GS-2 Tally EVM-VVPAT slips before final counting, Opposition tells EC
  1. Twenty-two Opposition parties have met the Election Commission (EC) demanding that tallying of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips in five polling booths in each Assembly segment with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) be done prior to the counting of votes.
  2. Further, the parties have demanded that if any discrepancy is found anywhere in the VVPAT verification, 100% counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that Assembly segment should be done.
  3. However, the EC remained non-committal and told them that there would be a special meeting of the full Commission to examine the issue.
  4. As per the Supreme Court’s order, The EC will counter-check the VVPAT and EVM tallies in five randomly selected polling stations in an Assembly segment. Previously, under the ECI guideline 16.6, only the VVPAT slips from one EVM in every Assembly segment/constituency was subjected to physical verification.
  5. 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
West Nile fever cases in Kozhikode go unnoticed?
  1. A month after a boy from Malappuram died of West Nile fever in March, four cases of the infection have been reported from within the Kozhikode Corporation limits in Kerala.
  2. he West Nile fever is a zoonotic disease. It is caused by the West Nile Virus. Birds are the natural hosts of West Nile virus (WNV).
  3. According to world Health Organization (WHO) West Nile virus transmits to humans through bites from infected Culex mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. It may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood, or other tissues. However, according to WHO, no human-to—human transmission from casual contact has not been documented.
  4. Symptoms of the virus infection include cold, fever, fatigue and nausea. It can cause fatal neurological disease in humans.
  5. West Nile Virus was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937. An epidemic of WNV was reported in humans in Israel in 1951.
EC to set up control room for EVM complaints
  1. The Election Commission has announced that an EVM control room will be set up at the Nirvachan Sadan for handling any EVM-related complaints till the completion of counting. The control room will become operative from 11 a.m. on May 22.
  2. This comes amidst concerns over alleged tampering and suspected manipulation of EVMs used in 2019 Lok Sabha Election being raised by opposition parties.
  3. Any complaints on counting day related to EVMs can be put forth at the control room. Their number is 011- 23052123.
  4. The EC has further said that strongrooms have been designed to keep sealed EVMs and VVPATs in the presence of candidates and observers of the commission. The entire process of storage and sealing of the strongroom has been videoed.
8th Indo-Myanmar coordinated Navy patrol begins
  1. The 2019 India Myanmar coordinated patrol(IMCOR) has started from May 20,2019 at Port Blair,Andaman and Nicobar.
  2. This exercise aims to address (a)issues of terrorism (b)illegal fishing (c)drug trafficking (d)human trafficking (e)poaching and (f)other illegal activities inimical to the interests of both the countries.
  3. This coordinated patrol exercise was started in 2013.It has helped in enhancing the mutual understanding between the two countries and has also helped in improving professional interaction between the two navies for maritime interoperability.
  4. In this exercise,Myanmar ships UMS King TabinShweHti and UMS Inlay would undertake a coordinated patrol with Indian Naval Ship Saryu.The patrolling effort will be augmented by Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies.
  5. Further,the ships would also patrol along the International Maritime Boundary Line(IMBL) between the two countries covering a distance of approximately 725 kms.
UK scraps landing Cards for Indians, others at airports
  1. The UK government has decided to scrap the requirement of filling out landing cards by international travellers coming to the UK from countries like India.
  2. Earlier,landing cards were required for all passengers arriving by air or sea from outside the European Economic Area(EEA).
  3. A UK landing card (or arrival card) were issued to non-EEA travelers since 1971.The card records the purpose of the traveler’s visit and the duration of their stay.
  4. The card also used to record whether or not a traveler has brought items into the UK that warrant inspection by customs authorities.It was also the only record of conversations that took place between a traveler and Visas and Immigration desk personnel.
  5. The European Economic Area (EEA) is an agreement made in 1992.It brings together the 28 European Union member countries and the three EEA states which are (a)Iceland (b)Liechtenstein and (c)Norway into a single market.
  6. The purpose of the agreement was to strengthen trade and economic relations between the countries by removing trade barriers and imposing equal conditions of competition and compliance with the same rules.
  7. Further,it provides for the inclusion of EU legislation covering the four freedoms namely (a)free movement of goods (b)services (c) persons and (d)capital throughout the 31 EEA States.
CCI probing if Maruti forced its dealers to limit their discounts
  1. The Competition Commission of India(CCI) is looking into allegations against Maruti Suzuki for resorting to anti-competitive practices.
  2. The allegation is that Maruti Suzuki has forced its dealers to limit the discounts they offer which had effectively stifled the competition among the dealers.It had also harmed the consumers who could have benefited from lower prices if the dealers had operated freely.
  3. Automakers usually sell cars at wholesale prices to dealers who sell them to customers at a higher retail price that includes their commissions .It is up to the dealer to offer discounts and take a lower profit margin which they often do.
  4. However,Car makers at times set a limit on discounts its dealers could offer to ensure there is no price war among them but Indian law says this practice which is described as resale price maintenance is prohibited if it causes appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
  5. In 2017, South Korean firm Hyundai’s India unit was fined $12.5 million by the CCI for antitrust violations including resale price maintenance.The CCI found that Hyundai had fixed the maximum amount of discount for its cars and restricted competition among dealers.
  6. 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.
  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.
Bangladesh halts visas for Pakistani nationals
  1. Bangladesh has halted issuance of visas to Pakistani nationals.It was stopped after the Bangladesh diplomat’s visa-extension application has not been cleared by the Pakistan government.
  2. Pakistan has delayed the renewal of the visa after Bangladesh had refused to accept the nomination of the new high commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh for over a year.
  3. Tensions between Pakistan and Bangladesh had increased after the Bangladesh tribunal had awarded five war criminals the death sentence for committing crimes against humanity and siding with Pakistani troops in carrying out genocide during the Liberation War in 1971.
  4. In response,Pakistan’s parliament had passed strong resolutions against the hanging of these war criminals on several occasions which Bangladesh considers an interference in its internal affairs.
  5. In 1971,a civil war had broken out in Pakistan leading to its division after the Pakistan army launched a military operation in East Pakistan to suppress the Bengali speaking people who were seeking independence.
  6. Indian military intervention ordered by the then prime minister had brought the war to an end and led to Bangladesh's emergence as a free nation.
Indian peacekeeper to be honoured posthumously with UN medal
  1. The United Nations has announced that it has decided to honour the Indian peacekeeper with a prestigious UN Dag Hammarskjold Medal for courage and sacrifice in the line of duty.
  2. Indian UN Peacekeeper had made the sacrifice while serving in the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo(MONUSCO).This award will be honoured on International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
  3. United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948.It maintains three basic principles which are (a)Consent of the parties (b)impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and (c)defence of the mandate.
  4. The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO).UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds and from areas all around the world.UN peacekeepers are often referred as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets.
  5. India is the fourth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to the UN peacekeeping.It currently contributes more than 6,400 military and police personnel to UN peace operations.
  6. According to the UN, India has lost the highest number of its peacekeepers deployed in various UN peacekeeping operations in the last 70 years.
  RBI to create regulatory cadre
  1. The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) Central board has decided to create a specialised supervisory and regulatory cadre within the RBI to strengthen the supervision and regulation of commercial banks, urban cooperative banks and non-banking financial companies.
  2. The RBI’s decision to create a specialised regulatory cadre is important in light of increasing complexity of the regulated entities such as banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
  3. Cases of large frauds at banks and defaults by NBFCs which has affected the financial markets over the past year was in need of a specialized supervision to ensure that the financial sector remains in good health.
  4. At present,the RBI follows a risk-based supervision approach and assesses financial institutions across a whole host of parameters.These parameters include functioning of the board and board committees, credit appraisal and IT systems among others.
  5. As part of the inspection process, the regulator points out any shortcomings it finds and communicates corrective measures needed to the bank.Despite these systems being in place,the Indian financial system has seen a number of defaults and frauds in recent years.
UN lowers India’s FY20 GDP growth forecast
  1. United Nations(UN) in its World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report has lowered India’s GDP growth in 2019-20 to 7.1% from its estimate of 7.5%.It was due to overall slowdown in global growth.
  2. The report has said that despite the downward revisions, India still remains the fastest growing major economy in the world ahead of China.
  3. The United Nations has also downgraded its forecast for world economic growth announcing that it expects overall growth of 2.7% in 2019 and 2.9% in 2020.
  4. The report has identified several downside risks that could trigger a more prolonged growth slowdown in the world economy which includes (a)further escalation in trade tensions (b)a sudden deterioration in financial conditions and (c)accelerating effects of climate change.
  5. Further,the UN report has also warned that if large economies continue to raise tariffs and escalate the trade war then the less developed economies could suffer more as they depend on large economies for their exports.
  6. WESP report is a joint product of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions.
Co-location: NSE knocks on SAT’s door
  1. National Stock Exchange of India(NSE) has challenged co-location orders of the Securities and Exchange Board of India(Sebi) before Securities Appellate Tribunal(SAT).
  2. The order was challenged on the grounds that it is unsustainable, arbitrary and disproportionate order.NSE has alleged that Sebi orders have not shown that any trading member got any advantage because of preferential access.
  3. Recently,SEBI had barred National Stock Exchange(NSE) from raising money on securities markets for six months and has also fined NSE Rs 1000 crore under NSE co-location scam.
  4. Co-location refers to the system wherein a broker’s server is kept in the exchange premises to reduce latency, or delay in computing terms, while executing trades.
  5. SEBI had found that NSE while disseminating data through co-location facilities allowed certain users to get information before others thereby creating an information asymmetry.
  6. Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) is a statutory body established under the provisions of Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act,1992.It’s headquarters is at Mumbai.
  7. The mandate of SAT is to hear and dispose of appeals against the orders passed by the (a)Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (b)Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) and (c)Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI).
  8. The National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) is the leading stock exchange of India,located in Mumbai.The NSE was established in 1992 as the first demutualized electronic exchange in the country.
Model code of conduct: Dissenting opinions won’t be part of orders, says Election Commission
  1. The Election Commission has overruled one of the Election Commissioner demands for making a member’s dissent on model code of conduct(MCC) violation cases public.
  2. EC by majority has held that MCC matters were not quasi-judicial proceedings and hence did not require dissent or minority views to be conveyed as part of the final order.
  3. Recently,one of the Election Commissioner has dissented with the opinion of other Election Commissioners in five different matters pertaining to alleged violations of the MCC.
  4. The Election Commissioner has also recused himself from all meetings on MCC violations in protest over inaction on his suggestion seeking quick disposal of MCC complaints and his minority decisions going unrecorded in the EC’s final orders.
  5. Section 10 (Disposal of business by Election Commission) of The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act,1991 lays down that all business of the Commission shall as far as possible be transacted unanimously.
  6. However,If the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (ECs) differ in opinion on any matter,such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority.
  7. Model code of Conduct(MCC) are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections.
New govt. to decide on extension of RTE Act
  1. The Central Government has told the Delhi high court that the extension of the Right to Education Act(RTE) to secondary education is a policy decision which could be decided only once the new government comes.
  2. The government response came on a PIL which had sought for extension of RTE for students from the economically weaker sections (EWS) and disadvantaged groups (DG) up to class 12 in private unaided schools.
  3. At present,the RTE Act allows students from the EWS and DG categories to avail facilities of free education till class 8.The plea had contended that after the completion of class 8 private schools either force students to leave or make them pay higher fee.
  4. Article 21A of the Constitution makes it obligatory on the State to provide free and compulsory education to children between the ages of 6 and 14 years.The Parliament enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education(RTE) Act in 2009 to give effect to it.
  5. Recently,the RTE act was amended by the Parliament.The amendment scrapped the no detention policy which had ensured that no student could be held back (or failed) in a class until the end of elementary education that is till Standard 8th.
GS-3 Vice President calls for protecting Ongole cattle breed
  1. The Vice President of India has called for protecting the indigenous Ongole cattle breed.He has said this while releasing a Compendium on Ongole cattle breed at the Swarna Bharat Trust in Vijayawada,Andhra Pradesh.
  2. Ongole cattle is indigenous cattle breed that originates from Prakasam District in the state of Andhra Pradesh.The breed derives its name from the place the breed originates from Ongole.
  3. Ongole cattle are known for their toughness,rapid growth rate and natural tolerance to tropical heat.It was the first Indian breed of cattle to gain worldwide recognition.
  4. Further,Ongole breed of cattle has a great demand as it is said to possess resistance to both foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.
  5. These cattle are commonly used in bull fights in Mexico and some parts of East Africa due to their strength and aggressiveness.They also participate in traditional bull fights in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Not all animals migrate by choice’ campaign launched to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade
  1. UN Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has launched an awareness campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’.
  2. The campaign aims at creating awareness and garnering public support for the (a)protection and conservation of wildlife (b)prevention of smuggling and (c)reduction in demand for wildlife products.
  3. The campaign also complements worldwide action on illegal trade in wildlife through UN Environment’s global campaign called as Wild for Life.
  4. In the first phase of the campaign (a)Tiger (b)Pangolin (c)Star Tortoise and (d)Tokay Gecko have been chosen as they are highly endangered due to illegal trading in International markets. Phase two will see more threatened species.
  5. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  6. Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies.It is also mandated to establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank.
  7. It also assists the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.