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Current Affairs: 27 November 2018



NATION

Kartarpur corridor can build bridges: Venkaiah
  • The Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan will “open new doors” and is a “unifier, building bridges across old chasms,” Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said, even as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh lashed out at Pakistan for supporting terrorism in his State.
  • Mr. Naidu was joined by leaders from all political parties in Punjab in laying the foundation stone for the four-lane “human corridor” to be completed by November 23, 2019, in time for Sikh founder Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary, which was decided on by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a Cabinet meeting last week.
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the stone for the corridor on the Pakistani side, about 4 km from the border.
  • The corridor will drastically cut down the distance pilgrims travel from more than 200 km to just 6 km.
  • The Vice-President’s words on rapprochement were in sharp contrast to Capt. Singh, who has declined Mr. Khan’s invitation to attend the Kartarpur ceremony in Pakistan.
  • The Chief Minister cited continued firing on the Line of Control and terrorist strikes, allegedly fomented by Pakistan’s Army, including the most recent grenade attack in Amritsar that killed three persons, as the reason for rejecting the invitation.

Prosecute officials for not acting on pollution: SC
  • Taking a tough stance against dereliction of duties by officials in fight against air pollution in the Capital, the Supreme Court asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to initiate prosecution against the officials who failed to act on pollution-related complaints.
  • The ASG said that the Board will look into the court’s suggestion to prosecute the officials responsible for not acting on the complaints.
  • In a departure from the previous practices, the CPCB has created social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook where citizens could lodge their complaints about pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Mr. Nadkarni said that from November 1-22, the pollution body received 749 air pollution complaints on their social media accounts and action was taken on around 500 such complaints.
  • “The inspecting teams of the CPCB have taken spot measures such as dousing of fire by calling fire tenders, covering of construction material, instructions to responsible persons, issuance of challans, etc., during the campaign. Some complaints were also lodged on Sameer App for necessary action by nodal agencies,” the CPCB said.
  • Sameer App provides hourly update of national air quality index (AQI).
  • The Board said that as per analysis of complaints during the clean air campaign, the highest number of air pollution incidents relates to construction and demolition activities, followed by burning of waste, road dust, unpaved areas/roads, traffic congestion and industrial emissions.
Naveen Patnaik launches public bicycle sharing system
  • The Odisha government on Monday launched a Public Bicycle Sharing system to reduce traffic congestion, enhance space efficiency, and improve air quality in Bhubaneswar.
  • Capital Region Urban Transport and Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited have come together for the PBS, which has been christened as ‘Mo Cycle’ system.
  • Initially, 2,000 cycles will be available at about 400 Mo Cycle stations in different locations of the city.
  • According to the BSCL, riders can take cycles from any location and drop them off at any destination of their choice. The operators will coordinate to ensure the redistribution and availability of cycles at high-demand locations.
  • Users would have to download Mo Cycle application and register for a nominal monthly subscription. The rider can locate the nearest Mo Cycle station and unlock the cycle through Quick Response Code scan. Technology interventions such as GPS and smart locks are an integral part of the system.
Big leap in intelligence infrastructure post 26/11
  • Ten years after the 26\11 terror strikes, Maharashtra is better placed to benefit from real-time, actionable intelligence, processed through its Central Monitoring System (CMS) and the Lawful Interception System (LIS).
  • As per the International Telecom Union (ITU), Geneva, the State is periodically obtaining a Global Cell Identity (GCI) and Location Area Identity (LAI) from the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), senior officials of the State Home Department confirmed.
  • The successful implementation of the CMS with inclusion of the GCI, LAI and location in the Call Data Record (CDR) has enhanced the intelligence collection abilities of the State in the past few years.
  • “Aside from coastal and cyber security improvements, we have in the last few years successfully put in place systems to enhance our intelligence gathering network with help from the CMS. We are prepared to successfully process any future input that comes our way,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Sunil Porwal.
  • Senior officials of the State Intelligence said implementation of the CMS and LIM have helped agencies get full data without any hindrances from TSPs..
Incredible India handle goofs up on Tawang Monastery
  • Years after using the photo of an African rhino for promoting wildlife in Assam, the Incredible India campaign has goofed up again. Now, it is with regard to Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • A tweet by @incredibleindia tagging Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons reads: “Cradled amidst the mist-laden valleys of the Himalayas is Tawang Monastery, India’s largest Buddhist monastery. It was built at the request of the 5th Dalai Lama in 1980-81.”
  • Known in Tibetan as Gaden Namgyal Lhatse, the Tawang Monastery was indeed built according to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.
  • But it was founded in 1680-81, by a monk named Merag Lodre Gyatso of the Gelug sect after the 4th Dalai Lama gave him a painting of goddess Palden Lhamo to be kept in the monastery. An 8-metre high gilded statue of Lord Buddha dominates the sanctum of the monastery.
  • Local legend has it that China had attacked Tawang in 1962 primarily to extract the secret to eternal youth, believed to be buried under the monastery, built at about 10,000 ft above sea level.
  • An international tourism campaign by the India since 2002, Incredible India, had erred a decade ago by passing off a black African rhino as the Great Indian Rhinoceros, the bulk of whose population is in Kaziranga.
  • The rhinos in Assam are one-horned, unlike their African cousins that sport two horns.
Heed the Constitution or face chaos, says CJI
  • It is in the best interests of the nation to heed to the ethics and morality of the Constitution; otherwise, “our hubris will end with a plunge into chaos”, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Monday.
  • Chief Justice said the Constitution was “the voice of the marginalised as well as the prudence of the majority”.
  • “Its wisdom continues to guide us in moments of crisis and stability. It is in our best interests to heed its advice,” Chief Justice Gogoi said.
  • Justice Kurian Joseph said despite India’s diversities, the Constitution and its ethics made it a great nation.
  • In his speech, Mr. Prasad highlighted how the Supreme Court had soothed crises in the past. 
  • President Kovind said the Constitution was the “modern scripture of independent India”.
  • The Constitution has given the judiciary, government and the legislature critical responsibilities.
  • He said the concept of ‘justice’ needs innovation. For example, political justice would also entail transparency in campaign finance. Disruptions in parliamentary proceedings, which he called an “unfortunate occurrence”, may be viewed by some as an “encroachment on the citizen’s understanding of justice”.
Notice to Centre on anti-graft Act
  • The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the government to respond to a petition challenging two amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • The amendments were the introduction of Section 17 A (1) by which prior permission for investigation of corruption offences was required from the government and the removal of Section 13 (1) (d) (ii) (criminal misconduct) from the Act. The latter provision had earlier made it an offence for a public servant to abuse his position to give pecuniary or other advantage to a third party.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi asked the government to file a response in six weeks.
  • “We think you are entitled to a hearing,” Chief Justice Gogoi addressed advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
  • Mr. Bhushan said the removed provision of ‘criminal misconduct’ was used in most prosecutions of public servants under the Act in cases where there might not be a charge of directly accepting bribes. He referred to the prosecution of officials in the coal scam where officials gave leases to companies who they knew were not eligible. 
  • As for the new provision of Section 17(A), the CPIL said seeking sanction before commencement of investigation in a corruption case “not only takes away the element of secrecy and surprise but introduces a period of delay during which vital evidence can be manipulated or destroyed”.
Sunil Arora to be next CEC
  • Sunil Arora has been appointed as the next Chief Election Commissioner and will take over on December 2, sources in the Law Ministry said Monday.
  • Though a formal notification is yet to be issued, his name has been cleared by the Centre and sent to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the sources said.
WORLD

Maldives SC quashes Nasheed’s conviction
  • The Maldives Supreme Court quashed former President Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism conviction and overturned his 13-year jail sentence.
  • Mr. Nasheed pulled out of the presidential race earlier this year after the Maldives Election Commission barred him from contesting, citing his controversial 2015 conviction for detaining Criminal Court judge Abdulla Ghazee during his presidency in 2012.
  • Following the judgment, Mr. Nasheed said it made evident that he was put on trial “by the influence of” former President Abdulla Yameen, Male-based media reported.
  • Since his conviction in 2015, Mr. Nasheed was in exile, after obtaining prison leave for medical treatment abroad. He lived in London and more recently in Colombo, from where he continued his political activism. Things began changing for the leader after a coalition led by his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ousted incumbent President Yameen in a high-stakes election held in September.
  • Common candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won with 58.4 % of the ballot.
  • The apex court suspended Mr. Nasheed’s sentence last month.
EU, Iran commit to uphold nuclear pact
  • The European Union and Iran are affirming their support for the international nuclear deal and say they aim to keep it alive despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the landmark pact. 
  • EU Energy Commissioner Arias Canete said the deal was “crucial for the security of Europe, of the region and the entire world.” 

ECONOMY

RBI eases ECB hedging norms for companies
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has eased hedging norms for companies that raise funds through external commercial borrowings (ECB), a move that will lower the cost of hedging.
  • A notification issued by the central bank said mandatory hedge coverage has been reduced from 100% to 70% under Track I of the ECB framework.
  • The RBI also clarified that the ECBs raised prior to this circular would be required to mandatorily roll over their existing hedge only to the extent of 70% of outstanding ECB exposure.
  • According to the RBI, Track I refers to medium-term foreign currency-denominated ECBs with a minimum average maturity of 3-5 years. The move will help reduce costs for companies that raise foreign funds.
SEBI issues norms for raising debt finance by listed firms
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has laid down a framework to identify listed companies that need to meet one-fourth of their financing needs by way of debt securities and said any kind of shortfall or failure to raise debt financing will lead to monetary penalty.
  • The framework would be applicable to all entities that, on the last day of any financial year, have their securities listed on the exchanges, an outstanding long-term borrowing of ₹100 crore or more and a credit rating of AA and above.
  • Incremental borrowings refer to any borrowing done during a particular financial year, of original maturity of more than one year. These would be irrespective of whether such borrowing is for refinancing/repayment of existing debt or otherwise and will exclude external commercial borrowings and inter-corporate borrowings between a parent and its subsidiary.
  • Further, the requirement of meeting the incremental borrowing norms will be applicable on an annual basis for the financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21. From 2021-22, the requirement of mandatory incremental borrowing by a LC in a financial year would be required to be met over a contiguous block of two years, said SEBI. 
  • However, if there is a shortfall in the requisite borrowing at the end of two years, a fine of 0.2% of the shortfall in the borrowed amount would be levied on the company.