1. NHRC issues notice to Centre, Punjab government over use of pesticides
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Centre and Punjab Government over the reported high incidence of serious diseases in the Malwa region of the state due to excessive use of pesticides and insecticides.
Taking Suo Motu cognizance of a media report, the Commission asked Union Health Secretary and State Chief Secretary to submit a detailed report within six weeks. They have also been asked to inform about the steps taken, after 2012, when the Commission had disposed the matter on the assurance given by the State Government for an affirmative and prompt action to deal with the menace
NHRC stated that it seems that even after the lapse of a period of more than seven years, things have not moved and the people residing in the region are still suffering from various diseases including cancer, liver failure, renal failure and birth defects.
2. 30 % of young people in conflict or disaster-stricken countries are illiterate: UNICEF
According to a new study by UNICEF, nearly 30 percent of young people aged between 15 and 24 years in countries affected by conflict and disaster are illiterate, almost triple the global rate.
The children's agency stated that among these 59 million young people, girls are at the biggest disadvantage when it comes to getting an education. It said that the four impoverished African countries with a long history of instability had the highest rates of young people unable to read or write. Niger with 76 per cent illiteracy among young people tops the list followed by Chad with 69 percent, South Sudan with 68 percent and the Central African Republic with 64 percent.
According to UNICEF's New Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, these numbers are a stark reminder of the tragic impact that crises have on children's education, their futures, and the stability and growth of their economies and societies.
3. India ranks 42nd in 2017 Global Democracy Index
India has been ranked 42nd among 165 independent states on the annual 2017 Global Democracy Index (GDI) released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a UK-based company.
India’s rank has slipped from 32nd in 2016 GDI and its overall score dropped 0.58 points from 7.81 to 7.23. Moreover, India was classified India as a flawed democracy in 2017 GDI.
The GDI index ranks 165 independent states and 2 territories on basis of 60 indicators grouped in five different categories such as electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
It categories countries into four broad categories including full democracy, flawed democracy, the hybrid regime and authoritarian regime based on their score on a scale from 0 to 10.
4. India, Pakistan extend Thar Link Express for 3 years
India and Pakistan on January 30, 2018 extended their agreement on Thar Link Express, the second solitary rail service between the two nations, for three more years.
The extension comes at a time tension prevailed along the border between the two countries in Jammu and Kashmir. The agreement to link the two countries by rail was signed in 2006 to facilitate people-to-people contact. The agreement was set to expire in March 2018, but has now been extended to January 31, 2021.
The two sides currently have only two trans-border trains. The Samjhauta Express operates on the Delhi-Lahore route through the Attari-Wagah border crossing and carries both passengers and freight. The Thar Express links Jodhpur and Karachi through the Munabao-Khokhrapar border crossing and carries only passengers.
5. Neelam Kapoor appointed as Director General of Sports Authority of India
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed senior bureaucrat Neelam Kapoor as Director General (DG) of the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The committee was headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Neelam Kapoor is a 1982 batch officer of the Indian Information Service (IIS). At present, she is Principal Director General of the Directorate of Field Publicity. She previously served as the Principal Director General of Press Information Bureau (PIB) in UPA Government headed by then PM Manmohan Singh.