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Daily Current Affairs 10.09.2022(India, China to take up remaining LAC issues,SC allows bail to journalist Kappan,The stark reasons why Bengaluru is sinking,Moving out of the shadows, from silence to assertion,End of an era,Army in Arunachal Pradesh receives modern artillery, SC takes up pleas against Places of Worship Act,Rules relaxed to bring IAS, IPS officers to J&K,Centre bans export of broken rice due to domestic demand,Make anti-TB campaign a mass movement: President, Basic skills poor in regional languages: NCERT,N. Korea makes nuclear programme ‘irreversible’, FM tasks RBI to ‘whitelist’ legal loan apps to protect borrowers)

Daily Current Affairs 10.09.2022(India, China to take up remaining LAC issues,SC allows bail to journalist Kappan,The stark reasons why Bengaluru is sinking,Moving out of the shadows, from silence to assertion,End of an era,Army in Arunachal Pradesh receives modern artillery, SC takes up pleas against Places of Worship Act,Rules relaxed to bring IAS, IPS officers to J&K,Centre bans export of broken rice due to domestic demand,Make anti-TB campaign a mass movement: President, Basic skills poor in regional languages: NCERT,N. Korea makes nuclear programme ‘irreversible’, FM tasks RBI to ‘whitelist’ legal loan apps to protect borrowers)

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1. India, China to take up remaining LAC issues

India and China will take up remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) once the ongoing disengagement at Patrolling Point (PP) 15 in Gogra-Hot Springs is completed by Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

Beijing welcomed the disengagement at PP15 as “a positive development”, but reiterated its stand that it would not accept India’s demand to restore the status quo prior to China’s transgressions, saying “the status quo of April 2020…was created by India’s illegal crossing of the Line of Actual Control [LAC]”.

“China will by no means accept that,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters when asked if the latest disengagement would pave the way to full restoration of the status quo. “We don’t accept the so-called status quo created by India’s illegal crossing of the LAC, but that doesn’t mean we don’t attach importance to peace and tranquillity along the border…..China and India hold different positions on the border issues. But what is most important now is for both sides to keep up communication and dialogue, make the disengagement a first step and ensure peace and tranquillity along the border. The beginning of disengagement is a positive development.”

Hurdles remain

Beijing’s comments suggested difficulties may still lie ahead for both sides as they look to resolve differences in the remaining friction areas in Demchok and Depsang. Only after full disengagement and subsequent de-escalation of the more than 50,000 troops on each side that remain deployed in forward areas, India has made clear, can relations return to normalcy.

India and China have completed disengagement in five other areas — PP15 being the latest — creating buffer zones in Galwan Valley, north and south of Pangong Lake, and in PP17A in Hot Springs.

The timing of the announcement on PP15 did, however, also suggest both sides appeared to be looking to create conditions that might enable a first meeting between their leaders after close to three years.

SCO summit next week

The MEA statement said disengagement at PP15 would be completed by September 12 — three days before the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping would likely attend in Samarkand, convenes. Neither side has commented on whether the two leaders, who haven’t spoken since a November 2019 meeting in Brasilia or during the more than two-year-long LAC crisis, will meet on the sidelines at the SCO or at the G20 in Indonesia in November.

As per Thursday’s agreement, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the disengagement process in the area started on Thursday at 8.30 a.m. IST and would be completed by Monday.

2. SC allows bail to journalist Kappan

Every person has a right to free expression: Bench

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who has suffered custody for nearly two years and is accused of offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying “every person has a right to free expression.” A Bench led by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit orally observed that the “literature” found in the car Mr. Kappan was travelling in to Hathras, where a Dalit girl was allegedly gangraped, at the time of his arrest on October 5, 2020 only propagated ideas like “the victim requires justice” and “let us be a common voice”.

“Will that be a crime in the eyes of the law?” Chief Justice Lalit asked.

Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, on the Bench along with Justice P.S. Narasimha, reminded how protests at India Gate in 2012 led to changes in the rape law. “Sometimes protests are necessary to highlight deficiencies… Till now, you [Uttar Pradesh] have not shown anything provocative,” Justice Bhat said.

Court questions U.P.

The State, represented by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, maintained Mr. Kappan was “agent provocateur” for the “terror gang” Popular Front of India. He was financed and sent to incite riots in Hathras. The court asked Mr. Jethmalani whether the literature on ‘Justice for Hathras’ contained anything to suggest that Mr. Kappan was en route to Hathras to incite riots. It enquired if explosives were found in the vehicle. The State replied in the negative.

3. The stark reasons why Bengaluru is sinking

Citizens need to back politicians and bureaucrats who bring development and environmental protection to the fore

After two weeks of heavy rain, I am breathing a little easier — as a resident of Whitefield in Bengaluru. Menacing clouds scud overhead, but the sheets of water have abated.

Meanwhile, social media reveals the pulse of the people. Viral content shows abandoned vehicles floating or under water, tractors and their trailers laden with software professionals commuting to work and inflatable rafts being hauled by rescue teams with residents on board escaping from flooded layouts that are home to luxury villas. Black humour memes flood our mobile phones, even as our feet swill around in the bilges. Some discussions have turned parochial and even racist, blaming migrants to be the prime culprits. Politicians have waded in — only figuratively, of course. Most blame previous governments, while some blame citizens. Those in the ruling party seem irritable; one of its own rich supporters, who is not known for the use of temperate language, has been castigated by another for sharing flood-related photos, and giving Bengaluru a ‘bad name’.

Useful discussions that involve water and climate experts have them repeatedly highlight how we have encroached into lakes and watersheds, destroyed wetlands, reduced greenery and concretised lands, thus facing the consequences of our actions.

When the rot began

There is consensus that we must do something. We know what to do. But where do we begin? How do we proceed and what is the sequence? Who will help?

As Bengaluru expanded, swallowing up the villages around it, panchayats were disbanded to create six city municipal corporations, which were merged subsequently into the Bhruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). During this transition, land records were either destroyed or tampered with, and fake documents fabricated by corrupt interests. Lakes and their catchment areas were soon transformed into private lands. Builders backfilled these and soon made quick money building apartments, shopping malls and information-technology parks. We were arrogant in thinking that we could somehow defy nature. But water finds its own level, irrespective of whether we are rich or poor.

Them and us

Yet, this smacks of déjà vu. Many cities in Europe and the United States, notwithstanding their beautiful environs today, are examples where there was the ruthless destruction of the environment, and construction frenzy to become pulsating economic growth engines. They too saw a nexus of corruption involving politicians and bureaucrats, eschewing environmentally sensible decisions for short-term gains. They too benefited from migration, which brought in energy and skill. And they too suffered, like us, from two classic impediments in public welfare provision. First, the problem of free riders, where people partook of city-provided benefits without paying city taxes. And second, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem, where bulwarks against environmental breakdown — wetlands, lakes, grasslands, trees, parks, and forests — belonged to nobody.

The difference between us and them is this — they grew when nature had the leeway to heal and establish a new environmental equilibrium. We, in contrast, are destroying our environment when climate change is already upon us; and further damage would only result in a cascading succession of disasters.

Reassuringly, Bengaluru consistently implements reforms, albeit slowly. We have achieved some success in rainwater harvesting, solar water heating, segregation of garbage and the stoppage of littering, even if deadlines were unmet. We are better than many in environmental compliance, though not good enough.

What we lack is the institutional capacity to handle the problems of the future. We cannot persist with the same alphabet soup of uncoordinated institutions that have contributed to our problems in the first place and comprising local governments, namely, the BBMP and panchayats, State institutions such as the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA), various ‘planning authorities’ and the Revenue Department and parastatals such as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM), Lake Authority and Bangalore Smart City Limited.

Putting reforms into action

We need two broad thrusts to implement the reforms we know we need, to build climate resilience and a better environment.

First, we must execute institutional euthanasia. A multiplicity of institutions does not improve execution. They are deliberately constructed to get in each other’s way, complicate governance and preserve opportunities that benefit corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and land exploiters. Outdated institutions need to be replaced by a constitutionally compliant structure, with local governments at the top. Eleven independent planning authorities must be merged and subordinated to the Metropolitan Planning Committee. This constitutionally mandated institution enables all stakeholders, from Bengaluru’s largest land owners, i.e., the defence, the railways, airports and national highway authorities, to the mahanagara palika and panchayats within the metropolitan area, to participate. Likewise, parastatals such as the BWSSB and the Smart City Company should be subordinated to the BBMP.

Making tough decisions

Second, our community needs to steel itself for some tough decisions. Climate resilience goes beyond flood control; it needs minimising the damaging environmental impact of cities. We must take hard decisions on transportation, curb car travel and improve cheap public transport with more buses instead of waiting for the expensive metro. We must preserve our existing green cover and plant more trees, both in the city and around it. We must de-concretise our pavements, prohibit littering and segregate garbage as unsegregated garbage clogs drains. We must enforce sewage treatment plant operational standards. We need to accelerate efforts to improve Rajakaluves (channels that connect waterbodies) as demonstrated in a 11-kilometre stretch in the city centre.

We must deal with the huge legacy of unacceptable constructions and encroachments. The only solution is to remove some of these unacceptable constructions and restore wetlands and tank beds. Any delay will result in nature reclaiming its due, as the effects of global warming intensify. Rising flood waters will spare none, the rich or the poor.

I can already hear the gasps of incredulity. How can we entrust our lives to the tender ministrations of our corporators, who have the reputation of being thugs and crooks? Such thinking is riddled with serious faults. First, we could elect better people to the corporation. Second, the thought that the higher we go, the more principled and statesman-like people are is a laughable and naive presumption. Third, it undermines the biggest tools of accountability in the BBMP, wards committees and area sabhas. Getting these institutions to work well is in our hands. There are no corresponding peoples’ participation mechanisms in State departments and parastatals.

What we can dispense with are parochial arguments. Both the migrant ‘techie’ and the migrant rag picker are vitally important for the economic health of Bengaluru. There is a time lag between migrant arrivals and their becoming assertive stakeholders in the city’s health; that is no reason to decry them. Indeed, our city would collapse if all migrants returned to their homes.

Good politics

Finally, apolitical approaches have their limitations. Political parties of all hues have been exploiting Bengaluru for decades. Let us face it. If we continue to vote for the corrupt for considerations other than development and environmental protection, we will not find solutions. Our bad political choices are keeping good politicians and bureaucrats out of decision making. While public participation may seem a suicide mission and the frustration and anger of being pushed back can take a toll, the only cure for bad politics is more politics of the good kind. Not less of it.

T.R. Raghunandan is former Secretary, Panchayati Raj, Government of Karnataka, former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India, and Senior Policy Adviser, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

4. Moving out of the shadows, from silence to assertion

Muslim women in India are beginning to seek judicial recourse to assert their rights, marking a quiet churning

A Talaq-e-Hasan petition filed by a Ghaziabad-based woman, seeking to make the divorce pronounced by the husband at an interval of at least a month extra-judicial, was in the limelight recently when Justice S.K. Kaul observed that the practice of Talaq-e-Hasan or divorce pronounced to the wife once a month for three months is “not so improper”. The Bench of the Supreme Court of India, that included Justice M.M. Sundresh, also brought to the counsel’s notice the possibility of exploring divorce through mubarat or mutual consent. The judges referred to the option of khula, or a Muslim woman’s right to divorce as well.

The Bench said, “We have also put to the learned senior counsel whether in view of the allegation of respondent of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, would the petitioner be willing for a settlement by process of divorce through mutual consent on amounts being paid over and above the mehr fixed. In fact, we have also brought to their notice the dissolution of marriage is also possible without the intervention of the court through mubarat.”

The Court’s observation continues the trend of the judiciary taking into cognisance the rights available to a Muslim couple to dissolve an unhappy marital union. It also marks the increasing propensity of Muslim women to stand up for their rights in marriage or otherwise, a clear departure from times when women left the husband’s house in silence, battered, bruised and fearing social opprobrium. Indeed, more and more Muslim women are now approaching various courts, including Darul Qaza or shariah courts, for redress of marital grievances.

While the widely-acclaimed invalidation of instant triple talaq by a five-judge Bench of the Court, in 2017, is well documented, there was a Kerala High Court judgment of 2021 which upheld the validity of khula. The court called khula, “the form of divorce conferred upon the wife similar to talaq conferred upon the husband”. Incidentally, there are more cases of khula in Darul Qazas or shariah courts than those of instant triple talaq, post the 2017 verdict, according to a rough estimate. In other words, greater awareness of their rights is seeing more and more Muslim women walking out of an abusive marriage, even opting for khula.

There is change

While much has been happening in the judicial fora when it comes to Muslim women’s rights, a silent churning is also going on within the Muslim community in India. Often said to be a community under siege in recent times, age-old mores are now being questioned, and in many cases, rejected. Take for instance, the rumblings around the issue of the hijab. While many women stood up to be counted, arguing forcefully their right to wear what their faith ordains, and quoted verses from Surah Ahzaab of the Koran, many also pointed out the rights granted under the Constitution of India to the minorities to protect their religion, language and culture. It was the new-found confidence of Muslim women to quote from the religious book and also speak up for the rights of a citizen enshrined in the Constitution. Allowing the monopoly of sundry maulanas to interpret the scriptures for them has been fading away.

Seeking rights

Some girls went a step further. They pointed out that it is not just women who have to observe purdah in Islam. The men too have their own limited purdah — a mode of compulsory dressing from the navel to the knees that they are not allowed to violate. Again, they quoted verses 30-31 of Surah Nur of the Koran to buttress their contention. The women are thinking for themselves, interpreting things for themselves, and speaking for themselves. The men have been left either gaping or applauding. Interestingly, at a much lower profile, Muslim women have also been asserting their right to enter mosques to pray. In the past, mosques were considered a men-only zone. Now, women want their sacred space. It started with a petition in the Haji Ali Dargah case in 2016, where women won the right to enter the dargah’s sanctum sanctorum. This kind of a silent assertion of their rights is unprecedented.

At a time when the community is often said to face existential questions, there is a prolonged internal churning within the community, with Muslim women speaking up unlike before. For instance, during the height of the Babri Masjid protests in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was almost invariably the Muslim men who took out rallies and spoke in public. In the Shah Bano case too, where the women actually stood to gain, there was very little affirmative response from Muslim women.

Recent years have seen change to the extent that in December 2019 when the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) was passed, it was not the traditional Muslim leadership that hit the streets but the women of the community. Even as pro-CAA noises emanated from Jama Masjid’s Imam Bukhari and the chief of the Ajmer Dargah, Muslim women took the Government, the media and the men by surprise too by assuming leadership of a long-drawn out struggle against the CAA. The message is clear: Indian Muslim women have found their voice. Be it the issue of divorce or the right to pray in a mosque or don the hijab to college, they have a mind of their own and are ready to express it.

Some obstacles

Of course, not everything is hunky-dory. Even as women assert their right to end a marriage through khula, some clerics still insist on the man’s consent, thereby defeating the very purpose of khula. On the same lines, even as cases against nikah halala are pending before the Supreme Court for over three years, some maulanas still tend to misuse the provision for halala. Whereas the Koran allows two divorces, considering them revocable, and the third one is considered final, some clerics tend to circumvent it through a distortion of the provision of halala. Many maulanas still consider a divorce pronounced in haste as final, and tell the victim to marry another man, consummate the marriage, and obtain divorce in order to return to her first husband after iddah or waiting period. Muslim women are taking on such practices too in the Supreme Court. The quiet churning within the Muslim community could well herald the winds of change.

5. End of an era

The Queen’s passing could have an impact on the mission, prospects of the Commonwealth 

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch who reigned for over 70 years, marks the end of an era for British monarchy. Her tenure as Head of State began during the early post-War years and witnessed a paradigm-changing shift in the balance of political power from the British empire to the Commonwealth, and the emergence of free, post-colonial nations. During her time on the throne the Cold War came to an end and so too did the U.K.’s 47-year experiment as a member of the European Union. No fewer than 15 U.K. Prime Ministers came and went while she reigned, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss. Her rule was not without controversy. On the personal front she suffered an “annus horribilis” in 1992, when the marriages of three of her children broke down and Windsor Castle was damaged by fire. In the aftermath of the death of King Charles’ former wife, Diana, in a car accident in Paris in 1997, criticism was levelled at the monarchy for shying away from public response. Despite these occasional setbacks, Queen Elizabeth has consistently enjoyed a high favourability rating among the British public, 75% according to a recent poll. Observers attribute this to her stubborn silence on political issues, a “closed book” approach that allowed subjects, critics, and outsiders to project onto her and the royal family, whatever they wished to.

Her passing however raises complex questions regarding the state of the monarchy vis-à-vis the Commonwealth realms and the prognosis for the latter’s continuing evolution in a vastly different socioeconomic milieu compared to the Elizabethan era. Consider, for example, the debate in Australia, where there is a popular movement to reposition the country as a Republic, particularly in the context of the administration of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese being keen to set up a treaty with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In 2021, Barbados became the 18th country to remove the British monarch from the role of head of state. Other than these two nations and the U.K., the British monarch remains the head of the state in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, The Bahamas, and Tuvalu. At least six Caribbean nations have hinted at following the Barbados example. However, the broader Commonwealth group of 56 nations, of which India and other South Asian countries are members, remains intact, thanks in large part to the critical role that the Queen played in championing the organisation and maintaining its relevance. As epochal was her rule, so too could the impact of her passing be on the mission and prospects of the Commonwealth.

6. Army in Arunachal Pradesh receives modern artillery

There is focus on surveillance and reconnaissance: official

Latest Sig Saur rifles, Negev Light Machine Guns (LMG), Carl Gustaf-Mk3 84 mm rocket launchers, digital spotter scopes, fuel cell chargers for patrols, all-terrain vehicles and satellite terminals are some of the new inductions for the infantry soldiers in the Rest of Arunachal Pradesh (RALP), beyond the Tawang sector. This along with helipads at forward posts, M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers backed by Chinook heavy lift helicopters are part of the overall capability enhancement in the region.

“There is big focus on capability development. In the infantry battalions lot of new inductions are happening. Apart from this, there is focus on surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Brig. T.M. Sinha who is commanding a Brigade in RALP. Next is infrastructure development, both in hinterland and border areas, he added.

Another major push is on helipads being constructed at forward areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in RALP, officials on the ground said. These are coming up with specifications that they can take the biggest helicopters, the CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters which gives significant advantage, one officer noted.

These developments come against the backdrop of massive Chinese upgradation across the LAC, which also has significant advantage with respect to India in RALP. Acknowledging this, a senior officer posted in the area said the pace of Chinese modernisation was very fast and India was also pushing and catching up.

2019 deal

The Army has procured 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles from Sig Saur of the U.S. under a deal signed in February 2019 and they have since been inducted with frontline infantry soldiers deployed in operational areas. The SIG-716 weighing 3.82 kgs, has an effective range of 600m and employs the heavier calibre 7.62 mm ammunition.

Army contracted 16,497 Negev Light Machine Guns (LMG) from Israel in March 2020 under fast-track procurement and they have since been inducted on the Line of Control (LoC). They started coming in in RALP early this year, according to officials on the ground.

On the fuel cell-based chargers, one officer who did not wish to be identified said they were very useful. “We can take it for long range patrols and are less weight, less maintenance and more durable.” Long range patrols on foot in the tough terrain vary from two weeks to a month.

Indigenous UAVs

Another significant aspect is induction of indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that has given big boost to the forward troops and we can see across the LAC in depth day and night, the officer cited above said.

In terms of mobility, all-terrain vehicles procured from the U.S. have been deployed in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Material lifting cranes are now available in all units which were earlier with the Engineering teams and has significantly eased handling of heavy loads, the officer added talking of the across the board upgradation under way in infantry battalions.

7. SC takes up pleas against Places of Worship Act

Court asks Centre to file response within two weeks

The Supreme Court on Friday set the ball rolling on a series of petitions challenging the validity of the Places of Worship Act of 1991, a parliamentary law that protects the identity and character of religious places as on August 15, 1947.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit said the petitions would be listed before an appropriate three-judge Bench of the apex court, which may consider the possibility of referring the challenge to the 1991 law to a Constitution Bench of five judges.

“Let the three judges consider and then only the Constitution Bench,” Chief Justice said, posting the case on October 11.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, agreed to file a response in two weeks.

A slew of petitions has been filed against the Act, contending it has illegally fixed a retrospective cut-off date (August 15, 1947), illegally barring Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs from approaching courts to “re-claim” their places of worship which were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.

The main objective of these petitions is to set right a “historical wrong”.

The court’s readiness to test the law is significant considering the recent happenings in courts in Delhi, Varanasi, Mathura and the Supreme Court that test the protective grip and probe the boundaries of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991.

In the hearing, advocate Vishnu Jain, for Vishwa Bhadra Pujari Purohit Mahasangh, said the judicial review of a law cannot be taken away.

Mr. Jain quoted the Minerva Mills judgment of the apex court, which held that taking away the power of judicial review would “make a mockery of the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States and render the fundamental rights meaningless and futile”.

Advocate Ejaz Maqbool, for Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, countered that the Places of Worship Act is a Central legislation and has already a “presumption of constitutionality” attached to it. He referred to the Constitution Bench’s observations in Ramjanmabhoomi judgment, which upheld the Act’s validity and necessity.

8. Rules relaxed to bring IAS, IPS officers to J&K

Shortage of officers in UT since 2019

The Centre has relaxed the norms to encourage the All India Services and other Central Services officers to get posted in Jammu and Kashmir. The Union Territory is reeling from a shortage of officers since 2019 after the former State of J&K was split into two, Ladakh being the other UT.

Union Personnel Minister Jitendra Singh said on Friday that the deputation rules have been relaxed by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) to encourage the posting of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and the other Central services officers to J&K. “Due to this relaxation, 22 officers belonging to various services and different cadres have been posted in Jammu & Kashmir at various levels at a crucial time,” Mr. Singh said.

A senior government official said that the requirements such as the cooling off period and the stringent norms for inter-cadre deputation have been waved off.

Mr. Singh said, the DoPT had played a major role in facilitating the induction of the Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Services Officers (JKAS) into the IAS by coordinating with the UT of J&K, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Union Public Service Commission.

In 2020, the DoPT wrote to all States that the State cadres were requested to send names for deputation to J&K and Ladakh directly to (MHA).

9. Centre bans export of broken rice due to domestic demand

Rice production may fall due to a drop in paddy sowing area this kharif

The Centre has banned the export of broken rice, mostly used as animal feed and as a component for ethanol production, in view of the domestic demand and the production scenario of rice.

The export of broken rice rose by 4,178% during April to August from the figure during the corresponding period in 2019.

India exports broken rice mainly to China, Senegal, Vietnam, Djibouti and Indonesia. It exported about 21.31 lakh tonne of broken rice in the past five months.

Justifying the reason to ban export, Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, said on Friday that the move would ensure adequate availability of broken rice for the domestic poultry industry and for other animal feedstock and for producing ethanol under the ethanol blending programme.

Mr. Pandey said the country was likely to witness a shortfall of about 6% in area and production of paddy during the ongoing kharif season.

“The final area for kharif in 2021 was 403.58 lakh hectares. So far, an area of 325.39 lakh hectares has been covered. In domestic production, 60 to 70 lakh tonnes estimated production loss is anticipated but due to good monsoon rain in some pockets, the production loss may reduce to 40 to 50 tonnes. However, this would be at par with last year’s production,” Mr. Pandey said.

“There has been a rise in global demand for broken rice due to geo-political scenario which has impacted price movement of commodities. The export of broken rice has increased by 43 times in the past four years,” he said, adding that about 21.31 lakh tonnes of broken rice was exported during April-August compared with just 0.41 lakh tonne in the corresponding period in 2018-19.

He said in the current ethanol season year, against the contracted quantity of 36 crore litres, only 16.36 crore litres had been supplied by distilleries due to low availability of broken rice. Also, domestic price of broken rice, which was ₹16 per kg in the open market, had increased to ₹22 per kg because of higher international prices.

Mr. Pandey said the domestic prices of rice were also showing increasing trending.

10. Make anti-TB campaign a mass movement: President

Stigma around the disease should be eradicated, says Murmu

President Droupadi Murmu virtually launched the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan on Friday.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said it was the duty of all citizens to give high priority to the anti-tuberculosis campaign and make it a mass movement.

Tuberculosis caused the largest number of deaths among all other infectious diseases in the country. India has a little less than 20% of the world’s population, but has more than 25% of the total TB patients of the world. “This is a matter of concern,” said the President, adding that most of TB-affected people came from the poor sections of society.

The President said that the thinking and methodology of ‘New India’ was to make India a leading nation of the world. India had set an example for the world in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy of ‘New India’ to move forward with confidence was also visible in the field of TB eradication.

“According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all nations have set the goal of eradicating TB by the year 2030. But the Government of India has set the target of eradicating TB by the year 2025 and efforts are being made at every level to fulfil this resolution,” she added.

Ms. Murmu said that to make this campaign a mass movement, awareness of TB should be created among the people. “They have to be informed that prevention of this disease is possible. Its treatment is effective and accessible and the government provides free-of-cost facilities for prevention and treatment of this disease,” she said.

She said that in some patients or communities, there was an inferiority complex associated with this disease, and they viewed it as a stigma. “This illusion also has to be eradicated. Everyone should be aware that TB germs are often present in everyone’s body,” she added.

11. Basic skills poor in regional languages: NCERT

Foundational learning of students in Hindi is poor but their performance in regional languages in some States was even worse, according to a survey carried out by the Union Ministry of Education and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

Around 53% of Class 3 students in 18 States surveyed for Hindi proficiency either lacked or had limited knowledge and skills in reading and comprehending the language. But proficiency of regional languages, which was analysed in States such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, was poorer with 59% students either lacking or displaying limited skills.

Around 67% students could not perform well in Assamese in Assam and Meghalaya.

In Kerala, 56% of the students could not read or comprehend Malayalam, and in Goa, 59% could not do so in Konkani.

In Meghalaya, 61% of the students could not perform well in Khasi, and 54% were found to be poor in Manipuri in Manipur.

The survey divides learners on the basis of their knowledge and skills into four categories — those who “lack” them, have “limited” proficiency, “sufficient” competency and those who are “superior”.

The findings are part of the National Report on Benchmarking of Oral Reading Fluency with Reading Comprehension and Numeracy, which aims to assess foundational learning of children at the end of Class 3.

The National Education Policy, 2022, which advocates for a three-language formula where two of the languages are native to India, says the medium of instruction till at least Class 5 or preferably till Class 8 should be in the mother tongue, after which it can be taught as a language.

The survey findings will help the government determine benchmarks in 20 languages and numeracy.

The government has launched NIPUN as a national mission to enable all children at the end of Class 3 to attain foundational skills by the year 2026-27 and these benchmarks will provide a baseline for subsequent surveys.

Approximately, 86,000 Class 3 students from 10,000 schools were covered for the study.

12. N. Korea makes nuclear programme ‘irreversible’

North Korea has passed a law declaring its readiness to launch preventive nuclear strikes, including in the face of conventional attacks, state media said on Friday.

The move effectively eliminates the possibility of denuclearisation talks, with leader Kim Jong Un saying the country’s status as a nuclear state was now “irreversible”.

The announcement comes at a time of heightened tension between North and South, with Pyongyang blaming Seoul for the outbreak of COVID-19 in its territory and conducting a record number of weapons tests this year. öThe newly enacted law says North Korea can carry out a preventive nuclear strike “automatically” and “immediately to destroy the hostile forces” when a foreign country poses an imminent threat to Pyongyang, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The law specifically states the North can use nuclear weapons “in case of a nuclear or non-nuclear attack by hostile forces on the state leadership and the command organization of the state’s nuclear forces”, among other situations, according to state media.

The law “publicly justifies Pyongyang’s use of its nuclear power” in the event of any military clash, Cheong Seong-chang of the Center for North Korea Studies at the Sejong Institute told AFP.

13. FM tasks RBI to ‘whitelist’ legal loan apps to protect borrowers

Sitharaman flags ‘possibility of money laundering, breach of privacy and data’

To curb the menace of illegal loan apps, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been asked to prepare a ‘whitelist’ of legal loan apps and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has been tasked with ensuring only such applications are available on app stores.

All agencies have been asked to ‘take all possible actions to prevent operations of such illegal loan apps’, following a meeting chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with top officials from the RBI, MEITY and the ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

The minister expressed concern at the meeting on such apps offering micro credit, especially to vulnerable and low-income people at exorbitantly high interest rates and resorting to blackmail and criminal intimidation to recover such loans.

Ms. Sitharaman also flagged the ‘possibility of money laundering, tax evasions, breach of privacy and data, and misuse of unregulated payment aggregators, shell companies, defunct NBFCs by the app operators.

‘Monitor mule accounts’

The RBI has also been entrusted with monitoring ‘mule or rented’ accounts that may be used for money laundering and to review and cancel dormant non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) to avoid their misuse by such app operators.

“The RBI will ensure that registration of payment aggregators be completed within a timeframe and no unregistered payment aggregator be allowed to function after that,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

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