1 . BharatNet Phase-1 completed
Government has achieved a significant milestone under the BharatNet by completing Phase-1 of the project by connecting over one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) across the country with high speed optical fibre network as per the declared deadline of 31 Dec 2017. BharatNet network built under Phase 1 envisages delivery of high-speed broadband services in over 2.5 lakh villages benefitting more than 200 million rural Indians.
BharatNet is a project of national importance to establish, by 2017, a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide on demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on demand capacity to all institutions, to realise the vision of Digital India, in partnership with States and the private sector.
The entire project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was set up for improving telecom services in rural and remote areas of the country.
The objective is to facilitate the delivery of e-governance, e-health, e-education, e-banking, Internet and other services to the rural India.
The project is a Centre-State collaborative project, with the States contributing free Rights of Way for establishing the Optical Fibre Network. The three-phase implementation of the BharatNet project is as follows-
The first phase envisages providing one lakh gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by laying underground optic fibre cable (OFC) lines by Decmeber 2017.
The second phase will provide connectivity to all 2,50,500 gram panchayats in the country using an optimal mix of underground fiber, fiber over power lines, radio and satellite media. It is to be completed by March 2019.
In the third phase from 2019 to 2023, state-of-the-art, future-proof network, including fiber between districts and blocks, with ring topology to provide redundancy would be created.
2 . Central Government notifies the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017
The Central Government notified the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Amendment Act) on 3rd January, 2018. The provisions of this Amendment Act shall come into force on the date or dates as the Central Government may appoint by notification(s) in the Official Gazette. A few provisions in the Amendment Act have important bearing on the working of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code).
Important changes from Companies Act, 2013
I. Section 53 of the Companies Act, 2013 prohibited issuance of shares at a discount. The Amendment Act now allows companies to issue shares at a discount to its creditors when its debt is converted into shares in pursuance of any statutory resolution plan such as resolution plan under the Code or debt restructuring scheme.
II. Section 197 of the Companies Act, 2013 required approval of the company in a general meeting for payment of managerial remuneration in excess of 11 percent of the net profits. The Amendment Act now requires that where a company has defaulted in payment of dues to any bank or public financial institution or non-convertible debenture holders or any other secured creditor, the prior approval of the bank or public financial institution concerned or the non-convertible debenture holders or other secured creditor, as the case may be, for such payment of managerial remuneration shall be obtained by the company before obtaining the approval in the general meeting.
III. Section 247 of the Companies Act, 2013 prohibited a registered valuer from undertaking valuation of any assets in which he has a direct or indirect interest or becomes so interested at any time during or after the valuation of assets. The Amendment Act now prohibits a registered valuer from undertaking valuation of any asset in which he has direct or indirect interest or becomes so interested at any time during three years prior to his appointment as valuer or three years after valuation of assets was conducted by him.
3 . 18th All India Whips’ Conference , Udaipur
The 18th All India Whips’ Conference was inaugurated recently at Udaipur, Rajasthan. The two-day conference is hosting around 90 Delegates belonging to 19 States and Centre. The conference will conclude on 9th January, 2018.The entire purpose of the conference is to strengthen the parliamentary democracy, its institutions and ultimately serve the people at large.
In India, the concept of the whip was inherited from colonial British rule. Every major political party appoints a whip who is responsible for the party’s discipline and behaviour on the floor of the house. Usually, he/she directs the party members to stick to the party’s stand on certain issues and directs them to vote as per the direction of senior party members.
Whips are the party’s “enforcers”; they invite their fellow legislators to attend voting sessions and to vote according to the official party policy. The term is taken from the “whipper-in” during a hunt, who tries to prevent the hounds from wandering away from the pack.
However, there are some cases such as Indian presidential elections where whips cannot direct a member of parliament or member of legislative assembly on whom to vote.
4 . SC for larger warnings on cigarette packs
The Supreme Court has recently stayed a Karnataka High Court order reducing the size of pictorial warnings on packages of tobacco products to 40% of the package space.The court foregrounded the health of citizens over the concerns of the tobacco industry and favoured a government regulation requiring packets of tobacco products to sport pictorial warnings covering 85% of their packaging space.
A Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it is mild to say that tobacco consumption and use causes “deterioration of health”. The apex court said “destruction of health” is a more appropriate phrase to explain the harm caused by tobacco.
Why pictorial warnings covering 85% of the packaging space should be continued ?
In a country where illiteracy is rampant, the more prominent the warning, the better impact it would have on the minds of the people.It is the obligation of the State to make the people aware as regards the injurious nature of these indulgences.Apart from the victim of the habit, the family suffers. The whole society faces peril.
Why pictorial warnings covering 85% of the packaging space should be reduced or discontinued ?
The use of such pictures on 85% packaging space is a violation of the fundamental right to do business under Article 19 (1) (g).Instead of a ban, the government is using “absolutely horrifying” pictures with no named source or scientific value on the tobacco packets.
5 . Madagascar cyclone” Ava” kills 29, displaces thousands
Cyclone Ava that hit eastern Madagascar over the weekend killed at least 29 people and injured three others while two people were reported missing. The Tropical Cyclone Ava passed through Madagascar on Friday and Saturday, hitting mostly the eastern coast of the island with wind speeds of between 140-190 kph (87-119 mph).
In March 2017, Cyclone Enawo struck Madagascar, killing at least 78 people on its vanilla-producing northeastern coast . Enawo damaged around 30 percent of the crop in the world’s biggest producer, which accounts for nearly half of the world’s crop.