Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 30 April 2023

World’s first liquid Nano DAP

GS Paper - 3 (Agriculture)

Union home and cooperation minister Amit Shah launched the world’s first liquid Nano DAP - a novel nano fertiliser containing nitrogen and phosphorus - whose use will not only reduce India’s fertiliser import dependence but also take the country towards sustainable farming and increase the farmers’ income by bringing down input cost.

More about Nano DAP

  1. Nano DAP is the second such variant of fertiliser. Nano Urea was the first one in this series, launched in February, 2021.
  2. One bottle of 500 ml of Nano DAP can replace a 50 kg bag of traditional DAP (di-ammonium phosphate).
  3. The manufacturing units of Nano DAP have been established in Kalol, Gujarat and Paradeep, Odisha by IFFCO which has patents of both the Nano variant of liquid fertilisers.
  4. The uses of liquid DAP through spraying on the plant will help increase both the quality and quantity of production.
  5. It will also help in conserving the soil as farmers by using liquid DAP and liquid Urea can increase the number of earthworms in their land and thus move towards natural farming without reducing production and income.
  6. This will contribute a lot in restoring the fertility of land and will reduce the threat to the health of crores of Indians caused by the chemical fertilizers.


National Health Account of India’s healthcare

GS Paper -2 (Social Sector)

National Health Account Estimates 2019-20 shows that there has been a consistent increase in government spendingcoupled with declining out-of-pocket expenditure by people on their healthcare needs.

More about the news:

  • As per the report, the government spent 1.35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare during the year, bouncing back from a slight drop seen in 2018-19.
  • The health account estimates describe the country’s total expenditure on healthcare, whether by the government, private sector, NGOs, or individuals.

Main findings of the report:

  • The government spending on healthcare has been on the rise. The money spent by the government on healthcare as a percentage of GDP has increased from 1.13% in FY 2015 to 1.35% in FY 2020. Although the number is still far from the target of 2.5% investment in healthcare by 2025.
  • Money spent by people from their own pockets on healthcare has been going down. The report shows that 47.1% of the total spending on healthcare in FY2020 came directly out of people’s pockets. This is actually a 15.5 percentage point drop from 62.6% of the spend coming out-of-pocket in FY 2015.
  • A major chunk of the government’s health spend was in the primary sector. Out of the total spending by the government on healthcare in FY 2020, 55.9% went to primary care, 29.6% went to secondary care, and 6.4% went to tertiary care.
  • There has been a consistent increase in social security expenditure by the government, which increased from 5.7% of the total spending on health in FY 2015 to 9.3% in FY 2020.

Health spending by states:

  • There was a need for the states to increase their contribution towards healthcare and achieve the target set by the National Health Policy 2017, which says that 8% of states’ budget should go towards healthcare.
  • Presently, except for one or two states, the target of 8% hasn’t been achieved. Most stand at 4.5% to 5% of their budget.
  • Only two big states and three of the smaller ones have crossed the 8% target in FY 2020 – Delhi (contributing 18.7% of its total spending on health), Kerala (8%), Puducherry (10.5%), Meghalaya (8.9%), and Goa (8.7%).


FIR in sexual harassment cases

GS Paper -2 (Polity)

The Supreme Court issued notice to Delhi Police on a petition filed by seven wrestlers seeking an FIR against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP, on allegations of sexual harassment.

More about the news:

Law about registration of an FIR once a sexual harassment complaint is received by the police:

  • Sections pertaining to sexual harassment and sexual assault of the Indian Penal Code fall within the category of cognizable offences.
  • Section 154 (1), of the Code of Criminal Procedure enables the police to register an FIR after information is received about a cognizable offence. A cognizable offence/case is one in which a police officer may make an arrest without a warrant.
  • The registration of an FIR is the first step towards the probe. It sets into motion the investigation and the police may seek custodial interrogation of the accused, file a chargesheet based on the evidence, or file a closure report if the probe reveals no merit in the allegations made in the FIR.
  • The law also has provision for the registration of a ‘Zero FIR’, where even if the alleged offence has not been committed within the jurisdiction of the police station approached, the police can file an FIR and transfer it to the police station concerned.   

Failure to register an FIR an offence:

  • The Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law, popularly known as the Justice J S Verma Committee, formed in the aftermath of the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case, recommended insertion of a section where if an officer-in-charge of a police station refuses ‘or without reasonable cause’ fails to record information related to a cognizable offence, he shall be punished.
  • Based on the committee’s recommendation, section 166A was inserted in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The section states that if a public servant knowingly disobeys any direction of law including failing to record any information given to him in relation to a cognizable offence, rigorous imprisonment for a term of minimum six months and maximum two years can be given, and he shall also be liable to paying a fine.
  • Although this includes all cognizable offences, the provision particularly mentions certain sections of the IPC, including those related to sexual harassment, rape, and gangrape.
  • These sections were specifically added to enhance safeguards to women, noting the increase in crimes against women.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been issuing advisories on mandatory action by police in cases of crimes against women. On October 9, 2020, the MHA reissued an advisory stating the need to compulsorily register an FIR in cases of cognizable offences under section 154 (1) of the CrPc.

FIR provisions under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act:

  • The POCSO Act mandates reporting of sexual offences against children; Section 19 states that any person who has an apprehension that an offence under POCSO Act has been committed shall provide such information to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police.
  • It also requires the registration of an FIR, ascribing information received with an entry number and a record in writing.
  • Section 21, of the Act, even states that any failure to report the commission of an offence or failure to record such an offence shall be punished with imprisonment extending to six months or a fine or both.

Remedies if police refuse to file an FIR:

  • Section 154 (3) says that a person who has been aggrieved after a police in-charge refused to file an FIR can send the information to the Superintendent of Police.
  • The SP, after verification that the information discloses the commission of an offence, shall either investigate the case herself or direct for a probe by any police officer subordinate to her.
  • The Supreme Court also said that a remedy under section 156 of the CrPC was available. If a person is aggrieved by the police’s refusal to file an FIR, a complaint can be made before a magistrate under section 156 (3).
  • The magistrate court can then order registration of a case at the police station. The complaint before the magistrate would be treated as an FIR and the police can initiate its investigation.

Can a preliminary inquiry be conducted before registration of an FIR?

  • In 2013, Under Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of UP and ors, the main issue before the Supreme Court is to decide, whether the police officer is bound to file an FIR for information received of a cognizable offence or does the officer have the power to conduct a ‘preliminary inquiry’ to test the veracity of the information before registering an FIR.
  • The Constitution bench concluded that registration of an FIR under section 154 CrPC is mandatory if information of a cognizable offence is received, other considerations are not relevant at the stage of registration of FIR.


H-1B visa lottery system fraud: USCIS

GS Paper -2 (International Relations)

federal agency said the computerised drawing of lots devised to select successful H-1B applicants every year has resulted in abuse of the system and a sharp increase in fraudulent efforts.

More about the news:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said, based on evidence from the Financial Year 2023 and Financial Year 2024 H-1B cap seasons.
  • It has already undertaken extensive fraud investigations, denied and revoked petitions, it is in the process of initiating law enforcement referrals for criminal prosecution.
  • The H-1B programme is an essential part of US immigration system and our economy, and USCIS is committed to implementing the law and helping meet the ever-changing needs of the US labour market.
  • Work is under progress for H-1B modernisation rule that will propose, among other improvements, bolstering the H-1B registration process to reduce the possibility of misuse and fraud in the H-1B registration system.
  • USCIS said during the registration period for the FY 2024 H-1B cap, there is a significant increase in the number of registrations submitted compared to prior years.
  • It said there were 780,884 applications for H-1B visas in this year’s computer-generated lottery, against 4, 83,927 in 2023 and 3, 01,447 in 2022 and 2, 74,237 in 2021.
  • The federal agency warned that if the information provided by an applicant or a company was not correct, it will find the registration to not be properly submitted and the prospective petitioner would not be eligible to file a petition based on that registration.
  • The USCIS may deny a petition, or revoke a petition approval, based on a registration that contained a false attestation and was therefore not properly submitted.
  • USCIS may also refer the individual or entity who submitted a false attestation to appropriate federal law enforcement agencies for investigation and further action, as appropriate.

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