Current Affairs14 March 2014

Third gender

  • An expert committee has recommended that ‘transgender’ be declared the third gender, with the individual having the right to choose gender, and has asked the government to prepare a law to prevent discrimination and atrocities against these people.
  • Importantly, it has asked the National Crime Records Bureau to collect and compile statistics of crimes against transgender persons and cases registered against them.
  • The committee, set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment last year and chaired by the Additional Secretary of the Ministry, has said action must be taken against parents who neglect or abuse their gender non-conforming children and doctors who practise electro-shock or other kinds of unethical “conversion” therapy.
  • Criminal and disciplinary action must be taken against delinquent police officers for violation of human rights of transgender persons.
  • Its report, submitted a few weeks after the Supreme Court criminalised same gender consensual sex, wanted laws against sexual assault and harassment and domestic violence made transgender-inclusive. Now Section 375 of the IPC, as amended, does not cover the transgender persons as victims of sexual assault. Section 375 should be included to cover sexual assault on them.

Pre-poll survey and it’s verdict

  • A pre-poll survey has projected Naredra Modi-led BJP sweeping Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka and the party-led NDA giving a big jolt to ruling Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha elections.
  • The NDTV-Hansa Research survey, which released the electoral projections of 319 seats in 12 States, says AIADMK is projected to win 27 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats. It has predicted only 10 seats for DMK.
  • Out of 319 seats, the survey gives NDA 166, UPA 52, others 85.
  • The survey predicted BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is likely to win 33 seats out of 48 seats while the Congress’ tally is projected to come down to 12— a loss of 13 Lok Sabha seats from the 2009 position.
  • It also says Raj Thackarey’s MNS is likely to win one seat in the Lok Sabha polls.
  • The survey says 42 per cent of Indians backed Narendra Modi as the leading choice for the next Prime Minister. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi emerged as the second choice with support of 27 per cent of people.

India helps in search for Malaysian jetliner

  • India joined the multination search for the Malaysian Airlines plane, deploying three ships and as many aircraft in the seas east of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the base of its tri-services command.
  • The decision came after Defence Minister A. K. Antony gave the green signal for conducting a search in an area close to Myanmar and Malaysia, the officials said.
  • Malaysia requested India to join the search after planes and ships of at least 10 countries were unable to locate the aircraft in the seas to the west of the Strait of Malacca. India is the dominant naval power in the seas to the east of the Strait, the busiest shipping channel in the world.
  • Now search operations are being conducted in an area of 90,000 sq. km, about the size of Punjab and Haryana combined.

Sri Lanka seeks help from NAM

  • Sri Lanka has sought the support of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations to ward off the U.S. sponsored rights resolution against it at the next U.N. Human Rights Council meet in Geneva.
  • The UNHRC is to vote a U.S. sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka which is widely expected to advocate an international probe into alleged war crimes in the country during the final phase of military battle with the LTTE which ended in 2009.
  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s human rights envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe had urged the NAM nations in the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council to stand in solidarity with the island.
  • At least 33 in the 47 member UNHRC are either NAM members or nations with observer states.
  • India was a leading NAM member who had voted in favour of the U.S. resolutions in 2012 and 2013 against Sri Lanka.

Green mobile in Ghana

  • Indian telecom equipment-maker Vihaan Networks Ltd (VNL) is powering a communications revolution in Africa, particularly in villages and remote locations, through its innovative, green mobile tower solutions.
  • The latest to join its client list is Ghana, which has chosen VNL's solar-powered ‘WorldGSM’ mobile tower architecture — an environment-friendly and cost-effective mobile system — to deliver affordable services in villages.
  • VNL is already present in Nigeria, Uganda and Benin, while it is in talks with other African nations to deploy its cheap and green telecom solutions. In Latin America, VNL has deployed its network in Bolivia and Peru. In Bolivia, it has partnered with Entel S.A., state-run telecom operator, for deployment of GSM mobile tower sites in remote locations under the ‘Cobertura Movil Rural’ (rural mobile coverage) project.

ONGC and OIL’s 10% government stake in IOC

  • State-owned ONGCBSE -0.17 % and Oil India LtdBSE 0.66 % (OIL) have bought a 10 per cent stake in Indian OilBSE -1.69 % Corp (IOC) from the government for Rs 5,340 crore.
  • Oil and Natural Gas BSE -0.17 % Corp (ONGC) and Oil bought 5 per cent stake each at Rs 220 per share.
  • An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram had on February 28 decided to sell the stake in IOC, the nation's largest oil firm, at a discount of 10 per cent through an off-market deal.
  • The sale of the 10 per cent stake, or 24.27 crore shares, happened in an off-market transaction, with ONGC and OIL buying 5 per cent each.

Kollam’s Bird survey

  • A brood of the highly elusive nocturnal forest bird, the Great Eared Nightjar, had been spotted in Kerala.
  • A team of the nature lovers’ forum Warblers and Waders, on its annual bird survey at the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollam during February, was able to record a Great Eared Nightjar sitting on brood in the forest.
  • The Warblers and Waders team claim “it is the first record from the State”.
  • An earlier sighting had been recorded from the Siruvani foothills in Tamil Nadu in May 1995. The Great Eared Nightjar (Eurostopodus macrotis bourdilloni) belongs to the nightjar family. It gets its name from the two erect earlike tufts of feathers on its head, behind the eyes.
  • The Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in biodiversity and the Warblers and Waders has been conducting bird surveys there in association with the Kerala Forest Department since 1995.
  • Significant bird species recorded were the Painted Bush Quail, Sri Lankan Frogmouth, White-Bellied Black Woodpecker, Great Indian Pied Hornbill, Black Baza, Blue-Bearded Bee-eater, Red-Winged Crested Cuckoo, Great-eared Nightjar, Lesser Fishing Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Booted Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Malay Bittern, Brown Fish Owl, Black-capped Kingfisher, Thick-billed Warbler, Speckled Piculet, Wayanad Laughing Thrush, and the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon.

1st Asian Grand Prix Archery Championships

  • Indian archers won two gold and one silver in team events in the ongoing 1st Asian Grand Prix Archery Championships in Bangkok.
  • Compound women team of Gagandeep Kaur, V Jyothi Surekha and P Lily Chanu defeated Iran in the final team event and took the first gold for the country by a good margin of 15 points (219 vs 204). They eliminated Taipei team (224 vs 220) in the semi-final and Lao (224 vs 214) in the quarter-final.
  • Recurve men trio of Jayanta Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Kapil clinched the gold by thrashing Taipei in a one-sided final (6-0) in set system.
  • Recurve women team lost to Japan in the bronze medal match.

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