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
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- 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.
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
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
- 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.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
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
- 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
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
- 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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