Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 JANUARY 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 JANUARY 2019


Centre plans to bring in reservation for general category

  •  The Union Cabinet on Monday approved a Constitution Amendment Bill to provide 10% reservation to the economically backward sections in the general category, a senior government official said. The Bill will also cover those from the Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and other minority communities.
  •  The quota will be over and above the existing 50% reservation to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes (OBC).
  •  The decision, which comes ahead of the general election in April-May, was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModi. The specific details of the Bill were not available as there was no word from the government after the meeting. The reservation is for those castes that now do not avail themselves of quota in any category.
  •  The government is likely to introduce the Bill in the LokSabha on Tuesday, the last working day of the winter session. The sitting of the RajyaSabha has been extended till January 9. Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will have to be amended for the implementation of the decision, the Minister said.
  •  A nine-judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court had, in the Indira Sawhney case, capped reservation at 50%. The court had ruled on November 16, 1992, that “clause (4) of Article 16 of the Constitution speaks of adequate representation and not proportionate representation” and “relaxation can be done in extraordinary situations and while doing so, extreme caution has to be exercised and a special case made out.

Supreme court issues notice to Election commission on VVPAT

  •  The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission to respond to a plea that the counts from electronic voting machines and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units should be cross-verified in at least 30% randomly chosen polling stations in each Assembly and LokSabha constituency, especially in light of the LokSabha election in May.
  •  The petition said the commission had chosen to conduct the cross-verification exercise in an “inexplicably minuscule” manner in the recent Assembly elections.
  •  The fraction of polling stations chosen for such random cross-verification has been inexplicably minuscule (less than 1% of polling stations in each constituency). This is manifestly arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, the petition said.
  •  It said the principle of elections not only need to be free and fair but also seen to be free and fair.
  •  The petitioners submitted that the Supreme Court in its judgment in Subramanian Swamy versus ECI , reported in 2013, had held that it was imperative that elections held through EVMs ought to implement a mechanism of voter verifiable paper audit trails so that the voter can satisfy himself that his vote was accurately recorded.
  •  The court’s judgment and need for voter confidence and transparency in the election process led to the mechanism for random cross-verification of EVM and VVPAT counts. This was in order to detect any technological mischief or mal-programming of EVMs, the petitioners contended.


Government aims GDP growth of 7.2 % in FY2019

  •  The government has projected GDP growth for the full year 2018-19 to come in at 7.2%, which implies that growth in the second half of the year would slow significantly to 6.8% from the 7.6% clocked in the first half of the year, according to the first advance estimates of national income for 2018-19 released by the Ministry of Statistics.
  •  This growth estimate for the entire year is slower than the Reserve Bank of India’s forecast of 7.4%.
  •  The advance estimate says that the growth in the agriculture sector would be 3.8% in 2018-19, faster than the 3.4% in the previous year. The manufacturing sector is estimated to grow at 8.3% in 2018-19 compared with 5.7% in 2017-18.
  •  However, this represents a dramatic slowdown in the manufacturing sector in the second half of the year, to 6.3% from 10.3% in the first half.The construction sector, however, is expected to witness an acceleration in the second half of the year.
  •  For the entire year, the growth has been estimated at 8.9%, with 8.3% having been recorded in the first half of the year. This implies a growth of 9.5% in the second half.
  •  The transport and communications services sector is expected to grow at 6.9% in 2018-19, down from 8% in the previous year.The financial services sector is set to grow at 6.8% in 2018-19 from 6.6% in 2017-18.
  •  The estimates seem to be on the conservative side and the final numbers would depend on three factors — how the oil prices pan out and hence, inflation, the government spending in the pre-election last quarter and the mood of the economy post conclusion of U.S.-China trade negotiations,” an expert said.

SEBI to bring uniformity in commodity derivative segment

  •  With the number of exchanges offering commodity derivatives on the rise and national-level equity bourses also entering the fray, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is making all attempts to bring uniformity among the bourses in a segment which came under its regulatory purview only three years ago.
  •  The capital markets regulator has decided to meet the chief regulatory officers (CROs) of all six exchanges that offer commodity derivatives trading once every quarter to discuss regulatory and compliance matters in order to enhance uniformity amongst the bourses.
  •  This assumes significance as, unlike the equity segment with two main bourses and identical product offering, the commodity derivatives segment is quite diversified with each exchange having created a niche in a certain category of commodities.
  •  “Commodity market is not linear like equities and hence requires more coordination and oversight,” said a person familiar with the SEBI initiative.
  •  “Each bourse has specialised in its own set of commodity offerings and the dynamics of every commodity differs due to the nature of the underlying spot.
  •  There is uniformity among equity exchanges due to the regulatory oversight over the past many years. That needs to be replicated in the commodity segment,” he added.

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Australian-India education council meeting held

  •  In the 4th AIEC meeting held on 29th June 2018 at Adelaide, Australia, both the sides reviewed the progress on the four key thematic areas –(i) Higher Education, Research and Student Mobility, (ii) Quality Assurance and Qualifications Recognition, (iii) Skills, and (iv) Schools.

  •  There is growing collaboration between Australian and Indian Institutions on joint research projects and PhD programmes in areas of mutual interest.

  •  At the 4th Australia-India Education Council Meeting, it was agreed to further strengthen the partnership of Australia and India in the area of research collaboration to allow greater mobility of researchers, academics and scholars to support our mutual interest in high quality research outputs.

  •  Under the newly initiated Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) programme of this Ministry. 157 Joint research proposals between reputed Indian Institutions and Australian Institutions have been received and in the process of approval.

  •  Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur is the Nodal Institute for helping, handholding and coordinating with participating Indian educational Institutions to forge alliances with the Australian educational Institutions for academic and research collaboration.

India to oversee operations in Chabahar port

  •  India has taken over operations of the strategic Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran's southern coast.
  •  This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territory. The Shipping Ministry in a statement in New Delhi today said that the Government of India took over the operations of a part of ShahidBeheshti Port, Chabahar, in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held there on December 24, 2018.
  •  The Chabahar port in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich nation's southern coast is easily accessible from India's western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar Port located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.
  •  The Chabahar port is being considered as a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries, besides ramping up trade among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.


Researchers develop gas hydrates in interstellar atmospheric conditions

  •  Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have experimentally shown that methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) can exist as gas hydrates at temperatures and pressures seen in interstellar atmosphere.
  •  Gas hydrates are formed when a gas such as methane gets trapped in well-defined cages of water molecules forming crystalline solids. In terrestrial conditions, gas hydrates are formed naturally under the sea bed and glaciers under high pressure, low temperature conditions. Methane hydrate is a potential source of natural gas.
  •  The methane and CO2 hydrates were produced in the lab at very low pressures (ten thousand billionth of atmospheric pressure) and temperature (as low as -263 degree C) to simulate the conditions of deep space.
  •  The carbon dioxide hydrate produced in the lab raises the possibility of sequestering or storing carbon dioxide as hydrates by taking advantage of ice existing in environmental conditions favourable for hydrate formation. “In these environments, the carbon dioxide will have enough energy to interact with ice.
  •  IIT Madras, in collaboration with GAIL, is working to recover methane from methane hydrate from the Krishna-Godavari Basin and sequester CO2 simultaneously.


India creates history by winning Australian test series

  •  India created history by winning their first ever Cricket Test series on Australian soil after beating the home team 2-1 as the fourth and final Test ended in a tame draw due to inclement weather.
  •  However, persistent drizzle washed out day five thereby keeping the victory margin down to 2-1. The Hosts were still trailing by 316 runs when the match was called off.
  •  It is the first time India managed the feat since they began touring Australia in 1947-48. Consequently, ViratKohli became the first Indian as well as the first Asian captain to win a Test series in Australia.

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