Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 APRIL 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 APRIL 2019


AG claims bringing collegium under RTI would undermine judicial independence

  • Opening up the “highly-sensitive” correspondence of the Supreme Court’s collegium and its workings to the Right to Information (RTI) regime would make judges and the government “shy” and “destroy” judicial independence, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal submitted on Wednesday.
  • Addressing a Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi, Mr.Venugopal asserted that were the RTI Act to be applied to the collegium, its member judges would not be able to sit back and have a free and frank discussion for fear that their confidential views may later come into the public domain.
  • The Supreme Court, after losing legal battles before the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the Delhi High Court, finally had to appeal to itself to protect the collegium’s workings.
  • Elaborating on some of the reasons to exclude the collegium from the purview of the RTI, Mr.Venugopal said: “If reasons for his rejection come into public domain, will a judge be able to function independently? The entire future of the judge is ruined.
  • Acknowledging that the right to know was part of the right to free speech, Mr.Venugopal said the right to free speech was, however, subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • The AG said even disclosure of personal assets of judges under RTI was an “unwarranted intrusion” into their privacy.

Study finds air pollution reduces life span by 3 months

  • The current high level of air pollution has shortened the average lifespan of a South Asian child by two-and-a- half years while globally the reduction stands at 20 months, according to a global study released on Wednesday.
  • State of Global Air 2019, published by Health Effects Institute (HEI), said exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017. The report added that worldwide, air pollution was responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol abuse and physical inactivity.
  • In India, air pollution is the third highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just above smoking; each year, more people globally die from air pollution-related diseases than from road traffic injuries or malaria.
  • Out of these, 3 million deaths were directly attributed to PM2.5, half of which were from India and China together. South Asian countries Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan led the world as the most polluted region, accounting for over 1.5 million air-pollution related deaths, according to the report.
  • “At the same time, India has initiated major steps to address pollution sources: the PradhanMantriUjjwalaYojana Household LPG programme, accelerated Bharat Stage VI clean vehicle standards, and the new National Clean Air Programme. These and future initiatives have the potential if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality to result in significant health benefits in coming years,” said Robert O’Keefe, vice-president of HEI.


NITI Aayog wants new regulation to deal with bad loans

  • With the Supreme Court quashing the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular on loan defaults, the central bank and the government will now have to sit together and bring a new regulation to ensure financial discipline among borrowers, said NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant.
  • On Tuesday, the apex court struck down a February 2018 circular issued by the RBI that gave lender banks six months to resolve their stressed assets or move under the Insolvency Code against private entities who have defaulted in loans worth over Rs. 2,000 crore.
  • Earlier in the day, while delivering the keynote address at the event, Mr. Kant said that the Indian economy must grow rapidly at 9-10% even as the country faced four main challenges — manufacturing with a focus on exports, gender parity, agriculture, and transforming areas that have remained backward.
  • He highlighted the fact that while India had demonstrated that it can manufacture on a huge scale, the focus had to be on exports that gave better value per unit of sales.
  • He also said that agriculture needed radical reforms and outdated laws related to Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) and Essential Commodities Act needed to be scrapped.

ADB moots 7.2% growth this fiscal

  • Asian Development Bank, ADB, says India's growth is set to pick up. In its report released today, ADB said India is expected to grow at 7.2 per cent in the current fiscal on strengthening consumption.
  • According to the Asian Development Outlook 2019, India's growth slowed from 7.2 per cent in fiscal 2017 to 7 per cent in 2018, with weaker agricultural output and consumption growth curtailed by higher global oil prices and lower government expenditure.
  • It is expected to rebound to 7.2 per cent in 2019 and 7.3 per cent in 2020 as policy rates are cut and farmers receive income support, bolstering domestic demand.
  • The report added that sub-region wise, southeast Asia will sustain growth at close to 5 per cent this year and the next one.

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China blocks U.S parallel way to designate Azhar as global terrorist

  • China on Wednesday raised its pitch against Washington’s parallel initiative to designate MasoodAzhar as a global terrorist, insisting that its diplomacy within the 1267 committee of the Security Council was yielding “positive results”.
  • In response to a question on Washington’s attempt to designate Azhar as an international terrorist through a separate resolution, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson GengShuang said that most countries within the Council were not supporting the U.S.’s move.
  • He stressed that Washington’s parallel initiative was needless as Beijing was making progress to build consensus to list Azhar as a global terrorist within the 1267 committee itself.
  • The Associated Press reported that a draft resolution circulated to Security Council members on March 27 by the U.S. would impose a travel ban and asset freeze on him.

South Korea releases world’s first 5G mobile network

  • South Korea launched the world’s first nationwide 5G mobile networks two days early, its top mobile carriers said on Thursday, in a late-night scramble to be the first providers of the super-fast wireless technology.
  • Three top telecom providers SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplusbegan their 5G services at 11 pm local time on Wednesday, despite previously announcing the launch date would be April 5.
  • Hyper-wired South Korea has long had a reputation for technical prowess, and Seoul had made the 5G rollout a priority as it seeks to stimulate stuttering economic growth.
  • But speculation that U.S. mobile carrier Verizon might start its 5G services early forced South Korean providers to hastily organise a late-night launch, Yonhap news agency reported.
  • Experts say 5G will bring smartphones near-instantaneous connectivity 20 times faster than 4G allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second.
  • The technology is crucial for the future development of devices such as self-driving vehicles and is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.


High levels of coral bleaching found in Australian coast

  • The world’s southernmost coral reef has been hit by bleaching this summer, Australian scientists said on Wednesday, as they warned rising sea temperatures from climate change were affecting even the most isolated ecosystems.
  • The corals off Lord Howe Islandsome 600 km offshore from Sydney were affected by elevated temperatures this summer, despite escaping severe bleaching that damaged the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017.
  • “It’s just another indicator that climate change is affecting everywhere around the world. Here is a reef that is 600 km from the mainland and we are seeing bleaching there in a lovely, beautiful ecosystem,” he said.
  • Mr.Leggat and other scientists from several Australian universities and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found severe bleaching of up to 90% at Lord Howe’s inshore, shallow lagoon reefs. Deeper-water corals in the marine park, which contains species not found anywhere else and like the Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site, were still “looking quite healthy” having mostly escaped the bleaching, Mr.Leggat said.
  • Mr.Leggat said increasing baseline temperatures caused by climate change, and local factors such as elevated temperatures in the area this summer, caused the bleaching to occur. The scientists are set to return to Lord Howe in the next few months to find out if some corals have been so severely bleached they can’t recover.
  • Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.


Indian women footballers win over Indonesia in Olympic qualifiers

  • In Football, the Indian women's national team today registered a 2-0 win over Indonesia in its opening match of the Olympic Qualifiers Round two in Mandalay, Myanmar.
  • With this win, India went a step closer to making it to the 2020 Tokyo Games.
  • Maintaining the winning momentum after the success of their fifth consecutive SAFF title triumph, the Indian women applied pressure on the opponents from the opening minute.
  • India will face Nepal in the second match of the group stage on Saturday. A win will be necessary there too, because only the group topper gets to progress to the third round of the Olympic Qualifiers.

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