Newspaper Recap Date: 20/10/2018

1 Chaos reigns at Sabarimala as protesters block women

Important Points

  • If you know the background of the issue including the recent judgement then you can skip the article
  • A group of five women lawyers has challenged Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which authorises restriction on women “of menstruating age”. They moved the apex court after the Kerala HC upheld the centuries-old restriction, and ruled that only the “tantri (priest)” was empowered to decide on traditions.
  • During the hearing, the apex court observed that “what applies to a man applies to a woman” as well and that “once you open it for public, anyone can go”.
  • The bench also said that a “woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right”.
  • Right to pray being a woman, is equal to that of a man and it is not dependent on a law to enable you to do that,” The bench also stated that “menstruation is not impure.”
  • For the past few days protest is going on in Sabarimala and no women of the particular age group was allowed to enter the temple

2 61 dead as train mows down Dasara crowd in Amritsar

Footage shows people taking selfies from tracks

Important Points

  • Both articles are less important for the exam point of view. 
  • Over 500 people were watching ‘Ravana dahan’ at a ground near the track. As the effigy was set on fire amid bursting of firecrackers, people reportedly could not hear the sound of the oncoming train
  • There was a stampede as people rushed towards the track when crackers were burst in large numbers during the burning of the effigy. “The reports indicate the train crashed through the crowd at that time,
  • Selfie Culture 
  • Related topic – Project Setubharatham – Setu Bharatam, aimed at building rail over bridges (ROBs) and rail under bridges (RUBs) to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019.

3) Exporters in a spot over U.S. move on GSP

Important Points

  • Under the GSP, the U.S. grants eligible countries duty-free entry into the country for about 4,800 products.
  • The U.S. is now reviewing whether India is still eligible for GSP benefits, even as the Indian government is maintaining that exporters can still receive the benefits.
  • Small exporters are definitely affected in price-sensitive sectors.”
  • “Even a difference of 4-5% makes a lot of difference in sectors such as carpets, chemicals, some engineering sectors
  • There could be diversion of exports to other countries if GSP benefits are withdrawn
  • The USTR notice said the India review would “focus on whether it is meeting the eligibility criterion that requires a GSP beneficiary-country to assure the [U.S.] that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its market.” The USTR is “accepting two petitions asserting that India is not meeting this criterion: one from the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and the other from the Advanced Medical Technology Association.”

4) RBI steps in to ease NBFC woes

Important Points

• Incentivized bank lending to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) by easing liquidity norms and increasing the ceiling for lending to a single NBFC until 31 December.
• increase the single-borrower exposure limit of banks for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) which do not finance infrastructure, to 15% from the existing 10% of their capital funds
• Move must be read in the context of the IL&FS imbroglio-induced liquidity crisis in the system.

5) RBI opposes move for independent Payments Regulatory Board 

Important Points

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opposed the move to have an independent Payments Regulatory Board (PRB) as envisaged by the draft proposal for amendments to the Payment & Settlement Systems Act, 2007
• Reasons – Since banks are regulated by the RBI, a holistic regulation by RBI will be more effective and not result in increased compliance costs.

6) Fines fail to deter stubble burning 

Important Points

  • The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) imposed fines — or “environmental compensation cess” as it is officially called — on farmers burning paddy stubble
  • Fines are collected over time … frequently the farmers don’t have money to immediately pay them
  • Zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble for farmers, which, according to various studies, contributes anywhere from 17% to 78% to the particulate matter-emission load in the city during winter
  • To discourage farmers in Punjab and Haryana — who are responsible for the bulk of such fires — the government has also disbursed Rs. 591 crore to these States to sell subsidised farm implements that can do away with stubble without having to burn them
  • Despite a vigorous focus by governments on making mechanised farm implements — combine harvesters-cum-straw management system, seed drillers, rotary harvesters — available to farmers, it’s still inaccessible to many farmers with landholdings less than 5 acres or those not rich enough to invest in such machines.
  • Then there’s the spike in diesel prices. Deploying the machines uses up nearly 5 litres of diesel per acre (running the tractors, to which these implements are hitched) to sow wheat and nearly 20 litres per acres to farmers who want to grow potato, said Jitender Pal, a farmer in Jaspal Bangar village in Ludhiana.
  • Government educating farmers that burning the soil also destroys soil nutrients, and increases their fertilizer requirement.

7) Arunachal, Assam on alert after barrier breaches

Important Points

  • Possible flash floods in the two northeastern states after China informed India on Friday that a landslide has blocked a section of a Yarlung Tsangpo river in the Tibet region, that flows into Arunachal Pradesh as Siang and further downstream in Assam as the Brahmaputra
  • The water level in the Siang has reduced due to the landslide blocking the flow of water, official sources added. According to reports, the landslide has led to the formation of an artificial lake and there are fears of large-scale floods downstream if the lake breaches
  • Beijing has informed New Delhi that the artificial lake at Yarlung Tsangpo had begun spilling over at around 2 PM resulting in an unprecedented rise in water levels. This huge volume of water is expected to enter India through the Sino-Indian border at Tuting by Saturday afternoon and is expected cause flash floods in the Siang River by Saturday evening.

8) ‘Centre to weigh all options before NRC nod for Tripura’ 

Important Points

  • Other provisions like the Citizenship Act, Foreigners Act and the Passport Act existed to detect and deport illegal immigrants in the country.
  • On October 8, a petition was filed by the Tripura People’s Front and others in the Supreme Court to update the NRC in Tripura as is being done in Assam, in order to detect and deport “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh.
  • The SC issued a notice to the Centre and the State government on the petition. The petition asked the SC to direct the authorities to update the NRC with respect to Tripura in terms of Rules 3 and 4 of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, by taking July 19, 1948, as the cut-off date
  • “The 1948 cut-off date mentioned in the petition for Tripura can have legal implications as many people from Bangladesh came to the State in wake of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. This can open a plethora of problems.”

9) India, Japan, U.S. plan joint air exercise 

Important Points

  • India, Japan and the U.S. are set to elevate the bilateral ‘Cope India’ air exercise to a trilateral format. The three countries already conduct naval war games under the expanded Malabar naval exercise
  • “To begin with, it will be a small-level exercise involving transport aircraft in the trilateral format. It will be scaled up in subsequent editions
  • The level of interoperability in the exercises, both bilateral and trilateral, is expected to go up with India recently signing the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement with the U.S

10) The petroglyphs of Ratnagiri 

Important Points

  • Petroglyphs are drawings created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of rock art.
  • This carving is one of the over 1,000 such petroglyphs that have been discovered in and around the Ratnagiri and Rajapur districts over the last two or three years, making them one of the most significant archaeological finds of recent times
  • Discovery of 1,000 rock carvings on Maharashtra’s Konkan coast is expected to provide new insights into the early history of the region
  • Prominent petroglyph and rock art sites in India that could be contemporary to this period are the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh, rock carvings in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, petroglyphs from the Tindivanam and Viluppuram districts in Tamil Nadu and Unakoti in Tripura.
  • The carvings on laterite stone are what make the petroglyphs in this region unique, as the carvings discovered in other sites around India are on granite and sandstone. More recently, petroglyphs of a similar nature, though not in the same numbers, have been discovered in Sindhudurg district, and near the banks of the Kushavati river in Goa.

11) New skin gel protects from some pesticides 

Important Points

  • Indian researchers have developed a gel which, when applied on the skin, can inhibit some pesticides from getting absorbed into the body, thus averting serious adverse effects and even death.
  • Organophosphate-based pesticides, which are commonly used by farmers in India, are toxic to the nervous system and heart, and can cause cognitive dysfunction
  • Since the majority of organophosphate-based pesticides are absorbed through the skin (the nasal/inhalation route constitutes about 10-15%) the researchers made a gel for topical application. The active ingredients of the gel are attached to chitosan (a substance found in the hard outer shells of crab and shrimp) so the gel does not penetrate the skin.
  • Studies on rats found that the gel was effective in a range of temperatures (20°-40° C) and a single application could protect the animals for four continuous days of pesticide exposure.
  • As long as there is a thin layer of the gel present on the skin it can offer protection from pesticides
  • The gel does not act like a physical barrier but chemically deactivates the pesticides thereby limiting the inhibition of the enzyme. The gel can be washed off using soap

12) IFC launches $1bn Masala bond issue – Indian Express

Important Points

  • IFC, a World Bank Group arm, has launched a $1-billion masala bond programme to finance its rapidly expanding investment activities in India
  • Masala bonds are rupee denominated borrowings issued overseas
  • IFC uses the tool to raise resources overseas, and brings the proceeds to India for investment

13) Zika cases reach 109 in Rajasthan – Indian Express

Important Points

  • The number of people infected with Zika virus rose to 109 in Rajasthan 
  • Zika virus, transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain 
  • It is harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, in newborn children
  •  Earlier outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad and Tamilnadu both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management 
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