9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 29, 2019

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Russia open to new arms control treaty

  1. Russia has said that it was open to the possibility of new arms control deal after the US President has called for a new arms control treaty with both Russia and China.
  2. Recently, the United States and Russia had withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) treaty blaming each other for the violation of the treaty.
  3. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) Treaty came into force in 1988.It banned both the Soviet Union(Russia) and the US from developing and deploying land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. However, treaty did not apply to air-or sea-launched missiles.
  4. The agreement was signed to de-escalate tensions as both countries had dozens of such missiles deployed, posing a risk of an accidental nuclear exchange.
  5. Cruise missile is an unmanned self-propelled (till the time of impact) guided vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift for most of its flight path and whose primary mission is to place an ordnance or special payload on a target.
  6. Ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are only guided during relatively brief periods of flight—most of their trajectory is unpowered, being governed by gravity and air resistance if in the atmosphere.

Scrap 370,35A says Rajnath,targets Omar

  1. Union Home Minister has said that Articles 370 and Article 35A should be reviewed and scrapped.
  2. This statement came after National Conference leader had said that his party will bring back the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir that could include having a Sadar-e-Riyasat (President) and Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister).
  3. J&K had its own Sadar-e-Riyasat (President) and Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister) until 1965 when the J&K Constitution was amended (Sixth Constitution of J&K Amendment Act, 1965) by the then government which replaced the two positions with Chief Minister and Governor respectively.
  4. Article 370 is a temporary provision granting special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. It specifies that a) except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications the Indian Parliament needs the State Government’s concurrence for applying all other laws b) the residuary powers belong to the Legislature of the State and c) No preventive detention law made in India extends to Jammu & Kashmir.
  5. Article 35-A was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 through Presidential order. It gives the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a complete freedom to decide, who are all ‘Permanent Residents’ of the State. Article 35-A provides them(a) special rights and privileges in public sector jobs (b) acquisition of property in the State and (c)scholarships as well as public aid and welfare.

Public sector banks’ long-term strategy on Jan Dhan begins to pay off

  1. According to the government data, the total balance in the bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) scheme has almost reached a total of ₹1-lakh crore.
  2. The Jan Dhan accounts opened are mostly in public sector banks which makes up 72.5% of the total number of Jan Dhan accounts and 89.5% of total deposits. The bulk of the rest are made up by regional rural banks. Private sector banks make up only 3.3% of the accounts and 3.9% of the deposits.
  3. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was launched in 2014 with an aim to provide universal access to banking facilities to all households.
  4. The objective of PMJDY is to ensure access to various financial services like (a)availability of basic savings bank account (b)access to need based credit (c)remittances facility (d)insurance and (e)pension to weaker sections and low income groups.
  5. The PMJDY also envisages channelling all government benefits to the beneficiary accounts and pushing the Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) scheme of the central government.
  6. The government had enhanced the accident insurance cover to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 1 lakh for new accounts opened after 28 August,2018. The overdraft limit had also been doubled to Rs 10,000.Further,the government had also shifted the focus on accounts from ‘every household’ to ‘every unbanked adult’.

Max complaints against NRI hubbies in FY19

  1. According to data from National Commission of Women, complaints against absconding NRI husbands has been the highest in 2018-19.
  2. The maximum number of cases has been recorded in North Indian states- highest in Delhi (96), followed by Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Significant number of complaints has been received from South India too, the highest being from Tamil Nadu (65).
  3. According to the data, major grievances of women living in India include desertion, domestic violence, and dowry harassment, ex-parte decision by foreign court on divorce and child custody.
  4. In case of women residing abroad, a major grievance has been lack of support to contest court cases pertaining to divorce or child custody. Further, there are cases where the husband has filed false domestic violence cases on the wife.
  5. In the backdrop of several reports of women trapped in fraudulent marriages and harassed by NRI spouses, the government in early 2019 had introduced the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill, 2019.
  6. The bill aims to offer more protection against exploitation of Indian women by their NRI spouses.
  7. The bill envisages compulsory registration of marriages by Non-Resident Indians within 30 days of marriage. It seeks to amend the Passports Act 1967 to allow for the cancellation of passport or travel document of NRI in case non-registration of marriages.
  8. It also calls for amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 to empower the Courts for issuance of summons, warrants to NRIs.
  9. The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990. It seeks to protect and promote the interests of women in India

Forces prepare to deal with cyber attacks in key infra

  1. The Indian armed forces has decided to conduct a major cyber exercise called Cyberex.It is the first such major joint exercise of the Army, Indian Air Force(IAF) and Indian Navy under the aegis of integrated defence staff with participation from several other organisations.
  2. The aim of the exercise is to assess the situation,seek responses, damage control and requisite actions required for a synergised response during cyber attacks.It will also include scenarios connected to cyber attacks on critical Indian infrastructure like strategic networks and power grids.
  3. Further, the other organisations involved in the exercise includes (a)National Security Council Secretariat(NSCS) (b)National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) (c)Defence Research Development Organisation(DRDO) (d) Indian Computer Emergency Response Team(CERT-In) (e)National Informatics Centre(NIC) and (f)Computer Security resource centre.
  4. India with the help of Cyberex and other such endeavours wants to be prepared for challenges in the fifth dimension of warfare after the first four battlefields of land,air, sea and space. However, India has lagged far behind in developing cyber warfare capabilities despite having a robust civilian information technology sector.
  5. On the other hand, China has steadily upgraded its cyber weapons to degrade or destroy an adversary’s military assets and to keep strategic assets safe.
  6. Indian Government has also decided to establish a small tri-service Defence Cyber Agency(DCA) much like the ones for space and special operations under a two star general. The DCA led by a naval officer will undertake defensive cyber operations with the offensive ones being left to other agencies under the national security advisor.

Bad debt norms:RBI to seek EC nod

  1. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to reach out to the Election Commission (EC) before releasing its new circular for banks.
  2. The new circular would replace its February 12 circular that Supreme Court had disallowed earlier. The Model Code of conduct specifically exempted the conduct of monetary policy which is crucial part of the economy.
  3. On 12th February 2018, RBI had put out a circular on classification of non-performing assets that required (a)Banks to stipulate a one-day default rule on term loans. A borrower missing repayment even for a day will be treated as a defaulter and (b)Banks were required to immediately start working on a resolution plan for accounts over Rs. 2,000 crore, which was to be finalised within 180 days. In case of non-implementation, banks were required to file an insolvency application.
  4. Several sectors such as power, sugar and fertiliser especially the unregulated sectors had challenged the RBI circular in the Supreme Court as ultra vires on the grounds that it wrongly classified them as wilful defaulters. They argued that they were stressed because of extraneous reasons beyond their control and cannot be treated as wilful defaulters. Further, they had also contended that the circular reduced the 270 day resolution window further to 180 days.
  5. Non-Performing Assets(NPA) are loans or advances that are in default or are in arrears on scheduled payments of principal or interest, usually for a period of 90 days. Before the period of 90 days, they are called Stressed Assets.

Job hoping in US gets tougher for H-1B visa holders

  1. According to a report, it will get tougher for H-1B visa holders in the United States(US) to switch jobs even if the new job is similar to the old and requires the same exact skill sets.
  2. This report came after the US citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has denied several applications by the new employer by citing that the new position does not constitute a ‘specialty occupation.’
  3. Further, if the H-1B holders starts working elsewhere and the transfer is denied, the person could be out of status with a bar on entry into the US for three to ten years unless the old employer is willing to take back the worker.
  4. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
  5. H-1B visas are granted to persons trained and employed in specialty occupations. Many of the ‘Requests for Evidence’ received by over 25% of H-1B petitions involve the question as to whether or not the position meets the criteria of a specialty occupation.
  6. The Code of Federal Regulation says a specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a highly specialized body of knowledge and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific specialty as a minimum for entry into the occupation. Examples include those professions involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Social media fraud rose 43% in 2018: report

  1. According to a report titled ‘Current State of Cybercrime — 2019’, released by RSA Security, social media fraud has increased by 43% in 2018.
  2. According to the report, cyber criminals are increasingly relying on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other legitimate social media and messaging platforms to communicate with each other. Further, they have been using these platforms to sell stolen identities, credit card numbers and other ill-gotten gains.
  3. The report has noted that the fraud in the mobile channel has grown significantly over the last several years, with 70% of fraud originating in the mobile channel in 2018. The study further adds that particularly fraud from mobile apps has increased 680% between 2015 and 2018.

Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor no longer listed under BRI umbrella

  1. China has excluded the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor(BCIM) from the list of projects covered under its Belt and Road initiative(BRI). According to experts, BCIM was excluded after India had turned down an official invite from China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum meet.
  2. Under the BRI, South Asia is covered by three major projects namely (a)China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) (b)Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network and (c)China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  3. BCIMis one of the corridors of the Belt and Road project. It aims to connect China’s eastern city of Kunming with India’s Kolkata through Dhaka in Bangladesh and Mandalay in Myanmar.
  4. India has not opposed the BCIM corridor but it has concerns about China expanding its influence in its eastern neighbouring countries. It also fears the project would open its north-eastern region to China.
  5. The China-Myanmar Economic Corridor(CMEC)will run from Yunnan Province of China to Mandalay in Central Myanmar. From there it will head towards Yangon before terminating at the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the Bay of Bengal.
  6. Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan connectivity network will start from Chengdu from where it is linked to Tibet by the Sichuan-Tibet Highway. It is proposed that the railway from Tibet will be further extended to Kathmandu. Further, China has also planned that railway will then be connected with the Indian railway network linking China and India across the Himalayas.
  7. CPECrefers to a number of major infrastructure works currently under way in Pakistan intended to link Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar deep sea port close to Pakistan’s border with Iran. The project seeks to expand and upgrade infrastructure across the length and breadth of Pakistan.

Cyclone Fani won’t hit State’s coast, says IMD

  1. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that Cyclone Fani is unlikely to hit Tamil Nadu’s northern coast. It is likely to curve in the north-east direction towards Bangladesh or Myanmar.
  2. IMD has that the cyclone would likely intensify into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during the next 12 hours and into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm during the subsequent 24 hours.
  3. IMD defines cyclonic storm as an intense low pressure system represented on a synoptic chart by more than four closed isobars at 2 hPa interval and in which the wind speed on surface level is in between 34 – 47 Knots.
  4. A severe cyclonic storm is an intense low pressure system represented on a synoptic chart by more than four closed isobars at 2 hPa interval and in which the wind speed on surface level is in between 48 – 63 Knots.
  5. A very severe cyclonic storm is an intense low pressure system represented on a synoptic chart by more than four closed isobars at 2 hPa interval and in which the wind speed on surface level is in between 64 – 119 Knots.

Plea to protect accused in sexual abuse cases

  1. A petition has been filed by Youth Bar Association of India in the Supreme Court to frame guidelines to protect the reputation and dignity of persons accused of sexual offences.
  2. The petition has highlighted that a person was considered innocent unless proven guilty by a court of law. It has further stated that Sec-228A of the Indian Penal code (IPC) provides punishment for disclosing the identity of the victims but does not provide any safeguard for protection of the identity and integrity of the accused in case of false accusation.
  3. It has contended that if a person was falsely accused, his reputation would be lost forever and exposed to public ridicule and this would be a violation of Right to live with dignity as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
  4. It has also highlighted that disclosure of an accused’s identity, especially during trial would lead to media trials and expose identity of him and his family on social media. This is a violation of a person’s fundamental right to privacy as guaranteed under Article 21.

SC: filthy language not criminal intimidation

  1. The Supreme Court has held that merely abusing in filthy language does not constitute criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  2. The judgement came in the backdrop of an appeal filed by an insurance claim surveyor in Uttar Pradesh, who was accused of criminal intimidation by a factory owner in Mathura district.
  3. Criminal Intimidation and punishment for criminal intimidation are defined under Section 503 and 506 of the IPC.
  4. According to Section 503, criminal intimidation is when a person threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person. Intimidating a person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat also amounts to criminal intimidation.
  5. The Supreme Court has observed that mere expression of any words (e.g. Use of filthy languages) without any intention to cause alarm does not amount to criminal intimidation.

As temperatures rise, pre-monsoon rainfall records 27% dip: IMD

  1. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that pre-monsoon rainfall from March to April, has recorded 27% deficiency from the Long Period Average (LPA)
  2. The highest deficiency of 38% was recorded in the northwest India division of the IMD. The north-west division comprises of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
  3. The second highest deficiency of 31% was recorded in the Southern peninsula division. It comprises of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telanagana, Goa, coastal Maharashtra and UT of Puducherry.
  4. East and northeast India division recorded 23% deficiency. The Central India division is the only one to have recorded more 5% rainfall than the normal. ‘Normal’ rainfall is when percentage departure of realised rainfall is within ± 10 % of the Long Period Average.
  5. The pre-monsoon rainfall is critical to agriculture in some parts of India. It is important for horticulture crops in some parts of India such as apple in forested regions in Himalayas. Further, crops like sugarcane and cotton, planted in central India, survive on irrigation, but also require supplement of pre-monsoon rains.
  6. Pre-monsoon rainfalls also helps in minimising the occurrence of forest fires.
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