Current Affairs summary 14 Sept

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1. India among nations with ‘no or little enforcement’ against foreign bribery: Report

• India is among four countries with “no or little enforcement” mechanism to check foreign bribery, according to a report.

• The 2018 edition of the ‘Exporting Corruption Report’ was released by anti-corruption organisation Transparency International.

• The classification of enforcement is based on the convention countries’ enforcement actions in the period 2014-2017.

==> About inclusion of India

• From the 2018 report, China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore are classified for the first time.

• They all have 2 per cent or more of world exports but are not parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

• All 4 fall into the lowest level (little or no enforcement)

• They are, however, parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, which also calls for enforcement against foreign bribery

==> About OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

• The Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions is a convention of the OECD aimed at reducing political corruption and corporate crime in developing countries.

• By encouraging sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies based in the Convention member countries.

• Main goal is to create a truly level playing field in today’s international business environment.

• The Convention requires adherents to criminalise acts of offering or giving bribe, but not of soliciting or receiving bribes.

• Countries that have signed the convention are required to put in place legislation that criminalises the act of bribing a foreign public official.

• The OECD has no authority to implement the convention but instead monitors implementation by participating countries via its Working Group on Bribery.

• The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was adopted in 1997 to address the supply side of international corruption.

• There are now 44 parties to the convention, 36 of them members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

==> Amendment to Prevention of corruption act

• The Indian Parliament passed a bill amending the present Prevention of Corruption Act, which covers bribe payers for the first time in July 2008.

• The bill also covers agents, subsidiaries and subcontractors of foreign firms working in India or doing business with Indian entities.

• The Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act prescribe criminal and civil liability only for domestic corruption.


2. Cabinet approves MoU on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block Chain Technology under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block chain Technology in the context of Development of digital economy by Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) with the participating member banks.

• In under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism namely Banco Nacional de DesenvolvimentoEconomico e Social (BNDES, of Brazil), China Development Bank (CDB), State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank, of Russia) and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

==> What are the major impacts?

• Distributed Ledger/Block chain technology holds potential for solutions to various challenges being faced in the financial sector space of the BRICS nations.

• The MoU intends to enhance understanding of Distributed Ledger/Block Chain technology.

• The joint research efforts to identify areas within respective business operations where it may have the potential for applications aimed at enhancing the operational efficiencies.

==> Background of this technology

• The Xiamen Declaration signed in China on digital economy by the BRICS leaders had highlighted the importance of the digital economy.

• And also the BRICS nations could leverage the thriving and dynamic digital economy that will foster global economic development and benefit everyone.

• Accordingly, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block chain Technology in the Context of the Development of the Digital Economy was suggested to be inked by all member banks.


3. Bombay HC allows cancer-afflicted rape victim to terminate pregnancy

• The Bombay High Court Friday permitted a 14-year-old rape victim afflicted with cancer to medically terminate her pregnancy which is now in the 24th week.

• A bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak told the girl to visit the J J Hospital at 11.00 am Saturday, and directed the dean of the hospital to ensure that medical termination of the pregnancy was performed by expert doctors expeditiously.

• The girl’s parents had approached high court Wednesday seeking permission for the medical termination of pregnancy.

==> Important highlight of this judgment

• According to the plea, the girl, who is now in the 24th week of her pregnancy, was raped earlier this year and an FIR was registered in the case.

• However, her pregnancy, resulting from the rape, was detected only recently when she went to a local hospital for her chemotherapy session.

• She has been suffering from blood cancer since 2010, her lawyer Kuldeep Nikam told the court.

• The girl’s father is a daily wage labourer and her mother works as a domestic help.

• The bench had earlier directed the dean of the J J Hospital to constitute a panel of expert doctors, including a psychiatrist, to assess the girl’s health condition and to suggest whether medical termination of the pregnancy at such a late stage can be permitted.

==> Significance of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act

• The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act permits abortions after consultation with one doctor up to 12 weeks.

• Between 12 and 20 weeks, medical opinion of two doctors is required in such cases where the foetus has abnormalities.

• In which the pregnant woman faces risks to her physical or mental well-being due to continuing with the pregnancy.

• Beyond the 20-week limit, exceptions are legally permissible only if continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the unborn child or the mother.

==> Way forward

• The bench also suggested that the girl’s parents approach the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority to seek legal and financial assistance for the girl’s education and well-being in the future.

• Justice Oka said that in the past,in a similar case, the MSLSA and some members of the bar had helped sponsor the education of a minor rape victim.

• Advocate Nikam informed the bench that while the girl used to go to school earlier, she had discontinued her studies following the rape incident.


4. National Conference of District Disability Rehabilitation Centres

• The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is organising a ‘National Conference of District Disability Rehabilitation Centres’ at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 14th September, 2018.

• Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, the Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment will be the chief guest on the occasion, the Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, will also preside over the function.

==> Important highlight of the programme

• The participants in this one day conference include District Magistrates of 263 districts were DDRCs have been set up, Principal Secretaries Social Welfare, reputed NGOs, District Social Welfare officers, eminent Doctors etc.

• The conference is organized for taking the message of DDRCs further, which play a crucial and central role for the wellbeing of Divyangjan and to give clarification about the mechanism of schemes and disseminate its success stories.

• District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC) provide comprehensive services to persons with disabilities and facilitate creation of infrastructure and capacity building at the district level for awareness generation, rehabilitation and training of rehabilitation professionals.

==> Important salient features of the District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are

• 310 districts have been identified and 263 DDRCs have been set up

• Awareness generation, early intervention and assessment of the need of assistive devices to divyangjans.

• Therapeutic services such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy etc. to divyangjans through rehabilitation professionals.

• Equipment for rehabilitation services.

• Cost norms of the Scheme has been revised and enhanced to 2.5 times w.e.f. 01/04/2018.

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Hemant Bhatt