Current Affairs up - 14 February 2014

Child euthanasia law in Belgium

  • Belgium has recently passed a law allowing euthanasia for children. The Low Countries allow for suicide and doctor-assisted suicide, but Brussels is the first to open to door to dealing death to children of any age.
  • The law has “safeguards” to ensure all the killing will be purely voluntary if the prospect of youngsters being helped to off themselves seems horrifying. A psychologist has to certify that the child has “capacity or discernment” to understand what they are doing.
  • Aside from its inherent significance, Belgium’s move requires us to revisit Roper v. Simmons, the 2005 Supreme Court case that ruled it inherently unconstitutional to apply the death penalty to anyone under 18.
  • European nations had long waged a moral campaign against America’s allowance of the death penalty for 16-18 year olds, which they called barbaric and savage. After all, minors are not really responsible for their actions. America was labelled a human rights violator, an international outlier.

Pepper spray incident in the Parliament

  • The use of pepper spray inside the Lok Sabha by a member recently has prised open the issue of security within Parliament House, the country’s most closely guarded building.
  • MPs and senior government officers are exempt from frisking or checking. Even their bags and cars are not thoroughly checked.
  • Security arrangements in Parliament House were beefed up in anticipation of trouble over the introduction of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, which has held up proceedings for several sessions now.
  • Watch-and-ward staff and security personnel were on alert and extra fire extinguishers, ambulances and blankets were kept ready in case MPs took to extreme measures. But the surprise came in the form of a pepper spray that L. Rajagopal sneaked into the House.
  • The incident has prompted demands from some members for screening legislators.

Communist Party of India (Maoist) and Global Terrorism and Insurgency Attack Index

  • The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has been ranked fourth among the top ten most active non-state armed groups in 2013, according to study released this week by a major defence and business risk think-tank.
  • According to the IHS Jane’s latest ‘Global Terrorism and Insurgency Attack Index,’ a total of 258 attacks were claimed by, or attributed to, the CPI(Maoist), even though this represented a 29 per cent decrease from the 362 attacks recorded in 2012.
  • The decrease in CPI(Maoist) attacks not only came amid a wider 16 per cent decrease in attacks nationwide, but also a 19 per cent decrease in the number of recorded counter-terrorism operations.
  • Among other insurgent groups listed in the top ten rankings are the Taliban (second rank), al-Qaeda in Iraq (fifth), al-Shabaab (sixth), Colombia’s FARC (seventh) and Syrian Jabhat al-Nusra (ninth).

India to combat black money

  • Global economic body OECD unveiled a new “game-changing” mechanism to combat the menace of offshore tax evasion, a protocol to which India is a signatory with the purpose of tackling black money.
  • The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will formally present the standard for the endorsement of G20 finance ministers during a February 22-23 meeting in Sydney in Australia,” the world body, whose economic policies are followed by over 120 countries.
  • The G20 invited the OECD to develop a global standard on automatic exchange of information in 2013 and remains the driving force behind the move toward greater tax transparency worldwide.
  • India has already signed the OECD’s global standard for automatic exchange of information between tax authorities two years back and once the new format is implemented, the country will follow the new protocols envisaged in it.
  • OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria called the new norms a “game changer.”
  • The new standard on automatic exchange of information will ramp up international tax co-operation, putting governments back on a more even footing as they seek to protect the integrity of their tax systems and fight tax evasion.

Mor committee suggestions

  • Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has termed the changes in priority sector lending norms suggested by the Nachiket Mor committee as "interesting ideas" which need to be discussed.
  • Among other things, the committee on financial inclusion headed by Mor, a former executive director with ICICI Bank, has suggested a weightage-based approach to the priority sector lending norms, which stress leveraging of strengths by a bank, and incentivising lending to the credit deprived sections and regions.
  • Through this approach, the committee feels a bank's maximum priority sector lending can touch the 50 per cent mark, as against the present requirement of 40 per cent.
  • As per the report, submitted last month, a bank having strength in farm credit should leverage its strength and do more of it, while some other bank having a strength in small enterprises loan should focus on its core strength.
  • The Mor committee also talks of certain credit deprived areas such as the north-east, and incentivising banks to lend more there by giving greater weightage.

Tie-up amongst Vodafone-Star Sports

  • Telecom operator Vodafone and Star India has announced a tie-up through which the broadcaster's sports telecasts can be viewed on mobile phones.
  • Kapil Dev, who led India to their first World Cup title in 1983, wished this sort of cutting edge technology was available when he was playing.
  • The former captain said it was good to see age group cricket being televised as most of the modern day cricketers have emerged from these competitions.

Favourite to host Indian Premier League 7

  • Favorite to host IPL7 is India and South Africa now. The IPL governing council categorically said the seventh edition of the tournament would be played in South Africa if it had to be moved out of India.
  • Bangladesh and UAE too, were in the short-list earlier, but no longer feature in the race.

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