CBDT closing in on ex-UPA Minister
The Central board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) is probing details of people whose name has been linked to Swiss accounts in the details revealed by the French government. Among the hundreds of names, special attention is being paid to the account of ex-UPA Minister Preneet Kaur, who had earlier said that she had no Swiss account. Fresh notices have been sent to her, and her husband, Congress MP Amarinder Singh, by tax authorities. Their son Ranindr Singh is also being questioned and the CBDT has approached the Swiss authorities for details of bank accounts maintained by the family.
The executive appoints judges, govt tells SC
In the case examining the validity of the law establishing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), the government through Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justic K S Khehar that the President’s role in the appointment of judges was merely ceremonial and that the decision is supposed to be made by the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minster. Rohtagi argued that under the Collegium system, judges appointed judges, something that was never thought of as a judicial function by the framers of our Constitution. The SC had, in 1993, effective introduced the collegiate system through a judgment, and the system was in place until the amendments to the Constitution that introduced the NJAC.
Sun TV under solar eclipse as govt refuses clearances
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has refused to grant security clearances to 33 channels run by the Sun network of the Maran family. The decision was taken following criminal charges against the Marans made by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. Earlier, a similar decision of the MHA was set aside by the Madras High Court which stated that if clearances were not being granted for security reason, the clearances of the broadcaster must be cancelled, not the distributor. The decision of the MHA has resulted in a collapse in the share value of the Sun Group. The stock ended the day, down by nearly 22 per cent.
RSS calls for the Indian-ization of education
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) general secretary Krishna Gopal has called for a complete overhaul of the Indian education system, claiming that it needs to be infused and assimilated with Hindu thought and culture. Gopal was addressing a conference of the Hindu Education Board, an affiliate of the RSS, which was attended by HRD minister Smriti Irani, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha. Irani also spoke at the event saying any attempt made in the direction of reviving education in India is seen as saffronization in India. We are ashamed of our culture, while the rest of the world applauds it, she claimed.
Surya namaskar out of Yoga day
The government has dropped the Surya Namaskar from the asanas that are to be performed as part of the International Yoga Day celebration drills on June 21, after sustained pressure by Muslim groups such as the All India Muslim Personal board, against what they called the enforcement of ‘Hindu religious practices’ upon the minorities. Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the AIMIM party said that the Surya Namaskar essentially involved praying to the sun, and Muslims were not allowed to pray to anyone but Allah. Owaisi also asked why children were being put through physical strain on a day when Muslims will be observing a fast in the month of Ramazan.
New CVC, CIC appointments
KV Chowdary, former chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), has been appointed the new central vigilance commissioner. Vijai Sharma has been named the new chief information commissioner. A 1978 batch Indian Revenue Service officer, Chaudhary is currently serving as advisor to the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team on black money, and is the first non-IAS to head the Central Vigilance Commission. Vijai Sharma is a 1974 batch IAS and by protocol was the senior most information commissioner to be next in line. The prolonged vacancy of these posts was being criticised by the opposition. But the appointments came only after the SC lifted its ban on a five month stay on them due to complaints of lack of transparency in the process.
Drone Invigilators for Chinese university exams
Chinese universities have devised a novel means in drone cameras for conducting their annual entrance tests. Also known as high-tech radio surveillance trucks, these were deployed at schools across the country to curb the menace of cheating through smartphones and other sophisticated methods. The drone is designed to catch radio signals that could indicate cheating students.
Streaming soon, Apple Music and radio stations
After Spotify, Google and Amazon, next to hit the crowded online music industry is Apple, which unveiled its online streaming service on Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco introduced by rapper Drake. Apple Music was built by the same team behind the Beats Music service that Apple acquired in 2014. It is set to launch in 100 countries later in June, initially available on iOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version following in autumn. It has a three different services to provide; an online catalogue of music and videos that can be streamed on demand, a 24 hour radio station and a cross between Soundcloud and Facebook that allows fans to follow music updates and posts of their favourites. Designed with the intention of reducing fragmentation and chaos of online music service, the launch comes as a move from Apple to re-exert its dominance in digital music.
Federal structure, mixed electoral system for Nepal’s new constitution
Nepal may finally see some relief in its nearly decade long struggle for a constitution. The Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Terai-based Madhesi Front on Monday agreed in principle to having a federal structure with eight Provinces and a mixed electoral system under a new Constitution for the Himalayan nation. The parties assigned the federal commission the authority to fix boundaries of the proposed Provinces and their naming to the Federal Assembly. Also, in the agreed upon mixed electoral system , 60 per cent of the lawmakers would be elected directly through the first-past-the-post system, and the remaining 40 per cent under the proportional electoral system.
Global diabetes 45% higher since ’90; India, China record major increases
British medical journal The Lancet reported a 45% rise in the prevalence of diabetes worldwide from 1990 to 2013. Nearly all the rise was in Type 2, which is usually related to obesity and is the most common form of the disease. While the problem has been commonplace in ‘rich countries’ for several decades, directly tied to increase in rate of obesity, ‘poorer countries’ have now also begun to follow the trend, with major increases observed in China, Mexico and India. The report notes that though communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis may have seen a decline in recent times, the governments of developing countries face a new challenge in investing in expensive treatment to tackle chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes which are fast on the rise.
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