Current Affairs for - 02 & 03 February 2014

Uttarakhand's 8th Chief Minister

  • Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat has sworn in as the eighth Chief Minister of Uttarakhand .
  • Mr Rawat succeeded Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna who stepped down from his position of Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister after 22 months of holding the office.
  • The 11 Cabinet Ministers, who were a part of the Bahuguna government, were also sworn in.
  • This decision of the Congress to make Mr Rawat the Chief Minister of the State comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to strengthen the chances of the Congress in the Lok Sabha where the State has five seats.
  • Mr. Bahuguna’s performance during and after the June disaster last year raised questions over his leadership. The slow rehabilitation work after the disaster proved to be detrimental for his tenure.

PIL survey forms

  • The Bombay High Court has directed the Union government to respond within two weeks to a public interest litigation petition, which claims that survey data forms for 2011-12 incorrectly mention ‘Muslim’, instead of ‘Islam’, in the religion column.
  • The petition demands that the correction be carried out and that the erroneous forms be withdrawn immediately.
  • Petitioner Aziz Pathan alleged that the government did not respond to his plea despite his bringing the mistake to its notice.
  • The forms were meant to collect data on socio-economic and caste and religious issues from the citizens.

Defamation notice to Kejriwal

  • Former President of Bharatiya Janata Party Nitin Gadkari has slapped a defamation notice on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for accusing him of being “corrupt” while senior Congress leader and Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal has challenged him to prove his charges or resign.
  • Mr. Kejriwal had caused a flutter across party lines when he reeled out list of names of leaders who he alleged are “corrupt”. The list includes the names of Mr. Gadkari, Mr. Sibal and several others.
  • Reacting to Mr. Kejriwal’s accusation, the BJP leader has served a notice, urging him to withdraw his statements within three days, failing which legal action will follow.

Olympic torch lit

  • The Olympic torch was lit at Russia’s highest point with less than a week to go before the opening of the winter Games in Sochi.
  • Two experienced mountain climbers lit the flame 5,642 metres above sea level on the western peak of Mount Elbrus, completing the last of four special projects in the biggest torch relay in Olympic history.
  • Alpinists Abdul-Khalim Elmezov and Karina Mezova had climbed the western peak of the mountain in the northern Caucasus at the end of October carrying the flame in a special lantern.
  • The Elbrus part of the relay had been planned separately to ensure the best possible weather conditions for the climb.

Claims for Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India

  • The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) expects to register Rs.1,250 crore gross premium income this year.
  • In 2012-13, it was Rs.1,157 crore. Claims settlement was Rs.548 crore last year. This is expected to be more than Rs.600 crore this year.
  • ECGC is looking at four new products. It planned to have separate policy for small exporters (with export turnover of less than Rs.5 crore) and micro exporters (who have less than Rs.1 crore export turnover).
  • The ECGC planned to introduce a new cover for factoring companies to cover export factoring done by them for MSME exporters and re-start direct factoring.

Iran n-talks

  • Iran and the six global powers are set to hold fresh nuclear talks on February 18 that promise to encourage further lifting of sanctions and unlock foreign investment flows into the country.
  • Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the dialogue will be held in Vienna, the Austrian capital, following a meeting with the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief, Catharine Ashton on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.
  • A decision on the new round of talks is part of cycle of steps that could end sanctions against Iran, after it was verifiably confirmed that Tehran is not pursuing development of atomic weapons. Iran and the five Security Council members--United States, Russia, China, Britain and France--along with Germany signed a nuclear deal in Geneva on November 24.
  • On January 20, Iran's negotiating partners confirmed that Tehran had halted production of uranium enriched to 20 per cent level, paving the way for a partial lifting of sanctions.
  • The smooth conduct of inspections by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of some Iran's major nuclear facilities, is further building up the momentum of confidence building between the two sides.

New MGNREGS wage rate

  • Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said that the wage rate of UPA’s flagship MGNREGA will be increased from April this year due to inflation. The notification will be placed before Parliament in the coming session scheduled to begin this week.
  • Addressing the 9th MGNREGA Divas, the Minister said MGNREGA wage rate has already been linked to Consumer Price Index and the yearly revision follows from it. Mr. Ramesh acknowledged that there is need for parity in the MGNREGA wage rate and the minimum wage in nearly 14 States including Bihar and Jharkhand, where the rural job wage is lower than minimum wage.
  • The Minister also encouraged the officials to motivate and help small and marginal farmers to undertake land levelling and irrigation schemes on their land under MGNREGA and lamented that only 10 per cent farmers have so far benefited from this provision.
  • Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain Aditya said that MGNREGA has brought about a revolution in rural India and stopped distress migration from rural to urban areas. He noted that this year more than 3 crore 80 lakh families have benefitted so far. While Mr. Jain acknowledged that fighting corruption in its implementation is a big challenge he asserted that it is the responsibility of the State governments.

'High dignitaries' term is undemocratic: SC

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to review the list of 'high dignitaries' who can use red beacons. The apex court noted that the term high dignitaries appears contrary to democratic ethos.
  • The motor vehicles carrying high dignitaries specified by the Central government and their counterparts specified by the state, may be fitted with red lights. But the red lights with or without the flashers can only be used when the specified high dignitary is on duty.
  • Amicus curiae in the case Harish Salve said that in a republic everyone is public and except for security reasons, no one should be allowed to use the beacons. He also added that the beacons indicated a sense of symbolism which is not correct in a republic.
  • The matter has been posted for hearing after two weeks in the SC.

North-East community’s protest over Nido Taniam’s death

  • Is India in need of a strong anti-racism law? The recent attack on a young Arunachal boy and the alleged sexual assault on two Manipuri women make it seem like the demand is justified.
  • Student organisations from the northeast have been protestingover the death of Taniam. The alleged sexual assault on the two Manipuri women and the alleged police apathy towards them has only added fuel to the fire.
  • According to them India is in need of a strong anti-racism law.
  • The northeastern student groups say they are not protesting merely to demand justice for Taniam. It is for those thousands of people from the northeast who daily face some or the other form of harassment.
  • They are fighting the collective failure of a system and society that they actually belong to.

9-member panel set up by IRDA

  • Insurance regulator IRDA has set up a nine-member committee to review the 14 non-legislative recommendations made by the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC).
  • The committee will also examine the extant legislative and regulatory framework in compliance 14 non-legislative recommendations (NLRs).
  • The non-legislative recommendations are related with consumer protection, transparency and capacity building, among others.
  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) said the committee will submit its report by April-end.
  • The committee members include C.R. Muralidharan, G. Prabhakara, and Mathew Varghese, all ex-Members, IRDA and M.S. Sahoo, ex-Member, SEBI.
  • The committee will identify the gaps and possible improvements in the extant framework vis-a-vis the 14 NLR. The panel will also suggest changes or modifications to the extant framework in compliance with the 14 NLR.

Ranji title 2014

  • The moment of reckoning finally dawned on the Karnataka team after 14 long seasons. And while seizing the moment, the Karnataka players ensured that they would not be denied their shot at glory by completing a seven-wicket win over two-time champion Maharashtra at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium to win the Ranji trophy for the seventh time.
  • With Maharashtra resuming at 272 for six, Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar had preferred pace for most of the morning session, clearly in no mood to give away easy runs. But it was when he brought on 20-year-old leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal that things started happening; the latter did not disappoint his captain, sending back Srikant Mundhe (42, 75b, 3x4), who was beginning to look dangerous, and Akshay Darekar (13) in quick succession.
  • The last time Karnataka won the national championship was in 1999 when it defeated Madhya Pradesh in the final.
  • Karnataka collected the winner’s purse of Rs.2 crore and the trophy from BCCI vice-president N. Shivlal Yadav, while runner-up Maharashtra picked Rs. 1 crore.
  • Lokesh Rahul was named ‘Man-of-the-Match’.

Davis Cup

  • Professional players do not spend too much time worrying about providing entertainment to the galleries. They just try to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • That was the hard lesson for the capacity crowd at the Indore Tennis Club as the Chinese Taipei challenge ended tamely with India running up a 5-0 victory in double quick time on the final day of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania group ‘I’ tie.
  • After that, Yuki Bhambri dismissed Taipei’s doubles specialist Hsien-Yen Peng 7-5, 6-0 in 55 minutes. His two wins in the match helped Bhambri, who had beaten Yang in the first rubber on the opening day, enhance his Davis Cup record to 8-1. His only defeat since making his Cup debut against South Africa in 2009, was at the hands of Farrukh Dustov of Uzbekistan in Namangan in 2012.
  • This was the third time in a row that Bhambri was winning both his singles rubbers, following the efforts against New Zealand and Indonesia.
  • The results: India bt Chinese Taipei 5-0 (Saketh Myneni bt Tsung-Hua Yang 6-1, 6-4; Yuki Bhambri bt Hsien-Yen Peng 7-5, 6-0).

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