Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 MARCH 2019


Supreme court upholds right to self defence

  •  The right to self-defence extends not only to one’s own body but to protecting the person and property of another, the Supreme Court has said.
  •  A Bench of Justices A.M. Sapre and R. Subhash Reddy underlined the right to private defence, enumerated in Sections 96 to 106 of the IPC, while acquitting a Tamil Nadu forest ranger who shot dead a sandalwood ‘smuggler’ in the Dharmapuri forest area of the State in 1988.
  •  The trial had sentenced Sukumaran, the forest ranger, to a life in prison for murder. The Madras High Court reduced the term to five years.
  •  In appeal, the apex court concluded that Mr. Sukumaran had shot the smuggler under threat to his own life and that of his driver, Chinnakolandai.The forest ranger and his driver were in a jeep in the early hours, doing rounds in the forest, when they saw a truck. They gave chase.
  •  According to the ranger, smuggler Basha and his companions first pelted stones at their jeep, following which they pulled out a gun on the ranger. Mr. Sukumaran was quick to draw and shot Basha in self-defence.
  •  “The prosecution was not able to prove the manner in which the incident occurred as alleged by them in their charge sheet. In this view of the matter, the appellant (Sukumaran) is entitled to be acquitted from the charges for want of any evidence against him,” Justice Sapre wrote.

With general elections on the door ,GoM on anti-lynching kept on hold

  •  With the announcement of general elections on March 10, at least two important Groups of Ministers (GoMs) constituted by the Centre last year to suggest measures on anti-lynching and prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplace have been put in the cold storage.
  •  Till the next government is sworn in in May-June, the government cannot bring in changes in law on the two subjects.
  •  A top source in the Ministry of Women and Child Development said the government’s attempt to address sexual harassment at workplace in the aftermath of the MeToo movement by revisiting the law and suggesting ways to improve the response mechanism of organisations is now “on hold.”
  •  On July 23 last year, after several incidents of lynching were reported across the country, the government announced that a GoM headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will submit its recommendations on ways to prevent the crime to Prime Minister NarendraModi. A senior government official said the GoM met on two occasions but was yet to finalise its report.
  •  Another significant legislation that proposed that critical personal data of Indian citizens be processed in centres located within the country and also proposed financial penalties for data processor for violations of the data protection law have also been put on the backburner.
  •  On January 4, Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad told the RajyaSabha that government had finalised the data protection law.
  •  Similarly, there is uncertainty over the handing over of development and operations of six airports for which Airports Authority of India had invited bids due to model code of conduct. While the Adani Enterprises Limited emerged as the highest bidder, a final decision from the government on awarding these airports is awaited.


IBBI signs MoU with SEBI on IBC implementation

  •  The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  •  The IBBI and the SEBI seek effective implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) and its allied rules and regulations, which have redefined the debt-equity relationship and aims to promote entrepreneurship and debt market.
  •  They have agreed under the MoU to assist and co-operate with each other for the effective implementation of the Code, subject to limitations imposed by the applicable laws.
  •  The MoU provides for sharing of information between the two parties, subject to the limitations imposed by the applicable laws;sharing of resources available with each other to the extent feasible and legally permissible.
  •  Along with periodic meetings to discuss matters of mutual interest, including regulatory requirements that impact each party's responsibilities, enforcement cases, research and data analysis, information technology and data sharing, or any other matter that the parties believe would be of interest to each other in fulfilling their respective statutory obligations.
  •  It also provides for joint efforts towards enhancing the level of awareness among financial creditors about the importance and necessity of swift insolvency resolution process of various types of borrowers in distress under the provisions of the Code, etc.

RBI governor says Forex swap decision worked on well

  •  The recent decision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to inject rupee liquidity through long-term foreign exchange swap a first of its kind in liquidity management policy has been received well, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Tuesday.
  •  Mr. Das was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event to launch former governor Y.V. Reddy’s book.
  •  Observing that there was a need to ensure broad consistency between finance commissions so that there was some degree of certainty in the flow of funds, especially to States, he said, “This has become even more critical in the post-GST scenario. In other words, there has to be continuity and change between finance commissions. Increasingly, therefore, it is felt that there is a need to give permanent status to the finance commission.”
  •  Stating that the recent initiatives in fostering cooperative federalism had opened new chapters of cooperation between the Centre and States, he added that cooperative federalism, however, should not ‘breed inertia’.
  •  “Alongside cooperative federalism, there has to be competitive federalism. The ranking of States on the parameter of ‘ease of doing business’ has generated a very healthy competition among States.
  •  Indices developed by the NITI Aayog on health, water management, implementation of SDGs, etc., have the potential to generate similar healthy competition,” the RBI Governor added.

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India extends humanitarian assistance to Mozambique

  •  The Indian Navy had launched a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation in coordination with local officials to evacuate about 5,000 people stranded at Buzi near Port Beira in Mozambique, a Navy officer said on Tuesday.
  •  “Large fishing boats provided by Mozambique acted as anchor midway across the channel. Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and Gemini boats on our ships will transport personnel from shore to the fishing boats to be transported to the Beira side,” a defence official said, giving details of the operation.
  •  The smaller RHIB and Gemini boats were employed as the Navy ships and local fishing boats could not enter the channel due to depth restrictions. Helicopter operations were also planned to assist the rescue efforts.
  •  “Ships of First Training squadron of Indian Navy, Sujata, Sarathi and Shardul, operating in Southern Indian Ocean were diverted to Port Beira in Mozambique based on the request of the Government of Mozambique,” the Navy officer said. Navy ships provided food, clothes, medicine and potable water to the affected people.
  •  The ships also have three medical practitioners and five nurses to provide immediate medical help. The helicopter on INS Shardul is operating from the local airport for recce and search and rescue, the Navy officer said.

U.K not to consider FTA with India soon

  •  Britain has acknowledged that securing a Free Trade Agreement with India will not be its immediate priority as it prepares to leave the EU and focusses on “first-tier” countries.
  •  Instead, Britain would initially focus on tackling existing barriers to trade, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Minister for Asia Mark Field and the head of the South Asia Department Fergus Auld told MP during an evidence session on Tuesday afternoon as part of an inquiry by the committee into the government’s efforts to build a “global Britain” in the wake of Brexit.
  •  Referring to the Department of International Trade (DIT)’s approach to securing post-Brexit trade deals, Mr. Auld said that the Department would first focus on securing FTAs that were “relatively simple” and “where there was clear mutual advantage.”
  •  However, when asked about what the barriers were, Mr. Field noted that businesses have not always found it easy to operate in India. “There have been a number of high trade disputes that required international arbitration,” he told MPs. “We are prioritising in terms of free trade agreements are concerned. It’s not that India is not important but it isn’t in that first tier.”
  •  While it was a positive step that India had risen by 53 ranks in the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ between 2016 and 2018, the fact that it remained at position 77 suggested that “there are difficulties that are there”, Mr. Field told MPs.


Honey bees could be another bio indicator

  •  Tree rings can tell scientists what the atmosphere was like when the tree was young. Lichens can reveal local air pollution levels. Now, scientists in Canada report that honey carries a message, too.
  •  A survey of urban beehives around Vancouver, which was published recently in Nature Sustainability , showed that the hives’ honey contained minute levels of lead, especially downtown and near the city’s port. The readings suggest that honey can be a sensitive indicator of air quality.
  •  The project began when Hives for Humanity, a nonprofit, asked Dominique Weis, a co-author of the paper, to check the honey for lead and other substances.
  •  Bees are known to pick up trace amounts of metals, which settle on leaves and flowers from the air, as they forage for pollen. The results showed very small levels of lead, and traces of iron and zinc.
  •  Going forward, scientists may be able to track improvements or declines in air quality by monitoring the beehives and analysing the honey.


India shines with 188 medals in Special Olympics

  •  India has so far won a total of 188 medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. The medals include 50 gold, 63 silver and 75 bronze medals.
  •  The medal tally surged as Indian paddlers made history in table tennis with four gold and one silver medal. Coach SheetalNegi said that the Indian contingent underwent four preparatory camps in Gurgaon, Jodhpur, Haryana and Mumbai before competing in Abu Dhabi.
  •  The men’s team has also won two gold medals at the games.India has sent a 378-strong contingent that is participating in the 15th edition of the Games. The closing ceremony of Special Olympics World Games is scheduled for March 21.

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