DROUPADI MURMU IS INDIA’S NEW PRESIDENT

Droupadi Murmu has been elected as 15th president of India, becoming the first tribal politician to occupy the top constitutional post in the world’s largest democracy. Murmu, who belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition, defeated the opposition nominee and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, by getting more than 50% of the votes. Droupadi Murmu got 6,76,803 votes as compared to her rival Yashwant Sinha’s 3,80,177 votes. Murmu got 64% of votes in presidential poll against Yashwant Sinha’s 36%, Returning Officer PC Mody said on July 22.

CENTRE REFUSES RAILWAY CONCESSION FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

The railways has no intention of bringing back concessions on tickets for senior citizens or sports persons, the railway ministry told Parliament on July 20. The reply was in response to question raised by Lok Sabha MPs Mohammed Faizal PP and Anto Antony. The Lok Sabha MPs had asked the railway ministry the reasons for abolition and non-resumption of concessions to senior citizens in railways despite the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic. The railway ministry cited recurring losses suffered by the Indian railways due to low fares and concession as the reason for non-resumption of concession for senior citizens. The railway ministry said the revenue foregone due to concessions in passenger fare to senior citizen passengers during 2017-18 was Rs 1491 crore, in 2018-19 was Rs 1636 crore, and in 2019-20 was Rs 1667 crore.

GST RATE HIKE MAKES ESSENTIAL ITEMS COSTLIER

The recommendations on Goods and Services Tax rates that were made during the 47th GST Council meeting held in June come into effect on July 18. The prices from oil to atta and across essentials have soared, and the new GST rates will add to the already-stretched household budgets. Pre-packaged and labelled pulses, and cereals like rice, wheat, and flour (atta) will now attract 5 per cent GST when branded and packed in a unit container. Curd, lassi, and puffed rice would attract GST at the rate of 5 per cent when pre-packaged and labelled. GST on paper knives, spoons, forks, ladles, skimmers, cake-servers increased from 12 per cent to 18 per cent. GST on power driven pumps such as centrifugal pumps, deep tube-well turbine pumps, submersible pumps, bicycle pumps increased from 12 per cent to 18 per cent. LED Lamps, lights and fixture, their metal printed circuits board will also witness a GST increase from 12 per cent to 18 per cent. More essential items have been covered under GST.

3.9 LAKH INDIANS RENOUNCED CITIZENSHIP IN LAST 3 YEARS

The government has admitted in the Parliament that more than 3.9 lakh Indians have renounced their citizenship in the past three years to settle abroad. More than 1.63 lakh Indians relinquished their citizenship in 2021 alone, according to the data tabled by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Out of them, more than 78,000 took US citizenship, it added. While 1.44 lakh Indians gave up their citizenship in 2019, the data showed. The numbers fell to 85,256 in 2020, before rising again last year. Responding to a question by BSP MP Fazlur Rehman, Union MoS for Home Nityanand Rai told the Parliament that according to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian citizens renounced their citizenship “for reasons personal to them”.

FUNDS TO JMI, AMU REDUCED SHARPLY; BUDGET FOR BHU DOUBLED

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) were two of the Central universities for which the fund allocation or release was significantly reduced in the last financial year, 2021-22, in comparison to the previous year, the Ministry of Education told the Lok Sabha in response to an unstarred question on July 18. In reply to a question by Congress MP from Kerala T.N. Prathapan, who had asked about the details of the fund allocation to five central universities – JNU, JMI, AMU, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar; and BHU – the response by the minister of state for education, Subhas Sarkar, spelt out the details of their funding since 2014-15. The reply by the ministry revealed that in the case of JMI while overall the funding had increased from Rs. 264.48 crore in 2014-15, it had witnessed a sharp fall of nearly Rs 68.73 crore from Rs. 479.83 crore in 2020-21 to Rs. 411.10 crore in 2021-22. Similarly, in the case of AMU, the reply revealed that while the overall allocation had increased from Rs 673.98 crore in 2014-15, it had shown a marked decline of nearly Rs 306 crore from Rs 1,520.10 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 1,214.63 crore in 2021-22.

SC ALLOWS ABORTION AT 24 WEEKS

Overturning a Delhi High Court order, the Supreme Court on July 21 allowed an unmarried woman to abort her pregnancy of 24-weeks arising out of a live-in relationship, subject to an all-clear by medical experts on its safety. The order fills in a legislative gap in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act on an unmarried woman’s right to terminate a 20-24 week pregnancy arising out of a consensual relationship. “There is no basis to deny unmarried women the right to medically terminate the pregnancy, when the same choice is available to other categories of women,” the top court said. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and AS Bopanna emphasised that a woman’s right to reproductive choice is an inseparable part of her personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and she has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity.

SC ASKS CENTRE TO COLLATE INFO FROM STATES ABOUT COMPLIANCE

The Supreme Court on July 21 asked the Secretary of the Union Home Ministry to collate information from states and Union Territories (UTs) regarding the compliance of directions given earlier by the apex court regarding preventive, corrective, and remedial measures to curb untoward situations, like mob violence and hate speech. The Apex Court, which was hearing a batch of petitions concerning hate speech and rumour-mongering, said the secretary may collate necessary information by corresponding directly with the secretary of the home department of respective states and UTs within three weeks and compile it state-wise. A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar referred to some previous judgments delivered by the apex court in 2018 and said they specifically provide for a structure and the follow-up action to be taken and the collation of information would reflect how the states and UTs have complied with these directions.

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