Indian Current Affairs - July 31

Cabinet approves Lok Pal
  • Forty-three years after the first draft was conceived, the Union Cabinet approved a Lokpal Bill, keeping outside its purview a serving Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament. The Bill, which includes some provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill, provides for setting up the institution of Lokpal to probe allegations of corruption against a Union Minister or officials of Group A and above without having to obtain any sanction. It will have its own investigation and prosecution wings but no powers to prosecute. It would recommend prosecution to the Supreme Court.
  • The Bill provides for inquiry into allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister after he or she demits office.It provides for a time limitation period of seven years from the date of taking cognisance of an offence. In the case of the Prime Minister, the limitation period will apply after he or she demits office.
  • The Lokpal will comprise a chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial. A panel headed by the Prime Minister will select the Lokpal. The Lokpal will have a five-year tenure and would be removed by the President on a reference of the Supreme Court. 
  • The Bill does not provide for constitution of Lokayuktas in States. It will be introduced in Parliament during the first two days of the session beginning August 1.
First Trojan asteroid circling Sun in Earth's orbit discovered
  • The National Aeronautical Space Agency's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has discovered a long-hidden companion of the Earth — the first Trojan asteroid circling the Sun in the Earth's orbit.Trojans are asteroids that share an orbit with a planet, locked in stable orbits by a gravitational balancing act between a planet and the Sun. The object is about 80 million km from Earth and its orbit is well-defined and for at least the next 100 years, it will not come closer to Earth than 24 million km. 
India signed 3 agreements with  Mongolia
  • A small but significant step was taken by India towards enlarging the scope of its relationship with land-locked Mongolia when President Pratibha Patil held wide-ranging talks with her counterpart, Ts. Elbegdorj, leading to the signing of three agreements between the two countries to expand cooperation in defence, planning and education and media exchanges.
  • Mongolia has had a historically strong relationship with Russia, reinforced by geography. And with the advantage of a long border in the south with China, trade between Mongolia and these two countries has increased rapidly. India now wants to revive its old historical and cultural links – Buddhism is the glue and many people from here travel to India to visit the Buddhist shrines.Recently, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was installed in a major public square in the capital that holds almost half of the 2.7 million population of the country.
20% increase in tiger population
  • India registered a 20 per cent increase in tiger population last year, says a report, ‘Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India-2010,' released here on Thursday by Jagdish Kishwan, Additional Director-General (Wildlife), Ministry of Environment and Forests.“The estimated population of 1, 706 individual tigers represents a 20 per cent increase from the last survey in 2006, which estimated a number of 1,411 tigers. But our tigers are still in danger due to an overall 12.6 per cent loss of habitat.
  T.K.A. Nair appointed as Adviser to Prime Minister
  • Adviser to PM has the rank and status of Minister of State. He was serving as the principal secretary to PM. Pulok Chatterji will be the new principal secretary.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India
  • Ms. Khar said both countries were well aware of the challenges in the relationship but were equally determined to have an honest dialogue to work through the problems in the hope of creating a friendly neighbourhood. Ms. Khar also said both countries were one in wanting to maintain the sanctity of the Indus Waters Treaty.
S.M. Krishna visited Maldives
  • External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited Maldives with the aim of further enhancing bilateral cooperation in diverse fields, including the trade sector.India offered $5 million as cash assistance to Maldives for organising the SAARC Summit to be held here in November. 
  • Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Mali was built by the financial assistance of India in 1995 and now serves as the most advanced tertiary care hospital in the country and is easily the most visible symbol of India's assistance to the Maldives. The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries in 2009-10 was close to Rs.400 crore.
Sensitive information leaked from Indian embassy in Moscow
  • Defence-related correspondence between the Indian Embassy in Moscow and Russian entities seems to have been hacked by the Italian cyber crime police,if documents released by an international hackers' group are to be believed.The news was published by Moscow-based Izvestia daily. 
  • Last year there was a spate of reports about hacking attacks on the websites of Indian embassies in Russia, Spain, the U.S. and other countries. At the time it was believed that the attacks had been mounted by Chinese hackers. The Indian Embassy in Moscow admitted that it had been attacked but denied any sensitive information was compromised.
Singur Act under Concurrent List : Tata Motors
  • The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 passed by the West Bengal Assembly deals with acquisition of land and is a matter under the Concurrent List, Tata Motors told the Calcutta High Court.Tata
  • The company's official  that the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 was not passed for the fulfilment of a public purpose and did not provide any guidelines for the compensation — both provisions that are included in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Tata Motors is challanging the  Constitutional validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 in the Calcutta High Court
Madrasas exempted from RTE Act: Centre
  • The Union Human Resource Development Ministry on Friday clarified that madrasas are protected under Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution, and hence the Right of the Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act does not come in the way of continuance of such institutions or the rights of children enrolled there.
The National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011
  • The second draft of bill will make it mandatory that gram sabhas are consulted and the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package is executed before the acquired land is transferred. Under the proposed law, the R&R package would necessarily have to be executed for land acquisitions in excess of 100 acres by private companies. 
  • The law also prohibits private companies from purchasing any multi-cropped irrigated land for public purposes. If the acquired land was not put to use for within five years of the acquisition, it would be returned to the original owner.