1. Aadhaar to be a must for women in BPL households to get free LPG connection
- An Aadhaar card is a must for women living in Below Poverty Line (BPL) households to avail of free cooking gas (LPG) connection under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)
- The government launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana last year to provide free LPG connections to 5 crore poor women in three years.
- “Individual beneficiary desirous of availing the benefit under the scheme [PMUY] is hereby required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication,” said a gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
- In October last, the government made Aadhaar mandatory for availing of cooking gas (LPG) subsidy. The government now gives 12 cylinders of 14.2 kg each at subsidised rates per household in a year. The subsidy on every cylinder is transferred in advance directly into bank accounts of individuals, who then buy the cooking fuel at market rates.
2. Supreme Court opens surrogacy window for singles
- The draft Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016, which is being examined by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, expressly allows only infertile and legally wedded Indian couples to have children through surrogacy.
- Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi allowed a representation to be made before the committee to consider including a “specific provision” in the Bill so as to facilitate single persons also embrace parenthood through surrogacy.
- The representation will be forwarded to the office of the Solicitor General of India, who will formally hand it over to the legislative panel for consideration.
- “There is no specific provision about single parents in the Bill, but the Bill also does not specifically prohibit them,” senior advocate Shekhar Napahade, for a petitioner, submitted.
3. Chennai oil spill: TN seeks Rs. 135.35 crore from insurance companies
- The Tamil Nadu government has estimated that fishermen incurred a loss of Rs. 135.35 crore due to the oil spill and its spread on the Chennai coast after two cargo ships collided on January 28 near the Ennore Port, and asked the Director General of Shipping to get funds released from insurance companies.
- About 104 km of coastal areas, including the Chennai beaches, were affected by the oil slick and the livelihood of fishermen of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheerpuram districts were hit, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said on Monday at a function organised to distribute solatium of Rs. 5,000 each to 30,000 affected fishermen.
4. Donald Trump signs ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ order
- The Donald Trump administration issued a new executive order on Monday, temporarily banning travel from six Muslim majority countries to the United States, after an earlier order ran foul of the country’s judiciary.
- The new executive order bans travel from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, leaving out Iraq that was also in the list of barred countries in the January order.
- The new order will not come into effect until March 16, in contrast with the earlier order that was effective immediately, leading to confusion at airports and leaving many people in transit stranded.
- There will be a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of these six countries, and nation’s refugee program will be suspended for 120 days, according to the order. While the temporary ban is in place for 90 days, the U.S. administration will review the security measures in place to prevent potential threats from gaining a U.S. visa. The number of refugees to be admitted this year has been reduced to 50,000 from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration. The indefinite ban on Syrian refugees has been lifted.
- The order said each of the six countries was a “state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organisations or contains active conflict zones.” The order gives country-wise details justifying the inclusion of each and also explains the exclusion of Iraq. “Iraq presents a special case. Portions of Iraq remain combat zones,” the order said, but added that the country’s commitment to “combat ISIS justify different treatment for Iraq.”
- In justification of the order, the administration said people who entered the U.S on visas or as refugees from these countries have “proved to be threats to national security.” “The Attorney-General has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the U.S. as refugees are currently subjects of counter-terrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations [FBI],” the President said in the order.
5. North Korea bans Malaysians from leaving the country
- Pyongyang is banning all Malaysian citizens from leaving North Korea, state media said on Tuesday, potentially holding them hostage amid an increasingly heated diplomatic row over the killing of Kim Jong-Nam in Kuala Lumpur.
6. Finance Minister has sued the Delhi CM for defamation over allegations of financial mismanagement in DDCA
- Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has sued Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a ₹10 crore defamation suit for allegations of financial mismanagement in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), was on Monday cross-examined by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani before the Delhi High Court. The BJP leader said he never complained against “political criticism”, but “it was for the first time when personal imputations questioning my integrity were made”.
7. SC refuses to grant relief to Prajapati
- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant any relief to Uttar Pradesh Minister Gayatri Prajapati, who is evading arrest in an alleged gang rape case, while taking exception to how its order to register an FIR against the fugitive minister had been given a “political colour.”
- A Bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri clarified that it had only ordered the Uttar Pradesh police to lodge an FIR against Mr. Prajapati in cases of alleged gang rape and attempt to rape a woman and her daughter and was not monitoring these cases.
8. Vice President Hamid Ansari embarks on two-day Jakarta visit
- Vice President Hamid Ansari on Monday embarked on a two-day visit to Indonesia to attend the summit of the 21-nation Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Jakarta, where he is expected to lay emphasis on connectivity, open maritime trade and rights of navigation.
- The theme of the Summit is ‘Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean’
- The IORA Concord, also called Jakarta Concord, is a strategic document containing the vision and norms of the future of cooperation among the member countries with an aim of strengthening the regional architecture to face its challenges.
9. Tech Mahindra to buy U.S.-based HCI group
- IT services company Tech Mahindra on Monday said it would acquire U.S.-based healthcare IT services and consulting firm The HCI Group for about $110 million.
- “The acquisition will not only position Tech Mahindra as a significant player in the healthcare provider space but will also provide an opportunity to go deeper in this space via EMR implementation and surrounding services route,” said C.P. Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra.
10. Revised General Financial Rules (GFRs)
- Mr. Jaitley was addressing financial advisors in different central ministries and departments after releasing the Revised General Financial Rules (GFRs), 2017, at a conference in New Delhi
- The GFRs are rules and orders dealing with matters involving public finances. General Financial Rules were issued for the first time in 1947 bringing together in one place all existing orders and instructions pertaining to financial matters. These have subsequently been modified and issued as GFRs 1963 and GFRs 2005.
- Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa said that the new financial rules will enable an improved, efficient and effective framework of fiscal management while providing the necessary flexibility to facilitate timely delivery of services.
- The new rules take into account various changes in government operations over the last 12 years, including more recent reforms in Budgeting such as the removal of distinction in non-plan and plan expenditure and the merger of the Railway Budget with the General Budget.
- The shift to direct benefits transfer and e-procurement has also been factored in. New rules have also been introduced for non-tax revenues, user charges, e-receipts portal pertaining to autonomous bodies.
11. Election Results :
- Uttar Pradesh
The counting of votes for the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly elections 2017 saw a historic landslide verdict in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in 403-member UP assembly.
|Bahujan Samaj Party||19||0||19|
|Bharatiya Janata Party||312||0||312|
|Indian National Congress||7||0||7|
|Rashtriya Lok Dal||1||0||1|
|Apna Dal (Soneylal)||9||0||9|
|Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal||1||0||1|
|Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party||4||0||4|
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won a majority in the 70 seat-Uttarakhand assembly, ousting the Congress led by chief minister Harish Rawat.
|Bharatiya Janata Party||56||1*||57|
|Indian National Congress||11||0||11|
*The Election Commission has ordered repolling in one of the booths of Lohaghat assembly seat in Uttarakhand where EVMs went out of order, forcing counting at the station to be stopped midway.
Congress won 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly with Amarinder Singh as its chief ministerial nominee, only one short of the 78 needed for a two-thirds majority.
|Bharatiya Janata Party||3||0||3|
|Indian National Congress||77||0||77|
|Aam Aadmi Party||20||0||20|
|Shiromani Akali Dal||15||0||15|
|Lok Insaaf Party||2||0||2|
The counting of votes for the 40 seats in Goa assembly elections 2017 show a close contest between the Congress and BJP, while other smaller parties such as the Goa Forward Party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak (MGP) also making inroads.
|Bharatiya Janata Party||13||0||13|
|Indian National Congress||17||0||17|
|Nationalist Congress Party||1||0||1|
|Goa Forward Party||3||0||3|
The Congress won 28 seats, but the BJP is hot on its heels with 21 wins and neither party is yet assured of a majority.
|All India Trinamool Congress||1||0||1|
|Bharatiya Janata Party||21||0||21|
|Indian National Congress||28||0||28|
|Naga Peoples Front||4||0||4|
|Lok Jan Shakti Party||1||0||1|
|National People’s Party||4||0||4|
12. GST laws ready for Parliament, State Assemblies
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has approved a 15 per cent ceiling on the cess to be levied on aerated drinks and luxury cars over and above the maximum proposed GST rate of 28 per cent, and the enabling laws for state and union territories to adopt the new indirect tax regime at its meeting.
- While Bidis have been kept out of the GST net, separate cess ceilings have been approved for pan masala and tobacco products, including chewing tobacco and cigarettes – keeping adequate room to raise the effective rate from their existing levels.
- With the Council having already cleared three other GST laws — pertaining to central GST, integrated GST and the compensation to be paid to states for loss of revenue — this paves the way for the Centre and the states to pilot the new indirect tax system proposed to be introduced from July 1, through the Parliament and state assemblies, respectively.
- “Four of these laws have to be cleared by the Centre in Parliament, and will now be taken up by the Union Cabinet for their introduction and passage. We will try and do that expeditiously, and am sure that states would also try to expedite the state GST law by getting their respective cabinets to approve them,” Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley said after the Council meeting.
13. Manohar Parrikar wins trust vote, Congress MLA quits:
- The BJP won 13 seats in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly, but Manohar Parrikar has managed to create a coalition, which includes three MLAs each from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party and three Independents, which takes the total tally of the BJP-led coalition to 22.
- Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, in charge of Goa, in an interview to PTI has detailed how the BJP put together a coalition government the state. According to Gadkari, MGP and GFP put a condition that they will support BJP only if Manohar Parrikar is made the Goa chief minister.
- Congress legislator Vishwajeet Rane walked out during the floor test and later submitted his resignation to the protem speaker.
14. Cabinet approves National Health Policy
- Assuring ‘healthcare services for all,’the NHP aims to strengthen primary health centres and district hospitals.
- Health Ministry sources said that in a major shift, the policy increases the gambit of sectors covered in the Primary Health Centre (PHC)-level and envisages a comprehensive approach
- The draft also addressed the issues of universal health coverage, reducing maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as making drugs and diagnostics available free at least in the public healthcare system of the country.
15. Amarinder Singh takes charge as Punjab CM
- After steering the Congress to a stupendous victory, Amarinder Singh took oath as Punjab chief minister. 75-year-old Amarinder was sworn in as the state’s 26th chief minister along with nine ministers, including Navjot Singh Sidhu.
- The ceremony was held at the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh and the oath was administered by Governor V P Singh Badnore.
- This will be Amarinder’s second stint as chief minister.
- Congress under the leadership of Amarinder had won 77 seats in the 117 member Assembly elections wresting power from the SAD-BJP alliance which was relegated to the third spot with 18 seats. New entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 20 seats and two seats went to its ally Lok Insaaf Party.
16. US raises Fed Rate
- The US Fed raised its key interest rate by 25 basis points (bps), making its third rate hike since the financial crisis and the second time in three months.
- In December 2016, the US Fed increased its benchmark rate by 25 bps in the first rate hike in 2016 and just the second in a decade. The first was in December 2015.
- But it is not likely to affect the Indian Economy as much.
17. Centre approves additional 2% Dearness Allowance
- Union Government has hiked dearness allowance for its about 50 lakh employees and 58 lakh pensioners by 2 per cent.
- The Dearness allowance and dearness relief are provided with an aim to neutralise the impact of inflation the earnings of central government employees.
18. Shashank Manohar resignes from the ICC.
19. BJP leader Biren Singh sworn in as Manipur Chief Minister
- BJP leader N. Biren Singh was on Wednesday sworn in as the Chief Minister of Manipur. Y. Joykumar Singh of the National People’s Party was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister at the Raj Bhawan in Imphal.
- The BJP alliance with regional parties, led by N Biren Singh had been invited to form the government in Manipur by Governor Najma Heptulla.
- In Manipur, the BJP, which is the second largest party behind incumbent Congress, had claimed that it enjoyed the support of 32 MLAs in the 60-member assembly
20. Gayatri Prajapati arrested
- After evading arrest for nearly a month, Samajwadi Party leader and outgoing Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati was arrested in Lucknow on Wednesday. Prajapati has been accused of gangraping a woman and attempting to molest her minor daughter. Following the Supreme Court’s directive, the Lucknow police had lodged an FIR against Prajapati and six others on February 18. The six co-accused have already been arrested. The apex court had asked the UP Police to submit an action taken report in eight weeks.
- In her complaint to the police, the woman alleged that about three years ago, Prajapati had called her to his residence, through his associate Ashok Tiwari, and promised to allot a mining block in Hamirpur to her. She claimed that she was drugged and raped by Prajapati and Ashok, who reportedly clicked her photographs too. After that, the woman, who is originally from Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, was allegedly blackmailed and called regularly to Prajapati’s residence, where she was sexually abused.
21. Arun Jaitley takes on additional charge of defence ministry
- Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar stepped down on Sunday to become chief minister of Goa
22. Enemy Property Bill passed:
- The passing of the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2016 by both houses of parliament paves the way for the government to monetise assets worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore, which will come as a nice cushion at a time when the government is looking at ways to control the fiscal deficit.
- The amendment now empowers the Custodian of Enemy Property (CEP) to sell such assets, which wasn’t permitted under the old Enemy Property Act, 1968. The official, appointed under the 1968 Act, was entrusted with the custody, management and administration of assets deemed enemy property after the India-China war of 1962 and the wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. The authority, under the home ministry, can now sell these properties.
- There are 149 immovable enemy properties of Chinese nationals with the custodian in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Delhi.
23. Maternity Benefit Bill Passed By Lok Sabha
- Earlier, the law allowed three months or 12 weeks of maternity leave which has now been extended to 26 weeks. This new law will apply to all establishments having 10 or more employees and will be applicable only for the first two children. In case of the third child, maternity leave will only be for 12 weeks.
24. Zakir Naik assets seized.
- The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth Rs. 18.37 crore of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), an NGO based at Dongri in south Mumbai, in the Zakir Naik money laundering case.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) issued a second notice to the controversial 51-year-old Islamic preacher today, asking him to appear at the headquarters on March 30 for a case filed against him under an anti-terror law.
- An FIR against Mr Naik and his associates was registered by the NIA in November last year. The physician-turned-preacher has been booked for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have also been slapped on him.
25. Settle Ayodhya outside court:
- Supreme Court today said the construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was an issue of sentiment and religion, and asked the disputing parties to sort the matter outside court.
- “An amicable settlement of the Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was a better course than on insisting on judicial pronouncement,” a bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.
- Calling Ayodhya a sensitive matter, Swamy had urged the Supreme Court to constitute a bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging a 2010 Allahabad High Court order.
- The 2010 order said that there should be a partition of the Ayodhya land between the parties to the dispute.
- “The matter involves sentiments on both sides. It should be settled amicably between the disputing parties… The Supreme Court will come in the picture of you can’t settle the dispute outside the court,” the apex court said.
- Babri Masjid, a medieval mosque built in the 16th century, was demolished by a Hindu mob on December 6, 1992. A number of senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Vinay Katiyar are the accused in the case.
26. Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister:
- This decision has seen mixed reactions all over India, there has been a lot of criticism regarding the same.
- In a big booster shot to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat (Clean India) mission, newly appointed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adiytyanath on Monday asked his government officials to take a pledge to invest 100 hours of their annual time for the cause.
- Dinesh Sharma as appointed as one of the two deputy chief ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
- Adityanath will be the 21st chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and the fourth from the saffron party.
- A strong votary of construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, Adityanath drove BJP’s Hindutva campaign in the eastern UP in the just concluded Assembly polls.
- He will be sworn in at a ceremony at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan at 2.15 p.m. where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah will be present.
- Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma are to be the State’s deputy CMs.
27. Idea-Vodafone merger:
- India’s telecom industry will soon ring in a new order. Vodafone India and the Kumar Mangalam Birla-owned Idea are to merge to create the country’s biggest phone company by subscribers, dislodging Bharti Airtel, which has been at the top for 15 years. The new Rs 1.55 lakh crore entity will also be the world No. 2 after China Mobile.
- Kumar Mangalam Birla will be the chairman of the new entity. Vodafone will name the chief financial officer while the two companies will jointly name the CEO and operations head before the closure of merger, expected within 24 months. The new entity will remain listed and be renamed at a later stage. The promoters of Idea and Vodafone will have the right to nominate three members each on the board, which will have 12 directors, six of whom will be independent.
28. Trivendra Rawat takes oath as Uttarakhand CM
- Trivendra Singh Rawat, a former RSS pracharak, was sworn in as the chief minister of Uttarakhand after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept back to power a landslide majority.
- The swearing-in ceremony took place at 3 pm at Parade Grounds in Dehradun for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were present.
- The BJP won 57 of the hill state’s 70-member state assembly to wrest power from the Congress, which managed to win only 11 in the assembly elections.
- Satpal Maharaj, Prakash Pant, Madan Kaushik, Yashpal Arya, Arvind Arya, Subodh Uniyal, swear in as cabinet ministers.
- Outgoing CM Harish Rawat.
29. Manipur blockade lifted:
- An economic blockade in Manipur led by the United Naga Council, which had crippled the state’s supply lines for over 130 days, has been lifted
- The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex body of Nagas in the state, decided to call off the 139-day-long blockade of the state’s two national highways
- As per the agreement, the state government will unconditionally release UNC President Gaidon Kamei and its publicity secretary Stephen Lamkang, who were arrested for their alleged roles in violence during the blockade, and also close all cases against Naga leaders.
- Additional chief secretary Suresh Babu and commissioner (Home) Radha Kumar represented Manipur government while joint secretary (in-charge of Northeast) in the home ministry Satyender Garg represented the Centre in the tripartite talks.
30. Industrialist and sand mining baron J. Sekhar Reddy was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)
- A senior Enforcement Directorate official said, “He has been arrested on charges of money laundering. He has been remanded in judicial custody.” More details would be available later as they were still quizzing him on the issue.
- ED registered a case against Reddy and his business partner Sreenivasulu under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
31. Doval visiting U.S. this week, to meet Defence Secretary James Mattis
- He is also expected to meet his American counterpart Lt. Gen. H R McMaster, the first between the two national security advisers.
- National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will visit Washington this week for talks with top Trump administration officials and discuss a wide range of security issues and push forward the defence ties.
32. Quarrying destroying Konni hills
- Hills in Konni are fast facing destruction as granite quarries reportedly flout court orders pertaining to environment protection and land conversion.
- Western Ghats Protection Council leaders Santhoshkumar and Avinash Palleenazhikathu alleged blatant violation of the mining rules as well as the Kerala Land Utilisation Act by quarry operators, in collusion with a section of the officials, in most granite quarries in this reaches of the Western Ghats.
- The Supreme Court of India had made it clear that granite quarrying should be permitted only on the basis of the Environment Impact Assessment made in the area concerned. However, neither the authorities nor the quarry operators appear to have taken the order seriously, said the WGPC leaders.