MARCH 2015

Karnataka budget 2014- Highlights

  • Rs 458 crore to be spent on creating infrastructure in lower courts in the State
  • 10 more fast-track courts will be set up for trying atrocity cases
  • Rs two crore will be released for construction of the third phase of Advocates’ Bhavan on the City Civil Court premises in Bangalore
  • A four-screen multiplex to organise international film festivals and a film industry museum will be established at a cost of Rs 10 crore at Amruthotsava Bhavan in Nandini Layout, B’lore
  • Incentives will be given to entrepreneurs willing to construct Janatha cinema halls for screening Kannada films in district and taluk headquarters
  • A hi-tech State media centre, on the lines of the National Media Centre, New Delhi, will be established at the Vartha Soudha on Infantry Road, Bangalore, at a cost of Rs five crore. Kannada and Culture n A ‘kala bhavan’ will be constructed in Arkavathy Layout, Bangalore, to promote art and culture
  • Banavasi Development Authority will be established for the welfare of Banavasi, the erstwhile capital of Kadamba dynasty in Uttara Kannada district
  • Rs five crore for constructing a memorial building to mark the centenary of Kannada Sahitya Parishat
  • Rs 5 crore for creating infrastructure for effective implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
  • Rs two crore for providing free sets of dentures to senior citizens from BPL families
  • Rs 5 crore for ‘Mukhyamantri Santhwana Yojane,’ under which a compensation of Rs 25,000 will be given through the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust to road accident victims who are admitted to select hospitals within the golden hour
  • Rs 52 crore for extending ‘Prasuti Araike’ and ‘Madilu’ kit schemes to beneficiaries in Bidar, Gulbarga, Koppal, Raichur, Yadgir, Bellary, Bagalkot, Gadag and Chamarajanagar districts
  • A new programme, ‘Aaspathre Nairmalaya’, will be launched to promote cleanliness in government hospitals
  • Special units to be set up at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Bangalore, on an experimental basis to provide treatment to people suffering from rare diseases such as Haemophilia, Thalassaemia, sickle-cell anaemia and primary immunodeficiency
  • Krishibhagya: To promote dry land farming and address the livelihood needs of 53 lakh rain-dependent farmers; Rs 500 crore allocated
  • Ashakirana: Aims at establishing exclusive cooperative societies for the physically challenged; Rs one crore set aside
  • Jyothi Sanjeevani: Cashless transaction for government employees for treatment of seven fatal diseases
  • Kayaka Nidhi: For the welfare of manual labourers and ‘hamalis’ working in APMCs
  • Suryajyothi Raithara-balina Paranjyothi: For the Minor Irrigation department to adopt solar energy
  • Kere Abhivruddhi-Naadina Shreyabhivruddhi: For the Minor Irrigation dept to improve old tanks
  • Welcome to Home: To attract 50 teachers and 50 scientists of Indian origin from abroad under the RUSA scheme
  • Gruha Bhagya:  1,000 pourakarmikas of urban local bodies will get houses; Rs 25 crore earmarked

Adarsha Smaraks in Karnataka

  • Virupaksha Temple and Vittala Temple complex in Hampi, the erstwhile seat of Vijayanagar empire and also the monument at Pattadkal in Bagalkot district would become part of the ‘Adarsha Smaraks’ in the country.
  • The Ministry of Culture has chosen Hampi and 24 other monuments in the country to be granted ‘Adarsha Smaraks’ tag. Hampi being a world heritage site with ancient monuments we have decided to propose Virupaksha Temple and Vittala Temple complex to be developed as ‘adarsha smaraks’
  • Under the scheme the Centre has decided to award the ‘Adarsh Smarak’ tag to the monuments which have highest number of tourists visiting besides giving them special attention in order to boost international tourism.
  • Other monuments includes Taj Mahal, Khajurao, Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Humayun Tomb, Hazaradurai, Shore temple at Mahabalipuram, Elephanta Caves, Vaishali, Pattadkal in Karnataka, Konark Sun Temple, Rang Ghar among others have been chosen by the Union government under the ‘yojana’.
  • Under the ‘Adarsh Smarak Yojana’, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will provide visitors friendly amenities of international standards including wash rooms, drinking water, cafeteria, audio-visual centres, interpretation centres, Wi-Fi connectivity among others.

Apex court strikes down Section 66A of IT Act

What is section 66A?

Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,—

(a) Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or

(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,

(c) Any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

The provision was not enshrined in the IT Act 2000, but brought through an amendment in 2009 by the United Progressive Alliance government.

Supreme Court Verdict:

The Supreme Court on 24th March struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which could land a person in jail for up to three years for posting any “offensive, annoying or inconvenient” materials on social networking sites.

Why was it struck down?

  1. The SC held Section 66A of the IT Act as “unconstitutional” for being in conflict with fundamental right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution ie is it is Arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades into the fundamental right of free speech.
  2. The court found that the provision would not fall within the reasonable restrictions of the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution.
  3. Section 66A is cast so widely that virtually any opinion on any subject would be covered by it, as any serious opinion dissenting with the mores of the day would be caught within its net.
  4. It found the grounds of arrest under this act were vague.
  5. The right to know of the public was affected by the legal provision
  6. None of the expressions used are defined
  7. It takes into the net a very large amount of protected and innocent speech
  8. There is absolutely no manageable standard by which to book a person
  9. It makes no distinction between mass dissemination and dissemination to one person
  10. The definition of offences under the provision was open-ended and undefined
  11. The mere causing of annoyance, inconvenience, danger, etc., or being grossly offensive or having a menacing character is not offences even under the [Indian] Penal Code
  12. The court pointed out that a penal law would be void on the grounds of vagueness if it failed to define the criminal offence with sufficient definiteness. “Ordinary people should be able to understand what conduct is prohibited and what is permitted. Also, those who administer the law must know what offence has been committed so that arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of the law does not take place
  13. it was being used by governments to clamp down on free speech and was restricting citizens from freely expressing themselves.

The court, however, upheld validity of Section 69A of the Act which allowed the government to block websites which could affect sovereignty and integrity of the country, defence, security, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence.

Does this now mean anything goes on the Internet?

No, the standard penal laws — against defamation, hate speech (S. 153A), religious incitement (S. 295A) — continue to apply

Kannada film performance in 2014 National award

  • Sanchari Vijay secured the national award for best actor for his brilliant performance in Naanu Avanalla, Avalu (I am not he…she) directed by B.S. Lingadevaru.
  • After Charuhasan, who bagged the award for Tabarana Kathe in 1987, no other actor had succeeded in clinching the prestigious award, till this year.(in 27 years)
  • Naanu Avanalla Avalu has also bagged the award for Best Make-up. It is for the first time that a Kannada film is getting an award in the make-up category.
  • Another Kannada film Harivu, directed by Marasu Manjunath bagged Best Regional Award.
  • Nannau Avanalla Avalu is a film based on I am Vidya — an autobiography of Living Smile Vidya. It is a work on the life of transgenders.
  • Harivu is based on a true story of a poor farmer, who wanted to take the body of his son from a government hospital in Bengaluru. The film, explores an intense relationship between father and son at its heart, and also tries to pictorially contemplate various contemporary sociological issues of class, culture and behavioural patterns.

 Twitter Samvad

  • The Union government launched a new platform, in association with Twitter, for direct communication among leaders, government agencies and citizens through tweets and text messages, helping boost e-governance plans.
  • To start with, the service has 16 partners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi; the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, Chandrababu Naidu, Anandiben Patel, Akhilesh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee, respectively; the Railway Ministry; and the Bengaluru City Police.
  • As part of the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative, this tweet-powered service enables citizens to be the first to know about the government’s actions by receiving political content in real-time on their mobile devices anywhere in the country
  • Through Twitter Samvad, a set of curated Tweets will be delivered every day from the accounts of the government and the leaders to mobile-phone users across the country as text messages.
  • The service can come in handy during emergencies as government agencies can share live updates, even time-sensitive information on law and order or rescue.
  • Twitter Samvad is based on a platform provided by ZipDial, an Indian company recently acquired by Twitter, making this its first Indian service launched using indigenous technology.
  • An official statement said that during the meeting with Mr. Costolo, the Prime Minister spoke about avenues through which Twitter could help in initiatives such as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme, not just by providing a platform but also by initiating a prolonged effort to support these initiatives.

Railways launches RuPay pre-paid debit card

What is it benifits?

  • Railway passengers can now book their tickets, do shopping and pay service bills using RuPay pre-paid cards
  • It is in line with Prime financial inclusive programme as one does not need to have a bank account to have the card and can be availed online.
  • The card holder will get free Rs.1 lakh accident insurance coverage as part of the benefits to customers

What is RuPay?

RuPay is India’s own card payment gateway network like Visa and Master Card, and provides an alternative system for banks to provide a debit card service.

What else you should know?

  • The service was launched by the IRCTC in collaboration with Union Bank of India and the National Payment Corporation of India.
  • Cards can be made available from UBI offices or through IRCTC online.
  • Initially the service will be available for booking tickets and later on shopping and bill payments will be added.
  • One can have the card with a loading limit of Rs.10,000 with partial KYC detail or Rs.50,000 loading limit with full KYC.
  • The first five transactions per card every month done on IRCTC for purchase of train tickets would be free and no transaction charges would be levied to customers for six months only. For every subsequent transaction post the free usage, customer would be charged Rs.10 per transaction.
  • The transaction charge would be Rs.10 per ticket for booking a ticket through the card on the portal.

India china Border Talks

  • 18th round of the sino-Indian border talks was concluded on 24th March.
  • India and China on Tuesday decided to “expand” contacts between border guards from both countries for maintaining  “peace and tranquillity” along the 3488 km disputed boundary, which often witnessed transgressions and sometimes flash points.
  • The talks were held between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi
  • It constituted important confidence building measures for maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas
  • The meeting was the first Special Representative level talks under the new governmanet.
  •  After undertaking a comprehensive review of earlier rounds of the talks, the duo renewed their commitment to the three-step process to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution of the border question at an early date.
  • Increased interaction between the border guards is being thought of as one of the key options to defuse tension. From the Indian side, the border guards are the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police while from the Chinese side border guarding troops are from the Peoples’ Liberation Army and the Chinese Peoples Armed Police Force.
  • A proposal to set up a hotline between the Chinese and Indian Director Generals of Military Operations is being discussed by the two sides for several years. A similar hotline between the DGMOs of India and Pakistan exists at the moment.
  • Also a plan to establish two communication links between the Eastern Command headquarters in Fort William, Kolkata with the headquarters of the Chengdu Military region, and the Northern Command headquarters in Udhampur with its counterpart in the Lanzhou Military Region is being discussed.
  • Both sides agreed that growing linkages between Indian States and Chinese Provinces through sister-city and sister-province mechanism plays an important role in deepening bilateral ties

Land Boundary Agreement (LBA)

  • The agreement is between India and Bangladesh.
  • The LBA envisages a notional transfer of 111 Indian enclaves to Bangladesh whereas Dhaka will transfer 51 enclaves to India. According to the agreement, the 37,334 residents of India’s enclaves within Bangladesh will become Bangladeshis after the land swap, while the 14,215 people in Bangladesh’s enclaves will become Indians.
  • Immediately after the LBA was signed in 1974, the Bangladesh Parliament ratified the agreement the same year
  • The 4,096-km land boundary dispute requires ratification from the Indian Parliament to amend the Indian Constitution (119th Amendment Bill, 2013)
  • The Bill proposes to amend the First Schedule of the Constitution to exchange the disputed territories occupied by both countries in accordance with the 1974 bilateral LBA, and the additional historic agreement on demarcation of land boundaries signed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Dhaka in 2011.
  • In December 2014, the Bill was not tabled in Parliament due to stiff opposition from various quarters. The opposition had earlier sent a notice to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, arguing that the Bill would seek to change a “basic feature” of the Indian Constitution and thus go against an order by the Supreme Court of India.
  • The LBA concerns swapping of land from Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal with land in Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet and Chittagong in Bangladesh.
  • Among India’s priorities are improving access to its underdeveloped and volatile northeastern States, reaching advantageous water sharing agreements, and increasing connectivity with South-East Asia as part of New Delhi’s Look East Policy. All these will be difficult to achieve without Bangladesh’s support. Resolving the border crisis would grease the wheels for future cooperation, development, and trade in the region.
  • India has not been able to operationalise the Teesta water sharing treaty with Bangladesh. It has realised that these two setbacks in relations with Bangladesh will have ramifications for the Bangladesh government and will damage India’s short and long-term national and security interests.
  • The passage of the amendment will give India an unprecedented advantage of a secure boundary and will enable it to curb illegal migration, smuggling and other criminal activities. Those living in Bangladeshi enclaves in India would be granted Indian citizenship under Section 7 of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955
  • Enclaves on both sides of the border are landlocked; hence, Indians living in Bangladesh enclaves cannot travel to India and vice versa.
  • Residents of the enclaves, who have so far remained effectively stateless, will receive all citizenship rights from their respective countries. Despite these positive outcomes that will arise from the amendment, there has been stiff opposition in Parliament. With uncertainty looming over the transfer of enclaves, its residents have decided to approach the courts over violation of their fundamental rights.
  • In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad has been canvassing support to prevent the Bill from being tabled. Assam’s politics with Bangladesh dates back to the 1985 Assam Accord, according to which immigrants from Bangladesh are not allowed to be deported from Assam.
  • Bangladesh and India have disputed areas at 25 locations along the boundary, with 23 of them having been resolved in the last four years. The two unsettled areas — Muhurichar and Chandan Nagar — are in Tripura.
  • Bangladesh and India have been trying to solve the crisis concerning land and water over the past three decades. In addition to opposing the LBA, Last year, policy paralysis took a toll on the economic front; the government’s inability to seal this landmark legislation also damaged foreign policy/economic diplomacy. The Indian government needs to work at making bilateral ties with countries such as Bangladesh irreversible, else it will be unable to solve this trust deficit.

India against gay rights to UN staff

  •  India joined countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Iran to vote in favour of a resolution at the United Nations to stop the organisation from extending staff benefits to same-sex couples.
  • India voted in favour of the Russia-drafted resolution seeking to overturn a June 2014 decision by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to allow the organisation to recognise all same-sex marriages of its staff and thus entitle them to marital benefits, regardless of their nationality.
  • The resolution was moved by Russia at the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly.
  • However, it was defeated with 80 nations voting against it and 37 others abstaining.
  • India had decided to vote in favour of the resolution because the UN Secretary-General had not consulted the member nations before changing the way of determining personal status of employees.
  • The personal status of a UN employee was previously determined by the laws applicable in his or her country. Ban, who is known for his stand against homophobia, however, in June 2014 issued a bulletin, allowing personal status to be determined by the law of the competent authority under which the personal status was established.This made it possible for a UN employee, no matter which nation he or she hailed from, to marry a same-sex partner in any country, where same-sex marriages are legal, and claim all benefits, which his or her married heterosexual colleagues were entitled to.
  • Same-sex marriage continues to be illegal in India. A Delhi High Court had in 2009 overturned the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, legalising consensual homosexual activities between adults. The Supreme Court, however, in December 2013 set aside the judgment of the Delhi High Court.

 Country’s biggest telecom spectrum sale

  •  The country’s biggest telecom spectrum auction ended on Wednesday with the government garnering Rs 1.09 lakh After 115 rounds of aggressive bidding
  •  The names of the winners will be announced only after the Supreme Court gives its nod due to pending petitions.
  • However, the fierce bidding is likely to lead to rise in mobile call, SMS and data charges as operators may pass on the cost of spectrum to consumers.
  • Eight firms — Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Aircel, Reliance Jio Infocom, Uninor and Tata Teleservices — were in the fray to acquire spectrum.
  • The increased financial burden will lead to the industry’s cost structure being changed drastically. Hence, the operators will not be left with much choice but to increase the tariffs so as to meet the financial commitments to the government
  • The debt burden for the industry would definitely increase by 70 to 80 per cent of the spectrum price paid. Balance sheets would get further leveraged and profitability and the cash flow would be adversely impacted in servicing of principle and interest and amortisation of spectrum cost

The Karnataka Tourism Trade (facilitation and regulation) Bill/ Tourist Mitra

  • The Bill was aimed at facilitating, regulating and promoting the tourism trade; the constitution of the State Tourism Council; registration recognition and grading of tourism trade in the tourist destination; licensing of tour guides.
  • The Bill also provides for raising a ‘tourist mitra’ cadre to ensure the safety of the tourists; prohibition of certain activities in tourist destinations; protection and maintenance of tourist destinations; collection of statistical information from service providers and establishment of database on tourism.
  • The Bill provides for constitution of a Tourism Council with the Chief Minister as Chairperson and Tourism Minister as Vice-Chairperson, about nine officers from various government departments and six members nominated from among stakeholders in the tourism trade. The proposed Council would act as an apex body for the development and promotion of tourism in the State.
  • Public private sector partnership (PPP) and formation of joint venture is also being encouraged. Government tourist entities will engage with private sector under the PPP framework or joint venture arrangements to bring private sector investments in developing, promoting, operating and maintaining tourism infrastructure in the State.
  • The Bill provides for registration, recognition and grading of tourist destinations. This is for providing a minimum standard and norms for the trade and also provide for charging of annual or periodical fees for registration, recognition, renewal and grading. To issue and display of certificates of registration to indicate genuine tourist trade. This is also to provide for getting incentives available for registered or graded tourism trade.
  • The Bill provides for collection of statistical information from service providers and also establish a database on State tourism. The Tourism department will make the data available to trade and public.

Tourist Mitra

  • The Bill also provides for tour guides licence to be issued by the prescribed authority to the tour guides in accordance with the procedure set out in the rules made by the act.
  • A group of specially trained cadre known as tourist mitra will be raised by the Department of Tourism to be deployed at various tourist destinations.

Saina Nehwal makes history, becomes world no.1

  • Saina Nehwal has become the first Indian woman shuttler to attain the number one spot in world rankings, reaffirming her status as the country’s most consistent performer in the international circuit.
  • Saina Nehwal defeated Spain’s Carolina Marin, in the India Open Super Series semifinal.
  • Saina thus becomes only the second Indian overall to be world number one after Prakash Padukone had the distinction of being the numero uno men’s badminton player.
  • Saina plays Japan’s Yui Hashimoto in the second semifinal but the Indian ace will be No. 1 irrespective of her result.
  • The London Olympic bronze-medallist has won a staggering 14 international titles in her glorious career and most recently she became the first Indian woman to make the finals of the prestigious All England Championships in Manchester.
  • The Hyderabad-based player has several firsts to her credit in Indian badminton. She was the first to be a junior world champion, besides being the first to clinch a Super Series title.
  • Initially groomed by former All England champion Pullela Gopichand, Saina is currently under the tutelage of former national champion Vimal Kumar.
  • The trailblazer was awarded the country’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award — in 2010.

Understanding the conflict in Yemen

What is the conflict in Yemen about?

  • The Houthis are a Zaidi Shia group that had participated in uprisings against former Yemeni President and long-time ruler Abdullah Saleh
  • The Houthis felt left out from the transitional government that followed Saleh’s rule.
  • It is the failure of the transitional government — which was set up with help from the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2012 — to accommodate the Houthis’ interests that fuelled the present insurgency by Houthi rebel.
  • After the besieged Yemeni government requested help, the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Saudi Arabia, launched air attacks against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen on March 26.
  • The Saudis have deployed a large force with help from Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan and others such as Pakistan and Sudan. This military action — without UN sanction — has also involved logistical help from the United States (to register support for its Saudi allies)

Why is Saudis getting involved?

  • The Yemeni government had requested the GCC for help, but the reason for the Saudi intervention is to temper the rising Iranian influence in its immediate neighbourhood.
  • They allege that the Houthis are being funded and armed by Iran

What makes the current situation complicated?

  • The Houthis have a large degree of control over many areas of northwestern Yemen, including over the capital, Sana’a.
  • The Houthi-led insurgency is not the only military conflict raging in Yemen.
  • The al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leads another insurgency in the southeast along with the Ansar al-Sharia; this one is a Sunni Islamist rebellion. The regional intervention against the Houthis is bound to strengthen the AQAP.
  • The inability of the ineffectual transitional government to effectively govern a nation that has steadily been divided on sectarian lines, and the weakening of the economy, have helped the various insurgent forces strengthen themselves.
  • The Houthi forces’ consolidation in the south could have presented an opportunity for a new, more inclusive and legitimate government following a ceasefire, but that option is now ruled out as the conflict has been effectively regionalised with the Saudi intervention.

India, France to jointly develop naval missile/ Project Maitri

  • The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the ‘Maitri’ project for the co-development of a Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with MBDA of France
  • The project has been in the works since 2007 to meet the requirements of the Army and the Air Force
  • The DRDO had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MBDA in 2013, but there has hardly been any progress because the DRDO’s Akash missile system has similar functions.
  • The Army and the Air Force have expressed satisfaction with the capabilities of Akash, but the Navy has made it clear that Akash is not suitable for installation on warships.
  • This is likely to be discussed further during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France next week

 Mine Counter Measure Vessel (MCMV) project

  • MCMV project will built specialized vessels for the Indian Navy as per Make in India policy at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in collaboration with a foreign manufacturer

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2015

  • This bill will replace an ordinance promulgated in this regard and amend the Citizenship Act, 1955
  • It merges Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
  • In cases related to citizenship by registration and naturalization, this amendment bill relaxes the requirement of 12 months.
  • In this case, 30 days break will be provided if the central government is satisfied in special circumstances with a written record.
  • On additional grounds, person may register for overseas citizenship card (OCC) such as Minor children whose parent or parents are Indian citizens.
  • Spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI/ PIO cardholder subjected to certain conditions.
  • Person who is a citizen of another country, meets one of several conditions of Citizenship Act, 1955 then his great grandchild may register

National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP)

  • Election Commission of India (ECI) has launched National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP).
  • Objective: To bring out a totally error-free and authenticated electoral roll throughout the country
  • For the authentication purpose, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) data of electors will be linked with Aadhar data.
  • It also focuses to improve the image quality of electors along with sorting issues like corrections of errors

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015

Key provisions of the bill

  • Addition of a new 4th Schedule in to parent Act in order to include bauxite, iron ore, limestone and manganese ore as notified minerals
  • Creation of prospecting license-cum-mining lease as a new category of mining license. It is defined as a two stage-concession for the purpose of undertaking prospecting operations followed by mining operations.
  • Maximum area for mining- increase the area limits for mining, instead of providing additional leases as per parent Act’s area limitation.
  • Lease period- Mining leases will be granted for a lease period of 50 years for all minerals other than coal, lignite and atomic minerals. Lease period for coal and lignite remains unchanged.
  • All mining leases granted for such minerals prior to this bill, will be valid for 50 years. While, incase of expiry of the lease it will be put up for auction instead of being renewed
  • Auction of notified and other minerals: State governments will grant mining leases and prospecting license-cum-mining leases for both notified and other minerals.
  • While in case of prospecting license-cum-mining lease for notified minerals will be granted by state with the approval of Union government.
  • Mining leases will be granted through auction by competitive bidding process, including e-auction.
  • The Union government will prescribe the terms and conditions, and auction procedure including parameters for the selection of bidders.
  • In case of mining leases, the Union government may reserve particular mines for a specific end use and allow only eligible end users to participate in the auction.
  • Transfer of mineral concessions: The Bill states with the approval of the state government, the mining lease holder may transfer the lease to any eligible person and as specified by the Union government.
  • Transfer shall be considered as approved if state government does not its approval within 90 days of receiving the notice. However, transfer will be not take place if the state government communicates, in writing, that it is not eligible.
  • While, only mineral concessions granted through auction will be allowed for transfer.
  • Institutions: Creation of a District Mineral Foundation (DMF) by the state government for the benefit of persons in districts affected by mining related operations.
  • Creation of a National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) by the Union government for regional and detailed mine exploration.
  • Licensees and lease holders will pay the DMF an amount one-third of the royalty prescribed by the Union government, and the NMET two percent of royalty

Shipping Samvad

  • Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways on 3 March 2015 launched a website Shipping Samvad
  • Website’s objective is to invite innovative ideas and suggestions from general public and experts related to Indian maritime sector for improvements in the ports, shipping and inland waterways sector

Maharashtra Animal Preservation Amendment Bill, 1995

  • This bill amends Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1976 and bans slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the state.
  • As per the provisions of new Act, anyone found to be selling beef or in possession of it can be jailed for 5 years and fined Rs 10,000.
  • However, this Act allows slaughter of water buffaloes, which provides carabeef that is generally considered as an inferior quality meat

Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015

  • The proposed amendments in the bill aim to bring improvements and revisions in the existing laws relating to insurance business in India.
  • In this regard it seeks to remove archaic provisions and incorporate modern day practices emerging in a changing dynamic environment, which includes private participation
  • Hikes Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the insurance sector to 49 percent from present 26 percent.
  • Establishment of Life Insurance Council and the General Insurance Council. They will act as selfregulating bodies for the insurance sector.
  • Allows PSU general insurers to raise funds from the capital market
  • Imprisonment of up to 10 years for selling policies without registration with the insurance regulator.
  • Prohibits an insurer from challenging the life insurance policy on any ground after a period of three years of selling it

Reliance Infrastructure acquires Pipavav Defence

  • Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure has acquired Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering in an all-cash deal.
  • The acquisition will be done by Reliance Infrastructure, along with its wholly owned subsidiary Reliance Defence Systems Pvt Ltd

Kathmandu-Varanasi-Kathmandu bus service

  • Nepal and India on 5 March 2015 launched a direct bus service linking cultural cities Kathmandu and Varanasi.

EU formally adopts climate change targets for December 2015 UNFCCC Paris Conference

  • The European Union (EU) has formally adopted climate change targets for December 2015 UNFCCC Paris Conference. Adopted climate change target includes a 40 per cent cut in emissions by 2030.
  • These targets were agreed by leaders of the 28 EU member-states at a summit in October 2014 but now have been officially forwarded to the United Nations
  • EU announcement comes prior to the deadline of March 31, 2015 as it is binding on countries to announce their commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions
  • United States also has formally announced its intention to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent in 2025 compared with their level in 2005
  • While, China has set a target date of 2030 for its global greenhouse gases emissions to reach peak