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Insights Daily Current Events, 05 August 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 05 August 2015

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Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution

The Union Home Ministry has decided to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

  • The migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains.
  • Accordingly, a Bill is being prepared to amend the the Citizenship Act, 1955 and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950.
  • Many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired.

Hence, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered.

Way ahead:

  • The cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh who can apply for citizenship is December 31, 2014. Citizenship by registration (a minimum stay of seven years) and naturalisation (a minimum of 12 years) will be the two routes.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955, would have to be amended to reflect the exemption from the status of illegal migrant.
  • The amendment to the Passports Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, will have to be notified and tabled in Parliament for two months to allow for objections, if any, before being deemed clear.
  • The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1950, will be cleared as a Bill after being debated in Parliament.

However, the External Affairs Ministry has cautioned the Home Ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken.

Sources: The Hindu.

Cloud seeding soon to help overcome farm crisis

The Karnataka State government has decided to take up cloud seeding to overcome the crisis in the agricultural sector owing to deficient rainfall this year.

  • Due to deficient rainfall, the State is reeling under a drought-like situation on one hand, and on the other farmer suicide is on the rise.
  • The state government is also planning to come out with a new policy of rehabilitating people displaced due to submersion of villages under irrigation projects, with thrust on enabling them, especially farmers, to rebuild their life in a new place.

What is cloud seeding?

Cloud seeding is the process of spreading either dry ice, or more commonly, silver iodide aerosols, into the upper part of clouds to try to stimulate the precipitation process and form rain.

Since most rainfall starts through the growth of ice crystals from super-cooled cloud droplets in the upper parts of clouds, the silver iodide particles are meant to encourage the growth of new ice particles.

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

China Breaks India’s Guinness Record for Largest Umbrella

A giant umbrella of around 23 meters in diameter and 14.4 meters in height made by a Chinese firm has set a new Guinness World Record for the world’s largest umbrella, breaking record set in India in 2010.

  • The umbrella has been certificated by Chinese representatives of Guinness World Records in Xingzi County of Jiangxi.
  • The umbrella weighing 5.7 tonnes (5,700 kg) and standing in a plaza covers an area of 418 square meters.

Sources: The Hindu.

NHAI comes out with cost index

In a move that should make it easier to gauge costs and price movements in the road construction sector, the National Highways Authority of India has released for public comment an index of prices pertaining only to the sector.

About the index:

  • The index is named the National Highways Construction Cost Index (NHCCI).
  • It takes into account 60 items clubbed into three categories—material, labour and equipment—and arrives at a composite index figure.
  • The reference date for the index has been taken as April 2013.
  • The aim of the index is to eventually replace the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) when it comes to measuring the escalation of prices to do with road construction.

What’s the problem with WPI?

  • The WPI is a national index which covers a number of representative items. Although it is robust at an aggregate level and at the group levels, it is not reliable at item level due to small number of price quotations.
  • It doesn’t include all the items as required by the highways projects of India.
  • Many of the critical components of a highways project are not included in the WPI as they may not be important in the overall economy.

NHAI:

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

  • The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.
  • It is responsible for the development, maintenance, management and operation of National Highways.

Sources: The Hindu.

NHRC seeks report on exclusion of enclave dwellers in census

Inquiring into allegations that many residents have not been included in the census carried out for exchange of enclaves, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recently issued notices to the Union Home Ministry, the External Affairs Ministry and the Chief Secretaries of West Bengal and Assam asking them to give a detailed report in four weeks.

Referring to the letters exchanged between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Bangladesh on June 6, the NHRC notice emphasised the point that “both governments shall facilitate orderly, safe and secure passage to residents of enclaves along with their personal belongings and movable property to the mainland of India or Bangladesh.”

What the complaint says?

  • Most of the residents/Indians of the Bangladeshi Enclaves in India and Indian Enclaves in Bangladesh have not been counted in the census conducted in the years 2011 and 2015. There are 30,000 such persons.
  • Therefore the commission has said that if the allegations of the complainant are true, these incidents amount to violation of not only human rights but also the agreement between the two nations.

India and Bangladesh formally exchanged the enclaves recently under the Land Boundary Agreement.

NHRC:

  • It is a statutory body established in 1993.
  • It consists of a Chairman and 4 members. Chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India. Members should be either sitting or retired judges of the supreme court or a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court and 2 persons having practical knowledge in this field.
  • Ex officio members are the chairmen of National Commission for Scheduled Caste, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women.
  • The chairman and members are appointed on the recommendation of a 6 member committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of opposition in both the houses of parliament and Union Home Minister.
  • Term of the chairman and members is 5 years or 70 years whichever is earlier.
  • After retirement they are not eligible for further reappointment.
  • Removal: President has to refer the matter to Supreme Court and if after enquiry Supreme Court holds it right then they can be removed by the President.
  • The commission is not empowered to enquire into matters which were committed one year before.
  • Its recommendations are just advisory and not binding in nature.
  • It submits Annual report to the Central government and to the concerned state governments.

Sources: The Hindu, nhrc.

Russia bids at U.N. for vast Arctic territories

Russia has submitted its bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations. Russia is claiming 1.2 million square km of Artic sea shelf extending more than 650 km from the shore.

  • Russia, the U.S., Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas.
  • Rivalry for Arctic resources has intensified as shrinking polar ice is opening up new opportunities for exploration.
  • Russia was the first to submit its claim in 2002, but the U.N. sent it back for lack of evidence.

Arctic ocean is surrounded by the land masses of Eurasia, North America, Greenland, and by several islands.

Sources: The Hindu.

Rare Chera, Chola coins found in Thanjavur

During recent excavations at Senthalaipattanam, Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu, ten coins including a Sangam age Chera coin datable to circa second century BCE, eight Chola period coins and a Vijayanagara period coin have been found.

Details:

  • The Senthalaipattanam trench yielded the Chera lead coin of second century BCE. It has the image of a bow on the reverse side and the obverse probably has a carving of an elephant. This kind of Chera coin is generally found [on the surface] in the Karur region in Tamil Nadu.
  • Of the eight copper coins of the Chola period, one was issued by Raja Raja Chola. It has the image, on the obverse, of a man standing and holding a flower. The reverse shows a seated man and a legend in Nagari, reading “Rajaraja.” This type of coin is called “Eelam Kasu” (coin). The coin issued by Rajendra Chola has the Nagari script “Uttama” [Chola], his grandfather’s name, on the observe.
  • The Vijayanagara coin has a seated goddess on the obverse, and a leaf with horizontal lines and dots on the reverse. While the Chera coin was found at the lowermost level, the Chola coins were found above and the Vijayanagara coin at the topmost level.
  • The excavation has also yielded a heap of beads made out of glass, terracotta and semi-precious stones, terracotta pipes and big pots. There are several lakes with fresh water in the area. The findings confirm that Mandripattanam must have been a port-town during the pre-Christian era and a naval base to load the ships with food and water during the Chola period.

At this stretch, when the shore was dug about 15 years ago to set up prawn farms, several Sangam age, Roman and late Chola period coins were found. Hence, this site was chosen for excavation.

The Cheras ruled over parts of modern Kerala. Their capital was Vanji and their important seaports were Tondi and Musiri. The Chola kingdom of the Sangam period extended from modern Tiruchi district to southern Andhra Pradesh. Their capital was first located at Uraiyur and then shifted to Puhar. Cheras with the Chola and the Pandyas, formed the three principal warring Iron Age kingdoms of southern India in the early centuries of the Common Era.

Sources: The Hindu.

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