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Current Affairs - 17 August 2018

NATION

BJP’s gentle colossus fades away
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the only non-Congress leader to have completed a full term as Prime Minister, breathed his last at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here on Thursday evening. The 12-time parliamentarian was 93. 
  • He will be given a state funeral in the national capital on Friday. His last rites will take place at Smriti Sthal, close to the Rajghat, at 5 p.m.
  • The Union Cabinet announced state mourning for seven days and a half-day Central government holiday on Friday.
  • Mr. Vajpayee was PM thrice in 1996, 1998-1999 and 1999-2004. 
  • Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, former Prime Minister was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States, the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh, and was twice a member of the Rajya Sabha. 
  • He was a member of the RSS from 1939, and after completing his M.A. in political science from Kanpur, began full time work for the RSS.
  • As one of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in 1951, he became its president in 1968 upon the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya.
  • As his parliamentary career flourished, Mr. Vajpayee made a name for himself as an orator with poetic flourishes. His poetry was collated in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems).
  • After the Emergency was declared in 1975, Mr. Vajpayee and the Jan Sangh became constituents of the Janata Party, and he became External Affairs Minister after the rout of the Congress in 1977.
Odisha to showcase its biodiversity
  • The Odisha government is setting up a world-class interpretation centre at Dangamal near Bhitarkanika National Park to showcase its efforts in protecting crocodiles and preserving its rich mangrove diversity.
  • The project, which has been approved under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, will be taken up at an estimated cost of ₹3 crore.
  • Bhitarkanika, one of the State’s finest biodiversity hotspots, receives close to one lakh visitors every year. 
  • The park is famous for its green mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles and countless creeks. It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
Reduce water level in Mullaperiyar to 139 ft, orders SC
  • The Supreme Court on Thursday told Tamil Nadu and Kerala that “an effort has to be made to bring the water level [in the Mullaperiya dam] to 139 feet so that people downstream (of the dam) do not live in constant fear”.
  • The authorities should notify a disaster management plan to the public in Kerala, “so that people ultimately do not suffer a catastrophe”.
  • The Bench, also comprising Justice Indu Malhotra, was hearing — on an urgent basis — a petition filed by Russel Joy, a resident in the downstream area of the Mullaperiyar dam in Idukki district of Kerala, highlighting the perils of a dangerously-high water level in the British-era dam, made worse by the utter lack of co-ordination between the two State governments and a non-existent disaster management plan.
  • Kerala submitted that the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam may have reached 142 feet, the maximum permissible level allowed by the Supreme Court.
  • With the death toll in Kerala nearing 100, release of water by Tamil Nadu from the dam would be devastating, Kerala said.
No creamy layer norm for SCs/STs
  • The government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the “creamy layer” concept could not be applied to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, who have suffered for centuries.
  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal argued that SC/ST are a “homogeneous group and any action to regroup them based on economic or social advancement would not be apt”.
  • The government wants a larger Bench of the Supreme Court to set aside its 2006 judgment in the Nagaraj case. This verdict mandates that the government cannot introduce quota in promotion for SC/ST persons in public employment unless they prove that the particular Dalit community is backward, is inadequately represented and such a reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration.
  • The government has argued that the judgment was a roadblock to its authority to introduce quota in promotions in favour of SC/ST communities as per Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution.
WORLD

Malian President wins second term
  • Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won a landslide victory in a run-off against Opposition rival Soumaïla Cissé, the government said, giving him a second term. Mr. Keita won 67% of the vote in an election marred by militant attacks and allegations of fraud.

ECONOMY

Growth impulses remain strong: Patel
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel sees domestic growth impulses continuing to remain reasonably strong as the monsoon, which has been normal ‘so far’, augurs well for the farm sector, according to the minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee’s meeting earlier this month.
  • The RBI on August 1 retained its forecast for GDP growth in the current fiscal year at 7.4% and projected the pace at 7.5% for the first quarter of 2019-20.
  • On August 1, the RBI, raised the benchmark repo rate by 25 basis points (bps), with five of the six members voting for an increase.
  • The last three rounds of RBI’s Inflation Expectations Survey (IES) of households reflected a hardening of the 3-month ahead and 12-month ahead inflation expectations by 110 bps and 150 bps, respectively.
India Ratings cuts growth forecast for FY19 to 7.2%
  • India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has revised its FY19 economic growth forecast down to 7.2% from 7.4% earlier.
  • It cited the headwinds emanating from elevated global crude oil prices and the government’s decision to fix the minimum support prices of all kharif crops at 1.5 times of the production cost as the reason for the downward revision. 
  • Ind-Ra also pointed to other headwinds such as rising trade protectionism and depreciating rupee.
Steel imports from Japan, South Korea surge
  • India is being hit by a wave of steel from producers in Japan and South Korea, a government document showed, as mills there redirect supply after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped an import duty on the alloy earlier this year.
  • During the first quarter of the fiscal year starting in April, India’s steel imports from South Korea rose 31% from a year earlier, while those from Japan climbed 30%, according to an internal document from the Ministry of Steel that was reviewed by Reuters.
  • The flood of imports is so big that the government in New Delhi is considering measures to control imports, Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh told Reuters.