Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 10 October 2017
Sale of firecrackers banned in Delhi
- The Supreme Court suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR
till November 1, 2017 in a bid to test whether a Deepavali without
firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of
citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality.
- A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Sapre and Ashok Bhushan reverted to
its November 2016 decision to suspend sales of firecrackers “to test itself
to find out whether there would be a positive effect of this suspension,
particularly during Deepavali period.”
- “There is virtually a consensus in society that crackers should not be
burnt during Deepavali, which can be celebrated with equal fervour by
various other means as well...We have the direct evidence of deterioration
of air quality at alarming levels, which happens every year. As already
pointed out above, burning of these firecrackers during Deepavali in 2016
had shot up pm [particulate matter] levels by three times, making Delhi the
worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned. Direct and
immediate cause thereof was burning of crackers during Deepavali,” the court
reasoned in its 20-page judgment.
- But the court said its September 12, 2017 decision — saying a total ban
on firecrackers’ sale in Delhi NCR is too “radical a step” and a graded,
gradual approach to a complete ban should be adopted — would be effective
from November 1.
- “We are not tweaking the various directions contained in the orders
dated September 12, 2017, the effect of that order would not be given during
this Deepavali and, therefore, we are making it effective only from November
01, 2017. We are conscious of the fact that after the said order was passed,
the police may have issued temporary licences. Accordingly, those are
suspended forthwith so that there is no further sale in Delhi and NCR.”
In an historic event Dalit made Kerala temple’s head priest
- The small hamlet of Keezhcherivalkadavu, where the rivers Pampa and
Manimala meet near Thiruvalla, witnessed a historic event in the post-Temple
Entry Proclamation period when a Dalit assumed charge as the head priest (Melsanthi)
at the 150-year old Manappuram Siva Temple attached to the Travancore
- The 22-year-old Yadukrishna is the first ever Dalit Melsanthi to be
appointed by the TDB. This youth who hails from the Pulaya community has
learnt Tantra under the guidance of the renowned Tantric scholar K.K.
Anirudhan Tantri of the Sree Gurudeva Vaidika Tantra Vidya Peedhom at
Moothakunam near North Paravur in Ernakulam district.
- Yadukrishna was ranked fourth in the maiden examination conducted by the
Devaswom Recruitment Board and incidentally became the first Melsanthi to be
appointed from the rank list at a TDB temple.
- “Yadukrishna is a studious seeker who has been learning Tantra at the
30-year-old Vidya Peedhom for the past 10 years. He came to me at the age of
six as a helper who brings flowers for the puja at the Naalukettu Sree
Dharma Sastha Temple at Chalakkudy,” says Anirudhan Tantri.
- According to him, “we should not forget the rich Hindu concept that one
becomes a Brahmana or an outcast by his or her deeds and not by birth.
- “The step taken by the TDB to eliminate caste in priesthood is a
historic one,” said K. Prabhakaran of the Hindu Aikyavedi and Murali Kovoor
of the Bharatiya Vichara Kendram.
- The villagers accorded a rousing reception to Yadukrishna who reached
the temple along with his Guru in the morning. They took the new Melsanthi
to the temple in a ceremonial procession with the accompaniments of
Vanchippattu and temple percussion.
Not through video conferencing but through in camera
- In a historic verdict, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, with a
2:1 majority, overruled its earlier orders to conduct matrimonial disputes
cases through video conferencing, saying it is very doubtful whether the
emotional bond can be established in a virtual meeting during video
conferencing and it may even create a dent in the process of settlement.
- Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar agreed
that matrimonial disputes should be conducted in camera in the spirit of
Section 11 of the Family Courts Act of 1984 and video conferencing would
destroy the privacy of the proceedings and probably defeat the cause of
- “What one party can communicate with other, if they are left alone for
sometime, is not possible in video conferencing… the expression of desire by
the wife or the husband is whittled down and smothered if the Court directs
that the proceedings shall be conducted through the use of video
conferencing,” the majority judgment observed.
- Describing matrimonial proceedings as “sanguinely private”, the majority
judgment said chances of “reconciliation requires presence of both the
parties at the same place and the same time so as to be effectively
- The majority judgment set aside a decision by a two-judge Bench of the
Supreme Court led by Justice A.K. Goel on March 9, directing all high courts
to issue administrative instructions to family courts across the country to
open video conferencing facilities and use the technology to conduct marital
disputes whenever one of the parties — husband or wife — requests for it.
The court had said this would spare the parties the drudgery of appearing in
person for the proceedings.
- In his dissenting judgment, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, the third judge on
Chief Justice Misra’s Bench, differed with the opinions expressed in the
majority verdict, saying modern technology like video conferencing is “above
all a facilitator, enabler and leveler”.
“Appropriate deployment of technology facilitates access to justice,”
Justice Chandrachud wrote.
- The majority judgment, however, said video conferencing of marital
disputes proceedings can be held if attempts at settlement fail and both the
husband and wife mutually agree to it.
- Besides, he argued that video conferencing can come to the aid of
spouses who face genuine difficulties arising from the personal or
employment compulsions to attend court. “There may also be situations where
parties (or one of the spouses) do not want to be in the same room as the
other due to a history of marital abuse or misbehaviour of a psychiatric
nature or substance abuse,” he observed.
Craving the difference between refugees and infiltrators —ICHR
- At a time when the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar is being debated —
including whether India should indeed deport them or adopt a humanitarian
stand — the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is organising a
seminar to flesh out the difference between “refugees” and “illegal
infiltrators”, seeing Rohingya Muslims as an example of the latter.
- “Victims of religio-ethnic cleansing from the neighbouring countries
which were part of eternal Bharat since time immemorial but got separated
from us in 1947, are entitled to shelter and rehabilitation in India, but
illegal infiltrators from outside India are not,” says a brief concept note
on the seminar accessed by The Hindu.
- “Rohingya are certainly not entitled to the refugee status. We have
another category of refugees — who are internally displaced — like the Hindu
community from our own Kashmir valley, unfortunately now refugees in their
- The note also says: “Study on refugees, or ‘forced migration’, is an
established academic discipline in various countries, but somehow, it has
yet to receive that kind of acceptability in India. As against this, there
is the issue of illegal infiltration, and the two cannot be clubbed
::INDIA AND WORLD::
India-EU talks are low
India and the European Union have “failed to live up to their potential”,
said German Ambassador Martin Ney, expressing disappointment at the failure of
the EU-India summit held in Delhi last week to agree on the resumption of talks
on the investment and free trade agreement.
There is no decision to resume negotiations on free trade agreement despite
the possibility being at hand. There was no such decision taken at the last EU
summit in March 2016, and the EU leaders and Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed
to take such a decision during the summit two days ago.
Diplomatic officials say the tough comments are a signal of the growing
unhappiness among European diplomats over the long period it has taken to get
talks on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), as it is known,
back on track after they broke down in 2013.
Since then, despite several commitments made by the leaders on the issue,
including a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor
Angela Merkel in June, there has been no movement towards resuming the talks.
Chief negotiators on both sides have met several times both formally and on
the sidelines of other summit, and are expected to meet again in November, but
diplomats hold that no real progress is yet on the cards
There had been some hope the EU-India summit would yield a political decision
on resuming the talks, as top leaders Donald Tusk, President of the European
Council, and Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, met for
the summit 18 months after they failed to make a breakthrough in Brussels last
Commerce Ministry officials have repeatedly said that India is ready to
restart talks, but would like to discuss a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement
including investment, while the EU is keen to finalise the bilateral investment
treaty first, given that India has allowed all its BITs with European countries
and others to lapse in the past year.
Another point of disagreement has been over whether the talks would begin
afresh, or will incorporate decisions from the previous talks that broke after
16 rounds in 2013.
China set to launch next phase of anti- corruption
- China is set to launch the next phase of its anti-corruption campaign
following the upcoming conclave of the Communist Party of China (CPC), held
every five years.
- The final preparations for the new edition of the anti-graft drive began
in the Chinese capital. About 120 members of the Central Commission for
Discipline Inspection — the party’s anti-graft arm — are participating in
the two-day plenum.
- The meeting will review the agency’s work report for the past five
years. The final document will be submitted for endorsement to the party
congress, which begins its session from October 18.
- Analysts say that having already cracked down on the king-pins of
corruption, called “tigers” in semi-official parlance, the next round of the
campaign will mainly focus on “flies”.
- These are the lower level officials, whose names may have surfaced after
the extensive patronage networks of the high-flying “tigers” were exposed.
- During his signature clean-up drive that began after he took over office
in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping went after top guns of the party,
including Zhou Yongkang, the former security Czar. Mr. Zhou also belonged
the all-powerful seven-member standing committee of the Politburo, headed by
- His conviction and life-sentence broke an unwritten rule of sparing top
leadership from criminal investigation. Other heavyweights felled by the
sweeping campaign included former military leaders Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.
- Both were Vice-Chairmen of the powerful Central Military Commission, the
apex body of China’s military establishment.
- China’s anti-graft drive has so far netted more than 250 senior
officials, military generals and corporate executives. Nearly 1.4 million
cadres have been “disciplined,” official figures say.
- While Mr. Xi’s unprecedented attack on corruption has been hugely
popular, it has apparently threatened the momentum of economic growth. It is
widely perceived that the fear of anti-corruption inspectors raiding their
offices or homes has discouraged officials to clear major investment
- The disruption of networking between corporate executives and party
officials over lavish parties has, presumably, fractured the economic
decision making cycle.
- Analysts say a new overarching anti-corruption architecture is expected
to be cleared during 19th Party Congress, though its formal launch may have
to await the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) —
China’s Parliament — in March. That includes the formation of the National
Supervision Commission, subordinating similar bodies at the provincial
- Unlike the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which
has jurisdiction only over the party members, the new commission will have
powers to investigate all, including non-Communist Party members.
- At the end of the party congress, a change of guard in the CCDI is
expected. Having attained the unofficial retirement age of 69, current CCDI
head, Wang Qishan, one of Mr. Xi’s trusted allies, is likely to be replaced
by Li Zhanshu — the President’s chief of staff.
Nobel Economics Prize goes to Richard Thaler
- U.S. economist Richard Thaler won the Nobel Economics prize for showing
that economic and financial decision-makers are not always rational, but
mostly deeply human.
- Bridging the gap between economics and psychology, Mr. Thaler’s research
focuses on behavioural economics, which explores the impact of psychological
and social factors on decisions by individuals or groups in the economy and
- Mr. Thaler is well-known for co-founding the “nudge” theory, which
demonstrates how people can be persuaded to make decisions that leave them
healthier and happier.
- “By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social
preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits
systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes,” the
jury’s statement said.
- “His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental
in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioural economics,
which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and
- The 72-year-old takes home the nine million kronor (€944,000, $1.1
million) prize sum.
- Mr. Thaler is a professor at the University of Chicago — a school
popular with the Nobel economics committee.
- One of the founders of behavioural finance, which studies how cognitive
limitations influence financial markets, Mr. Thaler developed a model for
explaining how people tend to focus on the narrow impact rather than the
overall effect of each decision they make, which is called limited
- This includes the study of how people’s loathing of losses can explain
why they value the same things more when they own them as opposed to when
they don’t, which is called the endowment effect.
- Using a planner-doer model, he showed how short-term temptations disrupt
people's plans to save for their old age, rainy days or live a healthier
- "In his applied work, Mr. Thaler demonstrated how nudging — a term he
coined — may help people exercise better self-control when saving for a
pension, as well in other contexts,” the Nobel jury said.
Might lead to negative consequences if U.S. quits nuclear deal
- Moscow warned there would be “negative consequences” if U.S. President
Donald Trump fails to uphold the landmark Iran nuclear deal negotiated by
- Mr. Trump is a fierce critic of the 2015 accord, which he has called
“the worst deal ever.”
- U.S. officials say he intends to tell Congress next week that Tehran is
not honouring its side of the bargain.
- “Obviously if one country leaves the deal, especially such a key country
as the U.S., then that will have negative consequences,” Russian President
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
- Mr. Putin has repeatedly hailed the importance of the existing deal, he
added. Trump is expected to announce that he is “decertifying” Iran’s
compliance with the agreement it signed to limit its nuclear programme in
exchange for sanctions relief.
- U.S. officials insist this will not sink the deal itself but open the
way for Congress to possibly develop new measures to punish other aspects of
- Resumed sanctions could derail the accord negotiated with Tehran by
former president Barack Obama and other major world powers.
- Congress requires the president to certify Iranian compliance with the
deal every 90 days.
- The next certification date is October 15.
- Under the law, Congress would then have 60 days to decide whether to
reimpose sanctions lifted by the deal.
IAEA states that Iran is complying with nuclear deal
- The UN atomic agency chief affirmed Iran’s commitment to a 2015 nuclear
deal, in a statement that came as U.S. President Donald Trump said Tehran
was not living up to the “spirit” of the agreement.
- “I can state that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran
under the (nuclear agreement) are being implemented,” International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said.
- An IAEA report had also affirmed Iran’s compliance with the programme,
which froze some of Tehran’s nuclear activities. Iran’s stock of
low-enriched uranium used for peaceful purposes, but when further processed
for a weapon did not exceed the agreed limit of 300 kilos, the report said.
It added that Iran “has not pursued the construction of the Arak...
::BUSINESS AND ECONOMY::
ILO comes to defend its report on ‘modern slavery’
- The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has defended its recent
report on “modern slavery” after the Union government questioned the
authenticity of its estimates.
- The ILO, which produced the report titled ‘Global Estimates of Modern
Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage 2017’ along with Australia-based
Walk Free Foundation (WFF), said that it doesn’t focus on specific countries
but provides a global picture.
- “The estimates in the report do not focus on any one country but instead
provide global and regional pictures of the situation,” an ILO spokesperson
said in an e-mail to The Hindu .
- Although country-wise figures were not mentioned in the 2017 ILO-WFF
report, the study showed that 40.3 million people were victims of ‘modern
slavery’ in 2016.
- “The ILO does not recommend using these estimates to generate national
statistics; however the ILO encourages member-states to implement their own
national surveys for which the ILO can provide tested tools and technical
support upon request,” the ILO said.
- Union Labour and Employment Secretary M. Sathiyavathy had written a
letter to ILO Director General Guy Ryder on October 4 saying “neither the
Central government was consulted before the study nor its credibility has
- “We would like to know the basis on which the data has been verified for
credibility when apparently it has been neither verified with any official
data source, including that of ILO nor any national governments have been
consulted regarding the survey methodology,” the letter said.
- The Labour and Employment Ministry’s rebuttal came following a missive
from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) asking the government to counter multiple
international organisations on reports about slavery in India that can hurt
India’s image and exports.
- The Centre is exploring a rebuttal at an international level through
consultations with the Ministry of External Affairs and other departments.
The Labour and Employment Ministry is also planning to conduct its own
surveys on bonded labour in a bid to counter various estimates by private
Apparel sector troubled by embedded taxes on exports
- The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), the apex body for apparel
exporters in India, has raised with the government the issue of embedded
taxes on exports.
- In a statement, the AEPC said the measures taken by the GST Council on
October 6 will give immediate relief to the apparel exports sector which has
been facing stress.
- These measures include reduction in the rate of GST on man-made items
including synthetic filament yarn such as nylon, polyester and acrylic, and
artificial filament yarn, yarn of man made staple fibres, real zari from 18%
- The GST Council also made a provision for refund of GST for the month of
July by October 10 and for August by October 18 which will ease the working
capital stress. A facility of e-wallet has also been introduced for
addressing the refund issue.
- “However, since the duty structure remains inverted with fabric at 5%
GST, we are hopeful that the embedded taxes arising out of this inverted
structure will be refunded to exporters through appropriate mechanisms,” it
- The AEPC said the key issue of embedded taxes needed to be taken up by
the Centre to address the genuine concerns of the exporters and export
sentiments. Invisible taxes needed to be considered for refund under
drawback and Remission of State Levies (RoSL) schemes, so that the
calibrated refund provided is representative of the tax incidences incurred
by the industry, it said.
- In its representation to the Ministries concerned, the AEPC said in the
absence of encouraging duty drawback and RoSL, exports from the sector will
further witness a sharp decline just ahead of the peak festival season.
- “[The] appreciating rupee and... new levies like GST on intra-company
stock transfers, job work, freight and samples imposed in the GST regime
have led to cost escalation for exporters further narrowing their low
margins in competitive global markets,” the AEPC said.
Efforts to bring petro products into GST
- The government would consult states on bringing petroleum products into
the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Prime Minister Narendra Modi
- Mr. Modi was reacting to suggestions from industry leaders to bring
petroleum products, that now face high Central and State levies, into the
GST net, at an official meeting with head honchos of the oil and gas
- The Centre currently levies an excise duty of Rs. 19.48 per litre on
petrol and states levy VAT ranging between 6% and 48%.
- Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has repeatedly urged the GST
Council to bring petrol and diesel under GST.
- At the moment, petrol, diesel, natural gas, and alcohol are outside GST.
- The PM stressed the need to develop energy infrastructure in eastern
India, and urged the private sector to participate in coal gasification and
biomass energy through joint ventures.
- “The PM thanked the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Rosneft..., for
their support to India’s energy sector, and also appreciated the 2030 vision
document of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said a statement from the PM’s
- “The PM said that as India moves towards a cleaner and more
fuel-efficient economy, he wants its benefits to expand to all sections of
the society, and, in particular, to the poorest.”
- NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said that India’s oil demand was expected to
rise to 7.5 million barrels per day by 2030 from 4.5 million bpd in 2016,
raising its share in global demand from 4.65% to 6.8%. India’s gas
consumption is expected to rise from 51.2 billion cubic metres in FY15 to
100-110 bcm by FY30.
HPCL’s acquisition by ONGC funded through selling stake to LIC and market
- State-owned ONGC is likely to sell some of its stake in IOC to
institutional investors like LIC to part-fund its more than Rs. 34,000-crore
acquisition of refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).
- Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) holds 13.77% stake in India’s
biggest refiner Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), which was worth over Rs.
27,800 crore as .It has another 4.87% stake in GAIL India Ltd. worth Rs.
- The acquisition of 51.11% government stake in HPCL will be funded
through a combination of market borrowing and selling some stake in IOC and
- Selling a stake in the open market may create volatility and so, ONGC is
considering selling less than 2% in IOC to institutional investors like LIC
in a block deal.
- ONGC has already secured shareholder nod to raise up to Rs. 25,000 crore
debt, he said, adding that the firm had about Rs. 10,000 crore of cash in
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had, on July 19, granted
‘in-principle’ approval to the strategic sale of the government’s existing
51.11% stake in HPCL to ONGC “along with the transfer of management control,
which will result in HPCL becoming a subsidiary company of ONGC.”
- But, since the offer meant a transfer of control to ONGC, there was
apprehension it would trigger SEBI’s takeover code and compel the explorer
to make an open offer to buy an additional 26% stake from minority
shareholders, he said.
- So, the terms of sale have been amended to state that “HPCL will
continue to be a government company in terms of section 2(45) of the
Companies Act, 2013, and will continue to be controlled by the Government of
India through ONGC under the administrative control of the Ministry of
Petroleum and Natural Gas.”
- The U.S. lifted sanctions against Sudan saying Sudan had made progress
fighting terrorism and easing humanitarian distress. Output from OVL’s three
blocks in Sudan has declined to about 25,000 barrels per day (bpd) from
48,000 bpd since last November after Sudan failed to renew the contract for
Block 2B, Mr. Verma said.