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Current Events 09 May 2017

 

NEWS

9 May 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II:   POLITY- JUDICIARY

Karnan orders 5-year RI for CJI, 7 other SC judges

2.

GS II:   POLITY- JUDICIARY

HC verdict favouring Lalu set aside

3.

GS II:   POLITY- JUDICIARY

SC pulls up CBI for delay in filing appeal

4.

GS III: S&T HEALTH

Varsity applies grandma's wisdom for safe drinking water needs

5.

GS III:   SECURITY

Armymen favour political intervention in Kashmir

6.

GS III:   SECURITY

Act tough against Maoists, States told

7.

GS III: ENERGY

Power Rankings

8.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -CHINA

India to reopen API office in China after 3 years

9.

GS III: DEFENCE

Push for private sector in defence production

10.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -CHINA

China offers to rename OBOR to allay India’s fears

11.

GS III:  SECURITY

2,000-strong CoBRA force for Sukma

12.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA - PALESTINE

‘India can play great role in peace efforts’

13.

GS I : GEOGRAPHY

Centre to tap MGNREGA funds to make Saraswati low again

14.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL EUROPE

After decisive win, Macron to take over on Sunday

15.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL SRILANKA

Ports Authority concerned over Hambantota

16.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA – U.S.

Centre to raise with U.S. non-tariff barriers

17.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

Govt., WIPO to set up tech centres

18.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary hitches wagon to star tortoises

19.

GS III : S&T

Wooden filter removes toxins from water






 

 

 

 

 

 



 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II:   POLITY- JUDICIARY

Karnan orders 5-year RI for CJI, 7 other SC judges

  • Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan on 8 May 2017 issued an order sentencing eight Supreme Court judges to five years of "rigorous imprisonment" and imposed a fine of Rs. 1,00,000 each under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 and the amended Act of 2015.
  • The eight include members of the seven-judge Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, which had in February issued a contempt order against him for allegedly degrading the judiciary.
  • "The accused 1 to 8 shall not hold office and not be permitted to deal in any cases on the file of the Supreme Court, besides any administrative orders," said the order.

 

GS II:   POLITY- JUDICIARY

HC verdict favouring Lalu set aside

  • In a big blow to Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court on 8 May 2017 held that he and other accused persons, including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, will be tried separately for corruption and criminal conspiracy in cases involving the withdrawal of money and falsification of records in connection with the Rs. 900- crore fodder scam.
  • The Bench set aside the 2014 Jharkhand High Court decision to drop the charges against the 68-year-old Mr. Prasad, Mr. Mishra and former State Chief Secretary Sajal Chakraborty on the ground that they cannot be found guilty of the same offences twice under Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • "One general conspiracy from 1988 to 1996 led to various offences and there has to be different trials for each offence based upon a conspiracy in which different persons participated at different times at different places for completion of the offence...
  • In the instant case it cannot be said that defalcation is same transaction.
  • The transactions were done in different treasuries during different years, for different amounts, on different allotment letters, supply orders and suppliers," the court said.
  • A total of 64 cases were registered.
  • A general conspiracy which gives birth to a cascade of distinct offences committed in various places spread over several years and involving different accused persons cannot be boxed into one trial. This would lead to injustice, the Supreme Court held on 8 May 2017.
  • The Bench held that the orders of discharge of Mr. Prasad and the other two were "palpably illegal, faulty and contrary to the basic principles of law and the judge has ignored a large number of binding decisions of the Supreme Court, while giving impermissible benefit to the accused persons and delaying the case for several years."
  • Mr. Prasad was, at the time of the High Court decision in November 2014, already sentenced to a five year rigorous imprisonment in a corruption case connected to the fodder scam involving the withdrawal of over Rs. 37 crore from the Chaibasa Treasury during the period of 1994-95 on the basis of 78 fake allotment letters.
  • The sentence had immediately led to his disqualification from Parliament and barred him from elections for 11 years.

 

 

GS II:   POLITY- JUDICIARY

SC pulls up CBI for delay in filing appeal

  • The Supreme Court held that the CBI director will be directly responsible for any delay in filing appeals in higher courts, saying lethargy on the part of the country's premier investigative agency is intolerable.
  • The Bench was expressing its shock at how the CBI delayed filing appeals against the Jharkhand High Court's order dropping charges against RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and former chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty in cases linked to the multi-crore fodder scam.
  • There was a combined delay of over 500 days in filing these appeals.
  • The fodder scam probe had been handed over to the CBI by the SC.
  • The court warned that any delay on the part of the CBI to file appeals will be presumed deliberate in future.
  • In a decision meant to ensure that the CBI top brass are equally liable for slips made in the legal process, a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy held that the CBI director should devise a non-cumbersome methodology to take cases forward and ensure that appeals are filed in time.
  • The court pointed out that the CBI manual mandates the expeditious filing of appeal

 

GS III: S&T HEALTH

Varsity applies grandma's wisdom for safe drinking water needs

  • TamRas is low-cost, copper-based device
  • For many of us, the sight of water stored in copper vessels reminds us of our grandmothers' homes.
  • Recognising copper's potent use in removing pathogens from water and making it fit to drink, the Transdisciplinary University (TDU), Bengaluru, has launched TamRas, a low-cost copper-based water purification device for rural areas.
  • TamRas consists of a 15-litre container that can house an immersible copper unit which can give 15 litres of water free of common pathogens over 10 hours.
  • The device costs Rs. 1,500 a unit.
  • Reasearchers at TDU, led by Padma Venkat, principal investigator, studied the effect of storing water overnight in copper vessels. She found that when water, inoculated with colony forming units of Escherichia coli, Salmonella Typhi and Vibrio cholerae, was stored overnight at room temperature in copper vessels, the organisms were no longer recoverable when cultured, compared to water stored in control glass bottles under similar conditions.
  • TDU has identified self help groups who will become entrepreneurs for the product, who can sell the units in monthly instalments for those who cannot afford it, to ensure residents have access to safe, potable water.

GS II: GOVERNANCE

Odisha village swears by gram swaraj

  • Tumuni village of Odisha's Angul district swears by its decades old practice of ‘self-rule'.
  • A 12-page document defines the responsibilities of residents and everyone here treats it as their ‘constitution'.
  • For about 350 families here, the 19-member management committee is the highest decision-making body.
  • However, the committee doesn't get involved in case of serious offences like rape and murder.
  • Tumuni and six other villages work together to conserve the ecologically sensitive 1,300 acres of Mandaragiri reserved forest nearby.
  • No one in the village waits for government departments to carry out services like road repair, pond renovation, etc., either.
  • Once the committee takes a decision to contribute labour, it's incumbent upon villagers to participate in community work.
  • One of the most interesting aspects of Tumuni's ‘self rule' is its judicious distribution of canal water for irrigation.
  • Anyone found to have damaged the canal network or wasted water meant for irrigation is fined Rs. 1,000.
  • Started with seed money of Rs. 3,000 nearly a decade ago, the village fund has over Rs. 20 lakh in it.
  • By March 15, villagers submit applications seeking loans from the fund.
  • The panel disburses loan and fixes a deadline for repayment. Hardly anyone from the village has defaulted so far.
  • "Tumuni fits into the idea of a model village, as conceptualised by Gandhiji. It takes its own decisions, follows its own constitution and manages its own resources. It exhibits the true spirit of gram swaraj," said Swapna Sarangi of NGO Foundation of Ecological Security.

 

GS III:   SECURITY

Armymen favour political intervention in Kashmir

  • Without changing the aggressive security posture taken in Kashmir, the Centre needs to immediately intervene politically if the level of violence has to come down anytime soon, a significant number of military officers say.
  • "Even the friendliest villager is telling us that they won't be able to help us," an Army colonel said.
  • With even school students coming out to throw stones and protest against security forces, the security forces are actually operating in extremely tricky situation, they argue.

 

GS III:   SECURITY

Act tough against Maoists, States told

  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected States to take "ownership" in leading operations against the Maoists and called for an "aggressive approach" to solve the menace, which has claimed over 12,000 lives in the last decade.
  • However, the Minister's remarks were criticised by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who said that "if all work had to be done by States with their own resources, then what was the purpose of having such a meeting?"
  • Several States also raised the issue of discontinuation of central schemes such as Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) and a considerable reduction in central funds as an impediment to winning the war against the Maoists.
  • The Minister stressed that there was a "need to depute shadow intelligence officers" to track prominent targets associated with LWE.
  • Intelligence agencies don't have fresh photographs of the top Maoist leadership, he said.
  • Mr. Singh also asked the CAPF personnel to learn and respect the local customs and traditions of tribals, wherever they are posted.

Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) 

  • The Scheme of Special Infrastructure in Left Wing Extremism affected States was commenced in 11th five-year plan from the financial year 2008-09 with an outlay of Rs. 500 crores to cater critical infrastructure gaps of Security forces which could not be covered under any other scheme.
  • The Scheme has been discontinued from Central assistance from the financial year 2015-16 as per recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.

Integrated Action Plan (IAP)/ Additional Central Assistance (ACA) for LWE affected districts:

  • The Planning Commission had commenced the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) in 2010-11 covering 60 Tribal and Backward districts for accelerated development by providing public infrastructure and services.
  • The Scheme was extended to 82 districts in 2012.
  • This scheme of ACA was under implementation up to 2014-15 and discontinued from the central assistance from the financial year 2015-16.

 


GS III: ENERGY

Power Rankings

 

 

GS II : BILATERAL -INDIA -CHINA

India to reopen API office in China after 3 years

 

  • After a gap of nearly three years, the Indian government will restart a ‘permanent audit office' in China to conduct quality inspections of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), raw materials from which drugs are made.
  • While low-cost, generic medicines made in India have made it the ‘pharmacy of the world', most domestic manufacturers import API from China.

 

GS III: DEFENCE

Push for private sector in defence production

  • The Government has accelerated efforts to finalise the ambitious Strategic Partnership (SP) model, which would give a major boost to private sector participation in defence manufacturing.
  • The policy, which is part of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016, will set out guidelines on how major Indian private sector companies can tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in critical military systems and platforms.
  • "It could unlock some of the big projects that are stalled, including the new line of submarines and single engine fighter aircraft. It should be out in the next two months," a defence official told.
  • The final clearance would be accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).

 

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -CHINA

China offers to rename OBOR to allay India's fears

  • China is prepared to consider renaming the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) if it would end India's reservations over its One Belt One Road (Or Belt and Road Initiative) passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Chinese Ambassador to India said here, insisting that the OBOR has no connection to "sovereignty disputes."
  • The offer was made by Luo Zhaohui on 5 May 2017 during a closed-door interaction at the United Services Institution, a military think-tank in Delhi.
  • Mr. Luo outlined a 4-point solution to "manage differences" between India and China, including

1.     a new treaty on cooperation,

2.     restarting talks on a free trade agreement (FTA),

3.     an early resolution to the border issue and

4.     aligning the B&R with India's "Act East policy."

  • India has thus far refused to confirm or regret its attendance at China's Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing on May 14-15.
  • According to the Chinese government more than 100 countries will participate, and all SAARC countries minus India have already signed on to the 60-nation infrastructure initiative first proposed in 2013.
  • No official Indian participation has been indicated so far.

 

GS III: SECURITY

2,000-strong CoBRA force for Sukma

  • The CRPF will soon deploy a fresh squad of about 2,000 commandos from its special guerrilla warfare CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) battalions in and around the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh to defang the Maoists and their arsenal.

 

CoBRA (COmmando Battalion for Resolute Action)

  • It is a specialised unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of India proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare.
  • Originally established to counter the Naxalite problem, CoBRA is deployed to address any insurgent group engaging in asymmetrical warfare.
  • Currently numbering ten battalions, CoBRA is ranked among one of India's more experienced and successful law enforcement units.


GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA - PALESTINE

‘India can play great role in peace efforts'

  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive in India on 13 May 2017, and will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a visit aimed at "strengthening old ties", Palestine's envoy to India Adnan Abu Alhaija said here.
  • He will be travelling to Delhi from Moscow after meeting Russian President Vladmir Putin, and also recently met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.
  • Saying that he was keen on "getting it (the Middle East peace process) done", President Trump announced he will make his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on May 22-23.
  • President Abbas visit to India also comes two months ahead of Mr. Modi's visit to Israel in the first week of July.
  • "We will take it that India's relations with Israel could allow Mr. Modi to speak about the Palestinian cause and to find a solution to our problems."
  • "(I hope) India will keep the focus on the two-state solution, a focus on (Israel's) plans to build and expand ( Jewish) settlements, and I hope they will raise the issue of Palestinian detainees in (Israeli) jails," he added on the issues Palestine hopes will be raised by PM Modi when he visits Israel.
  • Mr. Abbas, who last visited India in 2012, is expected to hold bilateral talks in Delhi on May 16, with six MoUs being discussed for announcement after his talks with Mr. Modi.

 

GS I : GEOGRAPHY

Centre to tap MGNREGA funds to make Saraswati flow again

  • The Centre plans to tap Rs. 48,000 crore MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) fund to recharge remnants of ancient rivers - including the mythical Saraswati - in a bid to boost groundwater reserves.
  • "Reviving such palaeochannels may not be useful for irrigation but it could improve groundwater storage," said Ms. Bharti.
  • Palaeo-channels are old rivers that have dried up and filled with sediment.
  • Last October, a committee of hydrologists, geologists and archaeologists led by K.S. Valdiya - as part of study commissioned by the Water Resources Ministry - reported evidence on the course of the Saraswati, mentioned in the Rigveda and Hindu mythology.
  • It concluded that the Sutlej river "represented the western branch of the Saraswati."
  • The Markanda and the Sarsuti (now called the Ton-Yamuna rivers) watered the eastern branch of the river.
  • The branches met in Shatrana, 25 kilometres south of Patiala and "flowed as a large river" emptying into the Rann of Kutch, the report said.
  • Building on this, a committee was tasked with scouting palaeo-channels across the country.
  • Wherever these channels were located, the soil was generally soft and therefore, it was easy to direct surface waters towards them and raise the water table, Ms. Bharti added.
  • There is greater interest to build percolation tanks and ponds that will contribute to groundwater recharge.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL  EUROPE

After decisive win, Macron to take over on Sunday

  • After a resounding victory in 8 May 2017 runoff, Emmanuel Macron will be sworn in as France's next President at the Elysee palace on May 14, outgoing President Francois Hollande said.
  • At 39, the pro-EU former investment banker will become France's youngest-ever President.
  • Mr. Macron has proposed an ambitious domestic reform agenda. He wants to ease rigid labour laws he believes fuel high unemployment, cut state spending, improve education in deprived areas and increase welfare protection to the self-employed.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL SRI LANKA

Ports Authority concerned over Hambantota

  • It is not just New Delhi or Washington that is worried about Colombo's proposed deal to sell a deep-sea port in Hambantota to a Chinese company.
  • Sri Lanka's ports authority has "fundamental concerns" over the proposed deal.
  • While the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) appreciates the importance of foreign investment, it would only "go by the book", Mr. Ranatunga told.
  • "We took a careful look at the [draft] agreement - it violated the SLPA Act, and the terms were not conducive to us," he said, adding that even after 10 revised drafts of the agreement, factoring in some of SLPA's observations, many concerns remained.
  • The proposed deal gave sweeping powers to the Chinese company to handle operations near the port.
  • After signing a framework agreement with the Sri Lankan government in December 2016, the state run China Merchants Port Holdings was expected to pay $1.12 billion for a 99-year lease, on an 80% stake in the Hambantota port.
  • The port, built with Chinese loans in 2010, was part of Beijing's plans to create a Silk Route across Asia.
  • Finalised and completed when ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power, the port was termed a "white elephant" by his successor government that came to power in 2015.
  • Government politicians negotiated a new deal and pitched it to the public as one aiming to reduce the burden of the $8 billion-debt Sri Lanka owes China.
  • Colombo and Beijing also agreed to develop a 15,000- acre industrial zone near the port, and Beijing is now willing to sign the port deal, only if land for the industrial zone is made available.
  • However, locals have been resisting the project. 

  

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA - U.S.

Centre to raise with U.S. non-tariff barriers

  • India is planning to take up with the Trump administration the "barriers" imposed by the U.S., which are hurting Indian goods exports to that country in sectors including agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other industrial products.
  • The U.S. "non-tariff/Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) barriers" include those imposed under laws concerning bio-terrorism, child-labour, national security, ‘Buy America' norms preferring U.S.-made items and American suppliers in U.S., gsovernment purchases, registration fee hikes (in sectors such as pharma), food safety as well as animal and plant health regulations, according to the Indian Commerce Ministry.
  • This issue would be on the agenda of the next India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) - the main bilateral platform for discussing and resolving trade and investment issues.
  • According to the Indian Commerce Ministry, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has "arbitrarily" listed 23 items produced in India on the ‘List of Goods Produced by Child Labour or Forced Labour' - which is in effect a ban on their import.
  • The Ministry said Indian industry is worried as the reports that the DOL relies upon are "not always accurate."
  • The Ministry has also referred to the U.S. Government measures envisaged within an initiative to counter potential terrorist threats to the international maritime container trade system.
  • This included X-ray scanning of containers exported to U.S., a measure, the ministry said would cause additional costs for Indian exporters across sectors.
  • In addition, the Ministry has cited a law (the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 of the U.S.) allowing American manufacturers to petition for curbing imports from third nations on national security grounds without providing proof from industry.
  • Indian pharmaceutical exports to the U.S. are hit by the increase in registration fees, approval delays and low approval rates for registrations mandatory for sale of all new drugs in the U.S.
  • Also, ayurveda and traditional Indian medicines are hit by the U.S. requirement of clinical trials while the practice of traditional Indian medicine systems such as Siddha and Unani are not allowed by the U.S. Federal Government.
  • On market access barriers for Indian rice, the ministry said until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registers, approves and fixes a tolerance level for certain pesticide residues, Indian Basmati Rice exports will be hurt owing to import alerts due to the presence of such pesticide residues.
  • The Ministry has also opposed the U.S. requirement of irradiation treatment and inspection of mangoes prior to shipping from India.
  • The Ministry said this is a time consuming and costly certification process hurting the competitiveness of Indian mangoes in the U.S. market.
  • Indian grapes, litchis, pomegranates, honey, marine and meat products are also impacted by various U.S. "NTBs".
  • Besides, the U.S. has imposed countervailing duties on Indian exports, including those by steel and paper industries.

 

GS II: INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

Govt., WIPO to set up tech centres

  •  The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have inked an agreement to set up Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISC), an official statement said on 8 May 2017.
  • The WIPO's TISC programme provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally-based, high quality technology information and related services, helping them to exploit their innovative potential as well as to create, protect, and manage their intellectual property (IP) rights.
  • Over 500 TISCs operate worldwide and establishing TISC in India will give the host institutions access to the global network, it said.


World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

  • The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.
  • WIPO was created in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world".
  • WIPO currently has 189 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 186 of the UN Members as well as the Cook Islands, Holy See and Niue are Members of WIPO.
  • The Palestinians have observer status.


 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT  BIODIVERSITY

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary hitches wagon to star tortoises

  • An ambitious project of the Kerala Forest Department at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) to rehabilitate Indian star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) seized from smugglers has turned into a major success.
  • This makes the CWS the only rehabilitation centre for star tortoises in the country.
  • The CWS is the only place in Kerala where star tortoises are known to occur in the wild.

 

GS III : S&T HEALTH

Wooden filter removes toxins from water

  • Scientists have found a novel use for wood - to remove toxic impurities from water.
  • Engineers at the University of Maryland in the U.S. started with a block of linden wood, which they then soaked in palladium - a metal used in cars' catalytic converters to remove pollutants from the exhaust.
  • In this new filter, the palladium bonds to particles of dye.
  • The wood's natural channels, that once moved water and nutrients between the leaves and roots, now allow the water to flow past the nanoparticles for efficient removal of the toxic dye particles.
  • The water, tinted with methylene blue, slowly drips through the wood and comes out clear.

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