Insights Daily Current Events, 21 August 2015
Iran no longer under restricted visa list
The Union government has removed Iran from the list of countries put under the restricted visa category, indicating that it wants to reach out to the Persian Gulf nation.
- India sees Iran as a key supporter in the wake of the growing threats and influence of Islamist terror groups such as the Islamic State in Central Asia.
- India has liberalised its visa policy for Iran and struck it off the prior referral category (PRC) of countries. Three categories of visas — employment, conference, students and research visa — were on the restricted list till now.
- The PRC list has countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.
The order means that Iranians can, now, easily apply for visas at Indian consulate in Iran and each application will not have to be forwarded to the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing for verification.
The decision comes after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval convened a high-level meeting in July to explore the possibilities of lifting restrictions on visas for Iran nationals. There was also need for widening cooperation between the two countries in fighting terrorism.
India and Iran (Recent developments):
- The two countries recently agreed to facilitate development in various fields including ports, north-south corridor, petrochemicals, steel industries, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment.
- In May this year, India inked a memorandum of understanding to develop the Chabahar Port in Iran.
- India is keen to open new avenues of connectivity with Iran, which will pave the way for its entry into Afghanistan and the Central Asian region.
Sources: The Hindu.
Kerala banana variant on GI list
The ‘nendran’ banana variety, ‘Chengalikodan’ of kerala, has been accorded the Geographical Indication (GI) status.
- The banana, the special variety grown in suburbs of Thrissur and Thalappilly taluks, is known for its unique size, shape, colour and taste.
- Chosen for the ‘Kazhchakkula’ offered to Lord Krishna, the presiding deity of Guruvayur, it has special significance during the Onam season.
- It is believed that the banana variety, cultivated in erstwhile Chengazhikode, came to be known as ‘Chengazhikodan’ banana and later ‘Chengalikodan’ banana.
- Chowannur, Puzhakkal, Wadakkanchery, Pazhayannur and Ollukkara block panchayats in Kerala are the prime producers of this banana variant in Thrissur.
- ‘Chengalikodan’ is the latest agricultural produce of Kerala to get GI status. ‘Palakkadan matta’ rice, ‘Vazhakkulam’ pineapple, ‘Pokkali’ rice, Wayanadan’ scented rice varieties ‘Gandhakasala’ and ‘Jeerakasala’ and Central Travancore jaggery are among those already on the list.
GI status is an indication that identifies goods as produced from a particular area, which has special quality or reputation attributable to its geographical origin.
GI registration confers:
- legal protection to the products
- prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others
- helps consumers get quality products of desired traits
- promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets
GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries. Nearly 200 unique goods have been registered as GIs in India.
Sources: The Hindu.
It is our right to work for a liquor-free State, Kerala tells SC
Kerala State government has told the Supreme Court that its liquor ban had nothing to do with ‘neat and clean’ bars and had everything to do with the health of a nation.
- The state government has said that liquor traders could not protest the ‘unreasonableness’ of the ban on all category of bars except those in five-star hotels as they had no right to protection to practice their trade under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
- The State government argues that it has the power to ban liquor, provided the authority is reasonably used with valid explanations.
- The supreme court had recently pointed out loopholes in the new liquor policy of Kerala.
- The apex court is hearing appeals challenging a judgment of the Kerala High Court that had upheld the state’s decision to close down most of the bars.
- The new liquor policy was envisaged to shut down bars attached to hotels below the five-star category as part of the new government’s plans to reduce availability of liquor. And according to the policy 10% of the retail liquor stores in the state would be closed every year till there is none left by 2023.
Sources: The Hindu, IE.
Cabinet approves pact with the Seychelles to fight black money
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing and ratification of an agreement with the Seychelles for exchange of information on taxes. This is part of the ongoing initiative of the Government of India to unearth black money.
- The agreement would stimulate information exchange for tax purposes to help curb tax evasion and avoidance.
- All types of taxes imposed by India or the Seychelles, irrespective of the manner in which they are levied, are covered under the agreement.
India has also signed an inter-governmental agreement with the U.S. to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a significant step towards curbing overseas tax evasion and black money.
India has already joined 59 countries in the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in May. This agreement obliges signatories to exchange periodically and automatically a wide range of financial information among themselves.
Manipur records 65% UAPA cases
According to the latest figures released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Manipur, which accounts to only 0.2% of the country’s population, has registered nearly 65% of cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA).
- Out of the 975 cases of UAPA registered in the country in 2014, 630 are from Manipur. 659 people from the State are charged under UAPA in these 630 cases. Altogether 974 people are charged under UAPA in the country.
- Six Manipur-based organisations are banned by Union Home Ministry under the UAPA Act.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement, or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory.
Sources: The Hindu.