9 PM Current Affairs Brief – May 2, 2019

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

Indian and French Navies conduct Varuna 19.1 Bilateral Exercise Off Goa coast 1st – 10th May 19

  1. The first part of the Indo-French joint naval exercise Varuna 19.1 will be conducted off the Goa coast from 1st to 10th May, 2019. The second part, Varuna 19.2 is scheduled to be held at the end of May in Djibouti.
  2. The bilateral naval exercise between India and France was initiated in 1983 and it was named as ‘Varuna’ in 2001.
  3. The objective of the exercise is to develop interoperability between the two navies and fostering mutual cooperation by learning from each other’s best practices to conduct joint operations.
  4. The exercise will be held in two phases –Harbour and Sea. The harbour part would have visits, skilled interactions and discussions, and sports events. The sea part would comprise exercises across the spectrum of maritime operations.
  5. The two countries have deployed their aircraft carriers with India deploying its INS Vikramaditya and Mig-29K.On the other hand, France will be sending its Charles de gaulle and Rafale-M naval fighter jet.
  6. Further, the two countries have also operationalized their reciprocal military logistics support agreement. Under the agreement, Indian warships can access French bases like the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

UN designates JeM chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist

  1. United Nations has designated Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China lifted its technical hold on his listing under the UNSC 1267 sanctions committee.
  2. The proposal to designate Masood Azhar was moved by France, UK and the US. It was the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist after China had repeatedly used its veto power to block the proposal.
  3. The reasons behind China withdrawing its technical hold are (a)post-Wuhan summit India China relations have improved and (b)combined efforts of the US,the UK and France has pushed China to change its mind.
  4. Masood Azhar is the chief of Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed. He has masterminded many terror attacks in India including 2001 Parliament strike and the recent Pulwama attack in February,2019.
  5. The UNSC 1267 Committee was established as a result of resolution 1267 (1999).If an individual or an organisation is included in the list, it leads to(a)countries to freeze the targeted group’s or individual’s assets (b)ban designated individuals from travelling and (c)prevent the supply of weapons, technology and other aid.
  6. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  7. The UN Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms.

Workshop held as Srinagar awaits UNESCO stamp

  1. A workshop was held at Srinagar’s Institute of Hotel Management for promoting the city’s art and craft.
  2. This event was held to prepare a dossier for the inclusion of Srinagar in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) as a city of Crafts and Folk Art. Jammu and Kashmir does not have any site or monument with the UNESCO inscription of a World Heritage.
  3. If the nomination comes through, Srinagar will become the fourth Indian city after (a) Varanasi (Music) (b) Jaipur (Crafts and Folk Art) and (c) Chennai (Music) to become part of the network of 180 cities.
  4. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is a project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).It was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development.
  5. The Network recognizes the following creative fields: (a) Crafts and Folk Arts (b)Media Arts (c)Film (d)Design (e)Gastronomy (f)Literature and (f)Music.
  6. The network aims to foster mutual international cooperation with and between member cities committed to investing in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy.

Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in jail

  1. Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions. The court found him guilty of breaching the Bail Act after his arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
  2. This sentence comes ahead of a hearing due to take place in the UK Court as part of efforts to extradite him to the U.S. The USA wants his extradition and trial him over charges of computer hacking and espionage.
  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.

Curbs on civilian traffic between Srinagar and Baramulla lifted

  1. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has announced that it has decided to completely lift the restrictions on civilian traffic movement on the Srinagar-Baramulla stretch of the National Highway-44.
  2. However, the restrictions will continue to remain in force on the movement of civilian traffic from Udhampur to Srinagar. These would be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as the need for restriction reduces further.
  3. Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir administration and Centre had announced that the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur will be restricted for civilian traffic on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31.No civilian traffic would be allowed during the movement of the paramilitary forces.
  4. The ban on the civilian traffic was in force for the two days — Sunday and Wednesday — from 4 am to 5 pm. It was effective from Baramulla to Udhampur through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar-Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban.
  5. The government had cited the recent suicide bombing of a security forces convoy in Pulwama which killed 40 CRPF personnel as the reason for temporarily blocking part of the highway. Further, the decision was also made in view of the upcoming lok sabha elections.

Disclose details of case probed,CIC tells CBI

  1. Central information commission has directed the CBI to disclose details of a case it had investigated. CIC dismissed the CBI’s argument of being exempt from disclosure under Section 24 of the RTI act.
  2. The order by CIC came on an RTI application which has asked for information from CBI regarding the inquiry into irregular appointment of staff by the Leprosy Prevention Unit of the Bihar health department.
  3. However, the CBI had refused to share the information citing exemption under Section 24 of the RTI Act. CBI had said that Section 24(1) of the RTI Act is applicable only in cases involving allegations against their own employees and not to routine cases inquired by the branch.
  4. Section 24 of the RTI act allows a number of intelligence and security organisation not to disclose information, provided the information doesn’t pertain to allegations of corruption or violation of human rights.
  5. CIC rejected the contention of the CBI. It said that Section 24 of the RTI Act does not provide for any such exemption from disclosure once it is established that the information pertains to allegations of corruption or human rights violations.
  6. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India. It comes under the Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India. The CBI is not a statutory body. The CBI investigative and jurisdiction powers are governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.
  7. The Central Information Commission (CIC) is an 11 member commission set up under the Right to Information Act, 2005 as a quasi judicial body. It is the highest appeal body available to applicants seeking information under the RTI Act.

Centre draft rules to relieve hens of battery cage misery

  1. Central Government has come out with draft on Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules, 2019.
  2. The Delhi High Court (HC) had asked the government to come out with rules to end cruelty to egg-laying hens after it got to know that hens used for production of eggs were reared in small, barren wire cages (size of an A4 sheet) called ‘battery cages’ a name given due to the arrangement of cages placed side by side.
  3. The rules prohibit keeping hens in cramped battery cages by the poultry industry. It also prohibit the use of growth promoters in feed of hens and restricts the use of antibiotics for therapeutic (disease treatment) only.
  4. The draft rules also include a complete ban on feeding hens with remains of dead chicks and the practice of withdrawal of feed to induce molt in birds.
  5. Further, the rules also makes it mandatory to keep minimum 550 sq cm of floor space per bird. Under the rules, each cage should accommodate preferably a minimum of 6-8 birds ensuring reasonable space for hens and access to feed and water.

ADB steps up metro rail funding

  1. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to finance metro rail projects and a rapid rail corridor between Delhi and Meerut as part of its effort to improve urban transport system in India.
  2. ADB is under discussion with various multilateral funding agencies for co-financing of metro rail projects in India including Bhopal and Indore Metro projects. Further, expansion of Chennai and Bengaluru Metro are also under consideration.
  3. Earlier this year, the government had approved construction of Regional Rapid Transport System(RRTS) to connect Delhi with Meerut through Ghaziabad(Uttar Pradesh).The 82 kilometer-stretch will be covered in less than 60 minutes.
  4. The RRTS is a first-of-its-kind, rail-based, high-speed regional transit system to be implemented in India. Once operational, it will be the fastest, most comfortable and safest mode of commuter transport in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  5. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966.ADB is headquartered in Manila, Philippines. It aims to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  6. ADB has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside. Japan and US holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by the China, India and Australia. ADB is also an official United Nations Observer.

 Iraq remains the top oil supplier to India

  1. According to data collected by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Iraq has remained India’s top crude oil supplier for the second consecutive year. It met more than one-fifth of the country’s oil needs in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
  2. Saudi Arabia also maintained its position as the second-largest crude supplier to India during the year followed by Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  3. Despite US sanctions on Iran, Iran’s crude oil supply to India has increased in 2018-19.India managed to import a sizeable amount of Iranian crude last year primarily due to waivers and winding down period provided by US.
  4. However, recently the US administration has declared that it will not provide any extension of the waivers granted last year. It has also announced that all buyers of Iranian oil including India will have to end their imports by May 2, 2019 or face sanctions.
  5. The Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics works under the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. It is the pioneer official organization for collection, compilation and dissemination of India’s Trade Statistics and Commercial Information. The office is located at Kolkata.

GST collection scales record high of ₹1.13 lakh crore in April

  1. Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections has hit an all-time high of Rs 1.13 lakh crore in April. The government had collected Rs1.06 lakh crore in March.
  2. According to experts, increase in GST collections could be due to various reasons such as(a)tightening of tax compliance using the mechanism of e-way bills (b)change in taxation for real estate sector (c)higher spending decisions taken by the government ahead of general elections (d) intelligent data analytics (e)tax leakage detection and (f) consequent GST payment by businesses.
  3. GST (Goods and Services Tax) is an indirect tax that has replaced many Central and State taxes like excise duty, VAT and service tax. It is a single tax on the supply of goods and services. GST is a destination based tax as it is applied on goods and services at the place where final/actual consumption happens
  4. GST is applied to all goods other than crude petroleum, motor spirit, diesel, aviation turbine fuel and natural gas and alcohol for human consumption. There are four slabs for taxes for both goods and services which are 5%,12%,18% and 28%

Naruhito pledges to be ‘symbol of unity

  1. Japanese Emperor Naruhito took up the throne from his father, Akihito who had decided to step down. Emperor Naruhito will be Japan’s 126th emperor. The Japanese government has announced that the reign of the next Japanese emperor will be known as the “Reiwa” era.
  2. The term for the new era “Reiwa” is made up of the two characters Rei and Wa. Rei means “commands” or “order”, as well as “auspicious” or “good”.While, Wa often means “harmony” and is also used in the Japanese word for peace.
  3. Further, Akihito’s stepping down is the first abdication in 200 years, bringing his era of “Heisei” to an end. The era of “Heisei” which means “achieving peace” was the first without a war in Japan’s modern history. But it is also remembered as lost years of economic deflation and natural disasters.
  4. This era began in 1989 when Akihito succeeded his father Emperor Hirohito, who ruled during the Showa period and is now known as the Showa Emperor.

SC reserves verdict on changes to SC/ST law

  1. The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018. The amendment had nullified the controversial March 20 Supreme Court judgment.
  2. The Supreme Court of India on March 20th, 2018 issued directions to prevent the misuse of provisions of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and had issued directives to safeguards against arrest and false implication of the SC/ST Act.  The court held that there is no absolute bar for granting anticipatory bail in a matter under the Act.
  3. Further, arrest of a public servant can take place only after approval of the appointing authority and that of a non-public servant can take place only after approval by the S.S.P. which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded
  4. Moreover such reasons must be scrutinized by the Magistrate for permitting further detention. Also, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Act and that the allegations are not false or motivated.

Religious freedom on the decline in India: U.S. panel

  1. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its 2019 report, has said that there is an overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018 in India. USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission which seeks to defend the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
  2. USCIRF has placed India in the Tier 2 country category Tier 2 countries are those in which violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2018 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the Country of Particular Concern (CPC) standard. CPC status are given to countries which engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
  3. The report has identified several limitations to the right to freedom of religion or belief and challenges faced by religious minorities in India. It has identified a number of extremist groups who are responsible for an organised campaign of alienation against non-Hindus or low-caste Hindus.
  4. It has also stated that anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws are predominately used to discriminate against religious minorities. It has also raised concerns over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
  5. On a positive note, it has highlighted that that communal attacks dropped by 12 % in 2018 from their 2017 levels. Further, there has been a 12% increase in the budget of the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
  6. Fundamental right to freedom of religion is guaranteed under Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 of Part III of the Indian Constitution.
  7. Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Also, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights upholds the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 to be launched in July

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that Chandrayaan-2 is set to be launched any time between July 5 and July 16, 2019. The moon landing is likely to be in early September, 2019 close to the lunar South Pole.
  2. Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon. It 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 payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.
  4. Chandrayaan-2 will launch aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, (GSLV -MK III) rocket. The GSLV-MkIII is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle that has been designed to carry four-tonne class satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  5. Chandrayaan-2 is a follow-up mission from the Chandrayaan-1 mission- India’s first lunar mission. It was launched in October 2008 and operated till August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor. The mission was launched on board a PSLV.

 EC places bar on Pragya’s campaign

  1. The Election Commission has barred one of the BJP’s candidate from campaigning for 72 hours for her remarks on former Mumbai’s ATS chief and Babri mosque demolition.
  2. The EC has found her statements to be provocative and having the potential to spread hatred. Further, the EC has noted that the statements were aimed at securing votes on religious grounds which is in violation of the provisions of para 3 of part 1 ‘General conduct’ of Model Code of conduct.
  3. para 3 of part 1 ‘General conduct’ of Model Code of conduct states that there should not be any appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes
  4. Model code of Conduct (MCC) are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections.
  5. The MCC comes into force immediately on the announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.

 Cyclone Fani: INCOIS warns of damage along east coast

  1. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has warned that Cyclone Fani would likely damage to locations even far away along the east coast due to sustained high winds, storm surges and swell waves.
  2. INCOIS’s Ocean State Forecast Operations Centre has issued warnings along the east coast – Odisha, West Bengal and Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  3. Cyclonic storm Fani is the first severe, cyclonic storm to have formed in April in India’s oceanic neighbourhood since 1976. Severe cyclones generate maximum wind speeds of 89-117 kmph.
  4. ESSO-INCOIS is an autonomous body of under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO). It is mandated to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community.

 Denisovans lived in Tibetan Plateau, fossil evidence shows

  1. Analysis of a fossil jawbone containing molars recovered from Baishiya Karst cave in Xiahe, Gansu, Tibet, China has revealed that Denisovans lived in the Tibetan Plateau some 1,60,000 years ago. The study has been published in the journal Nature.
  2. The Denisovans or Denisova hominins are an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans in the genus Homo. It was first discovered from a bone fragment in Denisova Cave (700 metres) in Siberia.
  3. It is popularly believed that that high altitude regions were inhabited only by modern humans dating back to less than 40,000 years. However, the latest fossil remains conclusively prove that Denisovans lived in the Tibetan Plateau at an altitude of 3,280 metres much earlier.
  4. According to the study, Denisovans evolved a genetic adaptation that helped them to cope in low-oxygen environment. This was eventually passed on to some modern Tibetans.


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