Today Current Affairs 21st April 2016

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Passengers will get the thrill of riding under the sea while travelling between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in the first bullet train of the country. The 508km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor will have a 21km long tunnel under the sea.While most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA. Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 percent of the funding for the project, will come in the form of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties. It is a soft loan for 50 years at 0.1 percent annual interest with 15 years’ moratorium. Rolling stock and other equipment like signalling and power system will be imported from Japan as per the loan agreement. The official said the loan agreement with Japan is slated to be signed by the end of the year and construction work is likely to begin by the end of 2018. Accordingly,top priority to the first of its kind project, railways has formed National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV), with a paid-up capital of Rs 500 crore. A search committee comprising senior government officials including Cabinet Secretary, Chairman Railway Board, and Secretary DOPT among others is on the job currently to select the Managing Director and five directors for the NHSRCL. Railways have already allotted Rs 200 crore for the SPV. Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25 percent each while the Railways will have 50 per cent in the SPV. At present, Duronto Express takes about seven hours to cover the distance between the two financial centres.

Laos's National Assembly on Wednesday appointed Communist Party chief Bounnhang Vorachit as the country's new president and named foreign minister Thongloun Sisoulith as prime minister.The picks are seen by many analysts as a continuation of the status quo in secretive Laos, where the communists have ruled since the end of the Vietnam War.State television broadcast a meeting of the single-chamber National Assembly, at which lawmakers listed the virtues of Bounnhang, who was appointed Communist Party leader in January. The National Assembly has approved Bounnhang Vorachit as president, with more than two-thirds of the votes.The 149-member assembly completed the process of nomination and voting for both candidates in around an hour. One of the fastest-growing economies in East Asia, landlocked Laos has averaged GDP growth of 7 percent over the past decade, with increasing use of natural resources contributing a third of output growth,  the World Bank says.This has boosted incomes and access to electricity, telecoms and healthcare for its mostly rural population of 6.7 million.

Four international organization joined hands to form the Platform for collaboration in Tax Matters on 19 April 2016. The Platform has been created as their step to boost global cooperation in tax matters.The announcement regarding this was made just within two weeks after the release of the "Panama Papers" that stirred outrage at the widespread use of tax haven countries and shell companies by wealthy global elites and corporations to hide assets and avoid paying taxes. International Organisations   : The organisations that joined their hands to intensify their cooperation on tax issues include The International Monetary Fund (IMF)  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) The United Nations (UN) The World Bank Group (WBG) Aim : Amid the growing importance of taxation in the debate to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the aim of the Platform is to better frame technical advice to developing countries as they seek both more capacity support and greater influence in designing international rules. Tasks  :  It will deliver a number of ‘toolkits’ designed to help developing countries implement the measures developed under the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project and on other international tax issues.The first of these toolkits, focusing on tax incentives, was delivered in November 2016.There will be an important link to the new Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) implementation framework. Platform members will hold regular meetings with representatives of developing countries, regional tax organizations, banks and donors. Consultations with business and civil society will be organized as needed.The Platform will not only formalize regular discussions between the four international organizations on the design and implementation of standards for international tax matters, but will strengthen their capacity-building support, deliver jointly developed guidance, and information-sharing on operational and knowledge activities.It will especially focus on building effective tax systems in developing countries and avoid tax base erosion.

India is expected to buy 145 M777 Howitzers for $750 million to prepare its Mountain Strike Corps. The decision to buy ultra-light Howitzers produced by UK based BAE Systems under the Make In India.The Decision was taken at a meeting between Indian Defense Minister ManoharParrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter. The price notified by the US in 2012 was $694 million. But the Gun maker seeking price revision of 10% hike from the earlier price.Under Make in India iniative BAE Systems had tied up Mahindra as its business partner for its proposed in-country assembly, integration and test (AIT) facility for the M777 Howitzer.The proposed gun comes with laser inertial artillery pointing systems (LINAPS), maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services.The Army aims to use the howitzers to modernize its forces and develop Operational Conditions. M777 Howitzers : The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems' Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the UK as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. 

The Indian Navy has now also granted permanent commission (PC) to seven woman officers who were inducted as short-service commission (SSC) officers in the education and naval constructor cadre in 2008-2009. The Navy will also allow woman officers to join as pilots of maritime patrol aircraft like P-8Is, IL-38s and Dorniers from next year onwards. But the force is yet to finalize a policy for allowing woman officers on board sea-faring warships. There are currently only about 340 woman officers who have been granted permanent commission in select branches of the Army and IAF, even though they have been allowed to join the three Services since the early-1990s as SSC officers for a maximum tenure of 14-15 years. Overall, women number just 1,436 in the Army, 1,331 in IAF and 532 in Navy. With 51 woman officers already serving as "observers" on maritime patrol aircraft, the Navy on Wednesday said "additional avenues" were now also being opened up for them. "Starting in 2017, woman officers can choose to join as pilots of maritime reconnaissance planes, as also in the naval armament inspectorate cadre Thus, eight branches\cadres will now be open for women in the Navy. These are education, law, meteorology, air traffic control, logistics, observers, pilots (maritime reconnaissance aircraft, not naval fighters like MiG-29Ks) and naval constructor. The Navy is also finalizing the policy for women officers to serve on select (new) warships that have appropriate facilities for them

Senior IAS officer A Ajith Kumar appointed as Kerala-based Rubber Board's chairman, a post lying vacant for over a year and a half. The appointment comes less than a month ahead of Assembly polls due in the southern state on May 16.The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the appointment of Kumar,a 1994 batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre, to the post of chairman, Rubber Board, Kottayam, an order issued by Department of personnel and Training He has been appointed for a period up to May 31, 2018, which is the date of his superannuation.The post has been lying vacant since August 2014. The vacancy has been a political issue in the state.The post of Chairman has been lying vacant since August 2014. There is no full time secretary or head for the extension department in the Rubber Board.Union government policy for the rubber sector, saying India has become a large importer of natural rubber due to poor investments in the Rubber Board. Polls in 140 Assembly constituencies in Kerala are scheduled to be held on May 16.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (I/C) and Civil Aviation unveiled the restored 18 feet tall Finial at Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi as part of the ongoing conservation effort. Shri Rakesh Tiwari, DG, ASI, Shri Ratish Nanda, CEO, Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Shri Bhaskar Bhat, MD, Titan Company Limited were present on the occasion. Addressing on the occasion, the Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that after two years of hard work, a Finial or Kalash of Humayun’s Tomb has been restored to this monument. For two years carpenters, copper smiths, gold smiths, masons have worked with traditional tools, traditional techniques and in traditional manners that have stayed alive in India for centuries to create an authentic replica of the Humayun’s Tomb kalash for this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ministry of Tourism . Humayun’s Tomb conservation undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India with the support of the TATA Trusts has helped preserve the monument for posterity. Emphasis on employing traditional craftsmen has over a five year period created 200,000 (two lakh) man-days of work for the masons, stone carvers and other craftsmen. He congratulated and thanked the craftsmen who have dedicated themselves to this task and who are India’s true heritage. United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) :  The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) was founded on 16 November 1945.UNESCO has 195 Members and eight Associate Members. It is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board. The Secretariat, headed by the Director-General, implements the decisions of these two bodies. The Organization has more than 50 field offices around the world. Its headquarters are located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France, in in an outstanding, Modernist building inaugurated in 1958 and recently renovated.

Gujarat government has announced exemption to small salt producers from industrial salt VAT.The state government has given exemption from tax to those manufacturers who produce salt on plots taken on lease from the state government.In addition to this, salt producers having plots smaller than 10 acre for salt production or cooperative groups of salt producers are also exempted from tax.Salt producers who sell their entire produce to edible salt manufactures are also exempted from VAT.Such small salt producers are exempted from registration, filling of forms and taxpaying process under VAT.

China suspended an international anti-corruption task force earlier this year after taking over the G20 presidency, Reuters reported, citing sources.The so-called “Business 20″ Anti-Corruption Taskforce, comprising businesses and civil society groups, had been drawing up G20 policies for increasing transparency of offshore financial structures, among other work.But the body was scrapped in late January because Chinese companies declined to participate, sources were quoted as saying.The B20, the G20′s business outreach arm, and its various task forces are by convention led by companies from the nation holding the presidency.The state-run China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, this year’s head of the B20, did not provide an explanation for suspending the anti-corruption task force, the report But three people who had worked on the task force, who represented international, US and European institutions, told Reuters that the trade group could not persuade a Chinese company to take on the role of leading the task force.

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for operationalisation of new Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The operationalisation IISER Tirupati will commence from the Academic Year of 2015-16 from a transit or temporary campus. Highlights : Union Government had decided to establish an IISER, an Institute of National Importance, in the residual State of Andhra Pradesh. This decision was taken after bifurcating of the then State of Andhra Pradesh to the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana in 2014. Consequently, Andhra Pradesh Government had earmarked 244 acres of land in Yerpedu Mandal for construction of the permanent campus of IISER, Tirupati. It was also decided to commence its functioning from the academic session of 2015-16 from the transit campus at Sree Rama Engineering College, Tirupati. Institutes of Science Education and Research : Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) IISERs are a group of most premier statutory science education and research institutes in India of national importance and are intended to be the IITs of basic sciences. These institutes were created under The National Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2010 (an amendment of the National Institutes of Technology Act, 2007). Presently there are 5 IISERs in operational namely IISER Kolkata (West Bengal), Pune (Maharashtra), Mohali (Punjab), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for expansion of India-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between both countries. Decision in this regard was taken by the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Highlights : Under the expanded PTA, India has offered concessions to Chile on 1031 tariff lines at 8-digit level with Margin of Preference (MoP) ranging from 10 to 100%. While, Chile has offered concessions to India on 1798 tariff lines with MoP ranging from 30 to 100%. Under it, 86% of India’s exports to Chile will get covered with concessions, which is likely to result in doubling of its exports in the near future. Expanded PTA would also immensely benefit India, keeping in view the wide variety of tariff lines offered by Chile as India’s export basket has diversified with Chile. The Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between India and Chile was signed in March 2006 and it came into force with effect from August 2007. Since then the trade dynamics have changed between both countries after the PTA came into force. Bilateral trade between both countries has registered a growth of 58.49% from 2006-07 to 2014-15. During 2014-15, the bilateral trade stood at US 3.65 billion dollars with exports at US 0.57 billion dollars and imports at US 3.08 billion dollars respectively.The expansion PTA would be an important landmark in India-Chile relations as both countries have friendly relations. It would help to enhance the trade and economic relations between the two countries and also help India to consolidate the traditional fraternal relations that have existed with Latin American Countries (LAC).  

India and China have agreed to adhere to peaceful negotiations to settle the border issue and reach a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution. Decision in this regard was taken during the annual 19th round of boundary talks between National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi at Beijing. Highlights : Both the sides have discussed the vexed border dispute. They also had an extensive, deep discussion on the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) which remains undemarcated resulting in tensions between the two sides. Besides the border issue, both sides also have a larger mandate to discuss all contentious bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual concern. The issue of China putting technical hold on India’s recent bid to bring about a UN ban on Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terrorist attack was also discussed. India China Border Name : The McMahon Line is a line agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the Simla Accord, a treaty signed in 1914. It is the effective boundary between China and India, although its legal status is disputed by the Chinese government.The McMahon Line is regarded by India as the legal national border. It is disputed by China. As recently as 2003, the Dalai Lama said that the disputed region was part of Tibet, but he reversed his position in 2008, acknowledging the legitimacy of the McMahon Line and the Indian claim to the region.  

Europe has become the world’s first region to wipe out Malaria, a mosquito-borne vetor disease with zero cases reported in the year 2015. It was revealed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its World Malaria Report 2015. Particular region or country is declared Malaria free by WHO after it has zero locally acquired malaria cases for at least three consecutive years. Highlights of Report  : The number of malaria cases fell to zero from 90,712 between 1995 and 2015 in the countries of European region. Only 179 cases of malaria were reported in six countries in 2010. The last cases of malaria were reported in Tajikistan in 2014. The region was able to wipe out the deadly disease because of strong political commitment, improved detection and surveillance, mosquito control, cross-border collaboration. Until the end of World War II, the spread of Malaria was common in southern Europe, including Portugal, Italy, the Balkans and Greece. But the region was declared malaria free in 1975. In the year 2015, there were 214 million cases of the malaria across the world and it had killed around 438,000 people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. It should be noted that World leaders have committed to end the malaria epidemic by 2030 as one the goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Union Government on 20 April 2016 notified that the Department of Disinvestment is renamed as Department of Investment and Public Asset Management or DIPAM.The decision is aimed at proper management of Union government’s investments in equity including its disinvestment in central public sector undertakings (PSUs).The new department has been mandated to advise the government in the matters of financial restructuring of central public sector enterprises and for attracting investment through capital markets.A comprehensive approach will be adopted for efficient management of government investment in Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) by addressing issues such as capital restructuring, dividend, bonus shares, etc. DIPAM :  The DIPAM will work under Union Finance Ministry and it will deal with all matters relating to management of central government investments in equity including disinvestment of equity in central public sector undertakings. It will also deal with all matters relating to sale of central government equity through offer for sale or private placement or any other mode in the erstwhile central public sector undertakings.All other post disinvestment matters shall continue to be handled by the Union administrative ministry or concerned department with the consultation of DIPAM on necessity.Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced about the renaming of the Department of Disinvestment in his budget speech for 2016-17.  

Amitav Banerji, an Indian diplomat in the UK has been conferred with one of the highest awards of Cyprus for his work in a number of senior roles within the Commonwealth Secretariat for over two decades. Banerji, 63, was presented with his Commander of the Order of Merit at a ceremony at the Cyprus High Commission. Amitav Banerji : Born in 1953, Banerji graduated from Georgetown University and went on to do his Masters from the Delhi School of Economics.He joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1975 and served in different capacities for 15 years, including postings to Pakistan, Spain and Malaysia.From August 1990 to May 2015, he served in a series of roles at the Commonwealth Secretariat including Head of the Secretary General’s Office and towards the last six years as Political Director. Cyprus : Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, off the coasts of Syria and Turkey.Cyprus is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, and a member state of the European Union.Cyprus suffers from a chronic shortage of water. The country relies heavily on rain to provide household water, but in the past 30 years average yearly precipitation has decreased.Turkey is building a water pipeline under the Mediterranean Sea from Anamur on its southern coast to the northern coast of Cyprus, to supply Northern Cyprus with potable and irrigation water.

The Union Government has merged Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan with Khelo India. They merged another two sport projects which were launched during UPA Government Two other sport projects  :  Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS) and National Sports Talent Search Scheme (NSTSS) launched by the Congress-led previous UPA regime have been absorbed under Khelo India, for which, Rs 140 crore has already been allocated in NDA government's third budget for the financial year 2016-17. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan : The RGKA, a centrally sponsored scheme named after Rajiv Gandhi, was launched by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and then sports minister Jitendra Singh in February 2014 to replace Panchayat Yuva Krida aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) Khelo India : The aim of the RGKA was to construct sports complexes in each block of the country, both for outdoor and indoor sports disciplines, over a period of five years (by 2020). Khelo India is based on Gujarat's model of "Khel Mahakumbh", in which, schools and colleges from different parts of the country participate in about 27 disciplines. Similarly, the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) organises summer camps under this project every year.It has been learnt that the sports ministry was trying to launch this scheme on April 16 recently. Other schemes with Rajiv Gandhi's name which have been renamed  Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities has been renamed National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities. Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Scheduled Castes has been renamed National Fellowship for Scheduled Castes. Rajiv Rinn Yojana, an instrument to address the housing needs of economically weaker sections/low income group segments in urban areas was subsumed in another scheme — Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana as a small part "credit-linked subsidy scheme". Scheme on rural electrification that was named after Rajiv Gandhi by Congress was subsumed in a broader scheme that carries the name of Deendayal Upadhyaya. This is one of the major schemes of the NDA government.

Punjab CM Parkash Badal distributes health insurance cards & approves Rs 750 crore for road sector Health insurance cards : Government of Punjab to begin the process of issuing 303074 pre-active cashless Farmers Health Insurance Cards under Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat BimaYojna in the maiden phase of project.This Scheme enable farmers and their families to get health cover up to Rs 50,000 for their treatment and compensation of Rs 5 Lakhs in case of death of the head of the family or any circumstances which may cause 100% disability to that person.This scheme comes from the government to safeguard farmers, there were many farmer’s suicide from Maharashtra and other parts of the country.Punjab has the second highest number of farmers’s suicide cases after Maharashtra.A simple study point out that about 30% of 1,690 suicide cases in 10 states during 2015 has been reported in the state. Approves Rs 750 crore for Road Sector : Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal approved Rs 750 crore for the repair and strengthening of 6500 km link road in the State.The government directed to the officers of Public Works Department to ensure the construction as early as possible.The project of connecting all towns and cities to the lane roads were going on war footing and the repair, broadening and refurbishment of link road work should be executed on full swing.Over 56 % of construction under this project have been finished while the remaining work would also be finished within specified time.The chief minister also took stock of the ongoing Rs 1115 crore project that will strengthen the road infrastructure of 7,825 Kms of link road and directed the authorities to finish this project before the end of June. Additional Chief Secretary of PWD informed that more than 56 per cent of construction under this project have been completed while the remaining work would also be finished within stipulated time frame.   

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bhutan on Technical Cooperation in the field of benchmarking, capacity building and bilateral exchange in Infrastructure Engineering. Decision in this regard was taken by the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Highlights : The MoU aims at taking forward India-Bhutan friendship treaty and provide an umbrella for scientific, educational and technical research and environment protection. It will also help Central Public Works Department (CPWD), a construction major under the Urban Development Ministry, to gain experience in construction of roads on hills.India and Bhutan have a long standing diplomatic, economic and cultural relation with each other. The India-Bhutan friendship treaty signed in New Delhi in February 2007 to further strengthen the mutual relations between two neighbouring countries. There are also ongoing Hydro Power Cooperation projects between the two countries which provide an exemplary template for mutual cooperation.

International Cricket Council (ICC) on 20 April 2016 announced that it has suspended Hong Kong all-rounder Irfan Ahmed from Cricket for two-and-a-half years. He was suspended after he admitted to breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code (the ‘Code’).Ahmed was charged with offences under the Code and provisionally suspended by the ICC on 4 November 2015.This followed an investigation carried out by the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), relating in part to the activities of another individual known to the ACU and suspected of making corrupt approaches to participants.His period of ineligibility will take effect from the date of his provisional suspension and will therefore expire on 4 May 2018.ICC in its statement said that Ahmed was not charged with any offence involving corruption but he failed to disclose details to it full details of approaches or invitations to engage in corrupt conduct that had been made to him between January 2012 and January 2014.During the investigation, Ahmed admitted that he was aware of his obligations under the Code and that his failure to report such approaches was a breach of the Anti-Corruption Code.Ahmed has accepted the imposition of such a penalty and therefore waived his right to appeal against the decision.

Justice PK Mishra, former Chief Justice of Patna High Court, was on 20 April 2016 appointed as the Lokayukta of Goa. The decision in this regard was taken by the state government.The announcement was made by the Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar after state government obtained the consensus of the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court and the Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly as stipulated in the Lokayukta Act, 2013.Now the state Cabinet will be recommend name of Justice Mishra to Mridula Sinha, Governor of Goa for appointment.Mishra had recently retired as the Chairman of Goa State Human Rights commission. He retired as Chief Justice of Patna High Court before taking up his assignment in Goa.  The post of the Lokayukta of Goa was lying vacant for the last two years. Goa’s first Lokayukta Justice (Retd) Sudarshan Reddy had resigned within seven months of his appointment in October  2013 and since then the post was vacant for more than two years.His resignation left investigations of 21 cases, including the crucial illegal mining scam and the recruitments in government department, pending before the ombudsman in the State. Appointment of Lokayukta  : As per the Lokayukta Act, 2013, the Governor is the final authority to appoint the Lokayukta on the advice tendered by the Chief Minister, in consultation with the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court and the Leader of the Opposition.It also speaks that a person to be appointed as Lokayukta shall be a person who has held the office of a judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of the High Court.

Rahul Johri has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Mr. Johri will report to the BCCI secretary and shall be given freedom to work independently in BCCI’s set-up that was traditionally controlled by honorary office-bearers. In his new role he will be responsible for the smooth functioning of operations, stakeholder management of BCCI and building robust strategies for further promoting the sport of cricket. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Johri had served as Discovery Networks Asia Pacific’s executive vice-president and general manager for South Asia. He has two decades of rich experience in the media industry. The appointment of CEO of BCCI was based on the lines of key recommendations of the three-member Justice RM Lodha Committee. The committee was appointed by the Supreme Court to suggest administrative reforms in Indian cricket i.e. by bring reform in BCCI, an apex governing body for cricket in India. It had recommended creation of the post of the CEO in order to separate BCCI’s governance and management duties with the CEO taking charge of the management side.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court on 19 April 2016 issued notice to the Union and State governments on the issue of declaring monkeys as vermin for six months in the Shimla Municipal Corporation's jurisdiction.Monkey being vermin means anyone can kill monkeys anywhere in the state capital without official permission. This would lead to drastic decline in the simian population.The bench further directed the Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change, the state chief secretary and the national board of wildlife's member-secretary to file their replies within six weeks.The notice was issued by a division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan while hearing a plea in this regard filed by animal activist Rajeshwar Singh Negi. In his plea, Negi had challenged the Union Government notification of 14 March 2016. Details of  plea : In March 14 notification Union allowed State government’s request to declare monkey as vermin for six months in Shimla municipal jurisdiction.The request was allowed because of destruction to property and crops caused by the monkeys in Shimla. He argued that the notification disregarded a Constitutional mandate about securing wildlife and the environment and the right to life ensured by Article 21 of the Constitution, which extends to animals as well.The petitioner also pleaded that killing monkeys for violent behaviour was not a solution to the problem. Instead, a substantial scientific method could be used to deal with them.Monkey became the third species to be declared vermin after Wild Boars and Nilgai in the State. In January 2011, the high court had put on hold the permission granted to farmers to shoot monkeys. The stay is still in force.

The 2016 World Press Freedom Index was released on 20 April 2016 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Finland retained its top position for the sixth consecutive year, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.The Index ranks 180 countries according to the freedom allowed journalists. It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.The global indicator and the regional indicators show that there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom throughout the world.But, it is not an indicator of the quality of the journalism in each country, nor does it rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Highlights :Europe with 19.8 points still has the freest media, followed distantly by Africa with 36.9, which for the first time overtook the America’s 37.1, a region where violence against journalists is on the rise.Asia with 43.8 and Eastern Europe/Central Asia with 48.4, while North Africa/Middle East with 50.8 is still the region where journalists are most subjected to constraints of every kind.Finland, the Netherlands and Norway occupied the first three places, while the same infernal trio is in the last three positions: Turkmenistan (178th), North Korea (179th) and Eritrea (180th).There are countries fell farthest from 2015 rankings which include Poland (47th, down 29), Tajikistan (150th, slide 34 places), Sultanate of Brunei (155th, down 34), Burundi (156th, down 11). Top 10 Ranked Countries in Press Freedom with Index :  Finland - 8.59 The Netherlands- 8.76 Norway-8.79 Denmark - 8.79 New Zealand - 10.01 Costa Rica - 11.01 Switzerland - 11.76 Sweden - 12.33 Ireland- 12.4 Jamaica - 12.45 World Press Freedom Index : The Index is published annually by RSF since 2002. It is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states. Because it is now so well known, its influence over the media, governments and international organizations is growing. It is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists in 180 countries.It is compiled by means of a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts all over the world. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.  

India with a score of 43.17 was ranked 133 out of 180 countries in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index that was released on 20 April 2016. The Index was published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).In 2015 Index, India with a score of 40.49 was ranked 136 out of 180 countries.The index has been topped by Finland followed by the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand at second, third, fourth and fifth position respectively.At the bottom of the index lies Eritrea at 180th rank. It is preceded by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria and China at 179th, 178th, 177th and 176th position respectively. Highlights : India continues to languish in the bottom third of the World Press Freedom Index, because of the number of journalists killed and the impunity for crimes of violence against the media.The situation is worsening in India, although its media are dynamic and much more capable of playing the role of democracy’s watchdog than the media in most other countries in last third of the Index.Frequent lawsuits against journalists by local officials and draconian legislation on defamation and online publications impose major constraints on the media and encourage self-censorship. Violence has emerged as the main brake on media activity in recent years, especially for reporters in the field and investigative journalists. Wherever they work, Indian journalists are exposed to growing violence.Frequent verbal and physical violence, attacks by armed groups are on the rise in several states and the local authorities have had little success in reining it in.With almost one attack on a journalist every month and four journalists murdered in 2015 (at least two of them in connection with their work), the state of Uttar Pradesh has become one of India’s most dangerous regions.Indian government has made no provision for the creation of a special unit to combat impunity for crimes of violence against journalists, although there was an attack against a journalist every three days in 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. World Press Freedom Index : World Press Freedom Index is published annually by RSF since 2002. It measures the level of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries using the following criteria – pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative environment, transparency, infrastructure, and abuses.