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Current Events 9 February 2017

 

NEWS

9 FEBRUARY 2017

 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

In a first, SC issues contempt notice to sitting HC judge

2.

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

Dam oustees to get compensation

3.

GS III : ECONOMY

RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.25%

4.

GS III : ECONOMY

From March 13, no curbs on cash withdrawal: RBI

5.

GS I : GEOGRAPHY

Centre to install 150 quake sensors in Uttarakhand

6.

GS II : INTERSTATE RELATIONS

Stalemate on Krishna water release resolved

7.

GS II : NGOs

‘Setback’ to Gates Foundation in India

8.

GS II : INDEPENDENT BODIES

Centre not in favour of new law for CBI

9.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-CHINA

Hope stand on Masood Azhar won’t affect ties with India: China

10.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS - WTO

India to pitch global services accord to WTO chief Azevedo

11.

GS III : DIGITAL ECONOMY

Digital payment costs are a hindrance: TRAI

12.

GS II : SOCIAL SCHEMES

Cabinet nod for rural digital literacy programme

13.

GS III : S&T -ENVIRONMENT

Tackling the scourge of plastic with bags made of cassava starch

14.

GS II : SOCIAL - WOMEN

Heavy lifting, shift work may harm women’s fertility: Study

15.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT -BIODIVERSITY

Gecko does ‘striptease’ to avoid becoming lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

In a first, SC issues contempt notice to sitting HC judge

  • The Supreme Court sent out a strong message that it will not hesitate to act against one of its own for the sake of upholding justice.
  • For the first time in the history of Independent India, it issued a contempt of court notice against a sitting High Court judge for allegedly disgracing the judicial institution and impeding the course of justice administration.
  • A Bench of seven seniormost judges of the SC, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, assembled in a packed Court 1 on 8 February 2017 and heard Attorney- General Mukul Rohatgi give his opinion that the Calcutta High Court judge, Justice C.S. Karnan, should face contempt action for his “scurrilous” letters against sitting and retired High Court and Supreme Court judges.
  • The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognisance of Justice Karnan′s letters and conduct.
  • The Bench ordered Justice Karnan to appear before it on February 13 to defend himself.
  • It also directed him to refrain from undertaking any judicial or administrative work and return all his official files to the Calcutta High Court registry.

Constitutional powers of the Supreme Court:

  • The Bench sought the assistance of senior members of the Bar to help understand the extent of its own constitutional powers in the uncharted waters presented by the case.
  • In its Union of India versus Sankal Chand Sheth judgment of 1977, the Supreme Court had held that neither the President nor the Chief Justice of India had the power to punish a judge for misconduct.
  • Attorney- General Mukul Rohatgi argued that the Supreme Court, as the apex judiciary, was empowered under Article 129, read with Article 142 (2), of the Constitution to “punish” anyone for contempt, even a High Court judge who had repeatedly made damaging remarks about his superiors and colleagues.
  • The power of the Supreme Court to punish for contempt was not confined to the Contempt of Courts Act. Article 129, he said, clothed the Supreme Court with the power to punish for contempt of itself. Article 142 (2) provided the court with the power to “make any order” for the “punishment of any contempt of itself.”
  • The A-G quoted the 1991 Supreme Court judgment in Delhi Judicial Service Association versus State of Gujarat, which said the Constitution designed the SC as a Court of Record and “Article 129 thereof recognises the existing inherent power of a Court of Record in its full plenitude, including the power to punish for its own contempt and the contempt of its subordinate.”

 


GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

Dam oustees to get compensation

  • The Supreme Court gave its nod for the distribution of compensation to the Sardar Sarovar Project oustees. It ordered payment of Rs. 60 lakh per family to be displaced for two hectares of land.
  • The families will have to give an undertaking that they will vacate the land within a month, failing which the authorities will have the right to forcibly evict them.
  • The bench said monetary compensation was considered as the proposed land compensation was not feasible due to non-availability of a land bank.
  • The apex court passed a slew of directions to address the grievances of 681 such families, also withdrew its proposal to set up a committee of former Supreme Court judges to look into the compensation and rehabilitation issues.

 

 Sardar Sarovar Dam:

  • It is a gravity dam on the Narmada river near Navagam, Gujarat in India.
  • It is the largest dam and part of the Narmada Valley Project, a large hydraulic engineering project initiated in 1979, involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectric multi-purpose dams on the Narmada river.
  • One of the 30 dams planned on river Narmada, Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) is the largest structure to be built.
  • Following a number of controversial cases before the Supreme Court of India (1999, 2000, 2003), by 2014 the Narmada Control Authority had approved a series of changes in the final height – and the associated displacement caused by the increased reservoir.
  • The World Bank was initially funding SSD, but withdrew in 1994.
  • The figurehead of much of the protest is Medha Patkar, the leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

 

GS III : ECONOMY

RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.25%

  • The Monetary Policy Committee of the RBI has decided to keep the key policy rate (repo rate) unchanged at 6.25%, citing uncertainties caused by demonetisation, which had “discoloured” an objective assessment of inflation pressures.
  • More significantly, the RBI, in its last bimonthly review of the current financial year, changed the policy stance – dispensing with its accommodative position and switching to neutral – meaning interest rates could hereafter move in either direction.
  • All six members of the MPC voted to hold interest rates.
  • The RBI said while favourable base effects and lagged effects of demand compression would possibly mute headline inflation in the first quarter of 2017-18, price gains were expected to pick up momentum, especially as growth strengthened and the output gap narrowed.
  • The RBI also cited ‘risks’ to its inflation outlook: hardening global crude prices, exchange rate volatility, and fuller effects of house rent allowances under the seventh pay commission.


GS III : ECONOMY

From March 13, no curbs on cash withdrawal: RBI

  • The Reserve Bank of India is set to lift completely from March 13 the cash withdrawal limits imposed in the wake of the November 8 demonetisation of high-value currency notes.
  • The RBI had earlier lifted cash withdrawal limits for current and cash credit accounts.

 

GS I: GEOGRAPHY

Centre to install 150 quake sensors in Uttarakhand

  •  India is looking to have more than six times the number of earthquake sensors in Uttarakhand to better understand the geology of the region and the evolution of Himalayan earthquakes
  • Currently, there are only about 20 stations, maintained by different research agencies, that track earthquake activity.
  • This is a region known to be seismically active because it lies at the junction of two tectonic plates — the Himalayan and the Eurasian Plate — pushing against each other.
  • On 6 February 2017, Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand registered a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.
  • Though it didn′t cause damage, seismologists say its magnitude was “significant,” and residents in several parts of north India felt the tremors.
  • Major quakes in the region include the 1991 Uttarkashi quake of magnitude 6.8 that killed 700. It was followed by a quake of similar intensity that hit Chamoli in 1991 and killed 100.
  • Experts have long warned that a major quake in the Himalayan region is imminent because of the strain that has been building up over the centuries.

 

GS II : INTERSTATE WATERS

Stalemate on Krishna water release resolved

  • The stalemate in the release of water from the right main canal of Nagarjunasagar to the standing crop in 9.5 lakh acres in Andhra Pradesh′s Prakasam and Guntur districts was resolved on 8 February 2017 evening with the Telangana government agreeing to implement the water release order issued by the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) earlier.
  • Sources said the Telangana government told the KRMB meeting that it did not release water for the last 21 days citing unclear provisions in the order.

 

 

 

GS II : NGOs

‘Setback’ to Gates Foundation in India

  • In what is being seen as a loss of face for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), secretariat of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), is being ‘transitioned’ out to the Health Ministry.
  • The Gates Foundation-funded Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU) had so far served as the secretariat of NTAGI, which is the country′s apex immunisation advisory body and decides on vaccines that should become part of the government’s immunisation programme.
  • ITSU will now be fully funded by the government.
  • The Ministry, however, clarified that it would continue to collaborate with the Gates Foundation on immunisation policy and the National Health Mission.
  • The Foundation maintained that it did not play any role on policy decision making pertaining to immunisation, which is the sole prerogative of the Indian government.
  • “Upon request from the Health Ministry, the Foundation has provided a grant to PHFI for techno-managerial support through an Immunisation Technical Support Unit.
  • The grant comes to an end this month and we are in advanced stages of discussion with the Ministry on the contours of the next phase of our continued technical support,” a release stated.

 

GS II : INDEPENDENT BODIES

Centre not in favour of new law for CBI

  • The Central government has turned down the recommendation of a Parliamentary Committee to come up with a new law for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to replace the 70-year-old Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act which governs the agency, stating that it might impinge on the federal structure of the Constitution.
  • The 85th report of the Department- Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, chaired by MP Anand Sharma, strongly recommended that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) revisit the 24th report of the committee on “The Working of the Central Bureau of Investigation.”
  • “With cases being referred by States and courts to the CBI for investigation, the Committee acknowledges the burden of load bestowed upon it.
  • However, it is of the concerted view that the CBI turn to the State or other Central Forces to plug the vacancy in the establishment. It, therefore, desires that the CBI manage its cadre more efficiently and the DoPT should take holistic steps to hasten the part of recruitment in consultation with the UPSC,” said the panel, referring to the 24th report.

Government’s response:

  • In its action-taken reply, the DoPT said the agency, since the submission of the 24th report, had grown into a more dynamic and efficient organisation. It also listed the measures taken to strengthen the CBI.
  • “The subject of bringing a separate statute for the CBI has been considered and it has been concluded that the Constitution would require to be amended, which may also impinge on the federal structure of the Constitution and the mandate of Parliament to enact a law which would be in conflict with Entry 2 of List II which is in the domain of the States,” said the DoPT.
  • “Therefore, it is not open to the Central Government to constitute a CBI and confer on it powers which will impinge on all the powers of investigation of offences which are conferred on the State police,” it said.
  • The committee, in its subsequent remarks, said it was of the view that the powers given to CBI under the DSPE Act were not adequate.

 

GS II : BILATERAL  INDIA-CHINA

Hope stand on Masood Azhar won′t affect ties with India: China

  • China expressed hope that its decision to place a ‘technical hold’ on designating Masood Azhar an international terrorist will not have a negative impact on Sino-Indian ties
  • Unlike previous occasions, following the Pathankot airbase attack last January, when India had sought the intervention of UN Security Council’s 1267 committee, the initiative for seeking an international ban on Azhar last month was taken by the U.S., backed by Britain and France.
  • It was asserted that China had decided to place a “technical hold” on Azhar′s listing because a consensus on that decision among the member countries had not been achieved.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS WTO

India to pitch global services accord to WTO chief Azevedo

  •  India will make a presentation on 9 February 2017, to World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo and India Inc. on New Delhi′s proposal for a global pact to boost services trade.
  • The proposed Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement at the WTO level aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers/professionals across borders for short term work.
  • Among the objectives of the proposed pact, official sources said, is ensuring portability of social security contributions, as well as making sure fees or charges for immigration or visas are reasonable, transparent, and non-restrictive (or impairing the supply of services) in nature.
  • It also aims to pave the way for a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals.
  • Besides, the proposal is to ensure cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism, publication of measures impacting services trade and timely availability of relevant information in all the WTO official languages as well as free flow of data/ information for cross-border supply of services.
  • The sources said the presentation will specify that the proposed services pact is similar to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods adopted by the WTO Members in 2014 to ease customs norms for boosting global goods trade.
  • The proposed TFS pact is also about ‘facilitation’ – that is “making market access ‘effective’ and commercially meaningful and not about ‘new’ (or greater) market access.”
  • World Bank data shows the growing share of services in the world economy, the sources said, adding, however, that global trade flows in services remain subject to numerous border and behind- the-border barriers.

 

GS III : ECONOMY -DIGITAL ECONOMY

Digital payment costs are a hindrance: TRAI

  • The surge in digital payments in the country, driven largely by short-term incentives, will become sustainable if the costs of making such payments are addressed, said Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
  • Referring to the merchant discount rate (MDR) levied on transactions done through credit and debit cards, Mr.Sharma said there is no relationship between the charges and the ‘work done’ to justify them. “The work at the back-end is almost zero… You are just making some entry into some database that Mr.X transferred some amount to Mr Y. That’s only an entry. No work’s being done,” he said.
  • While people are getting more comfortable with digital payments, the TRAI chief said it is important to build confidence in the systems and ensure that all relevant software is tested for cyber-security and other security risks.
  • The regulator has reduced the charges of USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)-based payments made on mobile phones. 

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL SCHEMES

Cabinet nod for rural digital literacy programme

  • The Cabinet approved Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ or PMGDISHA to make six crore rural households digitally literate.
  • The outlay for the project is Rs2,351.38 crore.
  • The programme aims to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March 2019.
  • As many as 25 lakh candidates will be trained in FY 2016-17, 275 lakh in FY 2017-18 and 300 lakh candidates in FY 2018-19.

 

GS III : S&T - ENVIRONMENT

Tackling the scourge of plastic with bags made of cassava starch

  •  Kevin Kumala, an entrepreneur from Bali, Indonesia has founded a company, Avani Eco, that produces goods including cassava carrier bags, takeaway food containers made from sugar cane and straws fashioned from corn starch.
  • Disgusted at the rubbish littering the famous holiday island, the company is trying to tackle the problem with alternatives to conventional plastic.
  • The alternatives produced degrade relatively quickly and don′t leave any toxic residue. These are biodegradable plastics, known as “bioplastics”.
  • Bioplastics are defined as plastics made from materials such as corn starch and vegetable fats and oil, while common plastics are made from natural gas or petroleum.

Indonesia marine pollution:

  • In Indonesia, the waves of plastic flooding into rivers and oceans have been causing problems for years — waterways in cities become clogged, increasing the risk of floods, as well death and injury to marine animals who eat or become trapped in plastic packaging.
  • The archipelago of over 17,000 islands is one of the worst offenders when it comes to marine littering, with U.S. charity Oceans Conservancy estimating the country dumps the second highest amount of plastic into the sea, behind only China.
  • A 2016 report by the Ellen MacArthur foundation warned that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, measuring by weight.
  • At the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, 40 of the world’s biggest companies agreed to come up with cleaner ways to make and use the material.

The cost involved:

  • The most popular product of the company is the bags made from cassava — an edible tropical root that is cheap and abundant in Indonesia — with the words “I am not plastic” emblazoned on them.
  • Being environmentally friendly does cost however, with a cassava bag typically about Rs2 more expensive than a plastic bag.
  • The UN body concluded in a 2015 report that they tended to be more expensive and were unlikely to play a major role in reducing marine litter.

 

  


GS II : SOCIAL - WOMEN

Heavy lifting, shift work may harm women′s fertility: Study

  • A physically demanding job or work schedules outside normal office hours may lower a woman′s ability to conceive, a new study has warned.
  • The study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that heavy lifting at work and rotating shift patterns were associated with poorer egg quality.

 

GS III: ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Gecko does ‘striptease’ to avoid becoming lunch

  • A newly discovered gecko uses a weird but ingenious tactic to evade capture: it strips down to its pink, naked skin and flees, leaving its attacker with a mouthful of scales, scientists have revealed.
  • The hard, dense flakes come off with “exceptional ease” and grow back in a matter of weeks, a team of researchers reported.
  • Dubbed Geckolepis megalepis , the little lizard was previously confused with another member of the family of fish-scale geckos, known for their large, sheddable scales.
  • But closer scientific scrutiny revealed it is a species quite apart — boasting the largest scales of any gecko. And it is more skilled than any other at shedding them at even the slightest touch. G. megalepis is resident in Madagascar.
  • Among G. megalepis ’ unique traits is a smaller “attachment area” — where the scales meet the skin — than other fish-scale geckos. This is what allows the flakes to tear from the skin so easily, without leaving a scar.
  • Reptiles, including geckos, are known for the ability to shed a body part, often all or part of the tail, to escape predator attack.
  • Scientists are interested in the regeneration ability of lizards for restorative medicine, possibly re-growing lost limbs for accident survivors one day.

 

 

 

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