Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 MAY 2019
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
- 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.
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
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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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”.
::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
- 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
- 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.
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
- 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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