Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Current Affairs - 12 February 2014

Congress Campaign Committee

  • Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been made the Chairperson of the party’s 50-member Campaign Committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which Rahul Gandhi will be the Co-Chairman.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be a member of the committee along with several union ministers.
  • The meeting of the AICC declares that 2014 election campaign will be led by Rahul Gandhi .
  • However, Congress leaders have also been maintaining thereafter that Mr. Rahul’s position in the party is number two after Ms. Sonia and that the party will be led by the Congress President and the Congress Vice President in the next polls.
  • No Chief Minister, PCC chief or CLP leader figures in committee.
  • Senior ministers A. K. Antony, P. Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid, Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh; former Chief Ministers Sheila Dikshit and Ashok Gehlot and senior party leaders Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora, Janardan Dwivedi, Madhusudan Mistri, Digvijay Singh, Ambika Soni and B. K. Hariprasad are among the members of the Committee.
  • Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, V. Narayanasamy, Jitender Singh, Rajeev Shukla, Manish Tewari and J. D. Seelam also figure in the list.

Right to die with dignity

  • The Supreme Court reserved verdict on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking the “right to die with dignity” for terminally ill patients who are likely to go into a vegetative state.
  • In its petition, Common Cause, a non-governmental organisation, said that when a medical expert opined that a person with a terminal disease had reached the point of no return, the patient should be given the right to refuse life-support systems. A three-judge Bench, comprising Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, reserved verdict.
  • Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Prashant Bhushan submitted that those at the end of their life and likely to go into a state of terminal illness or permanent vegetative state were deprived of their right to refuse unwanted treatment, such as being fed through tubes and kept on ventilator and other machines to prolong their life artificially. A person whose life was ebbing away should be allowed to die.
  • Opposing the petition, Additional Solicitor-General Siddharth Luthra said doctors would be going against the Hippocratic Oath if they removed life support. The 16th Law Commission was against the proposal as it was liable to be misused in India.

130 pending Bills

  • With only two Bills introduced in the middle of commotion in the Rajya Sabha and one in the Lok Sabha, the number of Bills pending before Parliament has climbed to 130.
  • Key social sector legislation, including the Grievance Redressal Bill and the Whistleblower Protection Bill, will lapse if they are not passed in the next 10 days.
  • At the beginning of the last session of the 15th Lok Sabha, 126 Bills were pending before both Houses, the oldest among them dating back to 1987, according to data compiled by PRS Legislative Research, an independent, non-partisan parliamentary research group. Another five date back to 1990-2000 and 30 to 2001-2010.
  • Some Bills have been passed by one House but not the other, one of the most notable of them being the Women’s Reservation Bill, passed in 2010 by the Rajya Sabha. Bills introduced in the Upper House will survive the end of this Lok Sabha, but those introduced in the Lok Sabha will lapse if not passed in this session.
  • Important pending Bills include the Disabilities Bill and the Judicial Appointments Bill.
  • Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi appealed to the Opposition for cooperation in the passage of six anti-corruption Bills, with the Bharatiya Janata Party insisting that it is keen to pass legislation if the government is able to get the House to run.
  • The 15th Lok Sabha has passed only 165 Bills so far, making it the least deliberative full-term Parliament ever.
  • In the five sittings since the beginning of this session, the Lok Sabha has lost 95 per cent of its time to disruptions, while the Rajya Sabha has lost 91 per cent of its time. The session ends on February 21.

Number one car exporter

  • Nissan has displaced Maruti to become the second-largest passenger car exporter from India. Hyundai remains the number one car exporter.
  • Nissan has been shipping more India-built cars than Maruti in the past two months, and it has now emerged as the second big exporter of cars with its total volumes standing at 94,931 units when compared with Maruti’s exports of 79,945 units in the first 10 months of current fiscal. In the year-ago period, Nissan and Maruti exported 80,867 units and 95,526 units, respectively.
  • Though the domestic car market is going through its worst phase with plummeting sales, exports continue to maintain some momentum with a marginal growth. Over all passenger vehicle exports, however, have seen a rise of seven per cent, driven by a significant growth in exports of utility vehicles.
  • Many global brands have made Indian operations as their manufacturing hub for small cars and have been attempting to sell India-built cars in more markets in view of the slump in domestic sales as also to take advantage of weak rupee.

Interim railway budget

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has presented interim rail budget for the next fiscal in what will be his personal first and the last such exercise for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Highlights of interim railway budget 2014-15:

Following are the highlights of the Interim Railway Budget 2014-15 presented in the Lok Sabha by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge:
  • 17 new premium trains to be introduced
  • Rs.19,805 crore budgetary support needed for the fiscal 2014-15
  • Electrification of 4,556 km railway line was completed against a target of 4,500 km
  • Target of doubling gauge was also surpassed: 2,227 km was completed against a target of 2,000 km
  • Seeks approval of spending for first four months of fiscal 2014-15
  • Railway services to expand to hinterland and frontiers of India
  • To start train services for Vaishno Devi shrine to Katra in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Setting up 11.2 km tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir

IPL 2014 auctions

  • All-rounder Yuvraj Singh drew the biggest bid after the first four rounds of the Indian Premier League players’ auction with Royal Challengers Bangalore clinching his services for a whopping Rs. 14 crore in Bangalore.
    Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik emerged as a surprise big draw going for Rs. 12.5 crore to Delhi Daredevils, who had decided not to retain a single player before the auctions.
  • Batsman Kevin Pietersen, whose England career came to an abrupt end after a disastrous Ashes campaign, fetched a huge Rs. 9 crore purse, bought by Delhi Daredevils, the franchise he played for last season.
  • Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson (Rs. 6.5 crore, Kings XI Punjab), Indian opener Murali Vijay (Rs. 5 crore, Delhi Daredevils), South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis (Rs. 5.5 crore, Kolkata Knight Riders), Robin Uthappa (Rs. 5 crore, KKR), West Indian batsman Dwayne Smith (Rs. 4.5 crore, Chennai Super Kings), Amit Mishra (Rs. 4.25 crore, Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Aaron Finch (Rs. 4 crore, SRH) were some of the players who triggered intense bidding wars in first three rounds of the auction.
  • As many as 514 players are going under the hammer over two days, 318 of whom are Indians, including uncapped players, who are being auctioned for the first time.

Real Madrid’s third Copa del Rey final

  • Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid reach its third Copa del Rey final in four seasons with a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid and a 5-0 victory on aggregate.
  • Atletico beat Madrid at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to lift the trophy last season, but exits the domestic cup competition with doubts about its surprise Spanish league aspirations.
  • Madrid will face either Barcelona or Real Sociedad in the April 19th final, with Barcelona leading 2-0 going into the second leg at San Sebastian.

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