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Daily Current Affairs July 13 2017

  Five-judge Bench to hear Aadhaar pleas

In News:

  • A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will hear a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, primarily whether there is a violation of the right to privacy as it requires citizens to part with their biometric details to access welfare and benefits.
  • The Supreme Court had referred the case for hearing before a Constitution Bench in October 2015. But it has been in limbo ever since despite several reminders from the petitioners.
  • This is the first time the Centre has formally joined the petitioners’ side to mention the case for an early hearing by a larger Bench. One of the petitions being heard is filed by former NCPCR chairperson and Magsaysay winner Shanta Sinha.

 

History of the News:

  • A three-judge Bench led by Justice J. Chelameswar, who had remarked orally that the constitutionality of Aadhaar scheme should be decided “once and for all” and probably by a nine-judge Bench.
  • The court had on July 7 taken note of the enactment of the Aadhaar Act giving the scheme statutory status. It had recently upheld a statutory provision making it mandatory to link Aadhaar with PAN.
  • During the hearing, Mr Venugopal highlighted two judgments of the court — M.P. Sharma of 1954 and Kharak Singh of 1963 — both of which held that Article 21of the Constitution, including the right to privacy, was subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • It said on Friday that the fundamental right of identity and various e-governance initiatives of the government to provide food security, livelihood, jobs and health to the “teeming masses” cannot be sacrificed at the altar of the right to privacy of an “elite” few who had neither applied for Aadhaar nor wanted one.

 

Bitcoin trade may come under SEBI 

In News:

  • The government is considering the introduction of a regulatory regime for virtual or cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, that would enable the levy of the Goods and Services Tax on their sale.
  • The new regime may possibly bring their trading under the oversight of the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • The idea is to treat such currency in a manner similar to gold sold digitally so that it can be traded on registered exchanges in a bid to “promote” a formal tax base while keeping a tab on their use for illegal activities such as money laundering, terror funding and drug trafficking

 

Bitcoin — to ban or not to?

  • Currently, the crypto-currency is neither illegal nor legal in India
  • Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while confirming the transaction is valid. It is not owned or controlled by any institution – governments or private. There are multiple such currencies — Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple are some of the popular ones.
  • Bitcoins were in the news recently when during the two global cyber ransomware attacks — WannaCry and Petya — attackers sought about $300 in Bitcoin as ransom.
  • Crypto-currency can also be used for a lot of legal activities depending on which retailers accept such currency.
  • bitcoin

 

6,000 sq.km Antarctic iceberg splits 

In News:

  • One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded has just broken away from Antarctica. The giant block is estimated to cover an area of roughly 6,000 SQ. km, a quarter the size of Wales.
  • A U.S. satellite observed the Berg on Wednesday while passing over a region known as the Larsen C Ice Shelf.
  • Currents and winds might eventually push it north of the Antarctic where it could become a hazard to shipping.
  • An infrared sensor on the American space agency’s Aqua satellite spied clear water in the rift between the shelf and the Berg on Wednesday. The water is warmer relative to the surrounding ice and air — both of which are sub-zero.
  • The new Larsen Berg is probably in the top 10 biggest ever recorded. The largest observed in the satellite era was called B-15.It came away from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000 and measured some 11,000 SQ. km. Six years later, fragments of this super-berg still persisted and passed by New Zealand.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf:

  • The Larsen C shelf is a mass of floating ice formed by glaciers that have flowed down off the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula into the ocean.The two nearby smaller shelves, Larsen A and Larsen B, disintegrated around the turn of the century; and a warming climate very probably had a role in their demise.
  • It has been known also for the Larsen C Ice Shelf itself to spawn bigger bergs.
  • Many of Larsen’s progeny can get wound up in a gyre in the Weddell Sea or can be despatched north on currents into the Southern Ocean, and even into the South Atlantic.
  • Larsen ice berg

 

CPI inflation slows to 1.54%, IIP at 1.72% 

In News:

  • Inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slipped below the central bank’s lower tolerance level to 1.54% in June and industrial output growth decelerated to 1.72% in May.
  • Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian hinted at the need to reboot monetary policy assumptions including ‘systematic inflation forecast errors’ he had red-flagged earlier.
  • Retail inflation slowed for the third straight month, largely driven by a 1.17% contraction in food prices.
  • Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) slowed for the second consecutive month, with consumer durables’ production contracting by 4.55% in May, following April’s 6.05% contraction.

 

‘Deflationary trends’

  • Inflation in clothing and footwear slowed to 4.17% from 4.4% in May, while the fuel and light category witnessed a sharper slowdown, with the reading easing to 4.54% from 5.46%.
  • “The trends in the overall consumer price index and in food prices were expected, but have been sharper than anticipated,” D.K. Srivastava, Chief Policy Advisor at EY India said. “In my view, it is the outcome of demand and supply factors. Demand is subdued and supply is buoyant. That is why there is a sharp downward trend.”
  • In the IIP, mining and quarrying witnessed a sharp slowdown in May, contracting 0.89% from a growth of 3.23% in April. Manufacturing activity also slowed to 1.21% from 2.35%.

Inflation and its indices

  • Inflation is defined as a situation where there is sustained, unchecked increase in the general price level and a fall in the purchasing power of money. Thus, inflation is a condition of price rise. The reason for price rise can be classified under two main heads:
    • Increase in demand
    • Reduced supply.
  • There are different indices in India like Wholesale Price Index(WPI), Consumer Price Index(CPI) etc which measure inflation rates in India.
  • WPI was the main index for measurement of inflation in India until April 2014 when RBI adopted new CPI (combined) as the key measure of inflation.

Index of Industrial Production(IIP)

  • Index of Industrial Production(IIP) is an index which helps us understand the growth of various sectors in the Indian economy such as mining, electricity and manufacturing.
  • IIP is a short term indicator of industrial growth till the results from Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) and National Accounts Statistics (Eg: GDP) are available.

President’s nod for Bill against social boycott

In News:

  • Maharashtra has become the first State in the country to enact a law against social boycott from caste panchayats.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee has given his nod to implement the Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill in the State.
  • The bill had been cleared in last year’s Budget Session and as per the procedure, the bill was forwarded by the Central government to the President for his assent.
  • With growing instances of boycotts of individuals or families by caste panchayats, the need to enact a special law was echoed in the State in 2010.
  • The bill makes provision for punishment of up to three years in jail and/or a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh.