Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 August 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 August 2018


Madras high court sends notice to social medias

  • The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered notices to social media giants — Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp — seeking an explanation as to why they should not be included as respondents to a public interest litigation petition in which the court wanted to examine how far were they cooperating with the police in detecting cyber crimes.
  • A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad took the decision after senior Central government standing counsel V. Venkatesan brought it to the notice of the court that they had a statutory obligation, under the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules of 2011, to provide information sought by the police.
  • The judges were told that the statutory rules framed under Sections 87 (2)(zg) read with 79 (2) of the Information Technology Act of 2000 defined the term ‘intermediary,’ with respect to any particular electronic message, to mean any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that message or provides any service with respect to that message.
  • Rule 3(4) imposes a duty upon the intermediaries to remove any objectionable content, that comes to their notice, within 36 hours and preserve the information as well as associated records for at least 90 days for investigation purposes. Further, sub clause (7) requires them to share information and provide assistance in investigating cyber crimes.
  • Mr.Venkatesan also told the court that the Centre was contemplating an amendment to the 2011 Rules to make the intermediaries more accountable to the investigating agencies . He said that a Personal Data Protection Bill was also on the anvil and that it would help in tracking and retrieving information shared on the social media. However, the police said the companies had deputed officials to assist in tracing criminals in serious cases like child pornography.

Majority of India’s polluted cities have no clean up plan :CPCB

  • A good number of India’s most polluted cities are not too keen to clean up their act, according to a list maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Of the 102 cities singled out by the Centre for their alarming pollution levels, only 73 have submitted a plan of remedial action to the CPCB. Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Jaipur are among the prominent cities that are yet to submit their plans.
  • These so called ‘non-attainment cities’ were among those marked out by the CPCB and asked – as part of the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) – to implement 42 measures aimed at mitigating air pollution.
  • These included steps such as implementing control and mitigation measures related to vehicular emissions, re-suspension of road dust and other fugitive emissions, bio-mass, municipal solid waste burning, industrial pollution, and construction and demolition activities.
  • The non-attainment cities are those that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had said in April that the aim of pollution mitigation measures was to cut overall pollution in these cities by 35% in the next three years.
  • In May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Delhi and Varanasi were among 14 Indian cities that figured in a global list of the 20 most polluted cities in terms of PM2.5 levels.


LIC to get more stake from IDBI

  • As the first step in acquiring controlling stake in the state-run lender IDBI Bank, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India has decided to pick up a further 7% stake in the lender through a preferential issue. Currently, LIC holds 7.98% in the bank.
  • It is advised that the bank has received a letter dated August 28, 2018 from Life Insurance Corporation of India giving their in- principle approval for subscription of the equity shares on preferential basis subject to their total exposure not exceeding 14.90% of post-issue capital of IDBI Bank at any point of time,” IDBI Bank said in an exchange filing.
  • The move will help IDBI Bank to improve its capital adequacy ratio which fell to 8.18% as on June end, below the regulatory requirement of 9%.
  • For LIC to pick up more than 15% stake in any entity, it would need insurance regulator’s approval.
  • While the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had given it’s in-principle approval to LIC to pick up 51% stake, sources said the final approval from the regulator may take time.

Centre signs agreement with world bank to scale up energy efficiency program

  • The Government of India and the World Bank signed here today a $220 million Loan Agreement and a $80 million Guarantee Agreement for the India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program. The Program, to be implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), will help scale-up the deployment of energy saving measures in residential and public sectors, strengthen EESL’s institutional capacity, and enhance its access to commercial financing.
  • The Agreement for the Project was signed by Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India and Mr.HishamAbdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.
  • The investments under the Program are expected to avoid lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of 170 million tons of CO2, and contribute to avoiding an estimated 10 GW of additional generation capacity.
  • This would be over 50 percent of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency target of 19.6 GW indicated in India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Accord
  • The Key Components of the Operation include: Creating sustainable markets for LED lights and energy efficient ceiling fans; facilitating well-structured and scalable investments in public street lighting; developing sustainable business models for emerging market segments such as super-efficient air conditioning and agricultural water pumping systems; and strengthening the institutional capacity of EESL.
  • The $220 million loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to EESL, has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years. The $80 million IBRD guarantee will partially cover re-payment risks to commercial lenders or investors, to enable EESL to raise funds for its program.

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Rohingya leaders asks UN to provide justice

  • Rohingya leaders in Bangladesh on Tuesday challenged the UN to ensure that Myanmar’s generals stand trial after investigators called for top military commanders to be prosecuted for genocide against the minority.
  • A UN fact-finding mission into violations in Myanmar said the country’s Army chief and five other senior brass should be investigated over a brutal crackdown last year that drove 7,00,000Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh. Community leaders for the Rohingya in Bangladesh welcomed calls for prosecution, but said they would judge the UN on its ability to deliver justice.
  • The commanders must face an ICC trial,” said Rohingya leader Abdul Gowffer, referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The investigators have called on the UN Security Council to refer the case to the ICC or for the creation of an ad hoc tribunal.
  • Dil Mohammad, another Rohingya leader, urged the UN to take further steps to ensure their safe return to Rakhine State, a process that has stalled with Bangladesh and Myanmar blaming each other for the delay. “Many things need to be done very quickly so we can return to our land in dignity and safety,” he said.

U.S to develop new NAFTA along with Canada

  • The United States hopes to strike a quick bargain with Canada after reaching an agreement with Mexico this week on continent-wide trade, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday.
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was due in Washington to begin talks later Tuesday, one day after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he could cut Ottawa out of any final deal if disagreements persist in the year-long efforts to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “I think our objective is to try to get Canada aboard quickly,” Mr.Mnuchin said.
  • The U.S. market and Canadian markets are very intertwined. It’s important for them to get this deal and it’s important for us to get this deal.” Washington and Mexico City on Monday announced that they had smoothed over disagreements, agreeing to a regular review process to reauthorise the trade deal and higher wages for certain auto workers, among other matters.
  • Mr.Mnuchin said he was optimistic that Canada could be won over — but, like Mr. Trump, he warned that absent an agreement with Ottawa, Washington could take a bilateral route.Canada “will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada”, a spokesman for Ms. Freeland said Monday.


Reports claim higher CO2 levels might lead to malnutrition

  • Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air threaten to sap wheat, rice, and other staple grains of valuable nutrients, raising the spectre of mass malnutrition, researchers have warned.
  • On current trends, higher CO2 concentrations could reduce iron, zinc and protein levels in the crops that feed the world by up to 17% by mid-century, they reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.
  • “Hundreds of millions of people could become newly deficient in these nutrients, primarily in Africa, Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East,” lead author Matthew Smith, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said.
  • The global food system is also vulnerable to rising temperatures, prolonged drought, and other forms of extreme weather driven by climate change, earlier research has shown. Impacts include reduced crop yields, heat-stressed livestock, and shifts in the quantity and location of commercially-fished ocean species.
  • To assess how extra CO2 in the atmosphere might impact global health by 2050, Smith and colleague Samuel Myers ran models for 225 different food plants grown in 151 countries.The team found that nearly 2% of the global population could become zinc deficient.

Researchers find higgs boson decaying after 6 years

  • Six years after tracking down the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle that confers mass on matter, physicists said on Tuesday they have “at long last” witnessed it decaying into tiny bits called “bottom quarks”.
  • The predicted decay was observed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) famous for the Nobel-capped discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012, Europe’s CERN physics lab announced.
  • During the early preparations of the LHC, there were doubts on whether this observation could be achieved,” the ATLAS scientific collaboration said of the “elusive interaction” now documented at the massive particle accelerator.
  • Because Higgs bosons themselves are hard to find, and other particles also break up into bottom quarks, it has been difficult to track down those attributed specifically to Higgs decay.
  • Researchers say the long-awaited observation serves as further verification of the Standard Model of physics — the mainstream theory of the fundamental particles that make up the Universe and the forces that govern them.
  • Under the model, developed in the early 1970s, quarks and leptons are the most basic building blocks of matter.


Pavan shah to lead U-19 cricket team for asiad

  • Maharashtra batsman Pavan Shah has replaced Aryan Juyal as the captain of the India under-19 squad for the Asia Cup, starting at Dhaka on September 29.
  • Most of the players from India’s tour of Sri Lanka were retained while Juyal has been dropped. Although he is only 16, Juyal won’t be eligible to play in the next World Cup, as the BCCI policy doesn’t allow any player to play two successive colts World Cup.

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