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
- 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
- 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
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
- “Each bourse has specialised in its own set of commodity offerings
and the dynamics of every commodity differs due to the nature of the
- 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.
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)
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.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
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
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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