Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 JANUARY 2019
Supreme Court refuses to dilute provisions of sc/st amendment act
- The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, that
nullified a judgment that diluted the stringent provisions of the law to
- The government brought in the amendments, arguing that the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes still faced social stigma, poverty
- The 2018 Act nullified a March 20 judgment of the court, which
allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against
members of these communities. The original 1989 Act bars anticipatory bail.
- After the verdict, protests broke out, in which several died and
property worth crores was destroyed. The government filed a review petition
and then amended the 1989 Act.
- In August, several petitions were filed against the amendments.
The lead petitioner, advocatePrithvi Raj Chauhan, even called the amendments
a “blunder” and a violation of the fundamental right to equality and
personal liberty. But the court refused to stay them.
- The government responded that there was no decrease in the
atrocities on these communities, despite the laws to protect their civil
rights, and 195 special courts in 14 States. According to the data from the
National Crime Records Bureau, there has been no decrease in the crimes.
- “The 1989 Act is the least the country owes to this section of
society that has been denied several civil rights for generations and
subjected to indignities, humiliations and harassment,” the government
NGT to check status of solid waste management in India
- Concerned over the lack of action pertaining to the compliance of
solid waste management across the country, the National Green Tribunal (NGT)
has summoned the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories from
March 1 onwards.
- A Bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed the Chief
Secretaries to be present before the tribunal with status reports of action
taken and the subsequent measures to be adopted.
- “It is high time stern measures are taken not only by those in
charge of administering law themselves but also by educating and involving
public at large,” the Bench said.
- The Bench has specified that all Chief Secretaries have to be
present and the task cannot be delegated to other officers.
- Further, all States and union territories have been directed to
constitute special task forces in every district, and Information Education
and Communication (IEC) programmes have been suggested for public awareness.
Reports suggest India’s growth in R&D spending in neglected tropical
diseases has increased
- Indian public funding for research and development (R&D) in
neglected diseases increased significantly in 2017, growing by ₹135 crore or
38%, contributing to the strongest global growth since 2009, according to a
- Worldwide funding for neglected disease R&D in 2017 reached its
highest level ever, exceeding $3.5 billion, according to the 11th annual
G-FINDER report released in Geneva. At that level, funding was up 7% since
2016, driven primarily by new investments from the U.K., the European
Commission, Germany and India.
- A total of 197 organisations including public funders from nine
middle-income countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, India,
Mexico, Thailand and South Africa) participated in the survey leading to the
- The U.S. government retained the top spot as the world’s largest
public funder, providing an additional 1.5% ($23 million) for a total of
- The public sector continued to be the most significant funding
source for neglected disease research, contributing almost two-thirds of the
- The Indian government increased its contribution by 38%
maintaining its position as the fourth-largest public funder globally, and
providing the highest reported level of public funding from an LMIC
Centre firm on implementing FDI guidelines for e-commerce giants.
- The Commerce and Industry ministry is not in favour of extending
the deadline of February 1 for implementing the revised guidelines for
e-commerce companies having foreign direct investment, sources said.
- Both Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart had sought extension of the
February 1 deadline for complying with the revised norms, stating that they
needed more time to understand the details of the framework.
- On December 26, 2018, the government tightened norms for
e-commerce firms and barred online retailers like Flipkart and Amazon from
selling products of the companies in which they have stakes.
- The government also prohibited e-commerce companies from entering
into an agreement for exclusive sale of products.
- As per the revised guidelines, a vendor cannot procure more than
25% of products from group companies of the same marketplace where they
intend to sell them.
- “The ministry has received representations from Amazon and
Flipkart for more time. Internal discussions are on. But the ministry is not
in favour of extending the deadline,” sources said.
- Domestic traders body Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT)
had also urged the commerce ministry not to extend the deadline for
implementation of the changes.
India- South Africa to expand strategic partnership
- India and South Africa will update their Strategic Partnership by
agreeing on a comprehensive “roadmap” on the way ahead, as well as relaxing
visa restrictions, when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa meets with
Prime Minister NarendraModi on Friday, officials said here.
- The Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, called
the Red Fort Declaration, was signed in March 1997 by the then South African
President Nelson Mandela and former PM H.D. DeveGowda.
- Officials said all aspects the partnership would be reviewed and
updated with a three-year plan of action on security cooperation, trade and
investment, tourism, harnessing the ‘blue economy’, maritime cooperation,
agriculture, science and technology projects.
- “We have MoUs in practically every area with South Africa. We want
each of these areas to be taken up in a time-bound manner,” said T.S.
Tirumurti Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External
Affairs, briefing journalists ahead of the visit.
- The two sides are also expected to explore new defence deals in
the backdrop of the lifting of a 13-year old ban on South African defence
firm Denel that was barred from doing business in India since 2005.
- Denel was finally removed from the blacklist in September 2018
after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a closure report and the
Supreme Court subsequently dismissed corruption charges against the company.
Political tension escalates in Venezuela with U.S support
- Venezuelan leader NicolásMaduro prepared to rally his military
supporters on Thursday as the U.S. and key allies backed a challenge from
his leading rival who declared himself “acting President”.
- The announcement by Juan Guaido, 35, head of Venezuela’s
Opposition-led legislature, came amid a fresh wave of deadly street clashes
on Wednesday. He declared himself acting leader of the oil-rich nation,
which has lurched into economic chaos and violence under Mr.Maduro.
- The Socialist government responded by warning that the top
military leadership would come out “in support of the constitutional
President”, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said. He added the
military would show “backing for the sovereignty” of Venezuela.
- Mr.Maduro’s key ally Russia, meanwhile, denounced Mr.Guaido’s bid
as a “usurpation” of power and condemned what it called foreign
“interference” in Venezuela. “This is a direct path to lawlessness and
bloodshed,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Mr.Maduro’s
key financial backer China also weighed in.
- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed for dialogue to
avoid the political crisis spiralling out of control. “What we hope is that
dialogue can be possible, and that we avoid an escalation” he said in Davos.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Indian institutions among South Asian Nitrogen Hub to study nitrogen
- Eighteen research institutions in India are among a group of 50
institutions called the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) in the United
Kingdom and South Asia that have secured £20 million (about Rs. 200 crore)
from the U.K. government to assess and study the quantum and impact of
“nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.
- So far, we have focussed on carbon dioxide and its impact on
global warming. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent than carbon
dioxide but isn’t as prevalent in the atmosphere. However, this is poised to
grow,” said N. Raghuram, Chairman, International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).
- “In the future, reactive nitrogen pollution will be a matter of
significant global discussion and, unlike carbon, India and South Asia
cannot wake up at the last minute, realising that it has no updated,
scientific assessment of its inventory”, he said.
- The SANH will study the impacts of the different forms of
pollution to form a “coherent picture” of the nitrogen cycle. In particular,
it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries — India,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.
India’s men & women teams defeat Newzealand in their first ODI
- Indian Men’s team crushed New Zealand by 8 wickets in the first
ODI in Napier today to lead the 5 match series 1-nil.
- Entering the ODI series following maiden Test and ODI series
triumphs in Australia, India signalled their intent with a clinical display.
- While,SmritiMandhana scored a fine 105 and Jemima Rodrigues
remained unbeaten on 81 as the Indian Women's team thrashed New Zealand by
nine wickets in the first One-day International at Napier today.
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