Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 12 August 2017

Daily Current Affairs for IAS Exams

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 12 August 2017


Prasoon Joshi appointed as new CBFC chief:

  • The government appointed lyricist and screenwriter Prasoon Joshi as chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, replacing film producer Pahlaj Nihalani.

  • “The Central Government is pleased to appoint Sh. Prasoon Joshi as Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification in an honorary capacity from 11th August, 2017 for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” a PIB release.

  • The decision ends Mr. Nihalani’s two and a half years as the head of the CBFC or censor board. Mr. Nihalani’s controversial decisions include demanding multiple cuts in Madhur Bhandarkar's film Indu Sarkar on the Emergency and his refusal to clear Lipstick Under My Burqa, a film exploring female sexuality.

  • Director Alankrita Shrivastava challenged the decision at an appeals tribunal leading to the release of the film. He had also objected to the word 'intercourse' in the Shah Rukh Khan film When Harry MetSejal and asked for words like "cow" and "Hindu India" to be bleeped in a documentary on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

  • Mr. Nihalani was appointed in 2015 and his term was to end in January 2018.

M. Venkaiah Naidu was sworn in as the new Vice-President

  • In a brief ceremony at the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office to Mr. Naidu in the presence of top political leaders and dignitaries.

  • The 68-year-old former Union Minister, who took his oath in Hindi and in the name of God, is the 15th Vice-President of the country but the 13th individual to be sworn in.

  • His immediate predecessor, M. Hamid Ansari, and the first Vice-President, S. Radhakrishnan, held the Constitutional post for two consecutive terms.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP president Amit Shah were among the guests at the Durbar Hall.

  • The invitees included the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States and those of Bihar and Delhi, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal, respectively. Senior Opposition leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mulayam Singh, D. Raja and

  • Tariq Anwar too attended the swearing-in. Mr. Naidu’s wife, M. Usha, was present.

  • His role in the functioning of the Upper House will be crucial as the Opposition’s numerical strength is higher than that of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

  • Noting that “obstruction and disruption of proceedings is increasingly being chosen as the first Parliamentary option”, Mr. Naidu said, “All that the people desire is that Parliament should be the voice of sanity echoing their concerns and finding solutions to their problems. Over the years, both the Houses of Parliament have done a reasonably good job. But somehow there is a growing concern and resentment among the people over our functioning.” Quoting the former President Pranab Mukherjee, Mr. Naidu said Parliament should be used for debate, discussion and dissent.

  • Welcoming the new Chairman, Ghulam Nabi Azad who leads the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said every member should have the freedom to speak as the Rajya Sabha had a “dual responsibility of representing the MLAs and the legislatures that elected them and the people who elected the MLAs”.

Children die in government run hospital :

  • Thirty children have died in the government-run BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur in a span of 48 hours, allegedly after a private firm contracted to supply liquid oxygen to the hospital stopped supplies as it was not paid outstanding dues of almost Rs. 70 lakh.

  • District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela said around 30 patients had died in the hospital, including 14 in the neonatal ward.

  • Of these, seven deaths were reported three in the neonatal ward, two in the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) ward and two in the general ward. The other 23 deaths were reported since midnight of August 9 — they comprised 14 deaths in the neonatal ward, three in the AES ward and six in the general ward.

  • The Uttar Pradesh government denied that the deaths were due to lack of oxygen supply. The casualties, it said, were due to various illnesses.

  • A magisterial probe has been ordered to ascertain the cause of deaths.

  • Sources in the hospital said that due to the lack of oxygen supply, cylinders had to be transported and filled from neighbouring districts.

Water Metro in Kochi

  • The Rs. 819-crore Water Metro project proposed in the Greater Kochi area has achieved a milestone, with an expert panel of the Ministry of Environment clearing its terms of reference.

  • A total of 78 modern ferries will link the city with islands in the neighbourhood in the project that will be realised by 2021.

  • Though specifications have not been finalised, each ferry will most likely have an air-conditioned space (where fare will be higher) and non-AC area. The general consultant appointed by us is in the process of readying specifications and procurement documents for inviting global tenders for the ferries.

  • As per the KMRL estimate, the Water Metro is expected to have a daily ridership of 40,000 by 2019, 54,000 by 2025 and 86,000 by 2035.

  • The project was discussed during the latest meeting of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) for infrastructure projects.

  • Terms of references are guidelines for conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies of projects, based on which the Union Environment Ministry grants or rejects clearances for projects.

  • The EAC further recommended a study on the “impact of dredging and dumping on marine ecology” and a management plan by any institute specialising in marine ecology.

  • It also sought a study on the impact of dredging on the shore line, how it affects marine life, aquatic birds, details of waste water management, and an environmental monitoring plan.

PETA moves SC for ban on glass-coated manja

  • The people for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, India filed an appeal in the supreme court seeking expansion of the ban on manja by National Green Tribunal to include glad coated cotton threads add they are dealt for animals and humans.

  • The petition seeks to expand the scope of NGT order banning use of synthetic and nylon.

Article 35A in discussion

  • Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the position of political parties in the Valley on the legal challenge to Article 35A that prevents “outsiders” from owning property in the State.

  • Emerging from the 15 minute meeting with the Prime Minister, Ms. Mufti claimed Mr. Modi had assured that any discussion on the special provisions for the State would be on the basis of the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) between the PDP and the BJP.

  • The heated debate in the State around Article 35A was triggered by a recent petition in the Supreme Court arguing that the provision is discriminatory against women if they marry anyone outside the State.

  • Men don’t lose their right to own property or the right of inheritance if they marry someone outside.

  • Ms. Mufti is said to have informed the Prime Minister that after last year’s unrest, the Kashmir Valley was returning to normality and all steps should be taken to avoid a fresh controversy.

  • The issue has brought bitter rivals — the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — together.

Supreme court sets dates for Ayodhya case hearing

  • With the Uttar Pradesh government pushing for an early hearing, the Supreme Court scheduled the hearing of 13 appeals in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute for December 5, the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 15th century mosque by karsevaks on December 6, 1992.

  • A Special Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer said the contesting parties, including the deity Ram Lalla, U.P. Central Sunni Waqf Board, NirmohiAkhara, the Uttar Pradesh government and the several legal heirs and representatives of the original parties, who have died over the years of litigation in various courts, can make their opening statements on December 5 and continue for two days in December before the court closes for Christmas vacation.

  • The court gave the Uttar Pradesh government the responsibility of translating the entire gamut of oral evidence in the case within the next 10 weeks.

  • The State government, represented by Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, displayed visible eagerness to start the hearing in the Supreme Court. It said it needs just four weeks to translate the documentary evidence.

  • Documentary evidence in the case involves scripts, palimpsests and records dating back several centuries and written in various languages.

  • The Uttar Pradesh government insisted that the court hearing begin soon and the parties could, on their own, translate the documents they intend to rely on as and when they require them during the hearings.

  • This suggestion was strongly objected to by the Sunni Waqf Board represented by senior advocate Anoop Chaudhari and senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for some of the opposing parties.

  • Mr. Chaudhary said the “appeals were not yet ripe for hearing”. Mr. Sibal and Mr. Dhawan said the documents needed to be translated first and the translations had to be finalised before the hearings start. Mr. Dhawan said otherwise a party can translate a document and “add their own spin to it”.

  • The court said it would first hear the appeals on the original title suits and then hear a writ petition of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy that the right to worship at the Ram Mandir was his fundamental right.

Athirappilly project in trouble

  • Attempts of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Limited, the public sector electricity utility in Kerala, to beat the August 18 deadline set by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), for beginning work on the controversy-marred Athirappilly hydel project, has sparked a political storm in the State.

  • Former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, alliance partner Communist Party of India (CPI), and environmental activists who have been campaigning against the 163 MW project, have all come out strongly against the KSEB’s move, accusing the utility of having set up a transformer near the project office at Kannankuzhy two weeks ago to mark commencement of work on the project.

  • The KSEB had done this even as a writ petition is pending against the project at the Kerala High Court, and without going through the tender process. The hydel power project, which proposes the construction of the seventh dam along the 145 km course of Chalakudy river, will sound the death knell for what remains of endemic species of flora and fauna in the region, the project’s critics say.

  • The 110 KW transformer had been set up in KSEB’s own land. The KSEB had spent almost Rs. 35 crore for maintaining an office for the project, despite it being a non-starter.

::India and world::

India deploys more troops on China border

  • India has deployed more troops along the entire 1,400 km of the border with China in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the face of heightened rhetoric by Beijing over the Doklam standoff, senior government officials said.

  • The “caution level” among the troops has been raised, the officials said on condition of anonymity. The decision followed a detailed analysis, they said.

  • The officials declined to give any figure or percentage of increased deployment, saying they cannot disclose “operational details”. The Sukna-based 33 Corps and 3 and 4 corps based in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have been tasked with protecting the border in the east. The officials, however, said there was no enhancement of troops at Doklam.

  • Defence Minister Arun Jaitley assured the Lok Sabha that the armed forces were prepared for any eventuality amid a tense standoff between India and China in Doklam. He was responding to a question on the issue, and specifically a question based on a senior Army officer’s statement that Pakistan’s defence industry was better than India’s.

  • He said the armed forces had adequate equipment to tackle any exigency. On a CAG report that the forces had ammunition only for 22 days in case of a war, he said “significant progress” had been made on this issue.

Sushma discussions with her counter in Bhutan

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed a “range of issues” with Bhutanese Foreign Minister DamchoDorji on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC conference of India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and

  • Thailand in Kathmandu, MEA officials said, but made no comment on the ongoing Doklam standoff between the Indian and Chinese troops in the territory claimed by Bhutan.

  • After the meeting, Mr. Dorji told reporters only that he hoped, “the situation in Doklam will be resolved peacefully and amicably.”

  • The Foreign Ministers’ meeting was the first high-level contact between India and Bhutan since the standoff began on June 16 after Indian troops went onto the Doklam plateau to hold off a Chinese PLA team that was building a road Bhutan objected to.

  • As the standoff enters the third month, diplomats say the next two weeks will be crucial to the effort.

  • China’s top communist party leaders are understood to have been meeting at the party’s “retreat” at the seaside resort of Beidaihe, an annual unofficial conclave, where the détente with India will no doubt be discussed, and a coordinated signal on the road ahead will be sent out, ahead of this year’s Autumn party conclave.

  • In an article, Mr. Saran had recounted that the decision by Chinese leader Mao to launch a “major border war” against India was also taken at the ‘Beidaihe conference’ in August 1962. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech next week will also be watched closely for references to the current standoff with China.

  • Last year, amid tensions with Pakistan, Mr. Modi had referred to India’s support to Balochistan at the August 15 speech.


Russia, China push plan to defuse tension

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cautioned that the risks of escalation of tensions between the United States and North Korea were “very high” following the recent war of words between Washington and Pyongyang.

  • “I believe the risks are very high, especially considering this rhetoric, when direct threats of using force are voiced,” Mr. Lavrov said at a youth forum in the Vladimir region east of Moscow.

  • Mr. Lavrov did not refer to President Donald Trump’s “locked and loaded” remark in the event of a misstep by North Korea, but said Moscow was “very alarmed” at Washington’s rhetoric of pre-emptive military action.

  • He added that the United States, as a more powerful state than North Korea, should take the first step to cool tensions. “When a fight has nearly broken out, the first step away from the dangerous threshold should be taken by the side that is stronger and smarter,” Mr. Lavrov said.

  • Moscow has joined China to push an initiative that would see Pyongyang halt missile tests in return for the US ending military drills in the region.

  • The “double freeze” plan would be a step toward the goal of “de-nuclearising the Korean peninsula,” he said. “Unfortunately, the rhetoric in Washington and Pyongyang is starting to go over the top," he said. “We hope that common sense will prevail.” He added that Moscow “does not accept a nuclear North Korea”.

  • Earlier, Global Times , a state-run newspaper, said that China should remain neutral if North Korea launches an attack that threatens the U.S. China’s Foreign Ministry called on all sides to speak and act with caution.

  • Reacting to Mr. Trump’s statements, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin that she opposed any use of force to resolve the conflict. “I don’t envision a military solution to this conflict but rather consistent work as we’ve observed at the United Nations Security Council,” she said.

::Business and economy::

Demonetisation made economy lighter with Rs. 3.5 lakh crore of cash: Survey

  • Says demonetisation has increased digitisation across the board; all economic indicators have returned to normal and filing of income tax returns has gone up

  • Demonetisation has reduced Rs. 3.5 lakh crore of cash from the amounts available in the system before, and digitisation has increased across the board, even among the poor, says Volume II of the Economic Survey .

  • The volume, tabled in Parliament, noted that while the informal sector suffered initially from demonetisation, all indicators, such as two-wheeler sales and demand for MGNREGA work, had returned to normal. It found that while the number of income tax returns had increased sharply, the average income declared had not risen commensurately.

  • In levels, and as a share of GDP and money, there seems to have been a sharp and equilibrium decline in the use of cash: as of July, the holding of cash is about Rs. 3.5 lakh crore (20%) less than what might have been the case had pre-demonetisation trends prevailed, consistent with the calculations presented in Volume I.

  • The report also said that the effect of demonetisation on the digitisation of transactions could be divided into three categories: the poor (who are largely outside the digital economy), the less affluent sections (who have acquired Jan Dhan accounts and RuPay cards), and the affluent (who are fully digitally integrated via debit and credit cards).

  • And even though the immediate post-demonetisation surge has moderated in some cases, the level and pace of digitalisation are still substantially greater than before demonetisation.

  • The report found this to be true for Aadhaar-enabled payments, which serve as an indicator for the poorer sections of society, Rupay cards for the intermediate category, and credit and debit card transactions for the affluent sections of society.

  • “The growth of taxpayers post-demonetisation was significantly greater than in the previous year (45% versus 25%),” the Survey said.

  • “The addition amounted to about 5.4 lakh taxpayers or 1% of all individual taxpayers in just a few months. It is, however, interesting that the average income reported of the new taxpayers — Rs. 2.7 lakh — was not far above the tax threshold of Rs. 2.5 lakh, so the immediate impact on tax collections was muted.”

  • The report analysed the effect of demonetisation on the informal sector via two proxies — demand for MGNREGA work, and two-wheeler sales — since the economic indicators collected by the government themselves do not include data from the informal sector.

  • The Survey’s detailed calculations show that while demonetisation resulted in a contraction in demand for MGNREGA work in the first four weeks following demonetisation, demand normalised by the tenth week, and subsequently grew sharply.

  • This effect was particularly prominent for less developed States, which saw a 63% increase in demand for MGNREGA work after the tenth week.

Growth likely to be in the lower range, closer to 6.5%

  • Many indicators point to a deceleration, says second volume of Economic Survey

  • The Indian economy’s growth in 2017-18 is more likely to be closer to 6.5% than 7.5%, according to Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian. Speaking to the media after the second volume of the Economic Survey was tabled in Parliament, Mr. Subramanian outlined new downside risks to growth that have emerged since the presentation of this year’s Union Budget.

  • “We are not changing our growth forecast (a range of 6.5%-7.5% estimated in February), just saying that because of all these risks, it’s less likely that we will see outcomes towards the upper end of the forecast. The balance of risks to the growth outlook has clearly shifted to the downside and the balance of probability has correspondingly shifted away from the upper end of the growth forecast,” Mr. Subramanian said.

  • Stressing that it would be premature to say that growth can rebound very quickly unless there is a ‘clean-up’ and significant ‘deleveraging’ in the Indian economy, Mr. Subramanian said there has been an ‘across-the-board deceleration in real activity since the first or second quarter of last year,’ which could have intensified owing to demonetisation of high-value currency notes by the government last November. The economy grew by 7.1% in 2016-17.

  • While refusing to get drawn into a debate on whether farm loan waivers announced by States are good or bad, he said such waivers will act as a ‘drag on growth’ rather than have an inflationary impact.

  • “To accommodate the loan waiver, States will have to cut down either expenditure or raise taxes which will be deflationary. This is not something I am making up.

  • Look at the Uttar Pradesh Budget – capital expenditure has been slashed by 13% or so. That represents less demand, less growth,” he said, suggesting this could impact demand by as much as 0.7% of GDP, drag down growth in the short run and worsen States’ aggregate fiscal deficit indicators.

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