India set to become water scarce by 2025: report

Supreme Court official quits over Memon hearing

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2. Supreme Court official quits over Memon hearing

Anup Surendranath, Deputy Registrar (Research) in the Supreme Court, resigned on Saturday, saying what happened in the Supreme Court during the hearing of the petitions of Yakub Memon, leading to his execution on July 30, “must count amongst the darkest hours for the Supreme Court of India”.


1.Tribal leaders oppose ST status for Dhangars

Tribal leaders and the Dhangar (shepherd) community in Maharashtra are locked in a fight over the latter’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.The Dhangar community is currently included in the OBC category in the State.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), prior to the Assembly elections, had promised to fulfil the community’s demand for inclusion in the ST category. However, nine months into assuming power, the BJP has not acted on the demand and is now coming under fire from the community which stood behind the party and its allies during the elections.

Meanwhile, tribal leaders of the State, cutting across party lines have written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, reminding him that inclusion of Dhangars in the ST category would go against the Constitution.

“Dhangar is a caste and not a tribe. Some of their leaders are falsely claiming that Dhangad tribe and Dhangar are similar. This claim has not been proved since Independence,” said advocate K.C. Padvi, also a Congress MLA from Nandurbar district, in a letter to the Chief Minister. The letter is signed by all tribal MLAs belonging to the BJP, the Congress, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the CPI(M).

Dhangar representatives do not buy the argument. “A small mistake in nomenclature has deprived us of benefits given to the STs. We supported the BJP as it promised to fulfil our demand. We are confident that it will do it,” said Mahadev Janakr, a Dhangar leader and MLC from Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, an ally of the BJP.

Crucial votes

While, Dhangars and tribals are almost equal in terms of voters, with each having around 10% population, the geographical distribution of the former gives them an advantage.

2.Death toll in WB floods crosses 50:Cyclone KOMEN

The regional weather office said Cyclone Komen, which had earlier turned into a deep depression, had weakened into a low-pressure system and had gone to Jharkhand. “We are expecting partly cloudy skies and isolated rain in a few places. But overall there is no forecast of heavy rain,” senior meteorologist D. Pradhan said.

Kolkata received 23.1 mm of rain in the 24 hours to 5.30 p.m. on Sunday.

The depression formed over Jharkhand and adjoining Gangetic West Bengal moved west-southwestwards and was centred on Gangetic West Bengal and adjoining Jharkhand, about 70 km east-northeast of Ranchi this morning.

As a result, the weather may deteriorate over the next few days and rain would occur at most places over Gangetic West Bengal during the next 24 hours, an official release said.

3.Land Bill: govt. may take ordinance route again

The contentious Land acquisition Bill could be heading for the ordinance route for the fourth time in eight months as the Joint Committee on Parliament scrutinising the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, is scheduled to seek more time to finalise its report.

4. India to host meeting of 14 Pacific island nations [VIP]

After trying to keep pace with China in relations with Africa and Central Asia, India is now trying to match it neighbour’s growing footprint in the South Pacific.

Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC):

On August 21, India will host the heads of 14 island nations at the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC), in what is seen as a first step towards greater engagement with the region, which is important from an economic and geostrategic standpoint.

The upcoming summit in Jaipur is expected to pave the way for agreements in agriculture, food processing, fisheries, solar energy, e-networks for coordination in telemedicine and tele-education, space cooperation and climate change, all of which were mentioned as areas of potential cooperation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Fiji in 2014.

Mr. Modi had then proposed that FIPIC summits be held regularly. He had set the ball rolling for reinforcing ties with the island nations by announcing visa on arrival for their nationals, funds for small business, line of credit for a co-generation power plant for Fiji, and a special adaptation fund for technical assistance and capacity building for countering global warming.

China’s strong foothold

Even as New Delhi has begun charting out a plan for forging bilateral and regional ties with these island nations, China has significantly expanded its foothold in the region, from increasing business and trade ties to setting up diplomatic missions in each of these countries.

In its report “The geopolitics of Chinese aid: mapping Beijing’s funding in the Pacific”, the Lowy Institute of International Policy says China is now the largest bilateral donor in Fiji and the second largest in the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga. The report also says that between 2006 and 2013, China provided $333 million in bilateral aid to Fiji, even more than Australia ($252 million) and almost three times that of Japan ($117 million), while in Samoa and Tonga, the sum of Chinese aid is second only to Australia’s. China’s foray into the South Pacific, which began as a move to offset Taiwan’s interests in the region, is becoming a cause for concern for India, which now wants to have economic and strategic engagements with the 14 island nations.

T.P. Sreenivasan, a former diplomat who served as the head of Mission in Fiji and seven other South Pacific Island States between 1986 and 1989, told The Hindu that India’s strong relations with Fiji, which has considerable influence in the region, was a “strong point” which could help counter the growing Chinese influence. “Most of the economies in the region are based on agriculture, fisheries and small-scale industries and India’s capacity in these sectors is even better than Europe and China; it can cultivate relations with the island nations based on its technology. Even small investments will make a big impact in these regions; many of these countries send their nationals to India for education though programmes sponsored by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations; so India should make a beginning,” he said. He said relations with Fiji had improved in India’s favour in the past decade and not only those of Indian origin but also Fijians were friendly towards Indians, which worked to New Delhi’s “advantage”.

5.Lodha panel seeks five-month extension

The Justice R.M. Lodha Committee, investigating the 2013 IPL betting controversy, has urged the Supreme Court for a five-month extension to recommend reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and complete its investigation into the alleged involvement of IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee, in a judgment on “punish first and debate later, has been given six months to complete its mandate.

6. India foils U.K. firm’s bid to patent Ayurvedic mix

India has once again foiled an attempt by a major European major dermaceutical company to take patent on a medicinal composition containing turmeric, pine bark and green tea for treating hair loss. “India once again has been successful in protecting its traditional knowledge by preventing an attempt made by Europe’s leading dermaceutical laboratory — Pangaea Laboratories Limited, to take patent on a medicinal composition containing turmeric, pine bark and green tea for treating hair loss,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology said.

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library located the patent application filed at European Patent Office by Pangaea Laboratories Limited and filed pre-grant opposition along with prior-art evidences from TKDL, proving that turmeric, pine bark and green tea, are being used for treating hair loss, since long in Ayurveda and Unani. — PTI

7. Challenges emerge within Taliban to Mansour’s leadership

The brother of late Taliban leader Mullah Omar on Sunday joined a growing challenge to the extremist group’s newly appointed leader, even as it offered a purported statement of support from Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Mullah Abdul Manan told AP that new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was “selected” by a small clique of his own supporters. That comes after Mullah Omar’s son, Yacoub, also warned Mansoor didn’t have the support of the wider Taliban.

8. Obama to unveil strongest climate plan in U.S. history

In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Barack Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry.

The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources.

As the President came to see the fight against climate change as central to his legacy, as important as the Affordable Care Act, he moved to strengthen the energy proposals, advisers said. The health law became the dominant political issue of the 2010 congressional elections and faced dozens of legislative assaults before surviving two Supreme Court challenges largely intact.

“Climate change is not a problem for another generation, not anymore,” Obama said in a video prepared for posting on Facebook at midnight Saturday. He called the new rules “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.”

The most aggressive of the regulations requires the nation’s power plants to cut emissions 32 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, an increase from the 30 per cent target proposed in the draft regulation.

That new rule also demands that power plants use more renewable energy like wind and solar power. While the proposed rule would have allowed states to lower emissions by transitioning from plants fired by coal to plants fired by natural gas — which produces about half the carbon pollution of coal — the final rule is intended to push electric utilities to invest more quickly in renewable sources, raising to 28 per cent from 22 per cent the share of generating capacity that would come from such sources. — New York Times News Service

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