Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 APRIL 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 APRIL 2019


Supreme court upholds freedom of speech in Rafale case

  •  In unanimous support for freedom of Press in a democracy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the government’s plea to declare the Rafale jets’ purchase documents a secret, while upholding the right of free speech of The Hindu to publish the defence papers in a series of articles since February 2019.
  •  With this, the apex court has dismissed preliminary objections raised by the government against petitions seeking a review of the December 14, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court, which upheld the deal for purchase of 36 Rafale jets.
  •  The government had claimed that the review pleas were based on secret Rafale documents unauthorisedly removed from the Ministry of Defence and leaked to the media.
  •  The Supreme Court, however, rubbished the government’s claim of privilege.It said neither OSA nor any other law empowers the government to stop the media from publishing the documents nor the court from examining them.
  •  It would be “unauthorised judicial law-making” if the court banned government records from the public eye when Parliament had no such intention, Chief Justice Gogoi said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the ‘Pentagon Papers’ case.
  •  Justice Joseph pointed to how the RTI Act symbolised the will of the people to fight an unrelenting crusade against corruption.
  •  The judge pointed to how Section 24 of the Act provides that allegations of corruption as well as human rights violations should not be exempted from disclosure under the law.

EC wants electoral bond scheme to end its anonymity

  •  The government’s electoral bonds scheme for political funding has legalised anonymity, the Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, reiterating its strong stand against electoral bonds.

     The poll panel said such bonds protect the identity of political donors and parties receiving the contributions. Donors who contribute less than Rs. 20,000 to political parties through purchase of electoral bonds need not provide their identity details like PAN.
  •  “Knowing your candidate is only half the exercise. People should know the political parties who fund them. More important to know the principal than the agent,” Mr.Dwivedi submitted.
  •  Initially, the ECI attempted a balancing act of sorts by saying that, “We are not against electoral bonds as such we are only opposed to anonymity.”
  •  But Chief Justice Gogoi made Mr.Dwivedi read out from the ECI affidavit and a letter it wrote to the government in May 2017, calling the lack of transparency in the electoral bonds system as a “retrogade step.”
  •  Mr.Dwivedi said the country, through court rulings and electoral reforms, had taken a step forward from the era of huge cash transactions, but anonymity in electoral bonds is like “two steps backwards.”
  •  “We are concerned with the amendments brought to the Representation of the People Act . Political parties should put it (information on donations) on their websites so people get to know,” Mr.Dwivedi submitted.


Delhi HC questions googlepay operations without permission

  •  The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Reserve Bank of India how could Google’s mobile payment app, Google Pay, operate in India as a payment transaction system without the requisite authorisation.

     A Bench of Chief Justice RajendraMenon and Justice A.J. Bhambhani issued notice to the RBI and Google India on a petition seeking direction to the tech giant to immediately stop Google Pay services in India.
  •  The petition filed by Abhijit Mishra, who claims to be an economist, said Google Pay did not figure in the list of ‘Payment System Operators’ authorised by the RBI.
  •  It pointed out that the RBI’s April 2018 Master Circular on Storage of Payment System Data mandated that “all system providers shall ensure that the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them are stored in a system only in India.”
  •  “Google Pay, being an unregistered entity to the Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007, is not in compliance with the requirements and the RBI’s Master Circular,” the petition said.
  •  The petition said Google Pay was using NPCI’s (National Payments Corporation of India) BHIM unified payments Interface (BHIM UPI) for money transfers.
  •  “Google Pay by the virtue of unauthorised access to the BHIM – Unified Payments Interface – can have serious effect on the privacy and personal liberty of Indian citizens as the data might be stored in servers located outside India,” it contended.
  •  The petition said Google India was doing “business as Google Pay though its unauthorised operation in India as Payment and Settlement Systems has unmonitored and unauthorised access to the personal information such as Aadhaar, PAN, transaction etc. of the public.
  •  The petition has asked the court for a direction to conduct a comprehensive compliance audit of the Google India Digital Services Private Limited for its alleged “unauthorised operation in India as Payment and Settlement Systems under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.”

IMF warns of high NPA stocks in India

  •  There continues to be a high stock of non-performing assets (NPAs) in India, and there has been some progression. Further progress is welcome, IMF head of Monetary and Capital Markets Tobias Adrian said.
  •  Mr. Adrian made these remarks at the release of the multilateral institution’s April 2019 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) as part of the World Bank IMF Spring Meetings.
  •  The GFSR provides an assessment of balance sheet vulnerabilities across financial and non-financial sectors in advanced and emerging market economies.
  •  “The level of capitalisation of some banks, particularly government-owned banks should be bolstered. This is also one of the recommendations of the Financial Sector Assessment Program for India that took place fairly recently,” Anna Ilyina, who heads Monetary and Capital Markets at the IMF, said.
  •  There were some steps taken by the authorities to boost capital buffers in banks and also governments in state-owned banks, that have had some positive impact, she said.
  •  “In particular we’ve seen average price-to-book ratios for Indian banks improving somewhat and the institutional mechanisms for resolution and recognition of [non-performing loans] NPLs are, of course, extremely important and I think authorities should continue working along these lines,” Ms.Ilyina said.
  •  This category of investors are more sensitive to global financial conditions and as they command increasing shares of portfolio flows, external shocks may propagate to medium-size, and frontier market economies faster than they did in the past.

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Israel elects Netanyahu for fifth term

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to win re-election after his main rival former Army chief Benny Gantz conceded defeat. This comes after a dramatic finish to a tightly-fought race Parliamentary elections in which Gantz accepted that Netanyahu had won.

 With more than 99 percent of votes counted, Netanyahu's Likud tied with Gantz's Blue and White, gaining 35 seats each. No party has crossed the half way mark in the 120 seat Parliament (Knesset). However, since a number of right-wing parties have expressed their support for Netanyahu, a coalition between Likud and smaller right-wing parties could form a 65 seat majority.

 Prime Minister NarendraModi has congratulated Mr Netanyahu for a victory in the polls. In a tweet, Mr Modi described him as a great friend of India, saying New Delhi is looking forward to continuing to work with him to take the bilateral partnership to new heights.

India builds hospital in Nepal on grounds of goodwill gesture

  •  India has built a 25-bed maternity hospital in Nepal. The hospital has been built under the Government of India's Small Development Projects Scheme.
  •  Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri inaugurated the Chandra Narayan Yadav Memorial Maternity Hospital in Siraha district today.
  •  The Hospital will provide quality maternity and health care services to the people of 50 Village Development Committees in and around Siraha district. It will also help in reducing maternal and child mortality rate.
  •  The Hospital will be run by the Chandra Narayan Yadav Memorial Trust on no profit-no loss basis. The new infrastructure has been constructed with the Government of India’s grant of 26.90 million Nepali Rupees.
  •  It has a minor and major OTs, ICU, CCU, rooms for doctors, nurses, store and administration and medical equipment etc. Health is one of the core areas of cooperation between India and Nepal. Several health posts, nursing campuses maternity centres, eye hospitals, naturopathy hospitals have been undertaken under the Government of India's Small Development Project scheme.


Scientist reveal first ever image of black hole

  •  Astronomers on April 10 unveiled the first photo of a black hole, one of the star-devouring monsters scattered throughout the Universe and obscured by impenetrable shields of gravity. The image of a dark core encircled by a flame-orange halo of white-hot gas and plasma looks like any number of artists’ renderings over the last 30 years.
  •  Scientists have been puzzling over invisible “dark stars” since the 18th century, but never has one been spied by a telescope, much less photographed.The supermassive black hole now immortalised by a far-flung network of radio telescopes is 50 million lightyears away in a galaxy known as M87.
  •  “Instead of constructing a giant telescope that would collapse under its own weight, we combined many observatories,” Michael Bremer, an astronomer at the Institute for Millimetric Radio Astronomy (IRAM) in Grenoble, told .
  •  Coined in the mid-60s by American physicist John Archibald Wheeler, the term “blackhole” refers to a point in space where matter is so compressed as to create a gravity field from which even light cannot escape.The more mass, the bigger the hole


Indian Women hockey team leads series against Malaysia

  •  The Indian Women's Hockey team struck a late goal through youngster Lalremsiami to beat hosts Malaysia and take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match bilateral series in Kuala Lumpur.
  •  India won the first two matches 3-0 and 5-0 followed by a 4-4 draw in their previous game. Lalremsiami's sensational 55th-minute goal ensured the team secured a narrow win in a hard-fought contest that saw Malaysia give their all to put up a defensive game.

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