Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 30 June 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 30 June 2020

::NATIONAL::

Centre bans Chinese mobile apps citing security threat

  • Government has banned 59 mobile apps which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
  • Electronics and IT Ministry said in a release that these apps were banned in view of information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of the country, defence of the country and security of state and public order.
  • Over the last few years, India has emerged as a leading innovator when it comes to technological advancements and a primary market in the digital space.
  • At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of the country.
  • The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
  • The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.
  • There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against Apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.

CHRI moots police reforms citing Tamilnadu torture killings

  • The alleged torture and killing of a father and son, both traders, in custody in Tamil Nadu last week points to a broken criminal justice system, and highlights the need for police reforms and the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), the Executive Committee (India) of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) said in a statement issued on Monday.
  • The committee, which is chaired by former Chief Information Commissioner WajahatHabibullah, said the alleged custodial killings of P. Jayaraj and his son J. Benicks in Thoothukudi underlined the urgent need for a strong law in fulfilment of legal obligations.
  • India remained among a handful of countries yet to ratify the UNCAT, the statement said. The National Human Rights Commission had said custodial violence and torture were “rampant” in the country, it noted.
  • Citing the National Campaign Against Torture’s June 26 report that said 1,731 people had died in custody in 2019, it stated, “Given the reality and the circumstances of the recent deaths, we urge the government of India to bring a draft law on torture before Parliament as a top priority and announce its commitment to the UNCAT.” 
  • The Centre, particularly the Home Ministry, should engage with the UNCAT, which India signed in 1997.

::ECONOMY::

Ind-Ra reports sharp decline in GSDP for  FY 21

  • All states are expected to see a contraction in their gross state domestic products (GSDP) this fiscal, averaging a sharp 6.3% decline, according to a report by India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) on Monday.
  • As agricultural activities were considered as essential services and were less impacted by the lockdown, states with a higher share of agriculture took a relatively smaller hit than others, it said.
  • Similarly, the high levels of digital penetration in the operations of IT, IT enabled, banking and financial services cushioned the lockdown impact on these sectors, giving an advantage to states with a high share of these activities.
  • Further, given that the states’ own tax revenue (SOTR) is a function of nominal GSDP, states with a high share of SOTR in their total revenue would see a more pronounced impact than others, according to the report. The most vulnerable states in this respect are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Haryana.
  • These states are likely to see a higher deviation in nominal GSDP compared to budgeted GSDP of around 15-24%, it said, since they have budgeted for SOTR at between 57-64% of their respective total FY21 revenues.

WTO sets up dispute panel to oversee India’s custom duty on ICT imports

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday agreed to a second request from the EU to establish an adjudication panel over India’s customs duties on imports of certain information and communications technology (ICT) products, including mobile phones, taking the dispute up a notch.
  • While the EU asked India to agree to establish a single panel to review the three complaints, India said it was disappointed with the EU request. Since India had blocked the EU’s request for a panel in February, it can’t do so a second time as per WTO rules.
  • As per a Geneva-based trade official, the EU said it sought to address the matter with India through consultations but without success, with 400 million euros in annual ICT exports to India affected by the duties.
  • The dispute is crucial for India as losing it will directly benefit China, from where India imported telecom equipment parts worth $3.4 billion and mobile phones worth $665.21 million in the April-February period of 2019-20. While China is involved in consultations on the issue with India, it has not asked for a panel.
  • India said the complaints seriously undermine its sovereignty as it goes beyond its commitments under the first ITA agreement (ITA-I).

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::INTERNATIONAL::

UN rights chief claims Israeli annexation plans as illegal

  • Israel’s aim to annex parts of the occupied West Bank was clearly “illegal”, the UN’s human rights chief said on Monday, warning that the consequences could be “disastrous”.
  • Just days before Israel intends to kick-start plans to annex its West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley, Michelle Bachelet added her voice to the chorus urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to drop the proposal.
  • International condemnation of the possible Israeli annexations has mounted ahead of July 1, when the Jewish state could take its first steps toward implementing part of a West Asia peace plan. U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposals pave the way for annexing key parts of the West Bank.
  • Ms.Bachelet urged Israel to shift course, warning that “the shockwaves of annexation will last for decades, and will be extremely damaging to Israel, as well as to the Palestinians.” 
  • She warned that “any attempt to annex any part of the occupied Palestinian territory will not only seriously damage efforts to achieve lasting peace in the region, it is likely to entrench, perpetuate and further heighten serious human rights violations that have characterised the conflict for decades.”

India and Bhutan sign first hydel pact 

  • India and Bhutan took a major step forward for the construction of the 600 MW Kholongchhu project, their first hydropower joint venture project in Bhutan’s less developed eastern region of Trashiyangtse.
  • The project’s “Concession agreement,” which was signed in the presence via video-conference of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Delhi, and Bhutan’s Foreign Minister TandiDorji and Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma in Thimphu, marks a shift as it is the first time an India-Bhutan hydropower project will be constructed as a 50:50 joint venture, not as a government-to-government agreement.
  • The inter-governmental agreement for the Kholongchhu project was signed after prolonged negotiations on the structure of the joint venture, in April 2014, and the foundation stone was laid when Prime Minister NarendraModi travelled to Thimphu a few months later.
  • However, progress on preparing the site ground to a halt in December 2016 over India’s new power tariff guidelines (on Cross Border Trade of Electricity - CBTE), until the government amended its guidelines after negotiations with the Bhutan government. During Monday’s ceremony, the Bhutanese Foreign Minister said the delay had “some benefits” as many issues on the ground were ironed out during the period.
  • According to the agreement finalised, the construction for the Kholongchhu Hydro Electric Power (HEP) project will begin soon, and be completed in the second half of 2025.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

CSIR designs new portable oxygen unit

  • Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that scientists at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune have designed a portable oxygen unit which can be used in homes, hospitals and remote rural areas.
  • In a series of tweets today, he said, one of the strengths of this unit is that it does not require an oxygen cylinder and the use of this unit can help in reducing the demand for ventilators and oxygen cylinders. 
  • The Minister said, if the corona patients  get oxygen initially, they do not need ventilators later. He said this can prove to be very important in the Covid-19 pandemic situation. 
     

::SPORTS::

Umpire NitinMenon included in ICC’s Elite panel


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