1. NLU report notes 27 per cent drop in award of death penalty in 2017
According to a report published by the National Law University (NLU), 2017 saw a significant drop, nearly 27 per cent, in the awarding of the death penalty by sessions courts but there was an increase in the number of convicts sent to gallows for murders involving sexual violence.
The report titled 'Death Penalty in India, Annual Statistics for the year 2017' said that in 2016, 149 persons were sentenced to death, while only 109 convicts were awarded capital punishment in 2017. Out of the 109 death punishments, the high courts commuted 53 cases and acquitted 35 persons.
However, the report also showed an increase in the number of convicts sent to gallows for murders involving sexual violence in the year 2017. It said that 43 convicts were awarded death for murders involving sexual violence in 2017, which is 19 more than the year before.
Among the states, Maharashtra tops the list with 67 prisoners on death row. The state had 47 prisoners with capital punishment in 2016. However, the number of prisoners with death sentence in Karnataka reduced from 27 in 2016 to 12 in 2017, owing to various commutations and acquittals by the high court.
2. China plans to set up its first lab to treat ocean oil spill
China's Ministry of Transport is planning to establish a laboratory specialised in treating oil spills at sea, the first of its kind in the country.
The nation has been spending around 200 million yuan a year on research for emergency treatment of oil spills but the technological expertise has not been widely applied because of lack of such a lab.
The laboratory is planned to come up in the northern port city of Tianjin, off the Bohai Bay, with an initial investment 400 million yuan ($63 million). The investment will go to research projects on oceanic ecological protection and safety issues for sea-borne transportation.
Till date, only the United States and France have laboratories capable of undertaking tests and inspections required in treating ocean oil spills.
Earlier this month, an Iranian oil tanker Sanchi had collided with a dry cargo vessel about 160 nautical miles off China's east coast, resulting in one of the world's worst oil tanker disaster in decades.
3. Himachal CM launches Zero Budget Natural Farming project
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on January 29, 2018 launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming. The project aims to increase agriculture produce and the income of farmers by the year 2022.
ZBNF is set of natural farming methods where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. It is a farming practice that believes in the natural growth of crops without adding any fertilizers and pesticides or any other foreign elements.
The word Zero Budget refers to zero net cost of production of all crops. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops. The inputs used for seed treatments and other inoculations are locally available in form of cow dung and cow urine.
4. Indian Parliamentary Group to confer Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards to five MPs
The Indian Parliamentary Group (IPG) on January 29, 2018 decided to confer Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards to five Members of Parliament. The award is conferred to an outstanding sitting Member of Parliament after considering his/her overall contribution to the house.
The awardees this year include:
• Dr. Najma Heptulla: She is former Rajya Sabha MP and was selected for this award for the year 2013.
• Hukumdev Narayan Yadav: He is Lok Sabha MP and was selected for this award for the year for 2014.
• Ghulam Nabi Azad: He is Rajya Sabha and was selected for this award for the year for 2015.
• Dinesh Trivedi: He is Lok Sabha MP and was selected for 2016.
• Bhartruhari Mahatab: He is Lok Sabha MP and was selected for 2017.
The Outstanding Parliamentarian Award was established in 1992 by Shivraj Patil who was then the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
5. Department of Posts launches new dress for Postmen/MTS
The Department of Posts has redesigned the uniform for Postmen (both male and female) and MTS cadre in consultation with National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi (NIFT).
The uniform has been redesigned keeping in view the functionality, comfort and durability. The uniform will provide a strong brand identity of the Department of Posts, as it provides for easy identification of postmen staff.
It is through the field operatives (postmen) that the Department enjoys credibility and respect. Hence, it is important that the uniform they wear should be such that they stand out.
6. CEC LAHDC of Leh region Sonam Dawa passes away
The Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council of Leh Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, Sonam Dawa Lonpo passed away on January 29, 2018 following a cardiac arrest.
He was elected to the post of chief executive councillor in 2015. Post his sudden demise, many of the scheduled programmes in the region have either been postponed or cancelled.
The Ladakh Buddhist Association, in fact, appealed to Business establishments to observe Ladakh Bandh to mourn the sudden demise of the chief executive councilor of the local government.
7. AAI allocates nearly Rs 3,400 Cr for upgradation of airports in North East region
The Airports Authority of India has allocated nearly Rs 3,400 crore for the upgradation of airports in the North East region.
According to AAI chairman Guruprasad Mahapatra, an amount worth Rs 1,720 crore, Rs 525 crore and Rs 800 crore has been allocated for Assam, Tripura and Manipur respectively.
Projects worth Rs 934 crore have already been completed and the work on the rest will be over in the next two or three years.
8. Anti-Leprosy Day observed
Anti-Leprosy Day was observed across the nation on January 30, 2018. The day is observed every year on the Martyrdom Day of Mahatma Gandhi, remembering his selfless efforts and care for the people affected by leprosy.
The observance aims to make people aware of the real need to fight the infectious disease. On the occasion, a campaign named as the ‘Sparsh’ Leprosy Awareness Campaign, has been organised in all the Gram Sabhas throughout the country by the Central Leprosy Division of the Health Ministry. The campaign carries important information about the disease to help affected people.
It includes free of cost multidrug therapy that is available at all government dispensaries, health centres and hospitals to provide complete treatment.