National Current Affairs
July 2011 National Affairs
Category : National Current Affairs
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July 2011

The Union Cabinet of India on 28 July 2011 approved the proposal for the enactment of a new legislation in the form of the Lokpal Bill, 2011. The Bill provides for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and 8 members. Half of the members shall be judicial members. The Chairperson would be from the judiciary and only a serving or retired Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court would be eligible for being appointed as Chairperson. It will have its own Investigation Wing and Prosecution Wing with such officers and staff as are necessary to carry out its functions. The Lokpal shall inquire into allegations of corruption made in respect of Prime Minister, after he has demitted office; a Minister of the Union; a Member of Parliament; any Group `A` officer or equivalent; Chairperson or member or officer equivalent to Group `A` in any body/ Board/ corporation/ authority/ company/ society/ trust/ autonomous body established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly financed or controlled by the Central Government; However, the organisations created for religious purposes and receiving public donations would be outside the purview of Lokpal. 

The President of India, Pratibha Patil released a commemorative postage stamp on Vitthal Sakharam Page. The postage stamp was released in recognition of Page’s illustrious contribution in the field of social service, culture, education & literature, economics, philosophy etc. His integrated Area Development Scheme, popularly known as Page Scheme for the integrated development of village areas and the amelioration of small landholders, traditional artisans and agricultural labourers was widely recognized in the field of social service. His persuasion to the Maharashtra Government to implement Employment Guarantee Scheme on a pilot basis in 1969 finally led to enactment of Employment Guarantee Act in the Maharashtra in 1977. 

 The Supreme Court of India stated in its ruling that water allocated by a state for a particular region is not a matter of judicial review. A Supreme Court bench including Justice Markandey Katju and Justice CK Prasad gave the ruling. The bench gave the ruling while dismissing a plea for a direction for allocation of adequate water in Kachchh district in Gujarat. The Kachchh Jal Sankat Nivara had filed the petition asking for release of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam by the State government to the district. 

According to statistics for 2010 released by the Union tourism ministry, Andhra Pradesh gained the position of the most visited destination in the country recording 155.8 million domestic tourists. Lord Venkateswara temple of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh attracts more domestic tourists than any other spot in the country. In terms of number of tourists Andhra Pradesh out did Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which have Taj Mahal and Ajanta Ellora, respectively. Some 740 million tourists visited various destinations in the country in 2010 which is 10.7% more compared to the number of tourists in 2009. The number of domestic tourist visits to the states and Union Territories was 669 million in 2009 and 563 million in 2008. The growth in domestic tourist visits in 2010 was about 11% in comparison with 2009. 

 BJP leader and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi was elected Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST (Goods and Services Tax) on 18 July 2011. Modi was elected in place of the former West Bengal Finance Minister, Asim Dasgupta. 

A tripartite agreement was signed between the Centre, West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha(GJM) at Pintail village near Siliguri on 18 July 2011 paving the way for the setting up of the Gorkhal and Territorial Administration( GTA), an elected body for the Darjeeling hills. The new set-up will have 50 members; 45 of them will be elected and the rest nominated. A Bill for this will be moved in the state assembly and it will be sent to the President for assent. Elections to the new body would be held within six months 
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad launched a campaign against diabetes and hypertension in slums of Delhi n 19 July 2011. The mass screening programme will cover slum clusters in Delhi to detect people affected with diabetes and hypertension. The ministry decided to screen around five crore people before September 2011. The UN General Assembly will hold a special session to discuss means to control these diseases.The screening will be conducted for all pregnant women irrespective of their age and for all people who are above the age of 30 years. 
The Supreme Court of India held in its recent judgment that the prohibition imposed by the centre on non-iodised salt for human consumption is unconstitutional. The court however said that the ban will continue for six months. A bench of Supreme Court held that Rule 44-I of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1995 was unconstitutional. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was intended to ban the use of adulterated and misbranded products. The government had made the consumption of only iodised salt mandatory on the basis that deficiency of iodine caused a lot of disorders like dwarfism, squint eye, lower IQ and mental retardation. 
3 Serial bomb explosions occurred in financial capital Mumbai on July 14 - the first explosion in the Zaveri Bazaar, second in the Opera House business district and third blast in Dadar district. The explosions struck in Mumbai metropolis two days after the fifth anniversary of the serial train blasts had left 186 dead and 800 injured.
The Ministry Of Rural Development entered into an agreement with the World Bank for soft loan worth US$1 billion (approximately Rs. 4,600 crores) to implement the National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) at Krishi Bhawa, New Delhi. The distribution of project funds among the states would be based on the relative share of rural BPL population in the total states. NRLP will invest intensively in support implementation of NRLM in 100 districts and 400 blocks of 12 high poverty states (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu), accounting for 85 percent of the rural poor in the country.
The Supreme Court on 4 July appointed a high-level Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former apex court judge B.P. Jeevan Reddy to monitor the investigation and the steps being taken to bring back black money stashed away in foreign banks. Besides Justice Reddy, who will be the chairman of the SIT, the apex court also appointed its former judge, Justice M.B. Shah as the vice-chairman of the panel. A bench comprising Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar directed that the High-Level Committee (HLC) constituted by the government to look into the issue of black money would “forthwith” be a part of the SIT.
The stock-taking by a panel of experts at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Kerela catapulted the shrine to the country’s richest. According to the Supreme Court appointed seven members panel that began its findings on 30 June 2011, the value of recoveries at the temple touched close to Rs 1 lakh crore, more than Kerala public debt of Rs 70969 crore. There was found a three-and-a-half ft tall idol of Lord Vishnu studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, an 18-ft-long ornament used to adorn the deity. The value is likely to further rise with the opening of another secret vault. There were coins marked 1772 indicating they were from the era of former Travancore ruler Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma. The Supreme Court-appointed committee however refused to confirm reports about the value of the recoveries. The committee mentioned that the wealth belonged to the temple and it will be preserved where it was found.
Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran on 7 July 2011 resigned from the Union Cabinet. He tendered his resignation following allegations by businessman C Sivasankaran that he misused his position as telecom minister from 2004 to 2007 and sought favours for granting a telecom license. Sivasankaran told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that he was forced to sell his telecom business. CBI had submitted a 71-page status report on the scam probe in the Supreme Court which mentioned this allegation by Sivasankaran. Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal, who is looking at the legal aspects of the 2G scam, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apprise him about the facts of the case.
The Supreme Court on 5 July 2011 lifted the stay on the proceedings against Justice P.D. Dinakaran observing that Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran was deploying tactics to stall the impeachment proceedings initiated against him. The apex court asked the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Judges Inquiry Committee to reconstitute the panel entrusted with the task of probing into the allegations against the judge. The Supreme Court upheld the framing of fourteen charges of alleged corruption and misconduct against Sikkim high court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran by a three-member inquiry committee in the impeachment proceedings. Justice Dinakaran is facing charges of corruption and of having wealth disproportionate to his known source of income.
The Union Cabinet of India in its meeting on 7 July 2011 decided to increase the development funds allocated to Members of Parliament under Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme from the existing 2 crore to 5 crore rupees from the financial year 2011-12. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The MPLAD scheme was launched in 1993-94. The project funded includes creation of infrastructure to provide education, public health, drinking water, sanitation and roads. It should be noted that under MPLAD scheme, funds are allocated to MPs of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Supreme Court on 5 July 2011 declared Salwa Judum as illegal and unconstitutional. The court ordered the immediate disarming of tribal youths who are deployed as Special Police Officers- either as Koya Commandos, Salwa Judum or any other force- in the fight against the Maoist insurgency. The court gave the ruling in response to writ petition filed by social anthropologist Nandini Sundar and others. The bench held that the policy of the Chhattisgarh state violated the rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of those who were employed as SPOs and used in counter-insurgency measures against Naxalites as well as of citizens living in the concerned areas.
The Union Cabinet`s Committee on Economic Affairs has decided to double the honorarium for anganwadi workers and helpers under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme.Now the Anganwadi workers (AWWs) of regular anaganwadi centres will get 3000 rupees a month. Earlier they got 1500 rupees. Angadwadi helpers (AWHs) and Anganwadi workers of mini anganwadi centres will get now 1500 rupees as against 750 rupees. The honorarium will be effective from 1 April 2011.According to an estimate, there are a total of 11.71 lakh AWWs including workers in mini-AWCs and 10.97 lakh AWHs in India as on 31 December 2010.The Integrated Child Development Services scheme is a nationwide programme for early childhood care and development. It targets pregnant mothers and children below the age of six.