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When:
December 7, 2018 @ 11:30 am
2018-12-07T11:30:00+05:30
2018-12-07T11:45:00+05:30

NEWS 

7 DECEMBER 2018

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: POLITY – CBI

Why strip Verma of powers suddenly: SC

2.

GS III: CORRUPTION

CBI confronts Michel with documents

3.

GS III: AGRICULTURE

Cabinet clears policy to double agri exports

4.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Karnataka must set aside Rs. 500 cr. for Bengaluru lakes

5.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘Air pollution cause of 1 in 8 deaths’

6.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Deaths in accidents due to potholes are unacceptable: SC

7.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – RTI

Will fill all CIC posts on Dec. 11, Centre tells SC

8.

GS II: MULTILATERAL ORGANISATIONS

OPEC agrees to cut oil production

9.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

2 killed in Chabahar attack

10.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

My deal, no deal or no Brexit at all: May

11.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-EUROPE

U.K. suspends fast-track visa scheme for wealthy investors

12.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Yemen rivals trade barbs as talks begin

13.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

CAD may fall to 2.2%, thanks to oil slide

14.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Political expediencies can’t dictate capital buffer for banks, says RBI ED

GS II: POLITY – CBI

Why strip Verma of powers suddenly: SC

  • Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, to explain the exigency that prompted it to take an “overnight” decision to divest Alok Verma of his powers as CBI Director.
  • “The situation which prompted the CVC to take action against Alok Verma did not start overnight on October 23 [the day Mr. Verma was divested of his powers]… The Attorney-General said all this started in July.
  • That means you had tolerated him for two months,” Justice Gogoi observed before asking, “So what was it that required you [the CVC] to take a decision overnight on October 23?”
  • At one point, the CJI asked senior advocate Fali Nariman whether the Supreme Court, if the necessity arose, had the power to appoint an interim CBI Director.
  • Nariman, who has been appearing for Mr. Verma, considered the question for a moment before replying that the court could, indeed, do so in exercise of its “inherent powers” as the final interpreter of the Constitution.
  • The CVC action against Mr. Verma was triggered by a complaint of misconduct filed by CBI Special Director R.K. Asthana with the Cabinet Secretary on August 24 against the backdrop of a bitter feud between the two top CBI officers.

GS III: CORRUPTION

CBI confronts Michel with documents

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) confronted Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal case, with a series of documents obtained from Italy and those gathered as part of the probe since 2013.
  • The agency said it had received a request from the British High Commission, through the Ministry of External Affairs, for consular access to Mr. Michel.
  • He was produced in a city court that sent him to five-day CBI custody.
  • The CBI had got the deal papers, running into more than 1.5 lakh pages, from Italy through the Defence Ministry.
  • They revealed that Mr. Michel allegedly entered into various agreements with AgustaWestland and related entities to help clinch the contract for supply of 12 helicopters.
  • Former Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi figures in the list of those allegedly in touch with Mr. Michel, as indicated by a witness who was his driver.

GS III: AGRICULTURE

Cabinet clears policy to double agri exports

  • The Union Cabinet approved the Agriculture Export Policy, aimed at increasing India’s exports to $60 billion by 2022 from the current $37 billion, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu announced.
  • The objectives of the policy are, apart from doubling farmers’ income, to diversify the export basket and destinations, and to boost high-value and value-added exports, with a focus on perishables.
  • The policy also aims to promote the export of “novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional” products, according to a press release.
  • The objective also is to provide an institutional mechanism for market access, tackling barriers, and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
  • In order to do this, the Centre will work with the State governments to create clusters that can focus on particular crops.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Karnataka must set aside Rs. 500 cr. for Bengaluru lakes

  • Coming down heavily on the Karnataka government for failing to “protect and rejuvenate” Bengaluru’s Bellandur, Agara and Varthur lakes, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the State government to transfer Rs. 500 crore to an escrow account.
  • The amount is to be utilised for execution of action plans to clean the water bodies.
  • Observing that untreated sewage continued to flow into the water bodies “indiscriminately”, a Bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed the State government to deposit Rs. 50 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as environmental compensation.
  • The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palika (BBMP) had been directed to deposit an environmental compensation of Rs. 25 crore.
  • The green panel further said that the State government had to furnish a performance guarantee to execute the plan in a time-bound manner. “The performance guarantee will undertake to pay a further amount of Rs. 100 crore for failure in execution of the action plan,” the NGT said.
  • A panel, to be headed by former Supreme Court judge N. Santosh Hegde and comprising representatives from the CPCB, the State Pollution Control Board and T.V. Ramachandra of the Indian Institute of Science, would monitor implementation.
  • “The committee may oversee the timelines and the action plan, which may be prepared by the State of Karnataka or the BBMP,” the Bench said.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘Air pollution cause of 1 in 8 deaths’

  • India, with 18% of the world’s population, has a disproportionately high 26% of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution.
  • Moreover, one in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in India in 2017, making it a leading risk factor for death.
  • This is according to the first comprehensive estimates of reduction in life expectancy associated with air pollution in each State, published in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, along with experts and stakeholders associated with over 100 Indian institutions.
  • The key findings from the paper include the fact that 4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution.
  • Over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in persons less than 70 years of age. In 2017, 77% population of India was exposed to ambient particulate matter PM2.5 above the recommended limit by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The report states that the highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.
  • “There is increasing evidence globally and from India about the association of air pollution with premature death and disease burden.
  • Air pollution is a year-round phenomenon, particularly in north India, which causes health impacts far beyond respiratory illnesses.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Deaths in accidents due to potholes are unacceptable: SC

  • The Supreme Court described as “unacceptable” the death of nearly 15,000 people in road accidents caused by potholes in the last five years and said the number was probably more than those killed on the border or by terrorists.
  • This indicates that the authorities concerned are not maintaining the roads properly, a Bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur said. Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta were also a part of the Bench hearing the matter.
  • The Bench perused a report filed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, which said 14,926 persons died in road accidents due to potholes from 2013 to 2017 across the country.
  • It asked the Centre to file its response on the committee’s report after consulting all the States.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – RTI

Will fill all CIC posts on Dec. 11, Centre tells SC

  • Appointments to fill at least four vacancies on the Central Information Commission will be finalised on December 11, the Centre told the Supreme Court, according to one of the petitioners in the case.
  • The government’s counsel also informed the court that the Centre intends to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, said the petitioner Anjali Bhardwaj.
  • The 11-member Commission, the highest appeal body available to applicants seeking information under the RTI Act, is currently operating with only three members in the wake of multiple retirements.
  • The eight vacancies include the Chief Information Commissioner, who completed his tenure in November 2018.
  • While the Centre listed the RTI Amendments Bill, 2018, for introduction in the monsoon session of Parliament, Opposition MPs had protested, citing concerns that the proposed amendments to salary and tenure norms would compromise the independence of the commissions at the Central and State levels.
  • Apart from the CIC, a number of State Information Commissions (SICs) are also operating with multiple vacancies, leading to a rising pendency of cases, petitioners told the apex court.
  • “This state of affairs is throttling the functioning of the RTI Act,” the SC said in an order on December 3, directing the Centre and eight States to file status reports in a week.

GS II: MULTILATERAL ORGANISATIONS

OPEC agrees to cut oil production

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tentatively agreed an oil-output cut but was waiting to hear from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia before deciding the exact volumes for a production reduction aimed at propping up crude prices, two sources from the group said.
  • The price of crude has fallen almost a third since October, but U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded OPEC make oil even cheaper by refraining from output cuts.
  • OPEC delegates have said the group and its allies could cut by one million bpd if Russia contributed 1,50,000 bpd of that reduction.
  • Oil prices have crashed as Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UAE raised output since June after Mr. Trump called for higher production to offset lower exports from Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer.
  • Iraq as OPEC’s second-largest producer would support and join a cut.
  • Russia, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have been vying for the position of top crude producer in recent years.
  • The U.S. is not part of any output-limiting initiative due to its anti-trust legislation and fragmented oil industry.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-ASIA

2 killed in Chabahar attack

  • A suicide car bombing followed by an armed assault killed at least two people and wounded dozens outside police headquarters in the port city of Chabahar in restive southeastern Iran on 6 December, 2018.
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused “foreign-backed terrorists” of being behind the attacks and vowed to bring them to justice.
  • Chabahar lies in Sistan-Balochistan province which has long been a flashpoint, with Pakistan-based Baluchi separatists and Sunni Muslim extremists carrying out cross-border attacks targeting the Shia authorities.
  • India strongly condemned the attack. “We express our condolences to the government and the people of Iran and the families of the victims of this attack,” said the Ministry of External Affairs.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE

My deal, no deal or no Brexit at all: May

  • Parliament’s vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will go ahead on December 11, her office said, despite a newspaper report that Ministers had sought a delay to prevent a defeat.
  • The British Parliament is mid-way through a five-day debate on the Brexit deal, ahead of the vote which will define Britain’s departure from the EU and could determine Ms. May’s future as leader
  • “There are three options: one is to leave the European Union with a deal… the other two are that we leave without a deal or that we have no Brexit at all,” she said.
  • In one potential concession, she said she recognised that there were concerns among the MPs about the ‘Northern Irish backstop’ and she was looking at whether Parliament could be given a greater role in deciding whether to trigger it.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-EUROPE

U.K. suspends fast-track visa scheme for wealthy investors

  • Anti-corruption campaigners have welcomed a decision by the British Home Office to temporarily suspend a fast-track visa scheme for wealthy investors — that has been used by many Indians — but have called for urgent action against those found to have invested suspicious wealth in the U.K.
  • The British government will suspend the Tier-1 (Investor) visa, which enables its holders to gain a swift route to settlement.
  • Eighty-two Indian nationals applied for an investor visa through this route between 2008 and March 2018,
  • The scheme, which is open to those who invest at least £2 million in U.K. government, shares or businesses, offers a faster route to settlement in the country.
  • Those who invest over £10 million can apply to settle after two years, while those who invest over £5 million can do so in three years.
  • While the U.K. government had sought to position the visa scheme as part of its strategy to attract the “brightest and the best”, campaigners have long warned that it provided a means for the super wealthy internationally to launder money in the U.K.
  • In 2015, Transparency International identified over 3,000 individuals and their families — the “vast majority” of whom were from Russia and China — who had been granted these so-called “golden” visas with “little to no checks done” on the source of the wealth.
  • In some cases, applicants were awarded visas even before opening a U.K. bank account.
  • Indians were among the top five groups to be awarded the visa between 2008 and March 2018 — alongside China (1,278), Russia (815), the U.S. (187), and Hong Kong (132).
  • Among the changes set to be brought in are comprehensive audits by regulated auditors of the applicants’ financial and business interests, as well as checks that they have had full control of the funds for at least two years, the BBC reported.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Yemen rivals trade barbs as talks begin

  • Yemen’s government and rebels traded accusations as they sat down for hard-won talks the UN envoy described as a “critical opportunity”.
  • The talks in Rimbo, Sweden — a picturesque village some 60 km north of Stockholm — have been months in the making, the first time in two years warring parties sit down together in a nearly four-year war.
  • Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, who heads the Saudi-backed government’s delegation to the UN-sponsored talks in Sweden, said his team would follow through with a planned prisoner swap with the Houthi rebels.
  • “The Houthi militias must withdraw from the city of Hodeidah and its port and hand it over to the legitimate government, and specifically internal security forces,” said Mr. Yamani.
  • Hamid Issam, a member of the team of Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Sweden, dismissed Mr. Yamani’s role in the talks altogether.
  • Hodeidah is on the agenda at the talks, slated to run for one week. Not on the table are negotiations on a solution to the conflict between the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, based in southern Yemen, and the northern Houthi rebels, according to UN envoy Martin Griffiths.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

CAD may fall to 2.2%, thanks to oil slide

  • The ongoing fall in the price of crude oil has made the government rethink its projections for the current account deficit (CAD) for the year, a senior Finance Ministry official said.
  • Where it was earlier expecting a CAD of 2.8% of GDP, it has now revised its estimate down to 2.2%, he said,.
  • “When global oil prices were over $80 a barrel, it looked like India’s current account deficit for 2018-19 would come to 2.8% of GDP,” the official said.
  • The CAD was 1.9% of GDP in the financial year 2017-18 and 0.6% in the year before that.
  • It stood at 2.4% in the first quarter of this financial year.
  • Oil price increased 17.7% in two months from $72.4 per barrel In August 2018 to a historical high of $85.2 per barrel in October 2018. Prices fell drastically thereafter to as low as $58.6 per barrel in November 2018.
  • Analysts and experts have been expressing worry over the effect of rising oil prices on CAD, which is the difference between the inflow and outflow of foreign currency. Being a major oil importer, rising oil prices meant more foreign exchange leaving the country. But some of this pressure has eased with oil prices falling over the last two months and the rupee strengthening against the dollar.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Political expediencies can’t dictate capital buffer for banks, says RBI ED

  • In a scathing attack on the government demand for liberalising capital norms for banks, a senior Reserve Bank of India (RBI) official made it clear that lenders aspiring to meet the bare minimum core buffers will be condemned to stay poor and warned that banking regulations should not be based on political expediencies.
  • Executive Director Sudarshan Sen said our banking system is short of at least Rs. 4 trillion in capital if we were to follow the global best practices even at an 8% capital buffer.
  • In a speech, Mr. Sen also said the lenders will have to set aside up to Rs. 2 trillion more in supervisory capital soon and doubted if the ongoing insolvency resolutions will yield good returns for banks.
  • An additional Rs. 2 trillion will be needed to make adequate provisions for dud assets as per global norms.
  • The Basel III norms prescribe 8% core capital buffer for banks — something the government is basing its arguments on.
  • The central banker said internationally, banks in jurisdictions that require 8% minimum capital effectively operate at around 14% or even higher.
  • On the debate over the counter cyclical capital buffers (CCB) where the RBI board had done some relaxations at its last meeting in November 2018, Mr. Sen likened our situation to travelling on a rickety public transport.
  • “For many banks, the CCB is the only capital that lies over the bare bones of minimum capital. That’s it and there is nothing more. Either you sit in a nicely cushioned Mercedes or you sit in a State transport bus with a bench seat.
  • “And most of us are on a bench seats today,” Mr. Sen said.

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