Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 30 APRIL 2019
Supreme court seek response from EC over VVPAT issue
- The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Election
Commission to a plea to decriminalise the act of reporting “deviant
behaviour” manifested in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and
voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) sytems during polling.
- A Bench led by Chief Justice of India RanjanGogoi issued notice to
the Commission to explain the requirement for Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of
Election Rules, 1961 read with Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code, which
criminalises the reporting of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs.
- Petitioner Sunil Ahya submitted, “It may not be fair and just to
charge an elector for reporting such a deviant behaviour. Yet, presently, in
all eventuality, the onus/burden of proof is on the elector, who will face
the criminal charges irrespective of whether that reporting is truthful and
honest.” In fact, the rule worked to deter people from coming forth to
- The petition explained the various forms of “deviant behaviour”
the EVMs and VVPATs could possibly have, including an “unsolicited programme”
by ballots cast for one candidate may be transferred, not sequentially, but
rather intermittently (at pre-programmed intervals or otherwise) to another
Central committee to implement clean air programme
- The Union Environment Ministry has constituted a committee to
implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which aims to reduce
particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
- The NCAP unveiled in January is envisaged as a scheme to provide
the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.The NCAP
is envisioned as a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. There
would be a review every five years.
- States in which the cities are located are expected to produce
plans that include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing
technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and
strengthening enforcement. For achieving the NCAP targets, the cities would
be expected to calculate the reduction in pollution, keeping 2017’s average
annual PM levels as the base year.
- The NCAP requires cities to implement specific measures such as
“ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce
dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick
kilns” (within 30 days). It doesn’t specify an exact date for when these
obligations kick in. Experts have criticised the lack of mandatory targets
and the challenge of inadequate enforcement by cities.
India – China pharma sector to discuss issues soon
- India will be sending a high-level delegation to the first meeting
of the working group on pharmaceuticals, with China, scheduled in Beijing
- An initiative under the India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED)
Mechanism, the working group meeting comes in the backdrop of growing
efforts by India to increase pharma exports to China.
- In 2018-19, China figured in the 17th spot in the list of India’s
top pharma export destinations. At $230.19 million, exports increased 14.83%
from the previous year’s $200.46 million.
- The growth potential, however, is much higher, considering the
fact that the exports grew 52% in 2017-18.
- The Indian delegation will be led by Joint Secretary to the
Department of Pharmaceuticals and comprise senior officials from the
Commerce Ministry as well. Senior executives of a few pharma companies from
India as well as of those already involved in their firms’ operations in
China, such as Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Hetero, are expected to be part
of the delegation, sources said.
Employees consortium to bid for Jet airways
- As uncertainty continues over the fate of the shuttered Jet
Airways, an employees’ consortium has proposed to take over the airline with
at least ₹3,000 crore expected from outside investors for the bid, according
to two staff unions.
- Two associations representing pilots and engineers SWIP and JAMEVA
have written to State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar proposing
that they would like to take over the airline and can bring in up to ₹7,000
- The Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP) and the Jet
Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Welfare Association (JAMEVA) have written a
letter to the SBI chief asking the lead lender to consider “employee
consortium” as an intending bidder for the carrier.
- The deadline for submitting initial bids have already ended and
the list of shortlisted entities is expected to be finalised on May 10.SBI
Capital Markets, on behalf of the lenders’ consortium led by the SBI, is
managing the bidding process.
Sanchez’s PSOE party wins by small margin in Spain
- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists have won snap
elections, without the necessary majority to govern solo, in a fragmented
political landscape marked by the far-right’s entry into Parliament. The
results raise the spectre of another period of instability for Spain, with
Mr. Sánchez depending on alliances with hostile rivals in an environment
that has soured since Catalonia’s failed secession bid in 2017.
- A significant development was the rise of the ultra-nationalist
Vox party, which garnered just over 10% of the vote in a country that has
had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco
Franco in 1975. Mr. Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) got 123 lawmakers out
of 350, or close to 29% of votes short of an absolute majority but much
better than the 85 seats it got in 2016.
- Mr. Sánchez, who came to power in June after ousting conservative
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote, could seek to forge
alliances with far-left Podemos and smaller groupings like Catalan
separatist parties, as he had done over the past 10 months. He could also
try to cosy up to centre-right Ciudadanos, which won 57 seats. Together,
they would form an absolute majority but voters from both parties would
likely frown on such a move.
- Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera built his campaign on disparaging
Mr. Sánchez, criticising his attempts to negotiate with Catalan separatist
parties in a bid to ease aw secession crisis in the northeastern region.
- The crisis in Catalonia was precisely what fuelled Vox’s meteoric
rise from the outer margins of politics to the national scene, after gaining
nearly 11% of votes in December regional polls in southern Andalusia.
Founded by Santiago Abascal, a disgruntled former PP member, it will now
take 24 seats in the national Parliament.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY:;
ICRISAT discovers tolerance & heat resistance of chick pea varieties
- An international team led by the Hyderabad-based International
Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has identified
in chickpea four important genes for heat tolerance and three important
genes for drought tolerance.
- With rising temperatures and increasing climatic fluctuations due
to climate change, the identification of these climate-resistant genes will
help in developing newer chickpea varieties which can tolerate temperatures
up to 38 ° C. Also, the identification of other genes with important agromic
traits will help in increasing the yield and providing better resistance to
pests and diseases. The study was based on complete genome sequencing of 429
chickpea lines from 45 countries.
- More than 90% of chickpea cultivation area is in South Asia,
including India. Globally, more than 70% yield is lost due to drought and
increasing temperatures. Chickpea is a cool season crop, so in general any
further increase in temperature is expected to further reduce the yield.
- In India, chickpea is generally sown in September-October and
harvested in January-February. “Currently, in India, chickpea does not face
a major threat from increasing temperature. But we are already witnessing a
slight warming during the months of January and February. So a new variety
with heat and drought tolerance will be highly useful to Indian farmers.
- The study has found that chickpea originated in the
Mediterranean/south-west Asia and migrated to south Asia. It reached India
about two centuries ago, apparently through Afghanistan. In parallel, it
migrated from the Mediterranean to east Africa and central Asia.