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SC irked after ECI counsel says it is powerless
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
The SC found that the EC had issued notice for hate speeches and campaigning for votes on the basis of religion in only three cases so far. However, the people who had been issued notices were yet to reply on the notice and EC had not taken any action against them. SC questioned the EC counsel as to the powers that the EC has in such cases and if its powers were limited to such actions only. The SC asked the EC to respond within 24 hours as to why it was largely powerless and toothless against religious and hate speeches used by candidates during campaigning.

What are the powers of the Election Commission in this regard?
The Election Commission cannot disqualify or derecognise a person in case of use of hate speech or use of religion in campaigning. It may send a notice and then an advisory following which a criminal complaint can be filed but no action can be taken.
However, in the present instance, the SC has decided to examine in detail the issue of the EC’s powers in the regard of violation of the model code of conduct.

What is the Model Code of Conduct?
It is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. It is not a law.


IMD says that Monsoon is likely to be normal this year
Paper : General Studies 1, General Studies 3

Why in news?
The Indian Meteorological Department has forecast that the Monsoon will likely be ‘normal’ this year. The forecast is expected to be 96% of the Long Period Average which is just shy of the below normal mark (90-96%). The prediction stems from global climate models projecting a weakening El Nino.

What does ‘normal’ rain mean?
In case of monsoon season (June to September) rainfall over India as a whole, the mean value (generally mentioned as long term average) is 89 cm and standard deviation is 9cm (about 10% of mean value). Therefore, when the rainfall is within ±10% of its long term average, the rainfall is said to be ―normal‖ and when the rainfall is 10% more (less) than its long term average, the rainfall is said to be ―above (below) normal.

Nirbhay successfully test fired
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?
Nirbhay is India’s first indigenously designed and developed long range sub-sonic cruise missile. It was successfully tested from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha

What are some basic facts about Nirbhay?
It is capable of loitering and cruising at 0.7 mach at altitudes as low as 100 m. It is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads. Its operational range is between 1000-1500 km.

Tiger Reserve Status sought for Nandhaur
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?
The number of tigers have steadily been on the rise in Nandhaur with the number set to cross 32 in 2019.

Where is Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary located?
It is located near the Nandhaur river in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and is spread over an area of 269.5 sq km.

What is a Tiger Reserve?
A National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary that is considered significant for protecting tigers is additionally designated as a Tiger Reserve. A Tiger Reserve consists of a ‘Core’ or ‘Critical Tiger Habitat’, which is to be managed as an inviolate area, and a ‘Buffer’ or Peripheral area immediately abutting a Core area, which may be accorded a lesser degree of habitat protection. This is the typical zonation of a Tiger Reserve.

Sudan Protesters call for Civilian Government
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
After the army seized power in Sudan, the Sudanese protest organizers demanded that the new military council be scrapped and an immediate transfer of power be done to a transitional civilian government. A list of demands have been put forward to the military council.

Exports outpace Imports at 11% in March
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
India’s exports rose to a five month high of 11% in March on account of higher growth mainly in pharma, chemicals and engineering sectors. Imports rose by 1.44%. The trade deficit narrowed to $10.89 billion during March 2019 as compared to $13.51 billion in the previous year.

What is trade deficit?
Trade deficit refers to the difference of imports over exports. An excess of exports is classified as a trade surplus.

Wholesale Price Index spikes to 3.18%
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
WPI rose to 3.18% in March due to costlier food and fuel. Inflation for food articles rose to 5.68% in March 2019 as against 4.28% in February due to rise in prices of vegetables.

What is wholesale price index?
Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the average change in the prices of commodities for bulk sale at the level of early stage of transactions. The index basket of the WPI covers commodities falling under the three major groups namely Primary Articles, Fuel and Power and Manufactured products.The prices tracked are ex- factory price for manufactured products, mandi price for agricultural commodities and ex-mines prices for minerals. Weights given to each commodity covered in the WPI basket is based on the value of production adjusted for net imports. WPI basket does not cover services.

Who calculates WPI?
The Office of the Economic Advisor, DIPP, Ministry of Commerce calculates WPI.

PSEs to get 12 months to sell non-core assets
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has issued guidelines for monetisation of non-core assets of CPSEs and immovable enemy properties. The assets have been identified by a ministerial panel headed by the Finance Minister. If they do not do so, then their budgetary allocations may be restricted by the Finance Ministry.

What is a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE)?
Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) are those companies in which the direct holding of the Central Government or other CPSEs is 51% or more.

What does enemy property mean?
When nations go to war, they often seize the properties in their countries of the citizens and corporations of the enemy country. Properties that are seized under these circumstances are referred to as ‘alien properties’ or ‘enemy properties’. The idea behind seizing these properties is that an enemy country should not be allowed to take advantage of its assets in the other country during war.

Global Measles cases up by 300%
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?
The UN has said that measles cases rose 300% worldwide through the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

What is measles?
Measles is a viral disease that can spread rapidly. Also known as rubeola or morbilli, measles is an endemic disease, meaning it is continually present in a community, and many people develop resistance. It is an unpleasant condition but one that normally passes without treatment within 7 to 10 days. After a bout of measles, a person gains immunity for the rest of their life. They are very unlikely to contract measles a second time.

How is India combating measles?
India, along with ten other WHO South East Asia Region member countries, have resolved to eliminate measles and control rubella/congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020. In this direction, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has initiated measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner across the nation. The campaign aims to cover approximately 41 crore children.

First 3D Printed heart has tissues and vessels
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?
Scientists in Israel have unveiled a 3D print of a heart with human tissues and vessels. It could be used for transplants.

What is 3D printing?
3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine. 3D printing enables you to produce complex (functional) shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.

What are the applications of 3D printing?
Applications include rapid prototyping, architectural scale models & maquettes, 3D printed prosthetics and movie props. Other examples of 3D printing would include reconstructing fossils in paleontology, replicating ancient artifacts in archaeology, reconstructing bones and body parts in forensic pathology and reconstructing heavily damaged evidence acquired from crime scene investigations.