Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 13 August 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 13 August 2019


Supreme court to hear plea against regressive measures in Kashmir

  • A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday for the first time a petition highlighting certain “regressive measures” adopted by the government before the abrogation of Article 370, by which special rights and privileges accorded to the people of Jammu and Kashmir were scrapped through a Presidential Order on August 5.

  • The government, within hours of announcing the notification of the Presidential Order on August 5, tabled the Bill to reorganise the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The Bill was successfully passed in Parliament.

  • The Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra will hear the petition filed by activist TehseenPoonawalla, who has not expressed an opinion on the amendment to Article 370 but objects to measures adopted by the government, including the snapping of communication and restrictions imposed on media Jammu and Kashmir.

  • He has sought the setting up of a judicial commission to enquire into the government action and also the release of leaders including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

  • “The inhabitants of J&K are suffering on account of unwarranted imposition of curfew and/or restrictions under Section 144,” he said.

CVC points out requests pending sanction for prosecution against public officials

  • Sanction for the prosecution of over 80 public servants, including four IAS officials, under the Prevention of Corruption Act is awaited from various government departments for the past over four months. Two cases are pending since 2013.

  • According to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), 47 such requests were pending for more than four months as on June 30. The maximum of seven requests were with the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), while five were with the Uttar Pradesh government.

  • In one case, the request for sanction to prosecute the then Secretary of Health, B.L. Agarwal, was made to the DoPT in February 2013. The same month, another request was moved against the then Joint Director Parmod Singh and two others of the Chhattisgarh government, in connection with a case registered in 2010.

  • According to the recently released CVC's annual report, sanction for prosecution in 108 cases was given by the government departments last year.

  • It included recommendation for major penalty proceedings in 508 cases and minor penalty proceedings in 151 cases as its first-stage advice. The CVC advised major penalty for 101 cases and minor penalty for 76 cases as second-stage advice.


National exchanges claim Indian taxes making capital market unattractive

  • As part of their attempts to lower the trading costs in the Indian stock markets - which is among the highest globally - the Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI) has again urged finance minister NirmalaSitharaman to withdraw long term capital gains tax and also taxation of dividends in the hands of the investors.

  • Representatives of the broking body who met the finance minister last week, told the policy makers that while India is the only country to levy a tax on equity trading in the form of securities transaction tax (STT), dividends currently are taxed thrice in the form of corporate tax, dividend distribution tax and finally at the investor level.

  • The capital market participants highlighted the fact that while a tax is levied on all equity market transactions, India also taxes business income and the capital gains on securities, which, combined with the triple taxation on dividends, make the Indian capital market quite unattractive globally.

  • Incidentally, the broking body has requested the government to take “urgent steps to boost investor sentiment” especially given the overall weak sentiment among investor community, especially foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).

  • “Long term capital gain tax and taxation on dividends in the hands of Indian investors should be withdrawn,” stated ANMI in its memorandum to the government.

Import of textile machinery on a high note

  • Import of textile machinery and accessories in 2018-2019 grew 24% compared to the previous year, Jugal Kishore Pansari, president of Indian Textile Accessories and Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, said here on Friday.

  • Total import of textile machinery and accessories last financial year was worth $1,165 million. The highest imports were of digital printing machinery ($430.20 million), accounting for 37% of the total imports. Weaving machines worth $135.58 million and spinning machinery and accessories worth $96.12 million were imported last fiscal. Import of spinning products and machinery grew 41.85%.

  • “Digital printing is a happening segment in textiles. The new machines are versatile and fast and save on water. Hence, the demand is high for these. Several textile engineering multinational companies have started operations in India and they import parts and accessories,” Mr.Pansari said.

  • The data shows the potential available for the Indian textile engineering sector. There is an opportunity for the machinery and spares manufacturers to meet the domestic needs, he added.

  • “Today, the Indian textile engineering industry is operating at about 70% capacity utilisation, serving 65% of the textile sector’s demand,” he said. The industry should improve on the technology front, he added.

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UN to probe North Korean cyber attacks in various countries

  • UN experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs — and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

  • Last week, The Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.

  • The experts said they are investigating the reported attacks as attempted violations of UN sanctions, which the panel monitors.

  • The report cites three main ways that North Korean cyber hackers operate. One is attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT system used to transfer money between banks, “with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence.”

  • Experts stressed that implementing these increasingly sophisticated attacks “is low risk and high yield,” often requiring just a laptop computer and access to the internet.

  • The report to the Security Council gives details on some of the North Korean cyberattacks as well as the country’s successful efforts to evade sanctions on coal exports in addition to imports of refined petroleum products and luxury items including Mercedes Benz S-600 cars.

Afghanistan rejects foreign interference during peace talks

  • Afghanistan's President has rejected foreign interference as the United States and the Taliban appear to be closing in on a peace deal without the Afghan government at the table.

  • President Ashraf Ghani spoke during the Muslim holiday Eid Al Adha and as US and Taliban negotiators continue their work in the Gulf nation of Qatar, where the insurgents have a political office.

  • Speaking after the Eid prayers, Ghani insisted that next month's presidential election is essential so that Afghanistan's leader will have a powerful mandate to decide the country's future after years of war.

  • US envoy ZalmayKhalilzad is seeking a peace deal by Sept. 1, weeks before the vote. The two sides are expected to agree on the withdrawal of some 20,000 US and NATO troops in return for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would not be a base for other extremist groups.


Researchers find out reason for shift in rainfall pattern

  • For the first time, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay have found that even a change in irrigation policy has the potential to shift monsoon rainfall and intensify extreme rainfall in India through its feedback to atmosphere.

  • They have further found the reason behind the shift in the summer monsoon rainfall towards northwestern India and intensification of extreme rainfall over central India during the month of September.

  • It became possible to understand what causes the monsoon to shift and the role of irrigation as the researchers developed a module of land-surface model that takes into account the actual soil irrigation and agriculture pattern seen in India.

  • The researchers found that as a result of excess irrigation over northern India, the summer monsoon rainfall in September shifts towards the northwestern part of the country. There is also intensification of extreme rainfall over central India during September.

  • Land-surface processes including irrigation affect the heat fluxes — temperature related and evapotranspiration. Modified heat fluxes along with changes in atmosphere moisture content and distribution result in a shift in rainfall towards northwestern part of the country and increased extreme rainfall over central India during September.

  • “We need more detailed irrigation data for southern India to perform much better analysis of land-surface feedback of human-natural systems,” an expert says.


Aishwaryapissay wins motorsport worldcup

  • Bengaluru’s AishwaryaPissay made history, winning the women’s category of the FIM World Cup with a fourth-place finish in the Hungarian Baja, at Varpalota (Hungary) on Sunday. She also finished second in the FIM Junior category.

  • She had won the first round in Dubai, and was placed 3rd (Portugal), 5th (Spain) and 4th (Hungary) in her subsequent outings. She finished with an overall tally of 65 points, four ahead of Portugal’s Rita Vieira.

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