Current Affairs a for IAS Exams - 24 APRIL 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 APRIL 2019


Sexual harassment case against CJI to be heard by judges panel

  • A three-member committee of Supreme Court judges led by Justice S.A. Bobde, the number two judge in the apex court, was formed on Tuesday to look into allegations of sexual harassment raised by a former employee against Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi.
  • The other two members of the committee are Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee. Justice Ramana is the number three judge in the apex court.
  • Justice Bobde has taken a central role in dealing with the crisis, which erupted on April 20 when some websites published the woman’s allegations against the CJI.
  • Earlier in the day, he constituted a Special Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, RohintonNariman and Deepak Gupta to deal with, on the judicial side, the suomotu petition titled ‘In a matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary.’
  • The morning saw senior judges hold an intense closed-door discussion till noon before beginning their usual court work. The discussion was centred on how to tackle the "wildfire" of accusations directed at the court, a highly placed source in the Supreme Court said.
  • Meanwhile A Special Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Arun Mishra, on Tuesday issued notice to an advocate who filed a plea in the court claiming he was offered up to Rs. 1.5 crore by a man who identified himself as “Ajay” to frame a “false case of sexual harassment” against Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi.

RTE application declines this year heavily

  • With the State governments amending the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) rules, which prioritises government over private schools from the coming academic year, the Department of Public Instruction has received only 17,310 applications so far.
  • This is a 92.7% drop from the 2018-19 academic year, which saw 2.38 lakh applications for seats under the RTE reservation quota.At the same time, the number of seats under RTE quota has also reduced drastically.
  • Parents say they have not applied this year as private schools have been kept out of the ambit of the quota. Most neighbourhoods have government or aided schools in their vicinity. According to the recent amendment, a child can be admitted to a private school under the quota only if there are no government or aided schools in the locality.
  • This year, there are 17,784 RTE quota seats in aided and unaided schools, which is a reduction of 88% from last year’s 1.52 lakh seats, of which 68,202 were for LKG alone.
  • Another disadvantage, according to parents many from lower-socio economic backgrounds is the lack of access to pre-primary education should they enrol their children in government schools, which do not offer this facility unlike their private counterparts.
  • Department officials said admissions were being done in accordance with the latest amendment. After seeing the poor response, it has extended the last date of filing applications to April 25.


RBI’s second Forex swap ends with huge responses

  • The second dollar-rupee buy/sell auction also saw healthy demand with the Reserve Bank of India getting 255 bids worth $18.65 billion compared with the notified amount of $5 billion.
  • Dealers said high cut-off premium indicated banks mostly stayed away but companies and NBFCs saw it as a good opportunity to lower hedging costs compared with the secondary market.
  • RBI said liquidity injected in the first leg was Rs. 34,874 crore. The move would help shore up the country’s foreign exchange reserves which are now close to $415 billion.
  • “Companies that raise funds via the external commercial borrowing route find this route cost effective due to lower hedging cost as compared to the secondary market,” said a dealer
  • RBI had added this new toolkit for liquidity management to ease liquidity to reduce its dependence on open market operations. On March 26, RBI had bought $5 billion through a similar swap auction.
  • “Based on a review of evolving liquidity conditions and assessment of the durable liquidity needs going forward, RBI has decided to conduct purchase of Government securities under open market operations for an aggregate amount of Rs. 250 billion in May 2019 through two auctions of Rs. 125 billion each,” the RBI said in a statement.
  • The first auction of Rs. 12,500 crore would be conducted on May 2. According to dealers, liquidity deficit in the market is more than Rs. 1 lakh crore. While the market was not expecting an OMO announcement soon after the swap auction, the move is likely to lift spirits in the bond market.

Shipping seeks government help to restore ROF proposal

  • Over two dozen Indian shipping companies have submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister NarendraModi, seeking his immediate intervention to scrap a recent notification and a circular which, according to them, would force them to shut down, resulting in heavy job losses.
  • They said the Indian flag shipping industry was heading for a crisis arising out of Notification No. 2 of ‘Make in India’ dated February 13, 2019, issued by the Ministry of Shipping, and Circular No. 2 of 2019 issued by the Director General of Shipping, Mumbai.
  • The circular equates a foreign ship taken on hire, with a ship actually owned under the Indian flag by an Indian company. Besides it gives priority in government contracts to those ships, just because they were once built in India.
  • Indian flag vessels have been enjoying the Right of First Refusal (ROF) which enables them to match the lowest rates quoted by a foreign vessel and take that business. This has aided growth of the Indian fleet since it helps to ensure that no Indian asset remains idle. Indian ship owners said this right has been taken away by the government and given to foreign shipping companies.
  • “While we applaud the intent of the notification in respect of incentivising ship building in India, we are concerned that the notification and the circular issued by the government are detrimental to the survival of the Indian shipping industry,” the memorandum said.
  • Indian ship owners said the notification and circular indicate that the Ministry and the DG Shipping favour those who temporarily hire foreign flag assets and remit money out of India, rather than those investing in the Indian economy with a $15- 50 million asset.

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India might send NIA officials to investigate Srilankan serial blasts

  • The government may send a team of the National Investigation Agency to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of bomb blasts that claimed more than 300 lives.
  • An NIA official on Tuesday said a decision on the issue was yet to be taken. Some government officials are also likely to visit Sri Lanka to meet their counterparts.
  • Given that earlier this month India had shared intelligence inputs on possible terror strikes at different locations, including the Indian High Commission building there, a government source said the agencies would be extending all possible cooperation to the Sri Lankan authorities on unearthing the conspiracy. Security arrangements at the High Commission are also being reviewed.
  • “We keep working in close coordination with the investigating agencies in other countries on various issues, particularly terror-related cases. In November 2014, after the Burdwan blast, a four-member team of the NIA had visited Bangladesh to share information on the suspects,” said a retired IPS official.

Indonesia releases stamp on Ramayana theme

  • Indonesia has released a special commemorative stamp on the theme of Ramayana to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of its diplomatic ties with India.
  • In a statement, the Embassy of India in Jakarta yesterday said the stamp, designed by renowned Indonesian sculptor PadmashriBapakNyomanNuarta, featured a scene from Ramayana in which Jatayu valiantly fought to save Sita.
  • A specially signed version of the stamp will be on display at the Philately Museum in Jakarta, it said. India's Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat and Indonesia's Vice Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir attended the event.


Scientists use EU satellite to spot marine litter

  • In an experiment to detect marine litter using satellites, a team of Greek University students deposited wall-sized PVC frames on the surface of Aegean sea.
  • The team gathered some 2,000 plastic bottles and lashed them to the frames. Other targets were crafted with plastic bags, as these are even harder to spot in the water and usually constitute the deadliest threat to Aegean marine life such as dolphins, turtles and seals.
  • “We knew that the European satellite system passes at regular intervals with a spatial resolution of 10 metres,” said project supervisor KonstantinosTopuzelis, an assistant professor at the University of the Aegean.
  • In theory, then, the satellites should be able to detect the floating rafts of plastic the team pushed out to sea.
  • The results of the experiment “Satellite Testing and Drone Mapping for Marine Plastics on the Aegean Sea” — will be presented at a European Space Agency symposium in Milan in May.
  • “The advantage is that we are using existing tools,” which brings down costs and makes it easier to scale up, said DimitrisPapageorgiou, among the 60 students working on the project.


India’s BajrangPunia wins gold in Asian Wrestling Championships

  •  India clinched one gold, one silver and bronze at the Asian Wrestling Championship in China's Xian on Tuesday.
  •  World number one BajrangPunia logged 10 points in a row in the gold medal bout to reclaim his Asian Championship crown. He defeated Kazakhstan'sSayatbekOkassov 12-7 in a nail-biting 65kg men's freestyle final.

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