Election commission confirms no exclusion based on draft NRC
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday assured the
Supreme Court that names have not been deleted from the Assam electoral roll
on the basis of their exclusion from the draft National Register of Citizens
(NRC), which was published in July last year.
The Bench quizzed the ECI secretary, who was present in court, on
electors in each constituency in Assam, addition and deletion. The court
wanted an affidavit by March 28.
The Supreme Court had earlier asked the ECI Secretary to appear
before it on March 12 in connection with this PIL petition, filed by
Assam-based residents Gopal Seth and SusantaSen, alleging that several
categories of persons were deprived of voting rights ahead of the LokSabha
They claimed that one category included persons whose names
figured in the draft NRC but not in the voter list. In another category,
persons whose names were deleted from the voter list appeared in the draft
NRC published on July 30, 2018. The petition claimed these people had voted
in the last LokSabha election in 2014.
The plea also submitted that there were people whose names were
not included in the complete draft NRC, but they subsequently filed claims
for inclusion. They had voted in the earlier LokSabha election and were
waiting for inclusion of their names.
The court further directed the ECI to furnish details of the names
included in the electoral roll on January 1, 2017, 2018 and 2019 in Assam.
Supreme court against sudden closure of firecracker manufacturing units
The Supreme Court cannot kill the jobs of thousands of poor people
working in the firecracker industry, driving them to starvation, Justice S.A.
Bobde observed on Tuesday. He added that if the court could not generate
jobs, its orders should not extinguish livelihoods.
“We cannot give money or jobs or support people who will lose
their jobs if we shut down firecrackers manufacturing units. We do not want
to generate unemployment,” Justice Bobde said.
The court, which on October 23 banned the manufacture, sale and
use of loud and toxic firecrackers while allowing only green and improved
crackers, on Tuesday asked how it could possibly feel empowered to bring the
shutters down on an occupation which was both legal and licensed.
The ban was based on petitions filed by a six-month-old and a
14-month-old, through their fathers in 2015. The petitioners said the air
pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, had made Delhi
a gas chamber and pleaded for their right to life.
Cracker manufacturers, strongly backed by the Tamil Nadu
government, have argued that there was no definite study to show that use of
firecrackers made the air quality worse during festivals like Diwali.
The fundamental right to occupation of those working in the
cracker industry could not be put in peril on the basis of unsubstantiated
allegations that crackers pollute, they have contended.
The industry has argued that the revenue generated from the
manufacturing and sale of fireworks is to the tune of Rs. 6,000 crore per
annum and that the industry supported five lakh families.
In previous hearings in the case as well, the apex court has
stressed that its endeavour is to strive for balance between the right to
public health and the right to occupation of the industry.
Former RBI governor warns of threat to capitalism in post recession period
Former RBI governor RaghuramRajan on Tuesday warned that
capitalism is under “serious threat” of a “revolt” as the economic and
political system has stopped providing for the people, especially after the
2008 global financial meltdown.
“It’s not providing equal opportunity and in fact the people who
are falling off are in a much worse situation,” he said. He said
authoritarian regimes arise “when you socialise all the means of production.
A balance is needed, you can’t pick and choose - what you need to do is
improve opportunity,” he said.
Mr.Rajan, tipped by some as a possible successor to take over from
Mark Carney as governor of the Bank of England, said it was possible in the
past to obtain a middle class job with “modest education”. But the landscape
has changed in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis and the
“Now, if you really want to succeed, you need a really good
education. Unfortunately, the very communities that are hit by the forces of
global trade and global information tend to be communities which have
deteriorating schools, rising crime, rising social illnesses and are unable
to prepare their members for the global economy,” he said.
A recent report from S&P Global Ratings suggests another global
credit downturn is possible, with a 50% surge in worldwide debt since the
global financial crisis. It said since 2008, government debt has risen 77%
while corporate debt is up 51%.
However, the analysts said the next downturn is unlikely to be as
severe as the 2008 financial crisis. In discussing the state of the global
economy, Mr.Rajan also pointed to the challenges of putting limits on the
trade of goods.
IIP slows while retail inflation rises
Industrial activity slowed in January 2019 growing by just 1.7%
due in large part to a deceleration in the manufacturing, electricity, and
capital goods sectors, official data released on Tuesday showed. In a
separate release, government data showed that retail inflation in February
snapped a four-month declining trend by rising to 2.57%.
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) saw growth slip below the
2% for the second time in three months in January, with the previous
occurrence being the 0.32% growth seen in November 2018. Growth in the IIP
was at 2.6 in December.
Within the IIP, the mining and quarrying sector was one of the
only major sectors that saw growth accelerating, from a contraction of 0.39%
in December to a growth of 3.9% in January.
The construction sector witnessed the strongest growth of all the
major sectors, of 7.9%, but this was still significantly slower than the 10%
seen in December.
“By March, government spending usually expands, but this time the
signs of that are not very prominent because they are trying to cut down on
capital expenditure to meet the revised fiscal deficit target,”
Mr.Srivastava added, saying an expansion in government spending would have
meant a recovery in IIP growth in coming months.
Retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI),
rose for the first time in five months in February to 2.57% from 1.97% in
January, mainly due to firming food prices, official data showed.
“Core inflation moved down slightly as expected, reflecting easing
of input costs, pricing powers and growing slack in the economy. The earlier
spikes seen in rural health and education seem to have stabilised.”
“With inflation remaining below RBI’s target, inflationary
expectations declining and growth profile weakening, RBI may front-load its
monetary easing in the beginning of FY20,” said Devendra Kumar Pant, chief
economist and senior director, India Ratings and Research.
However, with capacity utilisation still being low at 74.8%
(2QFY18) and pending elections in April-May 2019, it is unlikely to spur
investment demand in the economy.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale discussed the situation in
Venezuela and Venezuelan oil purchases with U.S. Secretary of State Michael
Pompeo during their meeting on Monday, Mr Pompeo told the press at a
briefing in the afternoon.
Asked if there was a discussion on India’s oil purchases Mr.Pompeo
said, “Yeah, so we’re asking the same thing of India as we are of every
country: Do not be the economic lifeline for the Maduro regime.”
India and seven other countries were given a six month exemption
from U.S. sanctions on trade with Iran and allowed to purchase a limited
quantity of Iranian oil without facing sanctions. Mr Gokhale’s discussions
in Washington are expected to cover the renewal of the sanction exemption.
Regarding Venezuela, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton
had warned India and other countries on Twitter last month against
purchasing oil from Venezuela in response to Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel
Quevedo making a trip to India to pitch for more oil sales.
British Parliament rejects Brexit deal again
British Parliament will vote on a new motion today to decide if
the UK should leave the EU within the March 29 deadline without any deal in
place. The British Prime Minister Theresa May made the statement last night
soon after she suffered yet another massive Parliament defeat over Brexit
MPs overwhelmingly rejected May's withdrawal agreement by 149
votes, leaving the deadline for the deal hanging in the balance. Legislators
in the House of Commons voted against the deal by 391 to 242.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for the
general election to allow the British public to decide who should lead them
into the next phase of Brexit.
Meanwhile, the EU has warned of no Brexit deal saying that
Brussels would not make any further concessions to help May win over
recalcitrant MPs. A spokesman for Donald Tusk, the president of the European
Council, said he regretted the result, but warned that from Brussels'
viewpoint it is difficult to see what more it could do.
EU ambassadors will also meet in Brussels today to assess the
vote, the bloc's contingency plans and to discuss whether to grant a delay
to Brexit if London asks for one.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Human impact on biodiversity rich hotspots higher in India
Human impacts on species occur across 84% of the earth’s surface,
finds a study published on March 13 in PLOS Biology , an international
journal dedicated to biological science. Southeast Asian tropical forests
including India’s biodiversity-rich Western Ghats, Himalaya and the
north-east also fall in this category; India ranks 16th in such human
impacts, with 35 species impacted on average.
A team of scientists led by James Allan (University of Queensland)
found this when they mapped the distribution of eight human activities
including hunting and conversion of natural habitats for agriculture in
areas occupied by 5,457 threatened birds, mammals and amphibians worldwide.
Using sources, including the recently-updated Human Footprint
data, they found that a staggering 1,237 species are impacted by threats in
more than 90% of their habitat; 395 species are affected by threats across
their entire range. While the impact of roads is highest (affecting 72% of
terrestrial areas), crop lands affect the highest number of threatened
With India having the world’s second largest road network, we
really need to plan for development that keeps wildlife conservation as a
primary goal in biodiversity-rich areas, agreed wildlife biologist Sanjay
Similarly, if wildlife-friendly cropping patterns lead to
conservation of wildlife, that would be a victory too, he said. For
instance, agricultural crops such as pulses have supported the conservation
of the critically endangered great Indian bustard.
ICC releases T20 rankings with Babar Azam in top spot
Indian opener KL Rahul's two impressive knocks in the recently
concluded two-match T20 Cricket series against Australia helped him climb to
fifth in the latest ICC Rankings for T20 batsmen in Dubai on Tuesday.
In the bowlers' list, KuldeepYadav, who was rested for two T20
Internationals, dropped a place to fifth.
Pakistan's Babar Azam remained in top position in batsmen list
while Afghanistan's Rashid Khan maintained the top position in bowlers'