Current Affairs in Short: 27 March 2019
The University Grants Commission has prohibited imparting distance degree programmes in agriculture. The decision was taken by the higher education regulator at its last meeting on the ground that a degree programme in agriculture is technical in nature as it requires practicals or laboratory courses.
UGC prohibits imparting distance degree programmes in agriculture
• The University Grants Commission (UGC) has prohibited imparting distance degree programmes in agriculture.
• The decision was taken by the higher education regulator at its last meeting on the ground that a degree programme in agriculture is technical in nature as it requires practicals or laboratory courses. The Union agriculture ministry had referred the matter to the commission.
• As per UGC Open and Distance Learning Regulations, 2017, professional programmes such as medicine, engineering, and architecture, are not permitted to be offered in distance mode.
• To protect the interest of the students already enrolled to the agriculture degree programme, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has been requested for hand-holding of such institutions. However, no new enrolments will be permitted from the 2019 academic session.
All eight members of Lokpal take oath of office
• All eight members of the Lokpal were administered the oath of office on March 27, 2019. The oath was administered by the Chairperson of the anti corruption ombudsman, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose.
• Besides Chairperson, the President Ram Nath Kovind had appointed four Judicial members and four Non-Judicial members as Lokpal.
• Former Chief Justices - Dilip B. Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, and Abhilasha Kumari and sitting Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court Ajay Kumar Tripathi are the judicial members who took the oath.
• The non-judicial members include former first woman Chief of Sashastra Seema Bal Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, former IRS officer Mahender Singh and ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam.
EC appoints special expenditure observers in six states
• The Election Commission has appointed special expenditure observers for six states in view of the forthcoming elections. These states include Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Nagaland and Telangana.
• The poll body appointed former member of CBDT, Gopal Mukherjee as special expenditure observer for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana while former Director General I-T(Investigation), D D Goel has been deployed in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
• The special observers will supervise and monitor the work being done by the electoral machinery. They will ensure that stringent and effective enforcement action is undertaken based on intelligence inputs and complaints received through C-Vigil app and voter helpline.
Bank branches dealing with government business to remain open this Sunday: RBI
• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed banks to keep open their branches dealing with government business on the last day of the financial year, March 31, 2019, a Sunday.
• The Union Government has advised that all pay and account offices will remain open on March 31, 2019 (Sunday) to facilitate government receipt and payment transactions.
• Accordingly, all agency banks have been advised to keep all their branches dealing with government business open on the day.
• All electronic transactions, including RTGS and NEFT, will continue for the extended time on March 30 and March 31, 2019 for which RBI will issue necessary instructions.
Facebook sets up 24x7 response team for elections
• Facebook is putting in place a response team for India’s general elections for monitoring and tracking of objectionable content in real time round the clock.
• The election response team will be based in Singapore and will work closely with the Election Commission of India.
• This is extremely unusual for a product team to have any part of their team dedicated to a specific country, let alone a specific event in a country.
• Besides setting up the product team, which has been working on the Indian elections for the past one year, many of Facebook's tools and products have been revamped and localised, keeping the Indian elections in mind.
• The ‘election operation centres’ are aimed at centralising all election-linked issues so as to reduce the time it takes to process and take down objectionable content.
India, Bangladesh to start cruise service
• India and Bangladesh will start a cruise service from March 29, 2019 that would take passengers through the Sunderbans to Dhaka.
• The move aims to strengthen inland waterway routes between the two countries.
• Other than road and rail, India and Bangladesh also have a very strong power connectivity through waterways.
• As movement of goods starts using inland waterways, so goods from India can go in the cheapest possible form up to Narayanganj and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
Punjab & Haryana High Court bars mentioning of caste in FIRs
• The Punjab and Haryana High Court has barred the mentioning of caste in the FIRs.
• The court on March 26, 2019 directed its judicial officers and the governments of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, not mention the caste of the accused, victims or witnesses in any of the proceedings before it.
• The division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Kuldip Singh ruled that mentioning of caste or status separately in the criminal proceedings is a colonial legacy and requires to be stopped forthwith.
• The bench asserted that the right to dignity was a fundamental and basic human right. The bench added division of society into sections cannot be determined by birth as all are born equal.
• The ruling came in a murder case where the Haryana Police mentioned during the course of investigation the caste of the accused, witnesses and the victims.