9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 12, 2019

Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news Articles here

Amit Shah vows to bring in nationwide NRC, dump Article 370

  1. BJP’s national president has said that BJP would introduce a National Register for Citizens across India if the party is voted to power again. He further added that the party would scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
  2. Article 370 is a temporary provision granting special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. It specifies that a) except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications the Indian Parliament needs the State Government’s concurrence for applying all other laws b) the residuary powers belong to the Legislature of the State and c) No preventive detention law made in India extends to Jammu & Kashmir.
  3. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. It was prepared in 1951.
  4. Currently, the NRC update is being updated in Assam to address the issue of illegal migrants. The update is being carried out under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord, 1985.


Mamata govt. guilty of abuse of public power, rules SC

  1. The Supreme Court has imposed a Rs. 20-lakh fine on the West Bengal government for not allowing the screening of Bhobishyoter Bhoot, a social and political satirical filmThe Court has held that the state government had clearly abused public power. The judgment came on a petition filed by the film’s producers.
  2. The SC has also restrained the West Bengal government from using “extra-constitutional” means to stop the screening of the film. It further added that the state government should ensure that the properties of the theatre owners are duly protected and viewers’ safety is assured.
  3. The Court has observed that the petitioners have suffered a violation of their fundamental right to free speech and expression and of their right to pursue a lawful business.
  4. Article 19 (1) (a) guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression to all citizens. Article 19 (1) (g) provides all the citizens the freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business subject to certain restrictions.


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in London

  1. Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He had taken refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case.
  2. Recently, Eucadorian government had withdrawn his asylum on the grounds that he had repeatedly violated conventions.
  3. Julian Assange is a controversial figure who founded anti-secrecy organization Wikileaks in 2006.  Wikileaks aims at obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.
  4. Wikileaks made international headlines in 2010 when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.
  5. Julian Assange has also been alleged of conspiring with Chelsea Manning, former US intelligence analyst, to access classified information on Department of Defense computers of USA. The USA at presents wants to extradite Assange and trial him over charges of computer hacking and espionage.


Centre conspiring to stop Odisha scheme: Naveen

  1. Odisha Chief Minister has accused the central government of conspiring to stop disbursement of funds to farmers in Odisha under the Kalia scheme.
  2. “Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation” (Kalia) scheme of Odisha is a direct cash transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers. It seeks to provide financial assistance of Rs.25, 000 per farm family over five seasons to small and marginal farmers so that farmers can purchase farm inputs use assistance towards labour and other investments.
  3. Further, it seeks to provide a financial Assistance of Rs.12500 to each landless Agricultural Household for carrying out agricultural allied activities.
  4. Recently, the Election Commission had stopped the Kalia scheme under the Model Code of Conduct on the grounds that the scheme had incomplete information about beneficiaries.


SC nod for firecrackers at Kerala fest

  1. The Supreme Court has allowed two temples in Kerala- Thiruvambady Devaswom and Paramekkavu Devaswom -to display fireworks during the Thrissur Pooram festival. The judgement comes in the backdrop of a plea submitted by the temples before the SC to exempt the traditional fireworks of Thrissur Pooram from its verdict delivered in October 2018.
  2. In October 2018, the Supreme Court had banned the manufacture, sale and use of firecrackers that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment. The court allowed for sale of green and improved crackers through licensed traders.
  3. Thiruvambady Devaswom and Paramekkavu Devaswom manufacture firecrackers for the festival through their own licensees. The SC has ordered that the temples would continue to do that subject to a written approval from the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO). PESO is a body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry entrusted to look after safety requirements in manufacture, storage, transport and use of explosives and petroleum.
  4. The Thrissur Pooram is an annual 7day Hindu festival celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May). The festival is held at the Thekkinkadu Maidanam in Thrissur, Kerala.
  5. The festival is organised with the participation of 10 temples situated around Vadakkunnathan Temple. The temples with their deities gather to the city of Thrissur to pay obeisance to Lord Vadakkunnathan, the presiding deity of the Vadakkunnathan Temple.


India stares at pile of solar e-waste

  1. A recent study by energy consultancy firm, Bridge to India, has estimated that India’s photovoltaic (PV) waste volume would grow to 1.8 million tonne by 2050. The study has advocated urgent framing of a policy for solar module waste management and standards for use of environmentally sustainable material for manufacturing.
  2. Solar cell modules are composed of glass, aluminium and potentially hazardous materials such as lead compounds, polymers and cadmium compounds. These when disposed of in an inappropriate way can have negative environmental and health impacts.
  3. Despite the environmental concerns, India which is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, do not have a requisite policy guideline to ensure recycling of module waste. The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 do not cover solar e-waste.
  4. The report has noted that technology for solar e-waste recycling remains in a nascent stage globally and the high cost of recycling makes it further financially unviable.
  5. The report has also cited best practices. For example: The European Union (EU) has Eco-Design Directive 2009 in place. It is a policy instrument to reduce environmental impact of energy-related products throughout their life cycle.


Sudan President Omar al-Bashir ousted, placed under arrest

  1. The long time president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir was removed by the military after months of continuous protests against his rule.
  2. The military has announced that a transitional military council will run the government for the next two years. They also declared a three-month state of emergency, the suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of parliament.
  3. He was removed after protests began in December,2019 with demonstrators accusing Sudan government of economic mismanagement that has sparked food prices, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
  4. Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was also indicted by the International Criminal Court(ICC) on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with atrocities in the western region of Darfur. The ICC has since issued two arrest warrants against him.
  5. In 2010,Omar al-Bashir was re-elected. Further in 2011,southern Sudan backed splitting from the north Sudan in a referendum which led to the creation of the world’s youngest country. The 2011 secession of South Sudan deprived Sudan of the majority of its oil revenues and led to high inflation and widespread shortages.
  6. ICC is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands. ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for (a)international crimes of genocide (b)crimes against humanity (c)crime of aggression and (d)war crimes. India is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.


India’s population growth rate outpaced China in last 9 years: UN report

  1. According to the State of World Population 2019 report, India’s population grew at an average of 1.2% annually between 2010 and 2019.It is more than double the annual population growth rate of China. The report was published by the United Nations Population Fund’s(UNFP).
  2. The report says that 27% of India’s population was in the age bracket of 0-14 years and 10-24 years while 67% of the country’s population was in the 15-64 age bracket.Further,6% of the country’s population was of the age 65 and above.
  3. The report adds that India’s total fertility rate per woman declined from 5.6 in 1969 to 3.7 in 1994 and 2.3 in 2019. India has also registered an improvement in life expectancy at birth. The life expectancy at birth in 1969 was 47 years, growing to 60 years in 1994 and 69 years in 2019.
  4. The report also noted there was a drop in the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) which was 488 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1994 and it came down to 174 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.MMR is defined as the proportion of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
  5. The findings on women aged between 15-49 years were published for the first time as part of the report. According to the report, the absence of reproductive and sexual rights all over the world has major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety which leaves them unable to shape their own futures. Further, early marriage continues to remain an obstacle to female empowerment.


Report reveals risk to cloud platform

  1. According to a Sophos report titled ‘Exposed: Cyberattacks on Cloud Honeypots’ more than five million attacks were attempted on the global network of 10 honeypots within a 30-day period. This demonstrates how cybercriminals are automatically scanning for weak open cloud buckets.
  2. Cybercriminals has also attacked a Mumbai cloud server honeypot with more than 6.7 Lakh attempts over a 30-day period. It is second to a US-based honeypot at Ohio that recorded more than 9.5 Lakh login attempts during the same period.
  3. A honeypot is a system designed to mimic likely targets of cyber-attackers so that security researchers can monitor cybercriminal behaviour.
  4. The types of honeypots are (a)A low-interaction honeypot is a honeypot that once found by the hacker, will not be of much use to them and (b)A high-interaction honeypot permits the attacker to go further in order to gather additional information about their intentions.


Namami Gange gets global recognition at world summit

  1. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has been awarded the distinction of Public Water Agency of the Year at the Global Water Awards in London, UK.
  2. The Global Water Awards are presented at the Global Water Summit. It is the major business conference for the water industry worldwide.
  3. The awards recognise excellence across the international water industry and reward those initiatives in the water, waste water and desalination sectors which bring remarkable improvements in the lives of people.
  4. NMCG is the implementation wing of the National Ganga Council. It was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860.The government through the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016,declared NMCG as an Authority. It has been given powers to issue directions and also to exercise the powers under the Environment (Protection) Act,1986.
  5. The NMCG implements the Namami Gange programme. The Namami Gange is an Integrated Conservation Mission which seeks effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of River Ganga.


Too late to order probe into Dabhol project: SC

  1. The Supreme Court has ordered to close the case of alleged corruption involving politicians, bureaucrats and corporates in the Enron-Dabhol power project. The court said that delay of over 25 years will serve no purpose in continuing with the judicial commission of inquiry.
  2. US-based Enron and its associate Dabhol Power Corporation had set up the 2,550 megawatt power project in Maharashtra in 1996 after signing the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) in 1993.
  3. The apex Court had in 1997 admitted the petition of the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) challenging a Bombay High Court order upholding the PPA and issued notice to MSEB on the role of government and its officials in the signing of the agreement.
  4. The state government had then appointed a committee headed by Madhav Godbole which in its report in 2001 suggested the setting of a judicial commission after giving its finding of alleged irregularities in the deal.
  5. According to the suggestion of the God bole Committee, a one-man enquiry commission headed by former Supreme Court judge was appointed. However, proceedings of the judicial commission had never happened.


A genetic method to empower conservation

  1. Researchers at Stanford and the National Centre for Biological Sciences at India’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research have developed a method for extracting genetic clues from degraded and left-behind materials, such as feces, skin or saliva, and from food products suspected of containing endangered animals. The study has been published in the international journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
  2. The new method depends on identifying multiple, short portions of DNA segments in a single experiment. This is followed by ‘next-generation sequencing’, in which multiple fragments of DNA can be decoded simultaneously, and several times, in an automated process.
  3. The researchers had tested their method on wild tigers in India (Listed as Endangered in IUCN Red List) and overfished Caribbean queen conchs, an edible sea snail.
  4. According to the researchers, the new genetic method is quicker, easier and cost-effective. The method has potential uses in animal monitoring and can also be used to obtain intelligence on wildlife trade.


Vedanta moves SC seeking access to Sterlite Copper plant

  1. Vedanta group firm Sterlite Copper has approached the Supreme Court to seek access to its closed smelter unit in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.
  2. Earlier,the Supreme Court had set aside the order of the National Green Tribunal which permitted the re-opening of the Sterlite plant.However,the apex court gave the liberty to the Vedanta group to approach the high court against the closure order.
  3. The firm said it had approached Madras High Court for expeditious hearing of its interim applications.But the High Court has expressed its inability to hear the matter due to paucity of time.
  4. Sterlite Copper is a copper smelting unit and is a subsidiary of the Vedanta Group.It produces non-ferrous metals like copper, aluminium and zinc along with chemicals such as sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid.
  5. In 2011,the Supreme Court had ordered the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(NEERI) to inspect the copper smelting plant and submit a report.The study found high levels of copper, lead, cadmium and fluoride in the groundwater in the area.Further,the plant was shut down last year after 13 people protesting against the plant died in police firing


EU, U.K. agree to delay Brexit till Oct. 31

  1. European Union have granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit, The new deadline which is 31 October,2019 will averts the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on April 12.
  2. However,the EU has told the UK that it must hold the elections to the European Parliament and if it fails to do this,the UK will leave the EU in June.Further,EU has reiterated that there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations on Brexit deal.
  3. After two years of Brexit negotiations,the U.K was meant to leave the EU on March 29.With Parliament not backing the deal,the government asked for a short delay to April 12 in order to get backing for an alternative Brexit strategy.
  4. Since,that has also failed to materialize,UK PM was then forced to ask for a longer delay in order to prevent the U.K leaving the bloc without a deal.
  5. Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member state the right to quit unilaterally and outlines the procedure for doing so.It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal.UK triggered Article 50 in 2016.
  6. Brexit is a term used to define United Kingdom coming out of EU.During a referendum in 2016,UK voted by a narrow margin in favour of Brexit.
  7. European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.


Fighting fake news: can social media be kept on a leash?

  1. Social media platform Facebook has said that the company is assessing risk across its platforms to help ensure that the Lok Sabha election was free from interference from both foreign and domestic.
  2. Facebook had focussed on key areas which includes (a)blocking and removing fake accounts (b)fighting the spread of misinformation (c)stopping abuse by domestic actors (d)spotting attempts at foreign meddling and (e)taking action against inauthentic coordinated campaigns.
  3. Recently,Bombay High Court had also said that the social media platforms are expected to follow the voluntary code of ethics that had been developed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).The code of ethics had also been accepted by the Election Commission.
  4. The voluntary code of ethics establishes high-priority communication channel between the nodal officers designated by the ECI and Social media platforms.The nodal officers will report the violations under Section 126 of the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA).These complaints will be processed within 3 hours of violations reported.
  5. However,Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) was incapable of regulating social media as it was enacted in 1996 when the problem did not surfaced.
  6. Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act,1951 imposes election silence period which prohibits any form of election campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting.It gives voters a peaceful condition to consider and make a final decision on their vote.


Voters needn’t know source of political funding: govt.

  1. The government has told the Supreme Court that anonymity should be maintained in the electoral bond scheme to protect donors and recipients right to privacy.
  2. The government’s statement came during a hearing on electoral bonds in the Supreme Court.The petition had challenged the validity of the Electoral Bonds scheme on the grounds that (a)It keeps the identity of the donor absolutely confidential and (b)would enable corporate houses to anonymously donate their unaccounted cash to political parties.
  3. The government stressed on two issues which are (a)that electoral bonds were introduced for the elimination of black money and (b)that it was a matter of policy and no government can be blamed for trying it out. Further,the Government has said that the court should leave the decision on whether to continue with the scheme to the next government.
  4. Earlier,the Election Commission had also expressed concern at legislative changes that allowed the use of electoral bonds for anonymous funding of elections and had said that this would have serious repercussions on the transparency of the electoral process.
  5. EC had also said that the amendment made to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act,2010 allows parties to receive funding from foreign companies that own a majority stake in an Indian company.This would allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties and could lead to Indian policies being heavily influenced by foreign companies.
  6. Electoral bonds are bearer instrument in the nature of a promissory note and an interest-free banking instrument.A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India is eligible to purchase the bond.Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹10 lakh, and ₹1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India.
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