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
- 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
- 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,”
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
- “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
- “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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
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
- “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.