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Current Affairs 13 April 2017

 

NEWS

13 April 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III: ECONOMY- ENERGY

Petrol, diesel prices to be fixed daily

2.

GS III:  SECURITY

Somali forces free Indian ship crew from pirates

3.

GS II: POLITY- JUDICIARY

Lok Adalat settles over 6 lakh cases in one day

4.

GS II :  POLITY-ELECTIONS

Poll panel throws open challenge to hack EVMs

5.

GS III: S&T -SPACE

Global interest in PSLV soars

6.

GS II : BILATERAL-INDIA- U.K.

India, U.K. framework to guide technology transfer

7.

GS  II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

U.S. can play key role on Kashmir: Pak.

8.

GS III :  SECURITY

Centre files curative plea on AFSPA

9.

GS  II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Colombo's seafront makes way for China-backed financial city

10.

GS III : ECONOMY

Industrial output shrinks in Feb.

11.

GS III: ECONOMY

Hold fiscal deficit at 3% till FY20, says N.K. Singh panel

12.

GS III: ECONOMY

Panel to suggest norms for virtual currencies

13.

GS II : GOVERNMENT POLICIES

FinMin rejects Apple's tax demands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

GS III: ECONOMY- ENERGY

Petrol, diesel prices to be fixed daily

  • From May 1, petrol and diesel prices will change every day in sync with international rates, much like what happens in most advanced markets.
  • State-owned fuel retailers - Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (HPCL), - which own over 95% of the nearly 58,000 fuel outlets in the country, are likely to launch a pilot scheme for daily price revision in five select cities from May 1 and gradually extend it all over the country.
  • State fuel retailers currently revise rates on the 1st and 16th of every month, based on average international price in the preceding fortnight and the currency exchange rate.
  • Instead of using fortnightly average, pump rates will reflect daily movement in international oil prices and rupee-U.S. dollar fluctuations.
  • Daily price change will remove the big leaps in rates that need to be effected at the end of the fortnight, and consumers will be more aligned to market dynamics.
  • While petrol price was freed from government control in June 2010, diesel rates were deregulated only in October 2014.
  • With daily changes, which are unlikely to be more than a few paise per litre, the political pressures for not revising rates particularly when they are to be hiked will go, sources said.

 

GS III:  SECURITY

Somali forces free Indian ship crew from pirates

  • Somali security forces clashed with pirates early on 12 April 2017 and freed nine seamen kidnapped from an Indian cargo ship this month, officials said.
  • The pirates seized the dhow Al Kausar off Somalia's coast.
  • The security forces attacked the gang after it tried to move the hostages into an area controlled by the militant group al Shabaab overnight.

GS II: POLITY- JUDICIARY

Lok Adalat settles over 6 lakh cases in one day

  • As pendency hampers the justice delivery system, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), led by Supreme Court judge Justice Dipak Misra, has been quietly chipping away at the backlog and has accomplished its latest feat of settling over six lakh cases in just 24 hours.
  • The Second National Lok Adalat for 2017, conducted on April 8, throughout the country from taluk level courts to High Courts, has settled nearly 6.6 lakh cases.
  • Out of this, 3.68 lakh cases have been reduced from court pendency and about 2.92 lakh cases were settled even before they could be filed in courts.
  • The cases ranged from matrimonial disputes, partition suits, civil matters, cheque bounce cases, motor accident claims, revenue disputes pending in courts, criminal compoundable cases and service matters pertaining to pension, retrial benefits, etc.
  • The award of a Lok Adalat is final and cannot be challenged by way of appeals and revision, etc.
  • Moreover, settlement of a pending court case in a Lok Adalat comes with an added incentive of refund of court fee to the party involved in the litigation.

Lok Adalat

  • NALSA along with other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats.
  • Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.
  • Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • Under the said Act, the award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
  • If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.
  • The persons deciding the cases in the Lok Adalats are called the Members of the Lok Adalats, they have the role of statutory conciliators only and do not have any judicial role; therefore they can only persuade the parties to come to a conclusion for settling the dispute outside the court in the Lok Adalat and shall not pressurize or coerce any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either directly or indirectly.

 

GS II :  POLITY-ELECTIONS

Poll panel throws open challenge to hack EVMs

  • To all those alleging that the EVMs used by the Election Commission were tampered with in the recent Assembly elections or that they could be hacked, the electoral body has thrown an open challenge asking them to prove the allegations.
  • The exercise may be carried out in the first week of May.
  • Computer experts and political leaders would be invited to the demonstration site and they could use their skills to show whether the machines could be tampered with.

GS III: S&T -SPACE

Global interest in PSLV soars

  • The PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) space vehicle has received more than double the volume of inquiries from prospective customers ever since it launched a record 104 satellites on a single flight in February.
  • A world best, 101 small foreign commercial spacecraft were taken up at once in the feat, catapulting the PSLV's overall commercial tally to 180.
  • The PSLV, with a near impeccable 37 successes in 39 flights, is a clear leader in the category of rockets that lift small satellites to low earth orbits or LEOs.
  • These satellites weigh up to 500 kg and must be placed in polar orbits 500 km from the earth.

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle 

  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV, commercially available only from Russia.
  • PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
  • Some notable payloads launched by PSLV include India's first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1, India's first interplanetary mission, Mangalyaan (Mars orbiter Mission) and India's first space observatory, Astrosat.




 

 

 

 

GS II : BILATERAL-INDIA- U.K.

India, U.K. framework to guide technology transfer

  • To expand the cooperation between India and the U.K. on sharing of advanced technology, the two countries are discussing ways to devise a government-to-government framework to facilitate transfer of such technology, said visiting U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon on 12 April 2017.
  • "We have our exports controls, licensing system and I know that 99% of the license applications are granted. We hope to facilitate the transfer through a government-to-government framework...," he said at the India-U.K. strategic dialogue organised by the Observer Research Foundation and the U.K. High Commission.
  • This will be discussed under the Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP) agreed between the two countries in 2015 and will be taken up by the Defence Consultative Group (DCG).
  • He said the U.K. sees India as a launch pad for British firms where "we can develop high-tech capabilities and sell them to third countries..."


GS  II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

U.S. can play key role on Kashmir: Pak.

  • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that America can play a "very critical role" in resolving the Kashmir issues he hoped to see proactive engagement by the Trump administration on the issue.
  • He said that the world, including the US, was well aware of the danger the dispute posed to world peace and to the stability in the region.
  • Earlier, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had said the US would try to deescalate Indo-Pak tensions.

GS III :  SECURITY

Centre files curative plea on AFSPA

  • The government on 12 April 2017 asked the Supreme Court to urgently reconsider its July 2016 verdict which ripped open the cloak of immunity and secrecy provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) to security forces for deaths caused during encounters in disturbed areas.
  • The Supreme Court had held that "there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court" if an Army man has committed an offence.
  • The judgment by a Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur had held that every death caused by security forces in a disturbed area, even if the victim was a dreaded criminal or a militant or a terrorist or an insurgent, should be thoroughly inquired into to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force.
  • Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi on 12 April 2017 appeared before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar during the mentioning hour, and apprised the court that the judgment had become a fetter on security forces involved in anti-militancy operations.
  • "This court ought to have appreciated that the principles of right to self-defence cannot be strictly applied while dealing with militants and terrorist elements in a hostile and unstable terrain. This court ought to have taken into account the complexity and the reality of the conduct of military operations and tactics, especially while combating terrorists," the curative petition said.
  • The judgment came on a plea by hundreds of families in Manipur for a probe by Special Investigation Team.

 

GS  II : INTERNATIONAL SRI LANKA

Colombo's seafront makes way for China-backed financial city

  • Inaugurated by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2014, the Colombo Port City Project has persisted over the last three years, surviving controversies and drastic changes.
  • Campaigning hard for the January 2015 elections that his coalition won, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made a poll promise to scrap the Chinese-funded port city, seen as a brainchild of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, only to renew it a month after he took office.
  • Amid mounting concerns over its possible environmental impact, Sri Lanka and China in April 2016 decided to redefine the port city project, calling it an international financial city.
  • The largest foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka, the $1.4- billion project will house a financial centre and a host of other facilities, including a marina, a central park, and possibly an international school and hospital over the next 30 years, its developer said.
  • Given Colombo's strategic geographic location in the Indian Ocean, investors see the potential for a major financial hub in the city, filling the void of financial cities between Dubai and Singapore.
  • On measures to prevent money laundering at such a financial hub, Mr. Liang said a separate set of laws, modelled on U.K. laws, would be applicable to the city. "A separate court, separate arbitration centres, a city that is run under a different set of rules - the whole port city playing a different game from the rest of Colombo."
  • It is this exclusive operation that makes some uneasy, though the city will come under the Sri Lanka's penal code.
  • India's concerns over the China-backed initiative are well-known. When Mr. Rajapaksa was in power, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval reportedly urged the Sri Lankan government to cancel the project.
  • Locally, there has been considerable resistance to the project, particularly from fisher folk and environmental groups.

 

GS III : ECONOMY INDICATORS

Industrial output shrinks in Feb

  • Industrial production in February 2017 shrank 1.2% year-on-year, the lowest in four months, mainly due to a decline in manufacturing output and the persistent impact of demonetisation, data released by the Central Statistics Office on 12 April 2017 show.
  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had recorded 1.99% growth in February 2016. The previous low was a contraction of 1.87% in October 2016.
  • Manufacturing sector, accounting for more than 75% of the index, shrank 2% in February 2017. The sector had marginal growth of 0.6% in February, 2016.

Eight Core Industries

 

  • The Eight Core Industries comprise nearly 38 % of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

1.     Electricity generation (weight: 10.32%)

2.     Steel (Alloy + Non-Alloy) production (weight: 6.68%)

3.     Petroleum Refinery Products (93% of Crude Throughput) (weight: 5.94%)

4.     Crude Oil production (weight: 5.22 %)

5.     Coal production (weight: 4.38 %)

6.     Cement production (weight: 2.41%)

7.     Natural Gas production (weight: 1.71 %)

8.     Fertilizer production (weight: 1.25%)

 

GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

Hold fiscal deficit at 3% till FY20, says N.K. Singh panel

  • The Centre can take a pause on the fiscal consolidation front over the next three years by maintaining a fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 3% till 2019-20, the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Review Committee chaired by former Revenue Secretary N.K. Singh has recommended.
  • Set up to comprehensively review and give recommendations on the FRBM roadmap for future, the panel has advocated reaching a fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 2.8% in 2020-21, 2.6% the subsequent year and 2.5% in 2022-23.
  • To put that in context, the government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP in 2017-18, marginally better than the 3.5% clocked last year.
  • The FRBM law enacted in 2003 had originally envisaged attaining a fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP by 2008-09, but amendments over the years had revised the year for achieving the same target to 2017-18.
  • The panel has introduced an escape clause that allows the government to skip the fiscal deficit target for a particular year, in situations that include national security concerns, acts of war, national calamities, a collapse of the agriculture sector and far-reaching structural reforms with unanticipated fiscal implications.
  • It recommended that deviations from the stipulated fiscal targets should not be more than 0.5%.
  • The Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel was not in favour of such a large deviation.
  • Mr. Patel, who was also a member of the panel along with Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, was inclined to only permit a 0.3% deviation.
  • The escape clause can also be triggered if the economy's real output growth slips by three percentage points from the average of the previous four quarters.
  • A similar buoyancy clause has been proposed, so that fiscal deficit must fall at least 0.5% below the target if real output grows 3% faster than that average.
  • The panel has recommended that the existing FRBM Act and rules be scrapped and a new Debt and Fiscal Responsibility Act be adopted and proposed the creation of a Fiscal Council that the government must consult before invoking escape clauses.

 

 

 

 

GS III: ECONOMY POLICIES

Panel to suggest norms for virtual currencies

  • The Centre has decided to close the regulatory gaps to keep a check on virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, and has set up an inter-disciplinary committee to recommend an action plan for dealing with such currencies within three months.
  • "The circulation of Virtual Currencies which are also known as Digital/Crypto Currencies has been a cause of concern. This has been expressed in various fora from time to time," according to a statement from the Finance Ministry.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had also cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins, about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to.


GS III : ECONOMY POLICIES

FinMin rejects Apple's tax demands

  • The Finance Ministry has rejected iPhone maker Apple's demand for tax exemptions for setting up a manufacturing unit in India saying that the decision will have to be taken up by the GST Council.
  • The U.S.-based firm has indicated plans to put up manufacturing lines in India this year.
  • Apple had sought concessions such as duty exemption on manufacturing and repair units, components, capital equipment for smartphones for 15 years.
  • These demands were "examined in the Department of Revenue and have not been accepted.
  • It was said these incentives cannot be accepted as with the coming into force of the new indirect tax regime "all imports will be liable to IGST (integrated GST) and any exemptions from CGST (centre)/SGST (state)/IGST can be granted based on the recommendations of the GST Council only."
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