Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 30 May 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 30 May 2019


::NATIONAL::

Cities submit their plans under NCAP to centre

  • Eighty-four out of the 102 cities that have been tasked with reducing toxic particulate matter levels by 20%-30% by 2024 have submitted proposals, C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Union Environment Ministry, said at a press conference.

  • “We haven’t set any annual targets for the cities but are looking at a periodic review,” Mr. Mishra said at a function to announce the government’s plans to celebrate World Environment Day on June 5. One hundred and two cities, considered India’s most polluted, have been tasked with reducing PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5 levels by 2024, as part of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This was made public in January this year.

  • The States in which the cities are located are expected to produce plans that include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement. For achieving the NCAP targets, cities would be expected to calculate the reduction in pollution, keeping 2017’s average annual PM levels as the base year.

  • The NCAP requires cities to implement specific measures such as “ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick kilns” (within 30 days). It doesn’t specify an exact date for when these obligations kick in.

Supreme court clarifies on benami transactions

  • Mere financial assistance provided to purchase property for the welfare of family members cannot be classified as a benami transaction, the Supreme Court held in a recent judgment.

  • A Bench led by Justice L. NageswaraRao upheld a Karnataka High Court order, which dismissed a plea that the financial help given by G. VenkataRao to his family members to purchase property was a benami transaction.

  • Financial assistance or source of money cannot be sole determinative factor or circumstance to hold that a purchase of property is benami.

  • The court reiterated its own precedents while considering the nature of benami transactions. “The source of money had never been the sole consideration. It is merely one of the relevant considerations but not determinative in character,” Justice Rao wrote in the verdict.

  • It referred to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Thakur Bhim Singh case, in which it held that “while considering a particular transaction as benami, the intention of the person who contributed the purchase money is determinative of the nature of transaction.”

  • “It is further observed by this court as to what the intention of the person was, who contributed the purchase money, has to be decided on the basis of the surrounding circumstance,” the Bench said.

::ECONOMY::

SC to consider authoritative power in GST evasion cases

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to consider the question of power of authorities to make arrests for Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion.

  • A Vacation Bench led by Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose asked the government to address the court on the issue, particularly in the backdrop of varying decisions on the question by several High Courts.

  • On May 27, the court dismissed a challenge against the Telangana High Court decision that said individuals cannot be protected from arrest for GST violations.

  • On April 18, the High Court said it was not inclined to grant relief against arrest to petitioners who had approached it challenging the summons issued by the Superintendent (Anti-Evasion) of the Hyderabad GST Commissionerate under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 and invocation of penal provisions under the law.

RBI constitutes task force on corporate loans

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday constituted a task force to suggest policy and regulatory interventions required for development of secondary market in corporate loans, including loan transaction platform for stressed assets.

  • The six-member body, headed by Canara Bank chairman T. N. Manoharan, has been set up to review the existing state of the market for loan sale/transfer in India as well as international experience in loan trading, the central bank said.

  • Secondary loan market in India is largely restricted to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs)and ad hoc sale to other lenders, including banks, and no formalised mechanism has been developed to deepen the market.

  • A well-developed secondary market for debt will also aid in the transparent price discovery of the inherent riskiness of the debt being traded, the Reserve Bank of India said while announcing the task force.

  • The task force has also been asked by the central bank to make recommendations for the creation of a loan contract registry to remove information asymmetries between buyers and sellers, its ownership structure and related protocols such as standardisation of loan information, independent validation and data access.

  • The task force has been asked to submit its report by the end of August 2019.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India removed from U.S currency monitoring list

  • The Trump administration removed India from its currency monitoring list of major trading partners. It cited certain developments and steps being taken by New Delhi which address some of its major concerns.

  • Switzerland is the other nation that has been removed by the US from its currency monitoring list. The list includes other countries like China, Japan and Germany.

    India has been removed from the monitoring list in the latest semi-annual report on macroeconomic and foreign exchange policies of major trading partners of the US. The Treasury Department reasoned that India had met only one out of three criteria - a significant bilateral surplus with the US - for two consecutive reports.

  • After purchasing foreign exchange on net in 2017, the central bank steadily sold reserves for most of 2018, with net sales of foreign exchange reaching 1.7 per cent of GDP over the year.

  • The report added that India maintains ample reserves according to the IMF metrics for reserve adequacy.

  • In both Switzerland and India, there was a notable decline in 2018 in the scale and frequency of foreign exchange purchases, the report observed.

  • India for the first time was placed by the US in its currency monitoring list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies in May 2018 along with five other countries - China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland.

  • Meanwhile, even as it still kept China on a list of countries whose trade surpluses with the US and other indicators are closely tracked, the administration once again refused to label China as a currency manipulator.

U.S-UAE defence pact comes to force

  • The United States and the United Arab Emirates have announced that mutual defence cooperation agreement (DCA) has come into force, amid increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

  • A joint statement said yesterday that the DCA will enhance military coordination between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, further advancing an already robust military, political, and economic partnership at a critical time.

  • It said the United States and the United Arab Emirates share a deep interest in promoting prosperity and stability in the region.

  • The DCA will advance that interest by fostering closer collaboration on defence and security matters and supporting efforts by both nations to maintain security in the Gulf region. US national security advisor John Bolton was in Abu Dhabi yesterday, meeting his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

  • This came on the eve of emergency Arab and Gulf summits called by Saudi Arabia to discuss the stand-off and ways to isolate Tehran.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

WHO gives a sigh of relief for transgenders

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) will no longer categorise being transgender as a “mental disorder”.The change was brought in after a major resolution to amend the WHO health guidelines was approved earlier this week on May 25.

  • The global health organisation said, “Evidence is now clear that gender incongruence is not a mental disorder, and indeed classifying it as such can cause enormous stigma for people who are transgender. Also there remain significant health care needs that can best be met if the condition is coded under the ICD (International Classification of Diseases).”

  • The WHO added that a “significant change in the mental disorders section of ICD-11 is the attempt of statisticians to simplify the codes as much as possible to allow for coding of mental health conditions by primary health care providers rather than by mental health specialists.

  • Health and human rights activists are now hoping that the ICD-11 will be implemented by the WHO’s 194 member states over the next three years. The WHO’s removal of “gender identity disorder” from its diagnostic manual will have a liberating effect on transgender people worldwide, they said.

  • “In India, psychiatrists at an individual level have stopped treating transgender as a mental health condition. With this move, the Indian government will have to make the changes in the medical systems and laws that require this now officially outdated diagnosis,” said Dr.ZakirhusainShaikh, assistant professor, Department of Community Medicine, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research.

  • AkkaiPadmashali, social activist, said, “The Indian government now has to ensure that this is implemented in totality. This may be a milestone, but there is still quite a way to go.”

::SPORTS::

ICC cricket world cup to begin today at England

  • The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will begin today. England will open the tournament at The Oval in London when they will take on South Africa. The match will begin at 3 PM Indian Time.

  • Australia will launch their title defence on June 1 against the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier champions Afghanistan in a day/night match in Bristol.

  • India, the 1983 and 2011 world champions, will play their first match on June 5 against South Africa at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton.

  • Their feature match against arch-rivals Pakistan will be on June 16 at Old Trafford in Manchester.

  • The World Cup will span 48 matches in all, of which 45 will make up the group stage. Each team will play nine group stage matches, and the top four will progress to the semifinals, similar to how the 1992 World Cup was held.

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