Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 09 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 09 MARCH 2019


Supreme court goes for mediation in Ayodhya case

  •  A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday referred the Ayodhya dispute for mediation in a bid to heal minds and hearts.
  •  The five-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi, appointed a panel of mediators, comprising former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla as chairman, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and SriramPanchu, a senior advocate with experience in alternative dispute resolution.
  •  Stressing the need for “utmost confidentiality” in the conduct of the mediation to ensure its success, the court opined that it might be best if the media refrained from reporting the proceedings.
  •  “We are of the further opinion that while the mediation proceedings are being carried out, there ought not to be any reporting of the said proceedings either in the print or in the electronic media,” the Bench said in its order.
  •  However, the court stopped short of passing any specific gag order on the media and left it to the mediators to pass “necessary orders in writing, if so required, to restrain publication of the details of the mediation proceedings.”
  •  In fact, the court had invoked Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to propose mediation as an “effective utilisation of time” during the interregnum. Chief Justice Gogoi had expressed the hope that mediation might help spell a peaceful end to the volatile dispute.
  •  The court said the question of whether any of the CPC provisions would apply here was left open open to be decided later at the “appropriate stage”.
  •  The mediators could co-opt more members to the panel, if necessary, and avail of whatever legal assistance may be required by them, the Bench ruled.

High power committee recommends individual forest surveys

  •  A high-power committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has recommended that forest surveys the biennial exercise by the government to estimate forest cover explicitly demarcate trees grown in forests from those grown outside, that is, in plantations and private lands.
  •  Currently, the government counts both towards estimating the portion of India’s geographical area covered by forest.
  •  Independent critics have for long pointed out that including both isn’t an ecologically sound principle but this is a first instance of government-constituted committee recommending so.
  •  India posted a marginal 0.21% rise in the area under forest between 2015 and 2017, according to the India State of Forest Report (SFR) 2017, which was made public in February 2018.
  •  The document says that India has about 7,08,273 sq. km. of forest, which is 21.53% of the geographic area of the country (32,87,569 sq. km.).
  •  Getting India to have at least 33% of its area under forest has been a long-standing goal of the government since 1988.
  •  Various editions of the SFR have over the years reported the area under forests as hovering around 21%. So the government also includes substantial patches of trees outside areas designated as forests, such as plantations or greenlands, in its assessment.


CII survey gives data of jobs created

  •  The number of net jobs created in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in the last four years stood at just 3,32,394, which is 13.9% higher than the base four years ago, according to a CII survey of more than one lakh companies.
  •  The findings for the four-year period beginning 2015-16 pale in comparison with that from the government’s Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises for an earlier period, which shows 11,54,293 MSME jobs were created in the three years ended 2014-15.
  •  The survey shows just three States Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Telangana accounted for over 50% of the jobs created in this period (2015-16 to 2018-19). It also shows that 73% of the jobs were created by micro enterprises.
  •  “‘Net jobs created’ is defined as recruitment, less exits,” the report said. “Out of the survey sample, 70,941 firms were responsible for this increase. On the whole, nearly two-thirds of the respondents witnessed an increase in hiring activity over the last four years, while 17% witnessed no change.”
  •  According to the survey, micro enterprises were the largest job generators, having created 2,40,713 jobs or 73% of the net jobs created in the last four years.
  •  Looking at the sectoral break-up, the hospitality & tourism sector accounted for 12% of the jobs, while the textiles & apparels and metal products sectors each contributed about 8% to job creation.
  •  “The top eight States accounted for over 80% of the jobs.” The survey also found that 5,70,804 jobs are expected to be created over the next one year, which represents a 21% increase over the current employment base.

Former economic advisor to PM recommends proportional sharing of GST revenue

  •  The Centre should bring in a constitutional amendment to fix the proportion of devolution of Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection between the Central and the State Governments, said former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council C. Rangarajan.
  •  Releasing a book titled ‘Indian Fiscal Federalism’, authored by former RBI Governor Y.V. Reddy and co-authored by Advisor to Telangana Government G.R. Reddy, Dr.Rangarajan said: “The introduction of GST is an important step towards the reform of the indirect tax structure.
  •  Some States bemoan the loss of sovereignty. This is not true. The GST Council comprising all State Finance Ministers and the Union Finance Minister take the decisions on rates and several associated features. The Centre is also bound by it.”
  •  He said that a committee could be appointed specifically to fix the GST revenue-sharing proportion, before bringing in a constitutional amendment to give effect to that. The 14th Finance Commission, he said, had broken a new path in terms of allocation of resources.
  •  One of the major recommendations had been to increase the share of tax devolution to 42% of the divisible pool. This was a substantial increase by almost 10%, Dr.Rangarajan said.
  •  “The balance in fiscal space thus remains broadly the same in quantitative terms, but tilts in favour of States in qualitative terms through compositional shift in favour of devolution and, hence, fiscal autonomy. Let there be one committee to decide what the rate will be for five years,” he added.
  •  Dr.Rangarajan pointed out that the Indian Constitution had laid down the functions as well as taxation powers of the Centre and States.

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India – Japan hold space dialogue

  •  The inaugural India-Japan Space Dialogue was held in New Delhi yesterday. The dialogue brought together Ministries and agencies related to outer space in the two countries and provided an opportunity for information exchange on the respective space policies.
  •  Discussions were also held on bilateral cooperation between JAXA-ISRO, their space industries, global navigation satellite system, space situational awareness, space security and space-related norms.
  •  The Indian delegation was led by Additional Secretary for Disarmament and International Security Affairs in Ministry of External Affairs, Indra Mani Pandey.
  •  The Japanese delegation was co-led by Deputy Assistant Minister in Foreign Policy Bureau of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Policy Planning and International Security Policy, KansukeNagaoka and Director General of National Space Policy Secretariat in Cabinet Office Shuzo Takada.

Venezuela paralysed by blackout

  •  Venezuela is slowly beginning to emerge from a nearly 24-hour massive blackout that had paralyzed most parts of the country. The power supply is gradually being restored to some areas.
  •  The outage had left most of the country in chaos, crippling the day-to-day functioning of hospitals and other public services. The lack of electricity caused flights to be diverted from the main airport in Caracas.
  •  Telephone services and access to the internet were also knocked out. President Nicolas Maduro made the decision yesterday to shut down offices and schools in order to facilitate efforts for the recovery of electricity service in the country.
  •  In a tweet, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said that President Nicolas Maduro made the decision in order to facilitate efforts for the recovery of electricity service in the country.
  •  This crisis came amid rising tensions over opposition efforts, backed by the US and some Latin American countries, to remove Maduro from power.


NASA captures images of supersonic waves

  •  NASA has captured unprecedented photos of the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic aircraft, part of its research into developing planes that can fly faster than sound without thunderous “sonic booms”.
  •  When an aircraft crosses that threshold around1,225 km per hour at sea level it produces waves from the pressure it puts on the air around it, which merge to cause the ear-splitting sound.
  •  In an intricate manoeuvre by pilots at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, two supersonic T-38 jets flew just 30 feet apart below another plane waiting to photograph them with an advanced, high-speed camera, the agency said.
  •  The rendezvous at an altitude of around 30,000 feet yielded mesmerising images of the shockwaves emanating from both planes.
  •  With one jet flying just behind the other, “the shocks are going to be shaped differently”, said Neal Smith of AerospaceComputing Inc., an engineering firm that works with NASA, in a post on the agency’s website.
  •  Sonic booms can be a major nuisance, capable of not just startling people on the ground but also causing damage like shattered windows and this has led to strong restrictions on supersonic flight over land in jurisdictions like the United States.


Indian boxer beats former Olympic medallist at Helsinki tournament

  •  Indian boxer Dinesh Dagar, 69kg upstaged former Olympic bronze-medallist EvaldasPetrauskas to enter the quarterfinals of the 38th International GeeBee Tournament in Helsinki, Finland.
  •  In the opening-round bouts held last evening, the 23-year-old Dagar, a silver-medallist from last year's India Open, prevailed 3-2 against Petrauskas.
  •  India were assured of two medals at the event after draws came out with Asian Championships silver-medallist SumitSangwan, 91kg and rookie GovindSahani, 49kg getting byes into the semifinals.

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