Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Data Protection Authority Proposed; SC Allows Darjeeling Troops Withdrawal; India-Russia Ink Anti-Terror Pact

The picture featuring a camp for Aadhar Card in New Delhi. (Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images) 

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Data Protection Authority Proposed: A committee, which was set up to draft a data protection and privacy bill, has come up with a white paper calling for setting up a data protection authority, data audit, registration of data collectors, enacting provisions for protecting children’s personal information, defining penalties and compensation in case of a data breach. The Justice B N Srikrishna committee has released a 200-page document inviting comments from the public on various issues such as the definition of personal data and proposed penalties for misuse of data. The deadline for sending feedback is 31 December. The committee was set up on 31 July following a government decision to make Aadhaar compulsory for all its services. The government has given the panel three months to suggest a draft bill.

Supreme Court Allows Centre To Withdraw Troops From Darjeeling: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Centre to move four of the remaining eight companies of paramilitary forces from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, deployed there since June following a large-scale agitation for a separate Gorkhaland. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rakesh Dwivedi and Kalyan Banerjee, representing West Bengal, opposed the plea, contending that the Union government wanted forces for election duties in Himachal Pradesh but polls were already over. They said "the situation would become even worse over there". The court, however, said the four companies would still be there and the Centre would take the situation into consideration.

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Government Planning To Distribute Millets Through PDS: Since millets are highly nutritious when compared to other cereals, the Centre is planning to distribute it to citizens through public distribution system (PDS) and midday meal schemes, Agriculture Secretary S K Pattanayak said on Monday. It is also thinking of branding millets as "nutri-cereals" and promoting them across the country, he said. "We are trying to ensure millets are brought under the PDS and schemes like midday meal. NITI Aayog has suggested this should be part of the PDS," Pattanayak said and added that the yield of millets at present is low. "We need to have high-yield varieties in order to scale up the production." The Indian Council of Agricultural Research is working on this and hopes to release some varieties soon, he said, adding that there is a need to pursue research and development seriously in millets.

GST Collections Drop: The government's total collection under the goods and services tax (GST) dropped by more than Rs 11,000 crore for the month of November, mainly on account cut in levies on most of the commodities. According to the Finance Ministry figures, the total GST collection till 27 November was Rs 83,346 crore as against the October revenue of Rs 95,131 crore. "A total of 95.9 lakh taxpayers have been registered under GST so far, of which 15.1 lakh are composition dealers, which are required to file returns every quarter... 50.1 lakh returns have been filed for the month of October till 26 November," the ministry said. "A compensation of Rs 13,695 crore for September and October is being released," the ministry said, adding that the lower realisations in GST were mainly on account of lowering of taxes on most of the commodities and changes in the manner in which the taxes were collected.

Government Willing To Extend Aadhaar Linking Deadline To 31 March: The Union government has told the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend up to 31 March next year the deadline to link Aadhaar with various schemes and services, including bank accounts and phone numbers. However, the court didn’t provide relief to the petitioners, who have been seeking an interim stay order on making Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes until all cases pertaining to linkages were resolved. Relief, if any, may come from a Constitution bench that will be constituted next week to hear all petitions challenging Aadhaar. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said only the Constitution bench will pass any interim order. This means government agencies can continue to ask for Aadhaar numbers for schemes and services. The current deadlines for linking of bank accounts and mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar are 31 December 2017 and 6 February 2018 respectively.

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Rs 30.67 Crore Income Tax Notice To AAP: The Income Tax Department has slapped the Aam Admi Party (AAP) with a Rs 30.67 crore tax notice. The department has cited that AAP has not disclosed income worth Rs 13 crore and has pulled up the party for not recording full details of 462 donors who donated Rs 6 crore. The detailed notice lists the donors who have made donations to the party for more than Rs 20,000. The notice for tax assessment for financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16 has pegged AAP's taxable income at Rs 68.44 crore. According to the notice AAP has been trying to derail the process as they have failed to respond to 34 opportunities given to represent their side. The notice may spell trouble for the party which has come to power with an agenda of transparency and cleanliness.

Kerala Love Jihad Case: Supreme Court Frees Hadiya From Her Parents Custody: The Supreme Court on Monday asked Hadiya, a 24-year-old woman from Kerala at the centre of an alleged love jihad case, to return to a homoeopathy college in Salem, Tamil Nadu, to complete her studies, freeing her from the custody of her parents. A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, however, didn’t say anything on her husband Shafin Jahan’s plea against a Kerala high court order annulling their marriage. The matter will now be heard in the third week of January. Hadiya’s marriage to Jahan was struck down on 24 May and her custody given to her parents, who challenged the relationship in the Kerala High Court on the grounds that it was part of a systematic conversion drive. Born Akhila Ashokan, Hadiya married Jahan without her family’s consent last December.

CISCE Lowers Pass Mark Criteria For Board Examinations: The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) has lowered the pass marks criteria for ICSE (or Class X) and ISC (or Class XII) examinations by three and five percentage points. The new system will come into effect from 2019. An ICSE (Class X) student will now need just 33 per cent to pass instead of the current 35 per cent. A Class XII (ISC) student will need 35 per cent to pass instead of 40 per cent. The move has been made for “close uniformity with other boards”, the CISCE said. “The objective of this is to bring about close uniformity with other boards in the country,” Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary of CISCE, said. The decision has been taken after a number of meetings with the Ministry of Human Resource and Development along with other examination boards, Inter Board Working Group that recommended that all boards should have equal passing marks.

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India-Russia Ink Anti-Terror Pact: India and Russia on Monday vowed to combat terrorism as the two strategic partners signed a key agreement, asserting that there are no good or bad terrorists and the menace should be fought jointly. The agreement was signed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Russia’s Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev. The two leaders agreed to cooperate in combating new challenges, enhance exchange of information, cooperate in building a data base and in training of police and investigative agencies. Indian and Russian representatives also signed the joint action plan for countering the threat posed by narcotics. This pact provides a comprehensive approach for help in security related issues, including information technology crimes, counterfeiting currency, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, trafficking in human beings, economic crimes, and crimes related to intellectual property, cultural property amongst others, the Home Ministry said.

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SWARAJYA SPECIAL

Aspirations Of Young Dalits And Why Many Of Them Are Turning To The Right: The Dalit discourse and politics are undergoing significant changes, the most important among them is the unmistakable right-ward shift among the Dalit youth.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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