Ending Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in the Indian
Union, the BJP government extended all provisions of the Constitution to the
State in one go, downsized the State into two Union Territories and allowed
all citizens to buy property and vote in the State.
Leading the charge, Home Minister Amit Shah piloted two special
resolutions and a Bill creating the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and
Ladakh through the RajyaSabha on Monday. While the Union Territory of Jammu and
Kashmir will have a legislature, the one in Ladakh will not.
The government’s surgical strike on the State’s autonomy came as
telephone and Internet services in the Valley were suspended, former Chief
Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti remained under arrest and thousands
of additional Central security personnel were deployed.
Mr. Shah said that if the Union Territory model worked well, the
government would consider giving Jammu and Kashmir the status of a State again
and “no constitutional amendment would be required”. Prime Minister NarendraModi
was present during the proceedings.
Dismissing concerns that there would be “bloodshed” in the
Valley, Mr. Shah said this was a “new experiment” and everyone should support
it. “Terrorism cannot end in the State till Article 370 or 35A continue. They
are an obstacle to development. We want to embrace the Kashmiri youth. The move
will bring development, tourism and industries to the State. These opportunities
till now were controlled by only three families,” he said.
The LokSabha on Monday passed the Surrogacy (Regulation)
Bill, 2019 by a voice vote. The Bill, introduced by Union Health Minister
Harsh Vardhan, seeks to ban commercial surrogacy and provides for
constituting a National Surrogacy Board, State Surrogacy Boards, and the
appointment of appropriate authorities for the regulation of the practice
and process of surrogacy.
Speaking on the Bill Dr.Vardhan said: “The Bill is aimed at
ending the exploitation of women who are lending their womb for surrogacy, and
protecting the rights of children born through this. The Bill will also look
after the interests of the couple that opt for surrogacy, ensuring that there
are laws protecting them against exploitation by clinics that are carrying this
out as a business.”
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill regulates altruistic surrogacy
and prohibits commercial surrogacy. It defines surrogacy as a practice where a
woman gives birth to a child for an eligible couple and agrees to hand over the
child to them after the birth.
The Bill allows altruistic surrogacy, which involves a surrogacy
arrangement where the monetary reward only involves medical expenses and
insurance coverage for the surrogate mother. Commercial surrogacy is prohibited
under the Bill.
To protect the interest of online shoppers, the Department
of Consumer Affairs has released draft guidelines on e-commerce that state
that an e-commerce entity cannot directly or indirectly influence the price
of the goods or services.
The draft ‘e-commerce guidelines for consumer protection 2019,’
which adds that e-commerce firms need to ensure that personally identifiable
information of customers is protected, is open for stakeholder comments for 45
days or till September 16, 2019.
It added that every e-commerce entity needs to publish the name
and contact details of the grievance officer on their website along with the
mechanism by which users can lodge their complaints.
As per the draft, an e-commerce firm cannot falsely represent
themselves as consumers or post reviews about goods and services in their name.
The draft also proposes that once an e-commerce firm comes to
know about any counterfeit product, and if the seller is unable to provide any
evidence that the product is genuine, the firm needs to take down the listing
and notify the consumers of the same.
Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman will hold separate
meetings with representatives of various sectors over the course of the
week, following which the government will decide on the steps needed to
bolster the economy, Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with the heads of PSBs,
Ms.Sitharaman said that the government would decide on the way forward on the
service tax demand from the banks after they replied to the notices sent to
Meanwhile the income tax department had issued notices to the
banks to pay service tax amounting to a total of Rs. 38,000 crore on the
penalties they imposed on customers for low balances in their accounts.The banks
had disputed this and approached the Delhi High Court for redressal.
Regarding the concerns of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs),
she said Economic Affairs Secretary AtanuChakraborty would soon hold a meeting
with the FPIs. Ms.Sitharaman also said that the government had not taken any
further steps regarding the issuance of overseas sovereign bonds.
“There are some numbers floating around because the Secretary
has said ‘this is the quantum,’ but not much more work has happened because we
have been busy in the Ministry with the various Bills that have been passed,”
the Finance Minister said.
A UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission has
urged foreign businesses and governments to sever ties with more than 140
companies owned or controlled by the Myanmar military Tatmadaw.
In the report released by UNHRC today, it said these companies
help the Myanmar army to avoid public scrutiny and carry out human rights
violations with impunity.
It also called for the immediate imposition of targeted
sanctions against companies run by the military. The report accused the military
of carrying out extensive human rights violations against civilians in Kachin,
Shan and Rakhine provinces, including the forced deportation of more than
700,000 ethnic Rohingya to Bangladesh.
The report says that Tatmadaw owns and operates Myanmar Economic
Holdings Limited and the Myanmar Economic Corporation with interest in
businesses like banking, insurance, tourism, jade and ruby mining among others.
Under the constitution of Myanmar, the Tatmadaw is not
accountable to any civilian authority.Last month US had imposed sanctions on top
generals of the Myanmar army for their role in the atrocities carried out
against the Rohingyas.
The Prime Minister’s announcement that tiger numbers have
increased in the country may be good news. But the loss of habitat, a
decline of prey and poaching continues to be a threat to tigers’ survival.
Along with these, a potential virus — Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
— that can be transmitted from CDV-infected dogs living in and around wildlife
sanctuaries has started to raise concern among wildlife biologists.
A recent study published in Threatened Taxa notes that 86% of
the tested dogs around Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried CDV
antibodies in their bloodstream.
This means that the dogs are either currently infected or have
been infected sometime in their life and have overcome the disease. This finding
points out that there is an increased risk of disease transfer from the dogs to
tigers and leopards that live in the park.
Last year, over 20 lions from the Gir forest succumbed to the
viral infection and now a guideline has been prepared by the National Tiger
Conservation Authority to prevent the spillover of the disease to wild animals.
The easy way out is prevention. Managing any disease in a
wildlife population is extremely difficult. Most dogs are free ranging and not
owned by any particular person in the village. The government should take the
initiative to vaccinate the dogs around wildlife sanctuaries in the country.
This would be a good time to vaccinate against rabies as well.
Experts says there were only a few CDV suspected cases in India
when she started her work in 2015, and so was considered not important. But with
the CDV confirmed deaths of lions in Gir, more attention has been drawn to the
disease. She hopes more studies are conducted to get countywide data on the
disease prevalence so that necessary prevention guidelines can be laid out.