9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 13, 2019


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Plea to remove dual control of Assam Rifles

  1. The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on a plea seeking directions to remove the dual control of Assam Rifles and bring it under the Defence Ministry.
  2. The petition was filed on the grounds that the administrative control of Assam Rifles lies with the Home Ministry,while the operational control is with the Defence Ministry.The dual leadership has caused administrative problems and many Assam Rifle personnel were being deprived of promotion due to dual control.
  3. The petitioner in its plea has also said that the objective and functions of Assam Rifles were that of a military and para military force and its categorisation as a police force was arbitrary,unreasonable and in violation of the rights of its personnel.
  4. The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India.Assam Rifles operates in the North Eastern part of India and complements the Indian Army in countering the insurgency and guarding the borders.
  5. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is chaired by the Prime Minister.The committee comprises of Minister of External Affairs,the Home Minister,the Finance Minister and the Defence Minister.
  6. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) takes decision on (a)senior appointments in the national security apparatus (b)defence policy and expenditure and (c)generally all matters of India’s national security.

 

Tea Board to discuss industry road map

  1. The Tea Board will organize a ‘Young Entrepreneurs’ Meet’ on April 24. It aims at drawing a future roadmap for tea industry.The meeting will discuss ways to (a)enhance the quality of Indian tea (b)restrict marketing of low quality products and (c)the steps needed to be taken to bring good tea to the market.
  2. According to Tea Board,12-point agenda has been drawn up for the conclave.It includes steps to be taken to increase manufacture of more organic tea.
  3. The conclave will also discuss to move the industry from bulk tea production to value-added tea,while exploring ways to increase sales, export and marketing of good quality tea.
  4. A significant agenda of the meeting would also be discussing steps needed to manufacture tea compliant with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) regulations and well in conformity with international standards.
  5. The Tea Board of India is a state agency of the Government of India established to promote the cultivation,processing, and domestic trade as well as export of tea from India.It was established by the enactment of the Tea Act in 1953 with its headquarters in Kolkata.

 

Israel’s moon dream shattered as craft crashes into lunar surface

  1. Beresheet, an Israeli spacecraft could not successfully soft land on the moon and crashed on the lunar surface.
  2. Beresheet was the first privately funded spacecraft which aimed to land on the moon. Only government space agencies from the former Soviet Union, the US and China have achieved soft lunar landings.
  3. If the landing had been successful, Israel would have become the fourth nation to soft land on moon after the former Soviet Union (Luna 2, 1959), the USA (Ranger 4, 1962) and China (Chang’e 4, 2018).
  4. Beresheet was flown by Space X’s falcon 9 Rocket. The spacecraft was built by Space IL (a non-profit organization in Israel) and Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI). The aim of Israel’s’ lunar mission was to take pictures and conduct experiments.

 

SC notice to MP govt over hiking OBC quota from 14% to 27%

  1. The Supreme Court has sought the Madhya Pradesh government’s response on a petition challenging the validity of the ordinance which had increased the reservation in government jobs and university admission to the Other Backward Class(OBC) category from the existing 14% to 27%
  2. The decision to increase reservation for OBCs had led to reservation in Madhya Pradesh reaching 63%.This has breached the 50% cap on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court in 1992.
  3. Earlier,on a petition challenging the same ordinance,the Madhya Pradesh High Court had directed the state government not to implement the increased quota and continue to give reservation to OBCs at the earlier 14% slab in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions.
  4. The High Court’s order staying the ordinance comes in the backdrop of a plea which had alleged that the ordinance is constitutionally impermissible.The Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case, had held that the power conferred to the State by Clause (4) of Article 16 should be exercised in a fair manner and within reasonable limits. The court upheld that reservation under Clause (4) shall not exceed 50% of the appointments or posts, barring certain extraordinary situations
  5. Article 16 (4) empowers the State to make provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is inadequately represented in public employment.

 

Malaysia approves Chinese project after price is slashed

  1. Malaysia has reopened a closed Chinese rail construction project after China agreed to slash the price by 30% from the original cost.Under the reworked deal,the 648-km rail link will now cost $10.6 billion.
  2. The concession to Malaysia is part of a broad reassessment of China’s ambitious infrastructure program known as the Belt and Road Initiative, as China has increasingly faced criticism of debt trap diplomacy,for lending huge sums of money to vulnerable countries and then taking over valuable assets when they cannot pay.
  3. Further,China appears to have agreed to the hugely lowered price because it is desperate to present a strong global infrastructure programme at the Belt and Road Forum to be held later this month.
  4. However,India has turned down an official invite from China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum meet.India had also boycotted the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in 2017 after protesting against the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) overriding India’s sovereignty concerns.
  5. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of improving (a)regional integration, (b)increasing trade and (c)stimulating economic growth

 

9 Professionals selected as joint secretary in biggest lateral induction into govt service

  1. The Union Public Service Commission(UPSC) has appointed nine non-governmental professionals at joint-secretary level posts in central government department.
  2. The lateral appointees will have a term of three-years from the date of joining which could be extended to five years depending upon their performance.Compensation and perks offered are on a par with that offered to others at this designation.
  3. Last year,Government had invited applications for the joint-secretary level posts through the lateral entry mode.The term ‘lateral entry’ in the civil services refers to a move by the government to appoint outsiders in the middle rung of the ministries, especially in the sectors of economy and infrastructure.
  4. The recruitments have been done in a bid to infuse domain expertise in key government departments and is aimed at bringing in specialized talent in various government departments,contributing to better governance.
  5. However,various experts were against lateral entry as (a)differences in work culture may often come in the way (b)The width and depth of field experience which the civil services provide is not available with outside talent and (c)Interests and motivation vary from person to person. Therefore,short term entry of officers through lateral entry might lead to corrupt practices.

 

CERC nod for higher tariff for Adani’s Mundra plant

  1. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has approved higher tariff for Adani Power’s 2,000 megawatt (MW) capacities at its Mundra power plant.
  2. The power plant was facing hardships after compensatory tariff was disallowed by the apex court in April 2017.The power plant had got into trouble due to unforeseen hike in Indonesian coal prices.The Mundra plant in Gujarat is an imported coal-based plant.
  3. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) is a key regulator of power sector in India.It is a statutory body functioning with quasi-judicial status under the Electricity Act,2003.
  4. The functions of CERC includes (a)regulation of tariff of generating companies owned by the Government (b)regulation of the tariff of other generating companies having a composite scheme for generation and sale of electricity in more than one State and regulation of inter-State transmission of electricity.

 

Taliban declare start of spring offensive amid talks with US

  1. The Taliban has announced the opening of their annual spring offensive. They said that they would continue fighting as long as foreign forces remained in Afghanistan.The spring offensive has been named as ‘Operation Fath’.
  2. Operation Fath which means victory in Arabic will be conducted across Afghanistan.The aim of the operation is for (a)eradicating foreign occupation (b)cleansing Afghanistan from invasion and corruption and (c)establishing an Islamic system.
  3. The Taliban has ruled large parts of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001,before being ousted in a US-led invasion.After years of insurgency, it now controls half of the country once more,mostly rural areas.
  4. Further,U.S and Taliban negotiators are set to resume talks in April to try to conclude discussions on a preliminary draft agreement about a timeline for foreign forces to exit Afghanistan in exchange for insurgent assurances that they would disallow terrorists from using the Afghan soil for attacks against other countries.
  5. The US has also been urging the Taliban to accept a cease-fire and hold talks directly with the Afghan government.However,Taliban has refused to engage with Afghan government as it considers the Afghan government illegitimate.

 

3 person baby’ born in Greece with new IVF method

  1. A team of Greek and Spanish doctors has produced a baby in Greece using genetic material from two women and a man.
  2. The technique used is called as ‘Maternal Spindle transfer’. In this technique, maternal DNA is put into the egg of a donor woman,which is then fertilized using the father’s sperm.
  3. The procedure was developed to help existing In Vitro Fertilization(IVF) treatments in which mothers have mitochondrial diseases.However,some experts say the technique raises ethical questions and should be banned in cases not involving disease.
  4. Mitochondria are tiny compartments which are present in every cell of the body that convert food into useable energy.Mitochondrial diseases are long-term,genetic,often inherited disorders that occur when mitochondria fail to produce enough energy for the body to function properly.Therefore,combining the mother’s DNA with a donor’s mitochondria could prevent the disease.
  5. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure in which mature egg cells are removed from a woman,fertilized with male sperm outside the body and inserted into the uterus of the same or another woman for normal gestation.

 

SpaceX completes first paid flight of most powerful rocket

  1. Space X’s Falcon Heavy has launched its first commercial mission from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, USA.
  2. The mission was to deploy Arabsat-6A. Arabsat-6A is a high-capacity telecommunications satellite. It will deliver television, radio, Internet and mobile communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
  3. Falcon Heavy is a partially reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle. It is most powerful operational rocket in the world, with 27 engines firing at lift off.
  4. Space X is a private American space technologies company. It designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk.

 

Scientists insert human brain genes into monkeys

  1. In a study on evolution of human intelligence, Chinese scientists have implanted human versions of MCPH1 gene in rhesus monkeys. MCPH1 gene is believed to play a role in the development of the human brain.
  2. The study which has been published in the journal National Science Review, was conducted by researchers at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration researchers at the University of North Carolina, U.S
  3. The study has found that the monkeys’ brains, like those of humans, took longer time to develop. Further, experimented monkeys performed better in tests of short-term memory as well as reaction time compared to wild monkeys. However, the brains did not grow larger.
  4. The experiment changing monkey’s behaviour and intelligence has raised ethical issues. Bioethicists have opined that human efforts to alter or modify animal behaviour is unethical and cause them harm.
  5. They have further added that adding human brain genes to a monkey is ethically unacceptable as it attempts to change how a monkey perceives and interacts with reality.

 

NASA’s ‘twins study’ highlights effects of spaceflight on body

  1. NASA has recently announced the findings of “Twins Study”. The study has been published in the journal
  2. The NASA’s Twin Study is a comprehensive review of the response of the human body to spaceflight. The study was conducted on two identical twins, one of whom spent one year in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station while the other remained on earth. The study was conducted from 2015-2016.
  3. The Twins Study has demonstrated the resilience and robustness of how a human body can adapt to a multitude of changes induced by the spaceflight environment. It has revealed that long-term space missions are likely to cause major changes to astronauts’ metabolisms, genetics and cognitive performance.
  4. The Twin Study is a significant step and will help guide future biomedical space research. Further, it could also provide important insights for NASA’s 2020 mission to Mars, a mission that is expected to last two to three years.

 

Narendra Modi to get Russia’s highest civilian award

  1. The Russian government has decided to confer its highest civilian award, the “Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First,” on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indian PM will receive the award in appreciation of his contribution to the development of a strong strategic partnership between Russia and India and friendly ties between the Russian and Indian peoples.
  2. The Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First is awarded to prominent government and public figures, prominent representatives of science, culture, art and various sectors of the economy for their great contribution to Russia.
  3. It was first awarded by former Russian Tsar ‘Peter the Great’ in 1698. It was abolished under the Soviet Union but re-established in 1998 erstwhile President Boris Yeltsin.
  4. Earlier in April, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had awarded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Zayed Medal, the highest civilian award granted by its government. He was awarded as a mark of appreciation for his efforts to boost bilateral ties between India and UAE.

 

SC rejects plea for puja in Ayodhya temples

  1. The Supreme Court has rejected a plea seeking permission to carry out religious activities in nine ancient temples situated on the undisputed acquired land adjacent to Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site. Earlier, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had dismissed the plea and had also imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner.
  2. The undisputed land, in addition to the core disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid plot was acquired by the government in 1993 under the Ayodhya Acquisition Act.
  3. Recently, the centre had moved to the SC to seek permission to return all excess acquired to Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN). It has sought a modification in 2003 SC judgement by which the Central government was directed to maintain the “status quo” with regard to entire land including the non-disputed acquired plots.
  4. In March 2019, the Supreme Court had ordered mediation to attempt a solution to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. The court formed a mediation panel headed by retired Supreme Court judge F M Ibrahim Kalifulla.
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