Monday, February 10, 2014

Current Affairs for 09-10 February 2014

SC says that nude picture of woman not obscene

  • A nude or semi-nude picture of a woman cannot be called obscene per se unless it is designed to excite sexual passion or reveal an overt sexual desire, the Supreme Court has held.
  • Quashing a case against a newspaper for publishing a nude photo of German tennis legend Boris Becker with his fiancee in 1993, a bench of justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri said only those sex-related materials can be held to be obscene which have a tendency of exciting lustful thoughts.
  • A picture of a nude/semi-nude woman, as such, cannot per se be called obscene unless it has the tendency to arouse feeling or revealing an overt sexual desire.
  • Obscenity has to be judged from an average person point of view as the concept of obscenity would change with the passage of time and what might have been obscene at one point of time would not be considered as obscene at a later period.
  • The bench said the photograph, in which Becker had posed nude with his dark-skinned fiancee Barbara Feltus as a mark of protest against the practice of apartheid, wants to convey message to eradicate the evil of racism and to promote love.

Oxytocin banned

  • The government has banned the retail sale of the controversial hormone drug Oxytocin by pharmacies to curb its misuse by dairy owners and farmers who use it boost milk production and plump up the size of vegetables and fruits.
  • It is believed that those consuming such dairy products and vegetables and fruits are hit by irreversible hormonal imbalance.
  • The ban restricts the Oxytocin bulk drug manufacturers from selling it to only those with licences to make the drug formulations. The drug makers on the other hand can supply it directly only to veterinary hospitals.
  • Under Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1954, the drug can be distributed on the prescription of a Registered Medical Practitioner only. Further, to avoid its bulk sale, Oxytocin injections are packed only in single unit blister packs.
  • Oxytocin is available not only in the licensed pharmacies but also sold off the shelves by general grocery shops in many parts of the country.

Sanitation target achieved in Sikkim

  • Sikkim has become the only state in the country to achieve 100 per cent sanitation in rural and urban households, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centres.
  • All 6,10,577 inhabitants in Sikkim have latrines with high sanitation and hygiene standards.
  • The Himalayan state has constructed 98,043 individual household latrines against the target of 87,014 till January, thus achieving 112.67 per cent target under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan scheme implemented by Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • The state has also sensitised people to adopt a holistic approach to improve sanitation and hygiene in a clean environment while accelerating its overall development.
    According to a survey conducted in 20 gram panchayats by Planning Commission, 17 village councils of Sikkim were declared as ‘best performance panchayats’, which is highest in the country. Sikkim also topped the list among all states of the country in net performance indicators.

Difference in Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment

  • A high-level panel set up by the government to overhaul the foreign investment regime in the country is set to recommend that any investment above 10% in a company's equity be classified as foreign direct investment (FDI) and below that as portfolio investment.
  • The committee headed by economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram is expected to submit its report soon.
  • The committee has significantly scaled down its ambitions from reported draft proposals that had gone to the extent of suggesting significant reforms in the overseas investment regime.
  • The move is aimed at simplifying things for companies regarding what rules to follow - FDI or FPI. The panel has refrained from suggesting any change in the limit on overseas investment, the official said. The default cap for foreign portfolio investment will continue to be 24%.
  • The investment regime for non-resident Indians and foreign venture capital investors will be unchanged. The panel has also favoured grandfathering for investors with less than 10% in listed companies as FDI but haven't entered through the portfolio route. Such an investment would be classified as portfolio investment in the new regime. The report is also likely to allow a similar dispensation for a foreign holding dropping below 10% as a result of corporate restructuring.

India’s foodgrain production this year

  • Foodgrain production is likely to touch a record 263.2 million tonnes (mt) this year, beating the previous high of 259 mt achieved two years ago, according to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
  • The foodgrain production fell marginally to 255.36 mt in the last crop year (July-June) due to drought in some parts of the country.
  • A good monsoon along with improved sowing of both kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) crops have improved prospects of a better foodgrain production this year.
  • India has now emerged as the world's top rice exporter and second-top exporter of wheat and cotton. The country is also the top producer of milk and horticultural crops.

Chennai Challenger

  • In the final of the Shriram Capital-P.L. Reddy Memorial ATP $50,000 Challenger, Yuki Bhambri beat Alexander Kudryavtsev4-6, 6-3, 7-5. That the seventh seeded Indian hung in there in spite of struggling and handled the tricky Russian with elan says a lot about his mental make-up.
  • The Indian then made it a grand ‘double’, pocketing the doubles crown as well, in partnership with Michael Venus, by beating Sriram Balaji and Blaz Rola 6-4, 7-6(3). The singles victory — his third Challenger title — would give Bhambri 80 ranking points, and is certain to push him into the World’s top-150.

Ranchi Rhinos fourth win

  • Justin Reid Ross’s 11th minute field goal gave Ranchi Rhinos a solitary-goal win over Mumbai Magicians in the Hero Hockey India League — its fourth win in six matches.
  • Ranchi captain Moritz Furste sparked the move leading to the goal with a crisp reverse-hit pass. Mumbai was taken by surprise when Ross moved forward in time for the pass, picked up the ball and advanced on his own.By the time the defence closed in, he had made space for a rasping reverse hit into the net.
  • Neither team forced penalty corners till quarter three. Turner went off on his own from the left up to the goal-line, trying to force defenders into mistakes but had nothing to show for his efforts.
  • Amon Tirkey earned the tie’s first penalty corner in the 55th minute but the Mumbai defence was spot on.

Disabilities rights Bill

  • The Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, tabled in the Rajya Sabha, has evoked sharp reactions from disabilities rights activists across the country.
  • The government had tabled, in a hurry, an older version of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha as the amendments approved by the Cabinet late could not be incorporated in the draft.
  • The Chennai-based Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), a conglomerate of disability rights activists, says the Bill is “regressive and retrograde,” and does not adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) in its true spirit.
  • The DRA and several other organisations said Section 110 of the Bill provided that its provisions shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other law in force, which effectively meant that all laws which actively discriminated against persons with disabilities remained untouched. This violated the State’s obligation under the U.N. convention to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constituted such discrimination.
  • In this Bill, the Right of Equality is curtailed under Section 3(3), which says the right against discrimination exists ‘unless it can be shown that the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’”
  • The terms “proportionate means” and “legitimate aim,” it said, are highly subjective and can perpetuate discrimination.
  • Further, the statement said, the UNCRPD lays down specific obligations of the State while discussing multiple discrimination faced by women with disabilities. States are obliged to take measures to ensure that they enjoy fully and equally all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

‘Unity Run’

  • In their biggest show of strength after statehood was formally proposed for Telangana late last year, a huge number of supporters of unified Andhra Pradesh took to the streets across the south coastal districts in the form of a ‘Run for Samaikyandhra’ and made it clear that they were prepared to take charge of the fight against bifurcation.
  • ‘Jai Samaikyandhra’ slogans reverberated in all important towns from Eluru to Nellore while the run at Vijayawada drew a number of people.
  • Leaders of Congress, TDP and YSR Congress came together for the cause of a unified State as people turned the heat on them against the backdrop of the urgency with which Central government carried forward the process of bifurcation.

New Prime Minister of Nepal

  • The leader of Nepal's largest and oldest political party was elected prime minister with majority support in parliament that is likely to ease the political instability in the Himalayan nation.
  • The president of Nepali Congress party, Sushil Koirala, 76, received 405 votes in the 601-member parliament. He was supported by the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the second largest party, and some other smaller groups.
  • The declaration from Parliament Speaker Surya Bahadur Thapa that Koirala had secured the simple majority to be elected was followed by applause inside the assembly hall. Hundreds of Koirala's supporters stood outside the parliament building.
  • A constitution was supposed to have been written by the last Constituent Assembly, which was elected in 2008 following the end of a 10-year Maoist insurgency and the overthrow of the centuries-old monarchy. But the assembly was riven by infighting and never finished its work.
  • Koirala, 76, has led his party for the past four years. He also spent six years in jail and nearly 20 years in exile in India because he opposed the autocratic rule of the king.
  • Politicians hope the election of Koirala with support from nearly two-thirds of the members of the assembly will bring some political stability to Nepal.

Two-day bank strike

  • Cheque clearances, cash withdrawals, and deposits in public sector bank branches across the country were hit as employees started a two-day strike on 10th of Feb to press for a revision in wages.
  • However, private sector banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank were functioning normally.
  • Employees were compelled to take this route as the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) did not come up with an improved wage offer, United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) convener M.V. Murali said. The IBA represents bank managements.
  • Banks, including the State Bank of India, the country’s largest, had informed customers in advance about the likely inconvenience they would face during the strike.
  • UFBU is an umbrella organisation of nine bank employee and officer unions.
  • There are 27 public sector banks in the country with a combined employee strength of about 8 lakh. There are about 50,000 branches of these banks across the country.

The most generous American philanthropists in 2013

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013, with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than $970 million, to a Silicon Valley nonprofit in December.
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Zuckerberg's donation was the largest charitable gift on the public record in 2013 and put the young couple at the top of the magazine's annual list of 50 most generous Americans in 2013.
  • The top 50 contributors made donations last year totaling $7.7 billion, plus pledges of $2.9 billion.
  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, gave their foundation slightly more than $181.3 million last year, but they were paying off a pledge of about $3.3 billion they made in 2004. CNN-founder Ted Turner and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett also made large gifts toward previous pledges.
  • Ten of the 50 made the list because of bequests after their deaths, including the second biggest giver in 2013, George Mitchell, a Galveston, Texas, man who made his fortune in energy and real estate.
  • At No. 3 were Nike chairman Philip Knight and his wife, Penelope, of Portland, Oregon, who made a $500 million challenge grant to Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. The Knight pledge requires the university match

New President of Indian Olympic Association

  • The suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) amended its constitution and successfully held its elections, taking the first steps to returning to the international fold.
  • World Squash Federation president N. Ramachandran was unanimously named as the new president of the IOA in the elections held in the presence of three observers from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — Pere Miró, IOC Director of NOC Relations, Jérôme Poivey, Head of Institutional Relations in the NOC Relations Department, and Robin Mitchell, head of the IOC delegation.
  • Indian athletes at the ongoing Winter Olympics in Sochi are participating under the Olympic flag. However, it is unlikely that the Indians will be able to march under the tricolour during the closing of the Games.
  • Most of the office-bearers, including secretary general Rajeev Mehta, were elected unopposed, barring the vice-presidents.
  • The IOA was suspended in December 2012 after it went ahead with elections despite IOC’s reservations, electing Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot as president and secretary respectively. Both have been charged by a court of law.
  • Under the new constitution, any member against whom charges have been framed by a court of law for an offence that carries imprisonment of more than two years will not be allowed to contest elections and the case will be referred to the IOA Ethics Commission.

India could lose 2nd spot in Test rankings

  • Faltering miserably in their ongoing tour of New Zealand, India are in danger of losing their second spot in the ICC Test rankings if Australia win their away series against South Africa.
  • Currently occupying second position in ICC Test rankings, India is trailing the two-match series against New Zealand 0-1 after losing the opening match .
  • South Africa are leading the table with 133 points, while Australia sits third with 111 points. South Africa will retain the number-one position on the table irrespective of the outcome of the series.
  • In case India does not win the second Test, Australia need to draw the series to move into second place. However, if Australia was to lose the series, then there will be no change of positions on the table.
Source : upscportal

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