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Current Affairs: 26 October 2018



NATION

Disqualification of T.N. MLAs upheld
  • Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, the Supreme Court-appointed third judge of the Madras High Court, on Thursday upheld the validity of an order passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal on September 18, 2017, disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to T.T.V. Dhinakaran under the anti-defection law.
  • Deciding the case afresh at the request of counsel for the litigants, following a split verdict on June 14, Justice Sathyanarayanan categorically held that the Speaker’s order did not suffer from any of the grounds of attack, be it breach of constitutional mandate, mala fide intentions, perversity or non-adherence to principles of natural justice.
  • In a split verdict, then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee (now a Supreme Court judge) had upheld the Speaker’s order while her companion judge, Justice M. Sundar, had set it aside on multiple grounds, including mala fide, perversity and non-adherence to the principles of natural justice.
  • Justice Sathyanarayanan’s verdict upheld Justice Banerjee’s orders, saying the disqualified MLAs had failed to prove their allegations of the Speaker having passed the order with ulterior motives.
Aim and shoot for a citizen-science repository of Indian mammals
  • Scientists and researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore have come up with a new citizen-science repository on Indian mammals, called Mammals of India (MaOI), which is an online, peer-reviewed, freely-accessible portal that was launched late September 2018. By October 25, as many as 768 images of 161 species of mammals were uploaded.
  • As per current estimates, 426 species of mammals are found in India; of them 47 species are endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
  • In one month, this citizen-science initiative has seen photographs of rare species — such as Red Serow from Manipur, Asian Golden Cat from Arunachal Pradesh and Binturong, also known as bear cat, from East Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh — being shared for the benefit of researchers and public alike.
  • The website provides an opportunity to anyone to upload photographic observations on mammals to be reviewed by experts and uploaded on the website.
India set to be third largest aviation market
  • India will be the third largest aviation market globally a year sooner than was earlier predicted. It is now expected to be among the top three countries by 2024 from its current seventh position, according to global aviation body IATA.
  • In its latest 20-year forecast for the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that air passenger numbers worldwide could double to 8.2 billion in 2037.
  • The biggest contribution in this growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years.
  • While China will climb up one spot to displace US as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s, India will take the third place by surpassing the U.K. around 2024, according to the IATA forecast.
  • By 2037, India is expected to add 414 million passengers to its existing 572 million passengers, the report added.
  • In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth at the rate of 4.8%, followed by Africa (4.6%) and west Asia (4.4%).
  • The other south-east Asian countries predicted to grow rapidly include Indonesia, likely to be the fourth largest by 2030 from its current ranking of 10th largest aviation market. Thailand, too, is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030,edging out Italy, IATA said.
Digital boards will change education, says Javadekar
  • The launching of ‘Operation Digital Board’ across 15 lakh classrooms in the country in the next four years will change the face of education in the country, said Union Human Resource Minister Prakash Javadekar.
  • Speaking at the third edition of Excellence in Education conclave organised by The Hindu group, Mr. Javadekar said, “We get valuable inputs from such events to raise the educational standards in the country. The media is not just a loudspeaker but has to critically examine government programmes and come up with new suggestions so that the country is benefitted and enriched.”
  • “Our government has taken benefit of the digital revolution to educate 15 lakh teachers and making education available online and offline. Education policy today is based on accessibility, accountability, affordability and equity,” he said.
  • In his address, Maharashtra Education Commissioner Vishal Solanki said the three issues were digitalisation in 21st century schools, excellence in education and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit. “While phrases like ‘Technology is a great leveller’ sounds good, a lot needs to be done towards improving digital connectivity in the hinterland,” Mr. Solanki said.
Keep Pak. out of picture, Governor tells J&K parties
  • J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik ticked off major regional parties — National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — and the separatist Hurriyat Conference, criticising their frequent reference to Pakistan’s role in resolving the Kashmir issue.
  • Mr. Malik said there could be no talks with the Hurriyat “until they keep Pakistan out of the discussion”.
  • In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Malik, referring to the NC and the PDP, said, “These [political parties] have no right to talk about India-Pakistan peace talks. It is between governments of the two nations, as being neighbours makes it obvious that talks will happen for sure. But political parties bringing up the issue of Pakistan into dialogue process was neither acceptable to us then, nor will it be now.”
  • It is for the first time in J&K that a Governor has drawn a red line for both the mainstream and separatist parties on the issue of Pakistan.
  • Reacting to the Governor’s statement, former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti reiterated that her party would continue to pitch for India-Pakistan dialogue.
  • “Kashmir has both internal and external dimensions. Relations with Pakistan have a direct bearing on the situation here. Time has proved the fact that whenever relations between India and Pakistan were good, there was an era of peace, development and dialogue in J&K. Good governance surely restores peoples’ confidence but gets wasted in absence of dialogue and engagement, internally and externally,” Ms. Mufti said.
  • Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq described Mr. Malik’s remarks as “illiteracy” on Kashmir.
Govt. reviews measures taken to curb fake news
  • Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a meeting with representatives of various social media platforms to review the steps taken by them to prevent misuse of their sites.
  • He asked them to check spread of rumours and messages inciting unrest, cybercrimes and other activities that could be detrimental to national security, officials said on Thursday.
  • From May to June, more than 20 people were lynched based on fake posts or rumours floating on various social media platforms.
  • Mr. Gauba asked the representatives to nominate India-based grievance redressal officers and to develop a monitoring mechanism for time-bound preventive and other actions for removal of objectionable contents.
  • The social media platforms were also asked to put in place a system for prompt sharing of information sought by the law enforcement agencies for investigation purposes.
  • Those who attended the meeting, included representatives of Facebook, Google, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram. 
  • The representatives briefed the government officials about actions taken by them to ensure blocking of websites and for removal of objectionable and malicious contents from public view. All social media platforms assured the government of full cooperation.
Govt. notifies rules on granting citizenship
  • The Union Home Ministry has empowered the Collectors of certain districts in seven States to accept online applications to grant citizenship to “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India.
  • A parliamentary committee has been examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities: Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2014.
  • As the Bill is pending, the Home Ministry gave powers to the Collectors in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to grant citizenship and naturalisation certificates to the migrants under Sections 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. No such power has been delegated to Assam officials.
  • Under the new rules, notified on October 24, the migrants can apply online, and the verification reports or the security clearance reports of the applicants shall be made available to the Centre through an online portal.
  • Citizenship will be granted after the verification reports are received from the States and the Centre.
It’s over to the Supreme Court now
  • The Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by Common Cause, a non-governmental organisation, through advocate Prashant Bhushan, to quash the “illegal divestment” of the functions and duties of the office of CBI Director from Alok Verma, calling it a “brazen interference” by the government in the functioning of the agency.
  • Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi acknowledged the urgency of the issue, and tagged the petition along with a separate one filed by Mr. Verma on October 24, challenging how he was exiled “overnight” from office. Both the petitions of Mr. Verma and Common Cause will be heard by the Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi.
  • The orders issued by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and seconded by the Centre on October 23 had reasoned that divestment was necessitated to retain the credibility of the CBI and to ensure there was no erosion of public faith in the institution due to the persisting acrimony between Mr. Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who was also asked to sit out.
  • The petition sought the quashing of the order of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet of October 23, giving senior CBI officer M. Nageshwar Rao charge of the agency. 
  • The CBI Director can be appointed by the Centre only on the basis of a recommendation made by a high-powered committee led by the Prime Minister and including the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
  • The petition contended that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 had amended the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act of 1946, under which the CBI was constituted.
  • Further, considering the fact that the amendments had substituted the Central Vigilance Commissioner-led panel with the high-powered panel led by the Prime Minister, any “transfer” or withdrawal of work from the incumbent CBI Director, that too, before his statutory two-year term ended, would necessarily require the previous consent of the PM-led committee as mandated in Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, the petition said.
  • Again, under the amendments, the CVC, under Section 4C of DSPE Act, has power only to recommend the appointment, curtail or extend the terms of CBI officers from the level of the Superintendent of Police to above, including the CBI Special Director, but not the CBI Director.
  • The petition sought the removal of Mr. Asthana and urged the court to order a SIT investigation into the unprecedented incidents witnessed recently within the CBI and corruption allegations levelled against senior agency officials.
  • Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Bhushan had orally mentioned the petition before a Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi and urged the court to tag his petition along with the one filed by Mr. Verma on October 24.
  • In his petition, Mr. Verma has highlighted governmental interference in CBI functioning and lashed out at Mr. Asthana, accusing the latter of stymieing decisions made in investigations of sensitive cases even monitored by the Supreme Court. Mr. Verma accused Mr. Asthana of “concocting evidence” to impair his reputation.

WORLD

China, Japan to partner in building Asia infrastructure
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived in China on a reset visit that is expected to trigger significant collaboration between Tokyo and Beijing in developing infrastructure in Asia.
  • Soon after his arrival, Mr. Abe was accorded a reception, hosted by his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, at the Great Hall of the People. The function was held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the China-Japan treaty of friendship.
  • “Japan and China are playing an indispensable role in the economic development of not just Asia but the world,” Mr. Abe said during his speech at the function.
  • Mr. Abe will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping later in the day. “This is a breakthrough visit, important not just for the China-Japan relations, but whose significance would be felt in the region and the world,” Huang Jing, Dean of the International and Regional Studies Center at the Beijing Language and Culture University, told The Hindu.
  • During Mr. Abe’s talks with Chinese President Xi and Prime Minister Li, the leaders are expected to seek areas of convergence between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Japan’s concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Analysts say that they are expected to discuss joint development of infrastructure in Asia and Africa during the talks.
Abe’s visit won’t impact ties with Japan, says New Delhi
  • The ongoing visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China, just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan on Sunday, will have no effect on India-Japan ties, said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.
  • “India and Japan have a shared vision not only of our bilateral ties but in the regional and global perspective, including on the Indo-Pacific... Not only will there be no impact of [Mr. Abe’s China] visit, but India welcomes the improvement in ties between China and Japan, because an Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and brings every country on board is something Prime Minister Modi has spoken off.”
  • In a sign of a thaw, Mr. Abe is making the first visit by a Japanese leader to China in 11 years. He will be in Beijing until Saturday and return to Japan in time to welcome Mr. Modi on Sunday.
  • During formal talks on Monday in Tokyo, Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe will discuss progress on a range of projects, collaboration on projects in third countries along the “Asia-Africa” growth corridor and cooperation on the “connectivity, economic and geostrategic” aspects of the Indo-Pacific region, the Foreign Secretary said.
  • India and Japan are already working on an LNG terminal in Sri Lanka, and similar projects will be explored in other parts of India’s neighbourhood during the talks.
ECONOMY

‘India must create jobs in textiles, leather’
  • India needs to work on creating jobs in sectors such as textile, garments and leather to generate employment for its unskilled youth, Zarin Daruwala, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank India said at the India Summit 2018 organised here.
  • “People are always talking about the macro situation. They should focus on the micro story which is very, very good. India’s engineering exports is growing among merchandise exports. We have three times increased exports of auto components and have achieved 40% increase in automobile production,” she said.
  • “[As many as] 1,400 global multinational companies have opened their global centres in India. More than 45% of their global centres outside their own countries are in India. This micro story is making Indian industry a high tech one. Since that part of the economy has moved up, the government should now need to work on how to create jobs to the youth who are not that educated,” Ms Daruwala said.
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