This post covers relevant news from national dailies and government releases for aspirants of examinations like UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. It is highly useful for both, revision and awareness purposes.
National Important Current Affairs – 7 and 8 September 2018
■ The Supreme Court has announced its much-awaited verdict on a sleuth of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 377 of the IPC to decriminalise consensual gay sex in the country. The Court has ruled said gay sex among consenting adults is not an offence. However, bestiality will continue as an offence. Any kind of sexual activity with animals shall remain penal offence under Section 377 of the IPC.
- The judgement is based on the interpretation of Article 14 (Right to Equality); Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth); Article 19 (Freedom of Speech and Expression); and Article 21 (Right to Life and Right to Privacy) of the Indian Constitution.
The Section 377 of IPC – which came into force in 1862 – defines unnatural offences and says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
- In 2009 Delhi HC legalises homosexuality: The Delhi high court had in July 2009 de-criminalised consensual homosexual acts in private by declaring as unconstitutional a part of Section 377 of IPC that criminalises unnatural sex, saying “the section denies a gay person a right to full personhood…”
- In 2013 SC re-criminalises homosexuality: The Supreme Court chose to reverse the verdict in December 2013. Upholding the constitutional validity of Section 377 IPC, an SC bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi (since retired), put the ball in the Parliament’s court, saying it was for the legislature to take a call on the desirability of the controversial provision.
Implications of judgement on sec 377 for heterosexuals: The case has implications for heterosexuals also, as consensual sexual acts of adults such as oral and anal sex in private are currently treated as unnatural and punishable under Section 377 IPC.
■ The Union Cabinet decided to indefinitely extended Atal Pension Scheme, by taking into consideration of mass participation, which had lapsed in August 2018. The scope has also been broadened by keeping it open-ended.
- The age criterion for participation has also been relaxed further to 65 years, taking into consideration rise in average age-expectancy. Earlier, people of age 18 to 60 years were entitled to enroll in this scheme.
- Now the scheme will also expand its focus to target individuals, instead of households.
- All accounts opened after August 2018 will have accident insurance limit of Rs 2 lakh, double than earlier Rs 1 lakh limit.
- The overdraft facility of the scheme has also been increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.
About Atal Pension Yojna (APY):
Under the APY, subscribers would receive a fixed minimum pension of Rs. 1000 per month, Rs. 2000 per month, Rs. 3000 per month, Rs. 4000 per month, Rs. 5000 per month, at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary on the age of joining the APY.
The Central Government would co-contribute 50% of the total contribution or Rs. 1000 per annum, whichever is lower, to each eligible subscriber account, for a period of 5 years, that is, from 2015-16 to 2019-20, to those who join the NPS before 31st December, 2015 and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme and who are not Income Tax payers.
■ In order to boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Digital India’ campaign, the Rajasthan State government has decided to provide free mobile phones to women of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families under the Bhamashah Yojana.
The state government will also provide free Wifi facilities to as many as 5,000 gram panchayats to ensure that the state is well connected with the outside world.
■ Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the son of former Assam chief minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi, will become the 46th Chief Justice of India (CJI), after the current CJI Dipak Misra retires on October 2. He will have tenure of 13 months – till November 17, 2019.
As per convention, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court has to be appointed as the next CJI. His appointment is crucial as it comes at a time when Assam is preparing to release a final National Register of Citizens (NRC), possibly by the end of the year 2018.
About Justice Gogoi: He was one of the four senior-most judges of the court who had called an unprecedented press conference this January, when they had publicly raised concerns about the administration of the court and the formation of benches for the allocation of important cases. Once cleared for the CJI post, he will be the first one from North East to hold the post. He is also one of 11 judges in the Supreme Court who have disclosed their assets.
■ The Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned the project “Development of Rural Circuit: Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project’ in Kerala under Swadesh Darshan Scheme for Rs. 80.37 Crores. The project focuses on development of water based thematic cruise experiences in and around Valapattanam and Kuppam Rivers of Kannur District. Kerala has its 44 Rivers and 7 Backwater regions, and the total length of the navigation route in the Kerala is 1900 km. This is tune with the water based tourism which is getting prominence all over the world.
- Malabari Cuisine and Culinary Cruise in Valapattanam River (Muthappan Cruise) – Cruise starts from Valapattanam to Munambu Kadavu in Valapattanam River with an effective Cruise Length of 40 km.
- Valapattanam River- Theyyam Cruise- Cruise starts from Valapattanam to Pazhayangadi in Valapattanam River with an effective length of 16 km.
- Mangrove Cruise in Kuppam River – Cruise starts from Pazhayangadi to Kuppam in Kuppam River with an effective Cruise length of 16 km.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme: The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner. The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding. To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
■ Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu has launched Coffee Connect – India coffee field force app & Coffee KrishiTharanga – an IVR-based digital mobile extension service for coffee sector which would help farmers increase production and improve quality.
- The Coffee Connect will gather all information relating to various coffee plantations in the country, such as geographical location, plant material, age, production and machinery available. It will help improve the efficiencies of extension workers, in subsidy disbursement and real-time report generation.
- Coffee KrishiTharanga will provide customized information and services to coffee growers to increase productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability.
■ The Supreme Court of India has issued a slew of guidelines, in support of minor survivors of rape or sexual assault, who will get compensation on par with women victims. The National Legal Services Authority’s (NALSA) compensation scheme for women rape and sexual assault survivors shall be extended to minor children.
About the NALSA compensation scheme: The NALSA scheme provides a uniform payment of Rs 5 lakh to a maximum Rs10 lakh for “loss of life” and to gang rape survivors in any part of the country. Similarly, in case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim would get a minimum of Rs 4 lakh and maximum of Rs 7 lakh as compensation. The NALSA scheme would be made applicable to minor victims from October 2 until the Centre frames compensation guidelines under the POCSO.
About NALSA: National Legal Services Authority has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society. It is meant to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.
■ Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has officially decided to participate in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) after a gap of nine years. A team of officers will be sent to Paris to negotiate India’s terms of participation in PISA 2021.
India had taken part in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009 and was ranked at 72nd position among 74 participating countries. Then Indian government had boycotted PISA, blaming “out of context” questions for India’s dismal performance.
About the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA):
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years. PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by NCES.
It was first conducted in 2000, the major domain of study rotates between reading, mathematics, and science in each cycle. The PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as collaborative problem-solving.
By design, PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling. In 2015, Singapore, Japan and Estonia were ranked as top three countries, in that order.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 7 and 8 September 2018
■ The first round of the ‘2+2 dialogue’ between India and the US was held in New Delhi in which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held talks with their counterparts US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James N Mattis.
Both sides have agreed to deepen cooperation in international fora like the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force to fight against terrorism.
India and the U.S. have also signed the long-pending Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement “COMCASA”, the foundational or enabling agreement on the sidelines of the inaugural 2+2 dialogue.
The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement and is one of the four foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high end technology.
It is a “technology enabler” to help transfer high-tech avionics, encrypted communication and electronic systems to India as well as ensure secrecy of its C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems from leaking to other countries like Russia. This agreement would allow the interoperability of India and United States equipments. The US data link is considered the most secure communication platform, which will also allow India access to big data base of American intelligence, including real-time imagery.
COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). It comes into force immediately and is valid for a period 10 years. COMCASA will also help India obtain the armed version of the Sea Guardian drones.
Note that: India had earlier signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) is remaining as the last one.
■ India has recently signed five pacts with Bulgaria in the fields of Civil Nuclear Cooperation, Investment, Tourism, Science & Technology (S&T) and the establishment of Hindi chair at Sofia University, after delegation level talks between President Ram Nath Kovind and his counterpart Rumen Radev.
President Kovind is in Bulgaria on the 2nd leg of his state visit to 3 European nations – Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic – to continue India’s high-level engagements with European countries. Both the countries have also agreed to substantially upgrade their economic partnership in line with the depth of robust political relations. After Cyprus, now Bulgaria also supported India’s claims for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
■ India and France have signed an implementation agreement on “MOBILISE YOUR CITY” (MYC) programme. MobiliseYourCity (MYC) is a global climate initiative for integrated urban mobility planning, and one of 15 international transport initiatives of the UN Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA). The main components of this proposed assistance are:
- To support planning and implementation of sustainable urban transport projects.
- Support to strengthening institutional capacity for regulating, steering and planning urban mobility.
- Learning and exchange formats with other cities across India for exchanges on best practices.
The European Union has agreed to provide funds of Euro 3.5 million through the French funding agency Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) to contribute to specific investments and technical assistance components within the Mobilise Your City (MYC) programme in India.
About Mobilise Your City (MYC): Mobilise Your City (MYC) is part of an international initiative which is supported by the French and the German Governments and was launched at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting in December 2015. The project seeks to back 100 cities worldwide in three years, which are engaged in sustainable urban mobility planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The MYC is an initiative combining urban mobility objectives and climate considerations by providing solutions in a fully integrated manner, analysing different modes of transportation within the urban fabric, with the objective of providing people long-term, sustainable, adequate, reliable and cost-efficient transportation opportunities.
In India, the MYC aims at supporting three pilot cities viz. Nagpur, Kochi and Ahmedabad in their efforts to reduce their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions related to urban transport by implementing urban mobility plans at the local level.
■ The joint maritime naval exercise “SLINEX-2018” is being held between Indian & Sri Lankan navy at Trincomalee, Sri Lanka from September 7 to 13.
- The exercise between India and Sri Lanka was previously held biannually, it has been converted to an annual event from year 2018 to further strengthen mutual trust and interoperability between the two navies.
- The exercise to be conducted in two phases, namely the Harbour and Sea Phase, will involve conduct of joint training, exchange of expertise, helicopter and maritime patrol aircraft operations, search and rescue, and maneuvers at sea.
■ Dr Arif Alvi has been elected as the new President of Pakistan and will take the oath of the office on September 9. He will also succeed Mamnoon Hussain. Alvi is a close ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan and one of the founding members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
■ The 3rd ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Conference on ‘Global Ageing and Human Rights of Older Persons’ is being held in Seoul, Korea. The Conference will reaffirm the universal value of the human rights of older persons, share information on discrimination against the elderly and exemplary cases of long-term and palliative care in Asia and Europe. It will also discuss operation and tasks of the ASEM Global Ageing Centre as an implementing institution for mutual cooperation among ASEM members for the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 28 European Union member states, 2 other European countries, and the European Union with 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat. The ASEM Summit is a biennial meeting between the Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was officially established on 1 March 1996 at the first summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 7 and 8 September 2018
■ The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently introduced Internal Ombudsman (IO) scheme 2018 to tighten internal grievance redressal system at Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs). In it, RBI has given statutory powers to Internal Ombudsman (IO) under section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. The central bank has tightened the selection and operating procedure for IO in banks and made it mandatory for lenders with more than 10 branches (excluding Regional Rural Banks) to have an independent authority to review complaints that were partially or wholly rejected by the respective banks.
- An ombudsman is a person officially charged with investigating and addressing public complaints or violation of rights.
- The tenure of the IO cannot be more than 5 years and it is not open to reappointment.
- An IO also cannot be removed without consent from the RBI.
- This new post will not report to the bank’s CEO but to the customer service committee of the bank.
■ The Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) has approved a proposal by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to increase the wages of artisans by over 36%, from Rs 5.50 per hank previously to Rs 7.50 per hank. The proposal for an increase in wages to khadi spinners along with payment of government subsidy — Modified Market Development Assistance (MMDA) — has been approved with effect from August 15, 2018.
- Under the MMDA programme, 30% of the prime cost is paid to the khadi institutions as a production subsidy.
- Of this 30%, 40% goes to artisans as wage incentives and the remaining 60% goes to the khadi institutions.
- The wage incentives are paid by KVIC directly to the accounts of the artisans through direct benefit transfer.
- As a result, if an artisan makes 20 hanks in a day — he will get Rs 150 per day as wage at the rate of Rs 7.50 per hank, plus incentives including MMDA, which would be approximately 35% on Rs 150, that is Rs 52.
■ The government has launched the National Mission on Government eMarketplace (GeM) for increasing awareness and accelerating the use of (GeM).
- The National Mission will cover all central government departments, states and public sector undertakings in a mission mode.
- It is aimed at creating awareness about GeM, train the buyers and sellers, get them registered in GeM and increase the procurement through GeM.
- It will also Highlight and communicate the value addition via transparency and efficiency in public procurement, including corruption-free governance in sync with the Central Government’s objective of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.
- The mission also aims to give a boost to cashless, contactless, paperless transactions in line with Digital India objectives.
It is an online marketplace to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various Ministries and agencies of the Government. It aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement of goods and services and eliminate corruption. The e-marketplace has completed two years in 2018 and on August 26, 2018, it has crossed Rs 10,800 crore in terms of value and 6.96 lakh in terms of volume of transactions through the platform. The platform has more than 1.35 lakh sellers offering 4.43 lakh products and around 26,500 organisations as buyers.
■ Union Minister Nitin Gadkari while addressing the annual convention of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, in New Delhi stated that the Centre government has decided to exempt electric vehicles and automobiles run on alternative fuel from permit requirements. This move is in a bid to boost such vehicles in the country to bring down pollution. The minister also said a demand for electric vehicles could also be created by mandating cab aggregators to induct a certain percentage of such vehicles in their fleet.
Sports Current Affairs – 7 and 8 September 2018
■ Indian Shooter Om Prakash Mitharwal clinched his first gold in the 50m pistol event at the 2018 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships in South Korea. Mitharwal had previously won bronze in the 10m air pistol and the 50m pistol events of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
■ Assam government has made Asian Games medalist Hima Das as the Sports Ambassador of the state. Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal has also handed over a cheque of 1.6 crore rupees to Hima. The Chief Minister, meanwhile also announced to develop 500 village stadiums in the state.
About Hima Das: Hima won 3 medals in recently concluded Asian Games – two silvers and one gold. Early this year, she became the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships. No woman before Das had won a gold medal in a World Championship at any level, be it youth, junior or senior. The 18-year-old athlete from Nagaon district in Assam, is also known as ‘Dhing Express’ after the name of her village, and has also shown virtues of being conscious of her social duties and responsibilities. She lead the protests for the ouster of country liquor shops in and around her village in the past.
■ Noted Gujarati author, journalist and poet Bhagwati Kumar Sharma have passed away at 84 years of age. He had received Sahitya Academy award for his Gujarati novel Ashuryalok. He had been honoured with Gujarati literature awards Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak and Kumar Paritoshik.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 7 and 8 September 2018 “
Q1.Which Indian personality has been elected as new Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia?
- A) Madan B Lokur
- B) Manan Kumar Mishra
- C) Poonam Khetrapal Singh
- D) Kurian Joseph
Q2.On which date, the 2018 International Day of Charity (IDC) was observed recently?
- A) September 3
- B) September 5
- C) September 4
- D) September 6
Q3.Bhagwati Kumar Sharma, who passed away recently, was the renowned author and journalist of which state?
- A) Rajasthan
- B) Gujarat
- C) Uttar Pradesh
- D) Madhya Pradesh
Q4.KAZIND-2018 is an army exercise between India and which country?
- A) Kuwait
- B) Kenya
- C) Kyrgyzstan
- D) Kazakhstan
Q5.Which country has recently announced to launch Mars Mission “HOPE” by 2020?
- A) Oman
- B) UAE
- C) Iran
- D) Israel
Answer these questions in the comments below. We encourage you to discuss your thoughts on the news and issues mentioned in today’s current affairs post. The idea is to promote healthy discussions on interesting issues to make preparation fun. Have a good day!