The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed its former judge, Justice
A.K. Patnaik, to probe the affidavits filed by a young lawyer that a larger
conspiracy hatched by a powerful lobby of fixers, disgruntled court
employees and corporate figures is at work to compromise the functioning of
the highest judiciary.
Justice Patnaik’s inquiry would focus on the material and
affidavits provided by advocate Utsav Singh Bains, who claimed that a plot
was on to target the judiciary, including Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi.
The Bench said Mr.Bains could not withhold any information from
Justice Patnaik by claiming privilege. He had to come clean.
Justice Patnaik would test Mr.Bains’ claim that he was approached
by a person called ‘Ajay’ in early April. He was offered up to Rs. 1.5 crore
to file a false case against the CJI. This man, the lawyer said, claimed to
be a relative of the former Supreme Court staffer who has since levelled
sexual harassment allegations against the Chief Justice.
The Bench repeatedly clarified that the probe into the existence
of a larger conspiracy would not eclipse the allegations of sexual
harassment raised by the former employee, which are being examined
separately by an in-house inquiry committee of three judges.
“We make it clear that this inquiry shall not be with respect to
the alleged misbehaviour involving Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India,” it
Centre to boost cell based meat production in India
In what could be a boost for cell-based meat in India, the Centre
has approved a Rs. 4.5 crore grant to two premier Hyderabad-based
institutions for research into technology that involves growing animal cells
in a laboratory to produce slaughter-free meat.
The grant, from the Department of Biotechnology, is for an
18-month project, which will look into developing methods to cultivate stem
cells from tissue samples of sheep, to produce mutton.
The project will be carried out jointly by the Centre for Cellular
and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which operates under the aegis of the Council
of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the National Research
Centre on Meat (NRCM), which was set up by the Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Announcing the development on Thursday, CCMB director Rakesh
Mishra said that the funding was among the highest by any government in the
short history of cell-based meat. “This funding has been given to CCMB to
develop technology to take laboratory cell culture process to cell-based
meat production,” he said. “This funding is one of the major initiatives by
any government body across the world.”
Proponents of cell-based meat claim that it is healthier for the
planet by reducing land and water usage as well as for consumers. It could
potentially do away with the need for modern factory-farming and issues such
as animal cruelty, salmonella and e-coli infections and antibiotic-laced
Near normal monsoons might be beneficial for agriculture
This summer’s foodgrain production is likely to be higher than
last year’s, according to the Agriculture Ministry targets for the kharif
season, riding on the back of the Indian Meteorological Department’s
forecast of a “near-normal” monsoon.
Rice production this summer is expected to hit 102 million tonnes,
while total foodgrain production is being pegged at 147.9 million tonnes,
according to the Ministry’s presentation at its annual Kharif Conference on
These targets for kharif 2019 are higher than last year’s targets,
as well as the actual output in 2018. Second advance estimates show
foodgrain production touching 142.24 million tonnes in the 2018 kharif
season, with rice output of 101.96 MT.
The Ministry is also targeting a higher rabi or winter season
harvest in 2019, with foodgrain production set at 143.2 MT.The wheat
production target is marginally higher than last year’s target at 100.5 MT.
Sugarcane production is likely to set a new record again this
year, with the Ministry projecting a harvest of 385.5 MT, a jump from last
year’s target of 355 MT.
Complaints to RBI ombudsman rises in 2018
The number of complaints by bank customers to the Reserve Bank of
India’s banking ombudsman increased by 24.9% in the financial year 2017-18
as compared to the previous year, the banking regulator said on Thursday.
The major grounds of complaints received during the year were
non-observance of fair practices code (22.1%), ATM and debit card issues
(15.1%), credit card issues (7.7%), failure to meet commitments (6.8%),
mobile and electronic banking (5.2%), the central bank said.
A customer can approach the RBI’s ombusdman if the bank fails to
resolve customer complaints in one month. The 21 offices of the banking
ombudsman received 1,63,590 complaints in the year 2017-18.
“Offices of banking ombudsman maintained a disposal rate of 96.5%
as compared to 92.0% in the previous year,” RBI said.
Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un met
face-to-face for the first time on Thursday and vowed to seek closer ties.
The meeting was held at Russia's Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
In brief statements before their meeting, both men said they were
looking to strengthen ties that date back to the Soviet Union's support for
the founder of North Korea, Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung.
Mr. Putin told North Korean leader Kim that he supports ongoing
efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and wants to boost economic
Addressing a press conference following talks, Putin said he was
not sure about resuming six-party talks on North Korean denuclearisation at
this point. He, however, noted that such a format might be useful in
providing Pyongyang with international security guarantees.
Six-party talks on North Korean de-nuclearization started back in
2003. The talks involve China, Japan, Russia, the US along with North Korea
and South Korea. The last round of such talks took place in 2007.
Thursday's meeting was Kim's first one-on-one talks with another
head of state since returning from his Hanoi summit with US President Donald
Trump, which broke down without a deal on North Korea's nuclear arsenal in
ABU media summit underway in Kathmandu
5th Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) Media Summit on Climate
Action and Disaster Preparedness began in Kathmandu on Thursday.\
The theme of the two-day summit is “Media Solutions for
Sustainable Future: Saving Lives, Building Resilient Communities”.
Nepal’s Minister for Communication and Information Technology
Gokul Prasad Baskota inaugurated the summit. The basic aim of the summit is
to address the issue of fully utilizing media’s potential of accelerating
climate action and disaster preparedness and connect stakeholders to media
professionals for collaboration and joint practical projects.
According to ABU, over 200 participants including political
leaders, representatives of UN agencies and NGOs, climate change and
disaster management experts, scientists and media persons are attending the
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
WHO worried on low levels of immunisation
Despite immunisation being one of the most successful and
cost-effective means to help children grow into healthy adults, worldwide
12.9 million infants nearly 1 in 10 did not receive any vaccination in 2016.
The figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) during
the ongoing immunisation week added that this means infants missed the first
dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine putting them at serious
risk of these potentially fatal diseases.
What is worrying, says WHO, is the fact that “global vaccination
coverage remains at 85%, with no significant changes during the past few
years. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global
immunisation coverage improves.”
Over the years, the positive trend “has been the increasing uptake
of new and underused vaccines”. In fact, according to WHO in 2017, the
number of children immunised 116.2 million was the highest-ever reported.
Since 2010, 113 countries have introduced new vaccines, and more than 20
million additional children have been vaccinated.
Immunisation prevents illness, disability and death from
vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria,
hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio,
rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus.
An estimated 169 million children missed out on the first dose of
the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, UNICEF said.
Indian shooters win gold at ISSF world cup
In Shooting, India opened its medal account with gold each in 10
metres Air Rifle Mixed Team and 10 metres Air Pistol Mixed team events on
the third day of ISSF World Cup in Beijing on Thursday.
Young shooters Manu Bhaker and SaurabhChaudhary took the top spot
in the 10 metres Air Pistol Mixed Team event after AnjumMoudgil and Divyansh
Singh Panwar opened the country's gold account in the 10 metres Air Rifle
Mixed Team event.
Bhaker and Chaudhary outshot Jiang Ranxin and Pang Wei of China
16-6 in the final, which was held in the new format wherein top two teams
battled for the gold medal.