Among the 37 recommendations of the Election Commission’s
working groups, pending since 2014, are the disqualification of candidates
at the stage of framing of charges that attract a minimum of five years’
imprisonment; increased punishment for false affidavits; and permanent
disqualification of those guilty of corruption and heinous crimes.
The nine working groups set up by the EC to suggest improvements
in specific areas, based on their experience during the 2014 LokSabha elections,
had submitted a total of 337 recommendations, of which 300 have been disposed of
Among the suggestions was drafting of legal provisions to
disqualify candidates for offences with a minimum of five years’ punishment on
framing of charges, rather than on conviction.
With respect to the model code of conduct (MCC), which has been
evolved through consensus among political parties, a working group had suggested
amendments empowering the Commission to issue notice to a party for necessary
corrections in its manifesto. It was also for the setting up of courts to
adjudicate electoral offences and disallowing the use of government designations
for the purposes of political publicity.
Another pending recommendation pertains to the introduction of
indelible marker ink pens, instead of ink vials, as a pilot project. The quality
check of the ink should be done by multiple independent laboratories, it was
Standardisation of elector photo identity card numbers, as they
are 10 digits in some States and 16 in others, is also one of the issues, apart
from the setting up of fast-track courts for speedy resolution of
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is organizinga two-day
orientation workshop for Population Research Centres (PRCs) to highlight the
various features of the flagship schemes of the Health Ministry for
Inaugurating the national workshop today at New Delhi, Ms.Preeti
Sudan, Secretary (HFW) stated there is an urgent need for PRCs to reinvent
themselves to become more relevant.
She further stated that PRCs should integrate with the institute
they are anchored in for more thoughtful insights of local and current issues to
enrich their research.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has established
the network of 18 Population Research Centres (PRCs) spread over 17 major
States/UTs, with the mandate to provide, inter alia, critical research based
inputs related to the Health and Family Welfare programs and policies at the
national and state levels.
The PRCs are autonomous in nature and administratively under the
control of their host University/Institutions. The scheme started with
establishment of 2 PRCs at Delhi and Kerala in 1958 and expanded to 18 PRCs with
latest inclusion of PRC, Sagar during 1999.
The PRCs were established to undertake research projects
relating to family planning, demographic research and biological studies &
qualitative aspect of population control, with a view to gainfully utilize the
feedback from these research studies for plan formulation, strategies and policy
interventions of ongoing schemes.
Three public sector units — National Aluminium Company
(NALCO), Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Copper Ltd. —
are set to sign by next month, a joint venture (JV) agreement for making
overseas acquisition of reserves of rare metals like lithium and cobalt.
The first acquisition is likely to be made within six months
NALCO will hold 34% of the proposed Rs. 100 crore equity, with the other two
companies holding 33% each. “The JV will acquire assets in overseas countries,”
HCL CMD Santosh Sharma said.
Expert teams have already visited countries holding such
deposits like Chile, Peru and Bolivia, he said, adding that the tie-ups are
likely to be between the governments. These rare metals are needed in devices
such as mobile phones, laptops and also for electric vehicles.
He said that HCL hoped to increase its ore output by 25% to 51.5
lakh tonnes this fiscal through capacity expansion at its existing mines,
reopening of closed mines and acquisition of new ones.
The company has earmarked about Rs. 1,200 crore towards capital
expenditure. The flagship expansion project at Malanjkhand (where an underground
project was being developed in the place of the existing opencast mine) will
start production this fiscal, while work on reopening the Rakha and the
ChapriSidheswar mines in Ghatsila would start soon.
Children born today have a better chance than at any time in
history to grow up healthy, educated and protected, with the opportunity to
reach their full potential, says the Global Childhood Report recently
released by Save the Children, an NGO working for the education and
protection of child rights.
The document indicates that in 2000, an estimated 970 million
children were robbed of their childhood due to ill-health, malnutrition,
exclusion from education, child labour, child marriage, early pregnancy and
violent death. That number has reduced to 690 million which effectively means
that at least 280 million children are better off today than they would have
been two decades ago.
However, it warns that the world has made less progress in
reducing adolescent births and child homicide, and there has been no progress at
all in reducing the number of children living in areas of violence and conflict.
“In fact, the number of children living in war zones or forced
to flee their homes due to conflict has skyrocketed since 2000. Today, 1 child
in 4 is being denied the right to a childhood — a time of life that should be
safe for growing, learning and playing. These stolen childhoods are increasingly
concentrated in the world’s conflict zones,’’ says the report.
Another important aspect brought was the fact that in 2016
alone, 85,000 boys and girls under the age of 20 were murdered. “About 40% of
these victims were under 15. Each of these deaths represents hundreds or even
thousands more children who live in violent or abusive environments,’’ it says.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened an emergency summit of
Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca yesterday with a call for the international
community to use all means to confront Iran. But, he also said the kingdom
extends its hand for peace.
King Salman was speaking at the first of three high-level
summits in Mecca that were urgently convened after a spike in tensions between
Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran.
Speaking at a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council, King
Salman said the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United
Arab Emirates and a drone attack on a key Saudi oil pipeline earlier this month
requires serious efforts to protect the security and the gains of the six
energy-rich Arab nations.
Iran denies being involved in the attacks. Attending yesterday
night’s GCC summit were the leaders of Kuwait and Bahrain, as well as senior
officials from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.
The meeting will be immediately followed with an emergency
summit of the 22-nation Arab League, minus Syria whose membership remains
Another summit is expected today, focusing largely on
Palestinian statehood and independence. It will bring together leaders from the
57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is headquartered in Saudi
We share our bodies with trillions of microbes that are
critical to staying healthy, but now scientists are getting a much-needed
close look at how those bugs can spur disease.
A single test to see what gut bacteria you harbour would not
tell much. Research published on Wednesday found that repeat testing spotted the
microbial zoo changing in ways that eventually may help doctors determine who’s
at risk of preterm birth, inflammatory bowel disease, even diabetes.
Microbiomes start forming at birth and are different depending
on whether babies were born vaginally or via C-section. And they change with age
and different exposures, such as a course of antibiotics that can wipe out
friendly bacteria along with infection-causing ones.
The researchers did quarterly tests for microbial, genetic and
molecular changes, plus testing when the volunteers caught a respiratory
infection and even while some deliberately put on and lost weight. Not
surprisingly, they found a list of microbial and inflammatory early warning
signs of brewing diabetes.
But most interestingly, people who are insulin-resistant showed
delayed immune responses to respiratory infections, correlating with tamped-down