English Essay On Current Affairs
India- Iran -India and Iran have signed nine pacts, the resultant of which will allow India to lease part of the strategic Chabahar port, near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman. A key focus of the discussions was infrastructure, particularly Iran's Chabahar port. India has committed to invest $500 million in developing the port. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2016 visit to Iran, the countries signed a commercial contract envisaging development and operation of the port's two terminals and five berths. India badly wants the port developed, believing it will help India gain access to war-torn Afghanistan, where India is involved in rebuilding efforts. India also needs a route for its companies to take into energy-rich Central Asia. Pakistan, India's hostile neighbor to the northwest, does not allow overland access. Among the nine agreements signed lease between Iran's Port and Maritime Organization and India Ports Global Limited. The deal allows the Indian company to take over and run a part of Chabahar port's multi-purpose and container terminal for 18 months. Besides giving India access to Central Asia, the port will also help India counter China's regional influence. China is currently developing Gwadar port, in Pakistan, which also gives China a way into Africa.
Saudi Arabia-In a surprising move, women in Saudi Arabia have been given the go-ahead to start businesses without the permission of a male guardian. Earlier in the past women needed a guardian's approval and had to visit a notary to document the founding of a company, from Sunday a new system will carry out all start-up procedures electronically, with no special permissions required. The move is part of a shift inside a strongly conservative kingdom to offer more freedom to women and more broadly, to reshape Saudi culture along more secular, modern lines. In keeping with the spirit of modernisation, the announcement was made via Twitter. Saudi women make up just a fraction of the labour force in the country, but their participation in the economy is rising fast. In July 2017, the country's Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that women accounted for 30 per cent of the private sector workforce - a rise of 130 per cent over the previous four years
UNICEF- A new study by UNICEF has revealed that nearly 600,000 newborn die within 28 days of their birth in India every year. The study also revealed that a quarter of global neonatal deaths take place in India each year, also showed that the country has remarkably reduced the under-five mortality rate. The first 28 days of life - the neonatal period - are the most vulnerable time for a child's survival. And children face the highest risk of dying in their first month of life, at a global rate of 19 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the report, India's neonatal mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) is 25.4 and is ranked at number 12 among 52 'low middle-income countries' in terms of risk for newborns. India's ranking, though, is better than that of Pakistan's, the country with the worst newborn mortality rate. The report covered 184 countries and India has been ranked 31, keeping the world's seventh largest economy below 153 countries who have better survival rates for their newborns. A year earlier, India was the 28th worst country among 184 nations in terms of neonatal mortality.
Global corruption perception index- The index developed by Transparency International, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at the 81st place. In the 2016, India was in the 79th place among 176 countries. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the 'worst offenders' in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.
Petro -Venezuela become first sovereign country to officially launch its own crypto-currency called Petro. The currency is backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves to circumvent US-led financial sanctions. Aiming to combat most severe economic collapses of modern times, the beleaguered administration of President Nicolas Maduro announced it had begun a presale of virtual currency backed by the nation's vast petroleum reserves. The government, which had announced plans for the new digital currency late last year, said the initiative was a response to a financial crisis marked by a profound devaluation of the national currency, the bolivar, and quadruple-digit inflation.
Atal Bhoojal Yojana - It is a government scheme intended to conserve ground water. According to this scheme, the government has the plan to boost conservation of ground water with a fund of Rs.6,000 crores. By the implementation of this scheme ground water will recharge consequently increasing the level of ground water. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari informed that the fund for this project will be raised by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank. Under this scheme, ground water will recharge and hence it will provide sufficient water for the use of agriculture purposes because in the past several years the ground water has decreased to a great extent. This scheme will also revive the water bodies like rivers so that the level of ground water can be increased especially in the rural areas.The water available in the Ganga River will be used under this scheme "Atal Bhoojal Yojana" to increase the ground. The Ministry of Water resource is eagerly working on it, once done the Ministry of finance will approve the funds for the scheme. The scheme will be implemented all over the India. . The cabinet committee has set a fund of Rs.6,000 crore for this scheme but yet to get the approval from the ministry of Finance. Government of India has not announced any official date for the launch of this scheme.
Parliament House to Have A Creche - The Parliament House will soon be setting an example of an inclusive and supportive work environment for its women employees by establishing creche facility on its premises. Under the direct supervision of Speaker, creche development work is in progress and a senior official has also been deputed to oversee the work. In a letter dated 29th March, 2017, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, apprised Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of Lok Sabha, about the absence of a creche facility at the Parliament House. In her letter, Gandhi pointed out that since over one-third of the total number of officials working in the Parliament were women, provision of creche facility was crucial. Swiftly responding to the letter, the office of the Speaker notified that a creche facility will soon be functional within the premises of Parliament House. The Ministry of Women and Child Development thanked the Speaker on twitter.
NITI Forum for North East - The NITI Forum for Northeast is tasked to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the North East Region of the country and to recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints. It will also review the development status in the NER. Members of the Forum will include Secretaries of Ministries of Road Transport & Highways, Railways, Power, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, New & Renewable Energy, Health & Family Welfare, Human Resource Development, Environment, Forest & Climate Change. Chief Secretaries of Northeastern states of Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram will also be members of the Forum. Secretary, North East Council (NEC), Shillong will be Member Secretary. Joint Secretary (NE), MHA, besides a number of experts from various fields will also be members of the Forum. The Forum may examine and address any other issues which are of importance but not specifically spelt out in its Terms of Reference. It may devise its own procedure to conduct its business/meetings/fields visits or constitution of Sub-Groups etc.
National Urban Housing Fund - It is a fund created by Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Primary function of the fund is to create houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojan (Urban). The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) for Rs 60,000 crore. There was a good response from the States/UTs and nearly 2 to 3 lakh houses are being sanctioned every month. About 5 lakh houses have been completed. Under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), wherein housing for EWS/LIG/MIG beneficiaries is being sanctioned by the banks/HFCs to the eligible beneficiaries under the PMAY (Urban), the responses have grown significantly. Nearly 87,000 housing loans have been sanctioned in past eight months under the scheme and over 40,000 applications are under consideration for approval. The target is to cater to the demand of housing shortage of nearly 1.2 crore and make available housing to all by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th anniversary of Independence. NUHF will facilitate raising requisite funds in next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals that is Beneficiary Linked Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership(AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) is sustained and construction of houses to address the gap in urban sector progresses smoothly.
Botanical Survey of India - Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Natural History Museum (NHM), UK have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of genetic/taxonomic studies, research and training, conservation in India, including species and habitat conservation assessments. According to an official release, the MoU will pave the way for BSI staff to work in Natural History Museum, London and vice-versa and they will share fairly and equitably the benefits that may arise from the collection, study and conservation of the plant materials such as seeds, herbarium specimens and tissue samples and exchange associated data and images, an official release said. NHM will help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India. Botanical research has a long history in India, and modern scientific institutions have developed over two centuries. The collections of Indian plants held in UK institutions, together with India’s own tremendous collections, are an invaluable resource for modern Indian botanical science. According to the Ministry, collections, digitisation and study by Indian scientists will make these openly available for wider scientific use in India in areas such as biodiversity conservation, environmental protection, and preservation of plant resources for use in traditional health systems by rural communities.
Bamboo and Construction App - Govt has launched mobile app on Bamboo Housing and Construction. Government has proposed large public agencies like Housing Boards, Railways, Defence and public sector undertakings to adopt new technologies for their housing projects to provide a further boost to the housing sector. The government also felt need to present housing shortage in urban areas, more than 1.2 crore houses in urban areas with necessary infrastructure are required to be constructed. To achieve this, appropriate actions are required at all fronts. This necessarily includes, among other measures, identification and selection of appropriate building materials and technologies to bring not only economy but also quality, durability, speed with due care for safety and environment concern of the country.
42 Indian languages and dialect stare -According to a report of the Census Directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in the country, which are spoken by a large number of people — one lakh or more. An official from Home Ministry said, ‘However, there are 42 languages which are spoken by fewer than 10,000 people. These are considered endangered and may be heading towards extinction’. A list prepared by UNESCO has also mentioned about the 42 languages or dialects in India that are endangered and they may be heading towards extinction. The languages or dialects which are considered endangered, include 11 from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Lamongse, Luro, Muot, Onge, Pu, Sanenyo, Sentilese, Shompen and Takahanyilang), seven from Manipur (Aimol, Aka, Koiren, Lamgang, Langrong, Purum and Tarao) and four from Himachal Pradesh (Baghati, Handuri, Pangvali and Sirmaudi). The other languages in the endangered category are Manda, Parji and Pengo (Odisha), Koraga and Kuruba (Karnataka), Gadaba and Naiki (AP), Kota and Toda (Tamil Nadu), Mra and Na (Arunachal Pradesh), Tai Nora and Tai Rong (Assam), Bangani (Uttarakhand), Birhor (Jharkhand), Nihali (Maharashtra), Ruga (Meghalaya) and Toto (West Bengal).
Agni 2 Missile -The range for Agni-2 is performance, repeated guidance more than 2000 km. The salient features of performance capability and salvo firing the test firings are mobile launch capability, capability. India has test-fired its medium range nuclear capable Agni-II missile with a strike range of 2,000 km from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
Prithvi 2 Missile -Prithvi-II, which has a strike range of 350 km, is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. India has successfully test-fired nuclear-capable medium range surface to surface missile Prithvi-II off the Odisha coast. According to defense sources, the missile was successfully flight tested from the launch complex 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur on sea at about 8.30 p.m. Sources also confirmed all the radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations along the Odisha coast have monitored all the trajectory parameters of the vehicle.
SARAS -India's indigenous light transport aircraft Saras was successfully test flown for a second time in Bengaluru. Saras will be 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than any imported aircraft in the same category and it will be a 19-seater aircraft instead of 14-seater. The unit cost of the aircraft, with more than 70 per cent indigenous content, will be around Rs. 40 to Rs. 45 crore as against Rs. 60 to Rs. 70 crore for imported ones and has far more benefits than what the imported aircraft offers.
Dhanush Missile -Dhanush is one of the five missiles the Defence Research and Development Organisation built under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. India successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Dhanush ballistic missile on Friday morning from a naval ship off the Odisha coast According to a defence source, the test launch was ‘a complete success and all the objectives of the missions were met. Dhanush is a variant of the indigenous Prithvi missile. It is a surface-to-surface missile that can hit both land and sea-based targets. The Strategic Force Command of the defence forces carried out the trial from a ship near Paradip in the Bay of Bengal at 10.52 am.
Aadhar - Aadhaar was recognized as the world's largest biometric enabled identification programme, which provides access to service, bank accounts, social services benefits, income tax, passport services by providing 1.2 billion citizens unique identification card with fingerprint, eye-print and other vital data. The initiative is managed by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The award for it recognized India's efforts of invention and innovation in field of technology and making the country completely digitalized.
Umang App - Umang stands for Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance. This app was named winner of the Best M-Government Service award in the Accessible Government category while Aadhar won the best emerging technology award at the recently concluded World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai.
National Deworming initiative - It is a major deworming programme was run by the government in the country for treatment of soil-transmitted helminths (STH), or parasitic worm infection. This provided the basis for a nationwide initiative. If untreated this disease can lead to anaemia and malnutrition as well as affecting mental development and has a negative impact on school attendance. In order to address the problem, India has instigated National Deworming Day with the support of the Deworm the World Initiative: the first was held in February 2015 and treated 140 million children in 12 states; the second was held a year later and treated 270 million children in 36 states and union territories nationwide. Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched the National Deworming Day at a function at Gurugram, today. Speaking on the occasion he said, 'Government of India is committed to ensuring high quality healthcare, accessible to every child and upto the last mile. One of the interventions, the National Deworming Day, is one of the largest public health initiatives in the world. '. The Government is aiming to reach more than 32.2 crore children. Shri Nadda further stated that the Ministry had first launched National Deworming Day (NDD) in 2015 which was implemented in 11 States/UTs across all Government and Government-aided schools and Anganwadi centres targeting children aged 1 to 19 years. Since then the program has been scaled up throughout the country. Shri Nadda further informed that last year 25.6 crore children in the February 2016 round and 22.8 crore children in the August 2016 round were successfully reached and treated with deworming treatment on National Deworming Day. He also released the 'Deworming Factsheet' at the event.
National Women Entrepreneurship Council - It is an autonomous body setup to promote entrepreneurship as it would be the umbrella organization for socio-economic gender parity, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women in India. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering to establish National Women Entrepreneurship Council (NWEC). It will be umbrella organization for socio-economic gender parity, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women n India and to promote entrepreneurship among women. It will give advice to government on issues related to entrepreneurship in women as current business chambers are largely dominated by male. According to Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, India ranked 49 among 54 economies globally with overall low score of 41.7 points. It shows that India presents lower opportunities for women to engage in entrepreneurial activities, assume leadership roles or participate in workforce. The main concern is lack of education, technological know-how and cultural bias coupled with stringent business and government regulations which undermine women's ability take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities in India. Economically empowered women are major catalysts for development. There is greater recognition of positive relationship between increased economic activity by women and improved social outcomes
New World Wealth Report - It is a report developed by New World Wealth is a global market research group, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. We specialize in ratings, surveys, country reports and wealth statistics. Mumbai, India's financial capital is the 12th richest city in the world with a total wealth of $950 billion, says a report by New World Wealth which ranks New York as the richest city in the world. Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities and business interests) less any liabilities. Government funds are excluded from the figures. According to the New World Wealth report, Mumbai is followed by Toronto with a total wealth of $944 billion, Frankfurt ($912 billion) and Paris ($860 billion). The report further said that Mumbai also features among the top 10 cities in terms of billionaire population as the city is home to 28 billionaires, individuals with $1 billion or more in net assets.
National Highway Authority of India - The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways out of 1,15,000 km in India. NHAI is going to launch a ranking system of the toll plazas. Every quarter, the three best toll plazas will be identified and their names will be published on the NHAI website. He said he was confident that the competitive atmosphere created by the ranking of toll plazas will improve the amenities and overall convenience for highway users.
Anti-Narcotics Scheme - It is a scheme created to assist state governments and Union Territories which are contributing in controlling the inter-state and cross border drug trafficking. Financial assistance will be provided to all the anti- narcotics agencies for strengthening their enforcement capabilities to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the notification said. Financial assistance is also proposed to be provided for all capacity building ctivities, including training of personnel. Taking into consideration the 40 lakh drug addicts in the country, the Centre has extended for three more years a scheme which combats illicit trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substance.
The Theatre Olympics - It is an initiative established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, on the initiative of the famous Greek theatre director, Theodoros Terzopoulos. TO is an international theatre festival, which is presenting some of the achievements of the greatest theatre practitioners from around the world. In an effort to put India firmly among the top nations in the world theatre map, the country will play host to the 8th Theatre Olympics, the greatest carnival of thespianism with the theme of 'Flag of Friendship'. The Theatre Olympics is being organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) under the aegis of Ministry of Culture. Making the announcement, Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday said,'It gives me immense pleasure to announce that India will be hosting the 8th edition of Theatre Olympics 2018 from February 17 to April 8, 2018.'
Small Savings Act - Finance Ministry had proposes merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873; All existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act. The Government gives highest priority to the interest of small savers, especially savings for the benefit of girl child, the senior citizens and the regular savers who form the backbone of our country’s savings architecture. In order to remove existing ambiguities due to multiple Acts and rules for Small Saving Schemes and further strengthen the objective of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”, Government of India has proposed merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873. With a single act, relevant provisions of the Government Savings Certificates (NSC) Act, 1959 and the Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 would stand subsumed in the new amended Act without compromising on any of the functional provision of the existing Act. All existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act. No existing benefits to depositors are proposed to be taken away through this process. The main objective in proposing a common Act is to make implementation easier for the depositors as they need not go through different rules and Acts for understanding the provision of various small saving schemes, and also to introduce certain flexibilities for the investors.
Cigarette -Bihar health department has banned sale of loose cigarettes making Bihar the 12th state in the country to bring such a ban into effect after Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and others. A notification issued by the executive director of the State Health Society, Bihar, Lokesh Kumar Singh, on Friday stated that as per Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, pictorial warnings regarding the harmful effects of consumption of tobacco products should be mentioned on the packets of tobacco products.
India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 -India’s tree and forest cover has registered an increase of 1% or 8,021 sq. km in two years since 2015, according to the latest assessment by the government. The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 was released by Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and his Deputy Mahesh Sharma in New Delhi. India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover as against the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade. According to the report, the total forest cover is 7,08,273 sq. km, which is 21.54% of the total geographical area of the country. Forest and tree cover combined is 8,02,088 sq. km or 24.39% of the total geographical area. The Environment Ministry said in the latest assessment that very dense forest in India has also increased by 1.36% as compared to 2015. ISFR is released every two years. "There is an increase of 8,021 sq. km [about 80.20 million hectare] in the total forest and tree cover of the country, compared to the previous assessment in 2015. “The increase in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq. km and that of tree cover as 1,243 sq. km,'
KUSUM - It is a government scheme to promote solar power production through solar farming. Titled as Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) government has announced a fund of Rs 1.4 lakh-crore for the scheme. The scheme will work towards promoting solar power production a.k.a. solar farming up to 28,250 MW to help farmers. The Union Budget 2018-2019 has allotted Rs 48,000 crore to lead the scheme for a period of ten years. Some of the important facts about the Kusum scheme are 1.75 million off-grid agricultural solar pumps, build 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands for solar farming and farmers will be given a chance to earn extra income if they help produce additional power by setting up solar power project on their barren land. The energy produced by the farmers on their barren land will be bought by the state electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS).The scheme is likely to decrease the consumption of diesel in the agriculture sector (used in pumps). KUSUM scheme also includes the distribution of 17.5 lakh solar pumps for which 60 per cent subsidy will be given to the farmers.
Green Good Deeds Campaign - It is programme launched by Government of India to sensitise the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. Speaking on the launch of the compaign Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan has appealed to the teaching community to join the 'Green Good Deeds' campaign, launched by the Ministry to sensitise the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. Addressing about 700 principals of all government schools from North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the Minister said that environment is a matter of global concern, as never before..
Further stressed that the whole world is concerned about the dangers of global warming and climate change. People in Delhi are already facing air pollution. Environment and its effects on the life of human beings are now on the agenda at every global forum. Everyone is looking up to India with expectationbecause they think that Indians have the DNA to protect the environment. Our ancestors had made protection of environment an integral part of their lifestyle. It was a 'part-n-parcel' of our culture - our ancestors worshipped the rivers, air, trees or forests and earth andexisted in harmony with the land.
Exam Warrior - Exam warrior is a book authored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for students facing exams. The book aims to get through to students across the country on the threshold of examinations, and hopes to help them thread the needle with ease.
The book was launched on Saturday by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. The book will be translated in multiple languages and will be made available across the country. The book is 208 pages thick and is being published by Penguin Randon House India. In the book, the PM has penned down almost 25 mantras for students as well as their parents and teachers on how to tackle exams without stress and anxiety. The book highlights issues of importance to students such as coping with exam related stress, keeping calm during exams as well as what to do after the exams get over, a statement by the publishing house reads.
Solar City - Development of Solar Cities' programme is designed to support and encourage Urban Local Bodies to prepare a Road Map to guide their cities in becoming 'renewable energy cities' or 'solar cities'. The Solar City aims at minimum 10% reduction in projected demand of conventional energy at the end of five years, through a combination of enhancing supply from renewable energy sources in the city and energy efficiency measures. The basic aim is to motivate the local Governments for adopting renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures. In a Solar City all types of renewable energy based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, waste to energy etc. may be installed alongwith possible energy efficiency measures depending on the need and resource availability in the city. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has approved a proposed master plan to develop 50 solar cities, including three in the national capital region. Out of the proposed 60 solar cities, sanctions have been issued for 50 cities that include New Delhi, Agra, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Amritsar, New Town (Kolkata), Howrah, Madhyamgram, Kochi and Bhopal, as per the information available on the ministry's website.
Karnataka Flag -The Kannada flag is a bi-coloured flag identified with Karnataka, Kannadigas and Kannada language. The flag is divided into two equal horizontal strips, a yellow strip for the top half and a red strip below. The yellow and red colors in the flag represent Arrishna Turmeric and Kumkuma (Vermillion) which symbolize auspiciousness and well-being of the state. In general, the yellow and red colours signify positivity and courage respectively. A committee formed by the Karnataka government has recommended a separate flag for the state, discounting any constitutional or legal hurdles for it. The nine-member committee submitted its report on designing a separate flag for the state and providing a legal standing for it.
MSME Act - A single comprehensive act developed by the government of India for the growth and regulation of small enterprises. The act was conceived since there was a long outstanding demand of the sector so as to free it from a bundle of laws and regulations and visit of inspectors, which it had to face with limited awareness and resources. In order to remove the unnecessary hassles faced by the sector, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved change in the basis of classifying Micro, Small and Medium enterprises from 'investment in plant & machinery/equipment' to 'annual turnover'. This will encourage ease of doing business, make the norms of classification growth oriented and align them to the new tax regime revolving around GST (Goods & Services Tax). Section 7 of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 will accordingly be amended to define units producing goods and rendering services in terms of annual turnover as a micro enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover does not exceed Rs five crore; a small enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than Rs five crore but does not exceed Rs 75 crore and a medium enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than Rs 75 crore but does not exceed Rs 250 crore.
Prime Minister Research Fellowship Scheme - It is a scheme which will enable 1000 best students who have completed or are in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIITs to get direct admission in PhD programme in the IITs/IISc. Under this fellowship scheme, selected students will be offered a fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years, Rs.75,000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80,000/- per month in the 4th and 5th years. Apart from this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars. A maximum of 3000 Fellows would be selected in a three year period, beginning 2018-19. The scheme will go a long way in tapping the talent pool of the country for carrying out research indigenously in cutting edge science and technology domains. The research under the Scheme will address our national priorities at the one hand and shortage of quality faculty in the premier educational institutions of the country, on the other.
Google - It is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Recently, India's antitrust watchdog today imposed a Rs. 136 Crore fine on Google for 'search bias' and abuse of its dominant position, in the latest regulatory setback for the world's most popular internet search engine. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google, the core unit of US firm Alphabet Inc, was abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets. According to a release from CCI, 'Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users. Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services'.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems and mechanical systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision.
Recognizing the importance of Artificial intelligence (AI), The Department of Defence Production under the Indian Defence Ministry has constituted a task force headed by Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran to study use of artificial intelligence, which it said has potential to provide military superiority apart from driving technology-driven economic growth. According to an official release from Department of Defense production, 'Experts believe that future progress of artificial intelligence (AI) has potential to have transformative impact on national security. It is also seen that AI is essentially a dual use technology. While it can fuel technology driven economic growth, it also has potential to provide military superiority. India has a strong talent pool of engineers which are advantages which need to be leveraged. To study the whole gamut of issues surrounding strategic implications of AI in national security perspective, in global context, it has been decided to constitute a multi-stakeholder task force'.
Agni 1- Agni-1 is an indigenously developed surface-to-surface, single-stage missile which was inducted into service in 2004. The state-of-the-art missile is propelled by a solid rocket propellant system. It was launched as part of a regular training exercise by the armed forces. Agni-I missile with nuclear weapon carrying capability flight-tested successfully. India has successfully flight-tested the indigenously developed Agni-I ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear payload as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range off the Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command of the Army conducted the user trial of the 700 km range missile from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island in Balasore. It was 18th version of Agni-I, which could achieve all parameters within the stipulated time period, said defense sources.
The missile was inducted into service in 2004, the sources pointed out. The surface-to-surface, single stage missile, powered by solid propellants, was launched as part of a regular training exercise by the armed forces, said the sources. The trial reconfirmed the Army's readiness to fire it at short notice. The missile has a specialised navigation system, which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision. It has proved its excellent performance in terms of range and accuracy. The 15-metre-long Agni-I, weighing 12 tonnes, can carry payloads up to 1,000 kg. The last trial was successfully conducted on November 22, 2016 from the same base.
Prithvi 2 - It is a single-stage liquid-fueled missile having a maximum warhead mounting capability of 500 kg, but with an extended range of 250 km (160 mi). It was developed with the Indian Air Force which is being the primary user. India on Wednesday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range in Odisha. The trial of the surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near Balasore at around 11.35 a.m., they said. Describing the trial as a complete success, they said all mission objectives were met during the test launch. The perfect test launch came after successful trial of Agni-5 on January 18 and Agni-1 missile conducted from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast on February 6.
Rhododendrons Park - It is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. It contains two patches of area - 0.28 ha and 0.83 ha. Patch one was planted with 16 different species of Rhododendrons in first phase including Arboreum, Nerifolium, Hodgsonii, Keysii species of Rhododendrons.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has laid the foundation stone for Rhododendron Park in Tawang in presence of RWD Parliamentary Secretary Jambey Tashi, local MLA Tsering Tashi, PCCF Omkar Singh, Commander of 190 Mt Brigade Brigadier MP Singh and others. He also carried out plantation drive of different varieties of Rhodos. Tawang is home to 50+ different varieties of Rhodos.
ASH TRACK App - It is a web-based monitoring system and a fly-ash mobile application which would act as an interface between producers and consumers. These platforms will enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as road contractors, cement plants etc. Proper management of fly ash is important not only for the environment but for us also as the ash produced by power plants occupies a lot of land space. Speaking at the launch of the app, R K Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and New and Renewable Energy, added that proper management of fly ash is 'important not only for the environment but for us also as the ash produced by the power plants occupies a lot of land space'. According to calculations by Ministry of Power, a 1000 MW thermal power plant require approximately 250 acres of land to dump its fly ash
Cryptocurrency - A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions, to control the creation of additional units, and to verify the transfer of assets.
Aiming to ensure crypto currencies doesn't move in Indian financial system, India is planning steps to ensure cryptocurrencies are illegal within its payments system. According to a government official, the government is also appointing a regulator to oversee unregulated exchanges that trade in crypto assets .Besides, a panel set by the government to look into issues relating to cryptocurrencies is expected to submit its report in the current fiscal year, ending on 31 March, S.C. Garg, economic affairs secretary Speaking to an news channel, Mr Garg said, 'The government will take steps to make it illegal as a payment system,' he said at a post-budget event telecast by the news channel, adding the trading of 'crypto assets' at the unregulated exchanges would be regulated. We hope now within this financial year the committee will finalise its recommendations ... certainly there will be a regulator'.
Ashgabat Agreement -The Ashgabat Agreement is a Multimodal transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. India has joined the Ashgabat agreement, which envisages setting up of an international transport and transit corridor linking central Asia with the Persian Gulf to significantly ramp up trade and investment. According to official sources, India's accession to the agreement will come into force on Saturday(February 3, 2018) . After approval of the Cabinet, India had deposited the instrument of accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016.
Delhi Declaration -It is declaration made by the ASEAN member states to mark the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations. Leader of the states declared to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, across the whole spectrum of political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation, through further strengthening of relevant institutional mechanisms and broadening of the network between government institutions, parliamentarians, business circles, scientists, academicians, think-tanks, media, youth and other stakeholders, for the building of a peaceful, harmonious, caring and sharing community in our regions. Continue to exert efforts and cooperate towards the full, effective and timely implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2016-2020). Further enhance high-level engagement and cooperation within the existing framework of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership and ASEAN-led mechanisms, such as the ASEAN-India Summit, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Post Ministerial Conference with India (PMC+1), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Plus, and other ASEAN-India ministerial/sectoral mechanisms.
Global Centre for Cyber Security -It is new organisation created to counter emerging cyber security threats and help connect leaders from business and government to collaborate on various security issues. The organisation was formed by World Economic Forum (WEF) will be fully operational in March 2018. The cyber agency will act as a sort of independent, multinational cyber threat information sharing platform for companies to improve digital security writ large. To begin with, it will reach out to key industry players and G-20 countries to make this platform a success for dialogue and real-time action on cyber threats. The Global Centre for Cybersecurity has already gained the support of multiple prominent businesses and law enforcement organizations, including British telecommunications giant BT Group, U.S. microchip maker Qualcomm, Russian financial institution Sberbank and international crime fighting agency Interpol.
NASA - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the US government. Scientists from NASA have shown interest about a new thermal spray coating technology used for gas turbine engine in spacecraft developed by a Rajasthan-based researcher named Dr Satish Tailor. Expressing his interest in the research, James L. Smialek, a scientist from NASA wrote to Dr Tailor after it was published in the journal Ceramics International and Thermal Spray Bulletin. Dr Tailor while working at MEC as a chief scientist, Research and Development had developed the controlled segmented Yttria-Stabilised Zirconia (YSZ)-Plasma sprayed coating technology, which according to him could reduce the thermal spray coating cost by almost 50%. Besides, vertical cracks (segmentation) in the coating are beneficial for gas turbine engine application used in spacecraft. Currently researchers are developing such cracks through very expensive processes (in several crore) and cracks are generated during the coating deposition process, and crack generation is not controllable.
Rotavac - Rotavac is the India's first indigenously developed vaccine against rotavirus, which is the major cause of diarrhea deaths among children. Rotavac vaccine is similar to the oral polio drop. It is administered under the age same regimen 6, 10 and 14 weeks. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has awarded pre-qualification to India's first indigenously developed rotavirus diarrhoea vaccine, Rotavac, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. The recognition will allow UN agencies and Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to purchase the vaccine from Bharat Biotech at significantly lower prices than those sourced from global pharmaceutical majors and make it available in other developing regions including Africa where diarrhoea kills thousands of children every year.
Khelo India School Games - It is national programme for development of sports aiming to highlight the country's sporting talent and its potential to the world. Besides, giving the importance of how sports and fitness in one's life is invaluable. The Khelo India Games, will be open only to select students in the under-17 age group, who meet clearly specified criteria. There will be a specific number of players and teams in each discipline. There will be a total of 209 gold medals up for grabs, with the major share going to athletics (36), swimming (35), wrestling (30), boxing (26), gymnastics (20), judo (16) and weightlifting (16). The selection of athletes for each discipline has also been clarified. The top eight from the 63rd SGFI National School Games will be taken apart from four nominations from federation, one each from CBSE and host State apart from two wild card entries for the individual events. In team competition, the top four from the National School Games will be joined by two nominated by the federation apart from one each from the host State and the organising committee. For the three disciplines archery, badminton and shooting, the top 16 from the National School Games will be joined by eight nominated by the federation, one each from CBSE, host State and organising committee, apart from six wild cards. The best talent selected from the Khelo India Games will gain scholarship to the tune of about ₹5 lakh each per year.
HAL Light Combat Helicopter - HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is an Indian multirole combat helicopter developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It has been ordered for both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has said that it was satisfied with test run of the HAL Light Combat Helicopter. According to an official release, pilots have successfully flown the home-made 5.8-tonne Light Combat Helicopter with its own automatic flight control system for the first time. The 20-minute maiden flight of the multirole copter was flawless with the engagement of the flight control system throughout. HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju said the flight control system, whose development the company funded, would replace the imported one. HAL Chief Test Pilot Wing Commander Unni K Pillai (retired) and Test Pilot Group Captain Rajesh Verma (retired) flew the chopper after taking off from the defence airport in the city's eastern suburb.
New Wealth Report 2017 - New Wealth Report is an annual list developed by Capgemini, a global leader in technology, consulting and outsourcing. Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each country/city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) less any liabilities. The report, however, excludes government funds from its figures. According to the report, India has been ranked sixth in the list of wealthiest countries with total wealth of $8,230 billion, while the United States topped the chart. the US is the wealthiest country with total wealth of $64,584 billion, followed by China ($24,803 billion) and Japan ($19,522 billion). Others in the list include United Kingdom (4th, $9,919 billion), Germany (5th, $9,660 billion), France (7th, $6,649 billion), Canada (8th, $6,393 billion), Australia (9th, $6,142 billion) and Italy (10th, $4,276 billion).
Democracy Index -Democracy Index is list prepared by UK based The Economist Intelligence Unit. The EIU is the research and analysis division of the UK- based media behemoth The Economist Group. Created in 1946, the EIU describes itself as having over 70 years of experience 'in helping businesses, financial firms and governments to understand how the world is changing and how that creates opportunities to be seized and risks to be handled. Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime. India has slipped to 42nd place on an annual Global Democracy Index amid 'rise of conservative religious ideologies' and increase in vigilantism and violence against minorities as well as other dissenting voices. While Norway has again topped the list, followed by Iceland and Sweden, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), India has moved down from 32nd place last year and remains classified among 'flawed democracies'. The index ranks 165 independent states and two territories on the basis of five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. The list has been divided into four broad categories-full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime. The US (ranked 21), Japan, Italy, France, Israel, Singapore, and Hong Kong have also been named among 'flawed democracies'.
Ghodazari wildlife sanctuary - The sanctuary, is located in the North East of Tadoba, will include 159 sq km of Brahmapuri forest . The wildlife sanctuary located North East of Tadoba Tiger Reserve will be carved out in total of 159 sq km area covering Nagbhir, Talodhi and Chimur forest areas. The Maharashtra government has approved Ghodazari in Chandrapur district as a new wildlife sanctuary in the state. The decision was taken at the 13th meeting of the Maharashtra State Board for Wildlife, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. According to experts, the decision to setup a sanctuary will not only save the forest, but will also improve tourism in nearly 40 villages in the area. The board also discussed various proposals for development work within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and wildlife sanctuaries in the state. The proposal for road widening and strengthening of National Highway 8 outside SGNP was also approved at the meeting.
INS Karanj - INS Karanj is the third submarine of the first batch of six Kalvari Class submarines designed and developed for Indian Navy. It is diesel electric attack submarine based on Scorpene class submarine. Though it was designed by French company, it was manufactured in Mazagon Dock (Mumbai) in India under the Project 75 programme. The submarine was launched by Reena Lanba, wife of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, here on Wednesday. The new submarine is named after the earlier Kalvari class INS Karanj, which was decommissioned in 2003. Six Scorpene class submarines are being built under Project 75 by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), Mumbai, under a $3.75 billion technology transfer signed in October 2005 with the Naval Group of France.
Agriculture and Rural Economy- The government has decided to keep MSP for all unannounced kharif crops atleast one and half times of their production cost after declaring the same for the majority of rabi cops. The volume of institutional credit for agriculture sector from year-to-year increased from Rs.8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs.10 lakh crore in 2017-18 and proposed to raise this to Rs.11 lakh crore for the year 2018-19. After the establishment of Dairy Infrastructure Fund, Shri Jaitley announced setting up a Fisheries and Aqua culture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for fisheries sector and an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry sector with a total corpus of Rs.10,000 crore for the two new funds. On the lines of 'Operation Flood' a new Scheme 'Operation Greens' was announced with an outlay of Rs 500 Crore to address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities like tomato, onion and potato. Develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) to take care of the interests of more than 86% small and marginal farmers. Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs.2000 crore will be setup for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) and 585APMCs. Re-structured National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs.1290 crore to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner.
Education, Health and Social Protection - Estimated budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection for 2018-19 is Rs.1.38 lakh crore against estimated expenditure of Rs.1.22 lakh crore in 2017-18. Shri Jaitley announced setting up of Ekalavya Model Residential School on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas to provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment by 2022 in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons with special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development. a major initiative named 'Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022' with a total investment of Rs.1,00,000 crore in next four years was announced . The Government also decided to allocate additional Rs.600 crore to provide nutritional support to all TB patients at the rate of Rs.500 per month for the duration of their treatment. Shri Jaitley said, the government will be setting up 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country. A total of 187 projects have been sanctioned under the Namami Gange programme for infrastructure development, river surface cleaning, rural sanitation and other interventions at a cost of Rs.16,713 crore.
Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) - A sum of Rs. 3794 crore has been provided for giving credit support, capital and interest subsidy and for innovations. MUDRA Yojana launched in April, 2015 has led to sanction of Rs.4.6 lakh crore in credit from 10.38 crore MUDRA loans. 76% of loan accounts are of women and more than 50% belong to SCs, STs and OBCs. It is proposed to set a target of Rs.3 lakh crore for lending under MUDRA for 2018-19 after having successfully exceeded the targets in all previous years.
Employment - Reiterating that creating job opportunities is at the core of Government policies, Finance Minister cited an independent study as showing that 70 lakh formal jobs will be created this year. To carry forward the momentum created by the measures taken during the last 3 years to boost employment generation, Shri Jaitley announced that the Government will contribute 12% of the wages of the new employees in the EPF for all the sectors for next three years. He proposed to make amendments in the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 to reduce women employees' contribution to 8% for first three years of their employment against existing rate of 12% or 10% with no change in employers' contribution.
Railways - Railways Capital Expenditure for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs.1,48,528 crore. A large part of the Capex is devoted to capacity creation. 4000 kilometers of electrified railway network is slated for commissioning during 2017-18. Work on Eastern and Western dedicated Freight Corridors is in full swing. Adequate number of rolling stock - 12000 wagons, 5160 coaches and approximately 700 locomotives are being procured during 2018-19. Over 3600 kms of track renewal is targeted during the current fiscal. Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations is being taken up. Mumbai's local train network will have 90 kilometers of double line tracks at a cost of over Rs.11,000 crore. 150 kilometers of additional suburban network is being planned at a cost of over Rs.40,000 crore, including elevated corridors on some sections. A suburban network of approximately 160 kilometers at an estimated cost of Rs.17,000 crore is being planned to cater to the growth of the Bengaluru metropolis.
Air transport - The Budget proposes to expand the airport capacity more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative - NABH Nirman. Under the Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the Government last year, 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads would be connected.
Relief to Senior Citizens - Exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices are proposed to be increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000. TDS shall not be required to be deducted under section 194A. Benefit will also be available for interest from all fixed deposit schemes and recurring deposit schemes. Hike in deduction limit for health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 under section 80D. Increase in deduction limit for medical expenditure for certain critical illness from Rs. 60,000 (in case of senior citizens) and from Rs 80,000 (in case of very senior citizens) to Rs 1 lakh for all senior citizens, under section 80DDB. Concessions will give extra tax benefit of Rs. 4,000 crore to senior citizen. It is also proposed to extend the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana up to March, 2020. The current investment limit is also proposed to be increased to Rs. 15 lakh from the existing limit of Rs. 7.5 lakh per senior citizen.
Taxation - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed no new changes in income tax rates applicable to individual. The finance minister, however, introduced standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 for the salaried class. Standard deduction allows for a flat deduction from income of a salaried individual towards expenses that would incur in relation to his or her employment. The government has made many positive changes in individual tax rates in past three years
Clearly lots of people have views other than our political leaders. Some write columns in the papers, some have talk shows on TV. Most of us are left with the Internet as a means to express ourselves. On these pages you'll find the commentaries of one citizen, for whatever use you can make of them.
1: the betrayal of a trust :
2:the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family
There is all manner of evil in the world. One of the worst kinds is a government that turns on its own people. Usually we think of such an event as happening all of a piece, appearing suddenly as an aberation. But in the case of the United States of America, this treason has arisen slowly over time, almost unnoticed by those who fell under its power.
One could ask, how can a government commit treason against itself, but the facts are that in the United States, the true government is the People, and if a sitting government turns against its own People here, it commits treason. Further, our elected officials owe allegiance to the Constitution, and by violating its principles, they also commit treason.
Like all such evil it began with small acts. A vote sold here, a lie told there. Soon it was business as usual. Soon it was most votes and many lies, as our government more and more served only wealth, and less and less either the People or the Constitution. With the 2nd Bush administration, the whole thing has become a nightmare.
You have to wonder what ambition, what love of power, what religious ideology, would drive elected officials to betray their own people and the very foundations of our way of life. But betrayal is what we have today, though many still chose not to see it.
Below are put a few of the treasonous acts of our elected officials:
In the '60's, three men of moral substance, two of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King, are assassinated. We are told the assassins acted alone, but the real question is who benefited by the heart being torn from our People.
A President covers up crimes against our People, orders unlawful acts against his opponents, and commits war crimes against the Cambodian Nation.
The Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, awash in unjustified campaign contributions, manage all elections for the benefit of the incumbents. This same Congress routinely abuses the People's retirement program, Social Security, while creating for themselves retirement benefits of an unparalleled nature.
A large bill is about to be passed in the Congress, and unknown to anyone (supposedly), as if by magic, a rider is attached to this bill, benefiting to the tune of $50 Billion dollars the tobacco industry.
An election is stolen from the Party that should have won, and even the highest Court is incapable of either seeking the truth or justice, but instead goes for expediency, while the losing Party itself fails to press the issue, for their leaders still have power, and it is only our People that really suffer the consequences.
A terrible tragedy happens to our people, and soon those with an ambition to dominate the world start to use that horror to convince us to go to war - a war where there is no credible threat to us.
Around the same time, a complicated piece of legislation is offered to the Congress, who passes it unread, only to discover later what an afront it is to our hard won civil liberties. Such legislation was not written in the last minute, but had to already be there, produced by some working group that knew full well its assault on our freedoms. Who wrote this? Who set them to such a task?
In order to maintain power, the leader of the House of Representatives, seeks to redistrict Texas, in order to unseat sitting Congressman, and thus insure his party's majority in the next election.
The ruling elite, supposedly of the Party of Lincoln, hardly hide their deeds anymore, and sell favors almost openly. Power such as they have used and seek is heady stuff, intoxicating in the extreme. Their fans accuse their critics of being unpatriotic. The truth is they daily commit treason, for the Executive Branch no longer honors the Constitution, but instead makes plans to further erode the basic rights of our People.
Our public officials serve now only wealth and their own ambition and love of power.
Whatever other name one wants to call it, I call it Treason.
Democrat, Republic, Green or Citizen
Eventually, and hopefully not too late, people will wake up to the fact that our Republic is rooted in acts of Citizenship, not party politics or affiliation.
Parties fight over power. That's it, nothing else. That's their point, the reason they exist. They fill no other social purpose.
They are controlled from the top down, not from the bottom up. Citizens are at the bottom, politicians are at the top. Politians routinely lie. Politicians routinely pretend to believe in things they don't really believe in, in order to get elected. Politicians keep secrets about what they are doing, because they know the public would not approve. Politicians organize our election laws and voting districts in ways designed to keep themselves in power. Politicians run the Parties, even the Greens (the main Green argument is about participation in the power game, if you read through the hype).
Politicians have all kinds of justifications for what they do. But these rationalizations are just that - they don't change what is right or wrong. Lying is wrong. Pretending is wrong. Keeping secrets is wrong. Keeping yourself in power is wrong. Playing the power game instead of taking care of the Public's Business is wrong.
If you do wrong stuff long enough, you get so used to it that it becomes business as usual. We tolerate it because we are used to it. Thing is, this kind of abuse of power goes on long enough it wrecks something. Marriages and families get wrecked by lying, pretending, secrets and power games. Businesses are wrecked by the same thing. It is also possible to wreck a Country, which is what is happening in the United States now.
We are having a serious social-political train wreck.
In slow motion - which makes it hard to notice.
Its going to get worse before it gets better.
Politicans won't make it better, they have no reason to do that.
Only Citizens, only those who set aside party politics for serious consideration of the real issues of governance are going to pick up the pieces after the train wreck. It may even be possible to nullify some of the potential damages as the train wreck continues - but that is not any kind of certainty.
Politicians are not public servants. They serve themselves and the owners of money. A Republic based on citizenship responsibility died some time ago. However, it can be resurrected.
But only Citizens can do that. The politicians won't do it. Oh, they will say all the right words (lies), make all the right promises, but in the end they will do what they want, for reasons they won't tell us, and at the behest of folks we never know.
And, if you don't see this, then you are not being a responsible citizen.
Neo-fascism hiding as Anti-terrorism
In the name of anti-terrorism, the Justice Department is urging its acquisition of all manner of powers. Even conservatives wince at some of what is requested. Here are some fundamental considerations.
Why, at all, do civil rights have to be sacrificed in order to protect us from terrorists? We can examine this question without even considering the powers the Justice Department is asking for. For some the argument is whether security is more crucial than some liberties. We are told that the Justice Department needs these powers in order to make us safe. But the central question goes deeper - will the sacrifice of these liberties actually make us safer?
First of all can we be made absolutely safe? No. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together realizes this. The War on Terrorism, whether carried out abroad or here at home, will not be won. This War is a political act, done by politicians for political reasons. We had a War on Poverty, and lost. We had a War on Drugs, and lost. These kinds of Wars are not about solving a problem, they are all about appearing to solve a problem.
We always have to keep in mind the first principle of observing our politicians - don't believe what they say. Believe only what they do, and then not the names by which they call what they do.
What is the record so far? The administration is holding several hundred men and children in Cuba, away from recourse to our system of Justice. The administration held several hundred other Arab men, arrested just after 9/11, whose only problem was with their visas, for months, even over a year, with no access to our Justice system. From this last group of men not one single terrorist was discovered, not one.
The administration wants (and has already to a certain degree acquired) the following powers:
The power to name someone as a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism, without any proof or any judicial review of this claim. We are to trust our political leaders to name someone a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism only for the reason of protecting us from terrorists. They want to do this in secret, on the basis of whatever information or sources they define, and with no one ever able to review this decision. Do you suppose they would never be tempted to use this power to claim a political opponent or someone engaged in dissent is a terrorist?
Once they have determined that someone is a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism (remember no proof required), they claim (or want) the right to detain indefinitely, and in secret. That is, should they decide you are a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism, they get to secretly arrest you and hold you as long as they want without anyone knowing why or where. No court is to able to review this situation.
They also want to try terrorists and their supporters in secret, and are seeking to be able to apply the death penalty to such situations.
They also want to be able to take away your citizenship. If they decide you are a terrorist or a supporter of terrrorism, they want to be able to declare you no longer a citizen and deport you (to where is not so clear).
The above, of course, has little to do with the electronic eavesdropping they want to do, or their ability to come into your home without a warrant and copy your hard drive, and make it possible to copy all the keystrokes you make. Nor does this deal with their desire to turn all our neighbors into secret police, able to harrass us for whatever petty grievance they hold.
Now ask yourself, how do these powers, if given, make us safe from terrorists? How does their power to name someone a terrorist or a supporter of terrorists, without judicial review, make us safer? Such a power only makes the judgments, of those who hold the power, safe. How does the power to search and arrest without warrant make us safer? Only those who would use such a power are made safe from any abuse of that power.
All the moves which keep the exercise of power by our govenment free of judicial review do not make us safer from terrorism, they only make it safe for neo-fascists to exercise their diseased ambitions free of the constitutional protections our Founders gave to us, and for which our soldiers have died since the Revolutionary War.
The only beneficiary of these powers is the already powerful.
When Push come to Shove
Things are going to get worse. The powerful don't give up power easily. Especially when they are on a roll, and when their wealthy friends are starting to get desperate.
Lets face it, the economy is getting worse, corporations do not look good, and lots of people don't trust them at all anymore. There is a discontinuity in the world, between the moral sensibilities of most people, and the actions of a few. We are shocked and dismayed when we read over and over again about the selfishness of corporate leaders. Those who investigate this carefully come to understand that there is a cooperation between government and corporate intesests - a cooperation that is all about wealth and power, and in which the little people's (the citizens of the Republic) real needs are secondary if not outright irrelevant.
The rule of wealth is in danger. And when sharks and wolves and pirates are in danger they attack!
I lived through the late '60's and '70's in Berkeley California. Let's recall how our government behaved in those years, keeping in mind that today they not only have more powers, but even more motivation to suppress dissent.
The FBI used agents provocateurs - that is they infiltrated various groups, from the most radical to the least, with spys who pretended to be part of the groups and frequently encouraged the groups into lawbreaking.
The government created an enemies list and targeted individuals for IRS investigations, or if they were political, planted false information about them in the Press. Illegal surveilance was common. The Democratic Party headquarters was broken into, as was a psychiatrist's office (this is stuff we know about, not everything that was done). The CIA tested drugs and simple biowar weapons (LSD and infectious flues) on unsuspecting American citizens.
Dissent was denounced as unpatriotic. Local police agencies where encouraged to do their own spying on the general public. Such illegal surveilence was routinely kept secret. The Press was frequently manipulated, and the government lied over and over again about the War in Vietnam and about its own role in supressing dissent.
Keep in mind that I am speaking in generalities, but if you read the particulars it will raise the hair on the back of your neck and loosen your bowels. The more violence oriented the dissent (the Black Panthers for example), the more vicious the response from the authorities (the assassination of Fred Hampton).
There is a long history of this kind of activity (the labor movement troubles early in the 20th Century). Wealth and power don't show any restraint in maintaining their position, and believe they hold all the cards.
What's going to happen?
Impossible to actually predict. The hope is that it goes away with little strife. Let's consider a small example of the excesses of power that can come into play, and basically how it usually applies itself to individuals in terms of maximum force.
A couple in New England is home schooling their children. The educational authorities want to test the children, and the parents refuse to have the children tested. The authorities then use social services to take away the parental rights of the parents, in order to force the testing that is being refused. Then one day law enforcement officers show up at the house, threatening the parents that they will take away their children, unless they consent to the testing. This is enormous power of the State applied in a situation where no threat exists as regards the children - the only treat is the refusal to conform to the educational authorities desires. Home school your kids, ignore the educational authorities and the law will take away your children?
In this case the parents said, okay arrest us, take away the children and then explain to the public what you are doing. Push comes to shove, and the parents faced down the power of the State (who backed off).
What do you think is going to happen when the State declares you a terrorist, or a supporter of terrorism because you choose to dissent against their policies? Will you be able to stand against this irrational and excessive abuse of power? What if they just threaten? They say, tell us a story about your neighbor, and we'll not apply our power on you. When do you cave and when do you stand up?
It ain't going to be easy.
An Open Letter to the Republican Party
There are those who see our modern political problems in terms of issues. Speak to the issues they say. Or they ask a candidate for higher office: "What are your stands on the issues". But this is a hopelessly superficial view of modern political existence. It is the kind of thinking a fifth grade boy has about sex. Mostly fantasy, with little connection to reality, and certainly no understanding of the real nature of women.
Modern politics isn't about issues. Its about substance and stature and capacities and responding to the real needs of a People. At the very least it requires some sound judgments about human nature.
The way the world is presently ordered is that the United States is in a natural position of a certain limited form of dominance. We didn't so much earn it as having been placed in this position by the Genius of History as a matter of Grace. We ought to be humbled by this - it is an enormous responsibility.
The sad fact is that we are a quite miserable failure at honoring this gift. Our current political leaders are about as incompetent as possible in how they relate to our responsibilities. Like that fifth grade boy, they treat the world in a very childish fashion, as if it was a board game in which the point was to win.
Yet, the Genius of History is anything if not tolerant, so we could approach this situation as if it was a learning experience. We have to stumble around a bit in our state of ignorance and social immaturity first, in order to eventually realize that there might be a better way.
Right now the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, has sold its soul to the Christian Right and to Money, in order to enjoy power. If we look at what is being done in our Nation's Capital, we see Republicans drunk on power. They can do just about anything, so that is what they do, just about anything. But there is no wisdom in what they do, or any coherence. They have power, but no knowledge or competence.
The very least that our higher public servants ought to understand is something about human nature. One is simply not competent for the exercise of such authority if one does not understand such basic realities.
For example, mere ambition does not qualify one for elected office. Nor does the possession of wealth, or the possession of the correct ideology, or knowing the right people. Yet, it is exactly these qualities that are used to judge whether a Party (Republican or Democrat) finds someone a suitable potential candidate. Also of import are: telegenic presence; willingness to be a team player above all; and (most unfortunately) the absence of sufficient personal integrity to stand up to various temptations.
When the Parties offer us a candidate they have not sought out the best qualified people. In fact, it would be quite difficult to even find it anywhere considered what personal character, expertise and experiential skills are needed for highest office. Real competence is that last thing on anyone's mind.
The Nation and the World now suffer from this failure of the Parties to seek out the best and the most qualified to serve the Republic.
George W. Bush is a nice man, but a bit too much of a silver spoon kid, and not quite bright either. However, nothing in his resume qualifies him to be our President, and the Republic Party has only itself to blame for the consequences.
He doesn't lead, but is lead. Power hungry people populate his government. They were faceless in the beginning, but now they are known, and again, other than having a school boy view of world affairs, a rigid moral arrogance, and a lot of money, Rove, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Chaney and company have no business having the power and authority our founders gave to the Executive Branch as a great trust.
The reality is the People don't want them in power. Oh, you can point to polls and say well they do, but the only reason some of the people have been fooled in this regard is because the truth is kept from them. Anyone, and I mean anyone, with two brain cells knows that if the American People knew the truth of what is going on in Washington they would be enraged.
Already Bush and his handlers have divided the Country, and will continue on that path if they remain in power after the 2004 election. Everyone who loves our Country has to stand up and be counted now in the effort to get these children out of office. Yes, the other guys are about as lame, but that is another matter that will have to wait to be addressed after the White House is first given a thorough spring cleaning.
Now someone reading this might say, well could you do better? Or they might say, what could Bush do that is different? These and related questions are quite justified. As to the first question, you should read Re-imagining the Conduct of the Presidency - a Presidential Campaign as an Act of Statecraft and the Presidency as the Art and Craft of Statesmanship. As to the second, that follows.
As noted at the beginning of this essay, the Genius of History has placed before the American People a certain opportunity and responsibility. This was not done by accident, but rather because it is our given nature to be able to rise and meet this task. This, however, will not be easy - nothing worthwhile ever is.
In order to understand what is called for we have first to understand our place in the world, and the world's own state of being. These are not simple matters, but I will try to sketch the basics in the following:
The world has become a single community. This was not true before, but is true now. As Dr King put it, we are now neighbors who must next learn to be brothers. American then has the natural gifts in this, because it is in our own land that the Genius of History has brought all the world's Peoples together in one place. For a long time now we have been struggling with this very problem, and our experience in this regard is more mature than we might think.
Politicians, seeking to divide us and rule, make it appear that we are not together in the way we need. But if you go into the work places and neighborhoods, and see what is happening that doesn't get misrepresented on the 11 O'clock News, you see people actually getting along. We get along more than we don't, but that isn't News, so it doesn't get reported. Its only News when it doesn't work. But if you want the truth, watch Oprah. It isn't easy, but it is our nature - we are the People of Peoples after all - "...and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea".
This being who we are, then we are qualified to help the world take the needed steps in the direction of moving from mere neighbors to brother and sisterhood. The world doesn't need our domination, but our example. That's what real leaders do, they lead by example.
So what example have Bush and company given us - live in the thrall of great wealth, destroy the civil liberties of your own people to maintain power (rule through fear), invade other countries and create chaos while destroying the struggling to emerge world order (disregard long standing treaties, undercut the United Nations, don't pay any attention to our natural allies or to world opinion).
We can do a lot better, and the Republican Party needs to play a role. The Party of Lincoln needs to reclaim its true nature as sound Conservatives, and maintainers of tradition. It has to free itself from its bondage to wealth, and its domination by its own Right Wing.
If Bush is not opposed in the 2004 election within his own Party, that failure will haunt us all.
The President as Figurehead* (or what happens when the President is substantially less smart than his advisors)
*a head or chief in name only
George W. Bush seems like a nice guy. Many people feel a kinship with him because of this, and for some the fact that he is not an egghead seems to be a plus. He is reported to have said at a Yale Commencement, something on the order of: "congratulations to all you honor students, and also congratulations to all you C students, because you too can become president"
We do have the Ideal that anyone can be President, and I wouldn't want us to set that aside. But if we are going to be taken (and I do mean taken) by small groups of people putting forward a figurehead candidate, then we do need to know the truth about those behind the figurehead. Otherwise we vote for and honor not the true holder of executive power, but simply the false mask that power has chosen to wear.
It is a worthwhile question to ask whether this aptly describes the George W. Bush presidency. Not only this, we need some kind of way to assess such a situation - to discover it, and understand how it works.
Obviously the worst case senario is one where the President is basically a vain fool, who enjoys more the trappings and perks of office, works short hours, and leaves to his presumed underlings the discussion and elaboration of the fundamentals of foreign and domestic policy. They in turn (the underlings) would then (because of their presumed superior intellect) manipulate this fool through his vanity and appetites, telling him what he wants to hear, and overcoming his weaker intellect in clever ways. He becomes their tool, and we, the Citizens, would have no idea whom to hold really responsible, given that none of the underlings is an actually elected official.
While some would find such an idea improbable in our democratic Republic, it clearly has more than once been the case in the history of humanity. Emperors, Kings and Queens, and other Chiefs of State, have frequently been mere figureheads and the power behind the throne held by other, less accountable, hands.
We should also confess that this is quite possible in the United States, given the nature of media, the role of money in elections, and the way the actually workings of the White House are hidden from examination. Think about it. Politicians and their campaign operatives practice a certain art. They are professionals at dissembling, at lying, at hiding the truth, at creating false images, and inventing new ways of misdirection.
Political campaigns are not about the truth at all, or even the issues - they are about manipulating the public mind.
Elected officials never stop campaigning. Everyone knows this. Each decision is judged primarily for its political (re-election potential) consequences. Nothing is done because it is the right thing to do in spite of any risks taken by the politician. All is done in order to obtain and maintain power.
Now some might argue - well, what about all the good stuff that is done? Okay, so what. Most of what is done is done for the holders of money, who have paid for it by their campaign contributions. Any good done for the general welfare is mostly incidental to doing it for the wealthy. Yes, we have a defense department, but we also have defense industries (and don't forget Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex).
We have an Interior Department, but it serves (especially under Republican administrations) the needs of commerce, not the needs of the enviroment or ordinary people. Our government is not the steward of America's great natural wealth, but rather it's wholesaler. The needs of wealth come first, and benefits to the taxpayers are incidental.
As for the Democrats, our national sovereignty was sold by Clinton during the '90's in a series of trade agreements that primarily served the needs of international wealth at the expense of working people the world over.
So just don't assume that governance by politicians has anything to do anymore with the American People.
Manipulation of image and truth then being the main skill of elected officials and their operatives, it should not be doubted that a figurehead president is a serious (and quite dangerous) possibility. Read this link about Karl Rove and Bush to start to get a picture of the truth here.
The best that I can do here is point the reader in the direction of examining this question. If you want, there is all manner of detail that can be discovered that shows, quite tragically for the United States of America, how it is that we have elected a pleasing mask, without sufficient wit and mind to be able to see the ill conceived intentions of his puppeteers.