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After SC Rap, EC wakes up to its powers
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
The Election Commission passed several restraining orders against leading politicians for their communally provocative and divisive speeches. This was after the Supreme Court had given 24 hours to the EC to take action.

What powers does EC have in this regard?

  • Restrain politicians from campaigning for a certain period of time.
  • Vet/Clear content for publication on television channels, movie screens or in print.
  • File Criminal complaint against offenders

For more on this issue , review current affairs of April 16

SC to decide on entry of women into mosques
Paper : General Studies 1, General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court 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 observed that the only reason it was being heard was due to the Sabarimala verdict. It issued notices to various government and other bodies such as National Commission for Women.
  • There is also the issue of whether a petition under Article 14 can be accepted as the fundamental right to equality under the given article is only present against the state

What is the underlying ‘rights’ issue?
The right to equality under Article 14 versus right to freedom of religion under Article 25 forms the basic conflict of rights involved in this case. Both are fundamental rights under Part III of the Constitution.

What judgement was given in the Sabarimala case?
The Supreme Court in September last year, struck down the practice of disallowing women in the 10-50 years group from entering the Sabarimala Temple.The court observed that the denial of this right to women significantly denudes them of their right to worship and is not an essential practice. Women had an equal right to worship in a public temple.

Jet Airways Seeks 400 crore infusion to avert shutdown
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Jet Airways, India’s oldest private airline is down to just 5 planes after it faces a liquidity crisis due to non-availability of funds. It has also suspended its international operations. This has happened as the funds that were promised by the banks under interim financing of 1,500 cr. were delayed.

Why is Jet Airways facing this issue?

  • As a slew of budget carriers started flooding the market in the mid 2000s, offering no-frills, yet on-time flights, Jet Airways began dropping fares, some to below cost.
  • On top of that, provincial taxes of as much as 30 per cent on jet fuel added to its expenses, while price-conscious Indian travellers refused to pay a premium for on-board meals and entertainment.
  • Unlike budget operators, full-service airlines such as Jet Airways offer such amenities mostly for free.
  • Jet Airways lost money in all but two of the past 11 years and has Rs 72.99 billion ($1 billion) of net debt.

Why is it necessary to save Jet Airways?
The closure of Jet would result in a loss of 23,000 jobs compounding the unemployment crisis and also push up fares (which have already risen due to grounding of aircraft).

What measures have been taken?

  • The state-run banks, led by SBI, took a temporary stake in Jet, promised a new loan of 15 billion rupees ($216 million) and forced 69-year-old Goyal to resign as chairman.
  • Jet’s lenders laid out terms for potential bidders to buy up to 75 percent stake in the carrier.
  • However, there has been a delay in the release of the interim finance of 15 billion due to the uneasiness of several banks that it exposes them to further bad debt.

 

No sign of arson in cathedral blaze
Paper : Prelims Specific

Why in news?

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France which is eight centuries old was damaged significantly by a fire. The damage included the iconic spire and the roof.
  • It also contained several Holy relics and priceless paintings including a piece of cross on which Jesus was nailed along with one of the nails.

 

Lakes filled with liquid methane on Titan
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?
Using data from the Cassini Spacecraft , scientists have discovered that lakes on Titan, a moon of Saturn near the northern polar region are filled with liquid methane (a hydrocarbon)

What was Cassini Mission?

  • A collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency
  • Its aim was to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites.
  • Also known as Cassini – Huygens Mission where Cassini was the Saturn orbiter and Huygens was the lander on Titan

What are important findings of Cassini Mission?

  • Tested Einstein’s general theory of relativity using radio waves transmitted from the Cassini spacecraft.
  • Discovered seven new moons of Saturn
  • Measured rotational period of Saturn
  • Imaging of Titan along with landing on Titan of Huygens lander
  • Flyby of Enceladus moon of Saturn, detection of variation in magnetic field which is characteristic of presence of atmosphere
  • Measure size-distribution of particles in Saturn’s rings
  • Discovered s storm/hurricane near Saturn’s south pole
  • Change in colour of hexagonal cloud on North pole of Saturn
  • Flyby of Rhea, Hyperion, Iapetus and Dione moons
  • Age of Saturn’s rings

 

Mini Ministerial Meet of WTO to be held in India in May
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
India will hold an informal ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a second time in just over a year, starting May 13.
The two-day mini-ministerial is aimed at reaffirming commitment to preserving a rule-based, multilateral trading system and will likely discuss key issues such as reforms at the Organization, special and differential treatment to developing countries, e-commerce and certain other topics relating to the Doha agenda.

What is the WTO?

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. It is an intergovernmental organization.
  • The WTO officially commenced on January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 124 nations on April 1994
  • It replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
  • The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole i.e. by consensus
  • The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements
  • The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals
  • There are five trading principles recognized by the Wound : non-discrimination (includes MFN and National Treatment), Reciprocity, Binding and Enforceable Commitments, Transparency and Safety Values
  • MFN or Most Favoured Nation status – WTO member has to grant the most favourable conditions under which it allows trade in a certain product type to all other WTO members. It cannot discriminate between members.
  • National treatment means that imported goods should be treated no less favourably than domestically produced goods.