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Current Affairs - 30 August 2018

NATION

SC allows rights activists to remain under house arrest
  • The Supreme Court ordered the Pune police to place the five well-known rights activists they detained in a countrywide crackdown under house arrest, and that too, in their own homes.
  • The court was hearing a petition filed by five eminent persons — Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maja Dharuwala.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, lashed out at the “sweeping round of arrests,” observing that democracy could not survive without dissenting voices. “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If dissent is not allowed, democracy will burst under pressure,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, said.
  • Poet Varavara Rao was picked up in Hyderabad, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai, Arun Ferreira in Chhattisgarh and Gautam Navlakha in Delhi.
Over 99% of demonetised notes were returned: RBI

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s annual report for 2017-18 said more than 99% of the ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, which were withdrawn from circulation in November 2016, had been returned to the central bank.
  • According to the report, after verification and reconciliation, the total value of the ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes as on November 8, 2016, when demonetisation was announced, was ₹15.41 lakh crore. The total value of such notes returned from circulation is ₹15.31 lakh crore. 
NGT forms oversight panel
  • Directing the Uttarakhand government to check illegal constructions in the Haridwar forest division, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted an oversight committee.
  • A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel said:“The committee may requisition services of such technical experts as may be necessary and may also carry out visits to sites whenever necessary. The committee may also set up website for receiving and giving information on the subject. The panel may also involve educational institutions for awareness and feedback.”
  • The directions came while the green panel was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Gauri Maulekhi, alleging violation of relevant forest laws and presence of illegal constructions in the Haridwar forest division.
Mahanadi continues to swell
  • The water level in Mahanadi continued to swell on Wednesday flooding some low-lying areas in Sambalpur, Boudh and Subarnapur districts. More areas in several districts of coastal Odisha are likely to face similar situation on Thursday.
  • As many as 25 gates of the Hirakud Dam reservoir were opened for the second day the volume of water flowing at Mundali barrage in Mahanadi near Cuttack was likely to cross 8.5 lakh cusecs mark.
  • The Hirakud Dam authorities had kept 25 gates open at the reservoir as the upper catchment areas of the dam in Chhattisgarh had experienced heavy rain.
  • The Revenue and Disaster Management Department of the State government has already deployed three teams of NDRF and two teams of ODRAF for immediate rescue operation.
Arunachal Pradesh to create three districts
  • The Arunachal Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday passed a Bill for the creation of three new districts -- Pakke-Kesang, Lepa Rada and Shi Yomi - in the State. 
  • Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein had introduced the Arunachal Pradesh Re-Organisation of Districts (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the House.
  • The Assembly passed the Bill by voice vote.
Cabinet clears ₹1,600 cr. mission to map coasts
  • India is set to get more disaster warning systems along its coasts. While it already has a tsunami warning system in place, the new systems will keep an eye out for “tsunamis and storm surges,” according to an official release.
  • The system is part of a programme called O-SMART (Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science) that is being piloted by the Union earth sciences ministry. 
  • It was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, at an outlay of ₹1,623 crore.
  • O-SMART will provide economic benefits to a number of user communities in the coastal and ocean sectors.
  • Other key missions under O-SMART include strengthening of Ocean Observations and Modelling, strengthening of Ocean Services for fishermen, setting up marine observatories for monitoring marine pollution, setting up Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant (OTEC) in Kavaratti, acquiring two coastal research vessels, continuation of ocean survey and exploration of minerals and living resources, technology development for Deep Ocean Mining and manned submersibles and the setting up six desalination plants in Lakshadweep.
Joint military exercise in Russia ends
  • Exercise Peace Mission 2018, the joint military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), ended in Russia with the eight-member states undertaking joint training on combating terrorism.
  • This is the first time India and Pakistan participated in the exercise, which began on August 24 at the firing ranges in Chebarkul.
  • India, China, Kazakhstan and Russia showcased their armoured and mechanised forces while Pakistan had sent only Special Forces personnel. The Indian delegation was led by Lt. Gen Satish Dua, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.
  • China welcomed the participation of the two south Asian countries in the exercise and said stability between the two countries was “significant to the peace and development of the region and the whole world.”
WORLD

2+2 talks to focus on China
  • The first U.S.-India 2+2 dialogue next week in New Delhi will discuss regional and strategic issues of Asia and “will also have some real outcomes”, said a senior official of the Donald Trump administration. “China and how to respond to it will be front and centre” of the dialogue, said Randall G. Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
  • The Trump administration is mindful of India’s legacy ties with Russia, but does not appreciate its continuing defence cooperation with it, said Mr. Schriver, adding that he was not sure of granting a waiver to India from sanctions if it went ahead with the planned purchase of S-400 missile defence system from Russia.
  • Mr. Schriver said the U.S. administration expected some concrete outcomes such as concluding an enabling agreement on communication and expanding the scope of military exercises. 
  • He also said that operationalising India-U.S. partnership in Asia would be part of the 2+2 agenda.

ECONOMY

‘FDI: India remains top destination’
  • India remains a preferred destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) as domestic consumption remains strong, according to the RBI Annual Report.
  • With manufacturing sector gathering momentum, helped by both services and agriculture sectors, consumption demand remains robust in the country making it an attractive investment destination, the report said.
  • India received $37.3 billion capital inflow in 2017-18 as compared with $36.3 billion in the previous fiscal. During the 2015-16, the country received $36.06 billion.
Frauds on the rise at banks, warns RBI
  • The number of cases of fraud reported by banks increased both in terms of numbers and value in 2017-18, the Reserve Bank of India said in its annual report.
  • Fraud cases, which were generally hovering at about 4,500 in the last 10 years, increased to 5,835 in 2017-18, the report said.
  • Similarly, the amount involved in frauds was increasing gradually, followed by a significant increase in 2017-18 to ₹410 billion. 
  • In 2017-18, PSBs accounted for 92.9% of the amount involved in frauds of more than ₹0.1 million, while private sector banks accounted for 6%, it said.
  • Public sector banks (PSBs) accounted for about 85% of the cumulative amount involved in frauds till March 31, 2018, while private banks accounted for a little over 10%.
  • In the loan category of frauds, PSBs accounted for a major share with 87%, followed by private sector banks at 11%.
  • The share of PSBs in frauds relating to ‘off-balance sheet items’ such as Letter of Credit (LCs), Letter of Undertaking, and Letter of Acceptance was even higher at 96%, RBI said in the report.
  • Off-balance sheet items accounted for 14.68% of fraud cases. New private sector banks accounted for more than 20% of the frauds related to ‘cash/cheques/clearing’ and ‘foreign exchange transactions’.

SPORTS

ASIAN GAMES
  •  the 25-year-old Arpinder won the men’s triple jump gold at the Asian Games at the GBK Main Stadium. And that ended 48-year wait for the prized medal last won by Mohinder Singh Gill in 1970 at the Bangkok Asiad.
  • West Bengal’s Swapna Barman brought a rare gold too, in women’s heptathlon, and it was the country’s first in the Asiad in the event, while Dutee Chand took the women’s 200m silver, to add to the 100m medal of the same colour she had won a couple of day ago.
  • The Indian table tennis contingent’s dream run got bette when the mixed doubles pairing of A. Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra won a historic bronze.

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