Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 15 April 2017

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 15 April 2017

:: National ::

Consular access for Kulbhushan Jadhav sought

  • India again sought consular access to former Navy official Kulbhushan Jadhav now facing the gallows in Pakistan, which has not addressed 13 earlier requests for the same.

  • Islamabad accused Mr. Jadhav of carrying out attacks inside Pakistan since 2014-15 but said that he will have the chance to appeal for mercy.

  • Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan denied knowledge of any plan to exchange Mr. Jadhav for a Pakistani intelligence official in Indian custody and sought more information from Pakistan about the charges against him.

  • Pakistan had not shared any information about the physical conditions of the former naval official and India had therefore begun planning a request for consular access.

  • The Ministry of External Affairs stated that consular access is necessary to find out more about the case against Mr. Jadhav.

  • But in an elaborate defence of Pakistan’s position, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, has said that Mr. Jadhav has the right to appeal for mercy.

  • Pakistan also claimed that contrary to India’s claims, Mr. Jadhav is a serving official of the Indian Navy and conducted a series of attacks against Pakistan since 2014-15, especially in Balochistan.

Second phase of operation clean money launched

  • In the second phase of ‘Operation Clean Money’ (OCM), launched to unearth black money, the Income Tax department will probe over 60,000 individuals including 1,300 high risk persons for alleged excessive cash sales post demonetisation.

  • Over 6,000 transactions of high value property purchases and 6,600 cases of outward remittances shall be subjected to detailed investigations under OCM, an official statement said.

  • The second phase involves identification of high risk persons through advanced data analytics, including integration of data sources, relationship clustering and fund tracking.

  • The high risk categories identified include businesses claiming cash sales as the source of cash deposits which is found to be excessive compared to their past profile or industry norms; large cash deposits made by government or PSU  employees.

Finance minister wants personal laws should conform to constitutional rights

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed hope that the vintage judicial view that personal laws need not conform to Constitutional rights would be reviewed in the near future.

  • “In fact, a very surprising judicial opinion at that time — and that’s a judicial opinion that still holds up. Hopefully, it is reviewed in near future. When all laws must confine to the Constitutional rights themselves, personal laws need not.,” FM said.

  • Mr. Jaitley expressed his opinion at a time when a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a batch of petitions challenging whether personal law practices like triple talaq and polygamy.

  • The Centre has in that case sought the court to re-open the debate as to whether personal laws can be brought under the ambit of Article 13 (laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights) of the Constitution.

  • If the Supreme Court agrees that personal laws are to be included in the definition of laws under Article 13, the door would be opened wide for an aggrieved person to challenge in court a particular personal law of a religion as violative of the fundamental rights.

  • In case the challenge succeeds in court, the personal law, to the extent of its inconsistency, shall become void.

  • The Centre has argued in its latest written submissions that polygamy and triple talaq are not religious practices but social norms and customs which can be intervened on by the State if they are found to be violative of constitutional rights.

  • The batch of petitions includes a suomotu PIL instituted by the Supreme Court itself on whether personal law practices like triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), niqahhalala and polygamy violate dignity of Muslim women and promote gender bias.

  • The Bombay High Court in State of Bombay versus Narasu Appa Mali had held that personal law is not ‘law’ under Article 13.

  • However, in Ahmedabad Women Action Group versus Union of India, the Supreme Court was asked to consider if unilateral divorce by talaq and polygamy were violative of Articles 14 and 15.

SC puts Allahabad HC under scrutiny for long delays

  • The Supreme Court has asked itself why numerous orders over the decades suggesting “action plans” to combat staggering backlog of cases in High Courts and trial courts have literally produced no answers and hardly any results.

  • Justice Jasti Chelameswar ruminated on how the “phenomenon of mounting pendency and discomfiting delay in disposal of cases” continue at the cost of gross human rights violations to undertrials, convicts.

  • The Supreme Court’s third seniormost judge had found himself hearing a plea for bail by a convict in a murder case.

  • How the judiciary has been, in a sense, inadvertently responsible for violation of the fundamental right to speedy trial and disposal of criminal appeals under Article 21 of the Constitution.

  • So, in a novel move, the Supreme Court decided to put the Allahabad HC under the microscope as a “pilot project” to investigate how High Courts deal with pendency.

  • The SC said this was a “target-specific” exercise to study how criminal appeals face years of delay as appellants face “inhuman compulsions” inside jails.

  • The Bench directed the HC Registrar to hand over particulars of the criminal appeals, category-wise and year-wise, for the study in four weeks.

  • The Supreme Court said the selection of the Allahabad High Court, one of the oldest High Courts in the country, should not be construed as a comment on its functioning or any deficiency thereof.

:: Science and Tech ::

Geologists searching for an efficient and cheap way to remove carbon dioxide

  • Deep in the jagged red mountains of Oman, geologists are searching for an efficient and cheap way to remove carbon dioxide from the air and oceans and perhaps begin to reverse climate change.

  • They are coring samples from one of the world’s only exposed sections of the Earth’s mantle to uncover how a spontaneous natural process millions of years ago transformed carbon dioxide into limestone and marble.

  • As the world mobilises to confront climate change, the main focus has been on reducing emissions through fuel efficient cars and cleaner power plants.

  • But some researchers are also testing ways to remove or recycle carbon already in the seas and sky.

  • The Hellisheidi geothermal plant in Iceland injects carbon into volcanic rock. At the massive Sinopec fertiliser plant in China, carbon is filtered and reused as fuel.

  • In all, 16 industrial projects currently capture and store around 27 million tons of carbon, according to the International Energy Agency.

  • That’s less than 0.1% of global emissions human activity is estimated to pump about 40 billion tons a year into the atmosphere but the technology has shown promise.

  • The sultanate boasts the largest exposed sections of the Earth’s mantle, thrust up by plate tectonics millions of years ago. The mantle contains peridotite, a rock that reacts with the carbon in air and water to form marble and limestone.

  • Rain and springs pull carbon from the exposed mantle to form stalactites and stalagmites in mountain caves.

  • Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas driving climate change, which threatens political instability, severe weather and food insecurity worldwide, according to the United Nations climate body.

  • Natural carbon levels have risen from 280 to 405 parts per million since the Industrial Revolution, and current estimates hold that the world will be 6⁰C hotter by 2100.

  • In 2015, 196 nations signed the Paris climate accords, agreeing to curb greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would keep the rise in the Earth’s temperature to under 2⁰C.

  • Around 13 tons of core samples from four different sites will be sent to the Chikyu, a state-of-the-art research vessel off the coast of Japan, where Prof. Keleman and other geologists will analyse them in round-the-clock shifts.

  • Just like in Oman’s mountains, the submerged rock would chemically absorb carbon from the water. The water could then be cycled back to the surface to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, in a sort of conveyor belt.

:: Business and Economy ::

SBI aims to do 1 lakh crore digital transactions in 2017-18

  • The country’s largest lender SBI on Friday said it aimed to reach 5.2 lakh acceptance touch points and collectively do Rs. 1 lakh crore of transactions in 2017-18 to take forward the government’s digital agenda.

  • The State Bank of India (SBI) said in a statement that it had implemented various initiatives as part of Digital India and DigiDhan Mela campaigns introduced by the government.

  • These include adoption of 110 villages to develop their digital ecosystem and targeting deployment of 25,000 terminals at 12,500 villages under a NABARD scheme.

  • “In FY 2017-18, the bank’s ambition is to reach 5.2 lakh acceptance touch points which include 4 lakh Digital PoS (Bharat QR and Aadhaar Pay) and collectively receive Rs. 1 lakh crore of transaction value,” the bank said.

  • UPI and Aadhaar Pay were two very innovative platforms that would lead to efficiency and lower costs and provide convenience to digital customers.

  • SBI also said that it would continue its digital drive to bring in more innovative products and services for customer convenience.

  • OnlineSBI, the lender’s web banking platform, is the fifth most-visited financial site globally.

All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation proposed GST rate of 1.25 % for the sector

  • All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) , the national body of the gems and jewellery industry, has proposed a Goods and Service Tax (GST) rate of 1.25% for the sector.

  • In its representation to the government, the federation has said that a rate exceeding this level would hurt the industry as well as consumers and workers.

  • Ashok Minawala, past chairman and high-level committee member, GJF, said, “Keeping in mind the unique characteristics of the gems & jewellery sector, the karigars and small jewellers were kept out of the purview of excise duty.

  • Mr. Minawala said the government will not see any negative impact on revenue collection as most of the states have been charging VAT at the rate of 1% on jewellery.

Tea export declined in 2017

  • Tea exports have declined in the first eleven months of fiscal 2017 and are likely to close at a lower level after showing a healthy rise by volume and value in 2015-16.

  • A bumper crop in Kenya and lower exports to some of the key markets were the main reasons behind this.

  • As per the latest official statistics, between April and February 2017, exports, at 206.9 million kg were down by 4% over the previous period.

  • India exported 232.9 million kg in 2015-16, breaching the 230-million mark for the first time since 1980-81.

  • A bumper crop in Kenya (a more than 50% rise according to latest statistics) and Bangladesh, which is emerging as tea-growing nation, aggravated the excess supply in the international market.

  • During the period under review, India has increased tea exports to three high-value markets — Iran, Germany and USA.

  • These are now evolving as a stable market for speciality teas. Exports increased to the UAE too. The UAE often serves as a re-export destination.

  • All these markets purchased not only higher volumes of Indian tea between April and February 2016-17 , but also at a higher price than the year’s average of $ 3.04.

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