Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 9 NOVEMBER 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 9 NOVEMBER 2018


Supreme court seeks explanation from EC & enforcement directorate on use of black money in elections

• The Supreme Court has sought responses from the government on a petition seeking expeditious action and conduct of investigation into the use of black money or excess money in the election process by candidates and parties.

• The petition, filed through advocates T. Sudhakar and Sravan Kumar, said a proposal made since 1992 to the government to make bribery in elections a cognisable offence was pending till date. Successive governments have not moved a muscle.

• The petition wants to make bribery a cognisable offence in time for the coming Assembly elections in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Lok Sabha elections.

• The petition asked the court to direct the ED, the CBDT and appropriate State authorities to take “stringent action on seized money, liquor, narcotics and drugs in all elections from 2014 till date and fasten liability.”

• The petition wants the “total net assets and tax revenue/income & expenditure which is available to be appropriated by legislators, to be disclosed on a per vote basis so as to sensitise voters to the financial might of each vote.”

• The petition blamed the Election Commission and other authorities for not disqualifying, between 2014-18, even a single candidate for spending excess to the limit fixed by the panel.

Cabinet approves lay down procedures for sale of enemy shares

• The cabinet has given in principal for sale of enemy shares under the Custody of Ministry of Home Affairs/ Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI), as per sub-section 1 of section 8A of the Enemy Property Act, 1968.

• Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has been authorized under the provisions of sub-section 7 of section 8A of the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to sell the same.

• Before initiation of sale of any Enemy Shares, the CEPI shall certify that the sale of the Enemy Shares is not in contravention of any judgment, decree or order of any court, tribunal or other authority or any law for the time being in force and can be disposed off by the Government.

• The advisors/ intermediaries like Merchant Bankers, Legal Adviser, Selling Brokers etc. as may be required for the disposal of movable enemy property, will be appointed by DIPAM through an open tender/limited tender process. An Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) will guide the process of sale.

• The decision will lead to monetization of movable enemy property lying dormant for decades. Sale proceeds from this may be used for development and social welfare programmes.

• According to amendment, as in sub-section 7 of section 8A of the Enemy Property Act, 1968, Central Government may direct that disposal of enemy property shall be made by any other authority or Ministry or Department instead of Custodian.


CCI finds no violations of norms by e-commerce giants

• Fair trade watchdog CCI has concluded that the business practices of Flipkart and Amazon are not in violation of competition norms and rejected allegations of abuse of market dominance made by a grouping of online vendors.

'• Amid concerns expressed in various quarters about alleged unfair business ways in the fast-growing online market place, the CCI, in its ruling, also made it clear that any intervention in the evolving e-commerce market place needs to be “carefully crafted” to ensure that innovations are not stifled.

• The latest ruling from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has come on a complaint filed by the All India Online Vendors Association, a grouping of over 2,000 sellers on various e-commerce market places.

• The allegations were made against Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd., which is into wholesale trading/distribution of books, mobiles, computers and related accessories, and Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd.

• The latter is engaged in e-commerce marketplace business under the brand name, as per details available with the CCI.

Centre to lease out six airports through PPP mode

• The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave an “in principle” approval for operating, managing and developing six non-metro airports — Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru — under the Public Private Partnership (PPP).

• At present, airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin are managed under the PPP model. The PPP mode has helped create world-class airports, while also helping the AAI increase its revenues, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

• This will be done through the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC). Additionally, a committee headed by NITI Aayog CEO with the Aviation Secretary, Economic Affairs Secretary and Expenditure Secretary as its members, has been set up to decide on any issue falling beyond the scope of the PPPAC.

• The airport sector is a top contender among infrastructure sectors in terms of international interest. “International operators and investors prefer brownfield airport expansion opportunities with having more than 3-4 million passenger capacity,” an official statement said

• . The PPP airports in India have been ranked among the top 5 in their respective categories by the Airports Council International (ACI) in terms of Airport Service Quality (ASQ).

• While these PPP experiments have helped create world class airports, it has also helped AAI in enhancing its revenues and focusing on developing airports and Air Navigation infrastructure in the rest of the country.

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Rohingya issue not discussed in national level meeting with Myanmar

• India did not discuss the deportation of the Rohingya with Myanmar at a meeting held last month.

• The annual 22nd National-Level Meeting between India and Myanmar was held on October 25-26. An official of the Ministry of External Affairs, present at the meeting, confirmed that the issue was not on the agenda. “The issue was not discussed as a mechanism exists to deport illegal migrants,” the official said.

• On multiple occasions, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has raised the illegal migration of Rohingya at public rallies and events, stating they would use diplomatic channels and ask the Myanmar government to take them back.

• Though the exact number of Rohingya in India is not known, as per the Centre’s estimate, there are around 40,000 of them here, including 5,700 in Jammu. Only 16,000 are said to be registered with the United Nations.

• The Rohingya came in during 2012-13 when thousands were displaced by a wave of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

• “The Rohingya issue was not discussed at the meeting as a mechanism exists to deport illegal migrants. Recently, seven Rohingya, who were caught in Assam in 2012, were sent to Myanmar after the latter verified their credentials,” an official said.

India to support afghan reconciliation & peace efforts

• In a significant departure from India’s stand on engaging the Taliban, the government announced it would participate at a “non-official” level. Two former senior diplomats will attend talks on the Afghanistan peace process to be held in Russia on Friday.

• The talks, known as the “Moscow format” will include a “high-level” delegation from the Taliban as well as a delegation of Afghanistan’s “High Peace Council”, along with representatives of 12 countries, and will mark the first time an Indian delegation has been present at the table with the Taliban representatives based in Doha.

• “India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country. India’s consistent policy has been that such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled and with participation of the Government of Afghanistan,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, adding that “Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level.”

• Analysts see the Modi government’s decision as a significant marker in the Afghan dialogue process, given that India has in the past declined to participate in the Moscow format with the Taliban unless the Afghan government participated. A Russian proposal to hold the talks on September 4 had to be cancelled after the U.S. pulled out, and the Ghani government opposed them.

• Apart from the Taliban leadership based in Doha and the HPC, the Russian government has invited delegations from India, Pakistan, the U.S., China, Iran and five Central Asian Republics.


Scientists develop bionic device using 3D print of cyanobacteris to produce electricity

• Scientists, including those of Indian origin, have created a bionic device that generates green power by 3D-printing clusters of cyanobacteria on an ordinary white button mushroom.

• The research by the Stevens Institute of Technology in the U.S. is part of a broader effort to better improve our understanding of cells biological machinery and how to use them to fabricate new technologies and useful systems for defence, healthcare and the environment.

• The researchers took an ordinary white button mushroom from a grocery store and made it bionic, supercharging it with clusters of cyanobacteria that create electricity and swirls of graphene nanoribbons that can collect the current.

• Cyanobacteria’s ability to produce electricity is well known. However, researchers have been limited in using these microbes in bioengineered systems because cyanobacteria do not survive long on artificial bio-compatible surfaces.

• “We showed for the first time that a hybrid system can incorporate an artificial collaboration, or engineered symbiosis, between two different microbiological kingdoms,” said Sudeep Joshi, a postdoctoral fellow.


India wins gold in Asian air gun championship

• Saurabh Chaudhary added yet another feather to his cap as he beat Arjun Singh Cheema by 2.1 points to win the junior men’s air pistol gold in the 11th Asian air gun championship here on Thursday.

• It has been a phenomenal season for Saurabh, who qualified in third place with 576.The 16-year-old won the Asian Games gold, World Championship junior gold and the Youth Olympics gold before this.

• There was no similar fairy tale for Manu Bhaker, who had also won the Youth Olympics gold apart from the Commonwealth Games gold and World Cup gold medals for both the juniors and women. Manu finished fourth.

• However, along with Abhidnya Patil who made the final and was placed seventh and Neha, Manu saw the team to the silver medal, 10 points behind the Chinese.

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