Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 06 February 2019
EC confirms 100 % use of VVPAT in Loksabha elections
- The Election Commission on Tuesday informed the Madras High Court
that it had made it clear way back in 2017 that there shall be 100% use of
the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system during the Lok Sabha
election this year to gain voter confidence.
- Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad were informed by EC
counsel Niranjan Rajagopalan that the VVPAT allowed every voter to see a
printed slip for seven seconds to verify and confirm that the vote cast had
gone to the candidate of his or her choice. The system would be used fully
during the Lok Sabha election.
- The submission was made during the hearing of a public interest
litigation petition seeking 100% use of the VVPAT during every election.
- The judges dismissed the petition after recording the submissions
of the EC that it had already decided to use VVPAT in all booths in
accordance with a 2013 Supreme Court directive.
- Leaders of Opposition parties had approached the EC in New Delhi
on Monday to express concerns about the possibility of EVMs being doctored.
- They had demanded that the EC should ensure that 50% of the EVM
results were matched and cross-checked with VVPATs before it declared the
results in the Lok Sabha election.
- Opposition leaders, who met the CEC and other members of the EC,
told the poll panel that the issue needed to be addressed as people now
doubted the efficacy of EVMs.
Bullet train project to pass through Thane flamingo sanctuary
- The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed train corridor project was
accorded wildlife clearance on January 10, according to records of the
meeting of the committee chaired by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan.
- The Thane Creek Flamingo (TCF) Wildlife Sanctuary, which the
project will eat into, came into being on August 2015 and the 1,690-hectare
bird haven 896 hectares of mangrove forests and 794 hectares of a water-body
is on the western bank of the creek, between the Airoli and the Vashi
bridges connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
- Apart from the creek, the project also involves diverting 32.75 ha
of forestland and 77.30 ha of non-forestland from the Sanjay Gandhi National
Park which houses leopards and transfer of 0.6902 ha of forest land and
4.7567 ha of non-forest land from the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.
- While according clearance, the National Board of Wildlife the apex
body tasked with according permissions to allow forest land to be diverted
for industrial development has laid pre-conditions for the bullet train
- Largely funded by a soft loan by Japan, the Rs. 1 trillion Mumbai-Ahmedabad
bullet train project has a track-length of 508 km, and will originate at the
Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai and terminate at the Sabarmati, in Gujarat.
- The length across Maharashtra will be 155.64 km, 4.3 km across
Dadra & Nagar Haveli, while the track length will be about 348.2 km in
Reports suggests govt.subsidy spending on the high
- Rising LPG prices and higher subscribers have resulted in the
government’s subsidy expenditure over the last two years reversing a
declining trend established in the previous six years, an analysis of Budget
- The data show that the government’s total expenditure on subsidies
is expected to make up 9.83% of its total expenditure overall in 2019-20,
according to the Budget estimate for the year, up from the 9.65% in the
revised estimate for 2018-19.
- While the increase in the food subsidy allocation is a reflection
of the increase in the Minimum Support Prices hiked across the board, the
reason behind the increase in the petroleum subsidy has to do in particular
with the government’s focus on LPG as a source of cleaner cooking fuel.
- “The reason for the increase in the petroleum subsidy is because
of an increased allocation for the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for LPG,”
a petroleum ministry spokesperson told.
- The government has two major schemes in the LPG sector. PAHAL
scheme, the first, involves direct cash transfers to LPG consumers for 12
numbers of 14.2 kg cylinders per year.
- The second scheme, the Ujjwala Yojana, seeks to give free LPG
connections to poor households. In terms of consumption, data with the
Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell show that LPG consumption has grown in
tandem with the launch of the PAHAL scheme.
- “If the trend of rising subsidy prices continues into the future,
then it could certainly be a matter of concern when it comes to the
government’s fiscal consolidation plans,” D.K. Srivastava, chief policy
advisor at EY India said.
Ease of doing Agri-business index launched by centre
- The Government has been reorienting the agriculture sector by
focusing on an income-centeredness which goes beyond achieving merely the
targeted production. The income approach focuses on achieving high
productivity, reduced cost of cultivation and remunerative price on the
produce, with a view to earn higher profits from farming.
- To ensure that the reform agenda of Government is implemented at a
desired pace by all States/UTs, a need is felt to develop a competitive
spirit between the States. Keeping this in mind to rank the States through
an Index i.e. Ease of Doing Agri-Business, a concept note alongwith
parameters for developing an Index has been circulated to all States/UTs
inviting their views.
- The concept is to consider farming not solely as a production
oriented activity carried out to achieve food security for the country, but
as a business activity carried out by farmer as entrepreneur.
- The proposed index has taken the aspects of increasing
production/productivity, increasing price realization of agri produce and
decreasing input costs of production, risk mitigation and investment related
- Agriculture being a State subject, the State Governments
undertakes development of perspective plans and ensures effective
implementation of the programmes/ schemes. The index will obviously help in
fostering agriculture among States by promoting a competitive spirit amongst
India shares Kartarpur shrine site plans with Pakistan
- India has shared with Pakistan coordinates of the ‘zero point’
along the border in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district where the 100-yard corridor,
leading to the Kartarpur Sahib shrine, will be built.
- “The notification to acquire land for an Integrated Checkpost (ICP)
will be issued on Wednesday. The Punjab government has assured that the land
will be made available for both projects [the highway and ICP] by
mid-March,” said a senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official.
- Sikh groups have been petitioning governments in New Delhi and
Islamabad to build a pilgrim corridor over the border from Dera Baba Nanak
in Gurdaspur to Kartarpur in Pakistani Punjab’s Narowal province. The plan
is to complete the project by November 23, 2019, the 550th birth anniversary
of Guru Nanak.
- A high level meeting was held on Tuesday by the Union Home
Secretary Rajiv Gauba to fast track the project. “The meeting discussed land
acquisition for the highway and for the Integrated Check Post (ICP). It was
informed that the preliminary notification for land acquisition for the
highway had already been issued,” the MHA official said.
- A detailed plan of the ICP is expected to be finalised within the
next few days, said the official. “The meeting was informed that coordinates
of zero point have been communicated to Pakistan,” he added.
- After the meeting, Mr. Singh told reporters, “India will give
draft agreement on Kartarpur to Pakistan and the modalities will be over
within a month.”
Russia plans to develop new missile systems by 2021
- Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday said the
country must develop new types of missile systems in the next two years
after Washington and Moscow ripped up a key arms control treaty.
- The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of violating the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement and on Friday President
Donald Trump said Washington was starting a process to withdraw from the
treaty in six months.
- In a tit-for-tat move on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir
Putin said Moscow was also leaving the treaty and beginning work on new
types of weapons that would breach the crucial Cold War-era agreement.
- At a meeting with officials on Tuesday, Mr. Shoigu said Russia
should develop two new missile systems in the next two years. “During
2019-2020 we have to develop a land-based version of the seaborne Kalibr
system equipped with a long-range cruise missile which showed good results
in Syria,” he told Defence officials.
- The INF agreement forbids ground-launched, short- and
intermediate-range missiles, but not those launched from the air or sea
which Russia already has.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
ISRO launches GSAT 31 satellite successfully
- India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-31 was successfully
launched by European launch services provider- Arianespace’s rocket from
French Guiana in the early hours of Wednesday.
- Blasting off from Ariane Launch Complex at Kourou, a French
territory located in northeastern coast of South America at at 2.31 am (IST),
the Ariane-5 vehicle injected GSAT-31 into the orbit in a flawless flight
lasting about 42 minutes.
- The satellite derives its heritage from ISROs earlier INSAT/GSAT
satellite series, the space agency said, adding that it will provide
communication services to Indian mainland and islands.
- GSAT-31 is the country’s 40th communication satellite which is
configured on ISRO’s enhanced ‘I-2K Bus’, utilising the maximum “bus
capabilities” of this type.
- With a mission life of around 15 years, GSAT-31 will be used for
supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News
Gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many
- It will also provide wide beam coverage to facilitate
communication over large oceanic region, comprising large parts of Arabian
Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, using a wide band transponder.
Karnataka ousts Andhra Pradesh in santosh trophy qualifiers
- Last year’s semifinalist Karnataka played tactfully right through
to oust Andhra Pradesh 5-0 in the South Zone qualifiers of the Santosh
Trophy at the Bharathi Stadium here on Tuesday.
- Andhra displayed grit and determination against Tamil Nadu the
other day.So, it came as a shocker to see the team going down by a big
- One expected the Karnataka boys to take some time to settle down
as they were playing for the first time at this venue.