+91 9004418746enquiry.aashah@gmail.com
+91 9004078746aashahs.ias@gmail.com

Current Affairs 28 April 2017

 

NEWS

28 April 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.        

GS III: SECURITY

All-woman battalion to take on Kashmir women pelters of stones

2.        

GS II: POLITY  JUDICIARY

No barrier to naming Lokpal, says SC

3.        

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

U.S.-based firm to build span on Pamban bridge

4.        

GS II: GOVERNANCE POLICY

Judicial performance index proposed

5.        

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

‘UID-PAN linking a Faustian bargain'

6.        

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Centre for online data protection

7.        

GS II: MULTILATERAL - BBIN

Bhutan out of vehicle pact

8.        

GS II: INTERNATIONAL  USA

Now, Trump flips on NAFTA

9.        

GS III: ECONOMY  POLICY

Direct tax base to soar in 3 years

10.     

GS III: ECONOMY  SECTOR

Rejigged cotton project on the anvil: Textile Commissioner

11.     

GS III: S&T IT

A robotic system that 3D prints buildings

12.     

GS III: ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Vinegar to the rescue of Great Barrier Reef?

13.     

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Himalayan rocks may up flood risk, finds study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS III: SECURITY

All-woman battalion to take on Kashmir women pelters of stones

  • In a bid to counter the women who throw stones at security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union government plans to raise an all-woman India Reserve Battalion (IRB) in the State, a Home Ministry official said.
  • The decision to raise an all-women battalion comes after it was observed that girl students were throwing stones at security forces in Srinagar.
  • The IRBs are being raised to provide jobs to the local youths, with 60% of the vacancies to be filled with candidates from the border districts.
  • The cost of raising each battalion is around Rs. 61 crore, and 75% of the expenditure will be borne by the Centre. IRB personnel are normally deployed in their respective States but they can be sent elsewhere if required.
  • The Centre has also given directions to the State government to not use Special Police Officers as "chowkidaars (guards)" at the houses of politicians and government officials and to use them in active policing instead.
  • The decisions were taken at a marathon meeting, chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, to review various developmental and infrastructure projects in the State.
  • The Centre asked the State government to build as many football fields and sports facilities as possible in rural Kashmir to engage the youth, a senior Home Ministry official said.
  • As part of the Rs. 80,000-crore development package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, around Rs. 19,500 crore was released for various projects. The package has been sanctioned for 63 projects concerning 15 Central ministries, the official said.

 

GS II: POLITY  JUDICIARY

No barrier to naming Lokpal, says SC

  • Under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, the appointments to Lokpal are made by a high-level selection committee of the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, LoP, Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist chosen by them.
  • But the judgment authored by Justice Ranjan Gogoi differs with the government's viewpoint. Highlighting India's commitment to ‘zero tolerance against corruption', the court said an existing law cannot be put on hold merely because the parliament is working on a better law.
  • Instead, the court pointed to sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the original 2013 Lokpal Act, which makes it clear that an appointment of the Chairperson or Members of Lokpal will not be invalidated merely because one of the members of the Selection Committee is missing.
  • Thus, the available members of the Selection Committee could recommend suitable persons to the President for appointment to the Lokpal. If an appointment process done by a "truncated" Lokpal Selection Committee is already recognised under the 2013 Act, why should the government wait for any amendments at all, asked the Supreme Court.
  • Quoting Justice Krishna Iyer, the judgment described the Lokpal Act 2013 as "an eminently workable piece of legislation and there is no justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension till the amendments, as proposed, are carried out".

 

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

U.S.-based firm to build span on Pamban bridge

  • After floating global tender, Indian Railways has selected the U.S.-based Modjeski Masters, one of the world's leading bridge engineering firms, to design and fabricate a new span that would replace the existing century-old Scherzer's span on the Pamban rail bridge, a cantilever bridge.
  • The executing agency, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), has assigned the Rs. 35-crore project to the joint venture floated between the U.S.-based firm and Larsen and Tubro (L&T).
  • As the bridge was located in the world's second-most corrosive environment, the span would be made of corrosion resistant high strength steel.

 

 

GS II: GOVERNANCE POLICY

Judicial performance index proposed

  • The NITI Aayog has proposed the introduction of a judicial performance index to reduce delays and the outsourcing of non-core functions of the police to private agencies or other government departments, in a bid to fix justice system that is in ‘dire need of reform.'
  • The government's think tank has also mooted changes in criminal justice and procedural laws, a repeal of all irrelevant legislation by March 2019 and reforms in land ownership laws - which account for 67% of litigants in civil suits.
  • The creation of a judicial performance index that could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay, should be ‘the first step' in judicial system reforms, the Aayog has said in its draft three-year action plan discussed with Chief Ministers.
  • The performance index for courts will entail fixing of ‘non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases to benchmark when a case has been delayed.'
  • The index can also include certain progress on process steps already approved by High Courts and such an annual evaluation should give judges in High Courts ‘a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.'
  • "Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those States," the Aayog reckons.
  • To improve the quality of policing, the think tank has asked the Home Ministry to create a task force to identify ‘non-core functions' that can be outsourced to private agents or government departments in order to reduce the workload of the police.
  • "Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and address verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced..." the Aayog said in a chapter on improving the rule of law.
  • India's police to population ratio should reach the United Nations norms of 222 per lakh population, over the next seven years, from the current level of 137.
  • Red-flagging the adverse implications of crimes against women beyond ‘the obvious horror for affected individuals', the Aayog has asked the Home Ministry to push for greater hiring of women in the police force, with a target of 30% of all new recruits.
  • Citing inordinate delays in India's judicial system and its low rank on enforcing contracts in the World Bank's ease of doing business report for 2017, the think tank has also called for streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics on the workload of pending cases.
  • Such data will help enable "priority appointment of judges at the lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assess the number of judges needed to tackle pendency," the Aayog said.

 

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

‘UID-PAN linking a Faustian bargain'

  • Lashing out at the move to link Aadhaar to the permanent account number and filing of income tax returns, senior advocate Shyam Divan told the Supreme Court that the newly inserted Section 139AA in the Income Tax Act, which mandates the linking of Aadhaar with PAN, a "Faustian bargain".
  • Linking Aadhaar with essential activities of life, such as opening a bank account, filing returns and buying property or a vehicle, would turn the "entire nation into one large concentration camp where citizens are under State surveillance round-the-clock."
  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan assured him that the court was still alive to its past orders that Aadhaar should be "purely voluntary" and not forced on citizens.
  • Justice Bhushan wondered why people should have a problem parting with their biometric particulars for getting Aadhaar when they have none whatsoever for procuring a passport to go abroad.
  • "State has a legitimate interest in getting a citizen's biometric details for a passport," responded Mr. Divan, who represents petitioners, including the former Army officer S.G. Vombatkere.
  • "For one, God forbid, if something happens to him when he is abroad, the State needs these particulars to identify him. These are permitted and legitimate purposes for collecting biometric data. Besides, if you go to another country, you have to abide by the laws of that country. But Aadhaar is being insisted in every walk of life."

Faustian bargain (idiom): An agreement in which a person abandons his or her spiritual values or moral principles in order to obtain wealth or other benefits.

 

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Centre for online data protection

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was working on a new regulatory regime to ensure online data protection and the government fully supported the freedom of choice and privacy of individuals.
  • The government, represented by Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, submitted before a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra that a person's freedom of choice to share online his personal details or keep them private should not be scuttled.
  • The Constitution Bench was hearing a challenge against the 2016 contract entered into between WhatsApp and Facebook to share information and personal details of millions of its users.
  • The petition contended that this was a violation of the users' privacy and free speech.
  • "I respect their [users'] choice, that is why I give end-to-end encryption," Kapil Sibal, counsel for WhatsApp, submitted.
  • K.K. Venugopal, counsel for Facebook, submitted that users had a choice to stop using the service. But the court disagreed with this submission.
  • "That is the freedom of negative choice and not exactly the freedom of choice we are discussing here," Justice Misra observed orally.

 

GS II: MULTILATERAL - BBIN

Bhutan out of vehicle pact

  • India's plan for a sub-regional motor vehicle agreement faced a setback, as the Bhutan government announced that it is not ready to go ahead with the process at present.
  • It asked the other members of the ‘BBIN' grouping - India, Bangladesh and Nepal - to continue to operationalise it without Bhutan.
  • "The Royal government has decided to give its consent for the entry into force of the agreement among the 3 member-states without any obligation to Bhutan. The agreement will enter into force for Bhutan after its ratification process is completed," an official statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Thimphu said.
  • "The Royal government remains fully committed to the BBIN process, including the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement," it added.
  • Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay's decision to step out of the BBIN process comes on the back of severe domestic opposition to the motor vehicles agreement, primarily on fears of vehicular pollution and environmental degradation if trucks from neighbouring countries are given access to Bhutan, a country that prides itself on its "carbon neutrality" and preserving the environment.
  • As a result, despite the fact that the MVA agreement was signed on June 15, 2015, and ratified on its second attempt in the lower house in July 2016, the upper house in Bhutan voted it down in November 2016.

 

GS II: INTERNATIONAL  USA

Now, Trump flips on NAFTA

  • Tempering yet another of his campaign promises, U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will not withdraw the country from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
  • Mr. Trump presented his mellowed position - earlier he had threatened to terminate the treaty - as a response to pleas from the leaders of the northern and southern neighbours of the U.S.
  • Earlier, when he abandoned his attempt to open up the U.S.'s ‘one-China' policy for negotiation, he presented that too as in response to a request from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • Mr. Trump had described NAFTA as the worst trade deal, and had blamed former President Bill Clinton for it.
  • Though it was Mr. Clinton who signed the deal, his predecessor George W. Bush had concluded the negotiations.
  • The trade among these three is now $ 1.1 trillion, up from the 1993 levels of $290 billion, when the treaty was signed.

GS III: ECONOMY  POLICY

Direct tax base to soar in 3 years

  • The NITI Aayog expects India's direct tax base to rise significantly over the next three years, due to demonetisation and steps taken to curb black money by the government, pegging the direct tax to GDP ratio at 6.3% in 2019-20 from 5.6% in 2016-17.
  • "The forecasted direct tax to GDP ratio is 5.8%, 6% and 6.3% in 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively," the government think tank estimated in its draft three-year action plan for the economy, where it has also recommended measures to increase the tax base, such as phasing out myriad exemptions.
  • Demonetisation, it noted, had led to a significant increase in bank deposits which is likely to result in disclosure of "a significant amount of income that would not have been done otherwise." Therefore, it has argued that there could be a significant one-time increase in the direct tax revenues for 2017-18, although such an increase has not been factored into its estimates.
  • The Aayog has recommended a massive increase in outlays on healthcare and railways and road sectors over the next three years, with the share of healthcare spending in total government expenditure expected to rise from 1.7% in 2015-16 to 3.6% by 2019-20.
  • "Health expenditures contribute directly to enhancing the social welfare of people and in developing human capital. The increased allocation should be utilised towards public health, state level grants, fiscal incentives and human resources for health to states to improve health outcomes," it said.

 

GS III: ECONOMY  SECTOR

Rejigged cotton project on the anvil: Textile Commissioner

  • In an effort to give a thrust to the cotton sector, the Textile Ministry is looking to introduce a revamped Technology Mission on Cotton.
  • The office of the Textile Commissioner would send a draft on the revamped project to the Textile Ministry in a couple of months.
  • "The mission will have four parts. The first two will deal with cotton productivity and will come under the Agriculture Ministry. The third and fourth missions will be under the Textile Ministry."
  • A Technology Mission on Cotton was implemented by the Union Government from 2000 to 2012 and it had four "mini missions."
  • India is now the largest producer of cotton globally.
  • There is a need for a revamped Technology Mission on Cotton as the country needs to adopt global standards and focus on quality.

 

GS III: S&T IT

A robotic system that 3D prints buildings

  • MIT scientists have designed a new robotic system that can 3D print the basic structure of an entire building, an advance that would make building houses a faster, less expensive process.
  • The building could be completely customised to the needs of a particular site and the desires of its maker. Even the internal structure could be modified in new ways, researchers said.
  • Different materials could be incorporated as the process goes along, and material density could be varied for optimum combinations of strength, insulation, or other properties.
  • The system consists of a tracked vehicle that carries a large, industrial robotic arm, which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end. This highly controllable arm can then be used to direct any construction nozzle.

 

GS III: ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Vinegar to the rescue of Great Barrier Reef?

  • Common household vinegar may help protect Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef by effectively and quickly killing the coral-munching crown-of-thorns starfish, scientists said.
  • The innovative method of killing crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) is safe to other marine life and will now be introduced on the reef.
  • The Great Barrier Reef has been exposed to multiple disturbances in recent years, including the 2016 and 2017 mass coral bleaching, three tropical cyclones in the past three years, and the ongoing CoTS outbreak.
  • CoTS are breeding at epidemic levels and are one of the primary reasons for the decline in live coral.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Himalayan rocks may up flood risk, finds study

  • Earthquakes and landslides in the Himalayas - that lead to large volume of hard rocks being dumped into rivers - can increase flood risk up to hundreds of kilometres downstream, potentially affecting millions of people in India and neighbouring countries, a new study warns.
  • The findings could help researchers improve flood risk maps for the Ganga plain, a low-lying region - one of Earth's most densely populated areas.
  • For the first time, scientists have traced the path of rocks washed down from the Himalayan mountains onto the Ganga plain.
  • They found that large landslides in the southern, lower elevation ranges of the Himalayas are more likely to increase flood risk than those in the high mountains further north.
  • Rocks in the south are extremely hard and travel only a short distance - less than 20 km - to reach the Plain.
  • This means much of this rock - such as quartzite - reaches the Ganga plain as gravel or pebbles, which can build up in rivers, altering the natural path of the water, the research team said.
Back to Top