Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 MAY 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 MAY 2019


::NATIONAL::

Vice President moots measuring public satisfaction to analyse performance of public officals

  •  The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has said that public satisfaction must be the yardstick to measure the performance of public servants.
  •  He wanted them to improve knowledge and acquire technical skills and constantly learn from the global best governance practices to make the Indian administrative system better, efficient and effective.
  •  Shri Naidu, while addressing Assistant Secretaries, Section Officers, and employees of Andhra Pradesh Secretariat in New Delhi, asked them to rise to the occasion and strive to fulfill the aspirations of people, especially the youth.
  •  Emphasizing that responsive and efficient governance mechanism was the need of the hour, Shri Naidu wanted officials to ensure time-bound delivery of public services in a transparent manner.
  •  The Vice President advised them to review, reform and refine working methods and procedures to ensure that the benefits of government programs reach the last man in the line. “Everyone must perform his or her duty with sincerity, honesty, integrity, and discipline”, he added.
  •  Suggesting that all administrative matters must be carried out in the State’s official language, Shri Naidu urged them to be sympathetic to the needs of people who come to them with their grievances.
  •  More than 30 officers from the finance department of Andhra Pradesh have called on Vice President. They are undergoing a month-long training program at National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), Faridabad in areas such as expenditure management, budget management, and fiscal responsibility and taxation.

Supreme court reserves verdict on SC/SCT prevention of atrocities act

  •  The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved for judgment a batch of petitions challenging the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018 which nullified a controversial March 20 Supreme Court judgment diluting the stringent provisions of the Dalit protection law.
  •  A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit heard arguments raised by the Centre that the amendments were necessary as the SCs and the STs continue to face the same social stigma, poverty and humiliation which they had been subjected to for centuries.
  •  The 2018 Act nullified the March 20 judgment which allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against the SCs and the STs. The original 1989 Act bars anticipatory bail. The apex court verdict saw a huge backlash across the country. Several died in ensuing protests and crores worth of property was destroyed. The government reacted by filing a review petition and subsequently amended the 1989 Act back to its original form.
  •  Several petitions were filed last year challenging the amendments. The lead petitioner, advocate Prithvi Raj Chauhan, even called the amendments a “blunder” and a violation of the fundamental right to equality and personal liberty. The Supreme Court however had refused to stay the implementation of the amendments.
  •  The government had responded that there had been no decrease in the atrocities committed on the SCs/STs despite the laws meant to protect their civil rights.
  •  “The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 is the least which the country owes to this section who have been denied civil rights since generations,” the Centre argued.

::ECONOMY::

ADB to finance for metro rail projects in India

  •  Asian Development Bank (ADB), traditionally strong in funding social sector projects in education, water and irrigation in India, is moving into financing metro rail projects in the country in a big way.
  •  “Transport and energy are two of our biggest areas for funding. We’re now moving into metro rail financing in a big way,” said Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department, ADB. He was addressing journalists from South Asia at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ADB.
  •  The bank is involved with the $1 billion Mumbai metro, and is in talks with the respective State governments for funding the Bhopal Metro and Bengaluru Metro. It is also engaged in discussions to extend assistance to Chennai Metro Phase II possibly even subsequent phases and the new Indore metro.
  •  Funding for the Mumbai project is the largest extended to India by the ADB. ADB has financed the Jaipur Metro as well. The bank is also working with the Centre to finance the newly-announced Delhi-Meerut Rapid Rail project cleared by the Cabinet in February.
  •  Mr. Kim emphasised that financing logistics projects would also be a priority area for the bank. “We want to be a bank for logistics,” he said, pointing to the Vizag-Chennai and the Chennai-Kanyakumari industrial corridors, where the ADB is involved in financing the preparation of the master plan.
  •  Tamil Nadu is emerging as a major ‘client’ of the bank. “We will be lending $500 million each for energy projects, and urban projects, apart from the Chennai Metro Phase II,” Mr. Kim said.
  •  He said that all these projects had been agreed to in-principle with the Centre, the guarantor. “It depends on the client,” he said, adding that delays often happened at the borrowers’ end.
  •  The ADB is working closely with the AIIB, which is “still in the initial phase” of its operations, and has raised a lot of funds to on-lend.

GST gets record collection since its implementation in April

  •  The Goods and Services Tax, GST collection scaled all-time high of over 1.13 lakh crore rupees last month, up from 1.06 lakh crore rupees in the previous month.
  •  The Finance Ministry in a statement said, out of the total gross GST revenue collected in April, Central GST is 21 thousand 163 crore rupees, State GST is 28 thousand 801 crore rupees, Integrated GST is 54 thousand 733 crore and cess is 9 thousand 168 crore rupees.
  •  The total number of summary sales return GSTR-3B filed for the month of March up to 30th April stood at 72.13 lakh. The collection in the first month of current fiscal has been the highest since the introduction of GST and also reflects 10.05 per cent growth over April last year.
  •  The total revenue earned by the central government and state governments after regular and provisional settlement in April 2019 is 47 thousand 533 crore rupees for CGST and 50 thousand 776 crore rupees for SGST.
  •  For 2019-20, the government proposes to collect 6.10 lakh crore rupees from CGST and 1.01 lakh crore rupees as compensation cess. The IGST balance has been pegged at 50 thousand crore rupees.
  •  The CGST collection in 2018-19 was 4.25 lakh crore rupees, while compensation cess was over 97 thousand crore rupees.
  •  The Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue last month is 16.05 per cent higher than the monthly average of 98 thousand 114 crore GST revenue in 2018-19.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

UNSC lists Mazood Azhar in 1267 committee as global terrorist

  •  Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was listed as a designated terrorist by the UN Security Council 1267 Committee on Wednesday. Significantly, the reasons for listing did not mention the Pulwama attack of February 14, for which the JeM had claimed responsibility, and which found mention in the latest (February 27) listing request for Azhar.
  •  Nevertheless, the listing is a victory for India in a decade-old diplomatic battle waged primarily by it and supported by its friends at the UNSC, as it would mean a travel ban, arms embargo and asset freeze on Azhar.
  •  However, China placed a hold on the request which normally lasts for three months on March 13. This was the fourth such attempt to designate Azhar, over a decade, that had gone awry.
  •  At the end of March, the U.S. circulated a draft resolution (to sanction Azhar) among the UNSC members, i.e., outside the 1267 Committee, presumably to pressure China into either supporting the listing or having to take a stand in open proceedings and risk being seen as supporting terror.
  •  The international community has welcomed the United Nations' decision to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist and sought sustained action from Pakistan against terrorism emanating from its soil.
  •  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that all member states abide by the decisions of the Sanctions Committee that has subject Azhar to an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban.

U.S-Taliban talks underway in Qatar

  •  A new round of peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S. got under way in Qatar on Wednesday.
  •  The latest negotiations between the two sides come as pressure builds for some sort of breakthrough in Afghanistan’s gruelling conflict, with Washington jostling for a resolution.
  •  Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the “sixth round of talks between (the Taliban) and the U.S. will start in Doha today”. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed the talks “are occurring”.
  •  U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, tweeted that he was in Doha and had met with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, who offered support for the talks.
  •  On Sunday, Mr. Khalilzad said Washington was “a bit impatient” to end the war, given its $45 billion annual cost to the U.S. taxpayer and the continued toll on U.S. forces, some 2,400 of whom have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion.
  •  Separately, thousands of Afghan politicians and representatives from various groups are meeting in Kabul this week at a ‘loya jirga’ peace summit.
  •  Mohammad Omar Daudzai, Mr. Ghani’s special envoy for peace, welcomed the fresh U.S.-Taliban talks and described how the jirga could feed into overall peace talks. “The jirga sets a logical beginning for the peace process,” Mr. Daudzai told reporters. “The people in the jirga will decide and set boundaries and the framework of talks.”

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Researchers develop antidote for the dangerous box jelly fish

  •  Australian researchers believe they have found an antidote to a sting from the world’s most venomous creature, the much-feared box jellyfish.
  •  Researchers at the University of Sydney had been investigating how the venom is so deadly that one box jellyfish can kill 60 people. The team noticed the venom needs cholesterol to kill human cells and decided to test whether existing drugs could stop it.
  •  “Since there are lots of drugs available that target cholesterol” the team tried one out, said lead author Raymond Lau. “It worked,” he said. “It’s a molecular antidote.”
  •  Running tests using human cells and mice, the team found it could stop tissue scarring and pain associated with the sting as long as the medicine was injected within 15 minutes.
  •  Stings from box jellyfish which can be smaller than a fingernail or up to three metres long depending on the species can cause acute muscular pain, violent vomiting, feelings of “impending doom”, hair that stands on end, strokes, heart failure and death within minutes.

::SPORTS::

Apurvi Chandela becomes world no:1 in women’s 10m shooting

  •  Indian shooting ace Apurvi Chandela today attained the world number one position in the women's 10 metres air rifle event while compatriot Anjum Moudgil rose to number two after consistent performances in recent years.
  •  The rifle ace from Jaipur is among the five Indian shooters to have already secured 2020 Olympics quotas for the country.
  •  Meanwhile, Moudgil attained the world number two rank in 10 metres Air Rifle after her mixed team gold at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. Manu Bhaker is the world number 10 in 25 metres pistol women category.

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