Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 13 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 13 MARCH 2019


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 polls.
  •  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 resulting austerity.
  •  “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.

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U.S ask India to withdraw supporting Venezuela

  •  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.


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 species: 3,834.
  •  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 Gubbi.
  •  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' list.

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