The HINDU Notes – 17th April


🌐 Election Commission seeks funds for paper trail units

What’s in news?

  • Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi has requested the Union Law Ministry for urgent release of funds, given the “prevailing environment,” to facilitate procurement of VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.


  • Voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verifiable paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system.
  • A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. It contains name of the candidate (for whom vote has been casted) and symbol of the party/ individual candidate.

🌐 China-Nepal exercises don’t worry us: India

  • The relationship between Kathmandu and New Delhi has its “own logic”, India said.
  • The enduring ties between the two sides are not concerned with the ongoing first ever military exercises between China and Nepal, the External Affairs Ministry said.
  • The China-Nepal exercise, “Sagarmatha Friendship – 2017” began on 17 April 2017 in Nepal Army’s para training school in Maharajganj and will continue for 10 days.
  • Though the official said that India was not concerned with the military exercise, he highlighted that India remained concerned about long-term peace, stability and the amendments to the Nepal Constitution of 2015.
  • The local-level elections in Nepal to be held on May 14 will begin a year-long process which will culminate in the election of Parliament of Nepal.

🌐 Triple talaq misuse will lead to social boycott’ Muslim Personal Law Board sends out warning

  • “Whoever gives triple talaq without valid Shariat reasons will be boycotted by the society… so that such cases do not arise in future,” the governing body for Muslim personal law in the country concluded after a two-day executive meeting at the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulam, a key Islamic seminary in Lucknow.
  • The AIMPLB, however, asserted its “full constitutional right” to implement Muslim personal law in the country.
  • Releasing an eight-point code of conduct for divorce, the Board encouraged Muslim couples to resolve differences on their own, and if that fails, adopt the “reconciliation and arbitration” method though involvement of family elders, before settling for a divorce.
  • If after the waiting period (iddat), reconciliation happens, the two can, through mutual consent, restore the relationship with a fresh marriage, say the guidelines.
  • The AIMPLB has opposed PILs filed against triple talaq in the SC, and regularly asserted that it did not encourage government interference.
  • A five-judge Constitution Bench of the SC will start hearing the petitions against triple talaq from May 11.

🌐 States turn to dogs to check wildlife crimes

  • In a bid to combat wildlife crimes more effectively, the Forest Departments of different States are strengthening law enforcement using squads of sniffer and tracker dogs.
  • The training of dogs in India for wildlife crime prevention was pioneered by TRAFFIC, a global wildlife trade monitoring network.
  • Also known as ‘TRAFFIC’s Super Sniffers,’ 43 of the squads have been deployed in the country.


  • TRAFFIC is a joint programme of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
  • Traffic also works in co-operation with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • The programme was founded in 1976, with headquarters now located in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and regional bases in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania with national offices within these regions.
  • TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
  • TRAFFIC’s global network is research-driven, action-oriented, and committed to delivering innovative and practical solutions to wildlife trade issues based on the latest information.

🌐 Iran’s silence on Jadhav baffling

  • The lack of investigative support from Iran on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case has raised questions about the overall state Tehran-New Delhi security cooperation, say experts.

  • Iran is a strategic partner in India’s outreach to Afghanistan and Central Asia, but its silence on the Kulbhushan case has baffled many.
  • Tehran has not responded to India’s request for investigation in the case.
  • India has maintained that Kulbushan Jadhav had been engaged in “legitimate business” in the Iranian port of Chabahar and was kidnapped by Pakistani agents.
  • However, this part of the Indian narrative can be corroborated only if Iran comes forward with an investigation.
  • After years of cooperation, the port of Chabahar received more attention during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tehran last May when both sides signed a trilateral agreement with Kabul to develop the port and connect it with Afghanistan.
  • Commentators also believe that Iran is uncomfortable with India’s growing proximity to GCC states, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and its non-cooperation on the case of Mr. Jadhav is indicative of a larger bilateral problem.
  • Also, recently Iran-India disagreed over the Farzad-B gas field which Iran had promised to India. Following pricing issues over the gas field, India has begun to cut gas imports from Iran.

🌐 Indian Railways draft policy aims at boosting tourism

  • The Indian Railways (IR) plans to introduce dedicated train services for domestic and international tourists, catering to customers at all income levels.
  • Advance booking of seats for foreign tourists will begin a year in advance so that they can plan their journey.
  • The proposal is part of the IR’s draft Tourism Policy 2017, brought out for the first time in a bid to increase private partnership in running tourist trains.
  • A concept of tourist train with differential tariff will be worked out.
  • Additionally, the Railways plans to rope in several service providers, including Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), to manage other services such as hotel accommodation and sightseeing for domestic and international tourists.
  • The Railways also proposes to reserve special coaches for tourists on trains running through tourist spots across the country.
  • It will auction such dedicated tourist coaches to tour operators “at a premium based on which the tour operator may carry the passengers/ tourists to be booked by it.”
  • It plans to unveil ‘Bharat Darshan Trains’ catering “for the masses” with sleeper class coaches.
  • For promoting religious tourism, the IR proposed introducing Astha Circuit Trains and State Tirth Trains. While the former will be operated by the IR at its own expense, the latter will be run on request from state governments at their cost.
  • The IR will look to increase the frequency of hill tourist trains during peak season and has proposed reviving steam trains to be operated in hill stations.
  • It has invited comments on its draft policy, uploaded on its website till April 24.

🌐 Centre links two NGOs to Maoists

  • The Home Ministry has said in its annual report that at least two civil rights groups working for tribal people in Odisha and Jharkhand were allegedly acting as a front organisation for the Maoists and were using “displacement of local communities” as their main plank.
  • The Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) in Odisha and the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) in Jharkhand are the organisations.
  • The samiti has actively campaigned against mining activity by the Odisha Mining Corporation atop the Niyamgiri hills in south-western Odisha, which would have given U.K.-based Vedanta Group access to natural resources.
  • In 2013, as many as 12 gram sabhas of Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kandha spread across Rayagada and Kalahandi districts voted against any mining activity in the area.
  • Last year, the Supreme Court quashed a petition by the corporation to hold fresh gram sabha consultations to allow bauxite mining on Nyamgiri hills.
  • Last year, the VVJVA vehemently opposed the Jharkhand government’s decision to amend two tenancy laws to allow use of agricultural land of tribal people for non-agricultural purposes.
  • The Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908 restricts the sale of tribal land to non-tribals in 16 districts of Jharkhand.
  • The Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act of 1876 also prohibited sale of tribal land to non-tribals in the Santhal Pargana region.
  • The report said Maoist affiliates also undertook protest programmes and resorted to anti-government propaganda over alleged atrocities by security forces.
  • “They organised similar meetings over the issue of Kashmir and called for a plebiscite in the State,” the report said.
  • As per Home Ministry data, at least 323 incidents of violence related to left-wing extremism were reported in Jharkhand in 2016, second only to Chattisgarh, which recorded 395 incidents. Odisha recorded 86 incidents in 2016.

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