9 PM Current Affairs Brief – May 10, 2019

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Supreme Court to hear Ayodhya title appeals on May 10

  1. On 10th May, the Supreme Court will hear the Ayodhya title dispute appeals as the court-appointed mediation committee has sent its interim report. The Ayodhya case pertains to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute.
  2. The Supreme Court had referred the Ayodhya case for mediation. The court had invoked Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to propose mediation as an “effective utilisation of time”
  3. Section 89 was added through the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act 1999 into the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The objective of Section 89 is to ensure that the court makes an endeavour to facilitate out-of-court settlements through one of the ADR processes before the trial commences. It enables civil courts to refer parties to alternative dispute resolution so that the disputes may get resolved earlier.
  4. The Supreme Court had formed a three-member panel headed by former SC judge Justice F M Kalifullah. The other members of the panel include spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu.
  5. Mediation is one of the methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is the procedure for settling disputes without litigation.
  6. Mediation is a procedure in which the parties discuss their disputes with the assistance of a trained impartial third person(s) who assists them in reaching a settlement.

SC frowns on foreigners’ tribunals plan

  1. The Supreme Court has questioned a proposal by the Assam government to quickly open 1,000 foreigners’ tribunals all over the state to try suspected illegal immigrants. The court has questioned the feasibility of setting up these tribunals and appointing judicial officers to preside over them.
  2. The court had highlighted that there would be an influx of petitions in the foreigners’ tribunals once the final NRC was published on July 3 The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. The process of NRC update in Assam has been taken up as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.
  3. Foreigners Tribunal (FT) was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964. The tribunals are mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam.
  4. At present, there are 100 FTs in Assam; of these 64 were set up in 2015, to expedite the exercise of determining illegal immigrants in the state through the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  5. Assam also had Illegal Migrants Determination Tribunal which was established in 1985 under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act, 1983. The tribunals only considered the cases of those who had allegedly entered India after March 25, 1971. IMDT Act was enacted to put forward the procedures to detect illegal immigrants (from Bangladesh) and expel them from Assam.
  6. IMDT Act had placed the onus of proving citizenship on the accuser, rather than the accused and thus had made determining illegal migrants difficult. In 2006, the Act was struck down by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was the main impediment the identification and deportation of illegal migrants.

SC defers NGT levy over sand mining

  1. Supreme Court has deferred a National Green Tribunal order directing the Andhra Pradesh government to deposit Rs. 100 crore for not checking 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. However, the petition file by the state against the NGT order has argued that that sand was being excavated following the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016. The guidelines had been issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The state has alleged he Tribunal went beyond the provisions of the law and initiated suo motu proceedings on the basis of vague and misleading allegations.
  4. The guidelines provide for a detailed programme for ensuring that mining of river sand is done in a sustainable manner.
  5. Sand is a minor mineral, as defined under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act). Section 15 of the MMDR Act empowers state governments to make rules for regulating the grant of mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals and for purposes connected therewith.

Reservation for the poor from this academic year

  1. A high-power committee on quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) appointed by the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to roll out reservations for EWS in educational institutions. The reservations would come into force from next academic year.
  2. The committee has decided to extend 5% reservation to Kapus and 5% reservation to other communities in the general category in educational institutions. In February 2019, the Andhra Pradesh assembly had passed a bill to provide quota in education and employment to Kapus, Ontari, Balija and Telaga sub-castes.
  3. The committee has also suggested the government that the reservation should be implemented in future recruitments. The committee would submit roster point proposals for the same.
  4. In January 2019, the central government had passed 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act. It provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker section in the unreserved category. It also provides for reservation in private unaided educational institutions.
  5. The legislation has given the power to States to determine the economic criteria for identification of beneficiaries.
  6. The 10% quota has been subjected to widespread debate and been criticised on grounds such as a) completely violates the Constitutional norm that economic criterion cannot be the only basis of reservation, b) violative of the equality principle enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution as it excludes OBCs, SCs and STs from the scope of economic reservation c) breaches 50% reservation cap and d) provides reservation in private educational institutions which has been clearly barred by the SC in previous judgements.

Lakshadweep recruits barn owls to fight rodent menace

  1. The Lakshadweep administration has decided to release 3 barn owls at coconut plantations in Kavaratti. The owls have been taken from Kerala to Kavaratti under a rodent management programme.
  2. Coconut is an important source of revenue for the Lakshadweep islands, however rodent issues account for 30-40% of the yield loss. Total production stood at 8.76 crore nuts in 2017-18.
  3. Deploying barn owls is a bio control measure to address the issue of rats. A major reason for opting bio control measure that Lakshadweep islands are designated as organic zone and thus use of chemicals for pest control is prohibited.
  4. Further, barn owls have been chosen over other rat eaters like cats or rat snakes because the rats in the Lakshadweep Islands mostly live on treetops. The coconut palms grow very close and resemble a jungle. The fronds overlap, allowing the rodents to move easily from one tree to another.

Gujarat facing massive water crisis

  1. Gujarat is facing a massive water crisis. The scarcity is particularly acute in the Saurashtra region, Kutch, North Gujarat and parts of tribal pockets in central and South Gujarat.
  2. The available water in all the dams of these regions is negligible. However, Sardar Sarovar dam and the Narmada canal network has enough water to sustain population till July end.
  3. The Sardar Sarovar dam is built on the Narmada River near Navagam in Gujarat. It is one of the largest water resources project of India covering four major states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  4. It is a part of the Narmada Valley Project, a large hydraulic engineering project involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectric multi-purpose dams on the Narmada River.
  5. Narmada Main Canal is a contour canal (an artificially-dug navigable canal which closely follows the contour line of the land). It is the Largest lined irrigation canal in the world. It is about 458 km. long up to Gujarat -Rajasthan border.

US unveils strategy to detect and respond to health security threats globally

  1. The US government has come up with a Global Health Security Strategy.
  2. It is a first of its kind strategy to prevent,detect and respond to biological threats from infectious diseases occurring naturally or accidentally in an effort to help improve the world’s ability to stop deadly outbreaks before they spread between countries.
  3. The strategy outlines a coordinated US approach that focuses on three interrelated goals which are (a)strengthen partner country global health security capacities (b)increase international support for global health security and (c)homeland prepared and resilient against global health threats.
  4. Under the strategy, the US will be working with international partners to help improve the world’s ability to stop and contain infectious disease outbreaks before they spread between countries.
  5. The United States will also coordinate with partner governments, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to promote sustainable financing to build health security capacity.

Navy joins exercises in South China Sea

  1. Indian Navy has participated with the navies of the US, Philippines and Japan in their joint naval exercise in the disputed South China Sea. The exercise has been called as Group Sail exercise.
  2. The vessels that participated includes (a)Indian destroyer INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti (b)a guided missile destroyer from the US Pacific Fleet (c)Japanese aircraft carrier Izumo and (d)Philippines patrol vessel Andres Bonifacio.
  3. These ships undertook various exercises which included (a)formation exercises (b)underway replenishment runs (c)cross-deck flying and (d)exchange of Sea Riders.
  4. The Group Sail exercise has also showcased India’s commitment to operating with like-minded nations to ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability.
  5. This exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions in the trade war between China and the US.The two countries are also locked in a tussle for the commercial control of South China Sea.
  6. China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam pushing competing claims to parts of the resource-rich maritime region.The United States,Japan and India do not have any territorial claims there.
  7. Islands in the South China Sea is an area which accounts for 12% of global fishing and through which 30% of the world’s trade passes apart from housing possible oil and gas reserves.

Cyclone Fani tears down artists’ village in Odisha

  1. Cyclone Fani which has hit part of the coastal district of Puri has inflicted heavy damage on the creation of ‘Pattachitra’ artists.
  2. The name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words Patta, meaning canvas and Chitra meaning picture.Most of these paintings depict stories of Hindu deities.
  3. Pattachitra or Patachitra is a traditional cloth-based scroll painting based in the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal.Patachitra art form is known for its intricate details as well as mythological narratives and folktales inscribed in it.
  4. These paintings are based on Hindu mythology and specially inspired by Jagannath and Vaishnava sect.All colours used in the Paintings are natural.Pattachitra has also a geographical indication(GI) tag from Odisha state.
  5. Further,paintings are made in an old traditional way by Chitrakars that is Oriya Painter.Almost all of the Chitrakar community hails from a small village in Puri district called Raghurajpur.

Bank credit grows 13.2% in FY19

  1. According to data released by the Reserve Bank of India, bank credit has grown by 13.2% in financial year 2018-19 as compared to 10.3% in the previous financial year.
  2. This growth was mainly driven by loans to services and retail sector. Further,deposit growth also gained momentum growing by 10% as compared to 6.7% a year ago.
  3. The bank credit has also increased after the liquidity crunch that non-banking financial companies(NBFC) are facing due to IL&FS crisis.
  4. IL&FS is an infrastructure finance company registered with the Reserve Bank of India as a ‘Systemically Important Non-Deposit Accepting Core Investment Company’.IL&FS has run out of money and therefore has been unable to service its repayment obligations which led to a series of defaults on loans,debentures and commercial papers.
  5. Besides,banks also have been pushing loans to the corporate sector at a slower pace after a sharp rise in bad loans mostly in sectors like infrastructure, power and iron and steel.
  6. Any missed installment not paid to the bank until the due date is a bad loan.If this further extends beyond 90 days,it is termed as Non-performing asset or (NPA).

Europe rejects Iran’s ‘ultimatum’ but stands by nuclear agreement

  1. European leaders has said that EU will remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal.But has also said that they have rejected the ultimatum given by Iran to prevent its collapse.
  2. EU has also said that it will continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran.
  3. Earlier,Iran had said that it will resume high level uranium enrichment if the remaining signatories -Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – did not make commitments to shield its oil and banking sectors in the next 60 days and opposed the sanctions.
  4. Those efforts include a special purpose vehicle that would essentially allow goods to be bartered between Iranian and foreign companies without direct financial transactions. However, this mechanism known as Instex is not yet operational.
  5. Iran Nuclear deal which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was announced in 2015.The deal was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group (US,UK, France, Russia, China and Germany). It restricts Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting most economic sanctions against it.
  6. USA had withdrawn from the deal in 2018 citing the following reasons:(a)The JCPOA failed to deal with the threat of Iran’s missile programme and (b)The deal does not include strong mechanisms for inspections and verification.

India to add 3 million jobs by 2023

  1. According to Indian Staffing Federation (ISF),the Indian tech industry will add another three million new jobs in the next five years.With this,the size of the country’s tech industry will be 7 million by 2023.
  2. These new jobs would come up in digital technology areas such as (a)artificial intelligence(AI) (b)machine learning (c)Internet of things(IOT) (d)data science (e)big data analytics (f)blockchain technology and (g)augmented reality.
  3. Further,jobs will also be created in newer technology areas that are presently unknown but are expected to emerge and evolve in the next few years.
  4. India Staffing Federation (ISF) is a global Multinational organization operating in the United States that acts as an organizing union primarily for ethnic Indians in the field of job recruitment.It also acts as a source for business process outsourcing functions such as employment background screening.

Finance panel to reconcile data

  1. The 15th Finance Commission has said that it will reconcile data from several sources to come up with its own conclusion of a reliable economic data.
  2. The data includes key financial variables of state expenditure and debt from Comptroller and Auditor General(CAG),data on central government’s debt and public sector borrowings.
  3. Further,the finance commission has expressed concerns on shrinking household savings as that would eventually crowd out private sector investment.
  4. However,the commission was satisfied with the increase in direct taxes collections.But projections of indirect tax collections especially with regard to the goods and services tax (GST) have not been as healthy.
  5. The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.
  6. The Commission is appointed every five years.It consists of a Chairman and four other members.The 15th finance commission chairman is N.K. Singh.Its recommendations will cover the five year period commencing from 1st April,2020.

Won’t capitulate to U.S. pressure on trade:China

  1. United States has raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% because trade talks are moving too slowly.
  2. Tariffs are taxes paid by importers on foreign goods so the 25% tariff will be paid by US companies who bring Chinese goods into the country.
  3. These tariffs were raised as U.S and Chinese officials have resumed their trade negotiations to end the trade war between both the countries.
  4. Trade war is a situation where countries restrict each other’s trade by imposing tariffs or quotas on imports.
  5. The two countries are attempting to reach a trade agreement that would address U.S. concerns about Chinese business practices including intellectual property theft and state-subsidized companies.
  6. In return China has asked the US to remove all the trade sanctions which it had imposed on China since 2018.

Suskityrannus hazelae: A relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, but just 3 feet tall

  1. According to a journal,fossil of a smaller dinosaur called as Suskityrannus hazela (tyrannosauroid dinosaur) has been discovered in New Mexico.
  2. Suskityrannus is a genus of small tyrannosauroid family.The fossil discovered dates back 92 million years to the Cretaceous Period.
  3. The newly identified dinosaur is a tiny relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.It stood roughly 3 feet tall at the hip and was about 9 feet in length.Further,the entire animal is only marginally longer than the just the skull of a fully grown Tyrannosaurus rex.
  4. Further,it is believed to have weighed between 45 and 90 pounds compared to 90 tons for a typical full-grown T rex.Its diet consisted of the same as T Rex,but has likely hunted small animals

Why US has cleared dengue vaccine with conditions,where India stands

  1. Recently,Sanofi Pasteur’s dengvaxia vaccine has been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration(FDA).It is the first dengue vaccine to get the regulatory nod in the US.But US FDA has said that it can be used only by those who have a previous history of the disease particularly in dengue-endemic areas
  2. Dengvaxia is a live,attenuated dengue virus.An attenuated virus is a virus that retains its properties of triggering an immune response in the body but its ability to lead to a disease is compromised.
  3. This vaccine has to be administered in people of ages 9 to 16 who have laboratory-confirmed previous dengue infection and who live in endemic areas.
  4. Dengvaxia is the first dengue vaccine to be licensed.Mexico had been the first country to clear it in 2015.Subsequently it has been cleared in some 20 countries.
  5. However,Dengvaxia had also ran into trouble two years ago when the Philippines had to suspend a school vaccination programme following several casualties.
  6. Further,India in 2017 had said that Sanofi will be allowed to be marketed in India after it had undergone phase III clinical trials that establish safety and efficacy of a drug on Indian subjects.
  7. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 400 million dengue virus infections occur around the world.India is also among the dengue-endemic countries.
  8. Dengue is spread through the bite of an infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquito.The mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on the blood of a person infected with the virus.After about one week,the mosquito can then transmit the virus while biting a healthy person.
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