Current Affairs of 26-27 April


Justice Indu Malhotra
Justice Indu Malhotra
Justice Indu Malhotra - Justice Indu Malhotra was on April 25, 2019 appointed as the third member of the in-house inquiry panel set up to examine allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Malhotra was appointed to the panel following the recusal of Justice N V Ramana. Senior-most judge S A Bobde, who is heading the panel, appointed Justice Malhotra to the committee. Another woman judge, Justice Indira Banerjee is also a part of the panel.
Objection Against NV Ramana - The move comes a day after the former junior court assistant, who raised the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI, wrote a letter to the panel expressing reservation over the inclusion of Justice Ramana. She raised a question over the presence of only one woman apex court judge, Indira Banerjee, in the panel to examine her allegations against the CJI. She pointed out that as per the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in a previous judgement, for holding an inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment at workplace, the committee must have a majority of women.

Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India
Malaria Elimination Research Alliance
Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India - The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on April 25, 2019 launched the 'Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India', a gathering of partners working together to plan and scale up research to eliminate Malaria from India by 2030. MERA India alliance holds utmost importance to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the operational research. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier appreciated India’s research in malaria and hence, the country now aims to ensure its elimination by 2030.
World Malaria Day - The alliance was launched on the occasion of the World Malaria Day 2019. The National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP) developed a comprehensive framework to achieve "Malaria free India by 2030". The NVBDCP's National Strategic Plan recognises the critical role of research to support and guide malaria elimination efforts. Malaria is caused by a Plasmodium Parasites that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. 

New Banknotes of Rs 20
New Banknotes of Rs 20
New Banknotes of Rs 20 - The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will shortly issue Rs  20 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series, bearing signature of Shaktikanta Das, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. The new Rs  20 banknote has motif of Ellora Caves on the reverse, depicting the country's cultural heritage. The base colour of the note is Greenish Yellow. All the banknotes in the denomination of Rs 20 issued earlier by the Reserve Bank of India will continue to be legal tender. The dimension of the banknote will be 63 mm x 129 mm.

National Intellectual Property Award
National Intellectual Property Award
National Intellectual Property Award - Dr. Benny Antony has been honoured with the National Intellectual Property Award, 2019 in the category of Top Individual for Patents and Commercialization. Dr. Antony has over 80 international patents to his credit. Along with the National IP Award, the Intellectual Property Office India and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have jointly honoured Antony with the ‘WIPO Medal for Inventors’. 
IPI World Press Freedom Hero award - Dawn editor and Columnist Cyril Almeida from Pakistan has won the IPI’s (International Press Institute) World Press Freedom Hero award in 2019. He won this award for his “critical” and “tenacious coverage” of the civil-military relations in Pakistan. MadaMasr, an Egyptian news site, won Free Media Pioneer Award 2019 of the IPI and International Media Support (IMS). Both awards will be presented in Geneva, Switzerland on 5th June, World Intellectual Property Day 2019.

Disclosure Policy of RBI
Disclosure Policy of RBI
Disclosure Policy of RBI - The Supreme Court gave the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) “a last opportunity” to withdraw a November 2016 Disclosure Policy to the extent to which it stonewalls revelation of every other kind of information under the Right to Information Act, including the list of wilful defaulters and annual inspection reports. A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and M.R. Shah found the policy of the central bank to be directly contrary to the court’s judgment of December 2015 that the Reserve Bank could not withhold information sought under the RTI Act. The 2015 judgment had rejected the RBI’s argument that it could refuse information sought under the RTI on the grounds of economic interest, commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship or public interest.
Dalbir Singh Suhag - Former Indian Army Chief General (Retired) Dalbir Singh Suhag was on April 25, 2019 appointed as India's High Commissioner to the island nation Seychelles. Dalbir Singh was the Army Chief from August 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016. He was also part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka in 1987. In 2015, Seychelles agreed to allocate land on Assumption Island for India to build its first naval base in the Indian Ocean region.

Belt and Road Forum
Belt and Road Forum
Belt and Road Forum - Second edition of the three-day Belt and Road Forum was held in Beijing, china. The three-day forum was attended by leaders of 37 countries and officials from scores of other nations. However, India once again managed to skip the event. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte were among the prominent dignitaries. Ahead of the BRF, Italy has become the first G-7 country to formally join the BRI. In this summit Chinese President Xi Jinping defended his ambitious ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), vowing to prevent debt risks and saying that his global infrastructure project is not an exclusive club. The clarification came after various nations accused that Belt and Road is a "debt trap" and a geopolitical tool for Beijing's ambitions of becoming a global superpower. The BRI aims to bring about much-needed transformation in developing countries; however, critics believe that the initiative favours Chinese companies while burdening other nations with debt and causing environmental damage.
India’s Objection - It was for the second time that India skipped the Belt and Road Forum in a protest against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through the disputed Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by it. The corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. The CPEC project runs through the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), an integral part of India. It portends that China may emerge as a ‘direct party’ in the Kashmir dispute in future.
What is Belt and Road Initiative - The Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy, which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The initiative aims to create ‘One Belt, One Road’ by establishing new routes linking three continents - Asia, Europe and Africa by 2049. The initiative focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People's Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road" announced in 2013. he Belt and Road Initiative aims to reinvent the ancient Silk Road to connect Asia to Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects. The initiative is geographically structured along 6 corridors and the maritime Silk Road.
  1. New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China to Western Russia
  2. China - Mongolia - Russia Corridor, running from Northern China to Eastern Russia
  3. China - Central Asia - West Asia Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey
  4. China - Indochina Peninsula Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore
  5. China - Pakistan Economic Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan
  6. Bangladesh - China - India - Myanmar Corridor, running from Southern China to India
  7. Maritime Silk Road, running from the Chinese Coast over Singapore and India to the Mediterranean.

Priority Watch List of USA
Priority Watch List of USA
Priority Watch List of USA - The United States on April 25, 2019 yet again placed India on its ‘Priority Watch List’, alleging lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its Intellectual Property (IP) framework on long-standing and new challenges, which has negatively affected American right holders over the past year. The office of the US Trade Representative identified 11 countries, including India, in its ‘Priority Watch List’. The list topped by China also includes Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Besides this, the US Trade body has placed 25 countries, including Pakistan, Turkey and the UAE, on the watchlist.
India in Priority Watch List - In its India section of the report, the USTR said that long-standing IP challenges facing US businesses in India include those which make it difficult for innovators to receive and maintain patents in that country, particularly for pharmaceuticals, insufficient enforcement actions, copyright policies that do not properly incentivise the creation and commercialisation of content, and an outdated and insufficient trade secrets legal framework. Report also alleged that India also further restricted the transparency of information provided on state-issued pharmaceutical manufacturing licenses, and expanded the application of patentability exceptions to reject pharmaceutical patents.

US Rejected United Nations Arms Trade Treaty
US Rejected United Nations Arms Trade Treaty
US Rejected United Nations Arms Trade Treaty - US President Donald Trump on April 26, 2019 rejected the United Nations' 2013 Arms Trade Treaty aimed at regulating the global arms trade. Trump described the UN arms trade treaty as misguided and an intrusion on US sovereignty. Trump states, “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom”. Trump said that the US Senate never ratified the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty despite his predecessor Barack Obama having endorsed it.
Background of Arms Trade Treaty - The 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) came into effect in December 2014 after over 65 countries of the world signed it on June 3, 2013. The treaty was discussed at the global conference in July 2012 in New York, however, no agreement was reached at that time. Finally, on April 2, 2013, the Arms Trade Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The UN General Assembly endorsed the Arms Trade Treaty on a vote of 154 to 3. While some countries were absent, the only nations opposed to the ATT were Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
What is Arms Trade Treaty - The treaty seeks to regulate the flow of weapons into conflicted zones. It requires member countries to keep records of international transfers of weapons and to prohibit cross-border shipments that can be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians. So far, while 130 countries have originally signed the treaty, only 101 ratified and joined it. The world's largest arms traders including the United States, China and Russia have not joined the treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty covers light weapons, attack helicopters, battle tanks, missile launchers, warships, missiles, armoured combat vehicles, small arms and large-calibre artillery systems.
US Imposed Sanctions on Pakistan - The United States on April 26, 2019 imposed sanctions on Pakistan after the nation refused to take back its citizen deportees and visa over-stayers from America. As a result of such sanctions, mentioned in a Federal Register notification dated April 22, the US may withhold visas of Pakistanis beginning with its senior officials. With these sanctions, Pakistan is the latest to join the list of 10 nations imposed with sanctions under the US Immigration and Nationality Act according to which countries refusing to take back deportees and visa over-stayers will be denied American visas. Ghana and Pakistan have been included in the list this year. The other countries include Guyana in 2001; Gambia in 2016; Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in 2017; Burma and Laos in 2018. It will create difficulties for Pakistanis who want or need to travel to the US.

World Intellectual Property Day
World Intellectual Property Day
World Intellectual Property Day - The World Intellectual Property Day was observed across the world on April 26, 2019 to spread awareness about the role that intellectual property rights like patents, trademarks, industrial designs and copyright play in encouraging innovation and creativity. On this day, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) works together with various government agencies, non-government organizations, community groups and individuals to hold different events and activities to promote the day. The theme of World Intellectual Property Day 2019 was “Reach for Gold: IP and Sports”. This year’s theme dives into the world of sports. It explores how innovation, creativity and the IP rights support the development of sport and its enjoyment around the world.
Background of World Intellectual Property Day - In 2000, the WIPO designated 26 April as an annual World Intellectual Property Day to address the perceived gap between Intellectual Property as a business/legal concept and its relevance to people’s lives. April 26 was specifically chosen as the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, first entered into force in 1970 on this date.
Waste Plastic Import Ban in China - According to a new report, the Chinese Government’s ban on the import of foreign plastic waste has thrown the world recycling sector into chaos. The ban forced countries like the US and UK to find new ways to deal with their own trash, which has resulted in huge pile-ups of plastic waste in Southeast Asian nations. The report titled ‘Discarded: Communities on the frontlines of the global plastic crisis’, by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Greenpeace, highlights the impact of China’s waste ban on communities in Southeast Asia. Earlier, China received the bulk of scrap plastic from around the world, processing much of it into a higher quality material that could be used by manufacturers. However, at the beginning of 2018, China announced that it was going to stop accepting almost all foreign plastic waste. In developed nations, the cost of plastic recycling is very high, as a result in some cases, those collecting plastic and other recyclables have resorted to sending it to landfill sites as the scrap has piled up too quickly.

Giraffes Ban in Danger
Giraffes in Danger
Giraffe in Danger - The Trump administration on April 25, 2019 initiated its first move towards extending protection for giraffes under the Endangered Species Act. The group, which designates endangered species, added giraffes to its "Red List" in 2016. It determined that the species as a whole is "vulnerable" to extinction and classified two subspecies as "critically endangered." There are now only about 68,000 mature giraffes left in the wild, with their number falling each year. A coalition of environmental and conservation groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service in early 2017 to protect giraffes under the Endangered Species Act. 
India’s First Green Car Loan- State Bank of India (SBI) has launched India’s first ‘Green Car Loan’ (Electric Vehicle) to encourage customers to buy electric vehicles. The new scheme ‘Green Car Loan’ will offer the loan at 20 basis points lower than the interest rate on the existing car loan schemes. SBI has already notified 100% migration to EVs (Electric Vehicles) by 2030 in order to decrease carbon footprints, thus being in line with the government’s pledge of ensuring 30% EVs on road by 2030.
Ombudsman Scheme for NBFC - The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on April 26, 2019 extended the coverage of Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), 2018 to eligible Non Deposit Taking Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFC-NDs). The coverage will be extended to Non Deposit Taking Non Banking Financial Companies having asset size of Rs 100 crore or above with customer interface. However, Non Banking Financial Company-Infrastructure Finance Company (NBFC-IFC), Core Investment Company (CIC), Infrastructure Debt Fund-Non-banking Financial Company (IDF-NBFC) and NBFCs under liquidation are excluded from the ambit of the Scheme.
Background of Ombudsman Scheme - The Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), 2018 was launched on February 23, 2018 for redressal of complaints against NBFCs registered with RBI under Section 45-IA of the RBI Act, 1934. Initially, the scheme covered all deposit accepting NBFCs. It provides a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs covered under the Scheme. The offices of the NBFC Ombudsmen function at four metro centres - Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. The NBFC Ombudsmen offices handle complaints of customers in the respective zones. The Scheme also provides for an Appellate Mechanism under which the complainant or the NBFC has option to appeal against the decision of the Ombudsman before the Appellate Authority.
Underground Tunnels Along Borders - Indian Army signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Limited, to build four underground tunnels along China and Pakistan borders for storage of ammunition and other war-related equipment. Three tunnels will be built along the Chinese border and one tunnel will be built along the Pakistan border. The tunnel can store 175-200 metric tonnes of ammunition and the cost of this pilot project is around Rs 15 crore.

Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize
Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize
Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize - The second edition of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize was awarded to author Rana Dasgupta for his 2010 novel "Solo", a tale of estrangement and the ultimate failure of material existence. The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for social achievement was awarded to Yohei Sasakawa, for "his incredible efforts to uproot leprosy and great contribution to world peace".
CPWD Constituted Expert Committee - The Central Works Public Department (CPWD) has constituted an expert committee to formulate a design policy for building construction and infrastructure development.  The committee has been set up under the chairmanship of CPWD's Additional Director General M K Sharma. The move is aimed at reviving building construction and infrastructure development at all levels in the CPWD which comes under the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry. The committee has been asked to submit its report to Director General Prabhakar Singh within 30 days.
Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Media Summit - 5th Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) Media Summit on Climate Action and Disaster Preparedness held in Kathmandu. The theme of the two-day summit was “Media Solutions for Sustainable Future: Saving Lives, Building Resilient Communities”.
Abhishek Verma - Abhishek Verma won the 10m air pistol gold medal at the ISSF World Cup at Beijing, China. Russia's Artem Chernousov took silver. His brilliant performance in the Shooting World Cup Final also secured a fifth Olympic quota for India.

New Bird Species
New Bird Species
New Bird Species - Zoologists at Trinity College Dublin have discovered two new bird species named as the Wakatobi white-eye and the Wangi-Wangi white-eye in the Wakatobi Archipelago of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Details of their discovery were published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 
First Flight Without Single-Use Plastics - Etihad Airways, UAE based flag carrier, has become the first major airline in the Gulf region to operate a flight without any single-use plastics on board. The objective is to raise awareness about pollution. Etihad Airways has pledged to reduce single-use plastic usage by 80% across the entire organization by the end of 2022.

Maruti Suzuki Will Discontinue Diesel Cars
Maruti Suzuki Will Discontinue Diesel Cars
Maruti Suzuki Will Discontinue Diesel Cars - Maruti Suzuki, the largest car maker in the country, announced plans to discontinue selling all diesel cars from April 1, 2020, citing uncertainty over demand for such vehicles due to “significant” increase in price once the new BS VI emission norms kick in. “From April 1, we will have no diesel car on sale… Depending on how customers react to BS VI diesel vehicles next year... if we find that there is a market for such cars, we will develop a BS VI diesel vehicle in a reasonable period of time,” company chairman R.C. Bhargava said. Mr. Bhargava said that factors such as the ban on diesel vehicles older than 10 years and environmental activists saying that diesel is a more polluting fuel is creating some sort of an anti-diesel sentiment.

Women Will Be Inducted in Military Police - In a historic first, the Army began the process to induct women in the military police, nearly two years after Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said women will be recruited as jawans. The Army started the online registration for recruitment in the Corps of military and the last date for filing application has been fixed as June 8.

Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Resigned - Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned, taking responsibility for what the government earlier termed “a major lapse” in intelligence on the Easter attacks. Mr. Fernando is the first official to step down after both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said they were unaware of the imminent threat, though the security establishment had received prior intelligence.
Complaints In Banking Ombudsman Increased - The number of complaints by bank customers to the Reserve Bank of India’s banking ombudsman increased by 24.9% in the financial year 2017-18 as compared to the previous year, the banking regulator said. The major grounds of complaints received during the year were non-observance of fair practices code (22.1%), ATM and debit card issues (15.1%), credit card issues (7.7%), failure to meet commitments (6.8%), mobile and electronic banking (5.2%), the central bank said.
World Day for Safety and Health at Work - The World Day for Safety and Health at Work was observed across the globe on April 28, 2019. The day is observed annually to promote safe, healthy and decent work. The World Day celebration on April 28 will be only the beginning of worldwide events and activities to continue throughout the rest of the year. The day has been observed every year on April 28 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 2003, in order to stress on the prevention of accidents and diseases at work. The date also commemorates the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, which has been organised worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996.