Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 JANUARY 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 JANUARY 2019


Supreme court gives deadline to centre for creating Lokpal panel

  •  The Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Lokpal search committee time till February-end to short-list a panel of names for chairperson and members of the Lokpal to be placed before the high-power selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  •  A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, fixed the deadline for the search panel on the PIL litigation petition filed by NGO Common Cause.
  •  Under Rule 11 (2) of the Search Committee Rules, 2014, the panel recommends at least five names for chairperson and at least three times the number of vacancies in the case of members to the selection committee.
  •  The Department of Personnel and Training’s notification, issued on September 27, lists the names of the eight-member search committee, led by former apex court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai.
  •  The selection committee comprises the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist as members. At the previous hearing, the government said a search committee was constituted in September 2018.
  •  In an affidavit filed a few days ago, the government explained its limited role. It said the search committee devises its own procedure for evaluating suitable names to be shortlisted and the “central government shall provide only such assistance as may be required by the search committee in efficient discharge of its functions.”
    President inagurates Gandhian resurgence summit at Prayagraj
  •  President Ram Nath Kovind Inaugurated the three day Gandhian Resurgence Summit at Parmarth Niketan camp at the ongoing Prayagraj Kumbh today. About 300 Gandhians from different parts of the country and organisations are participating in the Summit.
  •  Speaking at the event, the President said that Kumbh is the biggest congregation of humanity of the world and this provides for a great platform to spread the messages of Cleanliness and eradication of untouchability as was practised by Mahatma Gandhi.
  •  The Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministersaid that about 2 crore 25 lakhs devotees have taken holy dip during the two days Makar Sankranti bathing festival. Addressing the three day Gandhian Resurgence Summit at Parmarth Niketan, he congratulated the Mela officials for their efforts and arrangements for the first Shahi Snan.
  •  He said elaborate security arrangements have been made for the Mela with cleanliness and sanitation being top priority during the Mela. He said above one lakhs toilets have been constructed in the Mela area to ensure open Defecation free Mela area.
  •  For the first time, an Integrated Control and Command Centre (ICCC) has been set up to ensure full proof security in and around Mela area. More than one thousand CCTV cameras have been installed in the Mela for the purpose.
  •  Prayagraj Kumbh 2019 will be remembered for opening of doors to Akshaya Vat (sacred tree) and Saraswati Koop (sacred well) for common men after 450 years. It was a long pending demand of the devotees.


NGT orders Volkswagen to pay fine immediately

  •  The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed Volkswagen India to deposit Rs. 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) by Friday.
  •  Coming down heavily on the company for not complying with the November order, in which the NGT had directed Volkswagen to deposit the interim amount with the CPCB, the green panel warned of punitive action against the company directors, in case of non-compliance of orders.
  •  A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said: “Why have you not complied with the [November] order when there is no stay? We will not give you any further time. You are in default. If you do not deposit the amount, we will order arrest and detention of your directors.”
  •  A spokesperson of the company said: “The Volkswagen group reiterates that all cars from the Group are compliant with the emission norms in India. The order of the NGT is already under challenge before the Supreme Court. However, the Volkswagen Group India will comply with the order of the NGT and deposit the money as directed.”
  •  In November, the green panel had directed Volkswagen to deposit an interim amount of Rs. 100 crore following allegations that the company had used “cheat devices” in emission tests for its diesel vehicles.

India-Iran rupee pact to aid pharma exports

  •  The Indian pharma industry now has an opportunity to increase exports to Iran, following a rupee payment mechanism agreed upon recently by India and the Persian Gulf nation.
  •  Under the agreement, Indian refiners make payments in rupee for oil imports from Iran, to designated accounts maintained with UCO Bank. A portion thus received is to be used by Iran to pay for imports from India, including pharmaceuticals.
  •  With a cloud of uncertainty hovering over continued pharmaceutical supplies from Europe in the wake of the U.S. sanctions against Iran, the Indian pharma industry could explore opportunities to step up exports, he emphasised.
  •  The U.S., had in May last year, come out from a nuclear accord with Iran and re-imposed sanctions. The rupee payment agreement came within weeks of the sanctions to cover oil imports from Iran.
  •  While imposing the sanctions again, the U.S. provided a time window of exemption under which India and a few other countries could continue to import oil for some time, but of relatively less quantity
  •  Constituting mostly APIs (bulk drugs), Indian pharma exports to Iran have been declining in recent years.
  •  From $180.50 million in 2015-16, pharma exports to Iran fell to $160.33 million in 2016-17. Mr. Bhaskar said Indian drug makers ought to eye a bigger pie in Iran’s $1.3 billion generic market.

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Facebook removes page linked to Russia

  •  Social networking site, Facebook said on Thursday that it removed hundreds of Russia-linked pages, groups and accounts which were part of two big disinformation operations targeting users outside the U.S.
  •  The Facebook said, its latest effort to fight misinformation came after it found two networks that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and its Instagram service.
  •  According to Facebook, the people running the accounts represented themselves as independent news sources and posted on topics like anti-NATO sentiment and protest movements.
  •  Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said, one network of 364 pages and accounts was linked to employees of Sputnik, a Russian state-run English-language news site. Meanwhile, Sputnik criticized Facebook's takedown.

NorthKorea’s Top envoy in U.S for talks

  •  A North Korean envoy arrived in Washington on Thursday for expected talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a possible encounter with President Donald Trump aimed a laying the groundwork for a second U.S.-North Korea summit.
  •  The envoy arrived on the same day Mr. Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy that singled out North Korea as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat,” seven months after he declared after his first summit with leader Kim Jong Un that the North Korean threat had been eliminated.
  •  The North Korean visit could yield an announcement of plans for another summit between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim Jong Un, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
  •  There has been no indication, however, of any narrowing of differences over U.S. demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States or Pyongyang's demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.
  •  Mr. Kim Yong Chol will be the first top North Korean official to stay overnight in Washington since the late Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok did so ahead of talks with then-President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000.
  •  Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, has been widely touted as the most likely venue for a second meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim Jong Un.


ISRO to share expertise in nano satellite making

  •  India will train participants from 45 countries in nano-satellite making through a new capacity building programme. The programme named Unispace Nanosatellite Assembly and Training by ISRO (UNNATI) was flagged off by Minister of State in Deparment of Space Jitendra Singh in Bengaluru yesterday.
  •  Speaking on the occasion, ISRO chairman K Sivan said, the programme allows India to share its knowledge and expertise in space sector with other countries. ISRO will train 90 officials from 45 countries in three batches. The first batch will have 30 participants from 17 countries.
  •  The programme is the space agency's initiative to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE50) in 1968.
  •  The participants will receive a training of eight weeks in Bengaluru in technologies related to making nano-satellites. Nano-satellites are small satellites weighing between 1-10 kg. The course will include theoretical work, as well as training on assembly, integration and testing of nano-satellites.


Indian Wrestler Vinesh Phogat becomes first Indian athlete to be nominated in Laureus World Comeback of Year Award

  •  Ace Indian female wrestler Vinesh Phogat has become the first Indian athlete to receive a nomination in the prestigious Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.
  •  She has been nominated alongside US Tour Championship winner Tiger Woods, who won his first tournament in five years. The Awards will be presented in Monaco on the 18th of next month.
  •  Monaco is a tiny independent city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline.
  •  The 24-year-old Vinesh from Haryana made a sensational comeback after battling a long injury lay-off to win a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games.

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