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CJI Tears into Assam’s moves on detenus
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Supreme Court has lashed out at the Government of Assam’s proposal to conditionally release and monitor declared foreigners languishing in its detention centres for over five years.
  • The SC says that the move is both illegal and violative of the Constitution.

What is the issue?

  • Assam Government has submitted an affidavit proposing a measure to release foreigners who have completed five years in detention centres subject to their furnishing a security of Rs 5 lakh, verification of address and collection of their biometrics.
  • The CJI has said that the proposed measure reflects the government’s failure to deport declared foreigners.
  • There are 900 detainees even as lakhs of illegal foreigners have already intermingled with the local population.
  • Most of these foreigners are in the voters’ list and are taking part in the political process of the country.

What is deportation?
Deportation is the act of removal of a foreigner from a nation if he/she is in violation of the immigration or any other laws of that nation.

Maruti to dump dirty diesel models from 2020
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Maruti Suzuki, the largest car maker in the country, has announced plans to discontinue selling all diesel cars here from April 1, 2020.
  • This decision has been taken due to uncertainty in demand for such vehicles due to significant increase in price once new BS VI emission norms kick in.

What are BS VI norms?

  • Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by Government of India. They regulate the output of pollutants from Internal combustion engines and spark-ignition engines, including motor vehicles.
  • The fuel standards are decided in India by MOEFCC and their implementation is managed by Central Pollution Control Board.
  • These standards are updated periodically. In October 2016, it was decided that the country would skip implementation of BS V norms and directly shift to BS VI norms by 2020 in order to curb environmental pollution.
  • The BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring around an 80% reduction of sulphur, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
  • The emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to come down by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.
  • Also, BS VI will bring the cancer causing particulate matter in diesel cars by 80%.

Country’s first project to research on cell-based meat would be taken up at CCMB
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • National Research Centre on Meat which has a unit at Chengicherla abattoir would partner with Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in pioneering work to develop cultured meat.
  • Department of Biotechnology has decided to give Rs. 4.5 crore for the two year work as the initial grant.
  • Atal Incubation Centre at CCMB has been partnering with the Humane Society International (HSI) to promote clean meat.
  • Cultured or cell-based meat is meat produced by in-vitro cultivation of animal cells.

What are the benefits of Cell-based meat?

  • Health benefits to the consumer due to lack of use of antibiotics for meat growth as done on poultry farms.
  • Significant reduction in land and water use making it environment friendly.
  • It will spur developments in the meat processing industry in India creating jobs and opportunities.

BT Brinjal is being grown illegally in Haryana, allege activists
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?
Genetically modified (GM) brinjal is being grown illegally in Fatehabad district of Haryana according to activists.

What is BT Brinjal?

  • It is genetically modified brinjal in which a protein gene has been inserted from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to give protection against certain pests. It is thus known as BT Brinjal.
  • It was developed in India by Maharashtra based seed company Mahyco.

Why are GM crops being opposed?

  • Increased toxicity due to higher herbicide and pesticide residues on the crops which then enter the food chain.
  • No clear proof of sustained increase in production. Even in case of BT Cotton, the production has now stagnated and is decreasing due to the increase in pest attacks on BT cotton crops by pests that have adapted to it.
  • Uncertainty about the effects of GM crop consumption in the long run.
  • Uncertainty about the mixing of genes of unrelated species in the long run on the biodiversity.
  • High increase in input costs due to high cost of seeds, pesticides, herbicides etc. for the farmers.

 

Khasi Kingdoms to revisit 1948 agreements
Paper : General Studies 1 , General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • A federation of 25 Khasi Kingdoms (Himas) plan to visit the 1948 agreements that made present-day Meghalaya a part of India.
  • This is being done to safeguard tribal customs and traditions from Central laws in force or the ones that could be enacted like the Citizenship Amendment Bill
  • The 25 Khasi states had signed the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement with India between December 1947 and March 1948. They did not sign the instrument of merger like most other states.

What were the issues with the Citizenship Amendment Bill?

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 aims to provide citizenship to those who had been forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries.
  • They are primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • The bill thus is seen as a threat to the indigenous identities of the people living in the North East region.
  • The bill has lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha but may be introduced in the new Lok Sabha after the General Elections.

 

Low Pressure Area over Bay of Bengal may turn into a cyclone
Paper : General Studies 1, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • According to officials of the IMD, the low pressure area over east equatorial Indian Ocean adjoining south-east Bay of Bengal may become a depression which may further intensify into a cyclonic storm by Saturday.
  • It is likely to move north-westwards, off the east coast of Sri Lanka and close to the northern Tamil Nadu coast on April 30.
  • If it forms into a cyclone, it will be called Fani, a name given by Bangladesh.

What is a tropical cyclone?

  • Tropical cyclone, also called typhoon or hurricane, an intense circular storm that originates over warm tropical oceans and is characterized by low atmospheric pressure, high winds, and heavy rain.
  • Drawing energy from the sea surface and maintaining its strength as long as it remains over warm water, a tropical cyclone generates winds that exceed 119 km per hour. In extreme cases winds may exceed 240 km per hour, and gusts may surpass 320 km per hour.
  • Accompanying these strong winds are torrential rains and a devastating phenomenon known as the storm surge, an elevation of the sea surface that can reach 6 metres above normal levels. Such a combination of high winds and water makes cyclones a serious hazard for coastal areas in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

How are cyclones named in the Northern Indian Ocean?

  • Eight countries in the region – Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand – all contributed a set of names which are assigned sequentially whenever a cyclonic storm develops.
  • The next one is Fani by Bangladesh, followed by Vayu by India.

 

Kim jong Un and Vladimir Putin held talks
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said that US security guarantees will probably not be enough to persuade Pyongyang to shut its nuclear programme.
  • The US guarantees would need to be supported by other nations involved in the previous six way talks on the nuclear issue – Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, United States and North Korea.
  • These talks follow Kim’s summit with the US President that ended in disagreement.

 

Complaints to RBI Ombudsman increased 25% in FY ‘18
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Based on the statement released by RBI, its ombudsman had to deal with 24.9% more complaints from bank customers in 2017-18 as compared to the previous year.
  • The major grounds of complaints received during the year were non-observance of fair practices, ATM and debit card issues, credit card issues, failure to meet commitments, mobile and electronic banking
  • A customer can approach the RBI Ombudsman if the bank fails to resolve customer complaints in one month

What is an Ombudsman?
An official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against a company or organization, especially a public authority.

What is the Banking Ombudsman Scheme?

  • Banking Ombudsman Scheme is a mechanism created by the RBI to address the complaints raised by bank customers.
  • It is run by the RBI directly to ensure customer protection in the banking industry.
  • The scheme was introduced under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 by RBI with effect from 1995. The present Ombudsman scheme was introduced in 2006.
  • The Banking Ombudsman has the responsibility to redress customer complaints against deficiency in certain banking services.
  • All Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Scheduled Primary Co-operative Banks are covered under its jurisdiction.
  • The Banking Ombudsman can receive and consider any complaint relating to a number of deficiencies related to banking operations including internet banking.

Army Invites applications from women to join Military Police
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The Army has finally initiated the process to induct women in the Other Ranks of Corps of Military Police by inviting applications from women to enrol as recruits.
  • Women were inducted into the Army as officers in 1993. Initially they were given only Short Service Commission and inducted in combat support branches and support services
  • Since there were no women in a non-officer role in the Army, there was a demand for this. This demand was accepted last year by the Ministry of Defence and the roadmap for inducting women in the Military Police was put in place.

 

USTR places India on ‘Priority Watch list’ over IP rights
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The US on Thursday placed India on its ‘Priority Watch List’, alleging lack of “sufficient measurable improvements” to its Intellectual Property (IP) framework on long-standing and new challenges, which, it said, has negatively affected American right holders over the past year.
  • The office of the US Trade Representative identified 11 countries, including India, in its ‘Priority Watch List’. China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are among the others.
  • The USTR has also placed 25 countries, including Pakistan, Turkey and the UAE, on the watchlist.
  • The USTR also identified Tank Road, Delhi as one of the most notorious markets selling counterfeit products in the world and urged India to take sustained and coordinated enforcement action.
  • The US’ Notorious Markets List highlights 33 online and 25 physical markets that reportedly engage in and facilitate copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.