9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 24, 2019


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Vice-Admiral Verma moves Tribunal

  1. Vice Admiral Bimal Verma has once again moved to the Armed Forces Tribunal(AFT) challenging the appointment of his junior Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Indian Navy chief.
  2. Earlier this month,Bimal Verma had moved the AFT challenging karambir Singh appointment.However,he withdrew his petition after the tribunal asked him to first file a statutory complaint with the government under section 23 of the Indian Navy Act.He approached the AFT again as the ministry hasn’t responded to his complaint.
  3. The Vice admiral in his petition has asked why he was overlooked as the  next Navy chief despite being the senior most in terms of the length of service.He stated that the government has illegally and in a wrongful manner appointed his junior as the next Navy chief.
  4. Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) is an Indian military tribunal established in 2009 under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.Its Principal Bench is in New Delhi.It also has 11 regional benches.
  5. It’s objective is to adjudicate complaints wrt appointments and conditions of service in respect of persons subject to the (a)Army Act,1950 (b)The Navy Act,1957 and (c)the Air Force Act,1950.It can further provide for appeals arising out of the orders of courts martial held under the above-mentioned Acts.

 

Judges’ panel to hear charges against CJI

  1. The Supreme Court has decided to conduct an in-house inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Chief Justice of India.
  2. The apex court has appointed a committee headed by senior-most judge of the Supreme Court.However,there will be no time frame to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on what comes out of the inquiry.
  3. Earlier,Supreme Court Bar Association(SCBA) had criticised the way the Chief Justice of India conducted judicial proceedings in the matter in violation of procedure established by law as well as principles of natural justice.They had said that according to the Supreme Court’s procedures, an in-house committee should have been set up to inquire into the incident.
  4. Recently,Chief Justice of India had convened an urgent suo motu(of its own accord) hearing into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former staffer.He had set up a three member bench headed by himself that comprised two other judges.
  5. During the hearing,CJI rejected the charges levelled against him. However,at the end of the hearing,the CJI withdrew himself from the matter and a judicial order was passed by the other two judges.

 

India may send NIA team to assist in probe

  1. Indian Government may send National Investigation Agency(NIA) to Sri Lanka to study the recent series of blasts in churches and hotels across Sri Lanka that claimed more than 290 lives.
  2. Earlier,India had also shared intelligence inputs to Sri Lanka on possible terror strikes at different locations including the Indian High Commission.
  3. NIA has claimed that radicalisation in eastern Sri Lanka had started in the 1980s when civil war in Sri Lanka has led to Muslims gravitating towards fundamentalist forces.Post the civil war,this radicalisation has been fuelled by increasing attacks by Buddhist Sinhala groups.
  4. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India.It acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  5. The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008.

 

India may stop oil imports from Iran

  1. Indian Government has said that it will stop importing crude oil from Iran following the US decision to end sanctions waivers.
  2. The shortfall in crude oil supply will be made from alternate sources available in Saudi Arabia,Kuwait,UAE and Mexico.
  3. India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil with 85% of its crude oil and 34% of its natural gas requirements being fulfilled by imports. Further,India was the second biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil after China.
  4. Recently,the United States had announced that all buyers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports by May 2,2019 or face sanctions.
  5. The US had announced this decision to put maximum economic pressure on Iran and through sanctions it eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke its main source of revenue.

 

Price controls hurting FDI in medical devices sector

  1. According to the data released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade,Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the medical devices sector has decreased from $439 million in 2016 to $66 million in 2018.
  2. The decrease in FDI has been attributed to the implementation of price controls in the medical devices.Further,the inflows has decreased in spite of Government India permitting 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) through automatic route in medical devices sector.
  3. Meanwhile,sectors in India which attracted the highest FDI includes services sector,computer software and hardware and telecommunication.
  4. Recently,Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) had recommended that the Centre should include all medical devices in the country under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act,1940 in a phased manner.Currently,the government regulates 27 notified medical devices under the law.
  5. When these rules are implemented,this will lead to medical devices being treated as drugs with (a)more stringent tracking systems (b)mandatory reporting of all adverse reactions and (c)registration of device before it is allowed into the market.

 

Shipping firms seek PM’s help to stay afloat

  1. Indian shipping companies have submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister seeking his immediate intervention to scrap a recent notification which would force shipping companies to close down.
  2. They have said that the amended Right of First Refusal(ROF) policy equates a foreign ship taken on hire,with a ship actually owned under the Indian flag by an Indian company.Besides it gives priority in government contracts to those ships,just because they were once built in India.Thus, they argue that this would force the domestic shipping Industry to shut down resulting in heavy job losses.
  3. Earlier,only local shipping companies got a right to match the lowest rate offered by a foreign flag in tenders issued by State-run firms for hiring ships.If Indian shipping companies declined,the foreign flag ship that had quoted the lowest rate was allowed to carry the cargo.
  4. However,the amended RoFR policy shifted the balance of power in favour of Indian-built ships from Indian-flagged ships irrespective of whether such Indian-built ships are offered by Indian or foreign companies.In effect,the government had extended cargo support to foreign entities if they offer Indian-built ships on public tenders.
  5. Hence,the new sequencing of RoFR priority will be Indian-built vessels followed by Indian-flagged vessels.In case none of the bidders under the first and second priority eligible to exercise the RoFR,matches the lowest rate quoted by a foreign ship owner offering a non-Indian built ship in a tender then the charter shall be awarded to the lowest bidder.

 

RBI swap auction gets bids more than thrice the notified amount

  1. The Reserve Bank of India has successfully concluded a second forex swap auction intended to ease liquidity conditions.
  2. The auction saw a strong demand with the Reserve Bank of India getting 255 bids worth $18.65 billion compared with the notified amount of $5 billion.Earlier,RBI had bought $5 billion through a similar swap auction.
  3. Recently,RBI has decided to inject long-term liquidity into the system through foreign exchange swap arrangement.The swap is in the nature of a simple dollar-rupee exchange with the RBI.
  4. A bank shall sell U.S. dollars to the RBI,in turn the RBI will pay rupees to the participating banks at the current spot rate.
  5. Simultaneously,the banks will agree to buy-back the same amount of dollars from the RBI after three years,the tenor of current auction.The final exchange rate will be decided by an auction where banks will bid on the forward premium,they are willing to pay.
  6. The expected benefits of forex swap are (a)Increase liquidity in market (b)Increase in RBI’s foreign exchange reserves and (c)Improve credit as it will put more money in the hands of banks.

 

GARIA PUJA

  1. Garia festival is an important festival for the Tripuri tribal community in the state of Tripura.This year’s Garia puja was held on 21 April,2019.
  2. The Garia Puja is usually held from the beginning of the last day of the month of Chaitra till the seventh day of the month of April(Vaishakha).
  3. The rituals which are held during this festival are the bamboo pole that symbolizes the Lord Garia is worshipped with flowers and garlands.
  4. Further,the main ingredients with which the Garia Puja is conducted are cotton thread,rice,richa,chicken,rice beer,wine,earthen pots,eggs and wine.The chicken is sacrificed before the deity and the blood of the chicken is strewn before the Lord to get his blessing.
  5. The puja is followed by traditional dance derived from the Garia dance or the dance of Shiva and other cultural activities.The Garia dance is very popular among the Tripuris and the Reangs community.

 

MOU signed between Ministry of AYUSH and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

  1. Ministry of AYUSH has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
  2. The MOU aims for further cooperation in research on traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda,Unani,Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) and their integration with modern science.
  3. Further,the collaboration also aims to preserve and protect traditional knowledge related to the old forms of treatment and the development of international standardised terminologies (disease-morbidity codes) in Ayurveda,Siddha and Unani(ASU).
  4. Earlier,CSIR with the Ministry of AYUSH had developed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library(TKDL).TKDL is a globally recognized proprietary database on Indian systems of medicine for preventing bio-piracy and misappropriation of traditional knowledge.
  5. The objective of the library is to protect the ancient and traditional knowledge of the country by documenting it electronically and classifying it as per international patent classification systems.
  6. Apart from that,the non-patent database serves to foster modern research based on traditional knowledge, as it simplifies access to this vast knowledge of remedies or practices.

 

Releasing Modi biopic now will tilt balance: EC tells SC

  1. The Election Commission (EC) has stood by its decision to defer the release of the PM Narendra Modi biopic until the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 19. The EC has observed that the content and dramatization of character in the movie was such that screening of the movie before polls would “tilt the electoral balance of the particular political party”.
  2. The Supreme Court had directed the EC to re-examine its earlier order and take an informed decision on stay on the release of the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi after watching the entire movie.
  3. This came after the producers of the film challenged the EC’s decision to stop the release despite getting clearance from the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC). They had alleged that the stay violated their fundamental right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian constitution.
  4. The EC had deferred the release of the biopic till the elections are over arguing that displaying material that promotes a political figure would go against the core principle of the Model Code of Conduct of creating a level-playing field for elections.

 

UAE’s Hope Probe project bound for Mars is 85% complete

  1. The UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has announced that 85% of the Hope Probe project has been completed.
  2. Hope mission is a Space mission by UAE which has planned to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021.It will become the first Arab Country to do so.
  3. The Hope Mars Mission is also called as Emirates Mars Mission.The launching of the spacecraft is going to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.
  4. The Hope probe mission will cover all aspects that have not been previously covered whether scientific or knowledge-based.It will work on drawing a clear and comprehensive picture of the Martian climate and the causes of the corrosion of its surface that has made it impossible for water to exist on the planet.
  5. The project will also provide insights about the weather on the Mars.It will observe weather phenomena such as dust storms and changes in temperature and how the atmosphere interacts with topography,from the highest volcano peaks to ice sheets to the vast deserts and the deepest canyons.

 

Green tribunal order hits sand availability in Andhra Pradesh

  1. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the Andhra Pradesh government to deposit ₹100 crore environment compensation for illegal sand mining.
  2. NGT’s direction came in the backdrop of a plea which had alleged illegal sand mining was causing damage to the Krishna and Godavari rivers and their tributaries in the state.
  3. Following NGT’s order mining reaches that are in the vicinity of Vijayawada and Guntur have been closed. This has severely impacted the construction industry.
  4. The National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The responsibility of the tribunal is to work on the disposal of cases related to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources.

 

Kim to meet Putin in Vladivostok this week

  1. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on 25th April in the Vladivostok, a Russian Pacific port. The main agenda of the meet is to discuss the international stand-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
  2. The last North Korea-Russia bilateral meeting was in 2011, when then President Dmitry Medvedev met Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il.
  3. According to experts, Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia is an effort to build foreign support after the failure of the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in February 2019. The U.N. Security Council has approved a total of 11 rounds of sanctions on North Korea since 2006. The North Korea wants to gain support so that there is some easing of the international sanctions which are damaging its economy.
  4. The US-North Korea summit in Hanoi had ended in failure with the two sides far apart on the central issues of disarmament and sanctions relief. The US had said that the talks had collapsed because North Korea insisted that all the sanctions the U.S. has imposed on North Korea be removed without North Korea firmly committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.
  5. On the other hand, North Korea had insisted that it had asked only for partial relief on sanctions in exchange for shutting down its main nuclear complex.

 

A ‘resort’ for endangered fishes

  1. I.A. Raja Varma, a businessman has set up a massive pond where the endangered fish species are protected under the supervision of experts. The pond is located at Sun Ray Resorts which is situated near Bhogapuram of Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh.
  2. The fish pond at Sun Ray Resorts is a safe aquarium where fish species from various countries thrive. Fish species include alligator gar, Stingray, Arapaima, Archer fish, Kick-Carp, Tin foil barb etc.
  3. Alligator gar is a native of the Mississippi river of North America. It has a life span of around 26 years.
  4. Stingray is known for its electrical sensors has eyes on its dorsal side. It is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
  5. Arapaima is the Amazon Basin’s biggest fish. It can grow up to 9 feet and 200 kg, with a life span of 20 years.
  6. ‘Archer Fish’ is usually found in Papua New Guinea off Northern Australia. Kick-Carp is a decorative fish considered as a symbol of good luck. Tin foil barb is a native of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and other South East Asian countries.

 

Opposition moves SC again over VVPAT tally

  1. Opposition parties have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court demanding the counting of at least 50% VVPAT slips. At a press conference, opposition parties have also highlighted instances of EVMs malfunctioning and selective manipulation of the machines which were reported in the polling held in Kerala, Goa and Uttar Pradesh.
  2. Recently, the Supreme Court did not agree to the demand of Opposition political parties for counting of at least 50% of VVPAT slips with EVMs in every assembly segment. The Court had directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency or Assembly consistency, from one at present.
  3. The court had observed that the move would ensure greater degree of accuracy and increase satisfaction in the election process of not just the political parties but of the entire electorate.
  4. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached to an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended. It helps to detect any possible election fraud or malfunction of EVMs.

 

Olive Ridley hatchlings make their way into sea

  1. Recently, The Olive Ridley hatchlings began their journey into the Bay of Bengal. Olive Ridley turtles come to the shores of the Bay of Bengal to lay their eggs between December and April every year.
  2. The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles in the world. They inhabit in the warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
  3. The Olive Ridley turtles are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada. During Arribada, a large number of female turtles come together on the same beach to lay eggs. Each female digs a sandpit, lays 90 to 120 eggs and promptly closes the pit before leaving the shore.
  4. An important breeding area for olive Ridleys in the Indian Ocean along the Bay of Bengal is Odisha. There are three major mass nesting areas: a) Gahirmatha rookery close to the mouth of Brahmani-Baitarani Rivers, b) Devi river mouth and c) Rushikulya river mouth. A rookery is a communal nesting ground of animals.
  5. The major threats to Olive Ridley turtles are: a) poor fishing practices, b) development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres, c) poaching for their meat, shell and leather.
  6. Olive Ridley turtles are legally protected in India under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Indian Coast Guard undertakes “Operation Olivia” every year. It is an Olive Ridley Turtle protection program.
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