Triple talaq bill
Why in news?
The Union Cabinet approved three crucial amendments to the triple talaq Bill, including a provision for bail to an accused before the start of trial.
Salient features of the bill
- On December 28, the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection Bill, 2017), which criminalises the practice of talaq-e-bidda.
- This came after the Supreme Court on August 22, 2017, struck down triple talaq, calling the Islamic practice unconstitutional.
- It criminalises the practice of divorcing by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in succession.
- It also proposes a three-year jail term for men who violate the law.
- The first amendment allows only a woman, or a close relative to file a police case against her husband for instant triple.
- Another amendment makes it clear that the police will lodge an FIR only if approached by the victim, her blood relations or people who become her relatives by marriage.
- The third amendment makes instant triple talaq “compoundable”.That is, now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the the dispute between a husband and his wife.
Environmental Performance Index 2018
Why in news?
The Union Environment Ministry has dismissed as “arbitrary” and “unscientific” a 2017 World Economic Forum-ranking that placed India at the bottom in terms of environment performance.
About Environmental Performance Index 2018
- The January report ranked India 177 out of 180 countries on the Environmental Performance Index 2018.
- India slipped 36 points from 141 in the 2016 report, prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities along with the WEF.
- India’s low ranking — 177 among 180 countries — was linked to poor performance in the environment health policy and deaths due to air pollution categories.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
Why in news?
The government approved the continuation of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) beyond the 12th five year plan period.
About Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
- The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), was launched by the Govt. of India to provide connectivity to unconnected Habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy.
- of India is endeavoring to set high and uniform technical and management standards and facilitating policy development and planning at State level in order to ensure sustainable management of the rural roads network.
- Habitations with a population of above 500 in the plains and above 250 in the hilly areas planned to be connected by all-weather roads.
Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
Why in news?
Harivansh Narayan Singh has been elected as the new deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
About Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
- The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha itself from amongst its members. Whenever the office of the Deputy Chairman falls vacant, the Rajya Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.
- The Deputy Chairman vacates his office in any of the following three cases:
- if he ceases to be a member of the Rajya Sabha;
- if he resigns by writing to the Chairman; and
- if he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Rajya Sabha. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
- The Deputy Chairman performs the duties of the Chairman’s office when it is vacant or when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President.
- He also acts as the Chairman when the latter is absent from the sitting of the House. In both the cases, he has all the powers of the Chairman.
- It should be emphasised here that the Deputy Chairman is not subordinate to the Chairman. He is directly responsible to the Rajya Sabha.
- Like the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman, while presiding over the House, cannot vote in the first instance; he can only exercise a casting vote in the case of a tie.
- Further, when a resolution for the removal of the Deputy Chairman is under consideration of the House, he cannot preside over a sitting of the House, though he may be present.
- When the Chairman presides over the House, the Deputy Chairman is like any other ordinary member of the House. He can speak in the House, participate in its proceedings and vote on any question before the House.
- Like the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman is also entitled to a regular salary and allowance. They are fixed by Parliament and are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
Why in news?
Ministry of Commerce & Industry has launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App.
About Niryat Mitra
- The app has been developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).
- It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures. All the information is available at tariff line.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Why in news?
The Centre has constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu to decide on 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.
- RCEP is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- RCEP aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates.
World Network of Biosphere Reserves
Why in news?
The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India to be included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
About biosphere reserves
- India has 18 Biosphere Reserves.
- With the inclusion of Khangchendzonga, the number of internationally designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) has become 11, with 7 Biosphere Reserves being domestic Biosphere Reserves.
- Launched in 1971, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.
- MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.
- The first of India’s reserves to make it to UNESCO’s list was Tamil Nadu’s Niligiri Biosphere Reserve in 2000.
- Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life.
About Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve
- Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve is a National Park and a Biosphere Reserve located in Sikkim, India.
- The park is named after the mountain Kangchenjunga, which with a height of 8,586 metres (28,169 ft), is the third-highest peak in the world.
- It includes a range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes, which support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
- The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category.