Daily Current Affairs

9 August Current Affairs – Daily News



Statehood for Jammu & Kashmir will be restored, says Prime Minister Modi #GS2 #Governance


Two days after both Houses of Parliament cleared the reading down of Article 370 and the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation said it was a historic move and a new beginning for Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh. He also unveiled measures that would follow this change.


Mr Modi, however, stressed that the Union Territory status for J&K from being a full State, was a “temporary” situation and that at some point statehood would be restored. Ladakh, he added, would remain a Union territory.


Article 370 and Article 35A had only given terrorism, separatism, nepotism and massive corruption to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). These articles have been used as a weapon by Pakistan.


The Prime Minster pointed out that while the country took justifiable pride in its democratic process of law making, many of these laws including Right to Education, Minimum Wages Act, Acts that protect against atrocities on Dalits etc. were not applicable in the State in the past.


He also pointed out that those who had settled in J&K after Partition could only vote in Lok Sabha polls and not the Assembly or local body polls. With the reading down of Articles 370 and 35A, this was now over.


The Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme would also be extended further, he said. Recruitment for the Indian armed force and paramilitary from the two union territories will also be pushed.


He assured people that jobs through public sector units and private sector would also make their way to the two Union Territories. He called for investors, film industry in particular to generate business in the State, delineating tourism, horticulture and handicrafts as the mainstay of the economy there.






India asks Pakistan to review decision to sever ties #GS2 #IR


India has urged Pakistan to review its decision to suspend bilateral trade and downgrade diplomatic relations over the revocation Article 370 giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian government has warned Islamabad that its attempts to interfere in the country’s jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed.



The Samjhauta Express, that runs between the two countries, was stopped at the Wagah border on Thursday by Pakistan over ‘security concerns’, following which an Indian crew and guard escorted the train to Attari on the Indian side.


Justifying India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, the MEA release said the decisions were driven by a commitment to extending to J&K the opportunities for development that were earlier denied by a temporary provision of the Constitution.


The recent developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely an internal affair of India. The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed.






Samjhauta Express not suspended, says India- Yuthika Bhargav #GS2 #IR


A senior Railways official said that the Lahore-Attari Samjhauta Express train service had not been suspended. The clarification followed Pakistan’s decision to stop the train from Lahore to Atari at Wagah in Pakistan, citing security concerns, leaving 110 passengers, including 48 Pakistanis, stranded.


Following this, the Railways sent its crew and guard to escort the train to its destination. After a delay of several hours, the train with the Indian crew reached Atari at 5.15 p.m. The return train, with 70 passengers waiting to cross over to Pakistan, left Atari at 6.40 p.m.


Pakistan’s Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad on Thursday said that Islamabad had decided to stop the Samjhauta Express train service immediately in response to India’s decision to change the status of Kashmir.






Finance Ministry mulls tweaks to FPI surcharge up to Budget #GS3 #Economy


In a bid to ease the concerns of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) over the increased surcharge announced in the Budget, the Finance Ministry is considering “grandfathering” the income earned by them up to the Budget (July).


Under the proposal, FPIs that are so far structured as trusts will not have to pay the increased surcharge. But if they don’t change their structure, they will have to pay the surcharge from the set date. “There is a proposal being considered where the government is considering grandfathering the income earned by FPIs that are trusts up to the date of the Budget.



Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech on July 5, had announced an increase in the surcharge levied on individuals earning more than ₹2 crore a year. This increased surcharge would be applicable on FPIs that are structured as trusts, since those are treated similarly to individuals for income tax purposes.


Spooked by the move, FPIs pulled out about ₹7,712 crore from equities during July 1-19. As of August 2, FPIs have since July 1 reportedly been net sellers of more than ₹20,500 crore worth of stocks on the Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange and Metropolitan Stock Exchange in the capital market segment.






Cabinet’s green light to proposal for free Wi-Fi access for Delhiites #GS2 #Governance































The Delhi government approved a proposal which will allow residents of the city to avail of free Wi-Fi services across the Capital within the next three to four months. A proposal to instal 1.4 lakh more CCTV cameras was also given a go-ahead.


15 GB data for free



Announcing these decisions approved by the Delhi Cabinet at a press conference here, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said people will also be able to use up to 15 GB free data every month as part of the Wi-Fi project, which envisages the setting up of 11,000 hotspots in the first phase.


In the next three-four months, the Delhi government will start providing free Wi-Fi to people. Our government will allot ₹100 crore annually for the project,” he said, adding that with this, the AAP-led Delhi government fulfilled its major electoral promise of providing free Wi-Fi in the Capital.


According to the Chief Minister, the 70 Assembly constituencies in Delhi will have 1,000 hotspots, totalling to 7,000 such hotspots spread across these Assembly segments, each, while 4,000 hotspots will be set up at bus queue shelters as part of the project that will be executed under a Public-Private Partnership model.


Wi-Fi services with 200 MBPS internet speed will be available within a 50-metre radius of the hotspot which will cater to connectivity for around 200 people at a time.


The government also said that the Wi-Fi hotspots will be connected with CCTV cameras being installed under the AAP government’s ambitious project in this regard.


In addition, the Chief Minister said, while the Delhi government was already in the process of installing 1.4 lakh CCTV cameras across the 70 Assembly segments – 2,000 per constituency – the Delhi Cabinet cleared a proposal to procure an additional 1.4 lakh such cameras for installation in the city.


“Delhi has become the first city in the world where the government is installing nearly three lakh CCTV cameras in one go to ensure women’s safety and to provide a major push to infrastructure.


While public response in relation to the project had been “overwhelmingly positive”, 2,000 cameras in each Assembly constituency “may not suffice”.


“Today, the Cabinet has approved the purchase of 1.4 lakh more CCTV cameras. The tender process will now follow and the additional 1.4 lakh cameras will also start getting installed in the next three-four months,” Mr. Kejriwal said, adding that a total of 2.8 lakh CCTV cameras will be up and running by the end of the year.






Maharashtra to set up task force on climate change #GS2 #Governance


In the wake of an unprecedented flood-like situation and record rainfall this season, the State government will constitute a task force comprising local and global experts to study impact of climate change on Mumbai.



The task force will study measures taken against flooding and unplanned reclamation in cities such as Venice, Geneva and London, and coordinate with the European Climate Change Programme of the European Union to prepare a blueprint.


The task force will be set up by the environment department in coordination with Mumbai First, a not-for-profit, policy-influencing think tank, officials said.


The proposal for the task force has been sent to the government while only the last-minute modalities are remaining.


Mumbai First held a meeting with Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta and discussed the need to set up a task force comprising scientists and experts on climate change from around the globe.


“There are new flooding spots in the city while the construction of major projects is going on. All of these have raised concerns over the impact of climate change.


Officials said the government has agreed to not only form the task force but also participate in an international conference on climate change, which will be organised by Mumbai First.


The task force will also study patterns of climate change and steps taken by leading countries such as the Netherlands, which has taken a lead in flood management and measures against climate change.






BrahMos missile to be deployed for maritime coastal defence #GS3 #Defence


The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of a Software Defined Radio (SDR) and the Next Generation Maritime Mobile Coastal Batteries (NGMMCB) for the Navy.


“The NGMMCB will be fitted with the BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missiles and deployed along the coast.


The SDR has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Navy’s Weapons Electronics Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE). It will facilitate high-speed data and secure voice communication with anti-jamming capability.


The DAC also approved amendments to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), 2016, to improve the ease of business, the statement said.


BrahMos was jointly developed by India and Russia and has been inducted into the the Army and the Navy. It is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and marine targets.


Changes in PMLA Act empower ED- Devesh K. Pandey #GS2 #Governance


The Centre has issued a notification on certain changes in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), some of which tend to treat money laundering as a stand-alone crime and also expand the ambit of “proceeds of crime” to assets that may have been derived from any other criminal activity related to scheduled offences.


Under the Act, the Enforcement Directorate is empowered to conduct money laundering investigation.


The most crucial amendments are the deletion of provisos in sub-sections (1) of Section 17 (Search and Seizure) and Section 18 (Search of Persons), doing away with the pre-requisite of an FIR or chargesheet by other agencies that are authorised to probe the offences listed in the PMLA schedule.


Another important change is the insertion of an explanation in Section 44. “The jurisdiction of the Special Court, while dealing with the offence under this Act, during investigation, enquiry or trial under this Act, shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be construed as joint trial,” it says.


The ED had faced several issues in this regard. The change is in line with the intent to treat proceedings under the Act as separate from those under the scheduled offences.


An explanation added to Section 45 clarifies that all PMLA offences will be cognisable and non-bailable. Therefore, ED officers are empowered to arrest an accused without warrant, subject to certain conditions.


The scope of “proceeds of crime”, under Section 2, has been expanded to empower the agency to act against even those properties which “may directly or indirectly be derived or obtained as a result of any criminal activity relatable to the scheduled offence”.


Another vital amendment to Section 3 makes concealment of proceeds of crime, possession, acquisition, use, projecting as untainted money, or claiming as untainted property as independent and complete offences under the Act. These activities have been explicitly declared to be continuing offences until such time a person is directly or indirectly “enjoying the proceeds of crime”.


Section 72 now includes a part, giving power to the Centre to set up an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee for inter-departmental and inter-agency coordination for operational and policy level cooperation, besides consultation with all stakeholders on anti-money laundering and counter-terror funding initiatives.




Indian soil may have reached Moon on crashed Israeli lander- Jacob Koshy #GS3 #SnT


A tiny biological sample from India may have already made it to the Moon ahead of the Chandrayaan 2.



On February 21, an Israeli lunar lander called Beresheet (Hebrew for ‘the beginning’) began its journey to the Moon aboard a SpaceX rocket in its quest to be the first privately-funded spacecraft to land on the Moon. A month later, it was reported, Beresheet had crash-landed and was irredeemably broken except, for a curious, quirky payload called the Lunar Library.


The Lunar Library is a 30 million page archive of human history and civilisation, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods. In the event of human extinction, it’s meant to be a ‘backup ‘ of earth-life.


It is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick. The device was conceived courtesy the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF), a U.S.-based nonprofit whose mission is to create repositories of human civilisation and spread them through space.


The management of Mahabodhi stupa (Bihar) privately gave me a leaf from the Bodhi tree and some soil from under the Bodhi seat. These were included.


Earlier this week, Mr. Spivack controversially revealed that the Lunar library also contained thousands of tardigrades — small, multicellular animals, first found by scientists in Antarctica, and known to be extremely resilient in hostile environments. They can survive without food and water for decades. Assuming that the Lunar library has survived they could be the first living organisms splashed across the surface of the moon.


The first microbes on the Moon are those left behind in the human faeces from the astronauts aboard the Apollo missions of 1968-1972.


Earlier this week, Mr. Spivack controversially revealed that the Lunar library also contained thousands of tardigrades — small, multicellular animals, first found by scientists in Antarctica, and known to be extremely resilient in hostile environments. They can survive without food and water for decades. Assuming that the Lunar library has survived they could be the first living organisms splashed across the surface of the moon.


The first microbes on the Moon are those left behind in the human faeces from the astronauts aboard the Apollo missions of 1968-1972.






The food supply is at dire risk, U.N. experts say #GS2 #IR


The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which, combined with climate change, is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.



The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.


Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply.


Already, more than 10% of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.



































A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report.


The report offered a measure of hope, laying out pathways to addressing the looming food crisis, although they would require a major reevaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide as well as consumer behavior.


Proposals include increasing the productivity of land, wasting less food and persuading more people to shift their diets away from cattle and other types of meat.



The summary was released Thursday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of scientists convened by the United Nations that pulls together a wide range of existing research to help governments understand climate change and make policy decisions.


The IPCC has been writing a series of reports, including one last year on the disastrous consequences if the planet’s temperature rises just 1.5 degrees Celsius above its preindustrial levels, as well as an upcoming report on the state of the world’s oceans.


Barring action on a sweeping scale, the report said, climate change will accelerate the danger of severe food shortages. As a warming atmosphere intensifies the world’s droughts, flooding, heat waves, wildfires and other weather patterns, it is speeding up the rate of soil loss and land degradation, the report concludes.


Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — a greenhouse gas put there mainly by the burning of fossil fuels — will also reduce food’s nutritional quality, even as rising temperatures cut crop yields and harm livestock.


In some cases, the report says, a changing climate is boosting food production because, for example, higher temperatures will mean greater yields of some crops at higher latitudes.


But on the whole, the report finds that climate change is already hurting the availability of food because of decreased yields and lost land from erosion, desertification and rising seas, among other things.





Schoolgirl who cried over felled trees made Manipur green ambassador #GS2 #Governance


The Manipur government has appointed a nine-year-old girl as the State’s green ambassador, less than a week after a video of her crying for two trees axed for a road-widening project went viral.


Elangbam Valentina Devi of Hiyanglam Makha Leikai in Kakching district had been made the brand ambassador for the Chief Minister’s Green Manipur Mission and all official tree-plantation activities taken up in the State.


This, the order said, was in recognition of her immense love and affection for trees and for generating mass awareness on conservation of the environment for a “period of one year from the date of issuing the order.”


A Class V student of Amutombi Divine Life English School in Kakching town, about 45 km southeast of Manipur’s capital Imphal, she had planted the saplings of two Gulmohar (royal poinciana) trees by the side of a river when she was in Class I. She had been tending to the saplings, which grew up into healthy trees in about four years.



On Saturday, the two trees, along with other vegetation, were axed for a project to widen a road beside the river. A videographer filmed her crying over the trees.


The order says Valentina, the daughter of Elangbam Premkumar Singh, will be part of all such advertisements and campaigns that promote an increase in Manipur’s green cover. “She will be provided honorarium at government rates, transportation facilities, food and lodging facilities at admissible rates by the sponsoring government department,” the order said.






India to seek boost to protection status of 5 species at CITES #GS3 #Environment


India has submitted proposals regarding changes to the listing of various wildlife species in the CITES secretariat meeting, scheduled later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.


CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international treaty to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants do not threaten their survival.


The proposals submitted are regarding changes in the listing of the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, Indian star tortoise, Tokay gecko, wedgefish and Indian rosewood.


The country seeks to boost the protection of all the five animal species as they are facing a high risk of international trade.


For the Indian rosewood, the proposal is to remove the species from CITES Appendix II. The species covered by CITES are listed in three appendices on the degree of protection they require.


India is among the parties proposing the re-listing of the star tortoise from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I. The species faces two threats: loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.


With regard to the two otter species, India, Nepal and the Philippines have proposed that the listing be moved from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I for the more endangered species. A similar proposal has been made to include the Tokay gecko in Appendix I.


India would also support proposals, such as the boosting of protection status for tarantulas, made by other countries. TRAFFIC is an international wildlife trade monitoring network.


The proposals from India on lesser known species indicate the broadening of the conservation spectrum.






Smart devices can spot signs of dementia #GS3 #SnT



A study suggest that Apple Inc devices , in combination with digital apps, could differentiate people with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia and those without symptoms.


Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly said that early results from a study suggest that Apple Inc devices, including the iPhone, in combination with digital apps could differentiate people with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia and those without symptoms.


The study, tested in 113 participants over the age of 60, was conducted by Apple with Eli Lilly and Evidation Health. The Apple devices were used along with the Beddit sleep monitoring device and digital apps.


The participants were asked to answer two one-question surveys daily as well as perform simple activities every two weeks, such as dragging one shape to the other and tapping a circle as fast as possible.






Virasat-e-Khalsa museum in Punjab sets record in footfall #GS2 #Governance


The Virasat-e-Khalsa museum in Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib town is all set to find a place in the Asia


Book of Records for becoming the most visited museum in the Indian sub-continent on a single day.


The Asia Book of Records has confirmed the record of ‘maximum footfall in a museum in a day’ in the name of Virasat-e-Khalsa, which will feature in the next edition of the Asia Book of Records.


“The museum had witnessed a record footfall of 20,569 visitors on a single day on March 20, becoming the most visited museum in the Indian sub-continent on a single day.


Over 10 million visitors have visited the museum so far in a short span of eight years of its opening. Virasat-e-Khalsa was built to commemorate the rich history and culture of Punjab and Sikhism and was inaugurated in November 2011.


“Between 5,000-6,000 visitors on an average daily visit this visual-cum-narrative museum, outnumbering all other museums in terms of popularity and visitor footfall, ”said Mr. Pratap, adding that the museum stands out in terms of popularity, footfall, architecture and in its use of technology.


Third entry


With its name in the Asia Book of Records, it would be the third entry for the museum in record books. Earlier, Virasat-e-Khalsa made it to Limca Book of Records in the February 2019 edition and India Book of Records.


The Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records had listed ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ as the country’s top-ranked museum in terms of the number of visitors.



The museum has been conferred an award by the Punjab Energy Development Agency in a State-level energy conservation competition, for cutting down electricity consumption.






Relief for startups: CBDT lays down procedure for pending angel tax cases #GS3 #Economy


In a move expected to ease scrutiny of startups over the capital they have received from angel investors, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued directions to income tax assessing officers (AOs) on how to approach pending angel tax assessments.


This includes mandating these officials to proceed with any scrutiny only after seeking approval from their supervisory officers. In a clarification issued Wednesday, CBDT has laid out procedures that prevent assessing officers from scrutinising angel capital raised by startups recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).


In case the startup has not received DPIIT approval, officers are only allowed to carry out any inquiry or verification “only after obtaining approval of his/her supervisory officer.” Nearly 20,900 startups have been recognised by DPIIT so far, and over 540 startups have received exemptions from angel tax.


In the event that a startup is recognised by DPIIT, but the assessing officers are scrutinising it for multiple issues, the officials cannot pursue scrutiny under an anti-evasion provision of the Income Tax Act, 1961, in its assessment proceedings.


This provision, Section 56(2)(vii)(b), deals with taxation of share premiums received in excess of the fair market value and has been used in the past to serve demand notices to startups over the angel capital they have raised.


The circular added that “inquiry or verification with regard to other issues in such cases shall be carried out by the assessing officer, only after obtaining approval of his/her supervisory officer. Due procedure as per I-T Act shall be followed with regard to other issues for which the case has been selected.”


The latest clarification follows an announcement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the presentation of the Union Budget on July 5. Sitharaman had stated that the continued growth of startups in the country needs to be encouraged.


“To resolve the so-called ‘angel tax’ issue, the startups and their investors who file requisite declarations and provide information in their returns will not be subjected to any kind of scrutiny in respect of valuations of share premiums,” she stated, adding that the issue of establishing identity of the investor and source of startup funds will be resolved by putting in place an e-verification mechanism, which will exempt startups from “any kind of scrutiny” by the Income Tax Department.



“In addition, special administrative arrangements shall be made by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for pending assessments of startups and redressal of their grievances.


It will be ensured that no inquiry or verification in such cases can be carried out by the Assessing Officer without obtaining approval of his supervisory officer,” Sitharaman stated.


Income tax scrutiny over angel investment has long proved to be a pain point for India’s startup industry, which has alleged such “harassment” was discouraging investment.


According to community social media platform LocalCircles, 73 per cent of over 2,800 startups that raised capital said they received one or more angel tax notices. Over 200 of these startups have received demand orders, according to LocalCircles founder Sachin Taparia.


“The notification from CBDT … will be of help to all startups who have received a limited scrutiny notice for FY16-17 in September 2018,” he told The Indian Express.


The startups can now take their exemption certificate and this notification to the AO and seek relief from the scrutiny,” he added. Around 500 startups raise angel capital in India each year, he said.


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