New NATO head takes over
Former two-term Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg started to work as NATO’s Secretary-General, the 13th in the trans-Atlantic organisation’s 65-year existence.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on 4 April 1949. In accordance with the Treaty, the fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in crisis management and peacekeeping.
NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
POLITICAL – NATO promotes democratic values and encourages consultation and cooperation on defence and security issues to build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
MILITARY – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty – NATO’s founding treaty – or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
NATO provides a unique opportunity for member countries to consult and take decisions on security issues at all levels and in a variety of fields.
A “NATO decision” is the expression of the collective will of all 28 member countries since all decisions are taken by consensus.
All member countries that participate in the military aspect of the Alliance contribute forces and equipment, which together constitute the integrated military structure of the Alliance. These forces and assets remain under national command and control until a time when they are required by NATO for a specific purpose (i.e. conflict or crisis, peacekeeping). NATO, however, does possess some common capabilities owned and operated by the Alliance, such as the AWACS early warning radar aircraft.
NATO against Terrorism:
NATO’s work on counter-terrorism focuses on improved threat awareness and preparedness, developing adequate capabilities and enhancing engagement with partner countries and other international actors.
On 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO declared the attacks to be an attack against all the 28 NATO member countries within the terms of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
This landmark decision was followed by practical measures aimed at assisting the United States in different fields, in relation to its campaign against terrorism.
NATO and CYBER DEFENCE:
Against the background of increasing dependence on technology and on the Internet, the Alliance is advancing its efforts to confront the wide range of cyber threats targeting NATO’s networks on a daily basis. The growing sophistication of cyber attacks makes the protection of the Alliance’s communications and information systems (CIS) an urgent task. This objective has been recognised as a priority in NATO’s Strategic Concept.
Sources: The Hindu, wiki, www.nato.int.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act
2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each.
The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member.
Every bench of the tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews.
The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts. Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.
The Tribunal has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” (i.e. a community at large is affected, damage to public health at broader level) & “damage to environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution). However there is no specific method is defined in Law for determining “substantial” damage to environment, property or public health.
The powers of tribunal related to an award are equivalent to Civil court and tribunal may transmit any order/award to civil court have local jurisdiction. The Act specifies that an application for dispute related to environment can be filled within six months only when first time dispute arose (provided tribunal can accept application after 60 days if it is satisfied that appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filling the application).
Also Tribunal is competent to hear cases for several acts such as Forest (Conservation) Act, Biological Diversity Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Water & Air (Prevention & control of Pollution) Acts etc. and also have appellate jurisdiction related to above acts after establishment of Tribunal within a period of 30 days of award or order received by aggrieved party.
The Act says that decision taken by majority of members shall be binding and every order of Tribunal shall be final. Any person aggrieved by an award, decision, or order of the Tribunal may appeal to the Supreme Court within 90 days of commencement of award but Supreme Court can entertain appeal even after 90 days if appellant satisfied SC by giving sufficient reasons.
Sources: The Hindu, wiki, http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/.
‘Punarjagaran’- Mass Awakening Campaign for youth
It will be launched by The Ministry of Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs and Sports.
‘Punarjagaran’ aims at creating awareness among youth and empower them to become active partners in nation building activities.
The yearlong Campaign also aims to make aware and educate youth on key issues in thematic areas, provide information on the avenues for skill development, encourage and empower them with the spirit of nationalism and volunteerism. The thematic areas of the campaign are encouraging Nationalism, promoting “Swachh Bharat, Shramadaan” and popularizing the recently launched “Jan Dhan Yojana”.
PIO Card valid for Life Time
In pursuance of the announcement made by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden in New York on September 28, 2014, now, Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card shall be valid for life time and the PIO Card holder shall be exempt from police reporting / registration.
It has been further clarified that all PIO Cards issued till September 30, 2014 are automatically deemed to have life time validity.
About PIO card:
A PIO card allows visa free travel and several other benefits to the card holder.
All persons of Indian origin who are in possession of the passport of any other country except Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Sri Lanka or any other country specified by the government, are eligible for PIO Card if:
- He/She had any time held an Indian passport.
- He/She or either of his/her parents or grand parents or great grand parents was born in India or permanent resident in India provided neither was at any time a citizen of any other specific country.
- He/She is a spouse of a citizen of India or a person of Indian origin covered under 1 & 2 above.
- Iranian nationals of Indian Origin can be granted PIO card after MHA approval.
Sources: PIB, http://boi.gov.in/.
ECI Launches Video Game to Educate Voters
In a first of its kind effort, the Election Commission of India has developed a video game titled “Get! Set! Vote!”
The game has been created to broadly engage citizens of all age groups to learn on democracy and electoral process.
In a fun-filled and interactive manner, the video game gives out pieces of information and interesting details in10 levels of mazes. With every successive level, the information becomes more specific to subjects such as Indian democracy, registering to vote, ethical voting, help from ECI and so on. The mazes also get more challenging with the player clearing each level.
Under the Commission’s SVEEP (Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation) programme, the video game has been developed in collaboration with UNDP India.
A series of edutainment materials including picture book “Proud to be a Voter” and “Garv se bane Matdata”; Cartoon Strips “Wah Election Wah”; board game “Ready! Steady! Vote!” and “Vote kiBaazi”; and radio programme “Loktantra Express” has been developed for imparting voter education through entertainment.