Passive euthanasia, the act of withdrawing life support to a
terminally-ill patient, is already the law of the land, the government told
a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.
The government pointed out that the Supreme Court itself, in 2011, had
issued comprehensive guidelines allowing passive euthanasia in the tragic
case of the bed-ridden former Mumbai nurse ArunaShanbaug. In her case the
staff of KEM Hospital took care of her till her natural death in 2015.
The government said it was finalising a draft law on passive euthanasia
called 'The Management of Patients With Terminal Illness – Withdrawal of
Medical Life Support Bill', which was drawn up in line with the
recommendations of the Law Commission of India that life support can be
withdrawn for patients in persistent vegetative state (PVS) or suffering an
irreversible medical condition.
The Centre, however, objected to legalising the concept of ‘Living Will’
— an advance written directive to physicians for end-of-life medical care.
It pointed out that this may lead to the abuse and neglect of the
elderly, especially if they were financially well-off. The government
pointed out that the living will was a concept which contradicts a person's
instinctive urge to survive.
Toxic gas from sugar mill left 200 students hospitalized
Over 200 students of two schools in Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh had
to be hospitalised after they complained of dizziness and breathlessness
after apparently inhaling toxic gas emitted from a nearby sugar mill.
The students, of Saraswati VidyaMandir and Saraswati Junior High School,
had to be admitted to hospitals in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar; 175 of them
were later discharged but 23 children are still hospitalised while two have
been referred to Panipat for further treatment.
The incident happened when the workers of the Sir Shadilal Sugar Mill
were disposing of waste by treating it with chemicals. Two students passing
by the mill, located on Budhana Road, started complaining of uneasiness,
itching and a burning sensation in the eyes soon after reaching school.
Other students then reported the same complications. Teachers panicked after
some of the schoolchildren fainted.
Parents of the children later protested against the recklessness on the
part of the mill and demanded action. The district administration sealed the
mill and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered an inquiry by the
Commissioner of Saharanpur division, under which Shamli falls. Police
officers said action will be taken against the mill management if found
Growth rate for India lowered by IMF
India’s economic growth for 2017 and 2018 will be slower than earlier
projected, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest World
The report cited “lingering impact” of demonetisation and the Goods and
Services Tax for the expected slowdown during the current and the next year.
The IMF projected India to grow at 6.7% in 2017 and 7.4% in 2018, which
are 0.5 and 0.3 percentage points lower than the projections earlier this
India’s slowdown is happening even as the world economy is picking up
The IMF has revised upwards “global growth projections to 3.6% for this
year and 3.7% for the next.”
Maurice Obstfeld, IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of Research, said
the upward revisions in both cases “were 0.1 percentage point above our
previous forecasts”. He was speaking at a press conference at the beginning
of the World Bank - IMF annual meetings.
“Among emerging market and developing economies, higher domestic demand
in China and continued recovery in key emerging market economies supported
growth in the first half of 2017. In India, growth momentum slowed,
reflecting the lingering impact of the authorities’ currency exchange
initiative as well as uncertainty related to the mid-year introduction of
the country-wide Goods and Services Tax,” the report said.
The IMF has meanwhile revised upwards, India’s growth performance for
2016 in its latest calculations, owing to strong government spending and
“data revisions in India,” which is now 7.1% as opposed to 6.8% in April.
Supreme Court to give judgement on age consent
The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on whether or not an
exception to rape, sanctioned by the Indian Penal Code, that allows a man to
have sexual intercourse with his wife aged above 15 is valid.
A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta will pronounce the
verdict on the disparity between this exception to Section 375 (rape) of the
IPC, which allows a husband to have sexual relationship with his 15-year-old
wife, and the definition of ‘child’ in recent laws such as the Protection of
Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which includes any person below the
age of 18.
The court has repeatedly questioned the continued existence of this
exception to rape when the other parliamentary laws have uniformly said that
the age of consent of a girl is 18.
It, however, had said that it did not want to go into the aspect of
The government had given a measured response during the hearing of the
petition filed by an NGO, Independent Thought, submitting that doing away
with this exception clause in the IPC would open a Pandora’s box on marital
rape, which does not exist in India.
It had referred to the concept of age of puberty among Muslims for the
purpose of marriage, and said these aspects had been deliberated upon by
Parliament before arriving at a conclusion.
However, the court had expressed its distress at how laws had not been
able to stop the social evil of child marriage, especially in rural parts of
The NGO has contended that the exception clause was “violative of
Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution to the extent that it permits
intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl child aged between 15 and 18 years,
only on the ground that she has been married.
VAT on petrol, diesel cut by 3 states
The governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh announced
reduction in the value added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel, effective
While Gujarat reduced the VAT by 4%, Maharashtra reducted the price of
petrol per litre by Rs. 1 and diesel by Rs. 2.
The Himachal government cut the VAT on both fuels by 1%.
::INDIA AND WORLD::
India - U.K.
India and Britain hope to agree on concrete measures to take forward
their defence partnership by next year, ahead of the next meeting of the two
Prime Ministers, India’s Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra said during a
three-day visit to the U.K. The meeting of the two leaders is widely
expected to take place at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in
London in April 2018.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to London in 2015, the
two countries agreed to hold regular dialogues, as part of the India-U.K.
Defence Consultative Group. Since then, a step change in terms of depth had
taken place in cooperation and dialogue in the area, Mr. Mitra said.
Mr. Mitra has met with Michael Fallon, who heads the Ministry of Defence,
and the department’s Permanent Secretary during his trip which focussed on
meetings of the Defence Consultative Group.
“The military community dialogue has been going well and there have been
a wide range of visits that have been taking place at the level of chief of
staff, and senior operatives … we have a road map going and we hope that by
the time of the meeting of the Prime Ministers, we will have some meat on
this,” he said, adding that talks had ranged from capability development,
defence equipment and cybersecurity to counter-terrorism.
India has pegged the defence sector as one of the major areas where the
bilateral partnership could be expanded around the “Make in India” campaign.
During Mr. Modi’s visit in 2015, the two sides agreed to move towards a new
Defence and International Security Partnership that would “intensify
cooperation on defence and security, including cybersecurity, and maritime
security” pushing for joint working in key strategic areas.
“We are very keen that U.K. firms participate in our ‘Make in India’
process and in our strategic partnership exercise that we’ve just begun,”
the Defence Secretary said.
Classified military documents of South Korea hacked by North Korea
North Korean computer hackers have stolen hundreds of classified
military documents from South Korea, including detailed wartime operational
plans involving its U.S. ally, a report
Rhee Cheol-Hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic party, said the
hackers had broken into the South’s military network last September and
gained access to 235 GB of sensitive data, the ChosunIlbo daily reported.
Among the leaked documents was Operational Plans 5015 for use in case of
war with the North and including procedures for “decapitation” attacks on
leader Kim Jong-Un, the paper quoted Mr. Rhee as saying.
Mr. Rhee, a member of Parliament’s defence committee, could not be
reached for comment but his office said he had been quoted correctly.
The report comes amid heightened fears of conflict on the Korean
peninsula, fuelled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s continued threats of
military action against Pyongyang to tame its weapons ambitions.
Citing Seoul’s Defence Ministry, Mr. Rhee said that 80% of the leaked
documents had yet to be identified.
But the contingency plan for the South’s special forces was stolen, he
said, as well as details about annual joint military drills with the US and
information on key military facilities and power plants.
A ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report, citing intelligence
matters. In May, the ministry said North Korea had hacked into Seoul’s
military intranet but did not say what had been leaked.
Pyongyang has a 6,800-strong unit of trained cyber-warfare specialists,
according to the South Korean government. It has been accused of launching
high-profile cyber-attacks including the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.
Childhood obesity is a global epidemic —WHO
With increasing evidence that childhood obesity is a “global epidemic”
affecting even the poorer nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) has
released new guidelines on how trained professionals can better identify
youngsters in need of help.
India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after
China, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine
in June this year. Doctors say identification of obesity in children is the
main issue as often parents think a chubby child is a healthy child.
The WHO guidelines titled “Assessing and managing children at primary
healthcare facilities to prevent overweight and obesity in the context of
the double burden of malnutrition” provides updates for the Integrated
Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).
The guideline includes counselling, dieting and assessment of eating
habits along with the usual weight and height measurements.
H.P. Sachdev, former national president of the Indian Academy of
Paediatrics, who is part of WHO’s guideline development group, told The
Hindu , “In 2016, one half of all children overweight or obese lived in Asia
and one quarter lived in Africa.
Paradoxically, overweight and obesity is found in populations where
under-nutrition remains common — the term ‘double-burden of malnutrition’ is
sometimes used to describe these settings.”
Early prevention is the need of the hour to avoid an entire generation
from falling prey to heart ailments, hypertension and diabetic
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is disseminating the WHO guideline
to all its members. IMA National President K.K.
Aggarwal said that the prevalence of obesity in children reflects
changing patterns towards unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.
A study published in Paediatric Obesity says India will have over 17
million children with excess weight by 2025. Quoting the WHO document, Dr.
Aggarwal said that urbanisation, increased income, availability of fast
foods, educational demands, television viewing and gaming have led to a rise
in the consumption of foods high in fats, sugar and salt and low physical
“While there have been major public health interventions to promote
improved diet and patterns of physical activity in adults, the contribution
of antenatal and young-child interventions to reducing the risk of obesity
in later life have not been significantly reviewed. We are writing to all
our doctors explaining the guidelines,” he said.
Anjana Hulse, paediatric endocrinologist in Apollo Hospitals, said
identification of obesity in children is a major challenge.
“Parents feel the necessity to see a doctor only when their children
develop complications. Most obese children develop early puberty, joint pain
and find it difficult to exercise. This in turn results in metabolic
syndrome and they end up with Type 2 diabetes,” she said.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
High powered think tank for oil sector soon
The government will soon get Cabinet approval for the setting up of a
high-powered think tank under the Ministry of Petroleum to look into key
issues such as the setting up of a gas network across the country, Petroleum
Minister DharmendraPradhan said
Mr. Pradhan also reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to
the COP 21 agreement concluded at the Paris leg of the climate change
“We are forming an internal think tank for advice on technology, setting
up a gas network, attracting more FDI in the sector, reducing India’s oil
imports by 10%, and developing innovative new models of financing projects,”
Mr. Pradhan told reporters.
“The proposal and nitty-gritty will be brought before the Cabinet very
soon,” he said.
The members of this think tank will include ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda
Kocchar, New Development Bank chief K.V. Kamath, former Chairman of the 13th
Finance Commission Vijay Kelkar, top officials from oil and gas majors from
across the world and officials from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural
Gas, according to Mr. Pradhan.
The Minister said that there was a lot of marketing scope for gas, one
of the key reasons behind the setting up of a gas trading platform.
Wage pact between Coal India and workers’ unions
State-owned Coal India said it had signed a wage agreement with workers’
unions for a period of five years which would have an estimated impact of Rs.
5,667 crore annually to the miner.
The “Memorandum of Agreement for National Coal Wage Agreement-X has been
signed on October 10 for a period of five years from July 1, 2016 to June
30, 2021,” Coal India said in a BSE filing.
“This agreement will impact 2.98 lakh coal workers and the total
estimated average annual impact would be Rs. 5,667 crore,” the filing said.
S.Q. Zama, the secretary general of Indian National Mine Workers
Federation told PTI, of the five central unions in the coal industry, only
three — AITUC, CITU and BMS — signed the wage pact.
The central trade unions at the coal PSU had been demanding a 25%
increase in gross wages as on June 30, 2016, plus 4% as perquisites.
D.D. Ramanandan, general secretary of CITU-affiliated All India Coal
Workers Federation, had earlier said that the unions had settled for a 20%
minimum guaranteed benefit as the management was earlier not contributing to
the medical scheme, but had now agreed to provide Rs. 18,000 per person. “We
have reached an understanding with the Coal India management for 20% minimum
guaranteed benefit,” he had said.