News (Text)


When:
October 27, 2018 @ 1:00 am
2018-10-27T01:00:00+05:30
2018-10-27T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

27 OCTOBER 2018 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Sri Lanka unity govt. falls, Rajapaksa sworn in as PM

2.

GS II: POLITY – CBI

SC sets deadline for Verma probe, curbs powers of Rao

3.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Essar Steel lenders pick ArcelorMittal as winner, Ruias demur

4.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

Pakistan’s ban on Saeed’s outfits lapses

5.

GS III: DEFENCE

IAF gets first overhauled Sukhoi

6.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

Varsities having Ordinance need not follow central rules

7.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

China, Japan pivot to new markets

8.

GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN

Google fired 48 staff for sexual abuse: CEO

9.

GS III: S&T – OTHERS

Couple creates water out of thin air

10.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

Migratory birds start arriving at Chilika, but numbers are down

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Sri Lanka unity govt. falls, Rajapaksa sworn in as PM

  • In a sudden move, President Maithripala Sirisena pulled his faction out of Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition and within hours appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister.
  • The startling developments led to the collapse of the country’s first national unity government, with Mr. Sirisena joining hands once again with the leader he ousted in 2015.
  • Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), however, maintained that Mr. Rajapaksa’s appointment was “illegal and unconstitutional.”
  • The growing friction between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe within the country’s uneasy coalition was no secret.
  • Mr. Sirisena’s reported outburst at a Cabinet meeting- over an alleged assassination plot targeting him and the development of a container terminal in Colombo – further exposed the discord.

GS II: POLITY – CBI

SC sets deadline for Verma probe, curbs powers of Rao

  • To safeguard the CBI’s reputation, the Supreme Court ordered the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to complete its inquiry into the allegations of graft and misconduct against exiled CBI Director Alok Verma in two weeks.
  • The inquiry, which had commenced on the basis of a letter from the Cabinet Secretary about a complaint received in August 2018, would be conducted under the supervision of former Supreme Court judge A.K. Patnaik.
  • A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph also clipped the powers of the incumbent at the helm of the agency, M. Nageswara Rao.
  • Mr. Rao will take care of only routine tasks essential to keep the CBI functioning. He has been barred from taking any major or policy decisions.
  • All decisions taken by Mr. Rao “from October 23 up to this hour” have come under the scanner. The court asked that a list of the decisions – including transfer of investigations – taken by Mr. Rao be placed before the Bench on November 12 in a sealed cover.
  • The court said “appropriate orders” would be passed on these decisions taken by Mr. Rao after perusing the details.
  • The CVC, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, raised concerns that the appointment of Justice Patnaik would reflect on the Commission.
  • He quoted Section 14 of the CVC Act of 2003 to buttress the fact that CBI was statutorily accountable in its functions.
  • This prompted the Bench to clarify in its judicial order that Justice Patnaik’s appointment was a “one-time exception felt necessary considering the particular facts of the case”.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Essar Steel lenders pick ArcelorMittal as winner, Ruias demur

  • A day after the Ruias offered Rs. 54,389 crore for full settlement with the creditors of Essar Steel, the Committee of Creditors selected ArcelorMittal as the ‘successful applicant’ with a lower bid of Rs. 50,000 crore.
  • Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal and its partner, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation of Japan, have received the Letter of Intent from Essar Steel’s CoC.
  • The resolution plan includes upfront payment of about Rs. 42,000 crore and a further injection of Rs. 8,000 crore into Essar Steel towards operational improvement and higher production levels.
  • The offer from the Ruias, promoters of Essar Steel, would have meant full repayment to its creditors, while the ArcelorMittal bid would work out to a 15% ‘haircut’ for the banks, according to analysts.
  • The Ruia family had bet on the amendment, Section 12A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, introduced in June 2018, which allows a company to withdraw from the IBC process with the consent of 90% of the lenders.
  • ArcelorMittal has argued that such an offer should be made prior to the date of Expression of Interest (EoI).
  • “In the current case, Essar Steel was admitted into NCLT on August 2, 2017 and the EoI date was October 20, 2017. Section 12A provision did not exist then. In the true spirit of the June 2018 amendment, an opportunity to withdraw from IBC process under Section 12A should not be denied to ongoing cases where the EoI stage was over prior to this amendment,” said a spokesperson of the Essar Group.
  • Essar Steel’s resolution plan will now go before the National Company Law Tribunal for formal acceptance.

 

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

Pakistan’s ban on Saeed’s outfits lapses

  • India questioned Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorism following reports that Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and its associate group Falah-I-Insaniyat Foundation are no longer on the list of banned organisations.
  • In a submission to the Islamabad High Court, the legal team representing Hafiz Saeed, accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, said the Presidential ordinance of February 2018 that put the organisations on the list, has lapsed,indicating that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has not extended the ban.
  • Mr. Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, argued in court that he set up Jamaat-ud Dawa in 2002 after severing ties with the banned organisation Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT).
  • India accuses LeT of committing terrorist attacks in Kashmir apart from being the tool for the Mumbai strikes.
  • The developments reveal that the Pakistani position of not extending the Presidential ordinance is a complete turnaround from its submission to the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that put it on a “greylist” earlier in 2018.

GS III: DEFENCE

IAF gets first overhauled Sukhoi

  • In a major step towards improving the availability rate of the backbone of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter fleet, the IAF’s Base Repair Depot (BRD), Ojhar in Maharashtra has successfully overhauled a Su-30 MKI aircraft.
  • 11 BRD is the only fighter aircraft repair depot of the force and undertakes repair and overhaul of frontline fighters such as MIG-29 and Sukhoi-30 MKI.
  • The Su-30MKI procured from Russia and licence manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the mainstay of the IAF’s fighter squadron.
  • India has contracted 272 aircraft of which over 240 have been inducted into service.
  • However their serviceability rate has been an issue of constant concern with availability rates dropping below 50% at one point and has improved to over 60% over the last couple of years.
  • The target is to have fleet availability of over 75%.
  • To enable this deal, Russia changed its legislation permitting its companies to enter into direct agreement with foreign companies for long term support agreements.
  • This was to cut the long and cumbersome procurement process of spares as India could not deal directly with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) but only through designated intermediaries like Rosoboronexport.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

Varsities having Ordinance need not follow central rules

  • The Centre has decided that central universities already having an Ordinance of their own need not adopt theCentral Civil Services (CCS) rules.
  • However, new central universities not having an Ordinance have to adopt them.
  • This comes close on the heels of a UGC letter to all central universities that they should adopt the CCS rules, which led to much controversy on the ground that the freedom of faculty members to criticise any government policy would stand in violation of these rules.
  • The move was criticised on the grounds that it would block even the writing of books or articles critical of government policy.
  • Now, since JNU had its own Ordinance, it was not required to impose CCS rules on its faculty.
  • The Central Civil Services Conduct Rules say: “No government servant shall make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy of the Central government or a State.”
  • This aspect of the CCS rules had been interpeted as a gag order by various teachers’ associations.
  • However, an expert said, “Institutions follow written orders. Unless the UGC issues a letter to all universities reversing its last order, how does it matter?”

 

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

China, Japan pivot to new markets

  • Faced with the threat of a trade war with the U.S., China and Japan have decided to work together to develop new overseas markets, by focussing on collaboration instead of competing with each other.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, that joint forays in third countries would now be one of the new templates of Tokyo-Beijing ties.
  • By bolstering investment in other countries, Asia’s two biggest economies will aim to form a new model of economic cooperation between them.
  • The meeting between the two leaders was followed by the signing of a slew of agreements, which covered energy cooperation, military confidence building measures in the East China Sea, infrastructure development and joint development of hi-end technology.
  • Focussing on cutting-edge know-how, an agreement was signed to establish a discussion platform on hi-end technology and intellectual property. The Chinese side hopes that such a forum would help make up possible shortages of U.S. components, in case the Beijing-Washington trade and technology war escalates.
  • The two sides also signed an agreement on joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea – an initiative that was stalled in 2008, when tensions over islands, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan, spiralled.
  • A decision has also been taken to launch joint search and rescue missions in these waters.
  • Analysts say China seeks Japanese companies to participate in its Belt and Road projects, especially in the financial sphere, to counter allegations that Beijing is deliberately pursuing “debt trap” diplomacy as a tool for exercising political control in developing countries.
  • The two countries also signed a bilateral currency swap dealt of $26.7 billion – around 10 times as larger than a previous agreement that has expired.

 

GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN

Google fired 48 staff for sexual abuse: CEO.

  • Google announced that it has fired 48 employees for sexual harassment during the past two years and sent them away without severance packages, hours after a news report alleged that it had protected some male executives facing sexual misconduct allegations and offered them large sums to leave the company.
  • The surprise disclosure came in an email to Google employees from CEO Sundar Pichai.
  • It was a direct response to a New York Times report that the executive in charge of Google’s Android software was dismissed for sexual misconduct in 2014 and paid handsomely to leave.
  • A spokesman for Andy Rubin said he left on his own accord and has never been informed of any accusations of sexual misconduct.
  • Mr. Rubin acknowledges having consensual sexual relationships with Google employees who didn’t report to him, adhering to the boundaries drawn by company policy at that time, according to the spokesman, Sam Singer.
  • The Times reported that Google also protected two other executives accused of sexual misconduct, ousting one with a severance package while retaining another.
  • In his email, Mr. Pichai said Google adopted tougher policies in 2015.
  • Although he didn’t directly address the allegations against Mr. Rubin and other executives, he conceded that the Times story “was difficult to read” and did not dispute it.

 

GS III: S&T – OTHERS

Couple creates water out of thin air

  • David Hertz, having learned that under the right conditions you really can make your own water out of thin air, put a little contraption on the roof of his office and began cranking out free bottles of H2O for anyone who wanted one.
  • Soon he and his wife, Laura Doss-Hertz, were thinking bigger so much so that the couple won the $1.5 million XPrize For Water Abundance.
  • They prevailed by developing a system that uses shipping containers, wood chips and other detritus to produce as much as 2,000 litres of water a day at a cost of no more than 2 cents a quart (1 litre).
  • The XPrize competition has awarded over $140 million so far for what it calls audacious, futuristic ideas aimed at protecting and improving the planet.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

Migratory birds start arriving at Chilika, but numbers are down

  • Migratory birds have started arriving at the wetlands of Odisha’s Chilika Lake – one of the largest wintering grounds in Asia, but not in their usual numbers this year.
  • The arrival of migratory birds is awaited with the onset of winter every year.
  • This year, however, fewer winged visitors have descended on the mudflats of the lake.
  • Close to one million birds congregate on the mudflats of the lake during winter.
  • The lake is home to 230 bird species, out of which 97 are intercontinental migrants.
  • The lake is also a designated Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance).
  • The Nalabana Bird Sanctuary and Mangalajodi, the two major places where the birds congregate, also have not received the usual numbers.
  • One of the reasons behind the low turnout is the flooding after incessant rain triggered by cyclone Titli.

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