News (Text)


When:
November 23, 2018 @ 11:30 am
2018-11-23T11:30:00+05:30
2018-11-23T11:45:00+05:30

NEWS

23 NOVEMBER 2018

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: POLITY – STATES

Allied with PDP to safeguard J&K’s special status: Omar

2.

GS III: ECONOMY- INDICATORS

Rupee strengthens to 71 with softer oil, fund flows

3.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Sewage triggers foam on Marina beach

4.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

India, Pak. commit to Kartarpur corridor

5.

GS II: POLITY – RTI

Not consulted on changes in RTI Act: CIC

6.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

‘Release from dams didn’t lead to deluge’

7.

GS III: DEFENCE

Fresh rift in civil-military ties in Ministry of Defence

8.

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

‘Do you view undertrial prisoners as humans?’

9.

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

Shocked SC terms state of forensic labs as ‘utter chaos’

10.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

EU, U.K. reach draft deal on post-Brexit relationship

11.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

Probe backs use of anti-terror rule against migrants

12.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Trump spars with U.S. Supreme Court chief

13.

GS III: ENERGY

Falling crude puts OMC pricing under scanner

14.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Why the RBI board needs to be recast

15.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

‘PSBs can seek LoCs against defaulters’

16.

GS III: ECONOMY – STOCKS

SEBI simplifies regulations for reclassifying promoter as public investor

GS II: POLITY – STATES

Allied with PDP to safeguard J&K’s special status: Omar

  • The National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress launched a scathing attack on Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik for dissolving the Assembly and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav for his remarks alleging Pakistani support to the alliance.
  • NC vice-president Omar Abdullah justified his “temporary grand alliance with the PDP and the Congress to safeguard the special status of J&K in the Supreme Court.”
  • At a press conference here, he questioned Malik’s rejection of the move on grounds of “different political ideologies” and asked why the same principle was not applied when the PDP joined hands the BJP in 2015.

GS III: ECONOMY- INDICATORS

Rupee strengthens to 71 with softer oil, fund flows

  • Softer crude oil prices, along with foreign fund inflows, helped the rupee post a gain of over 1% against the dollar.
  • The change raised hopes for the current account deficit to remain within the tolerance limit and for a further reduction in petrol and diesel prices.
  • As a result, the current account deficit could be at 2.6% of the GDP against 2.8% of the GDP previously estimated.The rupee gained for the seventh straight session and appreciated by 1.07%, or 77 paise, against the dollar to close the day at 70.70 — its highest level in 12 weeks.
  • The Indian currency has gained around 3% in the last three trading sessions and has appreciated over 5% now from its record low.
  • Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was trading 0.39% lower at $62.85 a barrel, while foreign funds poured Rs. 446.24 crore into the stock markets on a net basis and domestic institutional investors bought shares worth Rs. 49.68 crore, provisional data showed.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Sewage triggers foam on Marina beach

  • On 22 November 2018, hundreds of visitors to the Marina beach, Chennai were surprised to see the the shore filled with foam.
  • Experts said it could be due to the city’s sewage.
  • The foam covered an area of about 50 feet from the shoreline.
  • V. Ramana Murthy, Director, National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) said that such foaming was a common feature during the first spell of monsoon.When large quantities of pollutants (sewage) from the Cooum and Adyar rivers are washed ashore and the sea water churns because of high winds, foaming occurs. Since the coastal currents are moving south, the foam has surfaced on the Marina,” he explained.
  • Pravakar Mishra, scientist, NCCR, whose team monitors the city’s beaches, said that there could be several reasons for such foaming to happen, including sudden bloom of phytoplankton.
  • But that happens only in January-end. This time the sea foam (or ocean foam or beach foam), or just spume could have been created by the agitation of seawater due to high winds, and high concentration of microbes from the sewage that are let out into the rivers. This could also be due to phosphate from the detergents let into the sewage,” he said.
  • Residents should not venture into the foam since it could cause skin diseases, Mr. Mishra said.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

India, Pak. commit to Kartarpur corridor

  • India and Pakistan exchanged letters committing to build the required infrastructure for visa-free direct travel by Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, allowing them to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.
  • Indian and Pakistani officials will meet soon to discuss the logistics of the corridor and the point of border-crossing where the roads, which pilgrims will take on the Indian side from Dera Guru Nanak Dev in Gurdaspur district, will lead directly to the border and from the Pakistani side of the border directly to the Kartarpur Darbar Sahib Gurdwara, a senior official confirmed.
  • The Kartarpur Sahib corridor was first proposed in 1999 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus ride to Lahore, as a long-standing demand from the Sikh community for easy access to the revered shrine across the border where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.

GS II: POLITY – RTI

Not consulted on changes in RTI Act: CIC

  • The Centre did not take the Central Information Commission into confidence on its proposed amendments to the Right To Information Act (RTI), said outgoing Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Radha Krishna Mathur, who retires on November 24, 2018.
  • Mathur said the Commission had discussed the proposed amendments internally, but has chosen not to take a stand on the proposal.
  • The government had planned to introduce the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha in July 2018.
  • But the Bill was not tabled following protests from civil society and the Opposition.
  • The Bill proposes to give the Centre the power to decide the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioners. Critics have warned that the amendments undermine the independence and authority of the Commission.
  • While the Commission as a whole has not taken any official stance, several of the Commissioners have made their views public, signalling a split within the body.
  • Information Commissioner, Amitava Bhattacharya, will retire on December 1, leaving the 11-member Commission with only three serving Commissioners.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

‘Release from dams didn’t lead to deluge’

  • The devastation wrought by the Kerala floods of August 2018 could not be attributed to the release of water from dams, says a computer-simulation of flood storage and flow patterns by a team of researchers.
  • Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and the Purdue University, United States, say that the odds of such floods were “0.06%” and no reservoir management could have considered such scenarios.
  • All 39 dams in the State had reached their full reservoir level by July-end, and were incapable of absorbing the torrential volumes in August 2018 leaving dam-managers with no choice but to release them.
  • The scientists analysed different scenarios with combinations of reservoir storage (85%, 75%, 150% and 25%) at different time periods (end of June and end of July), along with different soil moisture conditions, which has a bearing on river flows.

GS III: DEFENCE

Fresh rift in civil-military ties in Ministry of Defence

  • Civil-military relations in the Defence Ministry are strained once again, this time over the issue of junior officers staying in hotels and not Army guest rooms when on temporary official travel.
  • Expressing concern at the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) asking for a Non-Availability Certificate (NAC) and rejecting refund claims by junior officers, the Army’s Southern Command shot off a letter to the Director-General Land Works and Environment in the Army Headquarters seeking clarification.
  • “It is felt that allowing PCDA becoming a superior auditor on officers temporary duty claims is not justified,” the letter stated.
  • Earlier in 2018, in an effort to cut daily expenditure of the force, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had asked officers going on temporary duties to stay in service guest rooms if available and use hotels as a last resort.
  • The letter observed that issue was having a “negative impact” on the morale of junior officers who feel that they have been left out to fend for themselves.

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

‘Do you view undertrial prisoners as humans?’

  • The Supreme Court asked the government whether it viewed undertrial prisoners and children who suffered primeval conditions in jails and observation homes as “human beings.”
  • Undertrial prisoners accounted for 62% of India’s prison population, against the world average of 18-20%, the court said.
  • The statistic raised questions about the humaneness of our system, it said.
  • It took two Supreme Court judges — Justices U.U. Lalit and A.K. Goel (retired) — to visit the Faridabad jail and observation home to understand the full horror of the living conditions of the inmates.
  • Taps are leaking, no whitewash, clogged sewage, toilets not working… The situation is very pathetic.
  • The two judges informed the court of their visit, and the court took cognisance of the letters.
  • “The whole thing has become a joke… Do these people have no rights? Are they even seen as human beings. These are children… Are these children not citizens of our country? Please visit these jails and observation homes,” Justice Lokur said.
  • The court compared the condition of the undertrial prisoners and the juveniles in observation homes with that of influential prisoners who watched TV shows on sofas and “enjoy life” in prisons.

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

Shocked SC terms state of forensic labs as ‘utter chaos’

  • A Ministry of Home Affairs document in the Supreme Court shows that vacancies in the country’s forensic labs are alarmingly high even as cases pile up in trial courts and undertrial prisoners languish in jails.
  • The forensic laboratories, at both the Central and State levels, are used to examine crucial evidence which could decide between life and death in many criminal cases.
  • The role of the laboratories have expanded lately with the emergence of cybercrime and drug-related offences.
  • They also play a major role in using medical evidence to crack sex crimes.
  • The document of November 2018 shows that 164 posts out of total 450 in the six Central Forensic Science Laboratories (CFSLs) under the Directorate of Forensic Science Services are lying vacant. These labs are located in Bhopal, Chandigarh, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.
  • In fact the Central Bureau of Investigation’s only CFSL has 87 vacancies out 184 total sanctioned posts.
  • Justice Gupta highlighted how 40% of the total 7,582 sanctioned posts in the 31 forensic labs across various States are vacant. This makes it 3,685 vacancies in States’ FSLs.
  • In Uttar Pradesh’s single State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL), of 1,132 sanctioned posts, 830 are vacant. “That makes it an 80% vacancy,” Justice Lokur remarked.
  • “People are dying in jails… how long will it be like this?” Justice Lokur added.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

EU, U.K. reach draft deal on post-Brexit relationship

  • The British government’s Brexit process reached another milestone as the European Commission said that the U.K. and the EU had agreed at a negotiator level and in principle the draft political declaration on the future relationship between the two sides.
  • In a summit on 25 November 2018, EU leaders are set to finalise details of both the exit process and outline of future relations.
  • Unlike the withdrawal agreement, which would be binding, the political declaration is more of a statement of future ambitions of what a new relationship — including when it comes to the movement of people and goods and services — would entail.
  • Controversy over the terms of the withdrawal agreement led to several ministerial resignations and letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister, though an initiative to oust her through formal party processes appears to have been abandoned for now, for want of support from backbench MPs.
  • “The political declaration confirms that Britain is heading for a hard Brexit — if it can solve the Irish border problem and avoid the backstop… The language is warm but the message is brutal,” said Tom Kibasi, director of the IPPR think tank.
  • “It merely promises years of negotiations to an unknown destination,” said Anna Soubry, a Conservative MP and campaigner for a second referendum.
  • However, the declaration appeared to live up to one point repeatedly stressed by U.K. authorities: their intention to end free movement and bring in “visa-free travel” for short visits only.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

Probe backs use of anti-terror rule against migrants

  • An inquiry by Britain’s Home Office of its use of an anti-terror rule to deny highly-skilled workers who had made errors in their tax submissions has concluded that it was “reasonable” for decision-makers to adopt the approach they did but has acknowledged the need to overturn at least 12 rulings.
  • In 2017, a protest movement called Highly Skilled U.K. began to draw attention to the use of 322(5) to deny settlement rights to individuals — largely from South Asia and many from India — because of rectifications made to their tax statements.
  • Individuals pointed to instances where the use of the paragraph even in instances where the changes they had made were accepted by HM Revenue and Customs.
  • The group raised its concerns that the rule was being used with increasing frequency inappropriately in order to further the Home Office’s targets to reduce net migration to the U.K.
  • Some drew parallels between potential injustices to individuals and the controversy where by Commonwealth migrants who had been in the U.K. since the 1950s had been wrongly treated as illegal (widely known as the Windrush scandal).

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Trump spars with U.S. Supreme Court chief

  • S. President Donald Trump has become embroiled in an extraordinary row with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, claiming “shocking bias” against his policies in parts of the judiciary.
  • He singled out the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, whose jurisdiction includes left-leaning California, tweeting that its rulings “are making our country unsafe! very dangerous and unwise!”
  • Earlier, Chief Justice John Roberts, who rarely makes political statements, rebuked criticism of the courts by Mr. Trump, insisting that the judiciary is “independent.”
  • He said that “a vast number” of cases concerning his priorities, like a crackdown on illegal immigration, were overturned.
  • The row came a day after Trump criticized a federal judge who temporarily blocked the administration from denying the right to political asylum applications for people who enter the country illegally.

GS III: ENERGY

Falling crude puts OMC pricing under scanner

  • Are oil marketing companies recovering the Rs. 1 per litre price cut of October 4 which they had made on the Centre’s instructions and absorbed into their financials?
  • While oil marketing companies (OMCs) deny that they are doing so, analysts argue that the pricing mechanism is so opaque and complex that there would be no way to tell even if they were recovering it.
  • The government had, in early October 2018, said it would cut the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs. 1.5 per litre each, and that oil marketing companies would administer a further Rs. 1 per litre cut in the price.
  • Since October 1, the Indian basket of crude oil has seen prices fall almost 24% as of November 21, whereas the price of petrol has fallen only 8.8% during that period.
  • While this disparity in price levels can be explained to some point by the manner in which petrol prices are set in India, analysts say that this does not explain the large and growing gap between oil and petrol prices.
  • “In the Indian basket, there is always a lag that happens with crude price changes, since the procurement happens at a certain point of time, and the pump prices follow later,” Anish De, Head of Energy and Natural Resources at KPMG in India, said. “Further, while there will be a reduction in fuel prices if oil prices reduce, there won’t be by the same percentage. The reason is that it is a supply chain of which crude is one part. There is shipping, refining, supply and distribution, etc. Those are relatively fixed costs that do not vary with the price of oil.”
  • Then there are transportation costs, cross-subsidy losses, handling losses, export parity price, dealer commission, and then taxes added to this.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Why the RBI board needs to be recast

  • At the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 when liquidity crunch hit the Indian credit market, the then finance minister P. Chidambaram constituted a liquidity management committee headed by the then finance secretary Arun Ramanathan.
  • The decision raised eyebrows as liquidity management is a key function of the RBI.
  • Even in such a turbulent economic circumstance, Mr. Chidambaram did not take specific policy-related issues to the RBI board.
  • But things have changed now. In the last two board meetings of the central bank, specific issues such as bank capital, debt restructuring scheme, liquidity for non-banking finance companies and reviewing prompt corrective action framework, apart from economic capital framework, were discussed.
  • However, the board has members from the corporate world who have a stake in the financial markets, which poses serious conflict of interest.
  • For example, the present board has Chandrasekaran, who is the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company and promoter of more than 100 Tata operating companies, including Tata Capital — a non-banking finance company. There’re also Dilip Shanghvi, MD, Sun Pharma and Manish Sabharwal, Chairman of Teamlease.
  • To avoid conflict of interest, the RBI board should be reconstituted with academicians and technocrats who have no business interest in financial markets and could aid the RBI management with valuable inputs.

 

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

‘PSBs can seek LoCs against defaulters’

  • To check wilful defaulters and fraudsters from fleeing the country, the government has now authorised CEOs of public sector banks (PSBs) to make request for issuance of look-out circulars (LOCs) against suspects.
  • The move comes against the backdrop of defaults by Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and thereafter, their fleeing the country.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently made changes in the circular by including CEOs of PSBs in the list of officials who can make request for issuance of LOCs to the ministry.

 

GS III: ECONOMY – STOCKS

SEBI simplifies regulations for reclassifying promoter as public investor

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has come out with new rules for re-classification of a promoter as a public investor, wherein an outgoing promoter will have to relinquish special rights as well as control over the affairs of the listed firm and not be allowed to hold over 10% stake.
  • Besides, the promoter would not be allowed to have any representation on the board of directors or act as a key managerial person in the listed entity.
  • Further, the promoter seeking re-classification must not be a wilful defaulter or a fugitive economic offender, the SEBI said in a notification dated November 16.
  • In order to ensure that only compliant listed entities are eligible to apply for re-classification, SEBI said such listed firms need to be compliant with 25% minimum public shareholding requirement; their shares should not have been suspended from trading and they must not have any outstanding dues to the regulator, exchanges and depositories.
  • In all cases of re-classification of promoters, the proposal needs to be placed by the listed entity before shareholders and approved through ordinary resolution.

 

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