Current Affairs in Short: 3 May 2019
The Odisha state government has moved more than 11 lakh people to safety and advised the public to remain indoors.
Cyclone Fani: Government takes extensive safety measures
• Extensive safety measures have been taken by the Government to tackle cyclone Fani, as a result a massive exodus has gotten underway in coastal Odisha with lakhs of people being evacuated from their homes in probably the largest evacuation ahead of a natural disaster in the country.
• The Odisha state government has moved more than 11 lakh people to safety and advised the public to remain indoors. After crossing Odisha, cyclone Fani is likely to move towards West Bengal. It is also likely to impact parts of the northeast, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
• There is a forecast of massive tides up to 1.5 metres and fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea. Around 81 teams of NDRF has been deployed along the affected coastline.
• The Indian Coast Guard and the Navy have deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations. Army and Air Force units in the three States have also been put on standby.
• The Home Ministry's Control Room helpline number for Cyclone Fani 1938 is operational to provide latest information. Odisha’s emergency helpline number for Cyclone Fani is 06742534177.
• The Railways has also released helpline numbers: Bhubaneswar- (0674-2303060), Puri- 06752-225922, Cuttack- 0671-2201865.
SC to hear review plea filed by Opposition for VVPAT verification next week
• The Supreme Court on May 3, 2019 agreed to hear next week a review plea filed by 21 opposition leaders seeking a further increase in the random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs in the ongoing general elections.
• The apex court had on April 8 directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs in five polling booths per assembly segment from one booth.
• The opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had sought the review of the apex court's order, saying the increase from 1 to 5 is not a reasonable number.
• The plea was listed for urgent hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta. The matter will now be heard next week.
India slips to 5th spot in ICC T20 rankings
• Team India has dropped three places to the fifth position in the expanded men's Twenty20 International team rankings while Pakistan have consolidated their top position, as per the latest list issued by the International Cricket Council.
• The ICC unveiled an expanded T20I team rankings table on May 3 with 80 teams who will now be able to gauge their progress in a format, recognised by the world body as the vehicle for the growth of the game.
• Pakistan is currently holding the top spot with 286 points, while the next four teams are within two points of each other.
• South Africa and India have swapped positions two and five in the expanded table. In other significant changes, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have moved up one place each to seventh and eighth positions with the West Indies going down to ninth position.
• The move to expand the table follows ICC's decision in 2018 that all men's T20 matches between members from January 1 this year will be classified as internationals.
US lawmakers urge authorities not to terminate GSP programme with India
• A group of 25 influential American lawmakers has urged the US Trade Representative not to terminate the GSP programme with India after the expiry of the 60-day notice on May 3, saying the country's companies seeking to expand their exports to India could be affected.
• The Generalized System of Preference (GSP) is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.
• President Donald Trump announced on March 4, the US intends to terminate India's designations as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme.
India again extends retaliatory tariff deadline on US products till May 16
• The Union Government has again extended its deadline to impose retaliatory import duties on 29 US products, including almond, walnut and pulses, till May 16.
• A notification of the finance ministry has said that implementation of increased customs duty on specified imports originating in the US has been postponed from May 2 to May 16.
• These deadlines were extended several times since June 2018, when India decided to impose these duties in retaliation to a move by the US to impose high customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.
• This extension comes in the backdrop of the US decision to withdraw export incentives being provided to them to Indian exporters under Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme, which is expected to impact India's exports to the US worth USD 5.6 billion under this scheme.
UAE President orders release of 3,005 prisoners
• The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered the release of 3,005 prisoners, serving various sentences, ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
• The President has also pledged to settle the financial obligations of the released prisoners.
• The gesture is a part of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa's attempt to provide prisoners an opportunity to start a new life and alleviate their families of the hardships .
Julian Assange to fight extradition to US
• WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has confirmed that he will fight extradition to the United States, where he is accused of conspiring to hack a government computer.
• At a court hearing on May 2, Assange said he would not surrender to extradition for doing what he called journalism that has won many awards. Assange appeared at a UK Court by video link from London's Belmarsh Prison.
• Assange is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail in 2012 and taking refuge in the embassy of Ecuador. The 47-year-old Australian was sentenced to jail by a UK court on May 1.
SpiceJet adds 12 more services from May 11
• SpiceJet has announced introduction of 12 new flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to other destinations.
• Of the 12 new services, which commence from May 11, six are to and from Mumbai while the rest will connect the National Capital. The airline will deploy Boeing 737 NG aircraft on these routes.
• The airline has introduced new flights on the Delhi- Vishakhapatnam and Delhi-Kochi sectors besides adding a fifth daily service on the Mumbai-Bengaluru route and a second frequency on the Mumbai-Gorakhpur route.
• The frequencies on the Mumbai-Chennai and Delhi-Srinagar routes have gone up to five and three services, respectively.
• Since April, the airline has introduced 77 new flights including 48 flights connecting Mumbai,16 connecting Delhi and eight between Mumbai and Delhi as it seeks to fill the capacity deficit due to the shuttering of Jet Airways.