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Current Affairs - 11 September 2018

NATION

Delhi launches doorstep delivery of govt. services
  • After months of planning, the Delhi government launched its ambitious project to deliver public services at the doorstep of residents.
  • From driving licences to marriage certificates, Delhiites can now apply for 40 government documents to be delivered at their homes for a fee of ₹50 per service.
  • The applicant would have to call 1076 and fix an appointment with a mobile sahayak, who will go to their home and help with filling forms, payment of fees and collection of documents.
  • The mobile sahayak would then submit the documents at the government office concerned, which would post the certificate or licence once issued.
  • Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the project in the presence of the Cabinet and Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, till 6 p.m., a total of 21,000 calls were attempted to the centralised number — 1076, the government said.
  • Due to the large volume of calls, 2,728 were connected and 1,286 were answered by the operators, the government said.
  • Speaking about the project, Mr. Kejriwal said there could be teething troubles for the next few days.
  • From Tuesday, the number of operators would be increased to 80 from 40 and the number of phone lines to 120 from 50.
  • The project, which has been outsourced by the Administrative Reforms Department to VFS Global, had received the Cabinet’s in-principle approval in November 2017.
SC poser to judge on Babri Masjid case trial deadline
  • The Supreme Court on Monday asked additional sessions judge S.K. Yadav, who is hearing the Babri Masjid demolition cases against top BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks”, to explain how he intends to complete the trial by April 2019, the deadline given by it.
  • The Supreme Court had on April 19, 2017, revived the criminal conspiracy charge against the top BJP leaders and transferred their case, languishing in the magistrate court at Rae Bareilly, to the additional sessions court (Ayodhya matters) in Lucknow.
  • In the Rae Bareilly case, the BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders are accused of having given speeches stoking enmity and threatening national integration.
  • The sessions judge in Lucknow is now jointly trying the Rae Bareilly case with that against kar sevaks who destroyed the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 and unleashed violence.
  • Both cases have been pending for the past 26 years.
  • The Supreme Court had further ordered charges to be framed against former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, who was the Rajasthan Governor in April 2017.
  • The court said Mr. Singh should face charges as soon as he ‘ceases’ to be Governor.
  • In its 40-page judgment, the Supreme Court had invoked its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142. It had evoked the maxim — ‘Let justice be done though the heavens fall.’
  • Besides the two-year deadline, the apex court had barred the transfer of the Sessions Judge until the entire trial was concluded. 
  • The Bench asked Judge Yadav to file his report in a sealed cover. 
Deadly disease stalks cattle in Karnataka
  • A rare and deadly livestock disease has resurfaced in M. Hosuru, a village in Kunigal taluk, Tumakuru district. 
  • Dairy farmers are facing an uncertain future with six head of cattle having died in the last one month. As many as 70 households of Kunigal village are dependent on dairy farming. 
  • Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF), an infectious viral disease originally from South Africa that affects cattle, was first spotted in Karnataka 10 years ago. It has neither a cure nor a vaccination that can prevent its spread.
  • While villagers have started mounting pressure for compensation, says Shashikant Budihal, Assistant Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Kunigal, there is no provision for it under the present rules.
  • Scientists from the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, Bengaluru, have descended on the village to collect blood samples. 
  • The team is screening all the sheep and goats in the village for the disease.
‘Ban those filing false poll affidavits’
  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a plea to make filing of false declaration or statement before the Election Commission and poll authorities a corrupt practice, leading to disqualification from contesting elections. 
  • A Bench led by Justice A.K. Sikri issued notice to the government on a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay contending that there were “growing instances of filing of false affidavits and it has an appalling effect on free and fair elections.”
  • Mr. Upadhyay submitted that making the filing of false information a corrupt practice would be in line with the “important electoral reforms proposed by the Election Commission.” He sought to augment the punishment to two years’ jail without alternative clause of fine.
Gokhale in Kabul for trilateral
  • Ahead of important trilateral Afghanistan-India-Iran talks over the Chabahar port project, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held bilateral discussions with Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, as the two sides convened the Joint Working Group on Political and Security Cooperation.
  • Mr. Gokhale, who is on his third visit to Kabul this year, and Mr. Karzai had discussed security and trade issues, progress in development projects, and on pursuing an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” talks process with the Taliban.
  • Afghanistan has a long-pending request for India to procure at least four attack helicopters from former Soviet countries for the Afghan army. 
  • In addition India has a series of outlays for 116 Small Development Projects and others totalling more than $2 billion.
  • India-Afghanistan trade, currently at about $900 million has received a boost from a special “air corridor” established between Kabul, and Delhi and Mumbai last year.
  • However, the highlight of the visit is expected to be the India-Afghanistan-Iran talks on operationalising Phase I of the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar that India is developing, in the face of U.S. sanctions that go into effect on November 4. 
First BIMSTEC military exercise begins in Pune
  • The first military exercise of the multilateral grouping BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) began in Pune on Monday. 
  • Nepal and Thailand have sent observers while other countries are full participants. 
  • Set up in 1997, it includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
India, Bangladesh jointly inaugurate three projects
  • India, Bangladesh jointly inaugurate three projects
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated three projects through video conference. 
  • The projects are 500 MW additional power supply from India to Bangladesh, Akhaura-Agartala rail link, and rehabilitation of Kulaura Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh railways.
ECONOMY

RBI intervenes as rupee breaches 72.5 to dollar

  • The rupee breached 72.5 a dollar on Monday and touched all-time low of 72.67 intraday as the current account deficit widened to five- year high in the first quarter of the current financial year, to $15.8 billion or 2.4%, of the GDP.
  • “And some dollars sold by RBI helped rupee recover from 72.67 to 72.18 and it closed at 72.44. But still, rupee looks slippery again unless some policy measures or strong intervention [is taken]. It’s now slated to head toward 73.50 levels,” Mr. Gupta said.
  • Currency dealers said the central bank is not intervening aggressively as before. In June, the RBI had sold more than $6 billion in the spot market. The data for July and August are yet to be released by the central bank.
  • The rupee lost as much as 1.3% intraday before cutting some losses and ended at 72.45 a dollar — an all-time closing low, down 1% over it’s previous close of 71.73 a dollar. 
  • Rupee was the worst performer among emerging market currencies in Asia, depreciating about 13% this financial year amid limited intervention by the central bank.
  • According to dealers, investors are concerned over economies that are expected to experience worsening balance of payments position.
  • Morgan Stanley expects inflation to accelerate prompting the central bank to hike interest rates by 50 basis points (bps), including 25 bps in the next policy review due in early October.
  • Moody’s Investors Service warned that a sustained weakening of the rupee would be credit-negative for its rated Indian companies.
SPORTS

Djokovic reclaims US Open crown in an emphatic manner
  • In a men’s final that provided spectacular relief from the previous night, Djokovic defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 to lift his third U.S. Open title and his 14th overall Grand Slam title.
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