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When:
December 15, 2018 @ 11:30 am
2018-12-15T11:30:00+05:30
2018-12-15T11:45:00+05:30

NEWS

15 DECEMBER 2018 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III: CORRUPTION

Supreme Court rejects PIL pleas for Rafale deal probe

2.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Rajapaksa to resign, pave the way for Ranil’s return

3.

GS II: POLTY – ELECTIONS

Gehlot to be Rajasthan CM

4.

GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN

Jammu & Kashmir legislation to stop ‘sextortion’ of women

5.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Give funds for ‘Titli’ victims urgently: CM

6

GS II: SOCIAL – SCHEMES

MGNREGA activists take out protest march in Bihar

7.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

HC quashes Centre’s ban on oxytocin manufacture

8.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

The plastic question is hard to crack

9.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

RBI Board discusses governance

10.

GS III: DEFENCE

Adani opens UAV facility

11.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – AADHAAR

Fintech companies seek clarity on using Aadhaar for eKYC

GS III: CORRUPTION

Supreme Court rejects PIL pleas for Rafale deal probe

  • The Supreme Court refused to embark on a “fishing enquiry” into the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets merely on the basis of PIL petitions spurred by a media interview of former French President Francois Hollande and reports of favouritism shown by the Narendra Modi government.
  • Hollande was reported to have said the French government had no option in the choice of an Indian Offset Partner (IOP). It had to agree to take on board a company suggested by the Indian government.
  • The petitioners had alleged that the government wanted a “novice” company, Reliance Defence, as the IOP in the multi-crore deal.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, in a 29-page verdict, junked such notions of “commercial favouritism” on the part of the government. Mr. Modi had been himself arraigned as a respondent in one of the four petitions.
  • The court concluded that the government had no role in the choice of an IOP. The option to choose an IOP rests fully with the French manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, under the Defence Procurement Procedure, it said.
  • The court declined to entertain the prayers made by the petitioners on all three aspects — decision-making process, pricing of the 36 aircraft and the choice of IOP.
  • The Bench said judicial review was ‘constricted’ in matters of defence procurement and Inter-Governmental Agreements (IGAs).
  • The Bench, also comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, expressed satisfaction at the decision-making process which led to the signing of the IGA on August 24, 2016.
  • It said ‘minor deviations’ in the decision-making process ought not to lead to the setting aside of the contract itself.
  • The hearings in November 2018 had flagged the lack of sovereign guarantee from the French government to cover the damage in case Dassault defaulted on the deal. On this, the court reasoned that defence procurement through IGAs would not “classically follow the Standard Procurement Procedure.” Instead, such purchases were based on the mutually agreed provisions with friendly foreign countries after clearance from the competent financial authority.
  • The court expressed confidence, saying that “of the total procurement of about Rs. 7.45 lakh crore since 2002 under DPP, IGAs account for nearly 40%.”
  • It said it cannot be expected to sit in judgment over the government’s wisdom to procure 36 Rafale jets instead of the earlier Request for Proposal (RPF) for 126 aircraft. “We cannot possibly compel the government to purchase 126 aircraft,” it said.
  • It declined to compare the prices of aircraft between the original RPF of 2007 for 126 jets with Dassault and the present IGA, though it agreed the terms were better in the current deal.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – ASIA

Rajapaksa to resign, pave the way for Ranil’s return

  • Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to vacate the office of Prime Minister — which he controversially held for seven weeks — paving the way for the return of ousted leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
  • The move signals an end to the political crisis in the island nation.
  • Wickremesinghe will be sworn in as Prime Minister.
  • President Maithripala Sirisena had abruptly installed his former rival as the Prime Minister on October 26, 2018, replacing Mr. Wickremesinghe.
  • His decision plunged Sri Lanka into unprecedented political turmoil.
  • Rajapaksa’s decision to “step down” came after the Supreme Court ruled that his November 9 move dissolving Parliament and calling for snap polls was illegal.

GS II: POLTY – ELECTIONS

Gehlot to be Rajasthan CM

  • Ending the suspense over the next Chief Minister of Rajasthan, the Congress named 67-year-old Ashok Gehlot for the top post and nominated 41-year-old Sachin Pilot as his deputy.

GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN

Jammu & Kashmir legislation to stop ‘sextortion’ of women

  • Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration in Jammu & Kashmir approved an amendment to the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), to insert a section to provide for the offence of “sextortion.”
  • Under Section 354E of the RPC, the new law explicitly bans sexual exploitation of women by those in positions of authority, having a fiduciary relationship, or a public servant, reads the order issued by Governor Malik-headed State Administration Council (SAC).
  • J&K has become the first State in the country to bring a law to prevent people in power from exploiting subordinates sexually.
  • Malik approved the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to incorporate the new Section.
  • Draft Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018, includes the act of demanding and requesting sexual favours by public servants within the ambit of the term ‘Misconduct’ under Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Give funds for ‘Titli’ victims urgently: CM

  • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that the State has not yet received any Central assistance to carry out restoration work in the areas hit by cyclone Titli and demanded that the same be released immediately.
  • In a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mr. Patnaik said the cyclone that hit Odisha in October 2018 affected 60.31 lakh people in 17 districts of the State.
  • The State government has submitted a memorandum to the Government of India seeking a Central assistance of Rs. 2,023.13 crore against the total requirement of Rs. 2,779.32 crore for relief and restoration measures,” Mr. Patnaik wrote.
  • He said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 18, seeking an interim assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore.
  • “The inter-Ministerial Central team had already made an on-the-spot assessment of the damages during the first week of November 2018. However, we have not received any assistance, so far, from the Government of India,” he said.
  • Patnaik said Rs. 1,689.13 crore released for relief and restoration work from the State Disaster Response Fund has been utilised.
  • The Chief Minister sought “personal attention” of the Union Home Minister for “immediate” release of the Central assistance to Odisha for undertaking repair and restoration work, squaring up the liabilities and smooth management of other disasters.
  • Meanwhile, a farmers’ organisation has alleged that the State government is giving only Rs. 2,200 per acre compensation for the cyclone-devastated paddy crop, while adjoining Andhra Pradesh was paying Rs. 20,000 per acre.

GS II: SOCIAL – SCHEMES

MGNREGA activists take out protest march in Bihar

  • Noted economist Jean Dreze and Right to Information activist Nikhil Dey, along with thousands of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) activists, protested against the “harassment and intimidation” of those who have raised questions of corruption related to the rural job scheme in the Muzaffarpur district of north Bihar.
  • Earlier, several allegedly false and fabricated cases against MGNREGA activist Sanjay Sahni and some members of his group, the Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sanghthan (SPSS), were lodged at different police stations in Muzaffarpur, for raising questions over corruption in implementation of the scheme.
  • “The implementation of social security schemes in Muzaffarpur has seen a distressing downward trend as nearly Rs. 636 crore due payments are to be made by the State government towards wage and material costs,” said Mr. Narayanan. In Muzaffarpur district, only 94 households have been able to avail their legal entitlement of a 100 days of work in the year, he added.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

HC quashes Centre’s ban on oxytocin manufacture

  • The Delhi High Court quashed the Centre’s decision to ban the manufacture and sale of oxytocin, a drug which induces labour and controls bleeding during child birth, by private firms.
  • A Bench of Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and A.K. Chawla set aside the government’s April 27 notification imposing the ban, saying it was “arbitrary and unreasonable”.
  • It said, “the Centre’s decision to allow only a single, state-run entity — with no prior experience in manufacturing oxytocin — to make and sell the drug, was “fraught with potential adverse consequences”.
  • “The risk of such a consequence can be drastic: the scarcity of the drug, or even a restricted availability can cause increase in maternal fatalities, during childbirth, impairing lives of thousands of innocent young mothers,” it said.
  • The Bench was not impressed with the Centre’s “far greater” reliance on the need to prohibit availability of oxytocin from what was perceived to be widespread veterinary misuse. “Correspondingly there was no scientific basis, and insufficient data to support the conclusion that the drug’s existing availability or manner of distribution posed a risk to human life,” it added.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

The plastic question is hard to crack

  • Heightened awareness about adverse consequences of use of plastic has also bred confusion over people’s responsibilities and options, and the role of governments and industry in reducing plastic pollution.
  • 21 % of Orb’s survey respondents said the answer to plastic pollution is increased recycling, and 10% favoured reducing consumption, answers broadly aligned with expert opinion.
  • But thousands more suggested eliminating all plastic, or using alternative materials such as paper and glass, which studies show could be more harmful to the environment than plastic itself.
  • Plastic is clearly an environmental crisis, with an estimated eight million animal-killing tonnes entering the oceans each year.
  • Less prominent in the plastic narrative are emerging questions over microscopic plastic pollution in food, air, soil, and water, and the safety of chemical additives in plastic food packaging — areas where scientists are racing to learn the implications for human health.
  • Since Orb Media first reported microscopic plastic contamination in bottled water in March 2017, new studies have found these contaminants in German mineral water, South African tap water, and Italian soft drinks. No one knows if consuming microplastic is harmful or not. It’s an emerging area of research, one the World Health Organization is working to assess.
  • Proposals to make consumer brands and plastic producers responsible for the cost of plastic waste are slowly taking shape. So is a revolution in product design that would make more plastic items easier to recycle.
  • Packaging comprises fully 40% of the more than 380 million tonnes of plastic produced globally each year.
  • Plastic is a great material for various applications because it’s a water barrier, it’s an oxygen barrier, it’s lightweight and it helps preserve food.
  • “Plastic is not a problem, but littering is a problem,” says B. Swaminathan, a veteran of the plastics industry in Asia and Africa. “You’re shooting the messenger.”
  • Jurisdictions around the world, including the European Union, are moving to restrict disposable items such as plates and straws. At least 33 countries ban plastic bags, but enforcement is spotty.
  • As much as 10% of Orb’s survey respondents recommended using glass containers. But studies show that making and moving glass bottles uses nearly five times more energy than plastic.
  • Similarly, 73% of Americans surveyed by Gallup think paper bags are greener than plastic — a natural assumption. Analyses of both materials’ lifecycles, however, show plastic bag production causes significantly less air and water pollution.
  • Under proposed “Extended Producer Responsibility” rules that are gaining traction in Europe and elsewhere, “if you’ve got a terrible material that is never going to be recycled, you pay a higher fee” for disposal.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

RBI Board discusses governance

  • The board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which met on 14 December 2018 agreed to examine the issue of governance further.
  • This was the first board meeting under the chairmanship of the new RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.
  • The statement also said the board reviewed various issues like current economic situation, global and domestic challenges, matters relating to liquidity and credit delivery to the economy, and issues relating to currency management and financial literacy.
  • RBI had imposed restrictions under the PCA framework for 11 public sector banks, which irked the government as it believed loan growth was impacted due to such restrictions.
  • There is a possibility that a formal proposal on PCA will be brought before the board at its next meet in mid-January 2019.

GS III: DEFENCE

Adani opens UAV facility

  • Adani Group formally opened a $15-million unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) complex in Hyderabad in association with Israeli partner Elbit Systems.
  • The 50,000 sq. ft. UAV complex is the first such manufacturing facility in India and the first outside Israel to manufacture the Hermes 900 medium altitude long endurance UAV.
  • The objective of the 51:49 joint venture (JV) between Adani Defence and Aerospace and Elbit Systems is to become UAV supplier to the Indian armed forces.
  • Adani Group also wants to give shape to a helicopter transmission gear box facility in partnership with Rave Gears of the U.S. by September 2019.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – AADHAAR

Fintech companies seek clarity on using Aadhaar for eKYC

  • Fintech companies have asked the government to issue a clarification that will allow regulated entities such as banks and non- banking financial companies (NBFCs) to use Aadhaar for eKYC in case of “voluntary submission” by customers.
  • This follows the Supreme Court striking down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, that allowed private entities to use Aadhaar for verification purposes.
  • The decision impacted fintech players most of whom were dependent on Aadhaar-based eKYC for quick and cost-effective verification of customers.
  • Post the Aadhaar verdict, such organisations are now required to move to paper-based or physical verification, which would be costly and raise sustainability concerns.
  • According to an internal note of the Ministry, it is estimated that up to 50 crore citizens have only Aadhaar as proof of identity.
  • Also, exclusion of e-KYC would increase the per customer cost of loan processing by almost six times while increasing the overall loan disbursement time.
  • “Aadhaar-based eKYC made it possible for several companies to extend credit, offer savings and investment products and insurance.
  • Fintech companies have requested that Ministry of Electronics and IT should clarify that regulated entities such as banks and NBFCs, are permitted to use Aadhaar eKYC in case of voluntary submission of Aadhaar by customers,” the official said.

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