Current Affairs

Morning Brief: Wholesale Inflation Hits Eight-Month Low; SC Quashes NGT Order On ‘Silence Zone’ At Amarnath Shrine; Lalu Yadav Chargesheeted In IRCTC Scam

A wholesaler selling vegetables in Azadpur Vegetable in New Delhi, India. (Sneha Srivastava/Mint via Getty Images)

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Wholesale Inflation Hits Eight-Month Low

With the decline in food prices, wholesale inflation hit an eight-month low in March this year. The annual rate of inflation, based on the monthly Wholesale Price Index, stood at 2.47 per cent for the month of March 2018 as compared to 2.48 per cent for the previous month and 5.11 per cent during the corresponding month of the previous year. According to data released by the government, food articles showed deflation at 0.29 per cent in March as against a 0.88 per cent inflation in the previous month. There was 2.70 per cent deflation in vegetables, 20.58 per cent in pulses and 1.19 per cent in wheat. Inflation in non-food articles too declined by 0.3 per cent to 120.2 from 120.6 during the last month. However, inflation in 'fuel and power' basket rose to 4.70 per cent in March from 3.81 per cent in the previous month.

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SC Sets Aside NGT Order On 'Silence Zone' At Amarnath Shrine

The National Green Tribunal’s order asking devotees to maintain silence while standing in front of the 'Maha Shivalinga', a natural structure of ice inside the Amarnath cave, has been quashed by the Supreme Court. The apex court reportedly said that the NGT should not have passed the said order on a petition which did not concern the Amarnath cave shrine. A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta ordered petitioner Gauri Mulekhi to file an appropriate plea about the pollution at the shrine, observing that the due procedure should be followed. NGT’s order had evoked criticism from several quarters, including Hindu outfits.

CBI Chargesheets Lalu Yadav In IRCTC Scam

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Trouble is set to mount for former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Yadav and his family. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday filed a charge sheet against the former Railway Minister and others in connection with irregularities in giving a contract for the management of two Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation hotels to a private company. Former Bihar Chief Minister and Lalu Yadav's wife Rabri Devi and their son Tejashwi Yadav have also been named by the agency in the charge sheet. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader is accused of awarding the contract in return for a three-acre plot in Patna. He "dishonestly and fraudulently" awarded the contract for the two hotels as a quid pro quo, the FIR filed in the case had alleged. He is currently serving a term of three and a half years in a fodder scam related case.

SpaceX Set To Launch NASA’s Planet-Hunter

SpaceX is set to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a washing machine-sized spacecraft that will expand mankind's search for planets beyond the solar system, atop its Falcon 9 rocket. The satellite carries four camera-detectors to scan over 200,000 bright stars for signs of planets circling them. It will focus on each section of the Earth's sky for about a month at a time. NASA expects its planet-hunter to identify some 2,000-3,000 planets in its first two years of operation. TESS is a follow-up to NASA's Kepler spacecraft, which was launched in 2009 and found 2,300 confirmed exoplanets. It weighs little over 800 pounds, a fraction of the weight a Falcon 9 rocket can lift into orbit. After lift off, SpaceX will attempt to recover the Falcon 9’s first stage booster on a drone ship parked in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Kathua Rape Case: SC Steers Clear Of Handing Probe To CBI

The Supreme Court on Monday steered clear of handing the probe into the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while seeking Jammu and Kashmir government’s response on the request made by the victim’s father to transfer the trial in the case to Chandigarh. Family members of the accused, who have been arrested by the Special Investigation Team, have demanded that the case be handed over to the CBI.

“Unless there is a strong reason for getting another agency to probe, the police investigates. We don’t wish to get into who should probe and will go by the principles of victim protection and fair trial,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

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Pakistan Tried To Incite Sikh Pilgrims To Raise Demand For Khalistan

After Pakistan tried to incite Sikh pilgrims from India currently in Islamabad to raise demand for Khalistan, New Delhi on Monday summoned the country’s deputy high commissioner and lodged a strong protest over its attempt to promote separatism. According to reports, Pakistan tried to incite the pilgrims by making inflammatory remarks and displaying propaganda posters. Pakistan had not allowed Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad to visit the pilgrims. Around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims is currently are Islamabad to visit holy sites and shrines.

Modi Embarks On Five-Day Tri-Nation Europe Trip

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Sweden for a two-day visit on Tuesday, becoming the first head of Indian government to visit the country in 30 years. Besides holding bilateral meetings with his counterpart in Sweden, the Prime Minister will participate in the first-ever India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm. Four Nordic countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway - will participate in the summit along with Sweden, which is co-hosting the event with India. Modi will also hold bilateral meetings with the other four Nordic countries. During this trip, the Prime Minister will also visit the United Kingdom and Germany. During his visit to the UK, Modi will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. While returning from the UK, he will make a stop-over in Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

It’s Time To Replace The UGC Act: The time is ripe for another change: to replace the UGC Act with a new law that responds to the current needs of higher education.

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India’s Grand Illusion Of A ‘Reset’ With China: India should make use of opportunities of collaboration, but it should not delude itself into thinking that a reset in New Delhi will lead to melting of hearts in Beijing.

Fledgling Fertiliser Reforms: Successive governments have lamented an increase in fertiliser subsidy and its destabilising effect on the fiscal situation. Yet, they have failed to address the real issue.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

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Kathua Lessons For Modi-Shah: If You Don’t Drive The Agenda, The Fringe Will

It is not too late for Modi and Shah to change course. If they don’t, the only people to benefit will be the anti-Hindu cabal of the Lutyens power zone.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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