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Daily Current affairs 2 NOVEMBER 2018

UPSC - Daily Current Affair
1. 16 ex-PAC jawans held guilty for Hashimpura massacre

Context

  • More than 31 years after 38 Muslims from Hashimpura were rounded up and shot dead by the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), the Delhi High Court on Wednesday sent 16 former jawans to life imprisonment, holding them guilty of murder.

2. Assam residents get relief from SC

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday came on the same page as the government, allowing more than 40 lakh people left out of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to use five additional documents, including the ration card, to claim their Indian legacy.
  • Consequently, the court extended the last date for filing of claims and objections from November 25 to December 15.
  • The deadline for issuing notices to claimants, after digitisation and completion of all formalities, is January 15, 2019. The verification of their claims would begin on February 1 next year. Further details of the time schedule, including the time for completion of verification/enquiry of the claims, will follow at the appropriate time.

What is the National Register of Citizens?

  • It is a register containing the list of bona fide (genuine/real) Indian citizens. Those failing to enlist their names in the register would be deemed, illegal migrants.
  • The first list was made in 1951, covering the whole of India, as per the census of that year.
  • Currently, the list has been updated for the first time in Assam.

3. Disabled persons can perform Haj: Centre to HC

  • The Centre on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that it has made changes in the Haj policy and allowed disabled persons to also perform the annual pilgrimage.
  • Central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul told a Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice I.S. Mehta that only persons with serious illnesses such as cancer or tuberculosis are barred from the pilgrimage.

Background

  • The new Haj policy, issued by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in November last year, debars “persons suffering from polio, tuberculosis, congestive and respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS, or any other communicable disability or handicapped” from applying for the Haj pilgrimage.
  • A petition was filed before the High Court claiming that the new Haj policy, which will be effective for the next five years starting 2018, was “discriminatory, arbitrary and highly irrational” as it violates fundamental rights of disabled persons.
  • Digpaul, appearing for the Ministry, said that the Haj Committee of India has “unanimously decided to allow persons with special needs to apply” for the pilgrimage under the general category.
  • The amended policy has made it clear that “physical disability of a person will not be construed as adverse physical health”.
  • Digpaul said on selection, such a person with special needs can perform Haj if he or she can undertake the journey on their own, or else they may be accompanied by an able-bodied person who will have to be a blood relation and bear responsibility during the pilgrimage.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India protests China-Pakistan bus via PoK

 

  • India on Thursday reiterated its opposition to a proposed luxury bus service between Pakistan and China that would pass through parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan — territory that India claims — terming it “a violation of India’s sovereignty”, a day after it had summoned a Chinese diplomat to South Block to lodge a strong protest against the initiative.
  • “We have lodged strong protests with China and Pakistan on the proposed bus service that will operate through areas of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir State under the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’,” the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told reporters. “Any such bus service through Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir State will be a violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
  • Lu Kang, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson stressed that the CPEC was an “economic project”, and did not reflect China’s position on Kashmir. “It is an economic cooperation project between China and Pakistan and not targeted at any third party. It has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and it will not affect China’s principled position on the issue of Kashmir,” Mr. Lu observed.

 

[Editorial] A Matter of Dignity
POSTED ON NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | THE INDIAN EXPRESS
Syll.
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Dementia, Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025
Mains level: Along with demographic dividend, the number of ageing people is also rising in India and hence an increase in diseases related to older age. How can India tackle this problem in line with global actions.

Context
Increase in cases of dementia
  1. The rapid increase in ageing population across countries requires national strategies to deal with age-related diseases and thus dementia care is becoming a significant issue
  2. According to the WHO, it affects 50 million people worldwide; a number that is projected to increase to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050
  3. According to some estimates, one person gets affected by dementia every three seconds
About dementia
  1. Dementia is a form of cognitive impairment that affects memory and other cognitive abilities and significantly interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily activities
  2. Data from many parts of the world reveals age as a risk factor for dementia — though the debilitating condition is not an inevitable consequence of ageing
Social stigma related to dementia
  1. Studies have revealed how the stigma attached to the disease leads to the social isolation of patients, their families and careers
  2. Research has thrown light on the deterioration in the quality of their lives
  3. Studies that draw on interactions with people affected by dementia, their families and caregivers indicate that several of the needs of such people — social, economic or those related to health — remain unfulfilled
  4. For instance, leave concessions at work, adaptable housing environments, adequate diagnostic facilities, treatment options, care provisions and risk reduction measures for people with dementia are not in place
  5. Many require psychological support, biomedical facilities, appropriate medications, counselling services and end of life care. But these are not available
WHO action plan on dementia
  1. The complexity of needs cutting across health, economic and social sector requires attention and policy responses
  2. 2018 WHO dementia plan focuses on the urgent need for a multi-phased approach and a multi-sectoral policy response to address the needs of people with dementia, their carers and families
  3. Over a year ago, the World Health Assembly in Geneva adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025
  4. India endorsed the plan, confirming its commitment to improving the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families
Policy action that needs to be taken in India
  1. The country’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals — especially with respect to Goal 3 that deals with good health and well being — and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should push it into formulating a strategy to deal with this debilitating condition
  2. Such a plan should incorporate public awareness campaigns and research
Way forward
  1. As the percentage of aged people in the country increases, improving the lives of people with dementia and their families and careers must become a national priority
  2. These programmes could be aligned with existing policies and care models
 
 
[Editorial] A tough balancing act between geopolitical realities and energy security
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | LIVE MINT
Syll.
Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: OPEC, INSTC
Mains level: Impact of US sanctions on Iran on the global economic and geopolitical order

Context
US sanctions on Iran
  1. The US oil and banking sanctions against Iran will come into effect on 4 November
  2. As the deadline nears, the oil market is unusually calm
  3. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) crude price basket went down by 8.6 %, while the Brent benchmark fell by 9.4 % during the month
Effect on the economy of India as well as other countries
  1. For most of the consuming countries, it is not simply a question of finding replacement oil
  2. Crude import has to be at prices they can afford
  3. The price has already gone up
  4. Export decrese
  5. The increase in oil prices is not only due to the impact of sanctions against Iran but is also driven by policies pursued by Opec and non-Opec producers to restrict crude oil production to keep the prices high
  6. The Indian crude oil basket is up by nearly 30% since last year, which would add more than ₹2 trillion to our annual oil import bill if the trend persists
  7. If rupee depreciation is factored in, the effect will be even more pronounced
Connectivity problem
  1. There are also issues of connectivity and trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia
  2. Seen against the background of worsening situation in the Af-Pak region, this factor assumes added importance
  3. India is committed to develop Chabahar Port which is in no way linked to Iran’s oil exports, which go through the Kharg terminal in the Gulf
  4. Apart from Chabahar, India also has interest in the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC), which runs through Iran
  5. This will improve connectivity with five Central Asian republics
Sanctions are not universal
  1. This round of sanctions is different, as it is not supported by the European Union and the United Nations
  2. Germany, France, the UK along with China and Russia continue to support the nuclear deal
  3. Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  4. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has also ruled against the US sanctions
Options for India
  1. During the last round of sanctions against Iran, a rupee payment arrangement was evolved
  2. This involved making 45% of oil payments in rupees, which were utilized to cover Indian exports to Iran
  3. During the last round of sanctions, India reduced its crude import from Iran from 21 million to 10 million tonnes per annum
  4. For India, the only option that remains is reviving rupee payment arrangement to bring down current account deficit, and ensure continuity in Indian exports, which are largely limited to food and pharmaceuticals
Way forward
  1. India has an extremely important and growing relationship with the US
  2. It also has geopolitical compulsions, and an age-old relationship with Iran as well as its Arab neighbours
  3. India needs to maintain a fine balance between the two
 
[Editorial] Choked by smog: on air pollution
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | THE HINDU
Syll.
Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: WHO air quality standards, UNEP
Mains level: Worsening air quality in most cities of India & how to tackle this problem

Context
Winter pollution turning lethal
  1. Air pollution is choking several cities in the northern States once again, as changes in temperature and slowing winds trap soot, dust and fine particulate matter
  2. The National Capital Region is badly hit, as the burning of agricultural residue in Punjab and Haryana is releasing large volumes of smoke containing, among other pollutants, highly damaging fine particulates, or PM2.5
  3. The problem is aggravated by the burning of urban waste, diesel soot, vehicular exhaust, road and construction dust, and power generation
  4. The UN Environment Programme’s recent report titled ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions’ has sounded a warning, pointing out that only 8% of the population in the countries of the region get to breathe air of acceptable quality
  5. One study of the degradation of Delhi’s air over a 10-year period beginning 2000 estimated premature mortality to have risen by as much as 60%
No prompt actions taken
  1. Although India has nine of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, it has not taken consistent action on pollution
  2. Tens of millions live with ambient air quality that is well short of even the relaxed parameters the country has set for fine particulates, compared with those of the World Health Organisation
  3. This year’s ‘severe’ air quality rating for Delhi and poor conditions prevailing in other cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plain should compel a decisive shift in policy
What needs to be done?
  1. The Centre and the State governments need to get into crisis mode to dramatically reduce emissions
  2. They must address the burning of carbon, which is a direct source, and emissions with oxides of nitrogen and sulphur from vehicles that turn into fine particulates through atmospheric reactions
  3. Farm stubble burning is a major contributor to the problem, and its footprint may be growing because of wider use of mechanical harvesters that is producing more waste
  4. An innovative approach could be to use climate change funds to turn farm residues into a resource, using technological options such as converting them into biofuels and fertilizers
  5. From an urban development perspective, large cities should reorient their investments to prioritise public transport, favouring electric mobility
  6. The World Bank has said it is keen to enhance its lending portfolio to tackle air pollution, opening a new avenue for this
  7. Governments should make the use of personal vehicles in cities less attractive through strict road pricing mechanisms
  8. Sharply escalated, deterrent parking fees can be implemented
Way forward
  1. Urgent correctives are needed, or lethal winter pollution will become the new normal
  2. Failure to take sustainable and urgent measures will inflict long-term harm on public health, affecting children even more by putting them at higher risk for diseases
 
 
Cabinet nod for opening up of Solar Alliance to all UN countries
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | THE HINDU
Syll.
Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: International Solar Alliance
Mains level: India’s renewable energy commitments and efforts in that direction

News
Context
  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval for moving a resolution in the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to amend the framework agreement to open up its membership to all UN countries.
ISA: A Global Agenda
  1. The decision was taken to put solar energy on the global agenda with the universal appeal for developing and deploying solar energy.
  2. SA is an alliance of more than 121 countries initiated by India to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy so as to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  3. Opening the membership of the ISA will put solar energy in global agenda with the universal appeal for developing and deploying solar energy.
  4. It will make ISA inclusive, whereby all member countries that are members of the United Nations could become members.

Back2Basics
International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
  2. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  3. The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization
  4. The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA)
  5. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is to be headquartered in India
  6. The initiative was launched by PM Modi at the India Africa Summit and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.
 
 
India conducts successful night trial of nuclear-capable Agni-I missile
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | BUSINESS STAN
Syll.
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Particulars of the Agni-I missile
Mains level: Strategic importance of missile development for India

News
Context
  • India has successfully conducted the night trial of the indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile off the Odisha coast.
  • The surface-to-surface missile test was test-fired as part of a user-trial from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
Details of the Trial
  1. The night trial of the ballistic missile with a strike range of 700 km was first conducted in April 2014.
  2. The trajectory of the trial was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and naval ships from its launch till the missile hit the target area with accuracy.
  3. Agni-I missile has a specialised navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.
About Agni –I
  1. Agni-I is a short-range ballistic missile developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.
  2. It is sleek single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants developed after the Kargil War to fill the gap between 250 km range of Prithvi-II and 2,500 km range of Agni-II.
  3. It was first launched on 25 January 2002 from a road mobile launcher at Integrated Test Range (ITR), Wheeler Island.
  4. Agni-I was developed by advanced systems laboratory, the premier missile development laboratory of the DRDO.
  5. Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-long Agni-I, which can carry payloads up to 1000 kg, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.
 
 
[pib] 1st Annual Senior Care Conclave
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | PIB
Syll.
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Senior Care Conclave   
Mains level: Various inititatives for elderly population

News
Senior Care Conclave 
  1. The ‘1st Annual Senior Care Conclave’ was recently organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
  2. The event marked release of a CII Report “Igniting Potential in Senior Care Services”.
  3. It urged corporates to explore opportunities of investment in the emerging field of Senior Care.
Healthcare inititatives for Ageing Population
  1. The National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) addresses various health related issues of the elderly.
  2. The programme is State oriented and basic thrust of the programme is to provide dedicated health care facilities to the senior citizens (>60 year of age) at various levels.
  3. The basic aim of the NPHCE Programme is to provide dedicated, specialized and comprehensive health care to the senior citizens at various levels of state health care delivery system including outreach services.
  4. Preventive and promotive care, management of illness, health manpower development for geriatric services, medical rehabilitation & therapeutic intervention and IEC are some of the strategies envisaged in the NPHCE.
  5. The NPHCE was launched in 100 identified districts of 21 States and Eight Regional Geriatrics Centres in selected medical colleges as referral units during the 11th Plan period.
  6. Two National Centres for Ageing (NCA) in AIIMS Delhi and Madras Medical College, Chennai have been sanctioned to be developed as centres of excellence for geriatrics.
 
 
[pib] Railways rolls out All-India Unreserved Mobile Ticketing facility (UTS on Mobile)
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | PIB
Syll.
Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: UTS on Mobile
Mains level: Digitization of Railways ticketing service

News
Context
  • Ministry of Railways has introduced Unreserved Mobile Ticketing with a view to promote three C’s– Cashless transactions, Contact less ticketing and Customer convenience and experience.
UTS on Mobile
  1. Booking of unreserved tickets on all non-suburban sections across all Zonal Railways has been made available from 1st
  2. It enables seamless booking of unreserved tickets all over Indian Railways which will obviate the need for passengers to wait in queues for purchasing the tickets.
  3. The facility of booking unreserved tickets, including season tickets and also platform tickets is available through the ‘UTSONMOBILE’ app available for Android, IOS and Windows phones.
Details of the app
  1. UTSONMOBILE’ application is available for Android, IOS, Windows phones and can be downloaded from Google play or window store.
  2. It is developed by Indian Railway- CRIS.
Features
  1. The process of ticket booking involves downloading the application and registration by furnishing the requisite details.
  2. After successful registration, the user is given credentials to book ticket through this application within the ticketing area and outside the Geo-fenced area.
  3. Geo-fenced area is station premises and train route within which ticket cannot be booked.
  4. The facility of making payment through all types of digital modes i.e. debit card, credit card, net-banking, UPI and other e-wallets has been introduced.
Benefits
  1. Mobile Ticketing shall promote 3C’s- Cashless transactions, Contact less ticketing and Customer convenience.
  2. Seamless booking of unreserved tickets all over Indian Railways.
  3. Obviate the need for passengers to wait in queues for purchasing the tickets and enhance the experience for booking unreserved tickets – journey, season tickets, platform tickets.
  4. Environment friendly.
Railway Reforms
[pib] Vehicle Location Tracking Devices and Emergency Buttons to be mandatory
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2018 | PIB
Syll.
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Read the attached story
Mains level: Women and passenger safety

News
Ensuring passenger safety
  1. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has mandated that all new public service vehicles except auto rickshaws and eRickshaws, registered on and after 1st January 2019, will have to be equipped with  Vehicle Location Tracking ( VLT )with emergency buttons.
  2. In case of older public service vehicles –those registered upto 31″December,2018, the respective State/ UT Governments will notify the date by which these vehicles have to install them.
VLT Command Centres
  1. Command and Control Centres will be setup by the State or VLT manufacturers or any other agency authorised by the State Government.
  2. These centres will provide interface to various stakeholders such as state emergency response centre, the transport department or RTOs, Transport Ministry, device manufacturers and their authorised dealers, testing agencies, permit holders, etc.
  3. These centres will also provide feed to the VAHAN data base or the relevant data base of the State with regard to the over speeding, device health status.
  4. The details of each VLT device will be uploaded on the VAHAN database by the VLT device manufacturer using its secured authenticated access.
More thrust on VLTs
  1. The VLT device manufacturers or their authorised dealers will install the VLT devices in public service vehicles and register the devices along with details of vehicle on the corresponding backend systems inreal-time.
  2. The public service vehicle owners have to ensure that the VLT devices installed in their vehicles are in working condition and regularly send required data to the corresponding backend system through cellular connectivity.
  3. VLT device manufacturers will get their devices tested for conformity of production every year after the first certification, from the testing agencies referred to in rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules,1989.
  4. The State or Union Territories will publish Internet Protocol address (IP address) and Short Message Service Gateway (SMS gateway) details of their respective emergency response system
 

1. SC: live-in partner can seek maintenance

 

  • A live-in partner can seek maintenance under the Domestic Violence Act, the Supreme Court has said in a recent order.
  • The 2005 Act provides an “efficacious remedy” for maintenance even if the victim is not a legally wedded wife, a Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices U.U. Lalit and K.M. Joseph observed.
  • “In fact, under the provisions of the DVC Act, 2005 the victim i.e. estranged wife or live-in-partner would be entitled to more relief than what is contemplated under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, namely, to a shared household also,” the court pointed out in a short order on October 30.
  • What would be significant to note is that economic abuse also constitutes domestic violence under the 2005 Act, the Bench noted in the order.

2. Be ready to trace the origin of messages, WhatsApp told

 

  • The government on Wednesday said it does not want WhatsApp to “decrypt and read” messages sent on its platform but “insists” that the Facebook-owned firm be able to trace the origin of messages that lead to serious crimes.
  • This was conveyed to WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels at a meeting with Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
  • The government and WhatsApp firm have been at loggerheads over the issue of tracing the origin of fake messages. WhatsApp had earlier said it would not comply with the government’s demand as the move would undermine the privacy of WhatsApp users.
  • “Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating potential for serious misuse,” the U.S.-headquartered firm had said in August.
  • The Minister, on Wednesday, said, “When we talk of traceability, we don’t talk of decrypting the messages but we insist on location and identification of the original sender of WhatsApp messages when such messages lead to provocation of violence, heinous offences and other serious crimes.”
  • Whatsapp said it would look into the issue and get back. Mr. Prasad said, “We discussed about the progress made on the issues which were discussed in the last meeting.”
  • In August, the government had asked WhatsApp to find a solution to trace the origin of fake messages.

3. Now, visit Supreme Court on a guided tour

 

  • The Supreme Court of India on Thursday opened its doors to everyone as it launched a web portal to facilitate a guided tour of the complex. The tour would be free of cost and needs to be booked online.
  • Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi announced the one-hour tour, in which a maximum of 20 persons will be allowed at a time. It will be open to the general public from 10 am to 1 pm every Saturday, when the courts are not in session.
  • At present, the general public is not allowed entry into the apex court’s premises, where only lawyers, law interns, law students, litigants and media persons are allowed.
  • The Supreme Court is located in a high-security zone and entry into its premises is regulated: visitors are given an electronic access card or daily passes.
  • Visitors will be accompanied by a guide throughout the tour and introduced to parts of historical importance.
  • After doing the booking online, the visitors will receive bar-coded messages on their mobile phones. These barcodes will help them gain entry into the premises for the guided tour.
  • The guided tour would include a visit to the main lawns, where the statue of justice is located, to courtroom number one, the Chief Justice’s court, the judges’ library, the judges’ corridor, as well as the museum.
  • The top courts in the United Kingdom and Canada already allow such guided tours for members of the public.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Deal inked for biofuel research

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has signed a three-year, Rs. 11 crore deal with The Energy and Research Institute to set up a centre to produce “advanced biofuels and bio-commodities.”
  • This is the fifth such dedicated centre for bioenergy-research and development set up by the Department.
  • The others are located at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati; Transtech Green Power Limited, Jaipur; and the Oil and Natural Gas Energy Centre in the National Capital Region.
  • The bio-centre would be focussed on not only developing technology but also commercialising it, said Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT.