Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 December 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 December 2019


::NATIONAL::

SC says Changes effected to criminal law after the Nirbhaya case haven’t yielded results

  • Changes effected to criminal law after the Nirbhaya case haven’t yielded results and more rapes were reported than before in 2017, the Supreme Court said, even as it sought data from states and Union territories to reassess the efficacy of the criminal justice system in dealing with sexual offences against women.

  • As per the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau in India, 32,559 cases of rape were registered in 2017, the court noted.

  • The bench said that towards this end, it was necessary to call for information with regard to the state of affairs at the ground level from various duty-holders, such as investigation agencies, prosecution, medico-forensic agencies, rehabilitation and legal aid agencies and also high courts.

  • A bench issued notices to all state police chiefs and high court registrar generals. The bench will now take stock of the system on February 7, 2020.

  • It sought status reports on how police stations were functioning and if any public servant had faced FIRs under the new Section 166A of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, for failing to record any information about such offences and also against hospitals for not treating the victims free.

  • The 2013 law had waived the victim’s sexual history as irrelevant to the offence and also done away with the two-finger test used by doctors on victims to confirm rape. The bench sought information on whether advisories had been issued on this and expressed concern over the continued use of such practices.

SC refuses to stay operation of Citizenship amendment act

  • The Supreme Court has decided to examine the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, CAA.However, the Court refused to stay its operation as sought by some lawyers appearing for petitioners.

  • Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the Centre, opposed the petitioners' submission. He said there are as many as four judgements which have held that a law cannot be stayed after being notified.

  • Hearing a batch of pleas challenging the CAA, the top court yesterday issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response by the second week of January next year.

  • A bench comprising Chief Justice of India S ABobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant fixed 59 petitions, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, for hearing on the 22nd of January.

  • The bench also agreed to the submission of a lawyer that common people should be made aware of the aim, objects and the contents of the CAA.

::ECONOMY::

GST council meeting concludes fixes 28%tax rate for lottery

  • The Goods and Services Tax or GST Council has fixed a uniform tax rate of 28 per cent on both state-run and private lottery.It also decided to rationalise the GST rate on woven and non-woven bags to 18 per cent.

  • The decisions were taken at the 38th meeting of the Council, chaired by Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman in New Delhi yesterday.

  • Briefing reporters after the meeting Revenue Secretary Ajay BhushanPandey said the rates on the lottery and woven and non-woven bags will be effective from the 1st of March next year.

  • It was for the first time that the GST Council resorted to voting to decide on an issue as it fixed a uniform tax rate on both state and private lotteries.

  • The GST Council also decided to exempt upfront amount payable for long term lease of industrial and financial infrastructure plots by an entity having 20 per cent or more ownership of Central or State Government.

  • The council also approved various amendments to laws which will be introduced in Union Budget 2020.

Third phase of PM GramSadakYojana launched

  • Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar today launched Phase-III of PradhanMantri Gram SadakYojana in New Delhi to further enhance connectivity of villages with hospitals, schools and agricultural markets.

  • The Phase-III of PMGSY aims at consolidation of 1 lakh 25 thousand Kilometers through Routes and Major Rural Links that connect habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets, Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals with an estimated cost of 80 thousand 250 crore rupees for the period 2019-20 to 2024-25.

  • The Central Share will be 53 thousand 800 crore rupees. The funding pattern for the scheme will be 60:40 between Centre and the States. For North-East and the Himalayan States the ratio will be 90:10.

  • Addressing a gathering, Mr Tomar said that PMGSY is an important program for the nation. The Minister hailed the vision of former Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee and said that he was determined to complete this difficult task and it was his vision and efforts that today more than 6 Lakh Kilometres of Roads have been constructed across rural India.

  • The Minister highlighted the importance of roads in bringing about all-round positive development and empowering the villages.

  • Mr Tomar emphasised that States must ensure that maintenance of roads is done on a regular basis to ensure that the quality of roads remains good. He further said that now with the launch of Phase III of PMGSY, States must begin preparing and ensure effective implementation of the scheme.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India-U.S sign agreement on transfer of defence technology

  • The United States and India discussed a range of strategic and security issues including counter-terrorism at the second 2 plus 2 dialogue in Washington yesterday.

  • The two sides signed an industrial security agreement that will allow the transfer of defence technology.

  • The 2 plus 2 dialogue was held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper hosted their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for the highest-level dialogue between the two countries.

  • During a press conference by the four leaders, Mr Esper said the US is working with India on a fair and reciprocal trade deal. He said the US-India defence relationship is strong and continues to improve.

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India and US have a common vision of a free, seamless and peaceful Indo-Pacific region. He said they are moving ahead to operationalise the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.

Bangladesh becomes only country in South Asia to be in WEF gender gap report

  • Bangladesh is the only country to feature in the top 50 of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday. It is the best performing country in South Asia in reducing the gender gap for women.

  • Bangladesh retains its position at the 50th rank in the index that measures gender gap in political, economic and social spheres in a country.According to the Index, Bangladesh has marginally improved its score by 0.4 percentage points but falls two positions compared to its last status.

  • The report however points out that considerable room exists to improve the basic rights and economic and political prospects of women. The report says that the average estimated annual income of women is only 40 percent of the men in Bangladesh.

  • In the economic sphere women participation in workforce in Bangladesh went up from 34 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2018. The male participation ratio in the workforce for the same period is 84 percent. The report says that the largest gender disparity in the world remains in political empowerment.

  • The WEF Gender gap report points out that going by the current rate of improvement it will take 71 years to fully close the gender gap in the South Asia region. Overall for the world, it will take 99.5 years to close the gap.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

WHO urges India to take action to tackle air pollution

  • India should take “urgent action” to tackle air pollution as the levels of toxic air in many cities of the country are much higher than the recommended guidelines, which could have a major impact on people's health, WHO Director Maria Neira said.

  • Several studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centre for Science and Environment and others published in journals such as The Lancet have linked pollution with premature deaths in India.

  • Union Environment Minister PrakashJavadekar recently told the Parliament that there was no Indian study to show any correlation between pollution and shortening of lifespan.

  • Around 12.4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 can be attributed to air pollution, it said, terming toxic air a leading risk factor for deaths in the country.

  • The study also noted that the average life expectancy would have been 1.7 years higher if the pollution levels were less than the minimal level responsible for causing health loss.

  • WHO air quality guidelines estimate that reducing annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations from levels of 35 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3) to 10 µg/m3, could reduce air pollution-related deaths by around 15 per cent.

::SPORTS::

India beat West Indies in second ODI

  • India won the second ODI against the West Indies by 107 runs at Visakhapatanam last night.Chasing a target of 388 runs, the West Indies were all out for 280. With this win, India levelled the three-match series 1-1.

  • Spinner KuldipYadav achieved a hat-trick during the second ODI. He became the first India player to claim two hat-tricks in international cricket, joining an elite band that includes pace legend WasimAkram.

  • For India, an opening partnership of 227 runs between Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul laid the platform for the home side to post 387-5 in 50 overs. Rohit Sharma smashed 159 whereas KL Rahul scored 102.

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