News (Text)


When:
October 23, 2018 @ 1:00 am
2018-10-23T01:00:00+05:30
2018-10-23T01:15:00+05:30

NEWS

23 OCTOBER 2018 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: POLITY – CBI

Modi steps in as CBI begins to probe its own leadership

2.

GS II: SOCIAL – MEDIA

Why are media regulators soft with scribes, asks SC

3.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Where Ganga meets the Bay of Pollution

4.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

Neelakurinji flowers fail tourists

5.

GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN

It’s not #MeToo, but ‘WeToo’ in Odisha

6.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘In urban U.P., 87% of waste from toilets goes to rivers, farmlands’

7.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

Experts’ group to cut school bag weight formed, court told

8.

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

Lower judiciary vacancies unacceptable: SC

9.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – AFRICA

An African island’s troubled waters

10.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICTORS

Direct tax base widens sharply over 4 years, compliance rises

11.

GS III: S&T – IT

Zee bags U.S. patent to provide viewers ‘immersive experience’

12.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Panel for adopting UN model on cross-border insolvency

13.

GS III: S&T – HEALTH

That gut feeling on probiotics

14.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

‘Cockroaches of the ocean’ are eating away California’s underwater forests

GS II: POLITY – CBI

Modi steps in as CBI begins to probe its own leadership

  • As the Central Bureau of Investigation’s second-in-command Rakesh Asthana was embroiled in a bribery case, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval swung into damage control, asking CBI Director Alok Verma to ensure the government’s image was not tarnished.
  • The CBI arrested its Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar in the same case.
  • Official sources said Mr. Verma had recommended Mr. Asthana’s suspension.

GS II: SOCIAL – MEDIA

Why are media regulators soft with scribes, asks SC

  • The Supreme Court said media regulators tend to wear a “velvet fist inside a velvet glove” when it comes to dealing with journalists and media organisations whose actions, like revealing the identity of a rape survivor, make them criminally liable.
  • It is a crime under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Penal Code to disclose the identity of victims of sexual abuse, especially if they are children.
  • The Supreme Court asked whether statutory bodies like the Press Council of India (PCI), Editors Guild of India,National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), and the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) have no responsibility to inform the police when a journalist or a media outlet commits such a crime in the course of reportage.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta observed orally that it was not enough on the part of these statutory and independent bodies, most of them headed by retired judges, to say they have “norms” to deal with errant journalists.
  • “This is like a velvet fist inside a velvet glove. It is of no use… If there is criminal liability involved, there should be prosecution launched under a penal statute,” Justice Lokur said categorically.
  • The oral observations from the Bench came during the hearing of a petition filed by Nivedita Jha, highlighting the repeated violations seen in media while covering sensitive cases.
  • The court gave three weeks to PCI, Editors Guild and IBF to respond.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Where Ganga meets the Bay of Pollution

  • An exponential increase in the number of pilgrims coming to the Ganga Sagar Mela, which takes place at theSagar Island, West Bengal, every year during Makar Sankranti, has been responsible for the worsening water pollution, prompting scientists to raise serious concerns about the likely outbreak of several diseases.
  • The number of pilgrims descending on the Sagar Island to take a dip at the place where the Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal, has risen from 2 lakh in 1990 to 20 lakh in 2018.
  • “A health survey was conducted with the local people… it found that diseases like cholera, dysentery, and skin disease were predominant in the post-Ganga Sagar Mela period,” observed a paper titled ‘Pollution and its consequences at Ganga Sagar mass bathing in India’, published recently.
  • Several studies have shown that the island is at the frontline of climate change, facing serious erosion due to rising sea level and tidal surges.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

Neelakurinji flowers fail tourists

  • Taking to heart pictures posted on social media about the large-scale blossoming of the rare Neelakurinji flowers, thousands thronged the hill stations in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka over the weekend, causing traffic jams on narrow roads.
  • Neelakurinji flowers, a shrub belonging to the genus Strobilanthes, blossom once in 12 years.
  • We believed the photos circulated on social media to be true and came here. We were told that only in some parts the flowers have blossomed, but we could not locate them,” said a traveller from Shivamogga.
  • Assistant Director of Tourism Department, said blossoming was expected in July. It has already happened in Munnar, Kodaikanal and other places.

GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN

It’s not #MeToo, but ‘WeToo’ in Odisha

  • At a time when the #MeToo fire rages on with several women unmasking their harassers, a campaign is under way in Odisha’s migration-prone districts to sensitise migrant women workers about sexual exploitation.
  • Sexual exploitation of women migrant workers from Odisha is widely regarded to be pronounced.
  • But their agonising and harrowing ordeal mostly remains under wraps.
  • Now, 300 women are undergoing an orientation programme in the State that seeks to empower them to raise their voices against any type of sexual exploitation and ensure the safety of accompanying vulnerable adolescent girls.
  • Around this time of the year, more than three lakh people from western Odisha districts migrate to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and major towns of Odisha to work in brick kilns and the construction sector.

 

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

‘In urban U.P., 87% of waste from toilets goes to rivers, farmlands’

  • While urban Uttar Pradesh has an 80% coverage of toilets, inefficient sanitation systems ensure that almost 87% of the excreta being generated by these toilets is being dumped in waterbodies or agricultural lands, according to a new analysis of 30 cities by the Centre for Science and Environment.
  • “With 2019 just round the corner, the number of toilets and onsite sanitation systems being built in the State are all set to increase exponentially – if not managed scientifically and sustainably, the amount of faecal sludge that these new toilets will generate will swamp the State,” said Suresh Rohilla, programme director of waste and wastewater management at the CSE.
  • The report argues that building more toilets will only worsen the environmental, sanitation and manual scavenging situation, unless sewerage connections increase from the current 28% of households in the 30 cities studied.
  • Onsite sanitation systems – such as septic tanks or pit latrines – are far more prevalent, and are used by 47% of households.
  • Without a sewerage system, the effluent from the septic tank, along with greywater from the kitchen and bathroom flows out into stormwater drains and open drains or nullahs.
  • The faecal sludge, on the other hand, has to be periodically emptied from the septic tank, either manually or mechanically using vacuum trucks or tankers.
  • CSE’s analysis found that half of all emptying work in these cities is done manually, despite the legal prohibition of the employment of manual scavengers.
  • As there is no designated site for disposal, the emptied faecal sludge ends up in open drains/nullahs/open fields, which eventually lead to polluting the Ganga and other rivers and surface water bodies,” said the report.
  • The situation is much worse in smaller cities. In cities with a population between five and 10 lakh, more than 70% of the population is dependent on tanks connected to open drains, and only half of them would actually qualify as septic tanks
  • In cities with a population between 1.2 lakh and five lakh, only 9% of waste and sludge are safely managed, while in the fourth cluster of cities whose populations are less than 1.2 lakh, that figure drops to a mere 4%.

GS II: SOCIAL – EDUCATION

Experts’ group to cut school bag weight formed, court told

  • Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) informed the Madras High Court that an Experts’ Group has been constituted to formulate a draft policy on reducing the weight of school bags in proportion to the age and average weight of children.
  • Justice N. Kirubakaran was told that the Centre had decided to implement his May 29 judgment on the issue in letter and spirit.
  • The MHRD had issued an order on October 5 to formulate a policy on school bags on the lines of the Children School Bags (Limitation on Weight) Bill of 2006, which never turned into a law.
  • Maharashtra and Telangana have a policy in place stipulating that the weight of a bag should not exceed 10% of the weight of the student. The ASG said
  • Maharashtra, while deciding the weight of the bag, had considered the weight of books, geometry box, stationery, lunch box and even the water bottle.

GS II: POLITY – JUDICIARY

Lower judiciary vacancies unacceptable: SC

  • The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of 5,133 vacancies out of the total 22,036 posts in the district and subordinate judiciary across the country, saying the situation is “wholly unacceptable”.
  • Over three crore cases lie pending in lower courts.
  • The Supreme Court asked the High Courts’ registries to provide the Secretary-General, Supreme Court, with information, such as when the recruitment process had commenced; whether it is expected to be completed within the schedule formulated by the Supreme Court in the Malik Mazhar Sultan vs U.P. Public Service Commission & Ors judgment; when the appointments would be made; whether the time expected to be taken to complete the ongoing process/processes can be shortened and so on.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – AFRICA

An African island’s troubled waters

  • A rounded, rocky outcrop covered with metallic shacksMigingo Island rises out of the waters of Lake Victorialike an iron-plated turtle.
  • The densely populated island is barely a quarter of a hectare large.
  • There’s little else but a few bars, brothels and a tiny port.
  • Nevertheless, for over a decade, Migingo has been a source of tension between Uganda and Kenya, who have been unable to decide to whom it really belongs.
  • They were once pushed to the brink of what some said would have been Africa’s “smallest war” over the island.
  • While fishing communities around Lake Victoria have seen their catches slowly diminish over the years, the deep waters surrounding Migingo abound with catch such as Nile perch.
  • It was in the early 2000s when the island was barely inhabited – then situated within Kenya on all maps – that it began drawing the attention of Ugandan authorities who sent officials to Migingo to tax fishermen and offer protection against pirates.
  • Kenyan fishermen in return began complaining they were being shaken down by the Ugandans in their own waters and chased from the island. They called on Kenya’s government, which deployed security forces to Migingo in a move that nearly brought the two nations to blows in 2009.
  • In the absence of any decisions on the boundary, the island is co-managed by both countries.
  • Faced with mounting complaints from their constituents, local Kenyan politicians have called on Nairobi to ask the International Court of Justice to intervene and make a decision on the border – to no avail.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICTORS

Direct tax base widens sharply over 4 years, compliance rises

  • The direct tax base has significantly widened in the last few years, according to new back series data released by the government.
  • The data showed a growth of more than 80% in the number of returns filed in the last four financial years from 3.79 crore in financial year (FY) 2013-14 to 6.85 crore (these figures include revised returns) in FY 2017-18.
  • Further, the number of persons filing income tax returns also increased by about 65% during this period from 3.31 crore in FY 2013-14 to 5.44 crore in FY 2017-18.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has further released time-series data as updated up to FY 2017-18 andincome-distribution data for assessment year (AY) 2016-17 and AY 2017-18.
  • “One, the effect of demonetisation, two, the increase in the use of information being collected digitally and being used by the tax department. Three, the movement towards digital assessment and decrease in the number of cases being picked up for scrutiny, and four, the ease of getting refund, majorly by small and medium taxpayers.
  • The data also showed that the direct tax-GDP ratio rose to 5.98% in FY 2017-18, the highest it has been in the last 10 years.
  • “While 88,649 taxpayers disclosed income above Rs. 1 crore in AY 2014-15, the figure was 1,40,139 for AY 2017-18 (growth of about 60%),” the government said.
  • “Similarly, the number of individual taxpayers disclosing income above Rs. 1 crore increased during the period under reference from 48,416 to 81,344, which translates into a growth of 68%.”

GS III: S&T – IT

Zee bags U.S. patent to provide viewers ‘immersive experience’

  • ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEE) has secured a United States (U.S.) patent on a technology platform built on technologies such as 3D audio, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), digital scent, holograms and touch.
  • The company aims to offer an immersive experience to the viewers, satisfying all the five senses.
  • The platform developed at its ZEE Media Lab in the Silicon Valley will enable the viewers to touch, feel, smell and experience products, with a seamless transaction (e-commerce) ecosystem.
  • Be it immersive entertainment content or informative education-based solutions, or gaming, or e-commerce, this comprehensive technology platform is built to cater to every single need of the viewer, said a company statement.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Panel for adopting UN model on cross-border insolvency

  • The Insolvency Law Committee (ILC), tasked with suggesting amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India, has recommended that India adopt the United Nations’ model to handle cross-border insolvency cases.
  • “The ILC has recommended the adoption of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)Model Law of Cross Border Insolvency, 1997, as it provides for a comprehensive framework to deal with cross-border insolvency issues,” the government said in a statement.
  • The UNCITRAL Model Law has been adopted in 44 countries and, therefore, forms part of international best practices in dealing with cross border insolvency issues, the government said.
  • “The advantages of the model law are the precedence given to domestic proceedings and protection of public interest,” the statement added.
  • “The necessity of having a cross-border insolvency framework under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code arises from the fact that many Indian companies have a global footprint and many foreign companies have a presence in multiple countries, including India,” the government said.

GS III: S&T – HEALTH

That gut feeling on probiotics

  • Probiotics have become so popular that they are being marketed in foods, capsules and even beauty products.
  • Probiotics have the potential to improve health, including by displacing potentially harmful bugs.
  • The most obvious use of probiotics would be in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, given that they are focused on gut health. The trouble is that the proven benefits involve a very small number of conditions and probiotics are regulated less tightly than drugs.
  • Certain strains were found useful in preventing diarrhoea among children being prescribed antibiotics.
  • However, probiotics did not show a significant benefit for chronic diarrhoea.
  • When research is done on probiotics, it usually involves a specific organism, defined by genus, species and even strain. When used in studies, they are pure and carefully dosed. But when we buy probiotics off the shelf, we often have no idea what we are getting.
  • Among immune-compromised individuals, probiotics can lead to infections.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY

‘Cockroaches of the ocean’ are eating away California’s underwater forests

  • Purple urchin, a shellfish the size of a plum with quarter-inch spikes, has mowed down Northern California’s kelp forests.
  • The underwater forests – huge, sprawling tangles of brown seaweed – are in many ways just as important to the oceans as trees are to the land.
  • Like trees, they absorb carbon emissions and they provide critical habitat and food for a wide range of species.
  • But when climate change helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off Northern California’s coast, the urchins went on a feeding frenzy and the kelp was devoured.
  • The dangers extend far beyond this inlet: Kelp forests exist along the cooler coastlines of every continent but Antarctica. And they are under threat both from rising ocean temperatures and from what those warmer waters bring.
  • The divers went to work, scraping purple urchins off the bottom of the cove, hoping it would allow the kelp, which has declined 93 percent in Northern California, to grow back.
  • Red urchins, larger than purple urchins, are commercially viable because people eat them – or more specifically, their gonads. The delicacy is better known to sushi aficionados as uni.
  • But the increasing purple urchin population outcompeted the red urchins for the available kelp.
  • Without kelp, the red urchins starved.
  • Sunflower starfish, whose appendages can span more than 3 feet, normally eat purple urchins, helping to limit their numbers.
  • But in 2013, the starfish mysteriously began dying.
  • Sea otters, another predator of purple urchins, were hunted to near extinction in Northern California by 19th-century fur traders. Their numbers have not rebounded.
  • Purple urchins are like cockroaches of the ocean,” said a program manager at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They can endure starvation conditions much longer than most of the other critters.”

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