9 PM Current Affairs Brief – May 9, 2019

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Stick to deadline on finalisation of Assam NRC: Supreme Court

  1. The Supreme Court has said that it will not extend the July 31 deadline for finalisation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
  2. Further, the apex court has directed Assam NRC Co-ordinator to act with “wise discretion” while dealing with objectors who had failed to appear for scheduled hearings. The direction after the court was informed that many persons, who had objected to exclusion from the draft NRC are not coming forward before panels which are dealing with such complaints.
  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. The update is being carried out under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord, 1985.
  4. Assam Accord is a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement- a movement against illegal immigrants in Assam. As per the accord, there has to be a separate NRC for Assam.
  5. Citizenship Act, 1955- dealing with acquisition and loss of citizenship in India- was amended in 1985 to incorporate Section 6A. This section fixes March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.
  6. The draft Assam NRC was published on July 30, 2018 in which the names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included. Over 35 lakh people excluded from the draft had filed claims for Indian citizenship.


VVPAT: Opposition has a recourse in slip counting

  1. Recently, the Supreme Court has rejected opposition parties’ demand for 50% random physical verification of electronic voting machines using the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).
  2. Instead the Court has 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.
  3. However, opposition parties can still take recourse to Section 56-D of the Conduct of Election Rules to request for slip counting. Section 56-C of the Rules provides for the procedure of vote counting.
  4. In case a candidate or election agent disputes the announced results of any polling station(s), they can seek scrutiny of VVPAT slips under Section 56-D. It allows any candidate, or in his absence, his election agent or any of his counting agents to apply in writing to the returning officer to count the printed paper slips in the drop box of the printer in respect of polling station(s)
  5. Once such an application is made the returning officer can accept or reject the request if it appears to him to be frivolous or unreasonable. The returning officer’s decision has to be in writing and must contain the reasons for accepting or rejecting the request. In case the officer allows the counting of slips, the counting has to be done according to EC directions.
  6. If any discrepancy between the votes displayed on the control unit and the counting of the paper slips is detected, the slip count prevails. The results are then amended and announced following a set of procedures.
  7. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached to an 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.


SC orders demolition of 5 apartments Ernakulam’s Maradu municipality

  1. The Supreme Court has ordered the demolition of five high-rise apartments in Ernakulam’s Maradu municipality near Kochi in Kerala for violating the provisions of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.
  2. According to the expert committee formed by SC to look into the matter, the apartments come within the CRZ III. As per the CRZ notification 1991, no construction is permitted within 200 metres from the coastal line in CRZ III.
  3. The Indian government issued Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification in 1991 under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The main aim of the Rules is to protect the coastal environment.
  4. According to the notification, all the coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers and backwaters which are influenced by tidal action (in the landward side) up to 500 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL) and the land between the Low Tide Line (LTL) and the HTL are defined as Coastal Regulation Zone.
  5. Further, coastal areas are classified into four categories depending on the importance of the area. Category I covers areas that are ecologically sensitive and important, such as national parks marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats, mangroves, corals/coral reefs, etc. No new construction is permitted within 500 metres of the HTL in this area.
  6. Category II deals with areas that have already been developed up to or close to the shore-line. No building is permitted on the seaward side of the existing road.
  7. Areas that are relatively undisturbed and those that do not belong to either Category-I or II are classified as Category III. The areas up to 200 metres from the High Tide Line are earmarked as ‘No Development Zone’.
  8. Coastal stretches in the Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep and small islands except those designated as CRZ-I, CRZ-II or CRZ-III are designated as Category IV.
  9. In 2018, the government approved Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2018. It has been widely criticised by environmentalists on the grounds that it has put the fragile coastal ecology at stake and opened it up to realtors and large-scale development projects.


India’s newest pit viper found in Arunachal Pradesh

  1. A team of herpetologists have described a new species of reddish-brown pit viper which has been found in a forest in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. The discovery has been published in the March-April volume of the Russian Journal of Herpetology.
  2. It has been named as Trimeresurus arunachalensis. It is the second serpent to have been discovered in Arunachal Pradesh after the non-venomous crying keelback in the Lepa-Rada district in 2018. The new species has made Arunachal Pradesh the only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it.
  3. India had four brown pit vipers before the Arunachal Pradesh discovery. These are Malabar, horseshoe, hump-nosed and Himalayan pit vipers
  4. Pit vipers are a subfamily of venomous vipers found in Eurasia and the Americas. They are distinguished by the presence of a heat-sensing pit organ located between the eye and the nostril on both sides of the head.


WHO for eliminating industrially produced Trans fats by 2023

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to achieve the goal of eliminating industrially produced Trans-fats by 2023. In 2018, WHO had launched REPLACE- a comprehensive plan to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023.
  2. Trans-fat are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. It is used to increase the shelf life of foods.
  3. The WHO estimates that consumption of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs) high in trans-fat leads to more than 5lakh deaths annually due to cardiovascular disease.
  4. WHO guidelines recommend a maximum one percent total energy intake from all trans-fat and intake of saturated fat not exceeding 10 percent of total energy intake
  5. IFBA was founded in 2008 by the CEOs of leading food and non-alcoholic beverage companies to empower consumers to eat balanced diets and live healthier lives, in support of the World Health Organization’s efforts to improve global public health


CBIC organises meeting of Regional Heads of Customs Administration of Asia Pacific Region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in Kochi

  1. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is organising a meeting of the Regional Heads of Customs Administration of Asia Pacific Region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in Kochi,Kerala.
  2. India is hosting this meeting in its capacity as Vice Chair of the Asia Pacific region for a two-year period from July, 2018 to June,2020.
  3. The meeting will take stock of the progress being made in carrying forward the programmes and initiatives of WCO to promote,facilitate and secure the cross-border trade in the region and the capacity building and technical assistance required to achieve this goal.
  4. The World Customs Organization(WCO) established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council(CCC) is an independent inter governmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.
  5. WCO represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.The WCO has divided its Membership into six Regions.Each of the six Regions is represented by a regionally elected Vice-Chairperson to the WCO Council.
  6. WCO offers its members a range of Conventions and other international instruments, as well as technical assistance and training services provided either directly by the Secretariat, or with its participation.
  7. Further,WCO has also been responsible for administering the World Trade Organization’s agreement on Customs Valuation which provide a system for placing values on imported goods, and the Rules of Origin, which are used to determine the origin of a given commodity


Govt:No impact of NSSO survey on GDP numbers

  1. The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MOSPI) has clarified that there will not be any impact of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report on gross domestic product (GDP) data.
  2. This clarification came after NSSO report had found that 36% of the companies in the MCA21 database maintained by the ministry of corporate affairs(MCA) could not be traced or were wrongly classified.
  3. India’s new GDP series which was published in 2015 had moved the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12.It had used the MCA21 database to calculate the country’s economic output.The earlier series did not use this database as it was available from 2006-07 onwards.
  4. MCA21 is an e-Governance initiative of Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA).It enables an easy and secure access of the MCA services to the corporate entities, professionals and citizens of India.
  5. The MCA21 application offers the following (a)Enables the business community to register a company and file statutory documents quickly and easily (b)Provides easy access of public documents (c)Helps faster and effective resolution of public grievances (d)Helps registration and verification of charges easily and (e)Ensures proactive and effective compliance with relevant laws and corporate governance.


India’s Jagjit Pavadia re-elected to International Narcotics Control Board

  1. India’s Jagjit Pavadia has been re-elected to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) for another term.
  2. The International Narcotics Control Board(INCB) is an independent and quasi-judicial control organ for the implementation of the United Nations drug conventions.
  3. INCB consists of 13 members who are elected by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).Once they have been elected,INCB members serve impartially in their personal capacity independently of Governments.
  4. The United Nations Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organisation.
  5. The Council serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating policy recommendations addressed to the member states and the United Nations system.

Income support, UDAY driving fiscal slippages: RBI

  1. The Reserve Bank has warned of the rising risks to fiscal consolidation of the states as their finances are burdened with (a)farm loan waivers (b)income support schemes and (c)UDAY bonds for their power distribution companies.
  2. These remarks were made during a meeting between the members of the 15th Finance Commission and the RBI members.
  3. Further,other issues raised by RBI included (a)necessity of setting up state finance commissions (b)public sector borrowings (c)continuity of finance commission and (d)development of expenditure codes especially given that expenditure norms vary from State to State.
  4. The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana(Uday) was launched in 2015.It envisaged state governments taking over 75% of the utilities debts,thus reducing the interest burden on the discoms.In turn,the discoms were to improve their financial and operational parameters and become more efficient.
  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 Chairman of the 15th finance commission is chaired by N. K.Singh.Its recommendations will cover the five year period commencing from 1st April,2020.


Iran says it will not honour nuclear curbs

  1. Iran has said it will start withdrawing parts of its commitments under its 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
  2. Iran has also 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.
  3. In response,US President has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Iran’s metals industry. Metal industry is the second biggest export earner after oil for Iran.
  4. Further,the US has also urged Europeans not to back the Instex or special purpose vehicle devised to trade with Iran. Instex is a new payment mechanism set up by the UK, France and Germany to allow businesses to trade with Iran without being subject to sanctions.
  5. However,European leaders have also urged Iran not to take further escalatory steps and to stand by its commitments under 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


KVIC distributes over 1 lakh bee-boxes under ‘Honey Mission

  1. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has distributed more than one lakh bee-boxes among farmers and unemployed youths across the country in less than two years under its ‘Honey Mission’ initiative.
  2. The mission was launched in August 2017 in line with the ‘Sweet Revolution’.The ‘Sweet Revolution’ was launched in 2016 to promote beekeeping and associated activities.
  3. Its aim is to provide sustainable employment and income to rural and urban unemployed youth by conserving the honeybee habitat and tapping untapped natural resources.
  4. Further,it also seeks to promote beekeeping for increasing crop productivity and pollination services avenue for beekeepers and farmers.
  5. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body formed by the Government of India under the Act of Parliament ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956.
  6. It is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro,Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India.


Victims of mob lynching, human trafficking in Maharashtra to get compensation

  1. Maharashtra Government has formulated a policy on cases of mob lynching.This policy came after Supreme Court had pulled up States across the country for not formulating such a policy.
  2. The new policy has pegged the amount of compensation between ₹2 lakh and ₹3 lakh which could be increased to ₹10 lakh in special cases.
  3. Further,human trafficking as a separate category was also added following petitions from several organisations which had argued that the victims be duly compensated.
  4. The Government has said that human trafficking victims will also be awarded a compensation equal to that of mob lynching.
  5. This proposed policy will be in addition to the existing scheme for victims of communal violence who get ₹5 lakh compensation.
  6. Lynching is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group.It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor or to intimidate a group.


Mueller report: Trump asserts executive privilege

  1. The US President has asserted executive privilege in an effort to shield hidden portions of Robert Mueller incomplete report.It is the first time the current US President has invoked executive privilege to shield information from Congress.
  2. Executive privilege is a right claimed by presidents to withhold information about internal executive branch deliberations from other branches of government.
  3. Recently,United States Department of Justice has released the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.The report looks into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential elections which saw incumbent US President Donald Trump rise to power.
  4. There were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election: (a)disinformation and social media operations and (b)computer hacking designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.
  5. The report has said that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the US President campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts


Home Ministry has done away with Black Lists of Indian-origin people: Officials

  1. The Home Ministry has decided to discard its ‘Black List’ of Indian-origin people.
  2. The list mostly comprised the names of people belonging to the Sikh Community who had taken asylum abroad under the plea of alleged persecution in India.
  3. The Blacklist was maintained by Indian missions and posts abroad. Those who were in the Blacklist were denied visa services by Indian missions and posts.
  4. With the decision to do away with the list,such asylum seekers along with their family will be granted visa and consular services at par with foreigners of the country in which they are living.
  5. The asylum seekers can also obtain Overseas Citizen of India cards if they have held normal Indian visas for at least two years.
  6. The Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in the Republic of India indefinitely.It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act,2005.


Goa’s Serendipity Arts Festival announces new set of curators

  1. The Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF) will be organised from December 15,2019 in Panaji,Goa.The festival is organised by Serendipity Arts Foundation,a not for profit organisation.
  2. Serendipity Arts Festival is a multidisciplinary Festival that brings together performative,visual and culinary practices from India and beyond in ways unseen before.It aims to energise arts production, awareness and practice across South Asia.
  3. The annual arts festival will include disciplines like music, dance, theatre, culinary arts, visual arts, crafts and photography. Each discipline will be curated by two curators.
  4. This year’s event will also feature a digital campaign #LookToSee which urges the public to introspect and observe the finer nuances of art.


ASI identifies Indian artefacts seized from smuggler Subhash Kapoor

  1. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during a team’s recent visit to the United States has identified a range of Indian antiquities and artefacts that were smuggled from India.
  2. Antiquity is an article or object (example: coin, sculpture, painting or epigraph, or anything taken from a building or cave) that is at least 100 years old. These illustrates the science, art, crafts or customs or religion or literature of a bygone age, or anything of historical interest. If it is a manuscript or record of any scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value, it should be at least 75 years’ old.
  3. The antiquities in India are governed by The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972. The main purpose of the act is to regulate the export trade in antiquities and art treasures and prevent smuggling and fraudulent dealings of antiquities and art treasures. An art treasure is a human work of art, other than an antiquity. It is to be declared a treasure by the Centre for its artistic value after the artist’s death.
  4. The Act is regulated by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). ASI, under the ministry of Culture, is the nodal agency responsible for archaeological excavations, conservation of monuments, and protection of heritage sites, antiquities and art treasures.
  5. Under the act, it is mandatory to register possession of an antiquity with the ASI. Further, an antiquity can be sold within the country only by a licenced person. Section 3 of the Act prohibits export of an antiquity by anyone other than the Centre or its agencies.



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