Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 7 September 2018


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 7 September 2018


::NATIONAL::

Supreme court gives landmark judgement on IPC 377

  • In a landmark judgment on Thursday, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality, with a prayer to the LGBTQ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) to forgive history for subjecting them to “brutal” suppression.
  • The Bench, led by Chief Justice of India DipakMisra, unanimously held that criminalisation of private consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was clearly unconstitutional. The court, however, held that the Section would apply to “unnatural” sexual acts like bestiality. Sexual act without consent continues to be a crime under Section 377.
  • Section 377 discriminated against a minority based solely on their sexual orientation. It violated the right of the LGBTQ community to “equal citizenship and equal protection of laws.” The court held that bodily autonomy was individualistic. Choice of a partner was part of the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The court set aside its 2013 judgment in the Suresh Koushal case. Legal experts said this was a much-needed self-correction of a past judicial wrong committed against the community. Experts said the Constitution Bench verdict would become the foundation for members of the community to seek individual rights.
  • Instead of washing its hands of and leaving it to the “wisdom of the court”, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the government should have taken a “categorical” stand one way or the other.

Global sanitation convention to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi

  • Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will organize a global sanitation convention to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, also coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • The Convention will culminate on 2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti, which is also celebrated as the Swachh Bharat Diwas. Several mass mobilisation events and campaigns are being planned across the States in the run up to this Day.
  • India aims to eliminate open defecation by October 2nd, 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who held sanitation very close to his heart. Rural sanitation coverage has made ground-breaking progress, from 39% in October 2014, at the start of SBM, to over 92% today, with behaviour change being the key focus of implementation.
  • The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the global achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6.2), i.e. to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
  • Simultaneously, coordinated efforts are in place to improve sanitation levels in all sectors and all public places. The global Convention will be aimed at sharing sanitation success stories and lessons across all participating countries.
  • Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention (MGISC) will be a 4-day international conference that will bring together Sanitation Minsters and other leaders in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) from around the world. A host of national and international dignitaries are slated to attend the event, for which preparations are under way.

::ECONOMY::

Planters association claims loss of 5000cr due to floods in South India

  • The plantation sector in the south, including tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and pepper, is estimated to have suffered a Rs. 5,000-crore crop loss due to the recent floods in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • “These are the early estimates made by the United Planters Association of South India (UPASI) and the extent of the damage is unprecedented,” T. Jayaraman, president of the apex body.
  • In respect of tea, a crop loss ranging between 41 and 64% is being feared for August alone at a time when adverse weather conditions had already battered production since June.
  • The coffee-producing regions of Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur in Karnataka, accounting for 70 % of the country’s crop, were ravaged by rains causing berry dropping, according to an UPASI report.
  • The Coffee Board had estimated a crop loss of about 82,000 tonne (annual output of 6.9 lakh tonne in 2017-18). The loss is the highest in Karnataka followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the board said.
  • Mr.Jayaraman said that the crop loss in respect of rubber is estimated at about 1.25 lakh tonne (out of an annual average output of 9 lakh tonne).
  • In respect of spices, pepper vines and cardamom plants had been badly affected. Almost 50% of the average annual pepper output of 55,000 tonne may be lost, said UPASI.

Centre says no permits required for vehicles running on alternate fuels

  • Road Transport and Highways Minister NitinGadkari said that no permits would be required for vehicles running on alternative fuel, including CNG, ethanol and EVs, a move that is expected to boost the demand for such vehicles in the country.
  • The Minister added that with the GST on EVs at 12%, there was’nt any further need for subsidy. “In our country, we can’t subsidise individual vehicles. We need to think innovatively to induct environment friendly vehicles. The ministry has prepared a detailed report to promote EVs through non-fiscal initiatives to have at least 15% EVs in the next five years.” He, however, clarified that this was not mandatory.
  • The government, he said, was also mulling converting two-wheelers into taxis in non-metros, while encouraging the auto industry to use waterways for logistics to trim costs and lower pollution.
  • Meanwhile, in an earlier session, the industry put forth its demand for speedy infrastructure development and better roads, while reiterating the need for a long-term regulatory and policy roadmap for the sector to plan investments better.
  • “This week, we will be having the first meeting to discuss the draft of that roadmap.” Minister for Heavy Industries and Enterprises AnantGeete said that the government was with the industry and “will do whatever we can do to help the industry grow.” Assuring that government would address the auto industry’s concerns, he said the industry must adapt to new technologies.

India signs defence pact with U.S but U.S concerned about trade deficits

  • India and the United States on Thursday sealed the landmark Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership.
  • Apart from the agreement that was signed at the end of the inaugural India-U.S. ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue, both sides also called on Pakistan to stop terrorist strikes on ‘other countries’ and urged for maritime freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis led the American delegation, and the Indian team was headed by their counterparts SushmaSwaraj and NirmalaSitharaman.
  • “They welcomed the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement that will facilitate access to advanced defence systems and enable India to optimally utilise its existing U.S.-origin platforms,” a Joint Statement issued at the end of the bilateral dialogue declared.
  • India and the U.S. have been in a deadlock over trade after the Trump administration wanted India to do additional purchases of $10 billion annually for the next three years.
  • On India’s purchase of S-400 air defence systems from Russia, Mr.Pompeo said no decision had been made yet on granting a waiver and added that the U.S. was working to impose Section 231 of CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) in a way that is “appropriate and lawful.”
  • However, stating that the U.S. understood India’s relationship with Russia, and would work on the issue, he added: “Our effort here, too, is not to penalise great strategic partners like India, a major defence partner. The sanctions aren’t intended to adversely impact countries like India.”

India France sign implementation agreement on MYC

  • India and France have signed an implementation agreement on “MOBILISE YOUR CITY” (MYC) here last evening,Mobilise Your City (MYC) is part of an international initiative which is supported by the French and the German Governments and was launched at 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting in December, 2015.
  • Based on a proposal made by AFD in 2015, the European Union has agreed to provide funds of Euro 3.5 million through the AFD to contribute to specific investments and technical assistance components within the Mobilise Your City (MYC) programme in India.
  • The MYC aims at supporting three pilot cities viz. Nagpur, Kochi and Ahmedabad in their efforts to reduce their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions related to urban transport by implementing urban mobility plans at local level and to help India at national level to improve their sustainable transport policy.
  • The details of the project activities will be worked out by AFD in consultation with MoHUA and the three partner cities including institutions such as the respective Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for Smart Cities, the Municipal Corporations and any transport authority or transport related SPV.

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::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Tsunami Mock exercise conducted

  • India, along with 23 otherIndian Ocean Nations, participated in a major Indian ocean-wide tsunami mock exercise (drill) on 4th& 5thSeptember, 2018. The Exercise, known as IOWave18,was organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, which coordinated the setting up of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) in the aftermath of the 26 December 2004 tsunami.
  • In India, IOWave18 is being coordinated by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) with support from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Coastal States/UTs.
  • Overall over the 2-day exercise, all coastal states tested communication modes for receipt of bulletins from INCOIS. The end-to-end warning system from tsunami detection and forecast, threat evaluation and alert formulation, alert dissemination to public and their awareness and response was put to test during this exercise.
  • Major General (Retd) Dr. V.K. Naik, Senior Consultant, NDMA acted as the observer for this exercise and contacted the participating states down to community level to verify their receipt of bulletins and response.

Hexa Vortex spotted in Saturn

  • Scientists have discovered a unique hexagonal vortex on Saturn’s north pole — a towering atmospheric structure of whirling fluids that spans hundreds of kilometres in height.
  • The Cassini mission, which crashed into the Saturn last year to end its journey of two decades, spotted the feature emerging at the ringed planet’s northern pole as it neared summertime.
  • This warm vortex sits high above the clouds, in a layer of atmosphere known as the stratosphere, and appears to be hexagonal.

::SPORTS::

Saurabhchaudhary wins gold in world shooting championship

  • SaurabhChaudhary shot a junior world record 245.5 to win the junior men’s gold in air pistol in the 52nd World shooting championship here on Thursday.
  • The Asian Games gold medallist, the 16-year-old Saurabh, who had to be fielded in the junior team as the national federation juggled with plenty of talent on hand in the event, helped the team win the silver two points behind Korea.
  • In men’s rifle 3-position event, SwapnilKusale (1172), AkhilSheoran (1166) and Sanjeev Rajput (1165) made the cut for the competition from the elimination stage.

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