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January 09

    NATIONAL

    • SC For Larger Warnings On Cigarette Packs

    Court stays Karnataka High Court order reducing pictorial warning size from 85% to 40%.

    The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Karnataka High Court order reducing the size of pictorial warnings on packages of tobacco products to 40% of the package space.

    The court foregrounded the health of citizens over the concerns of the tobacco industry and favoured a government regulation requiring packets of tobacco products to sport pictorial warnings covering 85% of their packaging space.

    Life sans health is not worth living and the chewing of tobacco or smoking of cigarettes or bidis, etc., causes irretrievable hazard to health.

    It is the obligation of the State to make the people aware as regards the injurious nature of these indulgences.

    • No Material To Probe Gandhi Assassination Again: SC

    A PIL had alleged a British conspiracy.

    There is no substantive material to justify a need to re-investigate the assassination of the Father of the Nation, amicus curiae Amarendra Sharan said in his report to the Supreme Court on Monday.

    Seventy years after the assassination on January 30, 1948, the Supreme Court had asked Mr. Sharan to conduct an independent enquiry into the case files and evidence on the basis of a PIL filed by Dr. Pankaj Kumudchandra Phadnis that a fourth bullet was found and there was a British secret service conspiracy to kill the Mahatma.

    The alleged fourth bullet was recovered from Gwalior and not Delhi. The recovery of this bullet was declared inadmissible on the insistence of the defence that it had no connection with the assassination, the report said. There was no documentary evidence to show that a British secret service was tasked with carrying out the murder.

    • India Unveils Pratyush, Its Fastest Supercomputer Yet

    India’s supercomputing prowess moved up several notches Monday after it unveiled Pratyush, an array of computers that can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops. One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system.

    According to a statement by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pratyush is the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world dedicated for weather and climate research, and follows machines in Japan, USA and the United Kingdom. It will also move an Indian supercomputer from the 300s to the 30s in the Top500 list, a respected international tracker of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

    The machines will be installed at two government institutes: 4.0 petaflops HPC facility at IITM, Pune; and 2.8 petaflops facility at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, Noida.

    • Sea Route For Haj Gets Nod

    Saudi Arabia has given its nod to India’s plan to ferry devotees to Jeddah via the sea route, 23 years after the practice was stopped.

    Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed the development in a statement after he and Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten signed a bilateral annual agreement regarding the pilgrimage in Mecca on Sunday.

    • Rainbow Of Hope For LGBT Community

    Activists and lawyers feel years of dialogue, pride parades and petitions have created public opinion in their favour.

    The Supreme Court’s decision to refer to a larger Bench a writ petition to quash Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality, has brought a ray of hope for LGBT community members and activists who have been fighting a long battle for their rights.

    Several activists and lawyers felt that the years of dialogue, pride parades and petitions had created public opinion in their favour, and only a few people with a “myopic vision” were opposed to the scrapping of controversial law.

    • Centre To Review Rules On Anthem

    The court had justified the playing of the anthem in cinema halls, seeing it as an opportunity for the public to express their “love for the motherland”.

    The Bench had observed that the protocol of showing respect and honour to the anthem was rooted in “our national identity, national integrity and constitutional patriotism.”

    But the order had attracted criticism from within the highest judiciary itself. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, while sharing a Supreme Court Bench with Justice Misra (now Chief Justice) in October 2017, had doubted the logic behind the order, saying there was no need for an Indian to “wear his patriotism on his sleeves”.

    INTERNATIONAL

    • Trump’s Outburst Deepens Sino-Pak. Ties

    Central bank has already announced that it will use Yuan to settle bilateral trade.

    News:

    After US President Donal Trump’s ‘tweets’ and plans to ‘axe’ the military aid sent to Pakistan, relations between China and Pakistan are deepening.

    Analysis:

    Beijing the clear winner.

    Soon after Mr. Trump’s tweet, Pakistan’s Central Bank swiftly announced that it would use the Chinese Yuan to settle bilateral trade and investment with China.

    The decision is significant given Islamabad had been resisting this demand from China. But one tweet from Trump managed to achieve what months of intense pressure and lobbying from Beijing could not, says analysts.

    There has also been in a rise in anti-American sentiments in Pakistan as well, which can affect the domestic politics in the country.

    China, it said, will continue its economic support to Pakistan, which is its prime partner. China sees Pakistan as a prime partner “under the Belt and Road initiative, with land and sea projects worth billions of dollars (known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) under construction,” it observed.

    ECONOMY

    • Bharat Net Project

    BharatNet is a project of national importance to establish, a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide on demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on demand capacity to all institutions, to realize the vision of Digital India, in partnership with States and the private sector.

    The entire project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.

    The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to the rural India.

    The new deadline for the project is March 2019.

    It was earlier known as National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN).

    National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is an ambitious initiative to trigger a broadband revolution in rural areas. NOFN was envisaged as an information super-highway through the creation of a robust middle-mile infrastructure for reaching broadband connectivity to Gram Panchayats.

    The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) aims to connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats (GPs).

    Based on NOFN experiences, newer, updated and upgraded version - BharatNet was conceived as a nation-wide broadband network.

    Why in News?

    The government had laid optical fibre in more than 1 lakh gram panchayats, completing the first phase of the BharatNet project.

    Reference:

    http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/bharatnet-covers-1-lakh-panchayats/article22399102.ece

    • The Companies (Amendement) Act 2017

    The second round of amendments made to the Companies Act, 2013, with the first one being made in 2015 brings in almost 40 changes to the orginial act.

    The Amendment Act broadly seeks to strengthen corporate governance standards, initiate strict action against defaulting companies and help improve ease of doing business in the country.

    Some of the provisions are :

    1. Harmonization With SEBI And RBI

    Several provisions have been amended to align the Act with various rules and regulations of the SEBI and the RBI.

    For instance, Sections 194 and 195 of the Act, which dealt with insider trading and forward dealing, have now been omitted since the SEBI regulations are wide enough to cover all instances of such frauds.

    2. Rationalisation Of Penalties

    The quantum of penalty will now be levied taking into consideration the size of company, nature of business, injury to public interest, nature and gravity of default, repetition of default, etc.

    3. Private Placement Process Made Easier

    The private placement process is simplified by doing away with separate offer letter details to be kept by company and reducing number of filings to Registrar.

    4. Loans to directors

    This was done to address the difficulties being faced in genuine transactions due to the complete embargo on providing loans to subsidiaries with common director.

    Now the companies are permitted to give loans to entities in which directors are interested after passing special resolution and adhering to disclosure requirements.

    5. Disqualification For Independent Director Further Clarified

    The amendment brings clarity to Section 149 of the Act deals with the qualifications and disqualifications of independent directors.

    Reference :

    http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/amended-companies-act-notified/article22398765.ece