Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 October 2017

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 October 2017


Passive euthanasia already a law, says govt.

  • 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Bill', which was drawn up in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission of India that life support can be withdrawn for patients in persistent vegetative state (PVS) or suffering an irreversible medical condition.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 guilty.

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 Economic Outlook.
  • 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 year, respectively.
  • India’s slowdown is happening even as the world economy is picking up steam.
  • 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 marital rape.
  • 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 country.
  • 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 midnight
  • 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 - 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 complications.
  • 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 activity.
  • “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.


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 conference.
  • “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.

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