Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 22 JUNE 2020
Supreme court bats for secrecy of ballot to promote free and fair elections
- Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections. The choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it, the Supreme Court has held in a judgment.
- The principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy, the court said.
- Justice Khanna, who wrote the judgment, referred to Section 94 of the Representation of the People Act, which upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.
- The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in the zilapanchayat of the PanchayatAdhyaksha in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.
- The High Court found that some of the panchayat members had violated the rule of secrecy of ballot. It relied on CCTV footage to conclude that they had either displayed the ballot papers or by their conduct revealed the manner in which they had voted.
Jal Shakti ministry pitches for more funds for JalJeevan mission
- Faced with a financing shortfall for the JalJeevan Mission (JJM), the Jal Shakti Ministry is pitching for additional funding of ₹82,000 crore from the 15th Finance Commission for the project to provide drinking water tap connections to every rural household by 2024. Only 18% of households are currently covered.
- The Ministry also wants to control the flow of the Commission’s funds to panchayats for water and sanitation.
- There are “post- COVID-19 resource constraints both at Centre and States,” the Ministry told the Commission. It pitched for additional funding of ₹82,000 crore to meet the need for capital intensive projects in water scarce areas, and areas where the water has been contaminated by arsenic or flouride, or has high-salinity levels.
- However, the Ministry complained that there is “no handholding and identification of work,” “no criteria and indicators to assess the performance of panchayati raj institutions” and “no pressure on gram panchayats to dovetail FC grants with JJM.”
- This kind of centralisation would be a regression from the 14th Finance Commission’s move to empower panchayati raj institutions, says N.R. Bhanumurthy, professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
Government expects surplus in current account balance in FY21
- The government expects a surplus in its current account balance for the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal and in the final quarter of the previous fiscal on account of curtailed imports due to a significant drop in domestic economic activity, according to an official report.
- According to the government report, net foreign direct investment inflows rose from $1.98 billion in February 2020 to $2.87 billion for the March. This resulted in a cumulative net inflow of $42.7 billion during FY20, up from $30.7 billion a year ago.
- “During COVID-19 times, the external debt and its repayment burden is a major challenge being faced by some emerging market economies. However, India is not vulnerable on this count as its external debt to GDP ratio has remained low at about 20 percent during the last three years,” the report said.
- However, the country took a hit on foreign portfolio investment as it witnessed a sharp outflow of $16.16 billion in March this year compared to an inflow of $1.02 billion during the previous month, the report said.
- The resulting cumulative net outflow of $140 million in FY20 was still lower compared to net outflow of $620 million of the previous fiscal.
India is 12th largest holder of U.S government securities
- India has become the 12th largest holder of US government securities at the end of April, with holding worth 157.4 billion dollars.
- The data from the US Treasury Department showed that after significantly reducing the exposure in March to 156.5 billion dollars, India marginally hiked the holding by 0.9 billion dollars to 157.4 billion dollars the next month.
- While the holding touched a record high of 177.5 billion dollars in February, the same was drastically reduced in March. The exposure stood at 164.3 billion dollars in January.
- At the end of April, Japan remained the country with the maximum exposure at 1.27 trillion dollars, followed by China at 1.1 trillion dollars and the UK at 368.5 billion dollars.
UNCTAD report says India most resilient country in South Asia
- The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said that India’s economy could prove the most resilient in South Asia and its large market will continue to attract market-seeking investments to the country even as it expects a dramatic fall in global foreign direct investment (FDI).
- However, inflows may shrink sharply. As per UNCTAD, India jumped to ninth spot in 2019 on the list of global top FDI recipients from the twelfth spot in 2018.
- FDI inflows into India rose 13% on year in FY20 to a record $49.97 billion compared to $44.36 billion in 2018-19. In 2019, FDI flows to the region declined by 5%, to $474 billion, despite gains in South East Asia, China and India, according to the Geneva-based organisation.
- Outflows from South Asia grew 6%, driven by investment from India. Yet they remained small, representing only 1% of global outflows. Companies in India are the subregion’s largest investors, with more than 90% of outflows in 2019.
- Highlighting that in order to address the adverse impact of the pandemic, several economies have recently adopted policy measures to boost investment in those industries that are crucial to containing the spread of the virus, it said India, Italy and the US have adopted measures to encourage manufacturers to expand or shift production lines to medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) to increase the quantity available.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Around 8 million year old stegodon fossil discovered from Uttar Pradesh
- Over decades, a number of richest fossil records in South Asia have been found at the DhokPathan Formation of the Sivalik range.
- This time, the researchers found a fossil of an extinct ancestor of Elephant, that is estimated to be around between 5 to 8 million old. The fossil was discovered in the state of Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur District’s BadshahiBagh area.
- The fossil found during this remarkable discovery is said to be of a Stegodon (now extinct, a type of Elephant found until the late Pleistocene).Specimens of Stegodon were available at the Dehradun’s Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, the fossil discovered was compared with the specimen after a proper examination.
- With this discovery, it can be concluded that there was the existence of a dense forest in the Siwalik range millions of years back, it can also be stated that a lot of river and other water sources were also present in the area.
- The fossil was embedded in sedimentary rock-Sandstone. It was informed that the Stegodon Fossil discovered has nine well-developed ridges on its surface.The nature of the sandstone has characteristics of the middle Sivalik range as the lithology found embedded on the fossil is medium grained.
H.S Prannoy recommended for Arjuna award
- Indian shuttler H.S. Prannoy has been recommended for the Arjuna award by chief National badminton coach P. Gopi Chand after the Badminton Association of India ignored him for a second successive year due to disciplinary issues.
- On June 2, BAI had recommended SatwiksairajRankireddy, ChiragShetty and Sameer Verma for Arjuna award, leaving out Prannoy.It has emerged now that Prannoy’s name was recommended by Gopi Chand on June 3 in his capacity as a KhelRatna Award recipient.