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Current Affairs - 17 October 2018


Sirisena alleges that RAW is plotting his assassination
  • In a move that might seriously impair India-Sri Lanka relations, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday accused India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of plotting his assassination.
  • At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr. Sirisena told Ministers that the Indian intelligence agency was “trying to kill” him, but “Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not be aware of the plan,” 
  • Mr. Sirisena’s claim comes days before Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s scheduled visit to New Delhi, where he will meet Mr. Modi to discuss bilateral matters, including key India-assisted projects on the island.
  • However, this is not the first time a Sri Lankan leader has accused the Indian agency of interference. After his election defeat in 2015, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa held the RAW among those responsible for the change in regime.
  • Reports of the said plot emerged last month when an individual named Namal Kumara, part of an anti-corruption outfit, claimed he was aware of a plan to assassinate Mr. Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The CID interrogated him. The police arrested an Indian national late in September. Local media reported that the Indian, identified as M. Thomas and hailing from Kerala, claimed he knew of the plot.
Titli casts a pall of gloom
  • The devastation wrought by the cyclonic storm Titli and the resultant heavy rain has cast a shadow on Dussehra festivities across Odisha, especially for farmers.
  • After toiling for six months and investing hard-earned savings, farmers were anticipating a healthy harvest in the next two months. However, cyclone and heavy rain damaged the standing crop at many places.
  • The kharif crop has been affected over an area of 2,13,801 hectares (paddy 1,48,681 ha and non-paddy 65,120 ha) in nine districts — Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Khordha, Balasore and Puri.
  • “Multi-department assessment of crop damage is under progress and the final report is expected within a week,” said Bishnupada Sethi, Special Relief Commissioner.
  • The SRC has also directed District Collectors to provide ex-gratia to the next of the kin of those who died in the cyclone and the resultant floods within three days. 
  • The Odisha government had earlier announced an ex-gratia of ₹4 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.
  • As per a report of the Directorate of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, livestock loss has been severe. Fishermen were also not spared, with 300 boats fully damaged and 265 partially damaged. Moreover, 607 fish ponds covering 428.97 ha and 69 private fish seed farms in an area of 47.250 ha have been damaged.
POCSO Act: no time bar to report crimes
  • Survivors of child sexual abuse can file a police complaint after they become adults. The government clarified on Tuesday that there is no time bar on reporting such crimes.
  • The Law Ministry concurred with the opinion of the Ministry of Women and Child Development that unlike the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012, does not lay down a time limit for reporting crimes covered under it.
  • “The Ministry of Law, after examining the provisions of POCSO Act vis-à-vis provisions of the CrPC, has advised that there appears no period of limitation mentioned in Section 19 in regard to reporting of the offences under the POCSO Act, 2012,” according to a statement.
  • Section 19 of the POCSO Act, which deals with sexual crimes against children, lays down the procedure for reporting a crime but doesn’t specify a time limit or statute of limitation for reporting it. Whereas the CrPC lays down different time-limits for crimes which carry punishment of up to three years, there is no time bar for crimes that would attract a jail term of more than three years.
  • This is an important step for survivors of child abuse, who may try to file a complaint as adults but are turned away at police stations.
A govt. app to rope in volunteers
  • Professionals keen on doing volunteer work in their free time will be provided a platform by the government through an app, #Self4Society, developed by MyGov. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the app at a townhall-style event here on October 24.
  • Sources who helped develop the app say it was the result of the conversations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several corporate leaders who had said their employees wanted to do volunteer work but did not have any guidance.
  • “The app will have incentives, gamification and intra- and inter-company competitions, and social networking. At first, this will be aimed at IT companies, with more joining in when it takes off,” said a source.
  • The volunteer time for the government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat is expected to increase.
U.P. Cabinet okays ‘Prayagraj’
  • The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday adopted the proposal to rename the historical city of Allahabad as Prayagraj, a move opposed by the Opposition parties in the State.
  • The State government said it was only restoring an old name to the city.
  • The proposal would now go to the Centre before the city is officially renamed, though an Uttar Pradesh Minister seemed to suggest the change had already come into effect.
Korean war memorial to be built in Delhi
  • A Korean War memorial will be built in to commemorate India’s role in the war which ended in an armistice in 1953.
  • “India and South Korea have agreed on building the war memorial. Administrative processes are on,” South Korean Ambassador in India Shin Bongkil said.
  • He said the proposal was initiated by the Indian Korean War Veterans Association and the Delhi government had already designated a place to build the memorial.
  • Asked who would fund the construction of the memorial, Mr. Shin said the South Korean government would be happy to contribute. Technical details like design and other aspects are yet to be worked out and the memorial is expected to be ready by end of next year.
  • There were 21 countries which participated in the Korean War of 1950-53 of which 16 countries had sent combat troops. India sent medical teams and a custodian force to deal with the Prisoners of War (PoW).
  • As of now, there are Korean War memorials in about 20 countries around the world which had played a role in the war.
El Salvador eyes Indian investors
  • El Salvador is keen to attract investments from Indian companies in the energy, ITeS, pharma, manufacturing and textiles sectors, the Central American country’s envoy said.
  • In an interaction with journalists, Ariel Andrade Galindo, El Salvador’s Ambassador to India, said the country was looking to diversify its energy sources.
  • The Ambassador said the country was looking at different forms of energy such as solar, wind, and biomass. Indian companies investing in El Salvador would be provided concessions including on land, tax exemptions, and duty-free import of equipment.
  • The Ambassador also spoke of El Salvador’s ties with ‘Manjula’, an Indian elephant that was sent to the country in the 1950s through Germany and died in 2010.
  • Yashwanth Kumar Venkatraman, El Salvador’s Honorary Consul in Chennai, said one of the first assignments that had been given to him at the time of his appointment was to try to get an elephant.
Property developer should display layout plan, says SC
  • The developer of a property should display at the site the sanction/layout plan under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of 2016, the Supreme Court has held.
  • “Keeping in mind the ground reality of rampant violations and the consequences thereof, it is advisable to issue directions for display of such sanction plan/layout plans at the site… This aspect should be given appropriate publicity as part of enforcement of RERA [Real Estate Act of 2016],” a Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and S.K. Kaul directed.
  • Justice Kaul, who wrote the September 27 judgment for the Bench, observed that sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the RERA requires the sanction plan/layout plans along with specifications, approved by the competent authority, to be displayed at the site. The provisions of the statute should be fully complied with.
  • The verdict came on an appeal filed by a property developer against the efforts of the administrator of the estate to get information on the proposed development plans.


Aussie PM open to recognising Jerusalem as Israel capital
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that Canberra was open to recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, prompting concern from Indonesian and Palestinian officials.
  • Mr. Morrison’s comments about recognising Jerusalem and possibly moving Australia’s Embassy there, just like U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision in December, would reverse decades of foreign policy and inflame tensions with some of Australia’s Asian neighbours.
  •  Australia is due to sign a trade deal this year with Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, where the Palestinian question is a sensitive issue, and tens of thousands protested against Mr. Trump’s decision.
  • Indonesia’s warning: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, speaking at a joint news conference with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Jakarta, reaffirmed Indonesia’s support for a two-state solution to the West Asian dispute and warned Australia against the risk of insecurity.
  • Mr. Maliki said he was saddened that Australia might violate international law and disrespect a UN resolution.
  • Ambassadors from 13 Arab countries met in Canberra on Tuesday and agreed to send a letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister expressing their concern, said Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Khairat.
Riyadh may admit journalist was killed
  • Saudi Arabia is preparing an alternative explanation of the fate of a dissident journalist, saying he died at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago in an interrogation gone wrong, according to a person familiar with the Kingdom’s plans. 
  • In Washington, President Donald Trump echoed the possibility that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of “rogue killers”.
  • The shifting storyline defied earlier details that have emerged in the case, including signs that he was murdered and dismembered. 
  • The new explanation, whatever its truth, seemed intended to ease the political crisis that Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance has created for Saudi Arabia. The new story could also defuse some criticism of the Trump administration, which has refused to back down from billions of dollars in weapons sales to the Kingdom and was still planning to attend a glittering Saudi investment forum next week.
  • And it could help Turkey, where a shaky economy would benefit from a financial infusion that low-interest loans from Riyadh could provide.
  • But the theory was widely dismissed among Mr. Khashoggi’s friends, human rights advocates. 
  • Mr. Trump spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Monday morning in a 20-minute phone call.
  • The President said the King denied any knowledge of what had happened to Mr. Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had been critical of the Crown Prince.
  • Turkish officials have said Mr. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered after he disappeared in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago.

UPI to facilitate interoperability among prepaid payment instruments
  • The Reserve Bank of India has released the guidelines for interoperability between prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) such as wallets and cards that will effectively allow users of popular payment wallets such as Paytm, Freecharge, Mobikwik, PhonePe and PayZapp, among others, to transfer money from one wallet to another.
  • In a circular, the banking regulator said that wallets could implement interoperability through the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). 
  • Further, the RBI also allowed PPIs to issue cards using authorised card networks such as Mastercard, Visa or RuPay.
  • “PPI issuers shall adhere to all the requirements of card networks/UPI, including membership type and criteria, merchant on-boarding, adherence to various standards, rules and regulations applicable to the specific payment system such as technical requirements, certifications and audit requirements, governance, etc,” it added.
  • Industry experts said the guidelines, while boosting the e-wallet segment, would also ensure the safety and accuracy of the transfer of money by individuals from one wallet to another.
  • Navin Surya, Chairman Emeritus, Payments Council of India, said that it was a progressive move for non-bank players and would lay the foundation to reach the under-banked and unbanked segment with a powerful payment product.
India leads in low-cost carrier growth: CAPA
  • India has emerged as the fastest growing low-cost carrier (LCC) market in the world by recording the largest increase (an additional 15.6 million) in departure seats in the first nine months of this year, aviation consulting and research firm Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said.
  • Indian has also reinforced its position as the second largest LCC country market, it said.
  • “It [the LCC market in India] also had the largest year-on-year rise among the top ten country markets, up 20.7%,” CAPA said in a report. Double-digit rises were also recorded in the top ten by China (+19.1%), Germany (+18.7%) and Thailand (+16.5%). The U.S., where the model was born, remains the largest LCC market at more than two-and-a-half times the size of the emerging Indian market.
  • CAPA said almost 115 million additional seats were offered by LCCs around the world during the first nine months of 2018, versus the same period last year. This is a 10.1% rise to over 1.25 billion global seats (over 4.5 million seats per day).

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