Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 06 February 2019

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 project.
  •  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 Gujarat.


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 documents shows.
  •  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 attributes.
  •  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 the States.

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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.


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 such applications.
  •  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 margin.
  •  One expected the Karnataka boys to take some time to settle down as they were playing for the first time at this venue.

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