Insights Daily Current Events, 18 August 2015
Russia backs India’s bid for a permanent UNSC seat
After the United States, Russia too has clarified that it is open to supporting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently, in an interview, said that Russia supports the candidature of India and Brazil for permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council. He also said that the presence of an African country in the UNSC is also necessary.
India, which will be competing for a permanent seat with Germany, Japan and Brazil, already has the support of France and the U.K., and has long held that as one of the biggest democracies and a growing economy it is poised to take its place in the UNSC complete with the veto. However, China remains a big roadblock as it has not clarified its position on support for India.
India and UNSC:
- India was among the founding members of United Nations.
- It is the second largest and a one of the largest constant contributor of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping missions.
- Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the UN’s five big powers combined.
- India, since long time, has been demanding expansion of UNSC and its inclusion as permanent member in it. It has been a member of UNSC for 7 terms and a member of G-77 and G-4, so permanent membership is a logical extension.
UNSC: Quick facts
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
- The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
- The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.
Sources: The Hindu, UN.
Call drops problem likely to worsen
The telecom services provider have warned that call drop problems of cell phone users are likely to worsen unless challenges faced in installation of mobile towers are dealt with. They have also demanded for a national policy from the government in this regard.
What the telecom services provider say?
- Inadequate number of cell sites directly impact quality of services.
- Limited number of towers is leading to inferior customer experience and growing customer inconvenience.
- Several challenges are being faced by the industry during installation of sites, including State bodies’ actions against towers without prior notices, restrictions by municipalities, sealing orders, power supply issues and difficulties in getting clearances for installing sites.
- The service providers have also said that over 10,000 cell sites have been made non-operational due to some trivial reasons across major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Patna and Jaipur.
Various demands by the telecom companies:
- need of additional spectrum.
- harmonisation of airwaves to improve capacity.
- they be allowed to install towers on government buildings.
- alignment of State policies with the Telecom Department’s advisory of mobile tower installation.
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in July 2015, had named Vodafone, Idea, Reliance and Airtel among the cell phone service providers failing to meet the quality of service norms in Delhi or Mumbai, especially on mobile call drops.
- An audit, done by an independent agency, on behalf of the regulator, had found that Tata (CDMA) in Delhi and Bharti Airtel in Mumbai are the only service providers meeting the benchmark of less than 2% call drops.
- The number of call drop complaints by mobile phone subscribers has been on the rise, especially in metros.
What is a Call Drop?
- There is no standard definition of a dropped call. In telecommunications, it referes to the telephone calls which, due to technical reasons, were cut off before the speaking parties had finished their conversation and before one of them had hung up (dropped calls).
- There are many reasons why a call drops, including network infrastructure, spectrum allocation, traffic, as well as the handsets that consumers use.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.
Grama Jyothi launched across Telangana
Chief Minister of Telangana K. Chandrasekhar Rao recently launched a flagship programme of his government, Grama Jyothi in the state.
Details of the scheme:
- The scheme is aimed at comprehensive development of rural areas.
- It allows planning and execution of works by villages themselves.
- With the village development committees playing the key role, the focus of the scheme would be at improving the Human Development Index (HDI) by addressing core issues such as roads, drains and sanitation, nutrition and health, drinking water, streetlights, wage employment and green cover.
- A sum of Rs. 25,000 crore in five years will be spent under the scheme for rural development. Each village will be alloted Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 6 crore depending on the population.
- The scheme is also aimed at strengthening panchayat raj system and to allow gram panchayats to formulate their own development plans.
- The gram panchayats would be required to formulate a special development plan for the welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
Sources: The Hindu, ET.
Delhi launches bike-on-rent scheme
The Delhi government has announced the launch of a rented motorcycle scheme. This is expected to further the Capital’s existing appeal among tourists – especially outgoing or adventure-driven bike aficionados from the West.
- The scheme was announced by the Transport Department of Delhi on the sidelines of unveiling a taxi scheme consisting of small vehicles available at Rs. 10 per kilometre aimed at improving last-mile connectivity in Delhi .
- The government would now begin issuing licenses for firms or vendors of two-wheelers- which could be hired by individuals and tourists alike for temporary periods.
- Commercially-registered two-wheelers equipped with a fare metre, GPS system and the provision of other components similar to those on four-wheel taxis would be available for hire in the Capital.
Currently, many tourists who visit the Capital have to travel as far as Goa first so that they can hire two-wheelers for a cruise around northern India because of lack of availability of such vehicles on a rental basis in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
Sources: The Hindu.
Reject mercy pleas of 2 convicts, Pranab told
The Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended to the President that mercy petitions of two convicts, sentenced to death for rapes and murder, be rejected. The Supreme Court upheld their death sentence and their mercy petitions were rejected by the Maharashtra Governor.’
- The President is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers in deciding cases of mercy petitions, the Home Ministry in this case.
- The President has so far rejected 22 mercy petitions. He has commuted the death sentence of only one person.
All about mercy pleas:
- Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President can grant pardon, and suspend, remit or commute a sentence of death. However, the President does not exercise this power on this own — he has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers. This too has been made clear by the Constitution.
- Under the existing rules of procedure governing mercy petitions, the view of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), conveyed to the President in writing, is taken as the view of the Cabinet, and the President decides a mercy petition accordingly.
- Once a convict has been finally awarded the death sentence by the Supreme Court, anybody, including a foreign national, can send a mercy petition with regard to that person to the President’s Office or the MHA.
- A mercy plea can also be sent to the Governor of the state concerned, who then forwards it to the MHA for further action.
- The convict can file a mercy plea from prison through officials, his lawyer or family. These days, mercy petitions can also be emailed to the MHA or President’s Secretariat.
Sources: The Hindu, IE.
Court allows lie detector test on Naved
A Delhi court has allowed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to put alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Mohammad Naved through the lie detector test.
- Villagers in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir had caught the terrorist earlier this month after he and his accomplice had attacked a BSF convoy in which two jawans were killed and eight injured. The other terrorist was killed in the counter-attack by the BSF.
- The court conducted the proceedings in camera and allowed the NIA’s plea for the polygraph test after getting the consent of the accused.
Lie Detector and Polygraph Tests:
Lie detectors are called polygraphs because the test consists of simultaneously monitoring several of the suspect’s physiological functions – breathing, pulse, and galvanic skin response — and printing out the results on graph paper.
- The printout shows exactly when, during the questioning period, the biologic responses occurred. If the period of greatest biologic reaction lines up with the key questions on the graph paper – the questions that would implicate the person as being involved with the crime – stress is presumed. And along with this presumption of stress comes a second presumption: that the stress indicates a lie.
- Lie detector tests or polygraph tests are rarely used in criminal trials. The theory underlying a lie detector test is that lying is stressful, and that this stress can be measured and recorded on a polygraph machine.
- However, the courts in most jurisdictions doubt the reliability of lie detector tests and refuse to admit the results into evidence.
Supreme Court’s views:
- The Supreme Court of India in 2010 had ruled compulsory brain mapping, narco-analysis and lie detector tests unconstitutional as they violate individual rights.
- The SC had said that the tests can be administered to a person only with consent and even then National Human Rights Commission guidelines must be adhered to. The person needs to be assisted by a lawyer, his consent needs to be recorded before a magistrate, and he needs to be told about the implications of his consent and the fact that the information thus collected would not be used against him as evidence in court. But information or material collected with the help of a (voluntary) test can be admitted in court under section 27 of the Evidence Act.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, SC.
Karnataka Governor gives nod for Lokayukta Bill
Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai R. Vala has given assent to the Karnataka Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was passed by the legislature primarily for removal of Karnataka Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao.
- According to the Bill, once the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court or the judge nominated finds the Lokayukta guilty of misconduct or incapacity, then both the Houses of the legislature can pass a motion with two-third majority stating that the Lokayukta should be removed.
- As per the new bill, a judge who has served not less than 10 years is eligible to be the Loakyukta, and a judge who has put in not less than five years as high court judge, can become the Upa Lokayukta.
Appointment of Lokayukta: The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of Karnataka on advice of Chief Minister of Karnataka in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka, the Chairman of Karnataka Legislative Council, the Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council and the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
Powers: The Lokayukta has the power to investigate Chief Minister, all other Ministers and Members of the State Legislature and all state government employees.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, lokayukta.