Current Affair ,20th February 2020
- February 20, 2020
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- Cabinet approves the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved a historic Bill for the welfare of Women in the Country – the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020. This follows the introduction in Parliament of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020, and the approval of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020. These legislative measures are path breaking steps to protect women’s reproductive rights.
- Once the Bill is enacted by the Parliament, the Central Government shall notify the date of the commencement of the Act. Consequently, the National Board will be constituted.
- The National Board shall lay down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at clinics, to set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.
- The States and Union Territories shall constitute the State Boards and State Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government.
- The State Board shall have the responsibility to follow the policies and plans laid by the National Board for clinics and Banks in the State.
- The Bill also provides for National Registry and Registration Authority to maintain a Central database and assist the National Board in its functioning. The Bill also proposes for a stringent punishment for those practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies/rackets/organisations for such unlawful practices.
- The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country. Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.
- The Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 is the most recent, in a series of legislations approved by the Union Cabinet to protect and safeguard the reproductive rights of women. The bill makes provisions for safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology services in the country. Through the bill, the National Board, the State Boards, the National Registry and the State Registration Authorities respectively will regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and assisted reproductive technology banks.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. India has one of the highest growths in the ART centers and the number of ART cycles performed every year. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), has given hope to a multitude of persons suffering from infertility, but also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues. India has become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity. Clinics in India offer nearly all the ART services—gamete donation, intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF, ICSI, PGD and gestational surrogacy. However, in spite of so much activity in India, there is yet no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.
- The need to regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology Services is mainly to protect the affected Women and the Children from exploitation. The oocyte donor needs to be supported by an insurance cover, protected from multiple embryo implantation and children born through Assisted reproductive technology should be provided all rights equivalent to a Biological Children. The cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes and embryo by the ART Banks needs to be regulated and the bill intends to make Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing mandatory for the benefit of the child born through assisted reproductive technology.
- Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020
- The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Board at the central level and State Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories. The Bill has been examined by the Select Committee and the report has been tabled in the Rajya Sabha on the 5thof February 2020.
- The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
- Medical Termination Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (34 of 1971) was enacted to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The said Act recognised the importance of safe, affordable, accessible abortion services to women who need to terminate pregnancy under certain specified conditions. Besides this, several Writ Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.
- Taken together, the three proposed legislations create an environment of safeguards for women’s reproductive rights, addressing changing social contexts and technological advances.
- Prime Minister visits ‘Hunar Haat’
- Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited “Hunar Haat” here today. He visited the stalls of master artisans, craftsmen and culinary experts from across the country participating in Hunar Haat. More than 250 such stalls have been set up at India Gate lawns. Also, more than 50 percent of the artisans participating were women. The Prime Minister interacted with the participating artisans at the Haat and also witnessed the cultural programs.
- “Hunar Haat” reflects the government’s commitment to providing employment opportunities as well as preserving and promoting India’s indigenous traditional legacy, several of which are on the verge of extinction.
- The theme of this year’s Hunar Haat is ‘Kaushal ko Kaam’. About 3 lakh master artisans, craftsmen & culinary experts have been provided employment and employment opportunities through Hunar Haat in the last 3 years. These beneficiaries include a large number of women artisans.
- Cabinet approves Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Phase II of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) [SBM (G)] till 2024-25, which will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM). The program will also work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet.
- SBM (G) Phase-II will also be implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25 in a mission mode with a total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores. This will be a novel model of convergence between different verticals of financing. Of this Rs.52,497 crore will be allocated from the budget of D/o Drinking Water and Sanitation while the remaining amount will be dovetailed from the funds being released under 15thFinance Commission, MGNREGS and revenue generation models particularly for solid and liquid waste management.
- Under the program, provision for incentive of Rs.12,000/- for construction of Individual Household Toilet (IHHL) to the newly emerging eligible households as per the existing norms will continue. Funding norms for Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) have been rationalized and changed to per capita basis in place of no. of households. Additionally, financial assistance to the Gram Panchayats (GPs) for construction of Community Managed Sanitary Complex (CMSC) at village level has been increased from Rs.2 lakh to Rs.3 lakh per CMSC.
- The programme will be implemented by the States/UTs as per the operational guidelines which will be issued to the States shortly. The fund sharing pattern between Centre and States will be 90:10 for North-Eastern States and Himalayan States and UT of J&K; 60:40 for other States; and 100:0 for other Union Territories, for all the components.
- The SLWM component of ODF Plus will be monitored on the basis of output-outcome indicators for four key areas: plastic waste management, bio-degradable solid waste management (including animal waste management), greywater management and fecal sludge management.
- The SBM-G Phase II will continue to generate employment and provide impetus to the rural economy through construction of household toilets and community toilets, as well as infrastructure for SLWM such as compost pits, soak pits, waste stabilisation ponds, material recovery facilities etc.
- The rural sanitation coverage in the country at the time of launch of SBM (G) on 02.10.2014 was reported as 38.7%. More than 10 crore individual toilets have been constructed since the launch of the mission; as a result, rural areas in all the States have declared themselves ODF as on 2ndOctober, 2019. The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS) has, however, advised all the States to reconfirm that there are no rural households that still don’t have access to a toilet, and provide the necessary support to any such identified households to build individual household toilets in order to ensure that no one is left behind under the programme.
- The approval by the Cabinet to SBM Phase II will help the rural India effectively handle the challenge of solid and liquid waste management and will help in substantial improvement in the health of the villagers in the country.
- Cabinet approves the Constitution of an empowered “Technology Group”
- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Constitution of an empowered “Technology Group”.
- Cabinet has approved constitution of a 12-Member Technology Group with the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India as its Chair. This Group is mandated to render timely policy advice on latest technologies; mapping of technology and technology products; commercialisation of dual use technologies developed in national laboratories and government R&D organisations; developing an indigenisation road map for selected key technologies; and selection of appropriate R&D programs leading to technology development.
The Technology Group will :-
- render the best possible advice on technology to be developed for a technology supplier and the technology procurement strategy;
- develop in-house expertise in aspects of policy and use of emerging technologies; and
- ensure sustainability of public sector technology developed/being developed at PSUs, national labs and research organisations.
Implementation strategy and targets
The three pillars of the work of the Technology Group include:
- Policy Support;
- Procurement Support; and
- Support on Research and Development proposals.
The Technology Group intends to ensure :-
- that India has appropriate policies and strategies for effective, secure and context-sensitive exploitation of the latest technologies for economic growth and sustainable development of Indian Industry, in all sectors;
- to advise the Government on priorities and strategies for research on emerging technologies across sectors;
- to maintain an updated map of technology and technology products available, and being developed, across India;
- to develop indigenization roadmap for selected key technologies;
- to advise the Government on its technology supplier and procurement strategy;
- to encourage all Ministries and Departments as well as State Governments to develop in-house expertise in policy and use aspects of emerging technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence, and to this end develop an approach to training and capacity building
- to formulate policies for sustainability of public sector technology at PSUs/Labs while encouraging cross-sector collaborations and research alliances with Universities and Private Companies; and
- to formulate standards and common vocabulary to apply in vetting of proposals for R&D.
In the technology sector, five important issues were: (a) silo-centric approaches to development of technology (b) technology standards either not developed or applied, leading to sub-optimal industrial development (c) dual use technologies not being optimally commercialised (d) R&D programs not aligned to efforts at technology development (e) need for mapping of technologies important for applications in society and industry. The Constitution of Technology Group is an effort at addressing the above problems.
- Government fulfilled the dream of “Ease of Doing Haj” for Indian Muslims: Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
- The Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said that 100 per cent digital/online Haj process in India has fulfilled the dream of “Ease of Doing Haj” for the Indian Muslims. He was addressing a training of trainers programme for Haj 2020 at Haj House, in Mumbai today.
- Shri Naqvi said that the unprecedented reforms taken by the Modi Government has ensured that while on one hand, the entire Haj process has been made digital and transparent on the other hand Haj has become affordable. He further said that making the entire Haj process 100 per cent digital/online has removed middlemen ensuring Haj pilgrimage become affordable in comparison to last several decades. Even after removal of Haj subsidy, no additional financial burden has been put on the pilgrims, he added.
- The Minister for Minority Affairs said that India has become the first country in the entire world which has made the entire Haj 2020 process 100 per cent digital. Online application, E-Visa, Haj mobile app, “E-MASIHA” health facility, “E-luggage pre-tagging” providing all information in India itself regarding accommodation/transportation in Makkah-Madinah have been provided to Indian Muslims going for Haj. He further said that for the first time facilities have been provided for digital pre-tagging of baggages of pilgrims. This will ensure the Indian pilgrims will get information in India itself about building along with the room allotted to the pilgrims and transportation like details of bus to be taken by the pilgrims after reaching to the airport in Saudi Arabia, he added.
- Shri Naqvi said that even SIM card has been linked to mobile app which will ensure Haj pilgrims immediately getting all the latest information regarding Haj in Makkah-Madina on their mobile phone. While on one hand health card is being provided to Indian Haj pilgrims in the country, on the other hand “E-MASIHA” (E-Medical Assistance System for Indian Pilgrims Abroad), an online system to create and maintain the complete health database of Indian pilgrims along with doctors’ prescriptions, medical treatment as well as medicine disbursals, has been developed to deal any emergency in Makkah-Madinah, he said.
- Shri Naqvi also said that Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) have also been connected with 100 per cent digital system which has ensured transparency in their functioning and it has also ensured better facilities to Indian Haj pilgrims. For the first time, a portal of HGOs – http://haj.nic.in/pto/(Portal for Haj Group Organisers) has been developed which contains all the details of HGOs, their packages etc.
- The Minister for Minority Affairs said that the Indian Government, in coordination-cooperation with Saudi Arabian Government, Indian Consulate and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities, medical facilities for the pilgrims during Haj 2020. He further said that in 2020, a total of 2 lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj that too without any subsidy and about 1 lakh 23,000 Indians Muslims will go through Haj Committee of India and remaining through Haj Group Organisers. This year more than 2100 Muslim women will go to Haj without “Mehram” (male companion), he added.
- A total of 650 trainers participated in this training programme. They will provide training to Haj pilgrims in their respective states regarding Haj pilgrimage, accommodation in Makkah and Madina, transport, health facilities, safety measures etc. These trainers include a large number of women trainers also. Officials from Haj Committee of India, Customs, Air India, Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation, various banks, disaster management agencies and other departments informed the trainers about the entire Haj process.
- On the occasion, Shri Naqvi also inaugurated Civil Services Learning Centre, Guest Rooms, Training Hall etc in Haj House, Mumbai.
- 3rd High Level Global Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm
- Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari reached Stockholm today to represent India at the “3rd High Level Global Conference on Road Safety for Achieving Global Goals 2030”. The objective of the two-day conference is to bring road safety on the global agenda and renew the world community’s commitment to safer roads. Leaders from participating countries will draw up a road-map for reaching the United Nation’s goal set under the UN Decade of Action of reducing road crashes by 2030.
- The conference, a follow up of the 2nd High Level Global Conference on “Traffic Safety-Time of Results” in 2015 in Brazil, is being organised in active collaboration with World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other agencies who are assisting it by way of strengthening the capabilities of various institutions, enhancing awareness and improving engineering designs for safer roads.
- A significant highlight of the conference will be sharing of the expertise by the nations which have gained experience in road safety management with those who are behind in the learning curve. Emphasis will also be on adopting best practices that are emerging in different parts of the world.
- Most developing countries, particularly the South Asian and the South East Asian Region, including India, are expected to focus on certain specific issues and challenges facing them on account of a significant number of their motorised vehicles consisting of two-wheelers. A large proportion of fatalities and injuries in these countries are accounted for by that segment of their population which use motorised and also non-motorised two-wheelers. Gadkari had also signed the Brasilia Declaration on behalf of India at the 2nd High Level Global Conference on Traffic Safety in 2015, which committed the world community to reducing the number of deaths in road accidents.
- The King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf will attend the opening session of the conference where the Stockholm Declaration will be presented by the Swedish Minister for Infrastructure, Tomas Eneroth. Messages from the UN Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), Adina-loans Valean & Transport Commissioner, European Commission, Omnia El Omrani will be read out on this occasion.
- During his stay in Stockholm, Gadkari will have bilateral dialogue with his Swedish Minister for Infrastructure Tomas Eneroth, Minister for Foreign Trade Anna Hallberg, Minister for Business, Industry & Innovation Ibrahim Baylan and also with the British Minister for Road Safety Baroness Vere. Gadkari will also hold talks with the World Bank Vice President (South Asia) Hart Schafer. Also on Gadkari’s itinerary will be a Sweden-India Transportation Safety and Innovation Partnership meeting to be attended a number of CEOs.
Swedish and Indian businesses are likely to exchange several MOUs on this occasions.
- The United Nations, which has included Road Safety as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, has appealed to the global community to reaffirm their commitment to reducing mortality arising out of road crashes and join hands for making the world a safer place.
- France to shut down its oldest nuclear complex by June end
- French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe today said that the Fessenheim nuclear reactor, on the border with Germany, will be shut down at the end of June, with one of its reactors to be closed this weekend. It is the country’s oldest nuclear complex.
- A statement called the decision the first phase of France’s energy strategy set out in 2018 by President Emmanuel Macron. The plan calls for a re-balancing of nuclear-produced energy and electricity derived from renewable sources. The statement said, coal plants will be closed by 2022 to reduce greenhouse gases. It said, Reactor No 1 will be halted on Saturday and the entire complex will come to a halt on 30th June.
- Germany has long called for the plant to be shut down. It is the first nuclear complex to be closed under President Macron’s plan.
- France depends more on nuclear energy than any other country, getting about three-quarters of its electricity from the plants. In 2018 The French President had outlined France’s energy strategy for the next 30 years, that 14 nuclear reactors out of the 58 now running at 19 plants will be shut down by 2035. France would cap the amount of electricity it derives from nuclear plants at 50 percent by then.
- Nepal celebrates 70th National Democracy Day
- Nepal is celebrating its 70th National Democracy Day today. A special ceremony was held at the Nepal Army Pavilion Tudikhel in Kathmandu to mark the occasion. President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Assembly Chairperson, Chief Justice, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, senior government officials and people from all walks of life attended the ceremony. In his address Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said after resolving conflict Nepal is now moving towards economic and social transformation. He said Nepal has created its identity in the world and increased its prestige at various international fora.
- Oli said his government has completed two years after 2017 historic elections. First year was base for laying the foundation of the government and now on his government is working for the prosperity of the country. Prime Minister Oli also paid tribute to the martyrs who had sacrificed their lives in the struggle for democracy. Every year, Falgun 7 of the Nepali calendar is commemorated as the National Democracy Day in Nepal. In 2007 Bikram Sambat, on this day, democracy was established in the Himalayan nation ending over a century old autocratic Rana regime.
- China to discuss COVID-19 outbreak with ASEAN
- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to discuss on COVID-19 outbreak with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations today in the Laotian capital of Vientiane. Six countries in the 10-nation bloc have already confirmed cases of the new virus that causes COVID-19.
- ASEAN leaders, in a joint statement earlier this week, had expressed ‘serious concerns over the outbreak’ and observed that the epidemic poses severe challenges to the well-being of the peoples and the development of their respective countries and the region and the world.
- More than 70,000 have been infected globally, with more than 2,000 deaths being reported mostly in China till date.
- Sri Lanka to withdraw from co-sponsorship of UNHRC resolution 30/1
- Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today confirmed that his government has decided to withdraw from the co-sponsorship of UNHRC resolution 30/1 which called for addressing war crimes and reconciliation efforts with minorities. He stated this in a statement issued to condemn the travel ban imposed by the US government on army commander Shavendra Silva and his family. The decision to withdraw from the resolution was reached on Monday and it has to be ratified by cabinet and parliament.
- PM Rajapaksa said the previous government ended up accepting all the unfounded allegations made against armed forces by various interested parties. He said that even though the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says that a person be deemed innocent until proved guilty, this principle does not seem to apply to Sri Lanka’s army commander or even to members of his family.
- His statement comes as Sri Lanka will hold parliamentary elections in late April or early May after the dissolution of Parliament early next month. President Gotabaya Rajapksa has also made it clear during his election campaign last year that he will withdraw from the resolution, which Tamil minorities are pressing for implementation.
- Bangladesh to enhance Mongla Port Capacity
- The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) of Bangladesh has approved the proposal to enhance the capacity of the Mongla port. The decision was taken in a meeting of the ENCEC chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka.
- Briefing media persons after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the Mongla port capacity will be enhanced to ensure better facilities for the users.
- India has extended a line of credit for the expansion of the Mongla Port capacity. Out of the total estimated project cost of Tk 6014 crore, India will provide Tk 4459 crore equivalent to $ 530 million as Line of Credit for the project.
- With the enhancement of the capacity of the Mongla port it would be able to handle 15 million tons of cargo and 4 lakh shipping containers of a standard 20 feet size called TEUs.
- The project consists building of two container terminals and related infrastructure facilities at the port.
On completion the project will significantly boost connectivity in the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal) region. It will also boost trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal.
- India and Bangladesh had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports in 2015. The MoU envisages transit of goods from Mongla port to north eastern states of India through waterways, roads and railways. Mongla is the second largest sea port in Bangladesh.The project is expected to be completed by June 2024.
- Libya’s govt suspends participation in Geneva talks
- Libya’s internationally recognised government has said it is suspending its participation in ceasefire negotiations hosted by the United Nations in Geneva. This follows hours after an attack by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces on the capital’s port yesterday.
- In a statement later, the presidential council of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said it would respond firmly to the attack at the appropriate time.
- Earlier in the day, representatives of the GNA and Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) resumed indirect talks aimed at establishing a lasting ceasefire. LNA had launched a military offensive in April last year to seize Tripoli.
- The attack happened as five military representatives from the GNA and another five from the LNA gathered in Geneva, more than a week after they ended their first round of negotiations without striking a deal.
- In the previous round of talks, the UN mission said there was broad consensus between the two sides on “the urgency for Libyans to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of the country, and to stop the flow of non-Libyan fighters and send them out of the country.
- UK announces new points-based visa system
- UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel has announced the launch of Britain’s new points-based visa system. It aims at attracting the “brightest and the best” from the world, including from India.
- Ms Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin Cabinet minister said, the new system will cut down numbers of cheap, low-skilled migrating workers coming to the country. The new system will come into force from January 1, 2021, at the end of the transition period after UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) last month.
- The new post-Brexit system, which will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India, is based on assigning points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.
- Asian Wrestling C’ships
- India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers Ashu and AdityaKundu won a bronze medal each on the second day of the Asian WrestlingChampionships in New Delhi today. Ashu beat Syria’s Abdulkarim MohammadAl-Hasan 8-1 in the 67 kg category. Kundu defeated Nao Kusaka of Japan 8-0 in the 72kg bronze medal bout.
- India has so far won four medals in the championships, after Sunil Kumar’shistoric gold in 87kg and Arjun Halakurki’s bronze in 55kg Greco-Roman categoryyesterday.
- Gyanender, however, lost 0-6 in the 60kg Greco-Roman bronze medal bout today.The gold in this category was won by Kenichiro Fumita of Japan.
- Barcelona Spain Masters
- In badminton, India’s Olympic bronze medallist shuttler Saina Nehwal advanced to the women’s singles second round of the Barcelona Spain Masters today. She defeated Germany’s Yvonne Li 21-16, 21-14. Sania took just 35 minutes to beat her opponent in the first round match.
- Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki N Reddy also won their mixed doubles first-round match against Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje 10-21, 21-16, 21-17.
- However, H S Prannoy bowed out of the tournament after losing to Daren Liew of Malaysia.