- Triple talaq and its validity
- Attorney General of India, Mr. Rohatgi view points:
- Strike down all the three forms of triple talaq as “constitutionally immoral”.
- If it’s struck down, Centre would then introduce a new law for Muslim divorce.
- Instantaneous triple talaq cannot be viewed through the prism of one eye alone.
- Many women in the Hanafi school accept triple talaq as a valid form of divorce.
- Women had not thought about approaching the court for 1,400 years.
Context: Constitutionality of the contract entered into between WhatsApp and Facebook on data sharing.
- The state has a duty to ensure that subscribers of online service providers are not “entrapped” by them.
- C asked, Can WhatsApp, an instant messaging platform, impose any condition on its users here violating any part of the Constitution?
Government response: Government is in the process of building a regulatory regime of a binding nature to protect user data.
Counsel for Facebook response: They were not sharing any sensitive or personal data and since India was shifting to digitisation, the service provided by WhatsApp was beneficial as it was end-to-end encrypted.
⏳ Soldiers in Siachen to get indigenous gear soon
- Indian Army is the only force which operates and fights at heights of over 20,000 feet on the Siachen glacier, yet imports even the most basic equipment and personal items required to sustain troops there.
- Now the Army is attempting to reverse this and indigenise items by involving the private sector in addition to the defence Public Sector Undertakings.
- Super high altitude is the height above 18,000 feet.
- The Army spends about Rs. 500 crore every year on basic personal items for soldiers.
- The items include super high altitude clothing such as rucksack special socks, thermal insoles, snow goggles and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) bag.
- These are currently imported and are quite expensive.
⏳ Palestine, Israel must coexist: Modi
- Pitching for peace in West Asia, India on 16 May 2017 urged that a future state of Palestine should coexist peacefully with Israel.
- However, visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that a sovereign state of Palestine should be based on the map of Israel and Palestine that existed before the Six-Day War of 1967 in which Israel absorbed East Jerusalem.
- Competing Israeli and Palestinian claims over East Jerusalem, which is home to Jewish and Muslim holy sites, remain a major hurdle in the peace process.
- The exchange on the West Asian peace process is significant as Mr. Modi is likely to travel to Israel in July which will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the country since establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992.
- The delegations also signed agreements on visa exemption on diplomatic and official passports, sports and youth affairs, agriculture, health and IT.
⏳ Sharif government under fire over China project plan
- Opposition leaders slammed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ‘s government on 16 May 2017 after the Dawn daily disclosed the “master plan” of the Beijing-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will link the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan to China’s Xinjiang province via a network of highways and railways.
- Dawn reported it had acquired exclusive access to the original document that discloses what the Chinese priorities are in Pakistan for the next decade and a half.
- The master plan, drawn up by the China Development Bank and the National Development Reform Commission of China, states that thousands of acres of agricultural land to be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up projects in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology.
- The Pakistani government challenged the report, saying the details were quoted from one of the working papers prepared to be discussed with the Chinese leadership during the recently-held Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
- However, the newspaper held on to its story, and, in an editorial on 16 May 2017, called for transparency in the government’s negotiations with China.
- The leaked plan suggests that China will spread its influence into different sectors of Pakistan’s economy.
- “In other cases, such as textiles and garments, cement and building materials, fertiliser and agricultural technologies, it calls for building the infrastructure and a supporting policy environment to facilitate fresh entry.
- A key element in this is the creation of industrial parks, or special economic zones, which must meet specified conditions, including availability of water… perfect infrastructure, sufficient supply of energy and the capacity of self service power,” says the plan.
- The report states that Chinese enterprises will also operate their own farms, processing facilities for fruit and vegetables and grain, while logistics companies will operate a large storage and transportation system for agrarian produce.
- China’s plan is to gradually create a favourable industry image and reputation for Pakistan by relying on domestic demand, states the document.
- In the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of the CPEC, the focus is on mineral extraction, with potential in chrome ore and gold reserves and diamonds.
- Pakistani economists believe the plan can benefit the country in the long term if China develops the agriculture sector which remains the backbone of the Pakistan’s economy. But they are fearful if Pakistan would be able to fulfil its debt obligations.
⏳ ‘Foreign food retailers can sell non-foods too’
- By October 2017, the Centre is expected to pave the way for multibrand foreign retailers to tap the Indian market, by allowing overseas investors in the food retail segment to offer ‘Made in India’ nonfood items as well, according to Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
- The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had assured her ministry that the concerned foreign direct investment (FDI) norms would be tweaked as a ‘sweetener’ for foreign investors likely to attend a mega World Food Forum being held in the national capital this November, Ms. Badal said in an interview.
- While India’s $600 billion retail sector, with 70% of it comprising food, is a ‘mind boggling’ proposition for foreign retailers grappling with stagnating growth in the developed world, the minister said that the food-only model was a challenge for them.
- India had opened up 100% FDI in multibrand food retail and food processing sectors in early 2016.
- “It’s equally important for employment generation. Today, we have got 50% of our youth under the age of 25 looking for jobs. This is not going to kill anybody’s market as we are only processing 10% of our food till now,” said Ms. Badal.
- “The little kirana shop next to them would be selling all imported goods and other items, but they can only sell food. So how do they compete with the small guy like that? This is a fair point,” Ms. Badal said, adding that she had flagged the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- For consumers, in any case, it was more convenient to buy food and small home care items in one place instead of going to different retailers, Ms. Badal added.
- The Centre to frame a new sector-wise National Employment Policy in this financial year.
- Policy’s thrust would be to ensure a transition from informal to formal jobs in the country.
- At present, in India, around 92% of the workers are engaged in informal employment — those who are not covered by any social security law.
- Labour Bureau- quarterly survey of industries
- The pace of job creation fell to a six-year low in 2015 with 1.35 lakh new jobs being created compared with 4.21 lakh new jobs in 2014 and 4.19 lakh in 2013.
- Another survey – Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey – of households conducted by Labour Bureau showed unemployment rate rising to a five-year high of 5% in 2015-16 compared with 4.9% in 2013-14 and 4.7% in 2012-13.
Reasons for job loss in IT sector:
- S. President Donald Trump’s executive order issued last month to review the H1-B visa program, which aims at tightening visa norms for skilled workers and technology shifts.
- Whole industry is going ahead with automation as a result of which the manpower requirement is going down.
- A National Employment Policy was planned by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government but a draft Policy was released on June 16, 2014 when the NDA government took charge at the Centre.
- A two-page document, it talked about providing skill development in the unorganised non-farm sector such as construction.
⏳ A chip to help treat Alzheimer’s
- Scientists, led by an Indian origin researcher, have developed a new material that could allow brain cells to grow and form predictable circuits, an advance that may lead to the development of neural implants.
- Such implants can help the brain recover after damage due to an accident, stroke or degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, researchers said.
- A team from Australian National University (ANU) grew the ‘brain-on-a-chip’ – brain cells – on a semiconductor wafer patterned with nanowires that act as a scaffold to guide their growth.
⏳ New software can edit human voice like text
- Scientists have developed a new software that allows people to edit audio recording of a human voice with the ease of changing words on a computer screen.
- The technology developed by researchers at Princeton University in the U.S. may do for audio recordings what word processing software did for the written word.
- The software, named VoCo, provides an easy means to add or replace a word in a recording of a human voice.
- New words are then automatically synthesised in the speaker’s voice.
- The system, which uses a sophisticated algorithm to recreate a particular voice, could one day make editing podcasts and narration in videos much easier.
- The technology could provide a launching point for creating personalised robotic voices.
⏳ Mars rover to study valley’s origin
- Mars rover Opportunity has reached the main destination of its current two year extended mission – an ancient fluid-carved ‘Perseverance Valley’ incised on the inner slope of a vast crater’s rim, NASA has said.
- Images captured by its cameras began showing parts of the area in great resolution.
Significant Mars Rovers
Spirit (Mars Exploration Rover (MER-A))
Opportunity (Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B))
Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory (MSL))
- The Southern Bird Wing butterfly approved to become the “State butterfly” of Karnataka– distinctive red and yellow stripes
- Habitat: the Western Ghats.
- The proposal for the State butterfly was given approval from the State Wildlife Board.
- Karantaka the second State in the country after Maharashtra to adopt a State butterfly.
- Maharashtra chose the Blue Mormom butterfly as its State butterfly
- The Southern Bird Wing is the largest butterfly in India, with the females growing up to 190 mm in length. Primarily endemic to South India, it is found in abundance in Karnataka.
Importance of Butterflies
- Butterflies are the important members of the eco-system.
- These are important pollinators, and their preservation is necessary for the eco-system