Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 DECEMBER 2018
Centre issues draft rules to curb fake news
- The government has sought public comments on the proposed amendments to the IT Act that seek to make it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to trace “originator” of “unlawful” information, while also removing such content within 24 hours after being notified.
- Section 79 of the IT Act elaborates on the exemption from liabilities of intermediaries in certain cases. Section 79(2)(c) mentions that intermediaries must observe due diligence while discharging their duties, and also observe such other guidelines as prescribed by the Central Government. Accordingly, the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 were notified in April 2011.
- Government is committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Government does not regulate content appearing on social network platform.
- These social network platforms, though, are required to follow due diligence as provided in section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000 and the Rules notified therein, subject to the import of Article 19(2) of the Constitution and ensure that their platforms are not used to commit and provoke terrorism, extremism, violence and crime.
- Theinstances of misuse of social media by criminals and anti-national elements have brought new challenges to the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA). These include inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, spread of disharmony, incitement of violence, public order, fake news etc.
- A number of lynching incidents were reported in 2018 mostly alleged to be because of Fake News/ rumours being circulated through Whatsapp and other Social Media sites.
India to expand relationship with Bhutan
- India will host the newly elected Prime Minister of Bhutan from December 27-29, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday.
- A press release issued by the Ministry said that the visit by Dr.LotayTshering, 50, will take place to mark the golden jubilee of the diplomatic relations between Delhi and Thimphu.
- Dr.Tshering’s visit is expected to further firm up India-Bhutan ties as it is likely to witness sealing of important power projects to be implemented by both sides.
- Bhutan’s Foreign Minister TandiDorji during his visit earlier this month told The Hindu that Thimphu will continue to have special ties with India and avoid establishing diplomatic ties with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
- “PM Tshering has said he would like to take India-Bhutan friendship to greater heights. His visit to India towards the end of the month will be his first call abroad, and we will hope to finalise India’s assistance for the 12th Five-Year Plan,” Mr.Dorji had toldTheHinduduring his visit.
- Dr.Tshering will be accompanied by his senior ministerial colleagues during the trip.
Government eyes to promote exports
- The Commerce Ministry was preparing an incentive package for labour-intensive sectors such as leather to promote shipments and address issues of exporters, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
- Over a period of time, export sector would face challenging issues related to credit availability, he added.“We are preparing a package which will ensure that exporters’ woes are addressed properly. There have been challenges for the export sector over a period of time and one big challenge is credit,” Mr.Prabhu said.
- He said the package would focus on labour intensive sectors such as leather, textile and marine products as they would help in creating jobs.
- The Minister said there had been a sharp decline in credit to the export sector and the Department of Commerce had taken up the matter with the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India.
- “I will meet meet the RBI Governor [Shaktikanta Das] and explain him, what are the new things we need to do at export front. We are also saying that RBI should classify credit to export as priority sector lending,” he added.
- The other challenge, he said, which the export sector was facing was related to refund of Goods and Services tax (GST).
NITI Aayog wants centre to open up its dredging market
- India needs to open up its dredging market to boost trade by its major ports, which currently cannot handle very large vessels in the absence of proper draft depth, government think tank NITI Aayog has said.
- More competition, mainly from global players, in dredging activities would help increase and maintain draft depth at ports and attract large vessels, enabling them to become hub ports, the Aayog pointed out.
- At present, the Dredging Corporation of India and a limited set of private vendors serve the Indian dredging market, limiting competition. “The government needs to open up the dredging market to attract more players, particularly international players, in dredging activities to increase and maintain draft depth at ports to attract large vessels and enable them to become hub ports,” it said.
- Foreign players will be attracted to the market if the government takes measures such as consolidating dredging contracts across cohorts of ports and withdrawing, at least temporarily, the right to first refusal given to Indian vendors, the Aayog said.
- To enable major ports to handle large vessels, the government has already made an action plan to increase the draft depth of ports.
- Most major ports have already achieved a draft depth of 14 metres or more except Kolkata Port, where deeper draft has not been feasible.
India meets Iran and Afghanistan on development of chabahar port
- A crucial trilateral meeting of officials from India, Afghanistan and Iran on the strategically-important Chabahar port was held on Monday during which they agreed on the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three countries.
- The first meeting of the follow-up committee for implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran at the level of Joint Secretary or Director General was held in the Iranian port city of Chabahar, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
- Positive and constructive discussions were held between the three sides on full operationalisation of the Trilateral Transit Agreement for international transit and transport through the Chabahar Port. They agreed on the routes for the trade and transit corridors between the three countries, the MEA said.
- In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.
- The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.
Former Pak PM convicted in corruption case
- Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was on Monday sentenced to seven years in jail by an anti-corruption court in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft case. It, however, acquitted him in the Flagship Investments corruption case in the high-profile Panama Papers scandal.
- Accountability Court II Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik announced the verdict in the two remaining corruption cases against the Sharif family, after reserving the decision last week.
- Three cases — the Avenfield properties case, the Flagship Investment case and the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case were launched by the National Accountability Bureau on September 8, 2017, following a judgment by the apex court that disqualified Mr.Sharif.Mr. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case in July, 2017.
- In July 2018 Mr. Sharif; his daughter, Maryam; and his son-in-law, Captain (retd.) Mohammad Safdar, were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year respectively in prison in the Avenfield properties case related to their purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices. However, the three were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court in September.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Study reveals remote islands as more susceptible to alien species
- A recent study which analysed over 250 tropical and subtropical islands has pointed out that being isolated does not protect islands from alien species. Rather, remote islands are more susceptible to alien invasion, be it from plants or mammals, the study found.
- With the increase in anthropogenic activities like trade and transport, the biogeographical borders are broken down and the human-aided introduction of alien species has been on the rise.
- The international team of researchers analysed large datasets of alien and native plants, ants, reptiles, mammals and birds on 257 tropical and subtropical islands, including India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. They used different statistical tools and assessed the relationship between alien species richness and island isolation.
- The report says that alien species richness increased with isolation for all five groups. They also note that with increasing geographical isolation there was a decrease in the resistance of the resident species.
- “In the absence of competitor species from the mainland, these [island] species do not need to sustain their defence mechanisms and can reallocate the energy into other characteristics that they benefit from.
- The team urges that new nature conservation measures be enforced to strengthen alien species management strategies and monitor potential introduction pathways. There is also an urgent need to keep track of the already introduced alien species to save our islands, which are hotspots of biodiversity.
International wrestling federation agrees to re analyse samples of suspended wrestlers
- The International Weightlifting Federation announced in Paris on Monday that five weightlifters have been provisionally suspended after reanalysis of their urine samples provided during the 2012 London Olympics.
- They include two Olympic champions, Ukrainian OleksiyTorokhtiy and Uzbek RuslanNurudinov. Oleksiy is 105kg gold medallist six years ago, and RuslanNurudinov won the same category in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
- Only Torokhtiy stands to lose his title, as the samples retested were given four years before Nurudinov's gold-medal winning performance in Brazil.
- The third weightlifter facing ban is ValentinHristov of Azerbaijan. He could lose his 2012 bronze medal from the -56kg category after testing positive for an anabolic agent. He is currently serving an eight-year ban following two positive doping tests in 2013
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