News (Text)


When:
January 10, 2019 @ 11:30 am
2019-01-10T11:30:00+05:30
2019-01-10T11:45:00+05:30

NEWS

10 JANUARY 2019


Daily Current Affairs based on ‘The Hindu’ newspaper as per the syllabus of UPSC Civil Services Examination

(Prelims and Mains) Complied by Mrs. Bilquees Khatri.


Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: SOCIAL – RESERVATION

Parliament passes Bill to provide 10% quota for poor

2.

GS II: SOCIAL – RIGHTS

SC orders Bedi report to be given to petitioners

3.

GS II: POLITY -STATES – J&K

J&K IAS topper quits in protest against killings

4.

GS III: S&T – IT

Google Assistant breaks language barriers

5.

GS III: S&T – INDIA

‘Talks at ISC need to be vetted by serious committees’

6.

GS I; SOCIAL – UNREST

General strike hits PSU banks, transport services for 2nd day

7.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

J&J implant victims make case to panel

8.

 GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Raisina Dialogue: of foreign policy challenges, opportunities

9.

 GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Trump insists on steel wall with Mexico

10.

  GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-EUROPE

U.K. to test immigration proposals in India

11.

 GS III: ECONOMY – GST

Tax threshold among key GST meet agenda

12.

 GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

India’s GDP may grow at 7.3% in 2018-19, says World Bank

13.

 GS III: ECONOMY – POLICY

RBI makes changes in gold scheme

14.

 GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Tokenisation may aid safe digital transactions

15.

 GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

‘Private consumption, a $6 tn opportunity’

16.

 GS III: S&T – HEALTH

A ‘bio-safe’ way to fight mosquitoes

 

 

GS II: SOCIAL – RESERVATION

Parliament passes Bill to provide 10% quota for poor

  • Parliament cleared the 124th Constitutional Amendment Bill guaranteeing 10% quota in education and employment to economically weaker sections in the general category, following an approval by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Upper House nod came following an over nine-hour-long heated debate, during which the Opposition accused the government of bringing the Bill in haste with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha election.
  • The Bill was passed with a majority of 165 against seven votes. It will be now sent for Presidential assent.
  • Clarifying the Bill’s provisions, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the reservation would be applicable to jobs in both Central and State governments, adding that the legislation gave powers to States to determine the economic criteria for identification of beneficiaries.
  • Earlier, during the debate, Congress leader Anand Sharma said provisions under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution were for the backward and weaker communities. In the past, attempts were made twice to extend reservation beyond their scope, but the Supreme Court struck them down. The same happened in several States.
  • Kapil Sibal listed three hurdles that the law would have to cross. There was complete non-applicability of mind on the government’s part, its constitutionality could come under judicial scrutiny and that the implementation part was not clear, he said.
  • AIADMK’s Navaneethakrishnan said the Bill trampled upon the rights of people in Tamil Nadu, which already had 69% reservation.

 

GS II: SOCIAL – RIGHTS

SC orders Bedi report to be given to petitioners

  • The Supreme Court ordered that a confidential report filed by the Justice H.S. Bedi (retired)Monitoring Committee into 21 police encounters in Gujarat, which had occurred during the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the State’s Chief Minister, be shared with petitioners, lyricist Javed Akhtar and those representing the late journalist B.G. Verghese.
  • The decision of the Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was a setback for the Gujarat government, which urged the court to keep the final report filed by the Supreme Court-appointed committee under wraps.
  • The court also did not accept the State’s plea to bar the petitioners from sharing the report with the media. The Gujarat government will also get a copy.
  • Filed in 2018
  • The final and 11th report of the committee was filed in the Supreme Court in February 2018 and has been kept in a sealed cover with the Supreme Court Registry since then.
  • The court clarified that it was not “accepting” the conclusions arrived at by Justice Bedi, a retired Supreme Court judge, about the police encounters that had happened during the period between 2003-2006.
  • “We are not accepting the report. We are only saying it should be shared,” Justice Gogoi said.

 

GS II: POLITY -STATES – J&K

J&K IAS topper quits in protest against killings

  • Shah Faesal, the Jammu & Kashmir resident who topped the Indian Administrative Service examination in 2010, resigned from service, citing the “marginalisation” of Muslims and the continued killings in the State as reason.
  • “To protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir, and lack of any sincere reach out from the Union Government; the marginalisation and invisiblisation of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces reducing them to second-class citizens; insidious attacks on the special identity of the J&K State and growing culture of intolerance and hate in the mainland India... I have decided to resign from the Indian Administrative Service,” said Mr. Faesal, 35.
  • He asserted that the current regime’s subversion of public institutions like the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Investigation Agency had the potential to decimate the constitutional edifice of the country and it needed to be stopped.
  • “I wish to reiterate that voices of reason in this country cannot be muzzled for long and the environment of siege will need to end if we wish to usher in true democracy,” he added.
  • Former Chief Minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah welcomed Mr. Faesal’s move. “The bureaucracy’s loss is politics’ gain. Welcome to the fold,” tweeted Mr. Abdullah.
  • Sources said Mr. Faesal is likely to join the NC and may be fielded by the party as a Lok Sabha candidate from north Kashmir.
  • Faesal became a poster boy in 2010 when he became the first ever candidate from J&K to top the prestigious examination.

GS III: S&T – IT

Google Assistant breaks language barriers

  • Google has unveiled a new feature: the ‘interpreter mode’ in Google Assistant, its voice-based Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • This would enable Google’s virtual assistant to serve as a real-time language translator between two people.
  • With this feature, which will be rolled out over the next few weeks on Google Home devices and Smart Displays, one can just tell the Google Assistant “Hey Google, be my Japanese interpreter”, and it would function as one.
  • Currently, this feature supports 27 languages, including English, Hindi, Polish, Indonesian, Swedish, Thai, German and Korean.

GS III: S&T – INDIA

‘Talks at ISC need to be vetted by serious committees’

  • Nobel Laureate Prof. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who attended the Indian Science Congress held in Mumbai in 2015 and called it a “circus” as very little science was discussed, is annoyed at the outrageous statements made by a few speakers at this year’s Congress.
  • Venkatraman says, the Indian Science Congress is too large and unwieldy, and the result is a slightly chaotic atmosphere. It is far too big for younger unknown scientists, let alone students and research fellows, to get to know senior scientists or even each other.
  • One thing I particularly disliked was that they fly top international scientists business class and put them up in 5-star hotels with a car and chauffeur at great expense, but then shepherd them away in VIP tents where their interactions with young scientists are limited. The large size also means the quality of the talks is extremely uneven. This is not even counting those few talks that are simply outrageous, pseudoscientific nonsense.

GS I: SOCIAL – UNREST

General strike hits PSU banks, transport services for 2nd day

  • Central trade unions have claimed that more than 20 crore people participated in a two-day nationwide general strike called to protest the Centre’s “anti-worker, anti-national” policies.
  • A few incidents of violence marred the second day of the strike, which affected transport, banking and postal services as well as industrial activity in several parts of the country.
  • The only major central union which did not participate in the strike call was the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH

J&J implant victims make case to panel

  • Victims of Johnson & Johnson’s faulty ASR hip implants met the central expert committee set up by the Union Health Ministry and shared their reservations about the proposed compensation formula and the process.
  • Almost 40 victims and family members met with the panel.
  • In August 2018, the government-appointed Agarwal Committee’s report, which recommended compensation for the implant victims, was released.
  • A Central Expert Committee headed by Dr. R.K. Arya was convened in October 2018 to start the compensation process.
  • The compensation formula, recently approved by the government, encountered serious reservations from patients as it had many deficiencies, exclusions and lacunae.
  • “For my husband and me, it came as a great shock when our doctors told us to stop planning a family due to the levels of cobalt and chromium in my body and the negative impact that that could have on pregnancy and on any baby we would conceive,” said Jyoti Rani, who suffered a miscarriage years after the recall of the device and was unaware of toxicity associated with the implant until 2016.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Raisina Dialogue: of foreign policy challenges, opportunities

  • Terrorism, threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and climate change are the critical challenges that confront us today, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at the Raisina Dialogue jointly organised by the Observer Research Foundation and the External Affairs Ministry.
  • She said that as far back as 1996, India proposed a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN, but it remained a draft because of a lack of consensus on a common definition.
  • Further drawing attention to the threat of climate change, Ms. Swaraj said, “We have risen to meet the challenge,” referring to the International Solar Alliance India jointly launched with France last year with the participation of 120 countries.
  • Swaraj added, “Our revitalised Act East and Think West paradigms have further broadened the reach of our strategic and economic ‘neighbourhood’.”

 

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Trump insists on steel wall with Mexico

  • President Donald Trump used a prime-time address to the nation to insist on $5.7 billion for a steel wall along the Mexican border that he said would stop the shedding of “American blood” by illegal immigrants.
  • The nine-minute speech from the storied Oval Office in the White House contained no concessions to Democrats refusing to fund construction of the wall — a project Mr. Trump has made his signature domestic policy idea.
  • The address also offered no hope for a quick end to a government partial shutdown triggered by the row that has left 8,00,000 federal employees without pay.
  • However, Mr. Trump did steer away from earlier predictions that he might announce a national emergency, which would have given him the power to authorise the wall project without congressional approval, likely triggering an even deeper political crisis.
  • Fact-checking teams at U.S. media outlets quickly took issue with a number of Mr. Trump’s assertions — for instance, his statement that every day U.S. agents at the border with Mexico “encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.”
  • That number is vastly overstated, CNN and The New York Times said.
  • Also wrong are Mr. Trump’s assertions that 90% of the heroin entering the U.S. crosses over from Mexico and that Mexico, indirectly, via a new trade agreement with the U.S. and Canada, would end up paying for a wall, the Times said.

GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-EUROPE

U.K. to test immigration proposals in India

  • British officials are set to test India’s reaction to proposals for a new post-Brexit immigration system unveiled in December 2018.
  • The immigration plans aim to create a level playing field for EU and non-EU workers, basing immigration opportunities on skills levels rather than which part of the world workers have come from.
  • The government has positioned the new planned immigration system as a positive one for partners such as India.
  • Among the changes proposed are the removal of the current annual cap on the number of Tier 2 visas for skilled workers, as well as the requirement that employers demonstrate that they attempted to fill the role domestically before bringing in a person from abroad (the resident labour market test).
  • The government will also allow international students six months after they graduate to find permanent skilled work and work temporarily during that period, while PhD graduates will have a whole year to do so.
  • There will be no post-study visa, however, as many student and university bodies have been lobbying for.
  • The government has also said it is to consult on the salary threshold for the skilled visas which has been the subject of much debate in the U.K.
  • While the Migration Advisory Committee has recommended setting it at £30,000 a year, business groups and others have warned this would leave businesses unable to access key skills at a time particularly crucial for the country.
  • India has, however, raised concerns about Britain’s immigration approach, including the focus given to those overstaying their visa, which India believes is given attention by the U.K. beyond levels it should be.
  • In 2018, the FCO warned in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, that India accounts for the largest number of individuals staying in the U.K. illegally, and the number of those subjected to forced returns to India has fallen by 50% in three years.
  • Britain also faced criticism for failing to include India in a relaxation of student documentation requirements that were extended to other countries, including China.
  • The discussions next week will focus on the issues in the white paper, rather than some of these outstanding concerns, which will be the subject of further bilateral discussions in the future.

GS III: ECONOMY – GST

Tax threshold among key GST meet agenda

  • Some of the key issues likely to be discussed during the 32nd GST Council meeting include increasing the Rs. 20-lakh threshold for GST eligibility, reducing tax rate on under-construction properties in a bid to boost the real estate sector, extension of the composition scheme to service providers, and approval of a possible disaster relief cess for Kerala, according to tax analysts following the matter.
  • The council, in its last meeting on December 22, had decided to form several committees to look into these issues.
  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said at that time that the recommendations of these committees would be taken up in the subsequent meeting.
  • Currently, the Composition Scheme allows small manufacturers and traders, with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 1 crore, to file quarterly returns and pay GST at nominal rates. These traders, however, cannot avail input tax credits or deal in items exempt from GST.
  • Tax analysts believe that the Composition Scheme for small service providers is likely to be decided upon.
  • The Council is also likely to deliberate upon raising the Rs. 20 lakh annual turnover threshold above which companies have to register in the GST system.
  • Another issue likely to be discussed is the imposition of a cess to finance the disaster relief efforts in Kerala following the floods there.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

India’s GDP may grow at 7.3% in 2018-19, says World Bank

  • India’s GDP is expected to grow at 7.3% in the fiscal year 2018-19, and 7.5% in the following two years, the World Bank has forecast, attributing it to an upswing in consumption and investment.
  • The World Bank said India will continue to be the fastest growing major economy in the world.
  • China’s economic growth is projected to slow down to 6.2% each in 2019 and 2020 and 6% in 2021, according to the January 2019 Global Economic Prospects report released by the World Bank.
  • In 2018, the Chinese economy is estimated to have grown by 6.5% as against India’s 7.3%.
  • In 2017, China with 6.9% growth was marginally ahead of India’s 6.7%, mainly because of the slowdown in the Indian economy due to demonetisation and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the report said.

GS III: ECONOMY – POLICY

RBI makes changes in gold scheme

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made some changes in the Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS) by making charitable institutions, the Central government, the State government or any other entity owned by the Central government or the State government, eligible for the scheme.
  • So far, individual and joint depositors could avail the scheme.
  • In 2015, the government launched the GMS to mobilise the gold held by households and institutions.
  • GMS allows bank customers to deposit idle gold holdings for a fixed period in return for interest.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Tokenisation may aid safe digital transactions

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to allow card payment providers to offer tokenisation services will ensure the safety of digital transactions and reduce chances of fraud, industry players said.
  • Tokenisation involves a process in which a unique token masks sensitive card details like card and CVV number.
  • The token is used to perform card transactions in contactless mode at Point Of Sale (POS) terminals, Quick Response (QR) code payments, etc.
  • The way the token will work is like this — the debit or credit card holder will create a code for a particular amount, say Rs. 500, through an app in the form of a number. That number will have the amount that can be spent, the merchant type where it can be spent as well as time within which the transaction needs to be completed.
  • Then the number can be shared with the merchant who will enter it in the mobile, to get the payment for the items sold.
  • Mastercard’s tokenisation service, Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) has been adopted in Asia Pacific region with more than 100 banks for various token requestors such as Samsung, Google, Apple, Fitbit, Garmin and several others.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

‘Private consumption, a $6 tn opportunity’

  • Domestic private consumption, that accounts for a major portion of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), is expected to develop into a $6 trillion growth opportunity that would make India the world’s third-largest economy behind the U.S. and China, by 2030, says a latest study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • Domestic private consumption accounts for 60% of the country’s GDP
  • Currently it is at $1.5 trillion.
  • With an annual GDP growth rate of 7.5%, India is currently the world’s sixth-largest economy.
  • The potential, however, offers both challenges and opportunities as India would have to address critical societal issues, including skill development and employment of the future workforce, socio-economic inclusion of rural India and creating a healthy and sustainable future for its citizens, according to WEF, the international body that works towards enhancing public-private cooperation.

GS III: S&T – HEALTH

A ‘bio-safe’ way to fight mosquitoes

  • Scientists in the United States said they had taken a major step toward developing a “mosquito birth control” drug to curb the spread of malaria and other killer diseases blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year.
  • Researchers at the University of Arizona said they had discovered a protein unique to female mosquitoes which is critical for their young to hatch.
  • When the scientists blocked the protein, the females laid eggs with defective shells causing the embryos inside to die.
  • The team said developing drugs which targeted the protein could provide a way to reduce mosquito populations without harming beneficial insects such as bees.
  • Mosquitoes are one of the world’s deadliest insects, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) which has warned that global progress against malaria is stalling.
  • The disease infected around 216 million people in 2016, killing 445,000 of them, predominantly babies and young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Other diseases spread by mosquitoes include Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile virus and dengue, which has risen 30-fold in recent decades, according to the WHO.
  • It is hoped the discovery could lead to the development of a new generation of insecticides in five years. These could then be applied onto bed nets.

Leave a comment