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When:
July 20, 2018 @ 1:00 am
2018-07-20T01:00:00+05:30
2018-07-20T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

20 JULY 2018 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III: CORRUPTION

Chidambaram, Karti charged in Aircel case

2.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – LOKPAL

Kharge again skips Lokpal search meet

3.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Israel adopts Jewish nation law

4.

GS III: SECURITY

Details of 2015 Naga agreement emerge

5.

GS I: CULTURE

Behdienkhlam festival celebrated by Jaintias in Meghalaya

6.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

NGT says no effective steps taken to clean river Ganga

7.

GS II: SOCIAL – ISSUES

Transfer of Dalit cook brings matters to a boil

8.

GS III: SECURITY

Eight Naxalites killed in Chhattisgarh encounter

9.

GS I: GEOGRAPHY

India to expand polar research to Arctic as well

10.

GS II: POLITY – BILL/ACT

Fugitive offenders Bill passed

11.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

80% chance of Britain leaving EU, says Cameron

12.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-SRI LANKA

Lanka awaits experts’ report for India JV

13.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

‘Army planned attack on Rohingya’

14.

GS III: ECONOMY – TRADE WAR

‘India may lose U.S. trade spat in WTO over export support’

15.

GS III: ECONOMY – TELECOM

TRAI revamps rules on pesky calls, spam

16.

GS III: ECONOMY – TRADE WAR

Airbus: WTO to mull U.S. plea for sanctions

17.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

Wildlife scientists satellite-collar a dhole

18.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – CLIMATE CHANGE

Fighting global warming, one cow belch at a time

GS III: CORRUPTION

Chidambaram, Karti charged in Aircel case

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation filed a supplementary chargesheet before Special CBI judge against former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, his son Karti and 16 others in the Aircel-Maxis deal case, alleging criminal conspiracy and corruption.
  • Mr. Chidambaram, on his Twitter handle, said the agency had been pressured into filing the chargesheet to “support a preposterous allegation against me and officers with a sterling reputation.”
  • The agency has invoked provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act against the accused.
  • Among those arraigned are the then Economic Affairs Secretary Ashok Kumar Jha and Additional Secretary Ashok Chawla, besides then Joint Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna and Director Deepak Kumar Singh (serving IAS officer).
  • The charges are based on a CBI probe into a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in March 2006 to investments in Aircel by the Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of Maxis.
  • The agency has alleged that while on paper, a proposed influx of Rs. 180 crore at the rate of Rs. 10 per share was shown, the premium attached to it was not considered.
  • The CBI alleged that the actual amount that came in was more than Rs. 3,200 crore.
  • The then Finance Minister was empowered to clear foreign investments only up to Rs. 600 crore and the proposals beyond the threshold had to be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, the agency said.
  • Mr. Chidambaram and his son have on many occasions refuted the charges, stating that they were not even named in the FIR, that the CBI/ED chargesheets have already been quashed and the accused discharged.
  • The former Minister had said FIPB clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal was given as per procedure.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – LOKPAL

Kharge again skips Lokpal search meet

  • Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge again refused to attend a meeting of the selection committee for Lokpal at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence and wrote to the Prime Minister, objecting to hisbeing invited as a “special invitee and not a member.”
  • The meeting, however, took place and the process of forming a search committee to appoint a Lokpal was discussed.
  • Mr. Kharge, however, made it clear that he would not attend the meetings of the Selection Committee unless the leader of the single largest Opposition party is accorded the status of a full-fledged member.
  • “The recent actions of the government including the dilution of the Right to Information Act and the Whistleblower’s Act show that instead of strengthening laws to fight corruption and empowering the common man, they betray its [true] intentions,” he said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
  • “Since no amendments in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 have been carried out, an invitation as a ‘special invitee’ without rights of participation, recording of opinion and voting in the procedure, is only to mislead the nation and the people.”
  • This is the third time Mr. Kharge has skipped the meeting.
  • The committee comprises the PM, the CJI, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest Opposition party and an eminent jurist.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Israel adopts Jewish nation law

  • Israel’s Parliament adopted a law defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, provoking fears that it could lead to discrimination against Arabs.
  • The “nation state law” approved by the Israeli Parliament declares that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews and that they have a “unique” right to self-determination there.
  • Arab lawmakers and Palestinians said it legalised “apartheid.”
  • Others said it neglected to specify equality and Israel’s democratic character, implying the country’s Jewish nature comes first.
  • Arab Parliament members, who called the legislation “racist“, ripped up copies of the Bill in the chamber of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, after it was passed.
  • Arab citizens account for some 17.5% of Israel’s more than eight million population. They have long complained of discrimination.

GS III: SECURITY

Details of 2015 Naga agreement emerge

  • The government has informed a Parliamentary panel that it signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) after it agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation with a “special status”.
  • R. N. Ravi, interlocutor for the Naga talks, told the committee that it was a departure from their earlier position of “with India, not within India,” and that the government called it a framework agreement and signed it.
  • This is the first time that details of the agreement signed at the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 3, 2015, have emerged.
  • The details are part of the 213th report on the security situation in the Northeastern States tabled by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The committee was also informed that the “contours” had not been spelt out in the framework agreement that was “just about the recognition of the uniqueness of the Naga history by the Government of India”, and some special arrangements will have to be made for the Nagas.
  • “On being asked what the special arrangement will be, the Committee was told that with respect to Nagaland… Article 371A of the Constitution makes it clear that they are special and a special status has been accorded to them. A similar kind of status, with some local variation, and some change to the Nagas in the neighbouring States can be explored,” the report said.
  • According to the report, Mr. Ravi also informed the committee that the Nagas had now reached a common understanding with the government that “boundaries of the States will not be touched” and “some special arrangements would be made for the Nagas, wherever they are.”
  • Initially, the Nagas had stuck to the idea of unification of Naga inhabited areas, resolutely maintaining their stand of ‘no integration, no solution.’
  • The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ – it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring States.

GS I: CULTURE

Behdienkhlam festival celebrated by Jaintias in Meghalaya

  • Jaintia tribesmen dance while carrying traditional chariots at the Behdienkhlam festival in Tuber, Meghalaya.
  • The festival is celebrated after the sowing period to invoke the blessings of gods for a good harvest.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

NGT says no effective steps taken to clean river Ganga

  • Expressing displeasure over the steps taken to clean the river Ganga, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the Uttarakhand government to take “effective measures” and take into account the views of the general public.
  • A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel said that the information provided “on paper” was different from the “ground reality”.
  • Taking note of the compliance report submitted by the State government, the green panel said, “Though the compliance affidavit may claim that all steps have been taken, the object of the directions in letter and spirit and the effect on the ground is not adequate.”
  • Noting that “rigorous monitoring” is required, the NGT further directed district Ganga committees to furnish reports every fortnight.

GS II: SOCIAL – ISSUES

Transfer of Dalit cook brings matters to a boil

  • Following protests by leaders and cadre of various outfits and political parties over the transfer of a Dalit woman who was employed as a cook at a noon-meal centreTirupur Sub-Collector Sravan Kumar cancelled the transfer order issued by the Avinashi Block Development Officer.
  • P. Pappal, 42, was first employed as a cook at the primary school in Adi Dravidar Colony, Ochampalayam. She was transferred from there to a primary school in Thirumalaigoundanpalayam in Avinashi taluk after opposition from caste-Hindus. Recently, she was again transferred to a high school.

 

GS III: SECURITY

Eight Naxalites killed in Chhattisgarh encounter

  • Security forces killed at least eight Naxalites, including four women, in an encounter in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, a senior police official said.
  • Firearms, including two Insas rifles, were recovered from the encounter site.
  • The gun battle took place around 6 a.m. in a forest area near Timinar and Pusnar villages along the boundary of Bijapur and Dantewada districts.

GS I: GEOGRAPHY

India to expand polar research to Arctic as well

  • Three decades after its first mission to Antarctica, the government is refocusing priorities to the other pole – the Arctic-because of opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.
  • This month, it has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) – since 1998, charged with conducting expeditions to India’s base stations to the continent – as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.
  • It’s also in talks with Canada and Russia, key countries with presence in the Arctic circle, to establish new observation systems, according to a source.
  • Now, India only has one Arctic observation station near Norway.
  • While annual missions to maintain India’s three bases in Antarctica will continue, the new priorities mean that there will be more expeditions and research focus on the other poles.
  • Climate change, said the source, person familiar with deliberations, was a decisive factor in India re-thinking priorities. Sea ice at the Arctic has been melting rapidly – the fastest in this century. That means several spots, rich in hydrocarbon reserves, will be more accessible through the year via alternative shipping routes.
  • India is already an observer at the Arctic Council – a forum of countries that decides on managing the region’s resources and popular livelihood and, in 2015, set up an underground observatory, called IndARCat the Kongsfjorden fjord, half way between Norway and the North Pole.

 

 

GS II: POLITY – BILL/ACT

Fugitive offenders Bill passed

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which will now replace the ordinance by the same name promulgated by the President in April 2018.
  • The Bill empowers special courts to direct the Central government to confiscate all the assets belonging to a fugitive economic offender, including those assets that are proceeds of the crime and that do not belong to the offender.
  • The legislation gains importance against the backdrop of high-profile cases where individuals such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi escaped the country.
  • The Opposition raised several objections to the Bill, including that it did not do any more than what’s already provided for by the existing laws, that the Rs. 100-crore limit above which the law becomes applicable was untenable, and that the provision in the Bill disqualifying a fugitive economic offender from availing the Indian judicial system for civil cases was unconstitutional.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

80% chance of Britain leaving EU, says Cameron

  • Former British Prime Minister David Cameron said there is 80% chance that his country would leave the EU on the basis of an agreed deal and 20% chance that the deal would be brought to some form of political blockage.
  • “It really is a trade off between economic benefit and perceived political independence… I say perceived because I do not buy the argument…,” Mr. Cameron said.
  • He advocated the option of a soft Brexit by staying close to the single market and added that a ‘harder Brexit’ would create more friction.
  • Mr. Cameron, who demitted office after the Brexit referendum in 2016, said he wanted his country to be part of the EU.
  • During the discussion, he defended his decision to hold the referendum and said that the issue of Brexit was poisoning Britain’s politics.
  • He said the rational argument was staying inside the EU and fighting for change. In hindsight, emotional arguments trumped some of the rational arguments, he added.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-SRI LANKA

Lanka awaits experts’ report for India JV

  • The Sri Lankan government is awaiting a report from experts to finalise its joint venture with India, to run the loss-making Mattala airport in the island’s Southern Province.
  • Once the report is out, the proposal will be taken to the Cabinet for clearance, a top official in the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation told The Hindu.
  • According to the proposed joint venture between the Airports Authority of India and the Airport & Aviation Services in Sri Lanka, India will own a 70% stake and pump in $225 million to revamp and run the airport, while the Sri Lankan side will invest the rest.
  • As per the draft agreement, fine-tuned over three formal rounds of negotiations in Colombo, India will operate the airport on a 40-year lease.
  • Opposition forces, aligned to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, staunchly opposing the deal that they claim amounts to the “sale of national assets” to foreigners.
  • Ever since Mr. Rajapaksa built the airport in 2013, at an initial cost of about $200 million, the facility has been incurring huge losses and has made international headlines as the “world’s emptiest airport”.
  • With a current operational cost of LKR 250 million (roughly $1.56 million) per month, without a single flight, the airport offers little commercial logic.
  • All the same, its proximity to Hambantota, less than 30 km away, where China holds a 70% stake in the massive port it helped build, appears to be reason enough from India’s strategic standpoint.
  • As part of its ambitious One Belt One Road initiative, China is investing heavily in the island.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

‘Army planned attack on Rohingya’

  • Myanmar’s military engaged in “extensive and systematic” preparations for a bloody crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, a rights group said, in a damning new report that it says justifies a genocide investigation.
  • A military campaign that started in August 2017 forced some 7,00,000 of the effectively stateless minority over the border into Bangladesh, where they have recounted allegations of rape and extrajudicial killings.
  • The UN and the U.S. have called the campaign ethnic cleansing. Myanmar denies the accusations, saying it was responding to an attack by Rohingya militants.

GS III: ECONOMY – TRADE WAR

‘India may lose U.S. trade spat in WTO over export support’

  • Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said there was a “real” possibility that India could lose the trade dispute that the U.S. had filed in the WTO on export subsidiesbecause income levels in India had crossed the threshold for exports to be subsidised.
  • She said while direct subsidy to exports cannot be given, the government can legitimately support regulatory compliances required in other countries.
  • Support for input subsidy is also legitimate, the Commerce Secretary said.
  • “Benefits to services’ exports will remain untouched, and GST refunds to the exporters will continue as well,” she said.
  • “However, incentive only for exports is not eligible. There must be a cost incurred and then compensation.”
  • The government has already set up an expert group to look at WTO-compliant support to exports, and a draft set of schemes will be announced for discussion, she said.
  • The U.S., in March 2018, dragged India to the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over export subsidies, saying that these incentives were harming American companies.

GS III: ECONOMY – TELECOM

TRAI revamps rules on pesky calls, spam

  • TRAI revamped the regulations on pesky calls and spam as it spelt out new rules mandating subscribers’ consent for receiving telemarketing messages.
  • The regulator also asked telecom operators to ensure that commercial communication takes place only through registered senders.
  • The regulations provide for registration of senders, registration of headers (that segregate different types of messages) and, more importantly, registration of subscribers’ consent.
  • New regulations provide the subscriber with complete control over their consent and the ability to revoke the consent already granted, at their option,” TRAI said.
  • The registration of subscriber consent will put an end to “major abuse of the current regulations,” it noted. TRAI said that every access provider should establish ‘Customer Preference Registration Facility (CPRF)’ and make necessary arrangements to facilitate customers by providing ways and means to record consent (or its revocation) related to commercial communication.
  • Also, TRAI has introduced the concept of registered templates for both SMS and voice communication to prevent deliberate mixing of promotional messages into the transactional stream.
  • Violations under various categories will attract a penalty ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 50 lakh, based on the type of offence.

 

GS III: ECONOMY – TRADE WAR

Airbus: WTO to mull U.S. plea for sanctions

  • World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitrators will evaluate a U.S. request to impose billions of dollars worth of sanctions on European products after a final WTO ruling that found the European Union (EU) had made illegal subsidies to Airbus.
  • The United States had made the request last Friday for the three judges to set the level of retaliatory sanctions after the WTO appeals body ruled on May 15 that the EU had failed to remove subsidised government development loans for the world’s largest airliner, the A380, and Europe’s newest long-haul jet, the A350, causing losses for Boeing and U.S. aerospace workers.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

Wildlife scientists satellite-collar a dhole

  • In a first, wildlife scientists have collared a dhole, the Indian wild dog, with a satellite transmitter to study the habits of the endangered species.
  • With less than 2,500 individuals surviving in the wild globally, the dhole is already extinct in about 10 Asian countries.
  • It took a team of scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) over 10 days to track down a pack of 14 dholes in Bishanpura meadow in the Mukki range of the Kanha National Park.
  • The team tranquilised an adult female, tested its health and fixed a tracking collar around its neck as the rest of pack cautiously observed from a distance.
  • “We don’t know a lot of aspects of their ecology, which makes conserving dholes far more difficult than tigers,” said a senior scientist at WII.
  • Conservation ecologists believe the renewed efforts can help protect dholes.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – CLIMATE CHANGE

Fighting global warming, one cow belch at a time

  • From New Zealand to the United States and Kenya to Colombia, scientists are on a mission to fight global warming by making livestock less gassy.
  • Livestock are responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
  • According to calculations by some experts, this puts the livestock sector on par with transport.
  • The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says transport is responsible for 14% of emissions.
  • Ruminants such as cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats produce nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane, which is the most emitted gas and is released through belching.
  • Scientists are working on ways to reduce those emissions, including by breeding animals that burp less, adjusting their diets so they produce less methane and planting trees in pastures.
  • Although less prevalent than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, methane is more potent because it traps 28 times more heat, according to a 2016 study by the Global Carbon Project, which groups climate researchers.
  • Texas-based Bezoar Laboratories is working on a type of probiotic – helpful bacteria or yeasts in the digestive system -which has shown a 50% reduction of methane emissions in cattle during research.
  • New Zealand’s AgResearch has bred sheep to produce 10% less methane.
  • Agriculture accounts for nearly half of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and transforming the sector is key to meeting the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
  • In India, a national programme to boost the milk production of cows and buffaloes by improving their diet is also helping the environment, according to Rajesh Sharma, senior manager at the National Dairy Development Board(NDDB).
  • The NDDB uses software to assess the ideal diet for an animal, based on its physical profile and environment. Changes usually include adjusting the feed quantity and adding locally-available mineral supplements.
  • The tailored diet means each animal produces 12 to 15% less methane, according to Mr. Sharma.
  • In Kenya, scientists are testing various local grasses to see if they improve the productivity of livestock, which would reduce the amount of emissions per kg of milk, meat or eggs.
  • In Argentina, scientists took a novel approach to studying global warming, strapping plastic tanks to the backs of cows to collect their burps.
  • Latin American ranchers are experimenting with silvopastoralism – planting trees in pastures where they absorb greenhouse gases and offset emissions, while restoring degraded soil and improving biodiversity.

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