Daily News- 11th June 2017
Shangri La may affect India Singapore ties
Organisers of the prestigious conference informed the government that the Indian Minister did not rank as highly as Pakistan’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, as “civil military relations in Pakistan are different from those in India.”
India, that has attended 12 of the 16 Dialogues since 2002, had no speaker at the event this year.
The Shangri-La Dialogue, funded and hosted by the Singapore government, is a unique “track-one” conference that defence ministers, officials and military chiefs of 28 Asia-Pacific countries, including China and the United States, attend each year.
While speaking at the event is considered important, the Dialogue is known more for the opportunity it gives speakers to meet on the sidelines for bilateral talks. India’s decision to pull out meant missing out on possible meetings with U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, which would have been significant ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. at the end of June, as well as meeting the defence ministers of Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Canada, amongst others who attended this year.
India also gave up the chance to make a proper rebuttal of the presentation by Gen. Hayat on the $51 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project India calls a violation of its sovereignty.
Both the MEA and Singapore’s MFA sought to play down the differences over the event, with officials on both sides blaming IISS organisers for the “misunderstanding”.
India and Singapore completed their week-long annual Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX-17) and both governments blamed the IISS for the goof up.
Strike in Tea Gardens for Minimum wages
as per the Minimum Wages Act.
According to the trade union leadership, the strike will be held in nearly 400 tea gardens in the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar. Apart from these four districts, the strike will be held in tea-growing area of Mekhliganj sub-division in Cooch Behar and Islampur sub-division in North Dinajpur.
the other demand is to ensure the benefits of the Food Securities Act for tea garden workers.
The tea garden owners remained adamant and refused to pay the minimum wages. They were also silent on the issue of the benefits of the Food Securities Act for tea garden workers.
The Minimum Wages Act 1948 sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours. The Indian Constitution has defined a ‘living wage’ that is the level of income for a worker which will ensure a basic standard of living including good health, dignity, comfort, education and provide for any contingency.
A minimum wage is such a wage that it not only guarantees bare subsistence and preserves efficiency but also provides for education, medical requirements and some level of comfort.
Notice to Karnataka govt. over orderly system
- Three months after the Karnataka government abolished the colonial-era orderly system, the practice is still prevalent in the police force.
- Several junior personnel continue to perform menial tasks and work as orderlies for senior police officials across the State.
- The Commission observed that the government in March 2017 had issued an order scrapping the orderly system with an amendment to provide allowances to officials to employ Group D workers to replace orderlies.
A clue to life’s origin
- Two teams of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope have found traces of methyl isocyanate in a star system.
- Methyl isocyanate is a building block of life and its discovery can yield clues about the origin of life on earth. The star system is located about 400 light years away.
IOC drive for gender equality
- In taking the quantum of women participation to 48.8%, a 3.2% increase from the last Olympics in Rio, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved big changes to the overall Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020.
- A number of men’s events have been replaced by women’s events or mixed events, apart from the introduction of 15 new events.
- At the same time, the number of athletes competing in the Olympics has been reduced by 285, with athletics losing 105, along with weightlifting (64), wrestling (56), sailing (30), shooting (30), rowing (24), aquatics (22) and water polo (18). With the approval of the 3×3 format, as an additional event, basketball stands to gain 64 players.
- Boxing, canoeing, rowing, sailing and shooting have been able to adjust their events, by transferring men’s events to women’s or mixed events, without resorting to any change in the total number of events.
- Whereas, aquatics gains two new events, men’s 800m and women’s 1500m, apart from a 4x100m mixed relay. In fact, the total number of mixed events will double from the nine in Rio, to 18 in Tokyo.
- Athletics will also have a mixed 4x400m relay. Archery will have an additional mixed team event, while BMX cycling, track cycling and fencing will see two additional events each.
- Judo, table tennis and triathlon will each have an additional mixed event, while weightlifting will lose one men’s weight category.
- In boxing, there will be a transfer of 44 athletes from men’s quota to women. It will be 55 for canoeing, 30 in all in the cycling events and 38 in judo.
- The IOC had approved the introduction of five new sports, sport climbing, skateboard, karate, baseball/softball and surfing to the Olympic programme last year.
- They will have 18 events in all, 50% each for men and women, without any mixed events.
- Even though it is driving towards gender equality, it will not be 50% female participation in many disciplines. In fact, some of the disciplines like aquatics and gymnastics, the percentage of women will be considerably higher than men.
- In the 28 disciplines, there will be 5440 men and 5176 women. The five additional sports will have 264 men and 210 women, for a total of 474.
- With the big changes, the IOC is proud to have the most gender-balanced Games in the history of the Olympics in terms of both athletes and events in Tokyo 2020.
Pak. population boom draining economic gain?
- Census is being done for the 1st time in 19 years.
- Pakistan has the highest birth rate in South Asia at around three children per woman, according to the World Bank and government figures, and the census is expected to show that growth remains high.
- The last census, held in 1998, showed that Pakistan had a population of up to 135 million.
GST Suvidha providers want date of filing returns postponed
The Goods and Services Tax Suvidha Providers (GSPs) have asked the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) and the Department of Revenue to postpone the date of filing returns under the new indirect tax regime by a month to September 10, even if GST itself is rolled out on July 1.
The GSTN held a review meeting with all 34 GSPs on Friday in which it began releasing the specifications for various tax return forms needed under the GST, according to a Finance Ministry statement.
“There are two aspects to the rollout,” said another GSP executive who didn’t want to be identified. “The first is the actual implementation of the tax. This is independent of the GSTN. The second is the filing of returns, the first date of which is August 10. The release date of the specifications make August 10 doable, but extremely difficult. It puts pressure, but can be done.”
The GSPs were also asked to get cybersecurity audits done for their IT systems before they started feeding taxpayers’ data into their systems.
“The GSPs were told that they must have their systems audited as per the prevailing ISO standard on security from one of the auditors on the panel of CERT-IN before they connect with and start pushing data into the GST system,” the statement added.
NITI Aayog unveils SATH programme
- NITI Aayog has unveiled a programme called SATH along with the state governments to kick start the process of transforming education and health sectors.
- SATH, which stands for ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital,’ will entail the government think tank to provide technical support to State governments in the two sectors.
- The programme aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health systems.
- The Aayog will work in close collaboration with their state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention, develop a program governance structure, set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms, hand-hold state institutions through the execution stage and provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.
- The program will be implemented by the Aayog along with McKinsey & Company and IPE Global consortium, who were selected through a competitive bidding process.
Amazon seeks patent for drone technology
- for a technology dealing with propeller safety for automated aerial vehicles such as drones.
- The technology is important as it helps revolutionise the way deliveries are made by an e-commerce website, especially of small packages.
- The patent is titled ‘Propeller safety for automated aerial vehicles (AAV)’ and was filed in the earlier part of this year.
- As the AAV is preparing to land at the customer specified location to deliver the payload, it may monitor for objects (e.g., pets, humans) approaching the AAV and quickly respond to prevent the object from becoming harmed, according to the patent application.
“For example, if a dog (object) approaches the AAV as the AAV is landing and the dog enters the safety perimeter of one of the propellers of the AAV, a safety profile is automatically performed so that the dog is not harmed by the propeller,” according to the patent filing.
Alibaba Cloud to open data centre in India
- it plans to establish two new data centres in Mumbai in India and Jakarta in Indonesia during the current financial year.
- Together with the recently announced data centre in Malaysia, Alibaba Cloud will significantly increase its computing resources in Asia, allowing greater support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) throughout the region with powerful, scalable, cost-effective and secure cloud capabilities
India drags US to WTO for not complying verdict on steel duty
- India has moved World Trade Organisation against the US as it has not yet complied with the rulings of the multi-lateral body related to imposition of high import duty on certain Indian steel products.
- In December 2014, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had ruled against the US imposing high duty on imports of certain Indian steel products.
- The WTOs appellate body had ruled that the high duty imposed by the US on the certain Indian steel imports was inconsistent with various provisions of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.
- Earlier, the US had dragged India to the arbitration panel of the WTO alleging that India had failed to remove trade restrictions on American poultry.
India’s Chabahar plan faces U.S. hurdle
Western manufacturers are shying away from supplying equipment for an Iranian port that India is developing for fear the United States may reimpose sanctions on Tehran, Indian officials say, dealing a blow to New Delhi’s strategic ambitions in the region.
Lying on the Gulf of Oman along the approaches to the Straits of Hormuz, the port of Chabahar is central to India’s hopes to crack open a transport corridor to Central Asia and Afghanistan that bypasses arch-rival Pakistan.
India committed $500 million to speed development of the port after sanctions on Iran were lifted following a deal struck between major powers and Tehran to curb its nuclear programme in 2015.
Rhododendrons of eastern Himalayas under threat
Though home to 97% of the Rhododendron species and sub-species in the country, indiscriminate felling and loss of habitat in the north-eastern States has left many of these beautiful flowering plants vulnerable to extinction.
Scientists with the Botanical Survey of India has documented and stressed the need to protect the many unique varieties of Rhododendron — literally rose tree in Greek — found in the region, with 18 species endemic to India.
Only three taxa — Rhododendron arboretum nilagiricum found in south India and Rhododendron colletianum and Rhododendron rawatti from the western Himalayas are not found in the north-east.
Arunachal Pradesh is home to the highest number with 119 taxa (74 species, 21 sub species and 24 varieties) of the Rhododendron. The small State of Sikkim is home to 42 taxa (25 species, 11 sub-species and six varieties) while 10 taxa are found in Manipur, four in Mizoram and 11 in Nagaland.
The cold, moist slopes and deep valleys of the eastern Himalayas form a conducive habitat for the luxuriant growth of Rhododendron species. Nowhere in the world, are such unique geographical and ecological formations are found.
Rhododendrons were first recorded by Captain Hardwick in Jammu and Kashmir in 1776 where he spotted the Rhododendron arboretum. But it was a visit by the British botanist Joseph D. Hooker to Sikkim between 1858 and 1850 that revealed the rhododendron wealth of the region.
The scientists point to the need for conservation of Rhododendrons, stressing that epiphytic species, which grow on other trees or plants, of rhododendrons with limited population are most vulnerable due to loss of the host trees.
The endemic R. wattii from Dzukou hills of Manipur and Nagaland is one of the most critically endangered species in India, with only a few adult trees remaining in their natural habitat.
The two famous Rhododendron sanctuaries in the State are Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in the West district, covering an area of 104 sq.km and Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary in Yumthang valley of North district with an area of 43 sq.km.
Rhododendrons have revealed that they are prominent indicators of climate change
Soumitra Chatterjee to get France’s Legion of Honour
The award comes to the octogenarian Bengali screen legend exactly 30 years after Satyajit Ray got the honour. Ray was awarded the Legion of Honour by then French President Francois Mitterrand in 1987.
Tagore’s Visva Parichay soon in English
- The Tagore Centre for Natural Science and Philosophy (TCNSP) here will take up the task of translating Nobel laureate poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore’s “Visva Parichay” into English and other languages.
- The TCNSP aims to study the intersections between natural science and philosophy. Supported by the West Bengal government, it is hosted at the State-run Rabindra Tirtha.
Jaipur foot being displayed in Atlanta
- The world-famous Jaipur Foot, which has helped over 16 lakh persons with disabilities around the world, will be displayed at the Rotary International celestial convention in Atlanta, U.S.
- A two-member team of Bhagwan Mahaveer Vikalang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) — the makers of Jaipur Foot — has reached Atlanta to showcase the prosthetic limb.
- The Jaipur Foot will be shown in the city where an endowment for “doing good in the world” was created at a Rotary Convention in 1917. The foundation has grown and spent more than $3 billion on various projects during the last 100 years.