9 PM Current Affairs Brief – May 11, 2019


Supreme Court extends Ayodhya mediation till Aug. 15

  1. Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has extended the time given to the Ayodhya mediation panel to complete the process till August 15. The committee had filed an interim report dated May 7 with the Constitution Bench. 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”. Section 89 enables civil courts to refer parties to alternative dispute resolution so that the disputes may get resolved earlier.
  3. The Supreme Court had formed a three-member panel for mediation. The panel of mediators comprises former apex court judge Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, as Chairman; and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, as members.
  4. Mediation is one of the methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is the procedure for settling disputes without litigation.
  5. 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/ST govt staff promotion: apex court upholds validity of Karnataka law

  1. The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act 2018.
  2. The act provides  for consequential seniority to persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes promoted under the reservation policy of the State of Karnataka.
  3. Earlier, the Karnataka Determination of Seniority of the Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of the Reservation Act 2002 was held to be unconstitutional in BK Pavitra case on the ground that an exercise for determining ‘inadequacy of representation’,’backwardness’ and the impact on ‘overall efficiency’ had not preceded the enactment of the law.
  4. In Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had held that reservations under Article 16(4) could only be provided at the time of entry into government service but not in matters of promotion.
  5. In 1995, Parliament had brought the 77th amendment by which clause (4A) was inserted into Article 16 to enable reservation to be made in promotion for SCs and STs.
  6. The validity of the 77th amendment to the Constitution and of the legislation enacted in pursuance of those amendments was challenged before the Supreme Court in the Nagaraj case. The SC upheld the constitutional validity of these amendments.
  7. It ruled that if the state wished to exercise their discretion and make provision (for reservation in promotions for SCs/STs), the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation and compliance to Article 335.It will have to see that it’s reservation provision does not breach the ceiling-limit of 50%.
  8. Article 335 recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs in order to bring them to a level-playing field. Centuries of discrimination and prejudice suffered by the SCs and STs in a feudal, caste-oriented societal structure poses real barriers of access to opportunity.

CCI probes Google for unfair practices

  1. The Competition Commission of India(CCI) has ordered an investigation into Google for allegedly abusing the dominant position of its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals.
  2. This investigation has been ordered after European Commission had fined Google on a similar complaint.
  3. The European Commission found that Google had abused its market dominance since 2011 with practices such as forcing manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and its Chrome browser together with its Google Play app store on Android devices.
  4. Last year,CCI had also imposed a fine of $19.46 million on Google for search bias and abuse of its dominant position.It found that Google had put its commercial flight search function in a prominent position on the search results page.
  5. Competition Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India established in 2003.It is responsible for enforcing Competition Act,2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
  6. CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.The Competition Act,2002 was amended in 2007.It follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
  7. The act prohibits (a)anti-competitive agreements (b)abuse of dominant position by enterprises and (c)regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and mergers and acquisitions) which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

Kim orders stronger strike power; U.S. still open to talks

  1. The North Korean leader has ordered its military to boost its strike capability as he directed another missile firing.
  2. North Korea’s missile firing came after U.S has seized a large North Korean cargo ship accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of U.N. sanctions.
  3. This move was intended to escalate the pressure on US to return to the negotiating table.
  4. Earlier, US President and North Korean leader had met for a second summit in Vietnam.The summit ended in failure with the two sides falling apart on the central issues of disarmament and sanctions relief.
  5. The first summit was held at Singapore where they had pledged to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Driving change: Govt may let you be part-time cabbie

  1. The government has decided to frame a policy for vehicle pooling in its bid to reduce private vehicles on roads.
  2. This will allow private vehicles to ferry passengers but the policy will limit it to just 3-4 such trips in a day. Further,private vehicles will be linked to aggregators accredited by the state transport departments to ensure the safety of passengers.
  3. These aggregators will have to keep the KYC of the passengers for their safety.Private vehicles opting for this service will also need to have insurance for occupants.
  4. The details of such vehicles will be linked to Vahan database(registered vehicles) to prevent their owners to attach the same vehicle with more than one aggregator to breach the number of trips in a day which will be fixed.
  5. There would also be a clear-cut provision to bar aggregators from offering any incentive for the vehicle owners to encourage them for more trips.

IIP at a 21-month low as manufacturing slows down

  1. India’s Index of industrial production(IIP) has declined by 0.1% in March,2019. It is the lowest in last 21 months. This decline has happened due to slowdown in (a)manufacturing (b)capital goods and (c)consumer durables sectors.
  2. However, growth in eight core infrastructure industries hit a five month high of 4.7% in March,2019 due to strong output in coal and cement.
  3. IIP measures industrial output growth. The IIP is an index for India which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity and manufacturing.
  4. IIP is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) six weeks after the reference month ends. The base year of the IIP has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April, 2017.
  5. The eight core Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage are(a) Refinery Products (b)Electricity (c)Steel (d)Coal (e)Crude Oil (f)Natural Gas (g)Cement and (h)Fertilizers.

Supreme Court seeks Centre’s reply on plea to regulate content

  1. The Supreme Court has sought central Government response on a petition which seeks framing of guidelines by the government to regulate the functioning of online media streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
  2. The petitioner had filed this appeal against the decision of the Delhi High Court which had dismissed its PIL in February,2019. The Delhi High Court had observed that since the law did not require these platforms to acquire a license it cannot direct them to get one.
  3. The petitioner in its plea has said that these online platforms were displaying unlicensed content and collecting subscription amounts from Indian consumers. But the content was illegal under the provisions of the Indian Cinematograph Act and has not been cleared by the Central Board for Film Certification(CBFC).
  4. Further, the petitioner has also claimed that due to lack of regulation, these platforms are telecasting shows full of vulgarity which violates provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act.


NASA to crash spacecraft into asteroid in 2022

  1. NASA is planning to launch Double Asteroid Redirection Test(DART). It is a spacecraft designed to determine whether an asteroid can be redirected with a high-speed collision.
  2. It will be launched with the help of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will hit a small moonlet in the binary near-earth asteroid system Didymos in September 2022.
  3. DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique. It is a technique of striking the asteroid to shift its orbit to defend against a potential future asteroid impact.
  4. It is planned to intercept the secondary member of the Didymos system. By using solar electric propulsion, it will intercept the target when the asteroid will be within 11 million km of Earth.
  5. Asteroid are relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Didymos is a binary asteroid and it was chosen because of its close proximity to Earth and its size.

Fani’s fury creates four new mouths in Odisha’s Chilika Lake

  1. The extremely severe cyclone, Fani, has created four new mouths in Chilika Lake. Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha.
  2. It is located at the of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. It is the Asia’s largest brackish water lake.
  3. In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.
  4. Previously, Chilka lake had only two active mouths — the point where it meets the sea. However, in the aftermath of cyclone Fani, four new mouths have opened due to wave energy with high tidal prism.
  5. According to Chilika Development Authority (CDA) officials, due opening up of new mouths, sea water ingression would increase. This would consequently increase fish migration will increase and the biodiversity will get richer.
  6. Further, the officials have said that the increase in salinity would not affect the Irrawaddy dolphins. Irrawaddy dolphins are listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List.

Chandrayaan-2 will carry 14 payloads from India

  1. A mission update of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that Chandrayaan 2 which is planned to be launched during July 9-16, will have 14 Indian payloads or study devices.
  2. Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the moon is a totally indigenous mission. It comprises of an Orbiter, Lander named ‘Vikram’ and Rover named ‘Pragyan’.
  3. The orbiter will circle the moon and provide information about its surface, while the lander will make a soft landing on the surface and send out the rover. The rover will be used mostly for in situ experiments.
  4. Chandrayaan-2 will launch aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, (GSLV -MK III) rocket. The GSLV-Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle that has been designed to carry four-tonne class satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  5. In October 2008, ISRO had launched its orbiter mission Chandrayaan-1 on its PSLV booster. The spacecraft had 11 payloads. One of the U.S. payloads shares credit with Chandrayaan-1 for confirming the presence of water ice on the moon. Before that, the Moon Impacter Probe carrying the Indian tricolour image was made to hard-land on the lunar south pole.

India faces acute shortage of healthcare providers’

  1. A World Health Organisation database has put India into the “critical shortage of healthcare providers” category. India continues to have low density of health professionals with the number being lower than those of Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, United Kingdom and Brazil.
  2. There are also inequitable distributions of skilled health workers. Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the worst hit when it comes to density of health professionals; while Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Gujarat are comparatively better.
  3. Further, a paper titled ‘Forecasting the future need and gaps in requirements for public health professionals in India up to 2026’ published in the WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health, has noted that government statistics for 2008, based on vacancies in sanctioned posts showed 18% of primary health centres were without a doctor. Also about 38% of primary health centres were without a laboratory technician and 16% were without a pharmacist.
  4. The health workforce in India comprises broadly eight categories, namely: a) doctors (allopathic, alternative medicine); b) nursing and midwifery professionals; c) public health professionals (medical, non-medical); d) pharmacists; e) dentists; f) paramedical workers (allied health professionals); g) grass-root workers (frontline workers); and h) support staff.

In big boost, IAF gets first Apache Guardian attack helicopter

  1. US aerospace company Boeing has handed over to India the first AH-64E (I) – Apache Guardian helicopter at Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA.
  2. The Indian Air Force(IAF) will induct 22 Apaches by March 2020 under the deal inked with the US in 2015.The first batch of these helicopters is scheduled to be shipped to India by July this year.
  3. The AH-64 Apache is a multi-role combat helicopter and is used by the US Army and a number of international defence forces.
  4. It is equipped with all-weather and night-fighting features apart from an advanced weapons system. It also has (a)stealth characteristics (b)advanced sensors and (c)beyond-visual-range missiles.
  5. The Apaches are armed with stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets. Further, it comes equipped with advanced laser, infrared and target acquisition designation.


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