Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 09 August 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 09 August 2019


::NATIONAL::

PM assures restoration of statehood in Kashmir

  • Two days after both Houses of Parliament cleared the reading down of Article 370 and the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories, Prime Minister NarendraModi, in a televised address to the nation on Thursday said it was a historic move and a new beginning for Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh.

  • Mr Modi, however, stressed that the Union Territory status for J&K from being a full State, was a “temporary” situation and that at some point statehood would be restored. Ladakh, he added, would remain a Union territory.

  • He also said Assembly polls, held in a transparent manner and with a process that had integrity, will take place soon, and that MLAs and the chief minister will be from among the people of the Union Territory.

  • He also pointed out that those who had settled in J&K after Partition could only vote in LokSabha polls and not the Assembly or local body polls. With the reading down of Articles 370 and 35A, this was now over, he said.

  • Mr Modi urged political parties who had opposed the Bills in Parliament to put national interest front and centre going forward on this path.

  • He said the Union Territory status for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh also meant that the State police and administrative staff would get pay parity with the staff in other Union Territories. All vacancies in government jobs at both the Central and State levels will be filled soon, he added.

  • The Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme would also be extended further, he said. Recruitment for the Indian armed force and paramilitary from the two union territories will also be pushed, he said.

Supreme court questions validity of birth place as a criteria for juristic person

  • On the third day of the hearing on Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, the Supreme Court on Thursday queried whether the birth place or ‘Janmasthan’ can be regarded as a ‘juristic person’.

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice RanjanGogoi made the query to ‘Ram LallaVirajman’, one of the parties in the case.

  • The Bench said that as per Indian law, Hindu deities had been treated as ‘juristic person’ which could hold properties and initiate litigation, but queried how ‘Janmasthan’ came to acquire similar rights.

  • Mr.Parasaran said that in Hindu religion, idols were not necessary for a place to be regarded as a holy place of worship.“Rivers are worshipped. Sun is not an idol but is also worshipped as deity,” Mr.Parasaran said, adding birth place in itself could be treated as a ‘juristic person’.

  • The top court referred to a 2017 verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court according the status of ‘living human entities’ to the Ganga and Yamuna river.

  • The Allahabad High Court attempted to resolve the decades-old dispute by giving joint possession of the disputed land to both Hindus and Muslims in a three-way partition among the deity, NirmohiAkhara and the Sunni Waqf Board in September 2010. But the parties responded by filing cross-appeals in the apex court.

::ECONOMY::

Changes in PMLA empowers enforcement directorate

  • The Centre has issued a notification on certain changes in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), some of which tend to treat money laundering as a stand-alone crime and also expand the ambit of “proceeds of crime” to assets that may have been derived from any other criminal activity related to scheduled offences.

  • Under the Act, the Enforcement Directorate is empowered to conduct money laundering investigation.

  • The most crucial amendments are the deletion of provisos in sub-sections (1) of Section 17 (Search and Seizure) and Section 18 (Search of Persons), doing away with the pre-requisite of an FIR or chargesheet by other agencies that are authorised to probe the offences listed in the PMLA schedule.

  • Another important change is the insertion of an explanation in Section 44. “The jurisdiction of the Special Court, while dealing with the offence under this Act, during investigation, enquiry or trial under this Act, shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be construed as joint trial,” it says.

  • The scope of “proceeds of crime”, under Section 2, has been expanded to empower the agency to act against even those properties which “may directly or indirectly be derived or obtained as a result of any criminal activity relatable to the scheduled offence”.

  • Another vital amendment to Section 3 makes concealment of proceeds of crime, possession, acquisition, use, projecting as untainted money, or claiming as untainted property as independent and complete offences under the Act. These activities have been explicitly declared to be continuing offences until such time a person is directly or indirectly “enjoying the proceeds of crime”.

Government assures no punitive action against companies not following CSR

  • The government has given an assurance that it will not initiate punitive action against companies not following the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) norms as mentioned in the recent amendments to the Companies Act, industry leaders said, following a meeting with Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman.

  • The Finance Ministry will also be looking into ways to ensure that the rate cuts undertaken by the Reserve Bank of India are passed on to consumers by banks.

  • The recent amendments to the Companies Act mandate a jail time of up to three years and a possible fine for those companies and its officials that do not comply with the stated CSR norms.

  • The other issue that was discussed extensively in the meeting was the transmission of the central bank’s interest cuts by the banks to the customers.

  • “Government needs to look at the small savings rates and reduce them in line with the market rates,” T.V. Narendran, Global CEO and managing director of Tata Steel and vice-president, CII, said following the meeting. “If that does not happen, then the ability of banks to reduce deposit rates and hence ease the lending rates will be at best limited.”

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::INTERNATIONAL::

UN chief invokes Shimla agreement on India-Pak dispute

  • U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on August 9 urged India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir, as he highlighted the Shimla Agreement which rejects any third-party mediation on the issue.

  • The Secretary-General’s remarks came after India on August 5 revoked Article 370 to withdraw the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

  • Pakistan termed the Indian action as “unilateral and illegal”, and said it will take the matter to the U.N. Security Council.

  • Guterres’ spokesman StephaneDujarric specifically said that the Secretary-General “also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Shimla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means” in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

  • Reacting to India’s move, Pakistan expelled the Indian envoy and downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi.India has said that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the issue was strictly internal to the country.

U.K joins U.S for the protection of vessels in Gulf region

  • Britain on Monday joined the U.S. in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels travelling through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel.

  • British officials stressed that there was no change to London’s policy on Iran but joining the U.S. is the most significant non-Brexit foreign policy move to date of PM Boris Johnson’s 12-day-old government.

  • Just two weeks ago, Britain was calling for a European-led naval mission. Now, it has joined what it said was a U.S.-led “international maritime security mission”. No other nations are yet involved.

  • “It is vital to secure the freedom for all international shipping to navigate the Strait of Hormuz without delay, given the increased threat,” said British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

  • “The deployment of Royal Navy assets is a sign of our commitment to our U.K.-flagged vessels and we look forward to working alongside the U.S. to find a solution to the problems in the Strait of Hormuz.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

India seeks change of status of several species in CITES

  • India has submitted proposals regarding changes to the listing of various wildlife species in the CITES secretariat meeting, scheduled later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international treaty to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants do not threaten their survival.

  • The proposals submitted are regarding changes in the listing of the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, Indian star tortoise, Tokay gecko, wedgefish and Indian rosewood.

  • The country seeks to boost the protection of all the five animal species as they are facing a high risk of international trade.

  • India is among the parties proposing the re-listing of the star tortoise from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I. The species faces two threats: loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.

  • With regard to the two otter species, India, Nepal and the Philippines have proposed that the listing be moved from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I for the more endangered species. A similar proposal has been made to include the Tokay gecko in Appendix I.

::SPORTS::

World archery suspends Indian archery association for defying guidelines

  • The World Archery (WA) today suspended the Archery Association of India (AAI) for defying its guidelines by electing two parallel bodies, asking the federation to put its house in order by the end of this month.

  • The decision is effective from Monday and the last event in which the archers can participate under the Indian flag is the World Archery Youth Championships in Madrid from 19th to 25th of this month.

  • The AAI had to find a solution by the end of last month as per the deadline given by WA's executive board and since no progress has been made, the world governing body implemented the suspension order.

  • Olympic quota places will be up for grabs at the Asian Championships and Asian Para Championships, to be held in Bangkok in November. India so far have three men's places secured for the next Olympics but has yet to win a women's spot.

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