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S. No.Headlines
1 23-04-2019 - Terrorists identified : Sri Lankan authorities named a little-known local Islamist radical group, the National Thowheed Jamaath, as responsible for the ghastly Easter serial blasts that claimed nearly 300 lives and injured over 500 across the island nation. President Sirisena also decided to enforce Emergency regulations with effect from midnight April 22. The police arrested nearly 30 suspects in connection with coordinated explosions. (Terrorism)
2 23-04-2019 - US ends Iran oil waiver : The U.S. will not renew exemptions from its sanctions for importing oil from Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced. Exemptions were granted November 2018 for a 180-day-period for India and seven other countries, and are due to expire on May 2. India, China and U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey will be the most impacted by the non-renewal of waivers. The other three currently exempted countries — Italy, Greece and Taiwan — have already reduced their imports to zero. (Energy / World Politics)
3 23-04-2019 - Delhi political tangle : The Congress released the names of all seven candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in Delhi, while the BJP, which had renominated four sitting MPs, announced the names of former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir and incumbent MP Meenakshi Lekhi from East Delhi and New Delhi seats respectively. Former three-term Chief Minister and Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit is the party’s candidate from North East Delhi against Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari. (Indian Politics)
4 23-04-2019 - Sexual harrassment allegations against CJI : A storm of public opinion is gathering against the manner in which a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi convened on April 20 and suo motu heard a case involving sexual harassment allegations levelled against him by a former Supreme Court employee. The hearing sparked a public debate on whether the CJI was sitting as a 'judge in his own cause' and whether the Bench should have followed the principles of natural justice by giving the complainant a fair chance to be heard in the first place before passing remarks about her. (Constitution and Law / Social Issues)
5 23-04-2019 - EC report on PM biopic to SC : The Election Commission submitted its detailed report to the Supreme Court on the biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took the EC’s report on the biopic and asked the poll panel to supply a copy of the report to the producer of the movie. The producers have challenged the EC’s ban on the movie. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
6 23-04-2019 - Jet Airways and CEC : As Jet Airways’ employees protest their delayed salaries and demand financial support from lenders to revive the airline, the Central Information Commission has delivered a ruling in favour of the employees of another beleaguered aviation company which may empower the former. In August 2016, India’s first private ground-handling company Cambata Aviation stopped operations, leaving around 2,700 employees in the lurch with pending salaries and unpaid benefits. Later, allegations of tax fraud and financial irregularities reportedly brought the company under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate. (Indian Economy / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
7 23-04-2019 - SC on NH traffic ban : The Supreme Court sought responses from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir on a plea seeking quashing of an order which restricts civilian traffic two days a week on the national highway (NH) stretch from Udhampur to Baramulla for movement of security forces. The State government issued an order on April 3 in which it said that keeping in view the Pulwama terror attack, another car bomb attack on security forces’ convoy at Banihal and movement of forces during the Lok Sabha elections, no civilian traffic movement would be allowed on the NH stretch from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. twice a week. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions / Terrorism)
8 23-04-2019 - Shefali Vaidya and one Twitter account of IIT B : The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay management ordered the deactivation of the Twitter account of one of its management schools after a tweet from the account elicited significant backlash. While the institute has washed its hands off the incident, the management school claimed that their handle had been compromised. Around 3.11 p.m. on Monday, author and columnist, Shefali Vaidya, shared a screenshot of a tweet by the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management (SJMSoM), IIT-B, supposedly in response to one of her tweets. The Tweet by SJMSoM read, “Because Hinduism and Hindutva are not the same. Being religious and stupid are two different things. People here may be religious but not stupid enough to vote for #BJP.” (Indian Politics / Social Issues)
9 23-04-2019 - Terror alert : India had issued an alert to Sri Lanka in early April on possible bomb attacks at different spots in the island, including the Indian High Commission building, sources in and New Delhi said, pointing to a possible lapse on the part of Sri Lanka’s security agencies. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told media-persons on Monday that “international” intelligence agencies had “warned the government on April 4” regarding an impending attack in the country. He did not name the country. (Terrorism)
10 23-04-2019 - Comedian becomes President : Ukraine leapt into the unknown after comedian Volodymyr Zelensky was elected President on promises of change but with just a vague blueprint of what he might do as leader. Mr. Zelensky, whose previous experience in the world of politics was playing the President on TV, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a stinging rebuke to the establishment fuelled by anger over war and social injustice. Ukrainians looked to the future with hope and anxiety after the performer took 73% of the vote on April 21, according to nearly complete official results. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
11 23-04-2019 - RBI on Indiabulls : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may closely examine the fit-and-proper criteria of Indiabulls Group founder and chairman, Sameer Gehlaut, whose name appeared in the Panama Papers, before approving the proposal to merge the group’s housing finance arm with Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB). Indiabulls Housing Finance and LVB boards had proposed a merger, that would help the bank get capital and, Indiabulls make an entry into banking. Mr. Gehlaut is proposed to be vice-chairman of the merged entity. (Governance and Institutions)
12 23-04-2019 - GAIL and wind power projects : State-run GAIL (India) Ltd. has emerged as the highest bidder for seven wind power projects of the debt-ridden Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), after it made an offer of Rs.4,800 crore. The process to sell the assets was initiated on November 29. After due-diligence, including visits across 12 sites spread across seven States, GAIL had emerged as the highest bidder for the seven operating wind power plants having a total generation capacity of 874 MW. The deal is expected to close in three weeks. (Energy)
13 23-04-2019 - Essel sale : Leading investment firm Blackstone has entered into a definitive agreement with Ashok Goel Trust to purchase a majority stake in Essel Propack Limited (EPL), a speciality packaging company and one of the largest global manufacturer of laminated tubes, for up to $462 million. Ashok Goel Trust and its affiliates currently hold about 57% of EPL and Blackstone would pay a purchase price of Rs. 134 per share to acquire a 51% shareholding from the trust. (Indian Economy / Infrastructure)
14 23-04-2019 - Domestic civil aviation traffic growth slows down : On the back of Jet Airways’ collapse as well as the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX planes in the country, the growth in domestic aviation traffic was flat in March. Indian airlines altogether flew 115.96 lakh passengers last month, a mere 16,000 more than the year-ago period, according to DGCA’s monthly data. India’s domestic air traffic rise had been leading global trends and had recorded double-digit growth since mid-2014. But since the end of 2018, this growth rate has tapered to less than 1%. (Indian Economy / Infrastructure)
15 23-04-2019 - Modernising Postal Department : IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has partnered with the Department of Posts to modernise the delivery of mail and packages, enhance customer experience, and launch innovative services that will drive new revenues. At the heart of this transformation is the Core System Integration programme, designed and implemented by TCS, said a company statement, adding that this involved deploying an integrated ERP solution that caters to mail operations, finance and accounting, and human resourcesfunctions, and connects its network of more than 1,50,000 post offices, making this the largest distributed ePostal network in the world. (Infrastructure / Science and Technology)
16 22-04-2019 - Big terror attack in Sri Lanka : Over 200 people were killed and nearly 500 injured in a series of blasts that shook Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Churches and luxury hotels were targeted in the deadliest incidents since the civil war ended a decade ago. As many as eight blasts occurred in and around the capital Colombo and in the eastern city of Batticaloa on Sunday morning, as large groups gathered at churches for Easter services. Hours after the coordinated attacks, police arrested seven suspects from a building in the Colombo suburb of Dematsagoda. (Terrorism)
17 22-04-2019 - CJI in the limelight : With the sexual harassment allegation against CJI Ranjan Gogoi not going to die down soon despite a strong denial from the head of the judiciary, many are wondering what could be the procedure for dealing with complaints alleging criminal misconduct of this kind. Neither the Gender Sensitisation and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Supreme Court of India (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Regulations nor the committee set up under it would be of much help as relevant provisions are missing. (Constitution and Law / Social Issues)
18 22-04-2019 - Local language to avoid fake drugs : In order to counter fake, sub­standard and expired drugs, the Union Health Ministry has said Hindi and regional language will be used in the tendering process. The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) recently recommended that government procurement agencies should take necessary steps in the tendering process to include the regional language, along with English, on the label of iron tablets and polio drops in government programmes. (Governance and Institutions)
19 22-04-2019 - Finding a rare bird : Distinguished by the green and brown plumage on its back, the dimunitve Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo (Chalcites basalis) is a native of Australia and New Guinea. However, researcher G. Gokulkrishnan found one early on July 7, 2017 in a tsunami ravaged coastal forest in the Great Nicobar Island of the Andaman and Nicobar island chain. The sighting was the first recorded instance of the bird in India. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
20 22-04-2019 - A new body CDRI : Giving a major diplomatic push to the proposed global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) — an Indian initiative on the lines of the Solar Alliance of 120 countries — New Delhi has pledged Rs 480 crore to set up a secretariat for the new grouping. The initiative has the support of the UN and the World Bank, apart from other multilateral development banks. Among the 33 countries which have already supported the Indian initiative, Italy, UK, Australia, South Africa and European Union have agreed to fund the new organisation set to be declared at the UN Climate Summit, scheduled at the UN headquarters in September 2019. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / World Politics)
21 22-04-2019 - Shortage of vaccines : The Health Ministry is grappling with a paucity of meningitis vaccines for Haj pilgrims as the only firm manufacturing them was asked to stop production last year after contamination was detected in its oral polio vaccines. The only company that manufactured the vaccines and provided it to the government was asked to stop production of all human vaccines in September last year after type­2 polio virus contamination was detected in oral polio vaccines. (Governance and Institutions / Science and Technology)
22 22-04-2019 - Afghan political situation : Afghanistan’s Supreme Court has extended the term of President Ashraf Ghani until delayed elections take place, resolving for now the question of what would happen after his term expires on May 22, 2019. Presidential elections were slated for April 20, but poll officials were unprepared for a new nationwide vote so soon after October 2018 parliamentary elections. With some final results from that election still pending, the presidential poll was delayed until July 20, then pushed back again until September 28. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
23 22-04-2019 - China clamping down on genetic experiments : China’s top legislature will consider tougher rules on research involving human genes and embryos, the first such move since a Chinese scientist sparked controversy last year by announcing he had made the world’s first “gene­edited” babies. He Jiankui attracted condemnation from the global scientific community when he said he had used a technology known as CRISPRCas9 to alter the embryonic genes of twin girls born in November 2018. (Science and Technology)
24 22-04-2019 - Ethical gold : As high­end consumers demand to know the origin of their treasures, some jewellers are ensuring they use responsibly sourced, ecofriendly or recycled gold. Specialised producers now tack a “fairmined” ecologically friendly label on their output, and the Swiss house Chopard last year became the first big name to commit to “100% ethical” creations. The Geneva­based firm, which makes the Palme d’Or trophy for the Cannes Film Festival, says it now uses only verified suppliers of gold that meet strict standards to minimise negative environmental impacts of mining the precious metal. (Social Issues / World Economy)
25 22-04-2019 - 93 years of a Monarch : Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 93rd birthday, also the occasion of Easter. The queen attended a service with other senior royals at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, west of London. (People and Personalities)
26 22-04-2019 - Strength of horses on display : Several thousand people flocked to a private arena in northwest Bosnia to cheer on their favourite horses during a traditional pre­Easter log­towing contest. The twice­yearly Straparijada event in which pairs of horses compete in strength hauling heavy logs along a 100­metre track draws fans from across the Balkan country and neighbouring Serbia and Croatia. (Entertainment Games and Sports / Social Issues)
27 22-04-2019 - Kronos malware : A British cybersecurity researcher credited with stopping a worldwide computer virus has pleaded guilty to developing malware to steal banking information. Federal prosecutors in Wisconsin and Marcus Hutchins’ attorneys said in a joint court filing that the 24­year­old agreed to plead guilty to developing malware called Kronos and conspiring to distribute it from 2012 to 2015. (Science and Technology / World Economy)
28 22-04-2019 - Gender roles and brain : Society’s expectations about gender roles alter the human brain at the cellular level. Though the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are often used interchangeably by the average person, for neuroscientists, they mean different things, according to Nancy Forger, a professor at Georgia State University in the U.S. (Social Issues)
29 22-04-2019 - Delayed projects : Indian Railways accounts for nearly three­fifths of 344 Central sector projects that are facing huge cost overruns due to delay in implementation for various reasons. The total cost overrun of 205 delayed railway projects is a whopping Rs.2.21 lakh crore, the latest flash report of the Statistics and Programme Implementation Ministry (MOSPI) for December 2018 showed. (Infrastructure)
30 22-04-2019 - Third phase LS elections 2019 : Campaigning for the third phase of polling in 116 Lok Sabha constituencies across 15 States and union territories ended on April 21. The third phase of voting on April 23 will decide the fate of Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad in Kerala, his second seat. (Indian Politics)
31 20-04-2019 - Indian IT under attack? India’s leading tech players may be under serious threat from cyber criminals, according to cybersecurity investigation website KrebsOnSecurity.com. The website is run by former Washington Post staffer and cybersecurity writer, Brian Krebs. A fresh post on the website said the criminals responsible for launching phishing campaigns that netted dozens of employees and more than 100 computer systems last month at Wipro, India's third-largest IT outsourcing firm, also appear to have targeted a number of other competing providers, including Infosys and Cognizant. (Indian Economy / Science and Technology)
32 20-04-2019 - Pragya Thakur on Mr. Karkare's martyrdom : Amid widespread outrage over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal candidate, Pragya Singh Thakur’s derogatory comments about 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, the Congress demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pragya, an accused in the 2013 Malegaon blasts case, claimed at a gathering of party workers that Karkare, who was heading the probe into the blasts, was killed because she had cursed him for 'torturing' her. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
33 20-04-2019 - Opaque election funding : A break-up of donations made to two major national parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, and revealed in their audited annual statements for the last two fiscals shows that the implementation of the electoral bonds scheme has substantially reduced the cash component of donations. But this has coincided with a reduction in the proportion of donations that are declared contributions (that are above Rs. 20,000 and where the donors are known). There has also been a significant skew in favour of the ruling party in the issuance of electoral bonds — the BJP received Rs. 210 crore of the overall Rs. 221 crore redeemed in financial year 2017-18. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
34 20-04-2019 - EC prohibition : The Election Commission put a 48-hour prohibition on BJP’s Himachal Pradesh president Satpal Singh Satti from campaign activities for allegedly using an expletive against Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The order also prohibits the BJP leader from giving any statement in the media in connection with the election process. The police have already registered an FIR. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
35 20-04-2019 - No chemists, Only pharmacists : First coined in 1945, the words 'chemist' and 'druggist' are headed for a change, with the Union Health Ministry replacing them with 'pharmacy'. Besides being a long-standing demand of the industry, the phrase ‘chemists and druggists’ was coined over seven decades ago, is quite old, and has lost its relevance. The matter was deliberated upon by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), after repeated requests were made to amend the Rule 65(15)(b) and Rule 65(15)(c) so that medical shops can be called a 'pharmacy'. (Governance and Institutions)
36 20-04-2019 - LoC trade stopped : Traders and politicians in Kashmir have criticised the government over the sudden suspension of cross-Line of Control trade, which the government said had been triggered by issues including illegal trade of U.S.-origin California almonds, funneling of counterfeit currency, and the funding and promotion of terror groups and anti-India operations though the trade. (Indian Economy / Regional Politics)
37 20-04-2019 - Suno toh Ganga ye kya sunaye : A study commissioned by the Union Water Resources Ministry to probe the 'unique properties' of the Ganga found that the river water contains a significantly higher proportion of organisms with antibacterial properties. Other Indian rivers also contain these organisms but the Ganga — particularly in its upper Himalayan stretches — has more of them, the study suggests. The study, ‘Assessment of Water Quality and Sediment To Understand Special Properties of River Ganga,’ began in 2016 and was conducted by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), a CSIR lab. (Environment Ecolgoy and Climate Change / Science and Technology)
38 20-04-2019 - SC on NPAs : The Supreme Court will hear a petition to restrain banks from writing off non-performing assets. The petition, filed by Supreme Court advocate Reena N. Singh, is listed before a Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and S. Abdul Nazeer. The petition gains significance because of the large number of non-performing assets, worth crores of rupee, in the names of such businessmen as Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The petition said write-offs should end so that the 'true and exact financial conditions of banks cannot be camouflaged.' (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
39 20-04-2019 - India and China in defence : The Indian Navy has sent two ships to take part in the International Fleet Review to be held in Qingdao, China, later this month as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The ships are stealth destroyer INS Kolkata and fleet tanker INS Shakti. The visit of the Navy’s most potent destroyer and versatile fleet support ship showcases India’s prowess, reach and sustainability, besides indigenous ship-building capability, the Navy said. (Defence and Military)
40 20-04-2019 - Trump's report needed : Congressional Democrats took a legal step to see all of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence from his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as they consider how to use the probe’s findings against President Donald Trump. U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to hand over the full report by Mr. Mueller, saying he cannot accept a redacted version released that 'leaves most of Congress in the dark.' (World Politics)
41 20-04-2019 - Death of a journalist : A journalist was shot dead during riots in Northern Ireland in what police on Friday were treating as a terrorist incident following the latest upsurge in violence to shake the troubled region. Ms. McKee, 29, had earlier posted an image that appeared to be from the riots in the Creggan housing estate in the city of Londonderry, also known as Derry, accompanied by the words 'Derry tonight. Absolute madness.' (Social Issues)
42 20-04-2019 - Old enmity over : Overcoming more than two decades of political and personal acrimony, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati sought votes for Samajwadi Party (SP) patron Mulayam Singh Yadav in his turf Mainpuri, hailing him as the 'real and true leader' of the backward classes. As the two former Chief Ministers and sworn rivals shared the stage at a SP-BSP rally, a remarkable shift in Uttar Pradesh politics was clear. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
43 20-04-2019 - Jet assets targeted : Rival airlines are targeting various assets of grounded Jet Airways, including airport slots, highly-trained employees and aircraft, making the lenders’ task of reviving the debt-laden carrier by finding a suitable buyer an Herculean task. Two low-cost airlines are aggressively hiring employees of the financially-crippled airline at much lower salaries and inducting aircraft to fill the vacuum created. Even full-service carriers such as Vistara and Air India, which are saddled with more debt than Jet, are taking the opportunity to fill the void and enhance their market share. (Infrastructure)
44 20-04-2019 - Gold imports in India : The country’s gold imports dipped about 3% in value terms to $32.8 billion during 2018-19, which trend is expected to keep a lid on the current account deficit. Total imports of the precious metal in 2017-18 had stood at $33.7 billion, according to data from the Commerce Ministry. Trade experts said softening prices of the yellow metal in the global markets could be the reason for the contraction in the value of imports. After recording negative growth in February, the imports grew 31.22% to $3.27 billion in March. (Indian Economy)
45 20-04-2019 - Notre-Dame update : French art experts headed into the stricken Notre-Dame Cathedral in to remove all the remaining paintings. Officials from the Culture Ministry were allowed into the 850-year-old landmark to begin retrieving the artworks after fire service officials declared the scorched structure safe enough to go inside. Firefighters and engineering experts have been working on the fragile landmark since a devastating blaze, erecting scaffolding and other wooden supports to stop any of the stonework collapsing. The paintings inside the cathedral have been saved from the flames and can now be taken down and transported to safe areas. (Art Culture Literature / History / Social Issues)
46 18-04-2019 - Shooting himself dead : Peru’s former president Alan Garcia died in hospital after shooting himself in the head as police were about to arrest him in a corruption case. He was 69. The attempted arrest took place at 6.30 a.m. at Mr. Garcia’s home in Lima’s Miraflores neighbourhood. Police were acting on an arrest warrant for money laundering that would have allowed Mr. Garcia to be held for 10 days, giving authorities time to gather evidence and prevent him from fleeing. (People and Personalities)
47 18-04-2019 - Jet Airways crashes : Jet Airways announced temporary suspension of all its international and domestic flights, with the last flight operating between Amritsar and Mumbai. In a filing before the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), it said it was informed by the State Bank of India (SBI), on behalf of the consortium of Indian lenders, that they were unable to consider its request for critical interim funding. The sudden end of Jet Airways is a shock for the Indian aviation industry. (Infrastructure / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
48 18-04-2019 - DGCA safety concerns : The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will conduct a special safety audit of the low-cost carrier IndiGo following concerns about the snag-ridden Pratt and Whitney engines, which power the airline’s A320 Neo aircraft. While an annual audit of IndiGo was due in April, a special review will also be done of the airline’s operations and engineering departments. Indian carriers IndiGo and GoAir have been inducting the P&W engine-powered A320 Neo aircraft since 2016. The former has 72 of these planes and the latter has 30. (Governance and Institutions / Infrastructure)
49 18-04-2019 - Emotionally charged : People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting from the Anantnag seat, said 'the bodies of militants were being mutilated with chemicals during operations by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir'. She made these remarks during a public meeting in Anantnag, going to the polls in three phases from April 25. She said people were gripped by a sense of fear over the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India “due to orders like the highway ban”. (Constitution and Law / Regional Politics)
50 18-04-2019 - Azad no longer from Varanasi : Nearly a month after announcing that he would contest against PM Modi from Varanasi, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad rescinded his decision, saying his outfit will support the SP-BSP alliance. The remarks come a few days after Bahujan Samaj Party chief Maywati termed him a BJP agent and accused him of dividing the Dalit votes. The Dalit group’s founder also said the Bhim Army will support the SP-BSP alliance if it fields Satish Chandra Mishra, Ms. Mayawati’s general secretary and Brahmin face of the BSP, from the Varanasi seat. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
51 18-04-2019 - Joko Widodo : Indonesia’s Joko Widodo was on track to be re-elected leader of the world’s third-biggest democracy as unofficial results put him in a comfortable lead over firebrand ex-General Prabowo Subianto after voting closed across the 17,000-island archipelago. While official results are not due until next month, a series of so-called 'quick counts' showed Mr. Widodo as much as 11 percentage points ahead. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
52 18-04-2019 - The war in Yemen : President Donald Trump vetoed a resolution from Congress directing him to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the second such move of his presidency. The resolution was a harsh bipartisan rebuke to Mr. Trump that took the historic step of curtailing a President’s war-making powers — a step he condemned in a statement announcing his veto. The first veto was when he overrode a Congressional resolution that aimed to reverse the border emergency he declared in order to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico in March. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
53 18-04-2019 - Sudan's turmoil : Deposed ex-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was moved to Khartoum’s grim high-security Kobar prison from the presidential residence and transitional military rulers announced steps to crack down on corruption. Sudan’s military ousted Mr. Bashir after weeks of mass protests that climaxed in a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry compound. Protests are continuing and leaders say the unrest will not cease until the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) hands power to a civilian-led authority ahead of elections. (Regional Politics / Social Issues / World Politics)
54 18-04-2019 - Notre-Dame to be rebuilt : France announced it would invite architects from around the world to submit designs for replacing the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral after a devastating blaze, as the government braced for a mammoth restoration challenge. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the contest would decide whether the monument should have a new spire at all and if so, whether it should be identical to the fallen 19th-century model or be a wholly new design. (Art Culture Literature / Histroy / World Politics)
55 18-04-2019 - Mindtree billions : Twenty years after it was founded, mid-tier IT firm Mindtree crossed $1 billion in revenue during the fiscal ended March 31, 2019. Amid a hostile takeover bid from Larsen & Toubro, the board of directors of Mindtree has declared an interim dividend of 30% (Rs. 3 per share that will be paid before May 10). The board also recommended a final dividend of 40% and special dividend of 200% (Rs. 20 per equity share of face value of Rs. 10 each) to celebrate the twin achievements of exceeding $1 billion annual revenue milestone and the company turning 20. (Indian Economy)
56 18-04-2019 - RIL in Retail commerce : Reliance Industries is in talks to buy centuries-old British toy retailer Hamleys as the company expands its presence in the consumer space. Currently, Reliance Industries’ retail arm Reliance Retail has the licence to sell Hamleys’ products in India. Reliance Industries is said to be aggressively pursuing the deal and due diligence for buy-out is in advanced stages. (Indian Economy)
57 18-04-2019 - Crisil update : The board of directors of Crisil has approved the transfer of the ratings business to a 100% subsidiary of Crisil. This has been done to comply with the rules laid down by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which state that rating and non-rating businesses of credit rating agencies have to be segregated. (Indian Economy)
58 18-04-2019 - Cotton on fire : With cotton prices increasing more than 5% recently, cotton trade and textile industry associations have sought a meeting of the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) at the earliest. The CAB, which releases the official cotton data, met last in November 2018. It should meet every alternate month during the peak season. However, it has not done so this cotton season (October 2018 to September 2019). Prices of cotton have increased because of uncertainty and lack of clarity on cotton production scenario. (Agriculture / Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
59 18-04-2019 - Knitwear exports from Tiruppur : These are set to surpass Rs. 30,000 crore during the current fiscal, said Tiruppur Exporters’ Association (TEA). Tiruppur knitwear exports had returned to the growth trajectory after two years of struggle. During 2018-19, knitwear exports from Tiruppur was estimated to be Rs. 26,000 crore against Rs. 24,000 crore recorded in the year-earlier period, marking a growth of 8.3%. (Indian Economy)
60 18-04-2019 - Aggressive attacks : Ahead of the second phase of voting, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi now only talks about 'national security' because he 'stands exposed as a politician full of lies and false promises'. He emphasised that 'the real and biggest national security issue is unemployment'. 'We are fighting for India’s youth, its farmers, its small traders and businessmen, its women, its deprived sections and its poor. We are not only in opposition to Mr. Modi, but this is a fight for the very idea of India,' Rahul said. (Indian Politics)
61 17-04-2019 - EC wakes up to its powers : The SC took note of the Election Commission of India quickly changing tack on April 15 to pass a flurry of restraining orders against leading politicians for their communally provocative and divisive speeches. The EC orders came shortly after the poll body invited the court’s wrath for describing itself as “toothless” in the face of hate. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
62 17-04-2019 - Echoes of Sabarimala : Supreme Court may soon decide on entry of women into mosques. It admitted for consideration a plea by a Muslim couple to lift the ban on Muslim women’s entry into all mosques across the country. The court issued notice to the government and various bodies, including the National Commission for Women. (Constitution and Law / Religion / Social Issues)
63 17-04-2019 - Jet Airways seeks Rs.400 crore to avert shutdown : The Jet Airways board, at an emergency meeting, authorised its management, headed by CEO Vinay Dube, to engage with lenders to secure at least a few hundred crore rupees of interim funding to continue operations till a new owner comes on board. The CEO approached the lenders to release Rs. 400 crore for the sake of the employees and to prevent a shutdown. Jet requires at least Rs. 1,000 crore to meet its immediate needs. (Infrastructure / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
64 17-04-2019 - Second phase campaigning over : Campaigning ended on April 16, evening for the second phase of the 17th Lok Sabha election in 97 constituencies, spread over 12 States and a Union Territory that will vote on April 18. Counting of votes will take place on May 23, after all seven phases of voting are completed. In the second phase, all 39 constituencies of Tamil Nadu, 14 in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, 3 each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one each in Manipur, Tripura and Puducherry will be voting. (Indian Politics)
65 17-04-2019 - No sign of arson in Notre Dame cathedral blaze : The fire that tore through Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris was probably caused by accident, French prosecutors said after fire-fighters doused the last flames in the ruins overnight and the nation grieved for the destruction of one of its symbols. More than 400 firemen were needed to tame the inferno that consumed the roof and collapsed the spire of the eight-centuries-old cathedral. (History / Infrastructure / World Politics)
66 17-04-2019 - US court unseals case against Gotabaya over 'torture' : A U.S. District Court has unsealed a civil lawsuit that seeks damages from Sri Lanka’s former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for allegedly instigating and authorising torture and murder. The case was filed by Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of slain Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered a decade ago. After the complaint was filed earlier this month at a California court, Mr. Rajapaksa was served with the papers in Los Angeles, where he was on a private visit. (Constitution and Law / World Politics)
67 17-04-2019 - Sudan’s prosecutor general ousted : Sudan’s new military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan sacked the country’s prosecutor general, after protesters demanded he be fired. The Lieutenant General has appointed Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed as the country’s new acting prosecutor general, the council added. Protests had rocked Sudan for nearly four months, resulting in the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir last week after three decades of iron-fisted rule. (World Politics)
68 17-04-2019 - Sensex at all-time high : Equity indices closed at new highs as investor sentiment remained upbeat on the back of a positive trend in the global markets and strong foreign flows in the Indian equity market. The 30-share Sensex gained 369.80 points or 0.95% to close at a new high of 39,275.64. This is only the second time that the benchmark has closed above the psychological 39,000-mark — the first instance was on April 2, when it closed at 39,056.65. The broader Nifty too ended at a new high of 11,787.15 while gaining 96.80 points. (Indian Economy)
69 17-04-2019 - ‘Banks have to mark IL&FS accounts as NPAs after default’ : The RBI told the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that banks would have to classify the accounts of debt-ridden IL&FS and its group companies as NPAs in terms of its master circular and the Supreme Court’s judgment. It is the obligation of the banks to mark any loan as NPA after a default of 90 days, and they cannot be relieved from doing that, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said, adding that this was a process every bank had to follow. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
70 17-04-2019 - Export of cotton textiles to China on the rise : Texprocil - Export of cotton textiles to China is seeing an upward trend, according to The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil). Between April 2018 and February 2019, exports of cotton textiles increased 69% compared with the same period in 2017-18. This shows there is potential for textiles in China. (Indian Economy)
71 17-04-2019 - NY Times, Wall Street Journal win Pulitzers : The Times won the prestigious journalism award for explanatory reporting for its probe of the Trump family’s finances that “debunked his claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges,” the Pulitzer Prize Board announced. Coverage of Trump’s secret hush money payments to two women during his 2016 presidential campaign earned the Journal a national reporting nod. (Art Culture Literature / Social Issues / World Politics)
72 17-04-2019 - IIT-B’s lightweight palkis to ferry pilgrims to Vaishno Devi temple : Lightweight, aesthetic and ergonomic palkis (open palanquins) conceptualised by the Industrial Design Centre of the Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay (IIT-B) will now be used to carry pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi temple at Katra in Jammu and Kashmir. To being with, 53 of these newly designed palkis will be distributed among the porters by the J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik. (Science and Technology)
73 17-04-2019 - Lakes filled with liquid methane on Titan : Scientists have provided the most comprehensive look to date at one of the solar system’s most exotic features - lakes made of stuff like liquid methane. Using data obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft before that mission ended in 2017 with a deliberate plunge into Saturn, the scientists found that some of frigid Titan’s lakes of liquid hydrocarbons in this region are surprisingly deep while others may be shallow and seasonal. (Science and Technology)
74 17-04-2019 - Ambani and the Saudis : In what will be a mega-deal between two corporate behemoths, Saudi Aramco, the world’s most profitable company in history, is learned to be in 'serious discussions' to acquire up to 25% in the refining and petrochemicals businesses of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), India’s largest company. While Saudi Aramco, which is also the world’s largest oil exporter, is known to have first shown interest in Reliance about four months ago, talks gathered momentum following the visit of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to India in February, during which he met RIL chairman and India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. (Infrastructure / People and Personalities / World Economy)
75 17-04-2019 - Jobs lost to demonetisation : The State of Working India (SWI) 2019 report, released by the Bengaluru-based Azim Premji University, has said that five million men lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018. The beginning of the decline in jobs coincides with demonetisation in November 2016, although no direct causal relationship can be established based only on these trends, add the report. It found that in addition to rising unemployment among the higher educated, less educated workers have also seen job losses and reduced work opportunities since 2016. The report on India’s labour market is based on the Consumer Pyramids Survey of the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIECPDX). (Indian Economy)
76 16-04-2019 - Notre-Dame cathedral on fire : The iconic Paris landmark Notre-Dame cathedral was shockingly engulfed in a massive blaze. A fire gutted the roof of the Paris landmark, stunning France and the world, but firefighters managed to save the shell of the stone structure and its two main bell towers from collapse. Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the eight centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof. (History / World Politics)
77 16-04-2019 - Record high trade deficit of India in 2018-19 : India’s exports rose to a five-month high of 11% in March on account of higher growth mainly in pharma, chemicals and engineering sectors, marking the total exports for 2018-19 at $331 billion. Merchandise exports in March stood at $32.55 billion as against $29.32 billion in the same month last year. This is the best growth rate for exports since October 2018, when shipments grew by 17.86%. Imports rose by 1.44% to $43.44 billion in March 2019. Overall trade deficit touched a record high at $176.42 billion. It was at $ 137.7 billion in 2014-15. (World Economy)
78 16-04-2019 - EC curbs campaigning by Yogi, Mayawati, Maneka and Azam : The Election Commission of India (ECI) imposed time restrictions on the campaigning of four senior politicians for violating the model code of conduct in Uttar Pradesh. The EC put a 72-hour prohibition on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a 48-hour ban on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, beginning at 6 a.m. on April 16. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
79 16-04-2019 - Plea in SC seeks entry of women into mosques : A couple has moved the Supreme Court against the prohibition of entry of Muslim women into mosques, terming the bar as illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of their dignity. "There should not be any gender discrimination. Allow Muslim women to pray in all mosques, cutting across denominations. There is no such gender discrimination to offer worship in Mecca, the holy city. The faithful, both men and women, together circle the Kaaba," the Pune-based couple, Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad and Zuber Ahmad, submitted in their petition. (Constitution and Law / Religion)
80 16-04-2019 - More GSLV satellite launches coming : The Union Cabinet approved five more GSLV satellite launch vehicles for the period 2021-24 under the next phase 4 of the ongoing GSLV continuation programme. One of them could be used for the second Mars mission which is being considered. The GSLV series is the heaviest launchers used for the biggest satellites by ISRO. (Science and Technology)
81 16-04-2019 - Indian bourses shine in derivatives : Indian exchanges do not offer trading in exotic derivative instruments like their counterparts in the developed markets in the U.S. and Europe, but that has not stopped the bourses from becoming one of the largest derivative trading centres globally. The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and the International Options Market Association (IOMA) reports show that the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the BSE accounted for 96% of the currency derivatives trading in the Asia-Pacific region in 2018. (Indian Economy)
82 16-04-2019 - Pete Buttigieg, gay Mayor, launches Presidential bid : Pete from the ‘rust belt’ in America launched a presidential bid. The gay, liberal, Mayor of a small American city in the conservative bastion of Indiana, officially launched his presidential bid, joining a crowded field of Democrats vying for their party’s nomination in 2020. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
83 16-04-2019 - Rust belt politics in the US : The 37-year-old Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan war veteran Pete Buttigieg's launching a Presidential bid brought focus back on the rust-belt. This is the region where the decline of industries such as steel and automobile manufacturing has hurt local economies. (Social Issues)
84 16-04-2019 - Boeing should fix, rebrand its 737 MAX plane : President Donald Trump urged Boeing Co to fix and 'rebrand' its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes, as regulators worldwide continue to work with the planemaker to review its grounded best-selling aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been meting major airlines and convened a joint review with aviation regulators from other countries, while federal prosecutors, the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general’s office and a blue-ribbon panel are reviewing the plane’s certification. (Infrastructure / World Economy)
85 16-04-2019 - Indian squad for World Cup announced : Tamil Nadu’s Vijay Shankar will bat at No. 4 in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be played in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14. The selectors found the basket virtually empty for the crucial slot after openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, and No. 3 in Virat Kohli, and in the discouraging circumstances, the selectors chose Vijay Shankar, who has not batted at No. 4 at all. (Entertainment Games and Sports)
86 16-04-2019 - A normal monsoon ahead : According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), monsoon rain in India for 2019 is likely to be 'normal'. However, uncertainty clouds this optimism as the agency’s own assessment suggests a significant probability for the rain to fall in the ‘below normal’ category. Monsoon rainfall this year is forecast to be 96% of the Long Period Average (or 89 cm, which is a 50-year average of India’s monsoon rains). (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / Indian Politics)
87 16-04-2019 - More GSLVs : The Union Cabinet approved five more GSLV satellite launch vehicles for the period 2021-24 under the next phase 4 of the ongoing GSLV continuation programme. One of them could be used for the second Mars mission which is being considered. Sanctioned in 2003, the programme is currently in its third phase. The allocation of Rs. 2729.13 crore includes the cost of the launchers, augmentation of the facilities, programme management, and launch campaign. The Indian Space Research Organisation uses the GSLV, the second of its three launchers, to put 2,000-kg class of communication and other satellites to a GEO (or geosynchronous) orbit about 36,000 km away. (Science and Technology)
88 16-04-2019 - China's dytopian AI hell : The Chinese government has drawn wide international condemnation for its harsh crackdown on ethnic Muslims in its western region, including holding as many as one million of them in detention camps. Now, documents and interviews show that authorities are also using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling. (Social Issues)
89 16-04-2019 - Open to tie-up with AAP in Delhi but time running out: Rahul. After over a month of going back and forth over an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal of doing a 'U-turn' on the alliance. "An alliance between the Congress and the AAP in Delhi would mean the rout of the BJP. The Congress is willing to give up four seats to the AAP to ensure this," Mr. Gandhi tweeted. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
90 16-04-2019 - A human heart, printed : Scientists in Israel unveiled a 3D print of a heart with human tissue and vessels, calling it a first and a 'major medical breakthrough' that advances possibilities for transplants. The heart marked 'the first time anyone has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,' said Tel Aviv University’s Tal Dvir, who led the project. But the scientists said many challenges remain before fully working 3D printed hearts will be available for transplant into patients. (Science and Technology)
91 15-04-2019 - Not happy with EVMs : Leaders of major Opposition parties said that they would approach the Supreme Court again to demand verification of at least 50% of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The parties said they had raised the issue with the Election Commission many times, but it did not take the matter 'seriously.' (Constitution and Law / Indian Politics)
92 15-04-2019 - Jet Airways problems continuing : Jet Airways pilots, engineers and cabin crew unions are set to jointly meet the airline management in what they term 'another attempt to get the airline flying.' As the midnight deadline set by the pilots union for clearing pending dues and sharing details of the revival plan drew closer, the pilots body, the National Aviators Guild (NAG) said it had 'reviewed' the earlier 'unanimous decision' of pilots to stop flying from April 15, if demands remained unmet. (Infrastructure)
93 15-04-2019 - An ungainly Jallianwala Bagh controversy : Punjab cM Amarinder Singh hit back at PM Modi’s criticism of him over the Jallianwala Bagh event organised by the Central government, accusing him of playing politics on the sombre occasion of the centenary. Capt. Singh said the 'OM Minister was trying to mislead people with his politically motivated statements and had insulted the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh, first by not being present at any of the State’s commemorative events and then by choosing to politicise the occasion.' (History / Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
94 15-04-2019 - IAF procurements : The Indian Air Force (IAF) has several proposals to be put up before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) when it meets in June after the Lok Sabha elections. Among them is the long-delayed deal for C-295 transport aircraft which are meant to replace the ageing Avro fleet. There is no DAC meeting scheduled due to the ongoing elections. The other major IAF deals pending approval are the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for 114 fighter jets and the fresh proposal for six mid-air refuellers cancelled earlier. (Defence and Military)
95 15-04-2019 - Khalistani extremism in Canada : Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau administration’s decision to remove all references to Khalistani extremism in its 2018 report on terrorist threats was a threat to Indian and global security. He said that ruling Canadian Liberal Party’s knee-jerk decision was clearly aimed at protecting its political interests in an election year, which could have serious consequences for Indo-Canadian relations. (Terrorism / World Politics)
96 15-04-2019 - The world’s largest aeroplane : This place, with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines, made the first test flight in California. The mega jet, called Stratolaunch, carried out its maiden voyage over the Mojave desert. It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites, which will be a more flexible way to deploy satellites than vertical takeoff rockets. The aircraft's wing span is 117 m, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380. It hit a top speed of 304 km per hour and reached an altitude of 17,000 feet (5,182 metres). (Infrastructure / Science and Technology)
97 15-04-2019 - Medical report : India has a shortage of an estimated 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses, say scientists who found that the lack of staff who are properly trained in administering antibiotics is preventing patients from accessing life-saving drugs. The report by the U.S.-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) said that even when antibiotics are available, patients are often unable to afford them. High out-of-pocket medical costs to the patient are compounded by limited government spending for health services. (Science and Technology / Social Issues)
98 15-04-2019 - That big black trunk : The Congress asked the Election Commission to order a 'thorough probe' into the allegation that a 'suspicious black trunk' was carried on the helicopter that Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew in to Chitradurga in Karnataka for the election campaign. Congress said the Prime Minister should come clean on the issue and the EC should immediately find out what was inside the trunk. (Indian Politics)
99 15-04-2019 - Goodwill gesture : Pakistan has released another 100 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture amidst tensions between the two countries after the Pulwama terror attack. The fishermen released were part of the second batch of 360 Indian prisoners Pakistan has promised to set free in four phases this month. Pakistan released the first batch of 100 Indian fishermen on April 7. The fishermen, who were released from Malir Jail in Karachi, were being taken to Lahore by train, officials said. They will be handed over to the Indian authorities at the Wagah border. (Regional Politics)
100 15-04-2019 - Assange ready to cooperate : Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the U.S., his lawyer said. “We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” Jennifer Robinson told. 'The key issue at the moment is U.S. extradition, which we have warned about for many years,' she added. Mr. Assange is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador’s London Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. (People and Personalities)
101 15-04-2019 - Plane hits choppers : A small plane operated by a private airline in Nepal hit a parked helicopter while preparing to take off in a mountainous area near Mount Everest, killing three people including a co-pilot. The Twin Otter aircraft crashed into the helicopter at Tenzing Hillary Airport at Lukla, known as the gateway to the world’s highest mountain, 125 km northeast of capital Kathmandu. The plane, operated by Summit Air, was not carrying passengers as it was trying to leave what is considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous airports. (Infrastructure)
102 15-04-2019 - The Libyan mess : Fighting in Libya has killed 121 people since Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive earlier this month to take the Libyan capital. In clashes between Field Marshal Haftar’s forces and those of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), both sides have proclaimed 'advances' but neither appears to have taken a substantial lead on the ground in recent days. With more than 560 people wounded since the fighting started on April 4, WHO said it was sending more medical supplies and staff to Tripoli. The mounting violence has sparked global alarm about the oil-rich country that has been in turmoil since NATO-backed forces overthrew former dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011. (Defence and Military / Regional Politics)
103 15-04-2019 - Uighur sanctuary : About 3,000 Uighurs have found sanctuary in Australia. But as some of them draw attention to China’s camps, they are putting their adopted homeland in an awkward position, pressing it to speak out against its largest trading partner. Former detainees say China’s camps are meant to root out devotion to Islam and replace it with loyalty to the state. Uighurs have lobbied Parliament to act, circulating petitions and holding regular protests, chanting: “China, out! Out, out, out!" (Religion / World Politics)
104 15-04-2019 - Tiger Woods is back : He won the 83rd Masters, capturing his 15th Major title to cement an epic return from scandal and injuries that once threatened his career. Ending an 11-year Major drought, the 43-year-old American superstar — who underwent spinal fusion in 2017 fearing chronic back pain would deny him life’s simple joys much less golf wins — seized his first Major title since the 2008 US Open. Woods fired a final-round two-under par 70 to finish on 13-under 275 for a one-shot victory to capture a $2.07 million top prize and the Green Jacket symbolising Masters supremacy. (Entertainment Games and Sports, People and Personalities)
105 15-04-2019 - ADR on criminals in politics : A total of 13% of the candidates contesting the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu scheduled for April 18 have criminal cases pending against them, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). An analysis by ADR of the affidavits submitted by 802 candidates shows 8% or 67 of them face strong criminal cases. The number of candidates contesting the polls are 845. (Indian Politics)
106 14-04-2019 - Electoral Bonds decision : Rejecting the government’s plea to steer clear of the electoral bonds scheme for political funding, the Supreme Court passed an interim order directing political parties to provide complete information to the Election Commission in sealed covers on every single donor and contribution received till May 15. The court said that the last date of their issuance should be filed before May 30, 2019. (Constitution and Law / Indian Politics)
107 14-04-2019 - Jet Airways back in game? Etihad and Naresh Goyal are learnt to be among seven entities who have submitted expressions of interest to buy a stake in Jet Airways even as the airline only flew 11 planes and the PMO held a meeting to discuss the situation. The other five bidders are California-based investment firm TPG; Phoenix-based private equity firm Indigo Partners, which owns budget airline Frontier; Redcliffe and Think Equity as a consortium; two individuals together and a senior EVP of Jet with two others. The airline will be operating only six-seven planes over the weekend, up to April 15 afternoon. (Infrastructure)
108 14-04-2019 - Maneka Gandhi on Muslims : Union Minister Maneka Gandhi set off a political storm when a video clip went viral on social media, showing her telling Muslims that if they did not vote for her, she might not be responsive to their requests later. The District Election Officer has since served notice on Ms. Gandhi, giving her three days to respond. The six-time BJP MP is contesting from Sultanpur in U.P. (Indian Politics)
109 14-04-2019 - Economy update : According to latest data, Industrial growth slowed in February to 0.1% owing to an across-the-board slowdown, while consumer inflation quickened in March. Growth in the Index of Industrial Production slowed in February, from 1.44% in January. Mining and quarrying saw growth slowing to 2% from 3.92% over the same period. Manufacturing saw a contraction of 0.31% in February from a 1.05% growth in January. Separate data showed retail inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), had quickened to a 5-month high in March to 2.86%. (Indian Economy)
110 14-04-2019 - Political repercussion of Electoral Bond decision : The Congress welcomed the Supreme Court order on electoral bonds and took a dig at the ruling BJP by alleging that it will 'expose their nexus with the suited booted friends.' The principal Opposition party said the order would bring in transparency. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said 95% of the electoral bonds went to the BJP in the past one year and has seen a growth of over 62%. (Indian Politics)
111 14-04-2019 - Army veterans write to President : Over 150 veterans, including eight former Service chiefs, have written to President Ram Nath Kovind expressing anguish at the 'politicisation of the Army' in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election and seeking his intervention. However, two former Service chiefs denied signing it and Rashtrapati Bhavan sources denied receiving such a letter. (Defence and Military / Indian Politics)
112 14-04-2019 - Trump on Julian Assange : President Donald Trump declared that 'I know nothing about WikiLeaks' after its founder Julian Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to face charges, a stark contrast to how candidate Trump showered praise on Mr. Assange’s organisation night after night during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. (People and Personalities)
113 14-04-2019 - Terrror attack in Pakistan : At least 20 people were killed and 48 injured when a blast hit the Hazarganji market in Quetta, Pakistan. Nine people from the Hazara community and one Frontier Corps soldier were among the dead. Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was deeply saddened by the attack. “I have asked for an immediate inquiry & increased security for the people. Prayers go to the families of the victims & for early recovery of the injured.” (Terrorism)
114 14-04-2019 - Malaysia okay for BRI : China agreed to cut by a third the cost of a rail project in Malaysia, a move that seemed to acknowledge mounting international scepticism about its continent-spanning infrastructure programme. Malaysian officials announced a new agreement with China Communications Construction Co., a state-owned company, that would allow the rail project to go forward, nearly a year after the Malaysian government suspended it. The project, meant to connect ports on Malaysia’s east and west coasts, is now expected to cost $11 billion. (Infrastructure / World Politics)
115 14-04-2019 - Taliban announce fresh attacks : The Taliban announced the start of its spring offensive despite talking peace with the United States and ahead of a significant gathering of Afghans meant to discuss resolutions to the protracted war and an eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country. The insurgents released a lengthy missive in five languages, including English, saying the fighting would continue while foreign forces remain in Afghanistan. The announcement is something the militant group does every year, even though Taliban attacks never really ceased during the harsh winter months. (Terrorism)
116 14-04-2019 - IT industry updates : Tech major Infosys posted a net profit of Rs. 4,074 crore, beating the market expectation of Rs. 3,956 crore, during the fourth quarter against Rs. 3,690 crore a year ago, marking a year-on-year growth of 10.4%. The company’s total revenues for the quarter increased to Rs. 21,539 crore, from Rs. 18,083 crore, a 19.11% year-on-year increase. Analysts had earlier predicted revenues at Rs. 21,465 crore. The company reported a slight decline in margins to 21.4% in the quarter, as against 24.7% in the same quarter last year. (Indian Economy)
117 14-04-2019 - IT industry update : India’s largest software exporter, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has reported a 17.7% increase in its fourth quarter consolidated net profit to Rs. 8,126 crore, riding on an 18.5% increase in revenue to Rs. 38,010 crore. Digital services contributed 31% to revenue, growing at 46.4% over the same period in the previous year. The company closed FY19 with 22% growth in yearly profit to Rs. 31,472 crore and a 19% jump in annual revenues to Rs. 1,46,463 crore. However, TCS’ operating margins for the fourth quarter contracted by 31 basis points to 25.1% as the software major reported an operating income of Rs. 9,537 crore. (Indian Economy)
118 14-04-2019 - Salaries are up : Bengaluru based tech bellwether Infosys has announced an average pay hike of 6% to a majority of its employees based in India. The company has also decided to give a 1%-1.5% wage increment to its workers in the U.S. On the sidelines of the company’s quarterly performance meet here on Friday, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Pravin Rao said the company had decided to cover 85% of its employees in India under the salary increment plan, effective from April 1. About 2,500 promotions had been rolled out. (Indian Economy)
119 14-04-2019 - Economy update : Industrial growth slowed in February to 0.1%, driven by an across-the-board slowdown, especially in key sectors like manufacturing, mining, capital goods, and infrastructure, according to latest official data. Separate data showed that retail inflation quickened in March to 2.86% from 2.57% in February, driven in large part by the food and fuel sectors. (Indian Economy)
120 14-04-2019 - Political alliances : The Aam Aadmi Party and the Jannayak Janta Party formed an alliance for the Lok Sabha election in Haryana and announced that the latter would contest seven of the 10 seats in the State. The distribution of constituencies and the names of the candidates would be declared later. The JJP was launched in December 2018 by Dushyant Chautala, grandson of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. (Indian Politics)
121 12-04-2019 - LS election polling begins : The first phase of the Lok Sabha election in 91 constituencies across 18 States and two Union Territories and the Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh were marred by stray incidents of violence, with at least two deaths reported in Andhra Pradesh and one in Jammu and Kashmir. Fifteen EVMs were damaged. Polling continued till late in the night in Andhra Pradesh owing to malfunctioning EVMs in several booths. The ECI allowed voters who were in the queue at 6 p.m. to exercise their franchise. West Bengal recorded 81% polling, while Bihar recorded 50%, the lowest among the 20 States. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
122 12-04-2019 - Electoral Bonds : BJP received Rs. 210 crore through electoral bonds, or 95% of the total amount received by all political parties through this mechanism, in 2017-2018, the Election Commission informed the Supreme Court. In all, BJP received Rs. 997 crore and Rs. 990 crore through donations in 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively, five times more than what Congress got. Appearing for the EC, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi gave the information to a bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, which was hearing a petition by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking transparency in anonymous donations through electoral bonds, alleging that they encourage corruption and black money. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
123 12-04-2019 - Wikileaks founder arrested : The British police dragged Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after Ecuador abruptly revoked his seven-year asylum, paving the way for his extradition to the U.S. for involvement in one of the biggest-ever leaks of classified information. The frail-looking WikiLeaks founder, with white hair and a long beard, was carried head first out of the Ecuadorian embassy by at least seven men to a waiting police van, after shouting “This is unlawful, I’m not leaving.” U.S. prosecutors said they had charged Mr. Assange with conspiracy in trying to access a classified government computer with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
124 12-04-2019 - Solar e-Waste : By 2050, India will likely stare at a pile of a new category of electronic waste, namely solar e-waste, says a study made public. Currently, India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell manufacturers to recycle or dispose waste from this sector. India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste volume is estimated to grow to 200,000 tonnes by 2030 and around 1.8 million tonnes by 2050. India is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, buoyed by the government’s commitment to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022. So far, India has installed solar cells for about 28 GW. (Energy / Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
125 12-04-2019 - Enrol deal enquiry : The Supreme Court said it is quarter of a century too late to order a judicial inquiry into the “serious infirmities” detected in the Enron-promoted Dabhol power project in Maharashtra. The judgment thus “closed” a petition filed by the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) against a Bombay High Court decision. The High Court had concluded that though the actions of public officials and governments were “questionable”, there was no material to justify allegations of corruption, bribery and fraud involving politicians and top bureaucrats in setting up the power plant. (Constitution and Law)
126 12-04-2019 - Pak wants the Kohinoor : Pakistan claimed the Kohinoor diamond, which is in the collection of famous jewels of the British royals. The country’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the jewel should be returned to Pakistan. “Fully endorse the demand that the British Empire must apologise to the nations of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Bengal famine... these tragedies are a scar on the face of Britain, also Koh-e-Noor, must be returned to Lahore museum, where it belongs,” he said. (History / Regional Politics)
127 12-04-2019 - Wikileaks founder and US : The U.S. prosecutors announced charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, accusing him of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history. Mr. Assange, arrested by British police in London and carried out of Ecuador’s Embassy, faces up to five years in prison on the American charge. His arrest paved the way for his possible extradition to the U.S. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
128 12-04-2019 - Sudan regime gone : President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years, was overthrown and arrested by the armed forces. Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf announced a two-year period of military rule to be followed by presidential elections. He said Mr. Bashir, 75, was being held in a “safe place” and a military council would now run the country. He announced a state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the Constitution. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
129 12-04-2019 - Israel's final result : The final ballots of Israel’s election were being tallied, with another nationalist faction tantalisingly close to crossing the 3.25% electoral threshold needed to get into Parliament. Should the New Right party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked break in, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comfortable parliamentary majority would grow even larger. The final result depended on the votes of soldiers, diplomats, prisoners and hospital patients who vote in unusual circumstances. Mr. Netanyahu managed to cruise to a relatively easy victory that secures him a fourth consecutive term in office, and fifth overall. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
130 12-04-2019 - Exposure to Zee group hurting : 14 schemes with Essel Group exposure of Rs. 475 crore will mature in April, but Essel has said resolution for repayment will be done by Sept. The redemption issues faced by fixed maturity plans (FMPs) of mutual funds due to their exposure towards Essel Group entities have only begun as there are nearly 80 FMP schemes with such exposure towards the corporate entity. The cumulative amount at stake is about Rs. 1,400 crore. (Indian Economy)
131 12-04-2019 - Skeletal service at Jet Airways : Airline sources said that since the midnight of April 10-11, Jet Airways had flown just 14 aircraft. Jet Airways suspended all its west-bound international flights from India beginning April 11 evening till April 12 morning, citing operational issues. The development came on a day when the airline grounded 10 more aircraft. With this, the airline’s fleet is believed to have fallen below 20 aircraft, a number crucial for Jet Airways to retain its right to fly international. (Infrastructure)
132 12-04-2019 - Insider trading case settled : A former chief executive officer of a subsidiary of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, along with his wife, has settled an insider trading matter with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), after the regulator found that the couple allegedly traded in the shares of Ranbaxy Laboratories based on unpublished price sensitive information. The capital markets regulator sent a show-cause notice in August 2017 to Abhay Gandhi and his wife Kiran Gandhi, after it found that the duo had bought a total of 7,224 shares of Ranbaxy Laboratories between February and March 2014 and sold the shares in April 2014. (Governance and Institutions)
133 12-04-2019 - Vedanta plant at Tuticorin : Even as the Sterlite Copper imbroglio has become a major election issue for political parties in Tamil Nadu, Vedanta Ltd. has moved the Supreme Court with a special leave petition (SLP) seeking interim access to undertake maintenance activities at its plant in Thoothukudi. The SLP also urged the apex court “to grant all approvals, permits, licences, certificates etc. that stood withdrawn or cancelled by the various statutory authorities.” (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / Governance and Institutions)
134 12-04-2019 - A new DNA study method : Scientists have been using genetics to study wild animals for several years now. However, a new genetic method developed by a team, including scientists from Bengaluru’s National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), hopes to make studying as well as conserving wild species quicker, easier and cost-effective by deriving information from animal sources containing extremely low-quality DNA — including faeces and cooked meat. Their method, described in the study published in the international journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, relies on identifying multiple, short portions of DNA segments in a single experiment (a ‘multiplex PCR’), followed by ‘next-generation sequencing’, in which multiple fragments of DNA can be decoded simultaneously, and several times, in an automated process. (Science and Technology)
135 12-04-2019 - Making huge promises : The BJP will scrap Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and introduce a National Register for Citizens across the country if voted to power again, party president Amit Shah said. He was speaking at rallies in Kalimpong in Darjeeling and Raiganj in North Dinajpur. At the rally in Kalimpong, he said, “Gorkhas should not be scared [of the NRC]. Everyone will have citizenship if the Narendra Modi government comes back, which includes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians. They are refugees and they will get citizenship status.” This statement was considered shocking by many. (Indian Politics / Religion)
136 11-04-2019 - The first ever Black Hole image : Scientists revealed the first ever glimpse of a supermassive black hole, as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) released the first results of its findings in a 'ground-breaking' discovery. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a network of eight linked telescopes. The black hole was found in a galaxy called M87. The collaboration of scientists reveals what is called the 'event horizon', the boundary at the edge of a black hole where the gravitational pull is so strong that no conventional physical laws apply and nothing can escape. (Science and Technology)
137 11-04-2019 - EC examining report on Namo TV : The Election Commission said it was examining a report submitted by the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on 'Namo TV'. 'Some clarifications were sought from CEO Delhi regarding pre-certification of political advertisement on 'Namo TV' by the media certification and monitoring committee. These clarifications have now been received and are being processed in the Commission. (Indian Politics)
138 11-04-2019 - Over 150 social media posts found violating poll code : In nearly a month after the model code of conduct came into force, election officials monitoring social media platforms have identified more than 150 posts violating it. The violations include advertisements paid for by candidates and those that have been reported to the police for being offensive and not in public interest. (Governance and Institutions)
139 11-04-2019 - Brexit Delay offered : Britain won’t be leaving the EU on April 12, after Britain and the EU agreed to an extension till the end of October – with the option of Britain leaving earlier if a deal were agreed to in Parliament before then. The period is longer than the extension till June 30 that Prime Minister Theresa May had sought but is shorter than some of the possible dates that had been considered – including a possible delay of a year. (Regional Politics)
140 11-04-2019 - Vedanta crisis : Zambian villagers get court’s nod to sue Vedanta Corporation. A group of over 1,800 Zambian citizens can take Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), to court in the U.K. over allegations relating to the pollution of a river there, after Britain’s Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the company to challenge the jurisdiction of British courts. (World Economy)
141 11-04-2019 - NPAs in India : According to IMF, stock of non-performing assets remained high in India, and more progress was needed. There continues to be a high stock of non-performing assets (NPAs) in India, and there is a need for further progress. IMF remarks came at the release of the multilateral institution’s April 2019 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) as part of the World Bank IMF Spring Meetings. (World Economy)
142 11-04-2019 - Singapore Open update : P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth eased into the second round of the $355,000 Singapore Open with straight-game wins over their respective rivals. Sindhu, seeded fourth, took just 27 minutes to get the better of Indonesia’s Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky 21-9, 21-7. Sixth seed Saina tamed another Indonesian in Yulia Yosephin Susanto 21-16, 21-11. (Entertainment Games and Sports)
143 11-04-2019 - Movie on Modi on hold : The Election Commission blocked the release of the film 'PM Narendra Modi' till further orders against the backdrop of the commission’s blanket ban on screening of biopics that help to promote a political entity or any individual connected to it during the operation of the model code of conduct. The generic order banning release/screening of biopics on political personalities during the polls acknowledged a need for the EC for ensuring a level playing field. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
144 11-04-2019 - Rafale Deal updates : In a shot in the arm for the opposition on the eve of the first phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections, the Supreme Court rejected the Centre’s objections to the apex court scrutinising leaked Rafale documents and decided to hear petitions seeking review of its clean chit to the jet fighter deal. The court’s decision, four months after it upheld the NDA government’s deal to procure 36 fighter jets from France after scrutinising the decision-making process and pricing, comes as a boost to Congress as the petitioners had claimed substantial wrongdoing in the Rs 59,000-crore contract. (Constitution and Law)
145 11-04-2019 - Build Memory : Scientists reported that brief sessions of specialised brain stimulation could reverse steady decline in working memory, at least temporarily. The stimulation targeted key regions in the brain and synchronized neural circuits in those areas, effectively tuning them to one another, as an orchestra conductor might tune the wind section to the strings. The findings, reported in ‘Nature Neuroscience’, provide the strongest support yet for a method called transcranial alternating current stimulation, or tACS, as a potential therapy for memory deficits, whether from age-related decline, brain injury or, perhaps, creeping dementia. (Science and Technology)
146 11-04-2019 - Unusual Northern Lights : Those observing the Northern Lights in Norway over the weekend were treated not only to the spectacular aurora, but also reported strange configurations of colourful lights moving through the sky. Theses stunning geometric lights over the Norwegian Sea on April 5 were the result of an experiment designed to study the processes inside the Earth’s 'polar cusp', where the planet’s magnetic field lines bend down through the atmosphere, creating the famous 'auroras'. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / Science and Technology)
147 11-04-2019 - General elections 2019 : First phase of voting begins in 10 States. The first phase of voting for the 2019 General elections begins with voters from 91 out of the 543 constituencies spread across 20 States and Union Territories set to choose their parliamentarians. Elections are being held in a single phase in 10 States including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep. (Indian Politics)
148 11-04-2019 - Zee Group Financial Troubles : Financial troubles at the Zee (Essel) group have started to hurt investors in fixed maturity plans (FMPs) of leading mutual fund (MF) houses. Kotak MF told its investors that it would not be able to pay those who are invested in FMPs, which matured this week, because of exposure to debt papers issued by companies belonging to the Zee group. HDFC MF, which also has exposure to Zee group’s debt papers, told investors in some of its FMPs that it was extending the date of redemption by a little over a year to April 29, 2020. (Indian Economy)
149 11-04-2019 - Jet Airways crisis : Lenders to Jet Airways have agreed to sweeten the terms for sale of the troubled airline and have extended until April 12 the last date for potential bidders to submit their expressions of interest (Eo-Is). Those who qualify must submit their binding bids by April 30. Lenders have also allowed proposed applicants to submit their bids through email and subsequently forward the hard copies of the required documents by April 14. The earlier deadline for submitting an EoI ended on April 10. (Indian Economy / Infrastructure)
150 11-04-2019 - Andhra Pradesh elections : Voting for 175 Assembly seats and 25 Parliamentary seats in Andhra Pradesh is being held simultaneously in a single-phase election on Thursday. It is essentially a three-cornered fight in the State — the ruling Telugu Desam Party seeking a re-election, Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress emerging as a strong contender, and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena the new entrant. (Indian Politics)
151 09-04-2019 - Navy chief appointment : Andaman and Nicobar Command chief Vice Admiral Bimal Verma has moved court against the NDA government’s 'arbitrary and whimsical decision' to supersede him and appoint Eastern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Navy chief after Admiral Sunil Lanba retires on May 31. The move by Vice Admiral Verma, who was commissioned into the Navy six months before Vice Admiral Singh in January 1980, is the first instance in recent memory of a top officer taking legal recourse against his supersession for a military chief ’s post. (Defence and Military)
152 09-04-2019 - Manifesto of BJP for 2019 : The BJP released its 'Sankalp Patra' or manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, keeping national security and its core issues of Uniform Civil Code, abolition of Article 370 and the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya front and centre, welded to welfare schemes like the universalisation of the Rs. 6,000 per annum income support for farmers. The party also affirmed its commitment to get the Citizenship Amendment Bill cleared through both Houses of Parliament and a nationwide National Registry of Citizenship, and the annulment of Article 35A which the party termed “discriminatory” towards Kashmiri women and non-permanent residents of the State. (Indian Politics)
153 09-04-2019 - Mood of the nation : As the nation gears up for the first round of the Lok Sabha election, the ruling BJP and the NDA seem to enjoy a distinct advantage over its opponents. The CSDS-Lokniti Pre-Election Survey indicates that the national mood appears to be to give the ruling party/alliance a second term. Over the last one year, the ruling party appears to have overcome the emerging mood of anti-incumbency and turned the tide in its favour. Each region appears to have its own trend and political direction. But such surveys have a reputation of often going wrong! (Indian Politics)
154 09-04-2019 - SC, EC, VVPAT : With opposition parties persistently calling for an enhanced paper trail count, the SC ordered the Election Commission to increase by five times the number of EVMs whose vote count must be matched with VVPAT slips in each assembly segment. This could, on an average, mean 35-40 VVPAT counts per parliamentary constituency, and can delay results in elections by around four hours, raising the possibility of formal declaration of winners and losers coming late into the night of May 23 when counting of votes is scheduled. (Constitution and Law / Indian Politics)
155 09-04-2019 - Dhanush has arrived : The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) handed over the first batch of six Dhanush artillery guns to the Army. Dhanush is the indigenously upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured in the 1980s. The first Dhanush regiment with 18 guns is expected to be ready by the end of next year. Dhanush is a 155 mm, 45-calibre towed artillery gun with a range of 36 km and has demonstrated a range of 38 km with specialised ammunition. It is an upgrade of the existing 155m, 39 calibre Bofors FH 77 gun. It is compatible with all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) 155 mm ammunition system. All 114 guns are expected to be delivered within four years. (Defence and Military)
156 09-04-2019 - F-15 was downed : The Indian Air Force (IAF) presented two radar images of the aerial engagement with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on February 27 to prove that a Pakistani F-16 was shot down by the MiG-21 piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The images from the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) show the tracks of PAF jets and one IAF jet in combat and in the second image, one of the PAF jet disappeared. Analysis of electronic emissions has shown that the aircraft picked up by the ELINT intercepts from AWACS and radio transcripts indicated F-16s in the area directly in front of Wg.Cdr. Varthaman’s aircraft. (Defence and Military / Regional Politics)
157 09-04-2019 - SC refuses to look into film matter : The Supreme Court refused to intervene in the release of the film Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleged to be 'blatant propaganda' dressed up as a work of art, in violation of the poll code. A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said the court could not step in unless it was clear about what the film was 'seeking to depict' and what the petitioner, Congress activist Aman Panwar, was objecting to. 'How can we order anything without knowing what we are ordering about,' Chief Justice Gogoi said. (Constitution and Law / Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
158 09-04-2019 - Another head lost in White House : US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned. Ms. Nielsen will, however, stay on until April 10 after which Kevin McAleenan, the current Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will take charge as Acting Homeland Security Secretary. Ms. Nielson, who has had a rocky working relationship with President Donald Trump, handed in her resignation at a time when there were growing signs of division within the administration over how to handle the swelling numbers at the U.S.-Mexico border. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
159 09-04-2019 - India Sri Lanka military ties : Sri Lanka has sought enhanced military training from India. Visiting Indian Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra called on President Sirisena, and wide-ranging matters, including bilateral defence cooperation between the neighbouring countries and regional security, were discussed. Currently, over 60% of Sri Lanka’s military personnel pursue their young officers’ course, junior and senior command courses in India. Meanwhile, 'Exercise Mitra Shakti', the sixth edition of the joint military training exercise between the Indian Army and the Sri Lankan Army, concluded in Badulla district, in Sri Lanka’s Central Province. (Defence and Military / Regional Politics)
160 09-04-2019 - US versus Iran : President Donald Trump announced the United States is designating Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organisation. Mr. Trump said in a statement that the 'unprecedented' move 'recognises the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.' The IRGC was formed after the 1979 revolution with a mission to defend the clerical regime. (Defence and Military / Terrorism / World Politics)
161 09-04-2019 - Jet Airways is sinking : State Bank of India (SBI) invited bids from strategic and financial investors for stake sale in the cash-strapped Jet Airways. SBI, the lead bank of the consortium of lenders of Jet Airways (India) Ltd., has offered bidders a maximum of 75% stake (8,51,98,037 shares). The minimum stake on offer is 31.2% (3,45,42,383 shares). SBI Capital Markets Ltd., on behalf of the SBI, has invited expression of interest (EoI) for a change in control and management of Jet Airways. The last date for receipt of EoI is April 10. Selected bidders are required to submit binding bids by April 30, 2019. (Indian Economy)
162 09-04-2019 : ICC World Cup 2019 : The Indian squad for the ICC World Cup will be selected on April 15 in Mumbai. The Committee of Administrators (CoA), along with three BCCI office-bearers, met in the Capital to discuss various issues related to the IPL and Cricket Operations. The last date for announcing the World Cup squads is April 23 but the BCCI has decided to announce it eight days prior to the scheduled date. The World Cup will begin on May 30 in the United Kingdom. (Entertainment Games and Sports)
163 09-04-2019 - Hockey India gets new coach : IT confirmed the appointment of Graham Reid as chief coach of the India men’s hockey team. The 54-year-old Reid is likely to join the team midway through the national camp in Bengaluru. While Reid’s name had been doing the rounds for a while now, his appointment was all but confirmed when HI and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) forwarded it for final clearance to the Sports Ministry recently. (Entertainment Games and Sports)
164 09-04-2019 - J&K election : The 200-odd-km-long belt between Jammu and Poonch along the Line of Control believes the Lok Sabha election in Jammu is a direct contest between the 'face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi' and the 'Congress’ hand'. The reasons cited for their conviction are — the absence of the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference from the contest, the 'clean image' of Congress candidate Raman Bhalla, who's also the party’s State vice-president, and the complaints of the voters against the sitting MP, BJP’s Jugal Kishore Sharma. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
165 09-04-2019 - Rafale deal : The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by PM N. Modi gave exceptional and unprecedented waivers to M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s MBDA in the offset contracts they signed with the Indian government on Sept. 23, 2016 as part of the €7.87 billion Rafale deal. These waivers, granted on August 24, 2016 at the highest level of political decision-making, were exemptions given to the two private French companies from having to comply with provisions of the Standard Contract Document of the Defence Procurement Procedure, DPP-2013. These salient facts, which were not disclosed by the government in its submissions to the SC of India, come to light in the final report of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT), dated July 21, 2016. (Defence and Military)
166 08-04-2019 - A deadly fungus : A fungus immune to drugs is secretly sweeping the globe. The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the past five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical centre to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa. (Science and Technology / Social Issues)
167 08-04-2019 - Maldives update : Reinforcing the trust they reposed in President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September 2018, Maldivians gave his party a significant majority in the legislature in election. Provisional results pointed to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) heading for a big win, securing some 60 of the 87 seats in the people’s Majlis or Parliament. Complete results are yet to be declared by the Election Commission. The majority may help the MDP consolidate power in the legislature. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
168 08-04-2019 - Vote please : After appeals by filmmakers, authors, scientists and theatre artistes, it’s the turn of celebrities, mainly members of the Hindi film fraternity, to take to short videos urging people to vote with care and concern for the country and its citizens. Vote Sambhal Ke (vote with care) is the implicit advice. The two-three minute videos, up on YouTube, have been directed and edited by former filmmaker Satyen K. Bordoloi. (Indian Politics)
169 08-04-2019 - Ujjwala status update : A new study from the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (r.i.c.e) shows that 85% of Ujjwala beneficiaries in rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh still use solid fuels for cooking, due to financial reasons as well as gender inequalities. The Ujjwala Yojna, launched in 2016, subsidises LPG connections for rural households by providing a free gas cylinder, regulator and pipe. Respondents agreed that it was easier to cook on a gas stove, but felt that food cooked on the chulha — especially rotis — was tastier. (Indian Politics / Social Issues)
170 08-04-2019 - EC stand on VVPAT : The ECI objected to the Opposition’s idea of 50% random physical verification of VVPAT slips in each Assembly segment of a Parliamentary constituency or Assembly constituency in order to ensure free and fair General Elections in 2019, the first phase of which commences on April 11. The poll body told the Supreme Court that such an increase would create an 'insurmountable difficulty' in the election process. It would lead to exactly 5.2 days of delay in vote-counting. The Opposition’s rejoinder presented a counter-calculation under-cutting the poll body’s math. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
171 08-04-2019 - J&K Highway closure : The first day of closure of the 271-km Baramulla-Udhampur national highway for convoy movement disrupted distribution of essentials and halted all passenger services. The National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held demonstrations to defy the ban. The highway closure was enforced around 4 a.m. in accordance with the State Home Department’s directions, leaving many stretches deserted till 5 p.m. (Infrastructure)
172 08-04-2019 - One big deal : Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA), has signed definitive agreements to buy a 30% stake in NIIT Technologies Limited shares from NIIT Limited and other promoter entities at a price of Rs. 1,394 per share, aggregating to Rs. 2,627 crore, and make an open offer thereafter to increase its stake up to 56% for a total consideration Rs. 4,890 crore. NIIT Technologies also announced the signing of an agreement to acquire big data firm WHISHWORKS IT Consulting. NIIT will initially acquire a 53% stake, with the remaining equity to be acquired over the next two years. (Indian Economy / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
173 08-04-2019 - Periyar water changing colour : Discolouration of water continued in the Periyar river in Kochi on April 7. While water turned pitch black in one stream, it was milky near the regulator. The discolouration of the river system, which provides drinking water to Kochi city and adjoining areas, has been a cause for worry for residents. Moreover, environmental activists have been protesting against the pollution and demanding steps for protection of the river. The pollution of the river system had earlier led to violent protests in the region. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
174 08-04-2019 - Genuine or motivated IT raids? The Income Tax Department searched at least 50 locations in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh against people linked to State Chief Minister Kamal Nath on charges of alleged tax evasion. A team of about 200 tax and police officers began the searches around 3 a.m. and some undisclosed cash was recovered. For the searches, the department had roped in Central Reserve Police Force personnel to keep a vigil. The searches are linked to suspected movement of hawala money during the election season and tax evasion. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy / People and Personalities)
175 08-04-2019 - Don't make up stories Pakistan : India rejected as 'irresponsible and preposterous' Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s comments that India was planning to attack Pakistan again between April 16 and 20. The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said the comments by the Pakistani Foreign Minister were aimed at whipping up war hysteria in the region. The MEA statement came hours after Mr. Qureshi said at a press conference in Multan that Pakistan had “reliable intelligence” that India was planning to attack Pakistan again between April 16 and 20. (Defence and Military / Regional Politics)
176 08-04-2019 - Libya in flames : The conflict shaking Libya escalated as forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched an air strike on a suburb and the UN-backed government vowed a major counteroffensive. The United Nations called for an urgent two-hour truce to allow evacuations of civilians and the wounded, while the unity government said the fighting had so far killed 21 people. Rivalries between the two camps threaten to plunge the country into a full-blown civil war after Field Marshal Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli. The fight is between Field Marshal Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) and forces backing the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). (Defence and Military / World Politics)
177 08-04-2019 - Rwandans searching for reconciliation : President Paul Kagame said that Rwandans had become a family again, 25 years after more than 8,00,000 people were slaughtered in a genocide that shocked the world. Mr. Kagame lit a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 2,50,000 victims are believed to be buried, mainly from the minority Tutsi people, as the country began its annual 100 days of mourning that coincide with the length of the slaughter. They are only some of those killed by the genocidal Hutu forces, members of the old army and militia forces called the 'Interahamwe', that began their bloody campaign of death on April 7, 1994, the day after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu. (History / Social Issues / World Politics)
178 08-04-2019 - Give me vote, I'll annex that area : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins elections, a deeply controversial move that could prove to be the death knell for a two-state solution. If done on a large-scale, annexation could end already fading hopes for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Settlements built on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War are deemed illegal by the international community and their ongoing construction is seen as a major barrier to peace. (World Politics)
179 08-04-2019 - Erdogan on the back foot : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party said it will demand a recount of all ballots cast in during the recent mayoral election won by an Opposition candidate. A recount is already under way in several of Istanbul’s 39 districts. On Saturday, a party spokesman said the AKP would accept the results of recounts. The AKP won most votes nationwide, but results showed the ruling party lost capital Ankara and was also narrowly defeated in Istanbul in what would be one of their worst setbacks while in power. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
180 08-04-2019 - We will provide a PM : In a display of unity and strength, 'mahagathbandhan' leaders Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and Ajit Singh said at a massive rally that their alliance would put forward a Prime Minister, while targeting both the BJP and the Congress for their poor record of governance. Criticising the BJP and the Congress for their 'Manuwadi' (anti-Dalit) policies, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati hit out at the Congress for putting up candidates who would cut into the votes of the alliance. She appealed to the Muslims, in particular, not to allow their votes to be divided, pointing to the fact that the Congress had fielded firebrand local leader Imran Masood against the BSP’s Fazlur Rahman in Saharanpur. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
181 06-04-2019 - Pak opens air space : In partial relief to airlines, Pakistan has opened one route for west-bound flights from India more than a month after it shut its airspace for all civilian flights following the Indian Air Force’s strikes at Balakot. A decision on opening a passage for planes overflying Pakistan and entering India is yet to be taken. The route that has been opened passes from near Mumbai and enters southern Pakistan. (Infrastructure / Regional Politics)
182 06-04-2019 - State of the nation : Unemployment is reported by respondents as a key economic concern in recent surveys. On the assessment of the state of the economy, 33% of the respondents rated it as 'so-so' and 25% rated it as 'bad,' while 34% termed it 'good' or 'very good.' The 34% is up from 26% in January 2018 and is also much higher than the 19% who described the economy to be in good shape in May 2014 before the Narendra Modi government came to power. While two in every three of those who see the economy as being in a good situation were found to be in favour of giving the BJP government another term. (Indian Economy / Indian Politics / Social Issues)
183 06-04-2019 - A new type of candidate : A stranger to the world of politics so far but a renowned folk singer from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, Prahlad Singh Tipaniya has been declared as the Congress candidate from Dewas, a reserved seat for Scheduled Castes. The folk singer, whose mastery of Kabir bhajans is well known, said he will reach out to his voters through his bhajans. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
184 06-04-2019 - Ongoing battle of AJL : The SC stayed the eviction and further proceedings against Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publishers of the National Herald newspaper, from a centrally located building in the national capital. AJL had moved the SC after the Delhi High Court dismissed its appeal against a single judge order upholding an order of eviction passed by the Centre’s Land and Development Office (L&DO). The Centre decided to end the 56-year-old perpetual lease and evict AJL from the premises on the ground that the latter was not conducting any printing or publishing. The eviction order claimed the building was used solely for commercial purposes. It started by India’s first PM J. Nehru in 1938 to advance the freedom movement. (Constitution and Law History / Indian Politics)
185 06-04-2019 - F-16 debate goes on : Two U.S. officials have said they counted the F-16 aircraft in Pakistan and found none missing, throwing doubts on the Indian government’s claim that it had shot down an F-16 during an aerial engagement with Pakistan on February 27. The officials’ comments were made to U.S. magazine Foreign Policy. The dogfight of February 27 resulted in an Indian aircraft being downed, and its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman parachuting into the Pakistani territory, leading to his capture (and eventual release). (Defence and Military / World Politics)
186 06-04-2019 - Just one more extension please : The U.K. and European Council president Donald Tusk appeared to be nearing a consensus on a further Brexit extension. PM Theresa May has written to Mr. Tusk, asking for an extension till at least June 30 this year. It comes as Mr. Tusk himself was reported to be proposing a 'flextension' — an extension that could last till April next year, but could also last a much shorter period were the U.K. to break the EU deadlock before that. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
187 06-04-2019 - Brexit divided Britain : Brexit leaves leading political parties of Britain divided. Both Conservatives and Labour face internal challenges. The Conservative Party has long been split on the country’s relationship with the EU, with many opposing it from the outset and pressing for Britain to leave ever since it joined the union. Hard-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father had even attempted to take the government to court to prevent Britain from ratifying the Maastricht Treaty (the EU’s official treaty) in 1993. (Regional Politics / Social Issue)
188 06-04-2019 - Forest fires in SK : South Korea mobilised more than 15,000 firefighters and soldiers to help douse most of the wildfires that have killed one person and forced more than 4,000 to flee their homes. Fires broke out in the eastern province of Gangwon, razing about 525 hectares and about 134 homes. The fire in two areas was contained. The cause of the fire was suspected to be sparks triggered by power lines. (Envinronment Ecology and Climate Change)
189 06-04-2019 - Indian journalists most at risk : Amal Clooney has been appointed the UK’s special envoy on media freedom, as the UK prepares to host an international conference this July in the wake of attacks on journalists across the world. Ms. Clooney pointed to India as one of the five countries where journalists were most at the risk of 'political assassination for their work' as she also noted that such attacks happened in Europe as well. (Governance and Institutions / World Economy)
190 06-04-2019 - Merging : Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) and Indiabulls Housing Finance (IBHF) boards approved merger of the two entities. The merger would solve LVB’s capital needs as its capital adequacy ratio will go up to 20.6%, post the merger, due to the mortgage lender’s strong capital position. IBHF, which has a loan book three times bigger than LVB, and was unsuccessful in getting a bank licence earlier, will now get access to the low-cost funds of the bank. (Indian Economy)
191 06-04-2019 - Mutual Funds in a bad shape : The recently-ended financial year 2018-19 saw mutual fund assets growing at the slowest pace in seven years as debt funds, which constitute a major portion of the overall assets under management (AUM) of the industry, saw huge outflows. According to Crisil, the total AUM rose 6% to touch Rs. 24.51 lakh crore in the fiscal, even as debt funds saw total outflows of Rs. 1.38 lakh crore between April 2018 and February 2019. (Indian Economy)
192 06-04-2019 - Badminton updates : A fighting Kidambi Srikanth suffered a straight-game loss to Olympic champion Chen Long of China to bow out of the men’s singles quarterfinals at the Malaysia Open. The eighth-seeded Indian blew a 16-11 advantage in the opening game to lose the match 21-18, 21-19. The 26-year-old had a 1-5 head-to-head record against Chen Long, whom he had defeated in their last meeting at the 2017 Australian Open. (Entertainment Games and Sports)
193 06-04-2019 - Deadly caesarean operations : Maternal deaths following caesarean sections in low and middle-income countries are 100 times higher than that in high-income countries, with up to a third of all babies dying, according to data from 12 million pregnancies. This is according to a new review published in The Lancet, which has considered 196 studies from 67 low and middle-income countries. (Social Issues)
194 06-04-2019 - How the terracotta warriors survived : Research by an international team of scientists published may solve the mystery of the marvellous preservation of bronze weapons associated with China’s famed terracotta warriors while putting to rest an intriguing hypothesis: that ancient Chinese artisans employed an unexpectedly advanced preservation method using the metal chromium. The preservation of weapons was due to factors such as the bronze’s high tin content and favourable soil composition, the scientists said after examining 464 bronze weapons and parts. (History / Science and Technology)
195 06-04-2019 - Diseases in children : Obesity, vision and dental issues are the major health problems faced by schoolgoing children in the age group 2 to 17 years across India. The report, “Enhancing the Effectiveness and Impact of Schools: Insights from School Health Screening Program”, released by Jarma Wellness, an organisation working in the area of healthcare consultation, assessed nearly two lakh children belonging to various socio-economic backgrounds from 20 cities. (Education / Social Issues)
196 05-04-2019 - Rate cut for growth boost : The monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the second consecutive time cut the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 6%. It cited concerns over growth as it lowered the GDP forecast to 7.2% for the current financial year from 7.4% projected in the February policy. The central bank said the output gap remained negative and the domestic economy was facing headwinds, especially on the global front. (Output gap refers to the difference between the actual output of the economy and its maximum potential.) (Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
197 05-04-2019 - India’s first earth museum TIME : Housing the country’s unique geological history that chronicles rocks, pre-human skulls and dinosaur fossils from 4 billion years ago to recent times, India's first earth museum will be set up in the national capital region (NCR). Indian scientists discussed modalities for the museum, The Indian Museum of Earth (TIME), with experts from the US, UK and South Korea at Delhi’s Indian National Science Academy. (History / Science and Technology / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
198 05-04-2019 - Predatory journals : In the world of scientific research, they are pernicious impostors. So-called predatory journals, online publications with official sounding names, publish virtually anything, even gibberish, that an academic researcher submits — for a fee. Critics have long maintained that these journals are eroding scientific credibility and wasting grant money. But academics must publish research to further their careers, and the number of questionable outlets has exploded. Now the Federal Trade Commission has stepped in, that it has won a $50 million court judgment against Omics International of Hyderabad, India, and its owner, Srinubabu Gedela. (Education / Science and Technology / World Economy)
199 05-04-2019 - Modi awarded "Order of Zayad" : UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the country’s highest civilian award, 'the Order of Zayed', its crown prince Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced, a decision that has given rise to speculation PM Modi could travel to the Gulf emirate soon. (People and Personalities / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
200 05-04-2019 - Brexit emergency legislation : British MPs, by a majority of one vote, passed emergency legislation that instructs PM Theresa May to seek an extension to Article 50 that triggered the Brexit process. The Bill, which was opposed by the government, received support from 313 MPs with 312 voting against it. It was put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Oliver Letwin in an attempt to rally MPs across the political spectrum. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
201 05-04-2019 - Maldivian politics : Six months after electing Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as President in a high-stakes election, Maldivians are gearing up for another crucial vote in parliamentary poll. The Election Commission said preparations for polls were complete and that they expected the polling process to be smooth and swift. Over 2.6 lakh Maldivians have registered to vote in the poll, in which nearly 400 candidates are contesting for 87 seats in Parliament. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
202 05-04-2019 - Trump in tax trouble : In what is likely to become a protracted battle with U.S. President Donald Trump, a committee of the U.S House of Representatives has demanded six years of Mr. Trump’s personal and business tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard E. Neal, a Democrat, based his request to the IRS on an arcane part of the tax code to request the documents, after months of discussion and deliberation with other committee members. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
203 05-04-2019 - Micromax founder into AI : Rahul Sharma, one of the co-founders of homegrown mobile handset maker Micromax introduced an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based electric motorcycle that will hit the roads in June this year. 'I have always wanted to get into the smart mobility sector. With the new venture — Revolt Intellicorp Pvt. Ltd. — Mr. Sharma is eyeing a double-digit share of the Indian market in which over 21 million two-wheelers are sold annually. The firm is wholly owned by him. Mr. Sharma had started the venture with personal investment of about Rs. 500 crore. (Indian Economy / People and Personalities)
204 05-04-2019 - SEBI for opening up commodities derivatives :A panel constituted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recommended opening the commodity derivatives segment to all categories of institutional investors in a phased manner, to enhance the depth and liquidity of the commodity market. The Commodity Derivatives Advisory Committee (CDAC), which has been formed to review the commodity segment and suggest measures to improve the depth and efficiency of the market, has suggested that the capital markets regulator should adopt a ‘calibrated approach’ before opening up the segment to overseas investors. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
205 05-04-2019 - Chritian Michel on Agusta deal : British national Christian Michel, alleged to be a key middleman in the AgustaWestland deal, has disclosed that of various abbreviations mentioned in a 'budget sheet' containing details of kickbacks, 'AP' is supposed to mean a prominent Congress politician. In the chargesheet, the fourth in the case, ED said that according to Michel, the entry 'fam' meant 'family'. These abbreviations relate to the alleged kickbacks of 30 million euros paid to 'Air Force officials', 'bureaucrats', 'defence ministry officials' and 'top political leaders of the then ruling party'. (Defence and Military / Governance and Institutions)
206 05-04-2019 - A unique fossil : Scientists have unearthed fossils in a coastal desert of southern Peru of a four-legged whale that thrived both in the sea and on land about 43 million years ago. The 13-foot-long mammal, named Peregocetus pacificus, represents a crucial intermediate step before whales became fully adapted to a marine existence. Its four limbs were capable of bearing its weight on land, meaning it could return to the coast to rest and perhaps give birth while spending much of its time at sea. (Science and Technology)
207 05-04-2019 - Nationalism lesson by Advani : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has never regarded those who disagreed with it as anti-national, L. K. Advani, former Deputy Prime Minister and a founding member of the party, wrote in a blog. The BJP has denied Mr. Advani ticket to contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, which elected him six times to the Lok Sabha. (History / Indian Economy / People and Personalities)
208 05-04-2019 - Surgical Strikes' hero on AFSPA : The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) needs to be reviewed to make it more humane as well as accord better protection to soldiers deployed in counter-militancy operations, Lt Gen D S Hooda (Retd), who oversaw the cross-border 'surgical strikes' said. Lt Gen Hooda also said the national security strategy (NSS) vision document he prepared for Congress does not talk about either the AFSPA or the number of troops required to combat insurgency in J&K. (Defence and Military / Governance and Institutions / People and Personalities)
209 05-04-2019 - Badminton update : K. Srikanth made it to the quarterfinals but an erratic P. V. Sindhu went down in straight games at the $750,000 Malaysia Open. Eighth-seeded Srikanth, who had reached the final of a BWF World Tour event after 17 months at the India Open last week, defeated Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab 21-11, 21-15. Fifth seed Sindhu blew a 13-10 advantage in the opening game to go down rather meekly 21-18, 21-7 to World No. 10 Sung Ji Hyun for her third straight defeat to the Korean. (Entertainment Games and Sports)
210 05-04-2019 - A movie, a legend, a Court : The Supreme Court agreed to urgently hear a plea claiming that a movie titled PM Narendra Modi is blatant propaganda with little or no artistic inspiration and meant to manipulate voters in violation of the model code of conduct in place for the Lok Sabha polls of 2019. A Bench led by Justice S.A. Bobde agreed to hear the petition filed by advocate and Congress party spokesperson, Aman Panwar, on April 8. (Indian Politics / People and Personalities)
211 04-04-2019 - Collegium cannot open up: Opening up the 'highly-sensitive' correspondence of the Supreme Court’s collegium and its workings to the Right to Information (RTI) regime would make judges and the government 'shy' and 'destroy' judicial independence, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal submitted. He represents the Supreme Court’s Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), who is the authority tasked to respond to RTI queries related to the court. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
212 04-04-2019 - Cash in elections: The Congress alleged that 'cash for votes' was being transported in Arunachal Pradesh, and played a video tape that showed bundles of currency allegedly being carried in the motorcade of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. The cash, the Congress claimed, was meant to be distributed to people ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally at Pasighat. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
213 04-04-2019 - Skymet says poor monsoon ahead: A month after ruling out a drought, private weather forecaster Skymet said it expects the coming monsoon rains to be 'below normal' and about 7% short of the 89 cm the country usually gets from June to September. Not only is the monsoon expected to begin sluggishly but rain in July — a key month for agriculture — is expected to be nearly 9% short. The second half of the season would see better rainfall wherein August is expected to be a shade better than September. (Agriculture, Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
214 04-04-2019 - They are dead, forget them please: Nearly four months after 16 persons were trapped in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya, Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said the State government will appeal to the Supreme Court to stop the operations to retrieve the bodies. On January 28, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to continue their multi-agency operations to rescue the miners. Multiple agencies are on the job to retrieve bodies of the miners trapped in the flooded mine, located at Ksan near the Lytein river in East Jaintia Hills, since December 13, 2018. (Governance and Institutions / Infrastructure)
215 04-04-2019 - More pension please: The Supreme Court has dismissed a special leave petition filed against an October 2018 verdict of the Kerala High Court setting aside the Employees Pension (Amendment) Scheme (GSR609(E)) introducing various changes that have drastically reduced the pension eligibility of employees. The Supreme Court’s order in this case would have an impact on a pending petition filed by retirees and members of the Employees Pension Scheme (EPS) 1995, against the government and the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). (Constitution and Law / Social Issues)
216 04-04-2019 - People dying faster in pollution: The current high level of air pollution has shortened the average lifespan of a South Asian child by two-and-a- half years, while globally the reduction stands at 20 months. State of Global Air 2019, published by Health Effects Institute (HEI), said exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017. In India, air pollution is the third highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just above smoking; each year, more people globally die from air pollution-related diseases than from road traffic injuries or malaria. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / Social Issues)
217 04-04-2019 - Gone, old man Bouteflika is gone! Flag-waving Algerians celebrated the resignation of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, but vowed to keep protesting to demand sweeping change to the country’s political system. The departure of Mr. Bouteflika, 82, announced on state media, followed weeks of massive demonstrations that have shaken the North African nation. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
218 04-04-2019 - India US military deal: The U.S Department of State has approved the sale of 24 MH-60R 'Romeo' multi-mission helicopters to India under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. The value of the potential sale is $2.6 billion. The principal contractor for the deal will be Lockheed Martin. (Defence and Military / World Politics)
219 04-04-2019 - China dislikes US move on terror: China raised its pitch against Washington’s parallel initiative to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, insisting that its diplomacy within the 1267 committee of the Security Council was yielding 'positive results'. In response to a question on Washington’s attempt to designate Azhar as an international terrorist through a separate resolution, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that most countries within the Council were not supporting the U.S.’s move. (Terrorism / United Nations / World Politics)
220 04-04-2019 - Black woman as mayor: Chicago became the biggest U.S. city to elect a black woman as its Mayor, as voters put their faith in an openly-gay political novice to tackle difficult problems of economic inequality and gun violence. Lori Lightfoot, 56, a former federal prosecutor won the mayoral race in a lopsided victory. She beat out Toni Preckwinkle by a wide margin of 74% to 26% with most ballots counted. Ms. Lightfoot will become Chicago’s first openly gay Mayor as well as the first African-American woman to hold the post. (People and Personalities / Social Issues)
221 04-04-2019 - RBI circular quashed: With the Supreme Court quashing the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular on loan defaults, the central bank and the government will now have to sit together and bring a new regulation to ensure financial discipline among borrowers. The apex court struck down a February 2018 circular issued by the RBI that gave lender banks six months to resolve their stressed assets or move under the Insolvency Code against private entities who have defaulted in loans worth over Rs. 2,000 crore. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
222 04-04-2019 - 5G in South Korea : It will become the first country to commercially launch fifth-generation (5G) services as it rolls out the latest wireless technology with Samsung Electronics’ new 5G-enabled smartphone Galaxy S10. With one of the world’s top smartphone penetration rates, South Korea is in a race with China, the United States and Japan to market 5G, hoping the technology will spur breakthrough in fields such as smart cities and autonomous cars. (Science and Technology / World Politics)
223 04-04-2019 - Coral reef dying: The world’s southernmost coral reef has been hit by bleaching this summer. Scientists warned rising sea temperatures from climate change were affecting even the most isolated ecosystems. The corals off Lord Howe Island — some 600 km offshore from Sydney — were affected by elevated temperatures this summer, despite escaping severe bleaching that damaged the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / World Economy)
224 04-04-2019 - On dark matter: Dark matter is not made up of primordial black holes smaller than a tenth of a millimetre, say scientists who have put the theory put forward by the late Stephen Hawking to its most rigorous test to date. About 85% of the matter in the universe is believed to be made up of dark matter. Its gravitational force prevents stars in our Milky Way from flying apart. (Science and Technology)
225 04-04-2019 - Don't touch 35A and 370: Former J & K CM and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti warned that 'Jammu and Kashmir’s relations with India will end' if Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution — which provide special status and exclusive powers to the state regarding residency are abrogated. Mehbooba was reacting to BJP chief Amit Shah’s assertion in an interview to ET that removal of Articles 370 and 35A was the way forward for a solution to the Kashmir problem. (Constitution and Law / History / Indian Politics)
226 03-04-2019 - Congress released manifesto 2019: The Congress released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha election and promised to 'create wealth and guarantee welfare' to every Indian citizen by focussing on jobs, agriculture, health, education and welfare for women. Apart from promising Rs. 72,000 annually to five crore poorest families under the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) or minimum income guarantee scheme, the party promised to fill 22 lakh vacancies in Union and State governments, create an additional 10 lakh jobs in gram sabhas, and guarantee 150 days of rural employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. (Indian Politics)
227 03-04-2019 - ECI bans, no bans the Rafale book: A few hours after an election flying squad in Chennai served a letter banning the release of a book on the Rafale fighter aircraft scam, the publishing house managed to launch the book by obtaining the nod from the Election Commission of India. The book Nattai Ulukkum Rafale Bera Oozhal (The Rafale scam that is rocking the country), by social activist S. Vijayan was brought out by Tamil publishing house Bharathi Puttakalayam. The price tag of the slender volume is Rs.10. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
228 03-04-2019 - SC strikes down RBI circular on Power NPAs: The Supreme Court struck down a Reserve Bank of India circular giving lender banks six months to resolve their stressed assets or move under the Insolvency Code against private entities who have defaulted on loans worth over Rs. 2,000 crore. The 84-page judgment, by a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran, spells relief across sectors, ranging from power to telecom to steel, infrastructure, sugar and fertilizer. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
229 03-04-2019 - Power NPA recovery: The prospect of recovering Rs. 3.8 lakh crore of stressed loans of over 70 large borrowers has become uncertain after the Supreme Court (SC) quashed the controversial February 12, 2018 circular of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on resolution of stressed assets. The circular, which was opposed by banks as well as industry players, directed lenders to classify a loan account as stressed and start resolution process within one day of default. (Constitution and Law / Indian Economy)
230 03-04-2019 - Pak airspace closed: Thousands of passengers travelling this summer are likely to face longer flights and pay higher airfares due to the closure of Pakistan airspace, in place for more than a month now after the Balakot airstrike. Among the worst affected are airlines from West and Central Asia. Passenger demand between Kabul and Delhi is now a tenth of what it used to be before the ban. (Infrastructure / Regional Politics)
231 03-04-2019 - Military satellites: Between now and early 2020, the space above India looks set to see an unprecedented rush of satellites meant solely or mainly for the country’s military. Starting May, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to send up at least eight earth observation (EO) satellites of varied hues and at the rate of almost one a month. Communication satellite GSAT-32 is also in the offing next year to replace GSAT-6A, which was lost in a failed launch and was meant to mainly serve the ground forces. (Defence and Military / Indian Politics)
232 03-04-2019 - Brexit, Brexit, Brexit: British Prime Minister Theresa May will ask the European Union for a further, short extension to Article 50 to avoid the U.K. crashing out of the EU on April 12, and has said she wants to 'sit down' with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in an effort to thrash out a solution and break the log-jam. This would potentially allow for a joint approach to the declaration on future relations — which forms part of the withdrawal deal but which would keep the legal treaty governing the U.K.’s relations intact, she has insisted. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
233 03-04-2019 - US-Mexico Border shutdown: As he threatens to shut down the southern border, U.S. President Donald Trump is considering bringing on a 'border' or 'immigration czar' to coordinate immigration policy across various federal agencies, according to four people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Trump is weighing at least two potential candidates for the post — former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. (Regional Politics / Social Issues)
234 03-04-2019 - Pak FATF threat: Pakistan could be blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) due to 'lobbying by India'. The country could suffer a loss of $10 billion annually if it remains in the watchdog’s grey list. In June 2018, the Paris-based FATF had placed Pakistan on the 'grey list' of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing. A group of experts from the FATF recently visited Pakistan to review whether Islamabad had made enough progress on global standards against financial crimes to warrant its exclusion from the 'grey list'. (Governance and Institutions / Terrorism)
235 03-04-2019 - Losing both Istanbul and Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP appealed against recent local body results in Istanbul and Ankara, following a weekend election after tallies showed that the ruling party lost both key cities. Mr. Erdogan’s AKP and coalition partner won more than 50% of votes nationwide in local ballot, but defeat in both Turkey’s capital and its economic hub would be a setback after the party’s decade and a half in power. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
236 03-04-2019 - Anti-bacterial resistance may be cracked: Scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have discovered an enzyme which helps in breaking cell walls of bacteria and hence, offers potential for a new drug delivery route to arrest the anti-bacterial resistance to the existing antibiotic drugs. Scientists all over the world are trying to understand know how cells grow in bacteria and the lab of Dr. Reddy has been working on how e. coli bacteria cells function, divide and grow to understand diseases like cholera, leprosy and tuberculosis for the past decade. (Science and Technology)
237 03-04-2019 - Slowdown in manufacturing: Manufacturing activity slowed to a six-month low of 52.6 in March due to lower levels of new orders and production. The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at a lower reading in March from 54.3 in February. A reading over 50 implies expansion while one below that denotes a contraction in activity. (Indian Economy)
238 03-04-2019 - Inspired from termites: In Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, a building called Eastgate Centre holds nearly 3,50,000 square feet of office space and shops. It uses 90% less energy than a similar-sized building next door. In the 1990s, Mick Pearce, the building’s architect, took his inspiration from mounds built by fungus-farming termites he saw on a nature show. The insects created their own air conditioning systems that circulated hot and cool air between the mound and the outside. (Infrastructure / Science and Technology)
239 03-04-2019 - Indian ASAT, American asatya: Indian space and missile experts have rubbished the claims of NASA’s chief, who called India’s anti-satellite (ASat) test a 'terrible, terrible thing' and said debris from the test could endanger astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). In arguments reminiscent of the American reaction to India’s nuclear test, the US space agency bore down on India with a vehemence not reflected in the more measured response from the Trump administration. (Defence and Military / World Politics)
240 03-04-2019 - Tantray to be deported: India has secured the deportation of Nisar Ahmed Tantray, a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist and main conspirator behind the December 2017 attack on a CRPF camp at Lethpora in Jammu and Kashmir, from the UAE. Five security personnel were martyred in the attack during the intervening night of December 30 and 31, 2017, which ended with the killing of three Jaish terrorists. (Terrorism)
241 02-04-2019 - OYO gets more: San Francisco based home-renting major Airbnb has picked up a stake in hotels-to-co-living startup Oyo, according to an announcement by both the companies. The investment is estimated to be in the range of $150-200 million, which is part of Oyo’s series-E fundraise of over $1 billion. Both Oyo and Airbnb did not share details of this investment. With this, Airbnb joins the league of top-tier investors in Oyo like Didi Chuxing, Grab and SoftBank, which led the series-E funding for the startup, valuing it at $5 billion. (Indian Economy / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
242 02-04-2019 - More pensions by SC: The Supreme Court paved the way for higher pension to all private sector employees by dismissing a special leave petition filed by Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) against a Kerala high court judgment. The HC had asked EPFO to give pension to all retiring employees on the basis of their full salary, rather than capping the figure on which contribution is calculated at a maximum of Rs 15,000 per month. (Governance and Institutions / Social Issues)
243 02-04-2019 - FB takes pages down: Facebook removed 687 pages and accounts with alleged links to the Congress IT cell for 'engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour'. BJP used the announcement to attack Congress, which has denied that the suspended pages and accounts were linked to the party. Inauthentic behaviour, the social media company explains in a December 2018 blog post, is using fake accounts to disseminate content and increase engagement on someone’s own pages. (Indian Politics / Social Issues)
244 02-04-2019 - ISRO makes history, yet again: In a first in India’s space history, ISRO’s PSLV-C45 rocket injected electromagnetic intelligence satellite (Emisat), 28 foreign satellites, and three experimental payloads in three orbits in a single mission. DRDO payload Emisat will protect India’s assets, including fighter jets and spacecraft, by detecting radars in enemy territory. In another first, ISRO set up a viewer gallery for the launch. (Science and Technology)
245 02-04-2019 - SC quizzes Assam: The Supreme Court questioned the Assam government’s efforts to trace over 70,000 illegal immigrants, who have already mixed with the local population in the State. A Ministry of Home Affairs affidavit shows that 91,609 persons were declared 'illegal foreigners' by the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam till March 2018. Of these, 72,486 are absconding. (Constitution and Law / Social Issues)
246 02-04-2019 - Azhar ban: China claimed that 'positive progress' has been made on designating Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar as a 'global terrorist' by the UN and accused the US of scuttling its efforts by taking the matter directly to the Security Council, setting a 'bad example'. Two weeks after China put a hold on a French proposal to list Azhar under the 1267 al Qaida Sanctions Committee of the council, the US on March 27 circulated a draft resolution to the body to blacklist Azhar. (Terrorism / World Politics)
247 02-04-2019 - Erdogan is not invincible: Turkey’s Opposition dealt President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a symbolic blow by gaining ground in key cities in the country’s local elections. The Opposition won the capital, Ankara, a ruling party stronghold for decades, and was leading a tight race for Mayor in Istanbul. The leader, who has dominated Turkish politics for 16 years, declared victory despite the Opposition gains. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
248 02-04-2019 - Old man refuses to go: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will resign before his mandate ends on April 28, after more than a month of mass protests and Army pressure seeking an end to his 20-year rule. APS said Mr. Bouteflika, who is 82 and in poor health, would take important decisions to ensure 'continuity of the state’s institutions' before stepping down. It did not spell out a date for Mr. Bouteflika’s departure. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
249 02-04-2019 - Record GST collection: Goods and Services Tax collections in March 2019 hit Rs. 1.06 lakh crore, the highest in the history of the tax in India, and the fourth time monthly collections have crossed Rs. 1 lakh crore this year. Average collections in the year stand at Rs. 98,114 crore, up 9.2% from the average in 2017-18. GST collections had previously crossed the Rs. 1 lakh crore mark in April, October, and January this fiscal. (Indian Economy)
250 02-04-2019 - Sensex rocks: Amid strong flows from foreign investors and a positive trend in the global markets, the benchmark Sensex breached the 39,000-mark for the first time ever, before profit booking pared most of the intra-day gains. The 30-share Sensex touched a high of 39,115.57 during the day, gaining nearly 443 points compared to the previous day’s close of 38,672.91. However, the index finally closed at 38,871.87, up 198.96 points. (Indian Economy)
251 02-04-2019 - Japan gets a new era with a new name: Japan revealed the name of the era that will define the new emperor’s reign when he ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne next month following the first abdication in around 200 years. The new imperial name consists of two characters: 'Rei', which can mean 'order' but also 'auspicious' and 'Wa', usually translated as 'peace' or 'harmony.' After weeks of speculation and top-secret discussions, the two 'kanji' characters were unveiled to reveal a name that will last as long as new emperor Naruhito’s rule. (History)
252 02-04-2019 - Enemies of God! Catholic priests in Poland burned books they say are sacrilegious this weekend, including tomes from British author J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of fantasy novels. 'We obey the Word,' priests said in a Facebook post. One passage exhorting believers to destroy the enemies of God includes the command to 'burn their idols in the fire'. The post, on a page run by the Catholic 'SMS from Heaven' evangelical group, stirred controversy. (Religion)
253 02-04-2019 - Expats in UAE: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has approved a new rule for expats under which foreign workers will now be able to sponsor their family members if they fulfil a certain income criteria, a move which will benefit lakhs of Indians. Indians in the UAE constitute the largest part of population of the country. Approximately 3.3 million non-resident Indians constitute about 30% of the total population of the UAE. (Social Issues / World Politics)
254 02-04-2019 - Girl power: Three girls in North Carolina were fed up with a school policy prohibiting female students from wearing pants. So the girls, then ages 5, 10 and 14, decided to do something about it. What began with a school petition by one of the students seeking to allow girls to wear pants to school stretched into a yearslong battle that culminated last week when a federal judge struck down the school’s uniform policy as unconstitutional. (Constitution and Law / Education / Social Issues)
255 02-04-2019 - Lok Sabha elections 2019: PM N. Modi said that the Congress, which played the 'Hindu terror' card, was now apprehensive of a backlash from the majority community and that is why Rahul Gandhi had decided to contest from minority-dominated Wayanad in Kerala. The PM claimed that no Hindu has indulged in terrorism. (Indian Politics)
256 01-04-2019 - SC upholds order for refund : The Supreme Court upheld orders of a state consumer commission and the national commission to refund payment with interest to a home-buyer for over seven years’ delay in handing over possession of the flat he had booked with a Kolkatabased builder. The court said a buyer cannot be required to wait indefinitely for possession of his house. Welcoming the order, an umbrella association of home buyers — Fight for RERA tweeted, “Landmark judgment from SC on refund to buyer from developer. Hope this will set at rest arbitrary orders being passed by RERA authorities denying refunds on their own despite #RERA provision there for refunds.” (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
257 01-04-2019 - Left and Congress : The Left parties questioned the Congress’s commitment to fight the BJP after Congress president Rahul Gandhi chose Kerala’s Wayanad as his second seat, where the CPI is in the fray as part of the Left Democratic Front (LDF). The BJP mocked the Congress. Its president Amit Shah said Mr. Gandhi had fled from Amethi to escape accountability. The Congress named Mr. Gandhi on its first list as its candidate for Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. And then came the demand from the party units in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that he contest from these States too. (Indian Politics)
258 01-04-2019 - Avian flu outbreak : Mass culling of birds was undertaken after samples collected from a State-run duck breeding centre at Khapuria (near Cuttack) tested positive for the deadly strain of avian influenza. Officers confirmed that there has been an outbreak of bird flu, and they have also undertaken a drive to destroy eggs within a one-km radius of the breeding centre. Sources said blood samples of people living within a radius of 10 km of the locality, who had consumed eggs and bird meat over the week, will also be collected. (Governance and Institutions / Social Issues)
259 01-04-2019 - Gogoi punished : Major Leetul Gogoi, facing an inquiry after being seen with a local woman in a Srinagar hotel, was recommended reduction in seniority after a court martial. The approval seems certain and the seniority loss is likely to be six months. In August 2018, orders were issued to initiate disciplinary action after a Court of Inquiry (CoI) held him accountable for 'fraternising' with a local in spite of instructions to the contrary and being away from the place of duty. (Defence and Militarty / People and Personalities)
260 01-04-2019 - Goa airport nixed : The health of the environment is key to preserving the right to life, the Supreme Court observed, and suspended the environmental clearance granted for an international airport at Mopa in Goa. Upholding the need to strengthen the ‘environmental rule of law’ for both intra and inter-generational equity, a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said every branch of governance and institutions across the country should strive to enforce this rule of law. (Constitution and Law / Infrastructure)
261 01-04-2019 - Another MiG down : A MiG-27 UPG fighter aircraft of the Air Force crashed in Jodhpur. The pilot ejected safely. The IAF has suffered a series of accidents in the last month and the MiG-27 fleet, too, saw several accidents this year. The last of the Russian-origin jets are in the process of being phased out. The IAF has lost at least 10 personnel in crashes this year. (Defence and Military)
262 01-04-2019 - Hacking a rich man's phone : Jeff Bezos’ security consultant accused the Saudi government of gaining unauthorised access to the Amazon CEO’s phone, as part of an effort to harm the world’s richest man. The Washington Post (owned by Bezos) has aggressively reported on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, one of its columnists. U.S. officials have concluded that Khashoggi, who was critical of Saudi leaders, was killed on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
263 01-04-2019 - Golan Heights criticism : Arab leaders, long divided by regional rivalries, condemned a U.S. decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and said West Asia’s stability depended on creating an Palestinian state. Arab leaders have been under popular pressure to reject Washington’s action, while they also grapple with regional differences, including a bitter Gulf Arab dispute, splits over Iran’s regional influence, the war in Yemen and unrest in Algeria and Sudan. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
264 01-04-2019 - Abdulla assets unfrozen : A Maldivian court ordered the authorities to lift a freeze on former President Abdulla Yameen’s bank accounts holding about $6.5 million but said a money laundering case against him would proceed. The High Court overturned the Criminal Court’s earlier decision to freeze the eight accounts over allegations that Mr. Yameen had received illicit payments just before he lost his re-election bid in September. Mr. Yameen was arrested on a charge of trying to bribe witnesses in his money laundering trial, but was released. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
265 01-04-2019 - No politics please : Finance minister Arun Jaitley said that when former RBI governors join political battles, they hurt the cause of central bank autonomy. Rejecting the criticism around jobs as a 'fake campaign', he said the data is prepared by the CSO and various organisations and vetted at various stages and the FM maintains an arms-length distance from the whole exercise. (Governance and Institution)
266 01-04-2019 - Love for Australian education : More than one lakh students from India enrolled in Australian educational institutions during 2018, constituting 12.4% of the overall international enrolments. This was a rise of 24.5% over the previous calendar year. China continued to lead with 2.56 lakh students (or 29% of the total). Australia has announced an 'Additional Temporary Graduate' visa with an extra year of post-study work rights for international students who graduate from the regional campus of a registered university. (Education / Social Issues)
267 01-04-2019 - Promotion : Pakistan high commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood has been named Pakistan’s foreign secretary. Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Mahmood would replace outgoing foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua. (Regional Politics)
268 01-04-2019 - Women making it big : Breaking yet another glass ceiling, India will post women officers as defence attaches in its overseas missions. After a decision taken by the government early this year, the three Services have been asked to identify women officers who could fill the posts. The first missions have been identified largely in Europe and America. (Social Issues)
269 01-04-2019 - Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo : This product has come under the regulatory lens with samples of the product collected in Rajasthan showing presence of 'harmful ingredients' that may cause cancer. The Centre has put the product under scrutiny based on the Rajasthan state drug controller's report. The company maintained that the shampoo was safe and in compliance with regulatory standards. (Governance and Institutions)
270 01-04-2019 - Salt pans of Mumbai : A group of enthusiasts relived history, from Shivaji Maharaj to Gandhi’s Dandi march, with a walk through Wadala. Mumbai was always known for its salt pans. From Shivaji Maharaj to the British, everyone had interest in this region because of its salt pans. Vinayak Parab, a member of the Mumbai Research Centre of the Asiatic Society, led the walk. (Trivia and Miscellaneous)
271 30-03-2019 - EC not happy with more VVPAT counting: The 2019 Lok Sabha election results will be delayed by six whole days if the Opposition parties’ demand to increase the counting of VVPAT slips by 50% becomes a reality, the Election Commission indicated to the Supreme Court. The EC said the adoption of a particular percentage as a sample for VVPAT slip verification was devoid of scientific logic or statistical basis. In fact, it was rather otiose. The EC made its stand clear despite the court’s recent strong observations in favour of an increase in the sample VVPAT slip counting for the forthcoming elections. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
272 30-03-2019 - Brexit deal rejected third time: British MPs rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal for a third time, opening the way for a long delay to Brexit — or a potentially catastrophic 'no deal' withdrawal in two weeks. Lawmakers in the House of Commons defied Ms. May’s plea to break the deadlock and defeated her withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286. Britain was due to leave the EU on the long-heralded March 29 ‘Independence Day’, but faced with chaos in Westminster, Ms. May asked European leaders last week for a little more time. The EU has set a deadline of April 12 for a decision, with two options: Britain leaves with no deal at all, or agrees to a lengthy extension to allow time for a new approach. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
273 30-03-2019 - Kartarpur Corridor: The next round of discussions on the Kartarpur corridor will be held only if Pakistan responds to India’s earlier demands that the number of visitors not be capped and no fee be imposed on pilgrims. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said the last-minute postponement, without seeking the views of Pakistan, was 'incomprehensible.' India also summoned Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and shared its stand on key proposals put forward at the March 14 meeting in Attari. (Regional Politics / Religion)
274 30-03-2019 - The Supreme Court upheld the life imprisonment awarded to P. Rajagopal, proprietor of the popular Saravana Bhavan hotel chain, for murdering an employee 18 years ago. Santhakumar was strangled and his body dumped in the Tiger-Chola forest area by Rajagopal’s henchmen. Rajagopal wanted to make Santhakumar’s wife, Jeevajothi, his third wife. (Constitution and Law / People and Personalities)
275 30-03-2019 - US versus China on Azhar: China dismissed allegations that it was sheltering terrorists by placing a 'technical hold' on listing Masood Azhar, head of the banned Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammad, as a global terrorist. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had criticised China’s policy. (Terrorism / World Politics)
276 30-03-2019 - ASAT debris: The satellite targeted with an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile under Mission Shakti has broken up into at least 270 pieces, most of which are expected to disintegrate within 45 days. One of them is a large piece that has been deorbited and is estimated to be completely degraded by April 5. The rest of the pieces are estimated to disintegrate in less than 45 days. Being in the Low Earth Orbit, the debris would fall towards earth and burn up as soon as they enter the atmosphere. (Science and Technology)
277 30-03-2019 - Huge gold haul: The seizure of 110 kg of gold in Dongri and the arrest of seven people has blown the lid off a major smuggling and hawala racket. Talking about one of their bigger hauls in the city, officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence said the syndicate would smuggle in gold through shipments by declaring it as brass. They would then sell it to jewellers in Zaveri Bazar while sending the money to Dubai through hawala. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
278 30-03-2019 - Telecom firms not giving data on Ponzi accused: The Supreme Court sought a response from telecom service providers Bharti Airtel Limited and Vodafone Mobile Services on a CBI plea that they were met with 'surprisingly and strangely evasive' replies to repeated requests for crucial call data records in connection with the probe into multi-crore ponzi scam cases, including the Saradha group scandal. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued notice, returnable by April 8, to the two companies. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
279 30-03-2019 - Modi in Abu Dhabi for temple? A high-level political visit to Abu Dhabi in the middle of the general elections would be detrimental to the long-term India-UAE relationship. The comments came after local reports from Abu Dhabi indicated that there is a likelihood of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a religious ritual at an under-construction Hindu temple. (Religion)
280 30-03-2019 - Getting Modi back: Nirav Modi, the main accused in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank fraud case has been denied bail for a second time at Westminster Magistrates Court, despite offering to wear an electronic tag and pay up to £1 million as security as the prosecution asserted he had 'threatened to kill' a witness, and had destroyed evidence in an effort to curtail his case. (People and Personalities)
281 30-03-2019 - Brexit: British Prime Minister Theresa May will press on with talks to secure support for her Brexit deal, her spokesman said, just minutes after Parliament rejected it for a third time. Britain is now due to leave the EU on April 12, but her political spokesman said the smaller margin of defeat showed that things were moving in the right direction and that a number of senior Conservatives had voted with the government. (Regional Politics)
282 30-03-2019 - Trump's report needed in full: Democrats intensified their demands for Robert Mueller’s full report after learning that the Special Counsel’s findings from his Trump-Russia investigation run to more than 300 pages, while President Donald Trump boasted of total exoneration. Democrats say they may subpoena the report if it’s not forthcoming by their Tuesday deadline, which Attorney-General William Barr has said will not be met. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
283 30-03-2019 - Japanese isolation: More than 6,00,000 Japanese people over 40 are living in complete isolation from society, staying at home for more than six months without social interaction. The phenomenon is so widespread in Japan it even has its own name - hikikomori - defined as someone who does not go to school or work for six months and does not interact with anyone outside his family during that time. 75% of them are male. (Social Issues)
284 30-03-2019 - Pledging promoter shares: A volatile stock market with an underlying weak trend has made fund raising difficult for companies forcing promoters to increasingly resort to pledging their shares to raise finance. Data show that for the first time the number of companies, wherein at least some part of promoter share is pledged, has crossed the 500-mark on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) that has a little more than 1,900 companies listed. (Indian Economy)
285 30-03-2019 - Indian economy is rocking, says CEA: The average growth rate of 7.5% achieved in the last five years in Indian economy is the highest for any government since liberalisation, despite global headwinds, Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian said. He asserted that the growth rate was high notwithstanding all the controversy surrounding the GDP data. (Indian Economy)
286 29-03-2019 - US against terror: The U.S. took the lead in bringing sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations by circulating a draft resolution among Security Council members. The move comes weeks after the 1267 Sanctions Committee failed to designate Azhar as a terrorist, after China placed a hold on a listing request that the U.S., the U.K., and France had brought before the committee. (Terrorism / World Politics)
287 29-03-2019 - Pleas against the EWS quotas: The Supreme Court agreed to expeditiously hear pleas for it to step in before government bodies like the Railways, one of the largest public sector employers, implement the 10% economic quota to make what the petitioners termed 'massive appointments.' Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the petitioners led by NGOs such as Janhit Abhiyan and Youth for Equality, urged a Bench, led by Justice S.A. Bobde, to stay the implementation of the quota before it was too late to turn the clock back. 'Massive appointments will take place... There is indeed a certain degree of concern,' he said. (Constitution and Law / Indian Politics / Social Issues)
288 29-03-2019 - PM address violated the MCC or not: The Election Commission (EC) said a committee of officers was examining the responses received from Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation, announcing India’s successful demonstration of anti-satellite missile capability. The committee, which has held two meetings so far, is likely to finalise its report on whether any content of the Prime Minister’s speech violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Based on the findings, the EC will take the final decision. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
289 29-03-2019 - Karnataka IT searches: Searches by Income Tax officials on premises linked to leaders of the Janata Dal (Secular) and their associates across six districts in south Karnataka triggered a political storm. The searches, coming just 20 days ahead of the election, were conducted in Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga. The ruling coalition — the JD(S) and the Congress — closed ranks and condemned the BJP government at the Centre for misusing official machinery against the Opposition. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy later led a protest in front of Income Tax Department offices in Bengaluru. (Indian Politics)
290 29-03-2019 - Missing girls and women: The National Human Rights Commission has directed Odisha Director-General of Police to furnish detailed information on girls and women who have gone missing from the State. Taking cognisance of a petition filed by Sangita Swain, secretary of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), an Angul-based voluntary organisation, the commission ordered submission of the report by the end of May. Ms. Swain had moved the rights panel based on a newspaper report which had quoted an RTI source that 3,200 women and girls had gone missing in 2015 alone while the total number of those missing had touched a figure of 11,000 till November 2015. (Governance and Institutions / Social Issues)
291 29-03-2019 - CJI on Assam NRC : Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that it is within the domain of the legislature to carve out an appellate forum, where people who have been declared 'foreigner' by Foreigners Tribunals and their names deleted from the Assam NRC list can seek relief. The Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi indicated through oral observations that the Supreme Court cannot be expected to carve out such an appellate forum using its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. (Constitution and Law / Social Issues)
292 29-03-2019 - An appeal for democracy: Over a hundred members of the filmmaking community from across India — most of them independent filmmakers — are coming together under the umbrella of 'Save Democracy' to issue an appeal to the people of India not to vote for the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha election. They include well-known names like Vetri Maaran, Anand Patwardhan, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Sudevan, Q, Deepa Dhanraj, Gurvinder Singh, Pushpendra Singh, Kabir Singh Chowdhry, Anjali Monteiro, Praveen Morchhale, Devashish Makhija and festival director and editor, Bina Paul. (Indian Politics / Social Issues)
293 29-03-2019 - Brexit conundrum: The British government is set to make a last-ditch attempt to avoid a longer delay to Brexit or crashing out of the EU, by putting part of its controversial withdrawal deal to MPs in a vote. While the Speaker of the House of Commons has allowed the motion to be put to MPs on Friday, it remains uncertain whether Prime Minister Theresa May will command enough support. Ms. May’s pledge earlier this week to make way for a successor in time for the next phase of Brexit negotiations does not appear to have persuaded enough MPs to back her deal, while Labour has warned that the motion being proposed would amount the 'blindest of blind Brexits', and has made it clear that it will oppose the motion. (Regional Politics)
294 29-03-2019 - Massive fire: Desperate workers leaped to their deaths as a huge fire tore through a office block, killing at least 19 people and trapping others in the latest major inferno to hit the Bangladesh capital. At least six people died after jumping from the 22-floor building. Dhaka police chief Asaduzzaman Mia told reporters at least 73 people were injured and being treated in hospitals across Dhaka. (Infrastructure / Social Issues)
295 29-03-2019 - Boeing pledges safety: Embattled aviation giant Boeing pledged to do all it can to prevent crashes like two that killed nearly 350 people in recent months, as it unveiled a fix to the flight software of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing gathered hundreds of pilots and reporters to unveil the changes to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Boeing unveiled the software changes at the company’s massive factory in Renton, Washington, and offered reassurances. (Infrastructure / Trivia and Miscellaneous / World Economy)
296 29-03-2019 - Pichai loves US military: U.S. President Donald Trump has said Google CEO Sunder Pichai assured him that the tech giant is 'totally committed' to the U.S. military and not the Chinese Army as the President met him at the White House, days after he accused the California-based company of not supporting American interests. Mr. Trump earlier this month said, 'Google is helping China and their military, but not the U.S.' (Defence and Military / World Politics)
297 29-03-2019 - Jet Airways story: Etihad Airways is in talks with a partner to jointly bid for Jet Airways which has been put up for sale by banks which have taken control of the financially-troubled airline. Government sources said Etihad has not given up on Jet in which it held 24% stake. After banks acquired 50.1% stake in Jet, shareholding of all existing investors fell by half with Etihad left holding 12% stake. (Infrastructure)
298 29-03-2019 - Who owns aggregate data: The ownership of aggregate data remains a bone of contention between the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and stakeholders, including start-ups and SMEs, in the ongoing consultations over the draft e-commerce policy. While the draft e-commerce policy stated, “India and its citizens have a sovereign right to their data… Even after anonymisation, the interests of the individual cannot be completely separated from the derivatives that may be obtained by analysing and drawing inferences from a certain set of data,” some of the technology firms say that they invest capital and resources to collect this data. Hence, so saying that it also belongs to the citizens is unfair. (Governance and Institutions / Science and Technology)
299 29-03-2019 - Pakistan back to old tricks: Expressing disappointment at Pakistan effectively rejecting India’s dossier on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s complicity in the Pulwama terror attack, the government said Islamabad regrettably continued to be in denial as it even refused to acknowledge Pulwama as a terror attack. Pakistan, the government said, had not shared details of credible action, if any, taken by it against terrorists or terrorist organisations based in territories under its control. In Islamabad, Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria sought concrete and irreversible action against terror sanctuaries in a meeting with Pakistani officials. (Terrorism)
300 29-03-2019 - No plastics, to save oceans: The European Union decided to ban plastic consumer items including plates, cutlery and straws as of 2021 to help clean up oceans. The prohibition on single-use plastics approved by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, applies to beverage cups, food containers and cotton bud sticks. EU governments have already signaled support for the ban, making their final approval due on April 15 a formality. With plastics accounting for around 80 percent of marine litter, the EU rushed through deliberations on the planned restrictions in less than a year. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
301 28-03-2019 - ASAT by India: In an incremental advance, India successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test, named Mission Shakti, becoming the fourth country in the world to demonstrate the capability to shoot down satellites in orbit. So far, only the United States, Russia and China have this prowess. The satellite downed by the ASAT missile was Microsat-R, an imaging satellite which was launched into orbit on January 24, 2019 using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). India has built the broad capabilities and building blocks to develop ASAT missiles for some time as part of its Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme. (Defence and Military / Science and Technology)
302 28-03-2019 - Tribunals a major judicial concern now: Taking note of tribunals being starved of manpower and infrastructure for years, expressed concern over the large number of vacancies in important tribunals and asked the Centre to fill them up within two weeks. A constitution bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices N V Ramana, D. Y. Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna also asked the Centre why it had not yet implemented the SC’s 1997 judgment advising the government to bring tribunals under the ministry of law and justice. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
303 28-03-2019 - Jewellery contraceptives: Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a technique for administering contraceptive hormones through backings that have been placed on items of jewellery, including earrings, watches and rings. The patches that contain the hormones are placed on the area of the jewellery most likely to come into contact with the skin, such as the back of an earring or behind the face of a watch. No human testing has been carried out as of yet. (Science and Technology / Social Issues)
304 28-03-2019 - Brexit, Theresa May, and EU: British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would quit if her twice-defeated EU divorce deal passes at the third attempt, making a last-ditch bid to persuade rebels in her Conservative party to back her. May’s announcement is the latest dramatic turn in the United Kingdom’s three-year Brexit crisis, but it is still remains uncertain how, when or even if it will leave the European Union. (People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
305 28-03-2019 - Trump's emergency stays: The House failed to overturn President Donald Trump’s first veto, leaving the declaration of a national emergency at the south-western border intact despite the bipartisan passage of a resolution attempting to nullify the president’s circumvention of Congress to fund his border wall. Despite concerns about the constitutional separation of powers and the effect of Trump’s move on local military projects, the 248-181 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to kill the national emergency declaration. (People and Personalities / World Politics)
306 28-03-2019 - Thinking of overthrowing Kim Jong-un? A shadowy group seeking to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been thrust into the international spotlight after a Spanish court investigating a break-in at the North Korean embassy in Madrid named apparent members as suspects. Cheollima Civil Defence, also known as Free Joseon, first went public in 2017, when it said it was protecting the family of Kim Jongun’s half brother Kim Jongnam, who was murdered in a Malaysian airport. (World Politics)
307 28-03-2019 - PayTM in the clouds: Mobile payments company Paytm, along with its e-commerce affiliate Paytm Mall, is putting together a new round of financing, which may see both the companies raise about $2 billion, taking their combined valuation to over $20 billion. Both companies are promoted by Delhi-based technology entrepreneur Vijay Shekhar Sharma and are backed by Japan’s SoftBank, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and venture capital firm SAIF Partners. The flagship business Paytm is expected to be valued at $18-20 billion as it is raising a new round of $1-2 billion, with final valuation depending on the total capital it raises. (Indian Economy / People and Personalities)
308 28-03-2019 - Tatas into airports: After airlines, the Tata Group is making a foray into airports. The conglomerate will invest Rs 3,555 crore for a 20% stake in GMR Airports, which runs the Delhi International Airport, the country’s biggest and Asia’s sixth-largest. The proposed stakepurchase has been routed through Tata Sons, which also owns majority stakes in two carriers — AirAsia India and Vistara. Tatas’ interest in the aviation business also includes charter services through Taj Air. The Tatas follow billionaire Gautam Adani’s bet on the sector after his company won bids to operate six airports in the country last month. (Indian Economy / Infrastructure)
309 28-03-2019 - Tipu's artifacts: A collection of rare artefacts from Tipu Sultan’s armoury, including one of his personal swords, discovered by a couple in their attic in the English county of Berkshire has been auctioned for around £1,07,000. The highlight of the lot was a silver-mounted 20-bore flintlock gun and bayonet. It attracted 14 bids before going under the hammer for £60,000. The other highlight lot, a gold-encrusted sword and suspension belt ensemble believed to be one of Tipu Sultan’s personal swords, attracted as many as 58 bids before being sold to the winning bidder for £18,500. (History / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
310 28-03-2019 - Electoral bonds unhealthy: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the Supreme Court that electoral bonds, contrary to government claims, wreck transparency in political funding. Coupled with the removal of cap on foreign funding, they invite foreign corporate powers to impact Indian politics, it said in an affidavit filed in the apex court. The ECI ripped apart amendments made to various key statutes through the two consecutive Finance Acts of 2016 and 2017. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
311 28-03-2019 - Skills gap: Fast-changing job requirements are leading to a yawning skills gap in many parts of the world, with India being one of the hardest-hit, according to a new study released by the International Labour Organisation in collaboration with the International Organisation of Employers. According to the report, 66% of Indian businesses say they are looking for quite different skills in new recruits than they were three years ago, with 53% saying it is becoming harder to recruit people with the needed skills. Globally, 60% of employers say new graduates are not adequately prepared for current work. (Social Issues)
312 28-03-2019 - Catching the drug dealers in sea: Nine Iranian nationals who were smuggling heroin were nabbed in a sensational mid-sea operation jointly conducted by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) off the Gujarat coast. Their boat was intercepted by the Indian agencies off Porbandar in the Arabian Sea and 100 kg of heroin worth around Rs. 500 crore was recovered. Interrogation of the Iranian nationals revealed that a Pakistani national Hamid Malek had sent the consignment. It was loaded off the Gwadar port of Pakistan. (Defence and Military / Social Issues)
313 28-03-2019 - India US CbC: India and the U.S. signed an inter-government agreement for the automatic exchange of country-by-country (CbC) reports, which will reduce the compliance burden for Indian subsidiary companies of U.S. parent companies. This is a key step in making India compliant with the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, of which it is an active participant. This Agreement will enable both the countries to automatically exchange CbC reports filed by the ultimate parent entities of multinational enterprises (MNE) in the respective jurisdictions, pertaining to the years commencing on or after January 1, 2016. (World Economy)
314 28-03-2019 - Qatar Museum opens: After nearly a decade of planning and construction, the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) situated in Doha’s corniche, which tells the story of Qatar and its people from earliest times to today, was inaugurated. The journey is narrated through eight art films by Doha Film Institute and noted filmmakers, including Mira Nair, multimedia display, accompanied by exhibits that includes archaeological and heritage objects, jewellery, manuscripts and other documents. Braille and tactile display have also been provided for the exhibits. (Art Culture Literature)
315 28-03-2019 - RBI bringing back currency bets: After a decade, the Reserve Bank of India is set to lift the ban on ‘exotic currency derivatives’, the double-edged, fancy products that had left a trail of destruction in 2007-08 amid allegations of mis-selling and court battles when bets by corporates backfired as the euro, Yen and Swiss franc surged. Over the past month, senior RBI officials have held multiple meetings with bankers to discuss ways to allow these products, albeit with certain safeguards. (Governance and Institutions)
316 27-03-2019 - SC and Saradha scam: The Supreme Court hinted on that trouble could be in store for former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, saying it has found 'something very, very serious' in the CBI’s report on the IPS officer’s conduct while heading West Bengal police’s probe into the politically sensitive chit fund scam cases. The remark about Kumar, whom CM Mamata Banerjee had described as the world’s best cop, came when attorney general K K Venugopal and solicitor general Tushar Mehta were detailing alleged attempts by the state police and administration to derail the SC-directed probe into chit fund cases. (Governance and Institutions / People and Personalities)
317 27-03-2019 - Name all 'corrupt' IAS officers: In an order which, if implemented, could promote transparency but also be held as too sweeping, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered that the government reveal names of all IAS officers against whom prosecution sanction has been granted as well as denied since 2010. The CIC order comes on an RTI petition filed by activist Nutan Thakur in May 2017, where she sought copies of department of personnel and training’s files and letters and notes exchanged between DoPT and various officers regarding criminal cases against them from 2010 to 2017. The government is bound to implement the CIC order unless it chooses to appeal in a high court, an option it can exercise. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
318 27-03-2019 - Burn the map, what about the truth: Chinese authorities have destroyed nearly 29,000 world maps that showed Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. Beijing claims that the north-eastern frontier state is an extension of China’s Tibetan region. The maps also depicted Taiwan, which China considers one of its provinces, as a separate country. Chinese authorities also revealed inadvertently that local publishers were ignoring state orders against printing “objectionable” maps. The maps were produced by a firm in Anhui province, and were meant for export to an unspecified country. Such seizures take place periodically, but this was the largest amount to be disposed of in recent years. (Trivia and Miscellaneous / World Politics)
319 27-03-2019 - Gimme the real GDP numbers! Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan stoked a fresh controversy, raising doubts about the country’s economy clocking 7% growth amid reports that enough jobs are not being created, and called for an impartial body to look into the numbers to restore confidence. As RBI governor, Rajan had praised the Central Statistics Office on the GDP data changes. (Governance and Institutions / People and Personalities)
320 27-03-2019 - End the terror, Pak: Pakistan is facing the risk of being grey-listed by the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) too as Islamabad has a high noncompliant rate of nearly 70% on 40 recommendations against money laundering and terror financing. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has already greylisted Pakistan from June 2018, and any adverse findings by the Asia/ Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) could further complicate problems for Pakistan. Pakistan is already under intense international pressure to rein in terror groups like JeM after the Pulwama attack. (Terrorism / World Politics)
321 27-03-2019 - PNB officials summoned: A Delhi court has issued summons against 11 officials of the Punjab National Bank, including current CEO and MD Sunil Mehta and former MD and CEO Usha Ananthasubramanium, for allegedly wilfully furnishing false statements and misleading the RBI. The order comes in the wake of a rare move by the RBI to initiate criminal proceedings against bank employees in the Rs 11,000 crore PNB fraud case at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Economy)
322 27-03-2019 - Surgical strike on poverty: Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that the minimum income guarantee scheme he promised the previous day will be a "surgical strike" on poverty. Under Nyunatam Aay Yojana, Congress has promised Rs 6,000 per month to the poorest 20% households (about five crore families) if voted to power. (Indian Econoym / Indian Politics / Social Issues)
323 27-03-2019 - Pak unsafe for minorities: Another Hindu girl was abducted in Pakistan’s Sindh province on Monday night, just days after two minor sisters, Reena (15) and Raveena (13), were allegedly kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men on the eve of Holi in the southern province. There have been seven incidents of abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls in a little over a month till now in Sindh. Two Hindus were also killed in the same period. The latest incident involves Mala Kumari Meghwar (16), who was allegedly kidnapped from her home in Badin. (Regional Politics / Religion)
324 27-03-2019 - The first all-female spacewalk: That wonderful moment will have to wait, because of a basic issue — spacesuit sizes. The two astronauts who were scheduled to walk together in space, Anne C McClain and Christina H Koch, would both need to wear a medium-size torso component. But only one is readily available at the International Space Station. The mission itself is unchanged. On March 29, two astronauts will venture outside of the space station on a six-hour mission to install massive lithium-ion batteries that will help to power the research laboratory. (Science and Technology)
325 27-03-2019 - Male contraceptive pill coming: Scientists have brought the development of a "male contraceptive pill" one step closer to reality with the trial of a capsule which limits the activity of sperm with few side effects. In a month-long study of 40 men, conducted by the University of Washington, researchers looked into the effectiveness of a once-daily capsule that aims to suppress levels of hormones which drive the production of sperm and testosterone in the testes. The doctors found that levels of the hormones fell in men who took the daily capsules, suggesting that their sperm counts had been noticeably reduced. (Science and Technology / Social Issues)
326 27-03-2019 - Brexit: British PM Theresa May will address her Conservative lawmakers, possibly to set out a timetable for her departure in a last throw of the dice to win support for her twice-rejected Brexit deal in parliament. At her weakest after parliament seized control of Brexit, May has yet to give up hope of getting approval for her deal to leave the EU, which she says is the only way of ensuring an orderly exit that will safeguard business. Parliament’s move seemed to have focused minds, with some eurosceptic lawmakers saying they could back her plan before choosing a new leader for the next phase of talks with the EU. But as yet her Northern Irish powerbrokers are still opposed. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
327 27-03-2019 - Af-Pak tangle: Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador from Pakistan over reported remarks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government, calling the comments "irresponsible". Khan told Pakistani journalists that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between US and Taliban officials since the militant group refuses to speak to the current government. Afghanistan summoned Pakistan’s deputy ambassador to discuss the "irresponsible" remarks by Khan. (Regional Politics)
328 27-03-2019 - Mindtree L&T spat: The Mindtree board decided not to go ahead with a stock repurchase programme for shareholders, even as the IT services company’s suitor Larsen & Toubro (L&T) announced details of its open offer scheme. Mindtree had announced the share buyback programme on March 15 — a move that was widely interpreted as part of the defence plan rolled out by the company’s founders to stall an acquisition by L&T. But once L&T announced an open offer and V G Siddhartha, who had committed to sell his 20% stake in Mindtree to L&T, had given in writing that he would not support the buyback, the initiative had become untenable. A buyback in the midst of an open offer requires the support of at least 75% of shareholders. (Indian Economy)
329 27-03-2019 - Reincarnating airlines: Naresh Goyal-founded Jet Airways is possibly only the second private airline after SpiceJet to get a shot at reincarnation. The low-cost carrier owes its origin to ModiLuft, which flew from 1993 to 1996. While Indian skies have seen tremendous passenger growth, the country has had its share of airlines that ran out of fuel — 12 in 21years. The most prominent failure was Kingfisher. Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant founder of this airline, has sent a series of angry tweets after Jet minus Goyal was taken over by lender banks. Mallya did manage to get a fair share of Kingfisher’s debt restructured to equity and banks took a big haircut. (Indian Economy / Indian Politics)
330 27-03-2019 - Jet Airways back in game or not: Jet hopes to have over 70% of its planes back in air in the next month as the SBI-led consortium provides the beleaguered airline interim funding. The management, including chief executive officer Vinay Dube and chief financial officer Amit Aggarwal, met officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the airline’s operations. The airline now has only 35 planes flying, out of a total of 103 planes, and will aim to get 40 more planes airborne by the April-end. (Infrastructure)
331 26-03-2019 - Naresh Goyal out of Jet Airways: A 28-year journey came to an end as Naresh Goyal, founder chairman of Jet Airways, finally stepped down following pressure from lenders. By doing so, Goyal may have ensured the survival of the airline as his departure was one of the conditions stipulated by lenders, led by State Bank of India, who will now infuse Rs 1,500 crore of emergency funds. Lenders agreed to pump in funds as this was the only way to keep the airline operational and give them a chance to recover their dues of over Rs 8,000 crore. The government was also keen that the carrier continue to operate as closure would cause largescale job losses, severely reduce airline capacity in the country and wipe out any chance of creditors recovering their money. (Infrastructure / People and Personalities)
332 26-03-2019 - NYAY by Congress: In a bid to outdo the Modi government’s populist outreach through its welfare schemes, Congress pledged that if voted to office, it would provide Rs 6,000 a month to the poorest 20% of India’s households — the bill for which is expected to add up to Rs 3.6 lakh crore. The big bang populism ahead of Lok Sabha elections will be a significant feature of the party’s manifesto. A beneficiary family’s annual entitlement would be Rs 72,000, and Congress president Rahul Gandhi called it the 'final assault' on poverty. (Indian Economy / Indian Politics / Social Issues)
333 26-03-2019 - What Indians think: In the run-up to the 2019 elections, most Indians seem optimistic about the direction in which the country is going, despite persistent concerns about unemployment, as per surveys by US-based Pew Research Centre. But a majority of Indians expressed growing concern about terror and the threat posed by Pakistan. Roughly two-thirds (65%) say the financial situation of the average Indian is better today than it was 20 years ago. Only 15% say things are worse. But there are signs of public dissatisfaction — 66% believe their children would be better off than them, down a full 10% since 2017. Even the number of people satisfied about the trajectory of the country (55%) is down 15% from 2017. (Indian Politics / Social Issues / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
334 26-03-2019 - India Australia naval exercise: Ahead of the latest biennial iteration of India-Australia AUSINDEX naval exercise, Australia has sounded a cautionary note on the Quad consultative mechanism involving India, Japan and the US apart from itself. The remark is a vindication of India’s position that the Quad mechanism be held at the level of officials only, despite pressure from the US to upgrade it to ministerial level. After a decade-long interregnum, the Quad was revived in 2017 but has so far remained limited to diplomatic consultations, with India reluctant to hold regular military contacts among the four 'like-minded' democracies in Indo-Pacific. (Defence and Military / World Politics)
335 26-03-2019 - Remarkable archaeological discovery: The discovery of a mysterious ‘foreign face’ engraved on a brick in a 6th-century temple in MP’s Singrauli has created a sensation among archaeologists. The engraving, of a bearded man in ‘foreign attire’ and a skull cap, was found in an early Kalachuri Dynasty temple at an ASI dig site in Nagwa area. Researchers have no idea whose face it depicts. This means that a foreigner was allowed into the religious activities of the day (an extremely rare situation). The closest example is the 'Heliodorus Pillar'. The 6.5m stone column was built around 113 BCE in Vidisha’s Besnagar by Heliodorus, an ambassador of Indo-Greek king Antialcidas of Taxila to the court of Shunga king Agabhadra. (Art Culture Literature / History / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
336 26-03-2019 - I am the best: An exultant President Donald Trump claimed 'total exoneration' at the conclusion of an FBI special counsel investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to manipulate the 2016 election in his favour. The assertion came after his hand-picked attorney general who received the probe report said in a four-page summary that it provided no grounds to indict or charge the president. (World Politics)
337 26-03-2019 - Hindu under attack in Pakistan: At least seven people have been detained by police in connection with the alleged abduction, forced conversion and marriage of two minor Hindu sisters to older Muslim men in Ghotki town of Pakistan’s Sindh province. Police claimed that they also arrested the cleric who officiated the illegal marriage of Raveena, 13, and Reena, 15. A day earlier, a video of the father of the girls, protesting and wailing outside a police station, surfaced and went viral on social media. Another video showing a cleric solemnising the girls’ nikah to Muslim men was also widely circulated on Twitter. (Regional Politics / Religion)
338 26-03-2019 - Listing big Indian startups: Naspers, the largest shareholder in some of the biggest Indian internet companies like online travel portal MakeMyTrip and food delivery player Swiggy, has said it is listing the international investments - including the India portfolio - on Euronext Amsterdam. The development comes as Naspers emerged one of the most aggressive investors in India in 2018, deploying $1 billion across Swiggy and education technology company Byju’s. Naspers will own 75% in the new listed company, which is yet to be named, and is expected to be the largest consumer internet company listed in Europe. The listing is expected to be completed by the second half of 2019. (Indian Economy)
339 26-03-2019 - What Indian think of careers: About 33% of Indians are career sleepwalking — they feel like they are on a treadmill going nowhere — while 57% are keen to pivot to build a more rewarding career, according to the findings of a survey by LinkedIn. The world’s largest professional network also found that in spite of the urge to move to something more meaningful, more than half of those surveyed are apprehensive that such a move could impact pay packages and designations adversely. (Social Issues / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
340 26-03-2019 - SC versus ECI: The Supreme Court said that it was in favour of increasing the random physical verification of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, though the idea was met with stiff resistance from the Election Commission. (Governance and Institutions / Indian Politics)
341 26-03-2019 - Sailors in Greek jail: The Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) will soon draw up a plan to rehabilitate five Indian sailors, who spent over 14 months in a Greek jail after their cargo ship was detained on charges of carrying explosive material on board. The sailors were released after a court in Greece ruled that the chemical material on board the ship, M.V. Andromeda, was indeed raw material meant for the production of crackers, and not some banned explosive material. (Social Issues)
342 26-03-2019 - I prefer to stay quiet: As many as 55% of sampled English Internet users were concerned that expressing their political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities, an India digital report prepared by the Reuters Institute showed. 'These high levels of concern could be based in part on recent events in India. Since 2012 at least 17 people have been arrested for posting material that was considered offensive or threatening to a politician,' the report said. (Indian Politics / Social Issues)
343 26-03-2019 - Give me liquor, I will vote: A nationwide survey involving more than 2.7 lakh people revealed that for 41.34% respondents, distribution of liquor, cash and freebies was an important factor behind voting for a particular candidate in an election, according to the ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms). This is the third all-India survey commissioned by the ADR. A total of 2,73,487 people across 534 Lok Sabha constituencies participated in it. Though 97.86% interviewees felt that candidates with criminal background should not be in Parliament or State Assembly, 35.89% were willing to vote for a candidate with criminal records if the candidate had done good work in the past. (Indian Politics / Social Issues)
344 26-03-2019 - Telecom hit by Jio torpedo: The Indian telecom industry is expected to see a decline in revenue for the third straight year in 2018-19 amid intense competition, while 'minor improvements' are expected in the next fiscal with a 'modest increase' in pricing, according to ratings agency ICRA. Industry revenue, which fell by 11% in FY2018 to Rs. 2.1 lakh crore, is estimated to decline further by 7% in FY2019. The industry earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation [EBITDA] is estimated to reduce by 18% in FY2019, following a 21% erosion in FY2018 (Rs. 49,000 crore). (Indian Economy / Infrastructure)
345 26-03-2019 - Gandhiji's medical files: Mahatma Gandhi’s health files, published for the first time, reveal that the ‘Father of the Nation’ ailed from high blood pressure, weighed 46.7 kg at a height of 5 feet 5 inches (recorded in 1939). He suffered from malaria thrice (in 1925, 1936 and 1944), and was operated upon for piles and appendicitis in 1919 and 1924. He also suffered from pleurisy (inflammation of tissues that line lungs and chest cavity) while he was in London. These facts related to his health have been published for the first time in a special edition the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) on ‘Gandhi and Health @ 150’ by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). (History / Social Issues / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
346 25-03-2019 - Thailand's military cannot be defeated: A military-backed party has taken the lead in Thailand’s first election since a 2014 coup, suggesting junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chanocha could stay in power. With 92% of votes counted, the Palang Pracharat party was first with 7.5 million votes. Its vote total falls short of the numbers required for an outright majority in parliament. Pheu Thai, which was the governing party ousted by the coup, was next with 7 million votes. (World Politics)
347 25-03-2019 - Mumai most congested: Mumbai is the most car-congested city in India. The density of private cars in Mumbai soared 18% in just two years to 510 cars for every kilometre of road. Pune follows Mumbai with 359 cars per km, compared with 319 in Kolkata, 297 in Chennai, 149 in Bangalore and 108 in Delhi, reveal statistics from state transport departments. (Infrastructure / Social Issues)
348 25-03-2019 - Weeding out the unfit from CAPFs: The central paramilitary forces have asked the government to bring a new assessment system that would annually 'weed out' unfit personnel as over 55,000 troops in their combat ranks are in the 'low medical category'. The recommendation was made after the recently held a meeting with all the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). (Defence and Military / Indian Politics)
349 25-03-2019 - NGT strict on clean air action plan: Noting non-compliance of its order on air pollution by six states, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed chief secretaries of Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Nagaland to submit clean air action plans by next month or pay Rs. 1 crore. All the states/UTs were supposed to submit plans with respect to cities in the list of 102 'non-attainment' ones to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) by Dec 31, 2018. (Constitution and Law / Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
350 25-03-2019 - Virtual SIMs used in Pulwama attack: A request would be sent to the US to seek details from a service provider of 'virtual SIMs', which were used by the JeM suicide bomber behind the Pulwama attack and his Pakistan and Kashmirbased handlers. (Terrorism)
351 25-03-2019 - El Nino arriving: US weather agencies have forecast a 60% chance of El Nino continuing through summer. The forecast, if correct, could cast a shadow over India’s 2019 monsoon season. A weak El Nino was finally declared to have set in over the Pacific Ocean in February 2019 by several weather agencies. Since then, these conditions have strengthened and most international weather agencies now predict that El Nino would persist for the next few months. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change / Science and Technology)
352 25-03-2019 - Clogged wheels of justice: 'Accused absconding' has been cited as the reason in over 7,000 cases pending in the lower judiciary, some of them since 1948. More than 2.99 crore cases are pending in district and subordinate courts and judges have now provided reasons for delay in nearly 25,000 cases. Parties not recording evidence before trial courts, stay granted by high courts and the Supreme Court, absence of important witnesses, parties not interested, and delay in receiving government documents rounded up the list of top six reasons for delay in disposal of cases. (Constitution and Law / Governance and Institutions)
353 25-03-2019 - Tejas going global: India hopes that the indigenously developed light combat aircraft Tejas will impress a global audience at Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA), in Malaysia. In a high stakes sales pitch, two Tejas jets have arrived here with a team of 50, and are ready to demonstrate the LCA’s maneuverability and handling, along with aerobatics, in Langkawi, at the exhibition beginning March 26. (Defence and Military / World Economy)
354 25-03-2019 - ISRO EMISAT: Indian Space Research Organisation will launch an advanced electronic intelligence satellite EMISAT, developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), on April 1. It will be used to sniff out enemy radars and to collect imagery and communication intelligence. The 436-kg satellite, which will be placed in the 763-km orbit, will help intelligence agencies keep an eye on hostile nations like Pakistan. (Defence and Military / Science and Technology)
355 25-03-2019 - A huge dinosaur it was: The towering Tyrannosaurus rex discovered in western Canada in 1991 is the world’s biggest, following a decades-long process of reconstructing its skeleton. Nicknamed Scotty for a celebratory bottle of scotch consumed the night it was discovered, the T. rex was 13-metres-long and probably weighed more than 8,800 kilos, making it bigger than all other carnivorous dinosaurs. (History / Science and Technology / Trivia and Miscellaneous)
356 25-03-2019 - Brexit conundrum: British Prime Minister Theresa May held crisis talks with Conservative colleagues as she tries to plot a path through a pivotal week in the Brexit process amid reports her leadership is under imminent threat. She is also confronted with the prospect of lawmakers seizing control of House of Commons procedures in order to hold a series of so-called 'indicative votes' to reveal what support exists for other options. (Regional Politics / World Politics)
357 25-03-2019 - Trump on Golan heights: US President Donald Trump will sign a decree recognising Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights while hosting PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. A senior US official said last week that the Trump administration was preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau that it seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. (World Politics)
358 25-03-2019 - Finding Adolf Eichmann: Rafi Eitan, a former Israeli minister and veteran spy who led the operation to capture fugitive Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann, died at the age of 92. In 1960, he was in charge of the Mossad operation that led to the capture of Eichmann, an architect of the Nazi Holocaust, who was living in Argentina under an assumed identity. Eichmann was taken to Israel where he stood trial for crimes against humanity, was found guilty and hanged. (History / People and Personalities / World Politics)
359 25-03-2019 - Harvard and slavery: The haunting daguerreotypes of seven enslaved men and women taken in South Carolina in 1850 have been an awkward matter at Harvard. Made in a portrait studio at the request of Louis Agassiz, a renowned Harvard biologist out to prove the inferiority of people of African descent. Now they are the subject of a lawsuit brought by a Connecticut woman who says she is a descendant of two of the enslaved people in the photographs, and wants what she sees as her stolen family property back. The lawsuit involves charges of profiteering and exploitation. (daguerreotype - a photograph taken by an early photographic process employing an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapour) (Education / History / Social Issues)
360 25-03-2019 - India Pak skirmish on Twitter: A heated exchange took place between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan information and broadcasting minister Fawad Chaudhry after the former tweeted on incident of two teenaged Hindu sisters who were allegedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and married to Muslim men in a town in Sindh on the eve of Holi. (Regional Politics)
361 23-03-2019 - Rajat Gupta - once a member of the financial elite as the head of McKinsey, a board member of Goldman Sachs and an adviser to Bill Gates - had been convicted of securities fraud in 2012 as part of Raj Rajaratnam’s insider-trading ring. He was sentenced to two years in prison. And he had come to blame his plight on his former confidant Rajaratnam. Today Gupta, wants forgiveness or at least to tell his side of the story. Gupta’s book, 'Mind Without Fear', tells the story of how his career unravelled. (People and Personalities)
362 23-03-2019 - No separatism in J&K please: Continuing its crackdown on separatist elements in J and K, the government banned the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) led by Yasin Malik as an unlawful association for its extremist orientation and violence against the Hindu minority in the Valley. The ban is on the grounds that JKLF had triggered the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits by murdering members of the minority community in the late eighties. (Governance and Institutions / People and Personalities / Regional Politics)
363 23-03-2019 - Sterling Biotech fraud: Hitesh Patel, brother-in-law of Chetan Sandesara who is the main accused in the Rs. 8,100 crore Sterling Biotech fraud, was arrested in Albania on the basis of an Interpol red corner notice issued on March 11 at the request of the ED. Patel was arrested in Tirana on March 20. He is wanted for his involvement with dozens of shell companies used by the Sandesaras to launder bank loans. (Governance and Institutions / People and Personalities)
364 23-03-2019 - Indian Forest Act amendments flayed: The Centre’s first draft on comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927, sent to states early this month for comments, has drawn flak from experts and forest rights activists who felt that giving more powers, including higher immunity for use of firearms, to forest officers can easily be misused. Though certain provisions in the draft are relevant. (Constitution and Law / Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
365 23-03-2019 - A sad tale of inhumanity: A 12-year-old boy who was used as a human shield by two terrorists, even as emotional family members made several appeals to them to release him, during a gunfight with security forces was killed at Hajin in J and K’s Bandipora. The two Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives from Pakistan were among eight terrorists killed in four different operations across the Valley in the last 24 hours. The hostage, Atif Mir, a student of Class 6, was charred to death along with the two terrorists. (Terrorism)
366 23-03-2019 - Boycotting Pakistan Day celebrations: In a significant departure from practice and what is being seen as a major diplomatic snub, the Indian government officially boycotted the Pakistan national day reception in New Delhi over an invitation to Kashmiri separatist group Hurriyat. (Indian Politics / Regional Politics)
367 23-03-2019 - Sam Pitroda reminds of Manishankar Aiyyar: An embarrassed Congress was forced to distance itself from tech czar Sam Pitroda’s statement that air strikes on the Jaish terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan were 'not the right approach' even as PM Narendra Modi pounced on the comment to attack the opposition party. He also sought more information on the Balakot air strikes, referring to media reports questioning claims that 300 terrorists were killed. (Indian Politics / Terrorism)
368 23-03-2019 - Running out of water: To the casual observer, Britain - an island nation that’s no stranger to rain - could not get much wetter. But, as it turns out, that’s a fallacy. And if preventive steps are not taken, in less than three decades, Britain might run out of water, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, a public body responsible for conservation in England. (Environment Ecology and Climate Change)
369 23-03-2019 - Trump and Israel: US President Donald Trump said it was time to reco