GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World.
US Imposes Sweeping Financial Sanctions On Venezuela.
- The US imposed sweeping financial sanctions on Venezuela on 25th August, 2017, which were angrily denounced by Caracas and dramatically ratcheted up tensions between the two countries.
- The sanctions, which US President Donald Trump signed by executive order, prohibit American financial institutions from providing new money to the government or the state oil company, PDVSA, and could make it harder for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to raise badly needed cash to prevent a debt default.
- They also restricted the Venezuelan oil giant’s US subsidiary, Citgo, from sending dividends back to Venezuela and ban trading in two bonds the government recently issued to circumvent its increasing isolation from Western financial markets.
Highlights Of The Development–
- The financial sanctions drew quick rebuke from Venezuela’s government, with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza calling them the “worst aggression” against the country in two centuries.
- The sanctions follow through on Trump’s threat last month that he would take strong economic actions if Maduro’s government went ahead with plans to create a constitutional assembly that is made up wholly of government loyalists. The opposition boycotted the vote to elect the body’s 545 delegates.
- Since the assembly was seated, it has voted by acclamation to remove the nation’s outspoken chief prosecutor, take lawmaking powers from the opposition-controlled congress and create a “truth commission” that many fear will be used to silence the government’s political opponents. Several prominent opposition mayors have also been removed or ordered arrested by the government-stacked supreme court.
- The sanctions are bound to worsen a crisis that has already seen Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy shrink by about 35 percent since 2014.
- Maduro, who is among some 30 senior officials already barred from the US, has been warning for weeks that the Trump administration was readying a “commercial, oil and financial blockade” in the mould of the one that has punished Cuba for decades.
- He found an opportunity to argue his case that he’s being unfairly targeted after Trump said earlier this month that he wouldn’t rule out a “military option” to resolve Venezuela’s crisis – comments that were roundly rejected throughout Latin America, even by some of Maduro’s toughest critics.
- Maduro is already struggling to combat widespread shortages and triple-digit inflation as oil production has tumbled to its lowest level in more than two decades. Any economic sanctions, however mild, increase the risk of a default on Venezuela’s ballooning debt.
Sources- Al Jazeera.
GS Paper II- Constitution, Polity.
Right To Privacy A Fundamental Right, Says Supreme Court In Unanimous Verdict.
- A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court has ruled that Indians enjoy a fundamental right to privacy, that it is intrinsic to life and liberty and thus comes under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
- On 24th August, 2017, the bench, led by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, pronounced a unanimous judgement even if the judges had slightly different arguments as to how privacy is intrinsic to right to life and liberty.
- The bench comprised Chief Justice Khehar and Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K. Agrawal, Rohinton Nariman, A.M. Sapre, D.Y. Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S. Abdul Nazeer.
Highlights Of The Development-
- In its 547-page judgment that declares privacy to be a fundamental right, the Supreme Court has overruled verdicts given in the M.P. Sharma case in 1958 and the Kharak Singh case in 1961, both of which said that the right to privacy is not protected under the Indian constitution.
- The judgment includes within it six separate judgments from different judges, though the conclusion is unanimous.
- The judgment also included a two-page final order, which states that MP Sharma and Kharak Singh are overruled, and the right to privacy is fundamental.
- The petitioners, former Karnataka high court judge Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and others, had contended that the biometric data and iris scan that was being collected for issuing Aadhaar cards violated the citizen’s fundamental right to privacy as their personal data was not being protected and was vulnerable to exposure and misuse.
- On behalf of the Centre, attorney general K.K. Venugopal, however, had brought to the notice of the court that an eight-judge bench in 1954 and a six-judge bench in 1962 had categorically ruled that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right. He also said that such a right had not been expressly provided in the constitution, though under the British Common Law, the right to privacy was a fundamental right. He maintained that the right to privacy is not a fundamental right to be claimed either under Article 21 (right to life), Article 14 (right to equality) or Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression).
- Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar borrowed from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and equated privacy with the “right to be let alone.” Khehar wrote that the right to be let alone is a part of the right to enjoy life. The right to enjoy life is, in its turn, a part of the fundamental right to life of the individual.
- India, the world’s biggest democracy, joins the United States, Canada, South Africa, the European Union and the United Kingdom in recognizing the right to privacy.
Sources- The Wire.
GS Paper III- Economic Development.
Australian Trade Minister To Lead ‘Business Week’ In India.
- With the focus on strengthening collaboration between Australia and India in agri-business and food, higher education and research and smart cities and infrastructure, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo will lead a major mission to the country this month (August 2017).
- According to the statement, the second Australia Business Week in India (ABWI) arranged by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission — from August 28 to September 1, 2017 — will attract many business leaders.
- Over 50 business events and activities with Indian businesses, industry and government, will take place across the six cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bhopal, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Key Points Of The Development-
- ABWI 2017 builds on the success of the inaugural event in 2015, which created lasting relationships and generated business worth millions of dollars.
- India is Australia’s ninth largest partner with two-way trade and services of A$20.7 billion and its fifth-largest export market, with total exports of A$11.1 billion.
- The total Indian investment in Australia is nearly A$13.5 billion (up from A$600 million in 2006), while the total Australian investment in India is over A$10.3 billion.
- Leonie Muldoon, senior trade & investment commissioner – South Asia at the Australian Trade & Investment Commission, has said the Australia Business Week in India is a significant platform which can be leveraged by Australian businesses to take a closer look at what India has to offer and engage with potential partners and customers in specific areas of mutual business opportunity.
- Muldoon said that Australia has strong capabilities which can help India better utilise its natural resources, increase food and energy security, and cater to the aspirations of its demography and increasingly affluent population.
- The sheer size and breadth of the delegation across multiple industry sectors makes it an important step in Australia’s ongoing efforts to further enhance the trade, investment and education relationship with India.
Sources- Business-Standard, Financial Express.