Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam VOL - 18 (31st March 2014 TO 6th April 2014)

Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam

VOL - 18 (31st March 2014 TO 6th April 2014)

Issue : VOL - 18 (31st March 2014 TO 6th April 2014)


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Covered Topics:



An Analysis of the Indian Electorate from 1998 To 2014 A comparison of the electoral data as per the final publication of summary revision 2014 with that of last four General Elections (from 1998 onwards) shows that the total electorate size of the country grew by 34.45% from 605,880,192 electors in 1998 to reach 814,591,184 in 2014. This growth was 21.31% relative to an electorate size of 671,487,930 in 2004. Among the 28 states and 7 union territories, Dadra & Nagar Haveli at 53.9% registered the highest rate of growth in electorate size during the period from 2004 to 2014, next followed by Puducherry at 39.1%. Among states, West Bengal registered the highest rate of growth at 31.7%. Among all states and UTs, Andaman & Nicobar Islands registered the lowest rate of growth at 6.7%, next followed by Jammu & Kashmir at 8.9%. In absolute numbers, Uttar Pradesh registered the highest growth in electorate size relative to 2004, while Lakshadweep the lowest.

Largest and Smallest Parliamentary Constituencies in Terms of Number of Electors As per the latest figures of electorate data available with the Election Commission of India, the largest five parliamentary constituencies of the country in terms of number of electors together constitute 1,16,51,249 electors while the smallest five together constitute 7,56,820 electors. The total electorate size in the largest five constituencies is thus 15.4 times of that in the smallest five constituencies. Malkajgiri in Andhra Pradesh with 29,53,915 electors has the largest number of electors while Lakshadweep with 47,972 electors has the smallest number of electors.

(Courtesy: http://india.gov.in)

Ministry of External affairs

Lankan president thanks PM for UN abstention

Days after India bucked domestic political pressures and signaled it would not slam Sri Lanka publicly and abstained on a crucial vote at the UN Human Rights Council, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse sent a warm thank you letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India's abstention has reopened relations with Sri Lanka. Indian officials said it gives them greater flexibility to pressure Colombo on political devolution to the minority Tamils. This week, India's high commissioner to Sri Lanka Y K Sinha said in Colombo, "India considers early progress on devolution and a political settlement as being crucial to Sri Lanka to tackle mounting international pressure."

Sri Lanka, in a goodwill gesture, freed all the Indian fishermen held for crossing over into Lankan waters.

While India may have repaired ties with Colombo, India also has a greater responsibility now to hold Rajapakse's feet to the fire, particularly to restart devolution talks with the Tamil National Alliance

(Courtesy: http://www.mea.gov.in)

Planning Commission of India

Government of India's Resolution setting up the Planning Commission




New Delhi, the 15th March, 1950

1. For some years past, the people of India have been conscious of the importance of planned development as a means of raising the country's standard of living. This consciousness found expression in the appointment in 1938 of the National Planning Committee by the Indian National Congress. The work of the Committee was, however, interrupted by political and other developments in the beginning of the war, although much useful material has since been published. In 1944, the Government of India established a separate Department of Planning and Development and at its instance, the Central as well as the Provincial Governments prepared a number of development schemes to be undertaken after the war. Problems of planning were reviewed towards the end of 1949 by the Advisory Planning Board which was appointed by the Interim Government of India, an important recommendation of the Board being the appointment of a Planning Commission to devote continuous attention to the whole field of development, so far as the Central Government was concerned with it.

2. During the last three years, the Centre as well as the Provinces have initiated schemes of development, but experience has shown that progress has been hampered by the absence of adequate co-ordination and of sufficiently precise information about the availability of resources. With the integration of the former Indian States with the rest of country and the emergence of new geographical and economic facts, a fresh assessment of the financial and other resources and of the essential conditions of progress has now become necessary. Moreover, inflationary pressures inherited from the war, balance of payments difficulties, the influx into India of several million persons displaced from their homes and occupations, deficiencies in the country's food supply aggravated by partition and a succession of indifferent harvests, and the dislocation of supplies of certain essential raw materials have placed the economy under a severe strain. The need for comprehensive planning based on a careful appraisal of resources and on an objective analysis of all the relevant economic factors has become imperative. These purposes can best be achieved through an organization free from the burden of the day-to-day administration, but in constant touch with the Government at the highest policy level. Accordingly, as announced by the Honourable Finance Minister in his Budget speech on the 28th February, 1950, the Government of India have decided to set up a Planning Commission.

(Courtesy: http://planningcommission.nic.in)


Bhullar’s death sentence commuted by the SC

  • The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of 1993 Delhi bomb blast case convict and Khalistani terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar to life term on the ground of delay in deciding his mercy plea and his medical condition.
  • A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam granted life to Bhullar on the ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea and also on the basis of his present medical condition.
  • The bench, also comprising justices R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu and S.J. Mukhopadhaya, passed the order on a curative petition filed by Bhullar’s wife Navneet Kaur.
  • She pleaded before the court to relook into its verdict, in which Bhullar’s plea for commuting the sentence was rejected, in view of its recent judgment where it was held that delay in deciding mercy plea can be a ground for commutation of death penalty.
  • Bhullar was convicted and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, which killed nine persons and injured 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M.S. Bitta.

CBI to submit reports to CVC

  • The CBI will submit reports on investigations against 20 companies, as part of the preliminary enquiries instituted into the coal block allocations scam to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), for a review following a Supreme Court directive.

  • Few days ago, the court had directed the CVC to review the 20 cases, asking the CBI to submit the reports to the Commission within five days.

  • The apex court has also asked the CVC to review the cases against two companies — Vikas Metals Private Limited and Kamal Sponge and Power Private Limited — in which the CBI has filed closure reports.

  • This after the CBI Deputy Inspector-General Ravi Kant Sharma, who is supervising investigations into the coal block allocation cases, submitted before the Supreme Court that he wanted to file charge sheets against the two companies. The probe against 20 other firms under scrutiny for alleged irregularities in allotment of coal blocks was closed despite some officials’ opinion that it should have been carried further.

  • Accordingly, the Supreme Court directed the CVC to look into these cases and submit its recommendations within four weeks. The CBI has so far registered five preliminary enquiries, including the two in connection with the missing coal block allocations-related files. While 18 cases have been registered, the agency has filed charge sheets in two cases.

  • The agency has registered two latest cases against Prakash Industries and Central Collieries.


Mudslide in US

  • Authorities in Washington state said they believe 22 people are still missing in the deadly mudslide that has killed at least 24 people. That is down from the 30 people they previously considered missing. The Snohomish County medical examiner’s office said it has positively identified 18 of the 24 victims in the official death toll.

  • Snohomish County Executive Director Gary Haakenson says the remains of three additional victims were found , but they have not yet been included in the medical examiner’s official numbers. The slide struck a rural area northeast of Seattle on March 22.

  • Estimated financial losses have reached $10 million, adding that about 30 families need assistance with housing, along with personal and household goods. The estimated losses include nearly $7 million in structures and more than $3 million in their contents.

Third gender recognised

  • Australia’s highest court recognised a third category of sex other than male or female.
  • The case was brought by Norrie May-Welby, who identifies as neuter, and had fought for years to have an option other than male or female on official records, preferring the term “non-specific.” The Australian registrar of births, deaths and marriages argued in court that the law only allows the choice of male or female on official forms.
  • The High Court disagreed, reaching a unanimous decision that the law does recognise a person may be neither male nor female.
  • The ruling only applies to what a person can put on their official certificate for births, deaths and marriages.
  • Eleven years ago Australia issued the first passport to a person of indeterminate sex with just an X marked in the gender column.


Counterfeit Chinese parts theory in C-130J crash

  • The Indian Air Force has ruled out that the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft could have crashed due to suspected counterfeit Chinese parts. The Air Force also said that it had already sent some of the equipment to the US for physical verification by its manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
  • The Air Force stressed that such parts were alleged to be present only in the display systems of the aircraft and it could not have caused the crash in which five personnel were killed .
  • A committee of the US Senate in its probe in 2012 had suggested that counterfeit parts such as memory chips supplied by a Chinese company were used in C-130J planes produced between a specific period.
  • The Air Force has already sent the black box of the C-130J transport aircraft that crashed near Gwalior to the US to seek the assistance of its manufacturer Lockheed Martin in decoding the data.


Poverty and India

  • A multi-pronged approach with focus on inclusive economic growth would help eradicate poverty, which is increasingly getting concentrated in a few geographical areas, says a research report.
  • The observations are part of the India Public Policy Report (IPPR) 2014 jointly published by O P Jindal Global University and Oxford University Press.
  • Poverty in India is getting increasingly concentrated in a few geographical areas, among specific social groups and is increasing in urban areas.
  • Also, access to a diverse food basket alone may not help in effectively overcoming malnutrition.
  • The report’s Policy Effectiveness Index (PEI) showed that at all India level there is a gradual, but only a marginal, improvement in the policy effectiveness index over the three decades - period from 1981 to 2011.
  • The index is based on four factors - livelihood opportunity, social opportunity, rule of law and physical infrastructure development.


Subsurface sea on Enceladus

  • By studying the gravitational pull exerted by Saturn’s moon Enceladus on the Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found that the moon could harbour a subsurface ocean of liquid water.
  • NASA has said the discovery furthers “scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes”.
  • On three occasions between 2010 and 2012, Cassini flew by Enceladus within 100 km, twice over the southern and once over the northern hemisphere. During these flybys, Cassini’s orbit was pushed and pulled by the moon’s gravity, indicating an uneven distribution of mass inside the moon.
  • Though the disturbances were small — 0.2-0.3 mm/second — scientists have been able to conclude that there is excessive mass about 30-40 km beneath Enceladus’s south pole, and a deficiency at the surface.
  • In 2011, a Jovian moon, Europa, was shown to harbour liquid water under an ice shell that covered the body’s entire surface. NASA has planned a mission to investigate Europa and allocated $15 million earlier this year to develop a mission.
  • The Cassini robotic spacecraft was launched in 1997 by NASA, European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency at a cost of $3.26 billion to study the Saturnian system.

NASA Space Settlement Contest

  • Five girls from the city of Madurai have won the third prize in the Space Settlement Design Contest 2014, co-sponsored by NASA Ames and the National Space Society (NSS), under the Literary Merit category.
  • The girls from Sri Saradha Vidyalayam Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Madurai have bagged the prestigious prize for their fictional work titled 'Cronus-The Utopia'.
  • The team is made up of Class XI students - SB Vishaka Nandini, M Shenbagam, K Kamali, P Dhivya Priya and SG Yogalakshmi. In the competition, they describe their idea of Cronus- a fictional space orbit of Saturn, as a human settlement in deep space in the year 2250 as a result of depletion of natural resources on Earth.


Earth Hour 2014

  • British Columbians reduced the province’s electricity load by a full one per cent last night for Earth Hour on 29th of March which was equivalent of turning off 1.4 million lights.
  • Earth Hour was observed at night from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and millions more people around the world also turned off their unnecessary lights and electronics.
  • In Vancouver, BC Place and Canada Place turned off their lights for an hour.
  • B.C’s energy savings during Earth Hour of one per cent was actually down from last year, when it was 1.95 per cent — the highest savings since 2008, when it was two per cent.

World unprepared for risks from a changing climate?

  • A U.N.-backed panel said that climate change impacts are already taking place on all continents and across the oceans, however, the world is unprepared for risks from a changing climate.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalized a report on the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems, and possible methods of adaptation during the five-day conference last week in the Japanese city of Yokohama.
  • Climate change is a growing threat to human security as it causes damage to homes and property, disrupts access to food and water and leads to forced migration, according to the IPCC, which is composed of hundreds of scientists and government representatives.
  • Risks from climate change are “high to very high” if temperatures increase over 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, where the world is now heading, the report said.
  • If temperatures rise between 1 to 2 degrees Celsius, risks increase “disproportionately,” it said.
  • The report issued on Monday assesses the impacts of climate change, adaptation and vulnerability of human and natural systems. It is the second of three assessment reports by the IPCC.
  • A summit in Paris in 2015 will focus on the creation of new international climate treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first phase of which came to an end in 2012.


No. 1 team in ICC T20 rankings

  • Riding on their superb unbeaten run in the World Twenty20 Championships so far, the Indian cricket team toppled Sri Lanka to clinch the top spot in the ICC rankings .
  • India have moved ahead of Sri Lanka into the number-one position on the Reliance ICC T20I Team Rankings Table
  • India gained seven ratings points after remaining unbeaten in their group engagements in Bangladesh to finish on 130, bringing them on par with Sri Lanka. But when ratings were calculated beyond the decimal point, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side found itself ranked higher. With both India and Sri Lanka through to the semi-finals, both have a chance to either retain or reclaim the number-one position.

Dipika Pallikal’s latest world squash rankings

  • Indian squash player Dipika Pallikal has dropped a rung to 12th in the latest world rankings for women in which Malaysian squash legend Nicol David has retained the top spot.
  • Dipika, however, remains the highest-ranked Indian in the Women's Squash Association rankings.
  • David has maintained the top spot despite her unexpected loss in the semifinals of the World Championship held last month.


Rabindranath Tagore

  • India, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom joined hands to honour Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest poets of the Commonwealth, at the House of Commons.
  • Tagore was one of the most celebrated sons of India, a towering figure, who wrote India as well as Bangladesh’s national anthem.
  • The range of his achievements is extraordinary and not only includes literature but music and art as well.
  • Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Selected Editorials of Importance

Final reprieve for Bhullar

The story of Devendar Pal Singh Bhullar is truly extraordinary. Condemned to death thrice in the past, he has now obtained a final reprieve from the Supreme Court, thanks to the humanitarian jurisprudence on clemency evolved by it in recent times. With the Court giving him the benefit of its January 21, 2014 verdict, the man convicted of killing nine persons and wounding 17 others in a car bomb attack in Delhi in 1993, will not be executed. His death sentence stands commuted to life on two grounds — that there was an unexplained delay of eight years in disposing of his mercy petition, and that he suffers from mental illness. The verdict was only to be expected, as both these grounds figure among the supervening circumstances for commutation listed by the Supreme Court in January in Shatrughan Chauhan vs Union of India. There were at least three days in Bhullar’s life that appeared to indicate that his fate was sealed: March 22, 2002, when the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against him; June 13, 2011, when the President’s rejection of his mercy petition was communicated to the prison authorities; and April 12, 2013, when the Supreme Court upheld the President’s order. Rarely do cases get reopened after reaching finality in both the appellate and review jurisdictions of the Supreme Court. Yet, such was the scope of the relief envisioned in Shatrughan Chauhan that the Attorney General conceded that this death sentence was liable for commutation in the light of the principles enunciated in that verdict.

The question that arises now is whether there is any aspect of clemency, or constitutional limitation on imposing the irreversible penalty of death, that remains to be settled by the Supreme Court. One aspect that the Court will probably take note of some day in an appropriate case is whether difference of opinion among judges in the appellate court can be a ground for commutation. In Bhullar’s case, the death sentence imposed on him by the Designated Court was upheld by the Supreme Court by a majority of two judges to one. And the dissenting judge did not differ just on the sentence: he acquitted him, holding that the accused could not be convicted solely on the basis of a statement recorded by a police officer. While considering his review petition, the Bench was divided two-one on the effect of this difference of opinion, with the majority holding that one dissent could not be a ground to review the verdict. Questions on the irreversible harm caused by a possible doubtful or mistaken conviction will keep cropping up as long as the death penalty remains on the statute book, helping the judiciary fine-tune and humanise the body of law on death and mercy.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)



i) The seven States in which Jats would be considered as OBC are: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar.
ii) Recently a complaint was lodged with the Delhi Election Commission by BJP to prevent AAP from using images of Narendra Modi in their posters which the party alleged is in “bad taste’’.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are false?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii


i) A solar park of about 100 km,which will be the second of its kind has been set up by Rays Power Infra at Andhra Pradesh recently.
ii) NTPC is implementing 2400 MW Kudgi Super Thermal Power Project in Bijapur district of Karnataka and the Supreme Court has stayed an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) putting on hold on the project.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are false?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii


i) Batteries of the black box, which records flight data and is also equipped with an underwater signalling beacon, last for 30 days.
ii) Angkor Wat temple, one of the oldest heritage monuments in the world that is the latest addition to Google’s Street View imagery is, located in Nepal.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true?

a) only i
b) only ii
c) both i and ii
d) neither i nor ii

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