The HINDU Notes – 14th April
📰 THE HINDU – CURRENT NOTE 14 April
- The U.S. dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan on 13 April 2017 evening on a series of caves used by Islamic State militants, the military said.
- The ordnance was dropped from an MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said.
- Also known as the “mother of all bombs,” the GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GPS-guided munition, and was first tested in March 2003.
- The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the Achin area, close to the Pakistan border “while maximizing the destruction” of IS fighters and facilities.
- IS has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defences.
1 kg = 2.2 pound
- Supreme court observation on right to access information on Internet
- Citizens have the right to access the Internet to gain information, wisdom and knowledge and their right cannot be curtailed unless it encroaches into the boundary of illegality.
- The fundamental right of expression includes
- The right to be informed and
- The right to know and the feeling of protection of expansive connectivity
- The court clarified that a general prohibition on all online content about pre-natal sex determination will curtail the fundamental right to know of a genuine information-seeker.
- Supreme Court observed that the prohibition should kick in only if the content found online is violative of Section 22 (prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex) under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act of 1994.
Assurance to SC:
- The three Internet search engines — Microsoft, Google India and Yahoo! India — gave their assurances to the Supreme Court that they would neither advertise nor sponsor advertisements violative of the PNPCDT Act.
- Search Engine giants have already appointed ‘in-house’ experts to spot illegal content and pull them down.
- Nodal officers had been appointed at State levels to keep tabs on the Net for offensive material contravening Section 22 of the Act.
- In case the nodal officers detect illegal online content, they would communicate with the search engine’s experts, which would take it off within the next 36 hours of receiving the information.
- These experts would then follow it up by providing the nodal officers concerned with an action taken report.
- India and France will step up negotiations to expand the Scorpene submarine contract after the presidential elections in France in May.
- India will push for incorporating several upgrades in the proposed three new submarines that the two sides would be discussing, a senior defence official told.
- Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.
- After a series of delays, the first submarine Kalvari is now in advanced stages of sea trials and expected to be commissioned in a few months.
- The second submarine Khanderi was launched in January.
- Another official said that detailed discussions would be held at the India-France strategic dialogue expected around December.
- As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise.
- The upgrades will help address concerns of any compromise in the submarine’s capability following the leak of its technical specifications in Australia last year.
- The Scorpène-class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by DCNS.
- It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion.
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the military alliance of the U.S., Canada, 25 European countries and Turkey, is the “the bulwark of international peace and security”, President Donald Trump said.
- “I said it’s obsolete. Now it’s no longer obsolete,” Mr. Trump said, overturning a campaign position that drew intense criticism from Democrats and Republicans.
- Mr. Trump has also reversed his positions on China, Syria and Russia in recent days, aligning his thinking closer to U.S. orthodoxy.
- Member countries have also expressed willingness to increase defence spending.
- Only five of the 28 members now meet the target of 2% of GDP on defence expenditure.
- Pushing trade disputes with China to the backburner, the President said he would be willing to give concessions to China if it helped defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis.
- India and U.K. agreed to extend cooperation on developing advanced defense products –
- Gas turbine engine.
- Air defense missile systems.
- Collaboration between engine maker Rolls Royce and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on the engine technology.
Commendable move in terms of Engine cooperation
- Since India is having a troubled history in developing an aircraft engine, collaboration between India and U.K in terms of engine co-operation is a welcome move.
- Example: The Kaveri project which was shelved is in the process being revived with help from Safran of France.
- India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant is in advanced stage of construction and will be launched for sea trails by end 2018.
- A second indigenous carrier weighting about 65,000 tonnes is presently in the design stage.
- UK is currently building two carriers Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Whales.
- India and the US have joint working groups on jet engine technology and carrier technology under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
- The swine flu virus (H1N1) has claimed over 100 lives in Maharashtra due to volatile day and night temperatures, health authorities have said.
- As many as 33 deaths have been recorded in Pune district and 18 patients are said to be in a critical condition.
- Authorities said the death toll across the State, from January to April, has exceeded 100, and more than 190 cases tested positive for the virus.
- This has marked a fourfold increase in H1N1 deaths as compared to those in the same period last year, when authorities recorded a little over 80 cases and 25 deaths.
- The State had witnessed a rise in H1N1 virus cases in 2015 as well, with over 900 deaths and 8,240 cases.
- Many cases were recorded even during summer, as several bouts of unseasonal showers negated the impact that high summer temperatures may have had in curbing the spread of the virus.
- Influenza A (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that is the most common cause of human influenza.
- It is an orthomyxovirus that contains the glycoproteins haemagglutinin and neuraminidase. For this reason, they are described as H1N1, H1N2 etc. depending on the type of H or N antigens they express with metabolic synergy.
- Haemagglutinin causes red blood cells to clump together and binds the virus to the infected cell.
- Neuraminidase is a type of glycoside hydrolase enzyme which helps to move the virus particles through the infected cell and assist in budding from the host cells.
- Some strains of H1N1 are endemic in humans and cause a small fraction of all influenza-like illness and a small fraction of all seasonal influenza. Other strains of H1N1 are endemic in pigs (swine influenza) and in birds (avian influenza).
- In a big relief to Urdu medium students, the Supreme Court on 13 April 2017 directed the Centre and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to induct Urdu as a medium of language for NEET 2018-19.
- However, the court agreed with the CBSE’s stand that it was too late in the day to accommodate Urdu in the National Eligibility- cum-Entrance Test scheduled for May 2017.
- The court was hearing a petition filed by the Students Islamic Organisation of India, which argued that Urdu should be made a medium of language for the NEET as courses like Unani medicine was studied in Urdu.
- At present, NEET is being conducted in 10 languages – Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Odiya, Bengali, Assamese, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada.
- The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on 13 April 2017 issued a non-bailable warrant against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in cases of money laundering.
- The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the court that Mr. Naik,who is currently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had floated shell companies in India as well as abroad, wherein he had nominated directors who were not even aware of the activities of the entities.
- Investigations have revealed that there were huge amount of cash transactions without leaving any trail about its origin or utilisation.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered an FIR against Dr. Zakir Abdul Karim Naik, the president of Islamic Research Foundation which has been declared unlawful by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- The FIR reveals that Dr. Naik and his associates indulged in unlawful activities through provocative utterances, promoting enmity between different religious groups in India.
- Last month, ED had also attached properties worth Rs. 18.37 crores under the PMLA.
Earlier orders of Supreme Court
- Supreme Court had ordered the Election Commission to introduce in a phased manner the paper trail in EVMs for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls
- Reason given for introduction : It is an indispensable requirement of free, fair and transparent polls .
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre and the Election Commission to respond by May 8 to a plea by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to comply with a 2013 court directive to introduce paper trail in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Why paper trail is required?
- Introduction of the VVPAT system in EVMs, would “ensure the accuracy of the voting system” and also help in “manual counting of votes in case of dispute.”
- The confidence of voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with introduction of the paper trail.
- Remedy for other evils of polling like booth-capturing.
- “Nowhere in the world, except in South America, EVMs are used,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal for the Congress submitted
Paika rebellion of 1817
- A valiant uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu [Bidyadhar Mohapatra] took place in Khurda of Odisha.
- Buxi Jagabandhu was the commander (Bakshi) of the forces of the king of Khordha
- It took place when the British East India company wrested the rent-free land that had been given to thePaiks for their military service to the Kingdom of Khurda.
- Failed to get recognition- The rebellion, by the landed militia of Khurda called Paiks, predates the first war of independence in 1857 but did not get similar recognition.
About The Paika Rebellion
- It was the first rebellion of the paika (soldiers of Orissa) with the support of common people against the British Rule.
- The land revenue policy of the British was the primary cause of the rebellion in 1817.
- The rent free land tenures provided to the soldiers for their military service on a hereditary basis were taken away in the settlement by Major Fletcher as their service were not required anymore.
- This policy resulted in the deprivation of Bakshi Jagabandhu from his estates and forced him to depend on the voluntary contributions from the people of Khurda.
- This policy also affected the zamindars as well as ryots. Another important cause for that great event was the raise in salt price.
- As a result, Bakshi Jagabandhu led the tribals of Banapur and Ghumsur and bravely marched towards Khurda to fight against colonial power. The rebellion received extensive support from the common people. Even the Kandhas of Banapur became successful in their revolutionary activities.
- The rebellion was expanded throughout the state and continued for a quite long time. However, the less number of paika were unable to defend the well equipped British counterpart and receded back to the jungles. In this operation bands of paika were hunted down and many were brutally murdered.
- Increasing instances of the role of chartered accountants, tax consultants and lawyers in financial frauds, particularly during the demonetisation exercise, has led the Central government to contemplate changes in existing laws, making it mandatory for them to report suspicious transactions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) regime.
- If the required amendments are introduced, they could be in the form of an exception to the general rule of client confidentiality that intermediary professionals such as chartered accountants and lawyers currently enjoy.
- Existing rules extend to them immunity from disclosing client information.
- Section 14 of the PMLA also gives immunity to the reporting entities against civil and criminal proceedings for furnishing information as sought by the competent authority.
- While Section 12 of the Act puts an obligation on banks, financial institutions and intermediaries to maintain records for 10 years, Section 13 empowers the Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) chief to call for such records.
- The FIU findings do not have evidentiary value and has to be established by enforcement agencies.
- Section 54 of the Act provides that officers and members of the ICAI are required to assist in the enforcement of the Act.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with a revised Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework for banks, spelling out certain thresholds, the breach of which could invite resolutions such as a merger with another bank or even shutting down of the bank.
- The revised norms have set out three thresholds. The breach of the third one on capital “would identify a bank as a likely candidate for resolution through tools like amalgamation, reconstruction, winding up etc.,” the RBI said.
- The provisions of the revised PCA framework will be effective from April 1, 2017 based on the financials of the banks for the year ended March 31, 2017.
- The framework would be reviewed after three years, the RBI said.
- The thresholds are based on :
- Net non-performing assets,
- Leverage ratio.
- This will get triggered if
(i) capital adequacy ratio (including capital conservation buffer) falls below 10.25% or common equity tier-I (CET1) capital ratio falls below 6.75%.
(ii) trigger for net NPA is 6% and 4% for leverage ratio
(iii) two consecutive years of negative return on assets (RoA) will also be classified in threshold one.
- The breach of the first threshold will invite restriction on dividend distribution or require parents of foreign banks to bring in more capital.
- The breach of the second threshold will occur if:
(i) capital adequacy ratio falls below 7.75% or CET1 goes below 5.125%.
(ii) The net NPA threshold is breach of 12% and leverage ratio below 3.5%.
(iii) Three consecutive years of negative ROA will also trigger threshold two.
- Breach of threshold two will result in restrictions on expansion of branches and higher provisions.
Third (last) threshold
- The breach of the last threshold happens if:
(i) CET1 falls below 3.625% and net NPA goes above 12%.
(ii) Negative ROA for four consecutive years will also be considered as a breach of the third threshold vis-a-vis the profitability parameter.
- Restrictions, in addition to that of threshold one and two, will be put on management compensation and directors’ fees if the third level is breached.
- Corrective action that can be imposed on banks includes special audit, restructuring operations and activation of recovery plan.
- The RBI has said that promoters of banks can be asked to bring in new management, or even can supersede the bank’s board, as a part of corrective action.