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09 November Current Affairs

Special Protection Group (SPG)

In News:

The government has decided to withdraw the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children — Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Details:

It is an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the following

Prime Minister (PM) of India,

Former PM of India and

Members of their immediate families wherever they are.

Type:

It was formed in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as an executive body on the recommendation of Birbal Nath committee.

Later on it became a statutory body under Special Protection Group Act, 1988.

Governance:

It is governed by Cabinet secretariat of India.

SPG chief is an officer of the rank of inspector-general.

Tenure of security cover to former PM:

SPG Security is provided to former PM and the members of his immediate family for a period of one year from the date on which the former PM ceased to hold office and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the Central Government.

However, the security to them can be extended in case the threat is of grave and continuing nature.

Chennai in red zone as AQI tops 300

In News:

Pollution levels in the city peaked with three continuous air quality monitoring stations recording over 300 microgram/cubic metre PM2.5 levels.

About National Air Quality Index:

The National AQI is published for every month by CPCB along with a numerical value and a colour code which helps in comparing air pollution levels in cities.

It is determined on the basis of concentration of 8 pollutants, including Particulate Matter (PM 2.5, PM 10), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), ammonia (NH3) and lead (Pb).

The colour categories are classified into 6 categories depending upon numerical value as Good (0-50), Satisfactory (51-100), Moderately polluted (101-200), Poor (201-300), Very poor (301-400) and Severe (401-500).

Moody’s lowers India outlook to ‘negative’

In News:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded its outlook on India to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’.

Details:

The downgrade in the sovereign outlook was followed by a downgrade in the outlook for a number of public sector and private sector Indian companies.

Moody’s also affirmed India’s Baa2 local-currency senior unsecured rating and its P-2 other short-term local-currency rating.

The decision to change the outlook to negative reflects increasing risks that economic growth will remain materially lower than in the past, partly reflecting lower government and policy effectiveness at addressing long-standing economic and institutional weaknesses than Moody’s had previously estimated, leading to a gradual rise in the debt burden from already high levels.

Reduction in outlook is the first step towards an investment downgrade, as India is now just a notch above the investment grade country rating. An actual downgrade in country ratings can lead to massive foreign fund outflows.

What does the government say?

Noting Moody’s concerns, the Finance Ministry said that India continues to be among the fastest growing major economies in the world, and India’s relative standing remains unaffected.

The Government said it has undertaken series of financial sector and other reforms to strengthen the economy as a whole.

It has also proactively taken policy decisions in response to the global slowdown. These measures would lead to a positive outlook on India and would attract capital flows and stimulate investments.

The fundamentals of the economy remain quite robust with inflation under check and bond yields low. India continues to offer strong prospects of growth in near and medium term.

What are different general credit ratings?

AAA: Highest credit quality that denotes the lowest expectations of default risk.

AA+/AA/AA-: Very high credit quality. ‘AA’ ratings denote expectations of very low default risk. They indicate very strong capacity for payment of financial commitments.

A+/A/A-: High credit quality that denotes expectations of low default risk. The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered strong, however, vulnerability to adverse business or economic conditions exists.

BBB+/BBB/BBB-: Good credit quality that indicates that expectations of default risk are currently low. The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered adequate, but adverse business or economic conditions are more likely to impair this capacity.

BB+/BB/BB-: This rating indicates an elevated vulnerability to default risk, particularly in the event of adverse changes in business or economic conditions over time; however, business or financial flexibility exists that supports the servicing of financial commitments.

B+/B/B-: This rating indicates that material default risk is present, but a limited margin of safety remains. Financial commitments are currently being met; however, capacity for continued payment is vulnerable to deterioration in the business and economic environment.

CCC+/CCC/CCC-: Substantial credit risk exists in this rating, where the default is a real possibility.

CC: This rating shows a very high level of credit risk with a possibility of defaults.

C: This rating shows that a default or default-like process has begun, or the issuer is in a standstill.

DDD/RD/SD/DD/D: This indicates that the issuer has entered into bankruptcy filings, administration, receivership, liquidation or other formal winding-up procedure or has ceased business.

High Court CJ

In News:

Amreshwar Pratap Sahi New CJ of Madras HC.

Details:

Governor Banwarilal Purohit is slated to administer the oath of office to the new Chief Justice of Madras High Court Amreshwar Pratap Sahi at the Raj Bhavan.

Appointment of CJ of HC:

The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President with the consultation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Governor of the State. The other judges are appointed by the will of President, Governor and the Chief Justice of High Court.

Qualifications for the Judges:

(a) He should be a citizen of India.

(b) He should have been (i) a judge for 10 years of Subordinate court under the Judicial Service of the State or (ii) an Advocate for 10 years in a High Courts in India (Article 217).

Tenure: Originally the age of the retirement of the judges of the High Courts was fixed at 60 but it was raised to 62 in 1963 according to the 15th amendment of the Constitution.

Removal of the Judges: A judge may leave his office by resigning. He will send his letter of resignation to the President. His office would be considered to have been vacated if he is appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court or is transferred to some other High Court. A judge of a High Court may also be removed like a judge of the Supreme Court. A judge of High Court may be removed by the President if the Parliament passes a motion against him by an absolute majority and 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting, both the Houses sitting separately.

Maternal death rate declining

In News:

India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has seen a decline from 130 per 1 lakh live births in 2014-2016 to 122 per 1 lakh live births in 2015-2017.

Details:

A decline of 8 points (6.2%) was observed during this period, according to the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) 2015-2017.

While Karnataka has shown the highest percentage decline in MMR, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have shown an increase by 15 points each in MMR.

Definition:

The number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live birth.

Brus of Mizo

In News:

Nearly 32,000 Brus living in Tripura camps since 1997 have been affected after the government decided to stop food supplies and cash dole.

Details:

The Tripura government recently announced that it would restore food supplies, leading to the Brus withdrawing a road blockade they had set up for eight days. The restoration of supplies, however, is only until a deadline of November 30, within which the Brus have to decide whether they will accept a package for repatriation to Mizoram.

Who are Brus?

The Brus, also referred to as the Reangs, are spread across the northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, and Mizoram.

In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. In Mizoram, they have been targeted by groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state.

About Issue:

A bout of ethnic violence forced thousands of people from the Bru tribe to leave their homes in Mizoram. As many as 32,876 people are living in the refugee camps in the Jampui Hills of Tripura.

The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997. In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram’s Mamit district allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community, forcing several thousand people to flee to neighbouring Tripura.

The Bru militancy was a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups who had demanded in the mid-1990s that the Brus be left out of the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.

India Justice Report (IJR)

In News:

India Justice Report (IJR) has been released.

Details:

It has been prepared by Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Daksh, TISS-Prayas and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.

It is India’s first-ever ranking of states on justice delivery.

Performance of various states:

The list is topped by Maharashtra.

Maharashtra is followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Key Issues highlighted:

Vacancy was an issue across the pillars of the police, prisons, and the judiciary, with only about half the states having made the effort to reduce these over a five-year period.

The country as a whole has about 18,200 judges with about 23 per cent sanctioned posts vacant.

By 2017, women are also poorly represented in these pillars.

The prisons in the country were over occupied at 114 per cent, where 68 per cent are undertrials awaiting investigation, inquiry or trial.

Nationally, high vacancies in the justice system.

Only two states have met the 80 per cent of SC/ST/OBC reservation required to be followed and that there are high vacancies in prison staff.

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