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Current Affairs 20 April 2017

 

NEWS

20 April 2017 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II:  GOVERNANCE

Modi shows red light to beacons of VIP privilege

2.

GS II:  POLITY-  JUDICIARY

Conspiracy charge against Advani in Babri case revived

3.

GS II: NGO’s

PHFI loses FCRA licence for lobbying

4.

GS II:  POLITY- ELECTIONS

Nod for 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines

5.

GS III:  S &T

2022 Asian Games to open up arena for e-sports enthusiasts

6.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -CHINA

China renames six areas in Arunachal

7.

GS II : GOVERNMENT POLICIES

Tax evaders get govt. relief to declare assets

8.

GS II :  POLITY-JUDICIARY

‘Our job is not to kill our people’

9.

GS II : MULTILATERAL BCIM

Dialogue on BCIM corridor to resume next week

10.

GS III :  ECONOMY

State entities can seek loans overseas

11.

GS III: S&T -HEALTH

A frog’s mucus could treat flu

12.

GS III:  S &T  IT

Scientists in U.S. develop first detailed global Internet atlas

13.

GS III:  S &T -SPACE

Large asteroid to pass close to the earth: NASA

14.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL ASIA

Japan’s 100-hour overtime cap sparks anger

15.

GS I : CULTURE

One Part Woman bags Sahitya Akademi award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II:  GOVERNANCE POLICY

Modi shows red light to beacons of VIP privilege

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to shake up India’s privileged VIP culture, most notably symbolised by flashing red beacon lights on top of vehicles, by scrapping a specific clause in Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 that allowed the Central and State governments to nominate dignitaries who could use such lights.
  • Moreover, States are also being stripped of their power to specify persons whose vehicles can use blue flashing lights.
  • Effective May 1, only emergency services vehicles such as ambulances, fire engine trucks, and police vehicles will be allowed to use blue lights.
  • Red lights will not be permitted on any vehicle. Private vehicles will not be allowed to use either red or blue lights.


 

GS II:  POLITY-  JUDICIARY

Conspiracy charge against Advani in Babri case revived

  • The Supreme Court invoked the maxim — ‘Let justice be done though the heavens fall’ — on 19 April 2017 and exercised its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142 to order a joint trial of the dual Babri Masjid demolition cases and revive criminal conspiracy charges against BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders, including L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti, in connection with the demolition of the 16th century mosque on December 6, 1992.
  • “This court has the power, nay, the duty to do complete justice in a case when found necessary. In the present case, crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago,” a Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Rohinton F. Nariman observed in a 40-page judgment.
  • The court transferred the Rae Bareli case, languishing in a magistrate court, to the CBI court in Lucknow for a joint trial.
  • It ordered the Lucknow CBI judge to hold day-to-day trial and pronounce the judgment in two years. It forbade the transfer of the judge and also adjournments.
  • Any grievances, the Bench said, should directly be addressed to the Supreme Court.
  • Its directions have to be complied with in letter and in spirit, the court cautioned.
  • The Rae Bareli case accuses the BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders of having given speeches which promoted enmity and threatened national integration.
  • The Lucknow case, investigated by the CBI, is against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” and deals with the actual act of demolition and violence.
  • With the clubbing of the cases and revival of the conspiracy charges, the accused political leaders would be tried under the composite charge sheet filed by the CBI on October 5, 1993.
  • The Bench agreed with the CBI charge sheet’s finding in 1993 that both the criminal conspiracy by the political leaders and the actual demolition of the 16th century mosque by kar sevaks were part of the “same transaction” and warranted a joint trial.
  • Under Section 216 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC), a court has wide powers to alter or add any charge in any case at any time before judgment is pronounced.
  • If convicted, the accused persons would face punishment of three to five years. This would mean that they would be barred from contesting elections for the six years following the completion of their sentence.

 

 

GS II: GOVERNANCE NGOs

PHFI loses FCRA licence for lobbying

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the country’s largest public health advocacy group.
  • The NGO has been barred from receiving foreign funds on the ground, among others, that it used foreign contributions to lobby parliamentarians, the media and the government on tobacco control issues, which “is prohibited under the FCRA.”
  • The MHA has claimed that funds were diverted for this use. It also listed other alleged violations such as remittances to foreign countries from its FCRA account, and failure to declare all its bank accounts to the government.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a major donor of funds to the PHFI, having transferred Rs. 183 crore to it between 2010 and 2015.
  • The PHFI’s FCRA licence, which enabled it to receive foreign funds, was renewed in August 2016. It was valid till 2021.
  • Since the NDA government came to power, the FCRA licences of more than 11,000 NGOs have been cancelled.

 

 

GS II:  POLITY- ELECTIONS

Nod for 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines

  • Voters will be able to verify if their ballot was correctly registered in all elections after September 2018, including the Lok Sabha polls of 2019.
  • The government on 19 April 2017 approved the procurement of 16.15 lakh Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines sought by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • The total cost for buying these machines that function like a printer attached to the electronic voting machine and disburse a ballot slip after the vote is cast, is Rs. 3173.47 crore.
  • The ballot slip contains the name, serial number and symbol of the chosen candidate. It can be seen by the voter through a screened window for seven seconds to check if her vote has been correctly recorded.
  • The Supreme Court in an order dated 8th October, 2013 had directed that [the] Government of India may provide required financial assistance for procurement of requisite number of VVPAT units for implementation in [a] phased manner. Overall, 16,15,000 machines are needed and if the order is placed in April 2017, then the machines can be delivered by September 2018,” Mr. Jaitley said.

 

 

GS III:  S &T

2022 Asian Games to open up arena for e-sports enthusiasts

  • Video gaming will be featured as a full sport at the 2022 Asian Games, at Hangzhou, China with competitors in e-sports set to receive medals for their digital prowess.
  • The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) decided so.
  • It will also be a demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia.
  • The Council is collaborating with Alisports, a unit of China’s Alibaba Group, to bring e-sports to the games.
  • No details were given on which video games would be included.
  • The Asian Games features a wide range of traditional Olympic sports along with others containing more regional appeal.
  • The sports include ‘sepak takraw’, which combines features from soccer and volleyball, and kabaddi, which is dominated by India.

 

 

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -CHINA

China renames six areas in Arunachal

  • Within days of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, China has reinforced its claims on the State by naming six places there in standardised Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabets.
  • The six places in South Tibet — the name ascribed by Beijing to Arunachal Pradesh — were named Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidêngarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bümo La and Namkapub Ri.
  • Naming the places is seen as a step to reaffirm China’s territorial sovereignty over South Tibet.

 

 

GS II : GOVERNMENT POLICIES

Tax evaders get govt. relief to declare assets

  • The government has extended the deadline for tax evaders who wish to declare undisclosed income under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme to April 30, 2017 from the earlier deadline of March 31, as per a notification issued by the Central government on 19 April 2017.
  • The scheme was launched in December 2016 to grant an opportunity for black money holders who deposited large, unaccounted money into banks following the demonetisation of high value notes.

 

 

 

GS II :  POLITY-JUDICIARY

‘Our job is not to kill our people’

  • A day after the Supreme Court questioned its silence over judicial enquiry commission reports accusing its personnel of committing atrocities in Manipur during insurgency, the Army on 19 April 2017 said its job was not to kill “our own country’s people.”  
  • Appearing before a Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit, Mr. Rohatgi submitted that the court should not shut its eye to the possibility that the judicial officers, who headed the commissions of enquiry, were local people and may have been guided by local apprehensions and factors.
  • He rued the trust deficit apparent when insinuations were made that the Army was stage-managing deaths of innocents as armed encounters with insurgents.
  • The arguments come in the backdrop of a curative petition filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court to urgently re-consider a 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 SC 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 curative petition argues that the judgment has become a fetter against security forces involved in anti militancy operations in sensitive and border areas of the country.

 

 

GS II : MULTILATERAL BCIM

Dialogue on BCIM corridor to resume next week

  • Negotiations on the stalled Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor are set to resume next week in Kolkata.
  • After a gap of over two years, the meeting of Joint Study Group (JSG) of academics and officials of the four countries on April 25-26 is expected to finalise the road map for the BCIM economic corridor, scholars at a seminar at Nanchong, southwest China revealed.
  • The China West Normal University is hosting a conference of scholars from China, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka on the prospects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in South Asia.
  • The last meeting of the BCIM was held Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh in December 2014.
  • The BCIM economic corridor hopes to connect Kolkata with Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province.
  • It envisages formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks.
  • Starting from Kunming, the route passes through nodal points, such as Mandalay and Lashio in Myanmar.
  • It heads towards Kolkata after passing through Manipur and Silchar, before crossing Bangladesh via Sylhet and Dhaka, with branches extending to the ports of Cox Bazar and Chittagong.

 

 

 

GS III :  ECONOMY POLICIES

State entities can seek loans overseas

  • Large infrastructure projects being executed by State government entities will find it easier to tap international funds from bilateral financing agencies, with the Cabinet enabling them to directly access funding from such agencies on the basis of a central government guarantee while keeping such loans off States’ books.
  • “If any State entity needs funding for its projects, it has to approach the State government and any such funding would be included under the State’s borrowing limits set by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM law).”
  • “So based on some conditions, a section of State entities with revenue of Rs. 1,000 crore or more, who are working on infrastructure projects worth over Rs. 5,000 crore, have been permitted to directly take money from such funding agencies on the basis of a central government guarantee,” he said.
  • An official statement said that the Cabinet had approved policy guidelines to allow financially sound State government entities to borrow directly from bilateral ODA (Official Development Assistance) partners for implementation of vital infrastructure projects.
  • “All repayments of loans and interests to the funding agencies will be directly remitted by the concerned borrower. The concerned State Government will furnish guarantee for the Loan. The Government of India will provide counter guarantee for the loan,” according to the statement.
  • Citing the example of the almost Rs. 18,000 crore Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project, where JICA is expected to lend more than Rs. 15,100 crore, Mr. Jaitley said Maharashtra’s development expenditure would go down to that extent as its quota for borrowing under the FRBM targets would be used up.
  • “State Budgets also have pressure to spend on welfare schemes. If international funding is coming in, if that gets included in the FRBM calculations, then infrastructure projects will suffer,” Mr. Jaitley said, adding that projects like the Mumbai Trans- Harbour Link would now become possible.
  • While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has been allowed to borrow directly from JICA for the trans harbour project, other state entities meeting the revenue and investment criteria could also utilise this financing route.

ODA

  • By convention, ODA flows comprise contributions of donor government agencies, at all levels, to developing countries (“bilateral ODA”) and to multilateral institutions.
  • They are flows of official financing administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as the main objective, and which are concessional in character with a grant element of at least 25 percent (using a fixed 10 percent rate of discount).


 

GS III: S&T - HEALTH

A frog’s mucus could treat flu

  • Skin mucus secreted by a colourful, tennis ball-sized frog species (Hydrophylax bahuvistara) found in Kerala can be used to develop an anti-viral drug that can treat various strains of flu, according to a new study.
  • Frog mucus is loaded with molecules that kill bacteria and viruses and researchers are beginning to investigate it as a potential source for new anti-microbial drugs.
  • The researchers named the newly identified peptide “urumin” after the urumi, a sword with a flexible blade that snaps and bends like a whip.
  • When researchers squeezed some urumin into the noses of lab mice, the peptide protected them against what would have otherwise been a lethal dose of H1 flu virus, the kind responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
  • It seems to work by binding to a protein that is identical across many influenza strains, and in lab experiments, it was able to neutralise dozens of flu strains, from the 1934 archival viruses up to modern ones, researchers said.
  • More research is needed to determine if urumin could become a preventive treatment against the flu in humans, and to see if other frog-derived peptides could protect against viruses like dengue and Zika.

 


GS III:  S &T - IT

Scientists in U.S. develop first detailed global Internet atlas

  • Scientists have developed the first global Internet Atlas, including a detailed map of the Internet’s physical structure in India, an advance that could help guard the infrastucture from terrorism or extreme weather events.
  • Despite the Internet-dependent nature of our world, a thorough understanding of the Internet’s physical makeup has only recently emerged through Internet Atlas developed by researchers from University of Wisconsin- Madison in the U.S. and their collaborators.
  • While average users rarely think of these elements, things like submarine cables — buried below the ocean floor — run between continents to enable communication.
  • Data centres in buildings all over the world are packed with servers storing many types of data.
  • Traffic exchange occurs between different service providers at internet exchange points.
  • Mapping the physical Internet helps stakeholders boost performance and guard against a number of threats, from terrorism to extreme weather events like hurricanes.

 

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL JAPAN

Japan’s 100-hour overtime cap sparks anger

  • Workaholic Japan has unveiled its first-ever plan to limit overtime, but critics want to give it the boot, saying an “outrageous” 100- hour-a-month cap will do nothing to tackle karoshi, or death from overwork.
  • Tokyo’s bid to ease a national health crisis comes after the top executive at advertising giant Dentsu quit late last year in response to the suicide of a young employee who regularly logged more than 100 hours of overtime a month.

 

 

GS I : CULTURE

One Part Woman bags Sahitya Akademi award

  • The English translation of writer Perumal Murugan’s novel Mathorubhagan (One Part Woman) has won the Sahitya Akademi’s award for translation in English.
  • “I am really happy about the award as I liked the translation. It has already won the Canada Ilakkiya Thotta Virudhu,” said Mr. Murugan.
  • The translation was done by Aniruddhan Vasudevan and the book was published by Penguin.
  • The prize in the form of a casket containing an engraved copper plaque and a cash component of ?50,000 would be presented at a ceremony in June.
  • The title describes Lord Shiva in his avatar as a combination of man and woman.
  • Perumal Murugan faced a lot of controversy over the book and the Madras High Court order in his favour gave the author much needed relief.
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