Supreme court might refer plea challenging reservation law to constitutional
The Supreme Court on Monday decided to consider the question of
whether the challenge to the 10% economic reservation law should be heard by
a Constitution Bench. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India
RanjanGogoi, scheduled the hearing for March 28.
The court, however, refused to pass any interim order to stay or
hamper the implementation of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act that
provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions
to the economically backward in the unreserved category.
The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, adding
clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of
The petitions, mainly one filed by activist TehseenPoonawala, said
the Act violated the basic features of the Constitution. The petitioners
argued that the 50% ceiling was “engrafted as a part of the Basic Structure
of the Constitution’s equality code” by the court.
The petition also contended that the term ‘economically weaker
sections’ remained undefined in the Act, along with the “ambiguous” term of
‘State’. The question of reference came up even as the Centre sought more
time to file its counter.
“While the impugned amendment attempts to overcome the
applicability of Articles 19(1)(g) and 29(2), it remains silent on Article
14, which protects the citizens from manifestly arbitrary State action,” the
India becomes world’s second largest arms importer
India was the world’s second largest arms importer from 2014-18,
ceding the long-held tag as largest importer to Saudi Arabia, which
accounted for 12% of the total imports during the period.
“India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in
2014–18 and accounted for 9.5% of the global total,” according to the latest
report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
However, Indian imports decreased by 24% between 2009-13 and
2014-18, partly due to delays in deliveries of arms produced under licence
from foreign suppliers, such as combat aircraft ordered from Russia in 2001
and submarines ordered from France in 2008, the report stated.
Pakistan stood at the 11th position accounting for 2.7% of all
global imports. Its biggest source was China, from which 70% of arms were
sourced, followed by the U.S. at 8.9% and, interestingly, Russia at 6%.
China, which has emerged as a major arms exporter, has increased
its share by 2.7% for 2014-18 compared to 2009-13. Its biggest customers are
Pakistan and Bangladesh.
As Indian imports reduced, the impact was on Russian exports of
major arms, which decreased by 17% between 2009-13 and 2014-18. The report
said this was partly due to “general reductions in Indian and Venezuelan
arms imports”, which have been among the main recipients of Russian arms
exports in previous years.
CRISIL report says uncertain govt.policies hit solar capacity addition
Inconsistent government actions have cast a shadow over developer
sentiment in the solar sector and slowed down capacity addition momentum,
Crisil said in a report. This will result in the government achieving only
60% of its 100 GW target by 2022, it added.
The report said the two main factors increasing cost pressures for
the solar sector included the imposition of the safeguard duty on solar
component imports and the uncertainty over the Goods and Services Tax
treatment of the sector.
“Clarification on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) procedures and
its implementation for solar was not forthcoming for over a year, impacting
commissioning schedules and project costs across developers,” the report
The report said that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had
issued a clarification on the issue, saying that entirely solar projects
would be taxable at 5%, but it also said that if an engineering,
procurement, and construction (EPC) contract included both supply and
services, it would be adjudged on a case-to-case basis.
“This created further concern, as most projects were set up on an
EPC basis, whether in-house or outsourced,” the report said. “The issue
lacked clarity for over a year, until the GST Council in December 2018
clarified with regardto EPC contracts by setting a ratio of 70:30 of the
entire value of the EPC contract, where 70% will be taxed at 5%, and 30% at
18%, to factor in both the supply and service component.”
However, this clarification has meant an increased tax incidence,
of about 8-9%, which is higher than the 5% expected by the industry, leading
to an increase in final capital costs.
Survey reports majority workplaces as male-dominated
For 97% of working women, life has changed post migration, said a
survey by ICICI Lombard on the physical and mental health of working women
through their career span.
The study surveyed working women in the age group 22-55 years,
covering aspects like migration for work, resuming work post maternity and
women at work facing menopause. The objective of the survey was to
understand issues faced by working women at the workplace.
While gender equality at the workplace has become a byword in the
corporate sector, the survey has brought forth the fact that 53% of the
working women believe their workplaces are still male-dominated.
Another interesting facet of the survey was in that 62% of the
respondents believed that recognition at par with male counterparts
notwithstanding, there is a gap when it comes to remuneration. This was
found to be more prevalent in the manufacturing and financial sectors.
Workplace abuse was an aspect faced more by older women (45-55
years), with a majority of them reporting this to HR (43%), but a
significant lot (32%) also quitting on account of this.
Migration for work has proved to be a positive change for 97% of
working women, enhancing self-confidence and financial independence.
Cultural shock, though, is a major challenge.
Respondents to the survey relating to menopause revealed that
depression is a common emotion impacting 89% of working women, leading 42%
of them to take leave once a month.
India holds crucial discussions on terror with four countries
India on Monday held crucial discussions with Saudi Arabia, United
States, Turkey and the UAE on countering Pakistan-based terror groups, the
Ministry of External Affairs said.
In a telephone conversation with President RecepTayyipErdogan of
Turkey, Prime Minister NarendraModi reiterated India’s position that
terrorism “remains one of the gravest threats to global peace and security”.
Mr Modi also held telephone talks with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and thanked him for the support from his side
for India’s appearance as a “Guest of Honour” at the recent ministerial of
the OIC where India asked for a united front against terrorism.
It was the second such communication in two weeks as the Crown
Prince had earlier called for de-escalation of tension between India and
Prime Minister Modi also had a personal meeting with the visiting
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia Adel bin Ahmed Al
Jubeir on Monday evening. “Prime Minister thanked the leadership of Saudi
Arabia for expressing full solidarity with India in the fight against
terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
It was agreed that Saudi Arabia and India should work together for
irreversible, verifiable and credible steps against all terrorists without
any discrimination,” a press statement from the Ministry of External Affairs
said after the deputy minister completed his hours-long visit here.
China not agreeing to listMasoodazhar in UN1267 committee
China on Monday gave no indication that it is likely to change its
stand on MasoodAzhar in the UN committee that meets on Wednesday to vote on
designating head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group as an international
In response to a question on Beijing’s position in the upcoming
March 13 meeting of the UN Security Council’s 1267 committee, Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang stuck to the position that the
security council, as the “main body” of the UN system does not take its
decisions superficially. He also signalled that that the die had not been
cast on Azhar’s designation just yet.
China has on three occasions placed a “technical hold” on Azhar’s
designation as a global terrorist in the 1267 committee. Yet another attempt
on the JeM chief’s designation, led by the United States, France and
Britain, has begun following the February 14 Pulwama attack. Mr. Lu hinted
that China favoured detailed deliberations on the issue of designation.
“Only decisions made through responsible and serious discussions are the way
to solve problems sustainably,” he observed.
:SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
UN Environment assemblyfocusses on plastic issue
Countries from around the world set their sights Monday on a
pivotal deal to curb plastic waste, a source of long-term pollution and
worsening contamination of the ocean’s food chain
Thousands of delegates, business leaders and campaigners are in
Nairobi for the five-day UN Environment Assembly, the top annual forum on
the planet’s environmental crisis.
The UN wants individual countries to sign up to “significantly”
reduce plastic production, including a phasing out of single-use plastics by
2030 — a goal inspired by the 2015 Paris Agreement on voluntary reductions
of carbon emissions.
A landmark report due to be out this week is expected to ram home
the warning of the threat to ecosystems from rampant plastic and chemical
The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes of
plastics annually, and there are at least five trillion plastic pieces
floating in our oceans. Microplastics have been found in the deepest sea
trenches and high up the earth’s tallest peaks, and plastic consumption is
“Plastic is a very good material, it’s durable, flexible and
light,” Mr.Kiisler said. “This means we should make the best out of it for
as long as possible instead of disposing of it.”
The Nairobi meeting comes against the backdrop of series of UN
reports outlining in stark terms the damage mankind is doing to the planet,
much of it due to reckless consumption.
The One Planet Summit on Thursday will bring together heads of
State, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Kenyan counterpart
Uhuru Kenyatta to lend political clout to the process.
SAFF women’s championship kicks off in Nepal
The fifth South Asian Football Federation, SAFF, Women's
Championship kicks off in Biratnagar, Nepal today. Defending champion India
has been drawn in Group B in the six-team competition alongside Maldives and
Sri Lanka, while host Nepal has been kept in Group A with Bangladesh and
The opening match will be played between Nepal and Bhutan this
afternoon. Unbeaten in 19 matches from the last four editions, India will
take on Maldives tomorrow. Indian coach Maymol Rocky has expressed
confidence in her side.