1. Iran lifts all restrictions on Internet use
The government of Iran has announced that it has lifted all the restrictions that were imposed on the use of the Internet, including the Telegram message app. The online services were restored on 13 January 2018.
Protests had gripped the Islamic state after residents of the northeastern city of Mashhad took to the streets on 28 December over unemployment and rising prices. 23 people died in the resulting clashes between the demonstrators and security forces.
The protesters used Telegram and other social networking services. The unrest subsided only after the government imposed the controls. However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought an early lifting of the restrictions, as he felt that they were having a serious impact on the country's economy.
2. Former Union minister Raghunath Jha passes away
Senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Union Minister Raghunath Jha passed away late on 14 January 2018 at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. The 79-year-old was suffering from kidney ailment.
Jha was the Union minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise in the UPA government led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
3. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena restores ban on women buying alcohol
The President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena on 14 January 2018 ordered to re-impose the ban on women buying alcohol or working in places that sell or manufacture liquor, merely few days after it was lifted by his government.
The lifting of the four-decade old ban, the 1979 law that prohibited the sale of any type of alcohol to women, had attracted wide media attention and was welcomed by women and intellectual groups and was being viewed as an effort to restore gender neutrality in the nation.
However, the order was opposed by hardline sections of the majority-Buddhist nation that forced the President to re-impose the ban.
4. Bombay HC directs Maharashtra government to file report on steps taken to improve children's homes
The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to file a report on steps taken by it to improve the condition of children's homes in the state.
The decision was taken by a division bench comprising Justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh. The court was hearing a suo-motu PIL on the poor condition of children's homes and the homes for children with special needs in the state, established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
The High Court had in April 2017 passed directions to the state government and said it was the government's legal and constitutional obligation to set up an adequate number of such homes and provide them appropriate infrastructure and facilities. Now, the court has directed the government to file the affidavit on 30 January, when it would hear the petition.
5. Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurates two-day International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 15 January 2018 inaugurated a two-day International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, which has been organised by the National Disaster Management Authority in New Delhi.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that the workshop is a paradigm shift in the field of disaster management globally. He said tremendous foresight and rigour are required to ensure that all new infrastructures are built in such a way that they could withstand the hazards of the present as well as the future.
The Minister further stated that in the coming decades, robust infrastructure will be at the core of sustainable development and at the global level, by 2040, to adequately meet the infrastructure needs of humanity, the government would require nearly 100 trillion dollars.
6. Odisha government introduces new artists' assistance scheme
The state government of Odisha on 15 January 2018 announced an artists' assistance scheme called the 'Mukshyamantri Kalakar Sahayata Jojana' (MMKSJ) under which 50,000 artists from across the state will get a monthly assistance of Rs 1,200.
The announcement was made by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after a meeting, attended by culture minister A C Panda, Chief Secretary A P Padhi and other officials. The state was earlier imparting a sum of Rs 1000 as artist’s assistance to 4000 artists.
Besides this, the state government has also changed the eligibility criteria for availing the artist assistance. Now under the new scheme, a male artist can avail the assistance amount after turning the age of 50 as opposed to the current 60 years, while the age criteria for female artist has been reduced from 50 years to 40 years.