase in ozone-related deaths since 1990
    • Ozone monitoring stations: Graded action plan should establish ozone monitoring stations as a first step towards addressing Ozone-related pollution

Read More: You can read the report here, GBD


 

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Live Mint


[1]. A fiscal-consolidation budget that falls short on reforms

A fiscal-consolidation budget that falls short on reforms


Live Mint

Context

The most urgent reform unfortunately omitted is the resolution of non-performing loans and the clean-up of corporate and bank balance sheets

Article talks about the budgetary measures, things which could have been done and positives that budget tries to accomplish.

You can give it a light read, as positives and negatives of the budget has been dealt in ample detail in previous briefs.


 

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