Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 MAY 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 MAY 2019


::NATIONAL::

SC dismisses opposition plea on more VVPAT verification

  •  The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by 21 Opposition parties, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, to review its judgment rejecting 50% random physical verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) using Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).
  •  On April 8, a Bench led by Chief Justice RanjanGogoi had directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to increase physical counting of VVPAT slips to five random EVMs in each Assembly segment/constituency. Before this April verdict, ECI Guideline 16.6 required physical counting of only one EVM in every Assembly segment/constituency.
  •  The Opposition had found the Supreme Court’s April 8 verdict a far shot from what it wanted VVPAT verification in 50% or 125 polling booths in each constituency. The physical scrutiny of slips in five EVMs has increased the VVPAT verification percentage from .44% to less than 2%.
  •  The review plea contended that Indian democracy could not be left to the mercy of EVM programmers. It pointed to large-scale tampering and selective malfunctioning of EVMs in the LokSabha polls of 2019 so far.
  •  It had added that verification of five EVMs would not be a drain on the EC’s infrastructural resources and manpower as the Opposition’s idea would have been. Neither would counting VVPAT slips of five EVMs take any substantial amount of time, the court had explained.
  •  The ECI had said a 50% random physical verification of VVPATs would delay the LokSabha poll results by six days.

Public release of Supreme court in-house committee sought

  •  Former Central Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu has called for the public release of the report of the Supreme Court’s in-house inquiry committee, which cleared the Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi of sexual harassment allegations raised by a former woman employee of the court.
  •  On Monday, the three-member committee gave a clean chit to Justice Gogoi, saying it “found no substance” in the allegations. The court later cited the verdict in a 2003 case of Indira Jaisingvs Supreme Court of India to hold that the report “is not liable to be made public.”
  •  Apart from issues of principles of natural justice, Mr.Acharyulu said the committee’s verdict raised several concerns about information rights as well. “Especially when the committee is convinced that there was no substance in allegation, it has a duty to give reasons for their decision and to convince the people in general about the correctness of their conclusion,” said Mr.Acharyulu’s statement.
  •  “As per Indira Jaising order, the enquiry into Mysore incident was informal and only to gather some information from colleague judges, but in this case, it is a statutorily mandated inquiry and it is not opinion collection or information gathering,” said the statement.
  •  “The CJI in this case was not seeking views of peer judges, but three judges constituted a committee to inquire into an allegation against the CJI, Is it an Official Secret or are there any other grounds for categorising it as ‘confidential’?” Mr.Acharyulu asked.

::ECONOMY::

U.S secretary wants to remove India’s restrictive trade barriers

  •  While the U.S. is India’s largest export destination, India is only the 13th largest for the U.S. due to “overly restrictive market access barriers,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday.
  •  “India is already the world’s third largest economy, and by 2030, it will become the world’s largest consumer market because of the rapid growth of the middle class,” Mr. Ross said, while speaking at the Trade Winds conference organised in the national capital.
  •  Mr. Ross went on to say that while American technology and expertise can play an important role to meet India’s developmental needs, U.S. companies faced significant market access barriers in India.
  •  “These include both tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as multiple practices and regulations that disadvantage foreign companies,” he said. “India’s average applied tariff rate of 13.8%, and that remains the highest of any major world economy. The very highest.”
  •  The U.S. Commerce Secretary said that the U.S. was working with the Indian government and the private sector to address the market access issues through the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue, and the recently re-convened U.S.-India CEO Forum.
  •  Mr. Ross, on Monday, reportedly said that the U.S. would not be able to sell oil to India at lower rates because oil is owned by private players and the U.S. government would not be able to force them to offer concessionary rates.

Study claims digital transformation has boosted B2B tech startups

  •  Business-to-business (B2B) technology start-ups have more than trebled in the last five years driven by the spurt in the need for digital transformation of enterprises, financial institutions, hospitals, government and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), among others.
  •  While the number of such ventures has increased from 900 to over 3,200, the investment in such start-ups touched $3.7 billion in 2018, a rise of 364% from $797 million in 2014, as per a study jointly done by NetApp and Zinnov.
  •  According to the study, 70% of the B2B start-ups are in the area of enterprise technology, financial technology and health technology. Some of the other segments that have a significant presence are alternative lending, expense management, medical internet of things and artificial intelligence-enabled predictive platforms.
  •  Interestingly, Bengaluru is the top city for B2B technology start-ups followed by Delhi NCR and Mumbai, with the three cities accounting for about 60% of all B2B technology start-ups.
  •  Further, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai are poised to be the growing start-up hubs on account of flexible economic policies, State government support and access to various industries.
  •  “While global accelerators hold a majority with 66% of the share, 34% of the pie comprises Indian companies. Varied in their philosophy, the accelerators have an aim to offer support in the form of market access, mentorship, investor-connect and access to product platforms,” added the study.

India-Bangladesh to co -produce movie on MujiburRahman

  •  India and Bangladesh will co-produce a film on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman and a documentary on Bangladesh Liberation War.
  •  A Delegation from Bangladesh led by Adviser to Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Dr.GowherRizvi today met Secretary and other officials of Information & Broadcasting Ministry and focussed on various aspects of making of feature film. The co-production was earlier announced by the Prime Ministers of both the countries.
  •  The movie will be directed by acclaimed filmmaker ShyamBenegal who, along with writer of the movie AtulTiwari, was also present during the meeting. The Bangladesh Delegation assured full cooperation in ensuring smooth logistics for shooting the movie in Bangladesh.
  •  Co-production of documentary on Bangladesh Liberation War was also discussed in the meeting. It was mutually agreed that the director of the documentary would be from Bangladesh who would be assisted by a co-director from India.
  •  A working agreement on cooperation between All India Radio and Bangladesh Betar was also agreed upon between the two countries starting from next month

India re-elected as observer in Arctic council

  •  India has been re-elected as an observer to the Arctic Council, tweeted MadhavanRajeevan, secretary to the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences. The eight-member grouping of nations that have territories in the Arctic.
  •  When asked whether India had put forward any of its concerns regarding the Arctic, Rajeevan said, “Observers are not allowed to take part in the active meetings. We usually participate in side events.” Besides India, China, South Korea, Singapore, Italy and Japan also have Observer status at the Council.
  •  Among the important decisions, they “reaffirmed their commitment to maintain peace, stability and constructive cooperation in the Arctic”. They also committed to the well-being of the Arctic’s inhabitants and the region’s sustainable development and the protection of its environment. Most importantly, the joint statement recognised the rights of Arctic indigenous peoples and to consult and cooperate with them.
  •  The summit this time also had the US Secretary of State refraining from using the word “climate change”. According to a media report, “Official US statements and documents prepared for the meeting did not refer to climate change and their scientific focus was limited to reductions in US carbon emissions that predate the administration and research”.

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::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Border Road organisation celebrates Raising day

  •  Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is celebrating its 59th Raising Day here today. BRO is a leading road construction agency under the Ministry of Defence with a primary role of providing road connectivity in border areas
  •  It executes road construction and maintenance works along the Northern and Western frontiers primarily to meet the strategic requirements of the Army and is responsible for over 53,000 Km roads. The BRO has also constructed roads in friendly foreign countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan etc. thus contributing towards our strategic objectives in the region.
  •  In 2018-19, BRO executed 991 Km of Formation Cutting, 1965 Km Surfacing, Rs. 1518 Crores Permanent Works, 2817 M of Bridge construction and undertook resurfacing of 1778 Km roads along our Northern and Western Borders. The works done by BRO saw a jump of more than 12% in 2018-19 over the previous financial year.
  •  In line with the overall thrust of the Government to enhance overall strategic connectivity along our borders, the BRO is fully geared up to meet the challenges that lie ahead and has accordingly undertaken an exercise for organizational re-structuring and simplification of procedures with adequate delegation of financial powers to executives.
  •  The organisation is now executing works with a combination of departmental, contractual and EPC mode, thus enhancing our capabilities manifold. Necessary co­ ordination between BRO and Army units / Formations at all levels is also being ensured to plan and execute creation, up-gradation and maintenance of infrastructure along our borders to meet our overall tactical and strategic goals.

::SPORTS::

Mumbai Indians enter IPL finals beating CSK

  •  Mumbai Indians entered IPL final for the fifth time by defeating Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in the first Qualifier at Chennai last night.
  •  Riding on SuryakumarYadav's unbeaten 71 off 54 balls, Mumbai reached a 132-run target with 9 balls to spare.For Chennai, skipper MS Dhoni scored 37 while AmbatiRayudu made 42 runs.
  •  However, Chennai will get another chance to make it to their eighth summit clash as they will now play the second Qualifier against the winner of the 'Eliminator' between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, scheduled in Visakhapatnam at 7:30 pm today.
     

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