President addresses nation on National Voter’s day
The President of India, Shri Ram NathKovind, graced and addressed
the 9th National Voters’ Day celebrations today in New Delhi.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that Indian democracy
is a shining example for the world. We are both the largest and most diverse
democracy. And while the contribution of all stakeholders in our election
process is important, two stakeholders stand out. These are the voters and
the Election Commission. In their roles, they complement each other.
The President said that India’s sheer size and the logistics of
elections in our country make it critical to embrace modern technology.
India’s democracy and electoral system is held in high regard
Election institutions of many countries have studied our electoral
management system. The Election Commission of India has helped train
officers and built capacities in several countries. This is a reflection of
the respect for it.
The President noted that the theme of Voters’ Day this year is,
“No voter to be left behind.” He said that the principle behind this is very
simply the principle of upholding equality of political rights and of
universal franchise. A general election in a democracy is akin to a sacred
He urged all eligible citizens to become part of this ritual and
participate in the general election of 2019. He said that each vote will
encourage another voter, and each vote will strengthen our democracy.
Supreme court issues notice to centre on EWS reservation
The Supreme Court on Friday sought the government's response to a
petition challenging the 10 per cent economic reservation. The plea said the
quota violated the basic features of the Constitution and contradicted
several judgments of the Court protecting the fundamental rights.
The petition, filed by Youth For Equality, represented by advocate
SenthilJagadeesan and settled by advocate GopalSankaranarayanan, contended
that the Court, in a nine-judge Bench judgment in the Indira Sawhney case,
had settled the law that economic backwardness cannot be the sole basis for
The petition noted that the 50% ceiling limit of quota had been
“engrafted as a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution’s equality
code” by the Court.
It said the Court had settled the law that the “State’s
reservation policy cannot be imposed on unaided educational institutions,
and as they are not receiving any aid from the State, they can have their
own admissions provided they are fair, transparent, non-exploitative and
based on merit”.
The plea stated, “While the impugned amendment attempts to
overcome the applicability of Articles 19(1)(g) and 29(2), it remains
completely silent on Article 14, which right protects the citizens from
manifestly arbitrary State action.”
The petition also contended that the term “economically weaker
sections” remained undefined in the Bill along with the “ambiguous” term of
Economic advisory council to PM submits report on state of economy
The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) had a
meeting on 25th January, 2019 and took stock of the state of the economy.
The Council endorsed that the macro-economic fundamentals of the economy are
sound, but challenged remain, several of which are structural in nature.
Nevertheless, India’s growth is expected to be in the 7-7.5% range
in the next few years; one of the fastest in the world. However, with
reforms designed to address the structural problems, growth rates can easily
be enhanced by at least 1%.
Amongst the issues discussed by the EAC-PM were agricultural
problem, investment trends (including investments by States consequent to
14th Finance Commission devolution), fiscal consolidation, interest rate
management and credit and financial market issues.
The Council felt that the exchange rate management of the rupee by
the RBI has been sound despit4e the volatility in the price of crude oil.
The good news is that oil intensity (use of fossil as a percentage of GDP)
is showing a declining trend.
The Council felt that the challenge of insularity being seen in
external trade should be reversed through supportive policy interventions
because there is a positive turn in exports that are now visible. The
Challenges in the agricultural sector should be addressed by looking closely
at credit flows and support to employment programmes like MNREGA.
WTO chief gives warning on issues related to global trade
The World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Roberto Azevedo has
warned that the global trading system is heading for what he called dark
ages if urgent steps are not taken.
Speaking at a meeting in World Economic Forum in Davos, he urged
the world leaders to hammer out a multi lateral trading agreement.
The WTO chief's warning came as the world leaders were debating on
emerging threats to international trading systems amid a growing clamour in
several countries for inward looking policies. Mr Azevedo said, the
challenges are bigger than ever before.
Mr Azevedo asserted that the multilateral trading system is
viable. He said that the system has to respond to global reality and world
changing faster than ever before.
The IMF has also said that the ongoing trade war between the US
and China is hurting global growth. Besides China's economy grew at its
slowest place since 1990 in the last quarter of 2018.
India closely following up on Venezuelan political crisis
India today said, it is closely following the emerging situation
In reply to a media query, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson
Raveesh Kumar said, India is of the view that it is for the people of
Venezuela to find political solution to resolve their differences through
constructive dialogue and discussion without resorting to violence.
He said, India believes that democracy, peace and security in
Venezuela are of paramount importance for the progress and prosperity of the
people of Venezuela. India and Venezuela enjoy close and cordial relations.
Indian response highlights that political change in the country is
an internal process meant for the Venezuelan people who are dealing with
spiralling inflation and political issues.
The situation in Venezuela hit the headlines after the US
President Donald Trump and several Latin American nations including Brazil
extended open support to the opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim
president and asked for an end to the rule of President Nicolas Maduro.
Mr Maduro however received prompt support from international
leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia and China’s Xi Jinping.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Researcher develops fuel from wood waste in Sweden
Chemical engineering scientist Christian Hulteberg, from Lund
University, has used the black liquor residue from pulp and paper
manufacturing to create a polymer called lignin.
After purification and filtration, that is then turned into a
petrol mixture. “We’re actually using the stuff of the wood that they don’t
use when they make paper and pulp... It adds value to low-value components
of the tree,” he said.
In environmental terms, he says that gives it an advantage over
other biofuels such as ethanol. “A lot of the controversy with ethanol
production has been the use of feedstock that you can actually eat,” he
Mr.Hulteberg has a pilot plant in operation and hopes the forest
fuel will be available in service stations by 2021.
Though it will only serve a fraction of the demands of Swedish
motorists, he is hopeful that, along with other renewable products, it could
help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Djokovic to Face Nadal in Australian open finals
In Australian Open Tennis, world Number one Serbian tennis star
Novak Djokovic will take on second seed Rafael Nadal of Spain in the
Single's finals of tournament on Sunday.
In the second semifinals today, Djokovic defeated Lucas Pouille of
France 6-0, 6-2,6-2, at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Earlier, Rafael Nadal of Spain ended Greek youngster
StefanosTsitsipas' captivating run to reach his fifth Australian Open final.