Prelims Booster

6th March – Prelims Booster


SC frees trade in cryptocurrencies, annuls RBI curb

The Supreme Court has set aside an April 6, 2018, circular of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that prohibited banks and entities regulated by it from providing services in relation to virtual currencies (VCs).


The court said that the April, 2018 circular was issued despite the fact that the central bank could not cite a single instance in which VC exchanges “actually impacted entities regulated by RBI”.

Background –

  • On November 2, 2017, the Centre constituted an InterMinisterial Committee, which initially recommended the ‘Crypto-token Regulation Bill of 2018’. This Bill found a complete ban on VCs an “extreme tool” and suggested regulatory measures.
  • At that point, the committee was even fine with the idea of allowing the sale and purchase of digital crypto assets at recognised exchanges. The Supreme Court noted how the same committee did a “volte-face” in just two years.
  • From a permissive draft Bill, the Inter-Ministerial Committee went on to recommend a “total ban” on private cryptocurrencies through a proposed legislation called ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Act’ in February 2019.
  • This proposed law contemplated the creation of a digital rupee as official currency and a legal tender by the Central government in consultation with the RBI.

What is a cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is an encrypted decentralised digital currency transferred between peers and confirmed in a public ledger via a process known as mining. Some important cryptocurrencies include – Bitcoins, Litecoin, Namecoin, Swiftcoin, Bytecoin, Gridcoin etc.

Blockchain Technology –

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

India submits two nominations for World Heritage List

India has submitted two nomination dossiers namely ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ and ‘Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate’ for inclusion in the World Heritage list for the Year 2020.

Dholavira – A Harappan City –

  • It is located in Khadir islet of the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
  • It has two seasonal streams: Mansar in the north and Manhar in the south.
  • It is one of the two largest Harappan sites in India and 5th largest in the subcontinent.
  • Efficient Water conservation system that supported life for more than 1200 years (3000 BCE to 1800 BCE).
  • The water conservation methods of Dholavira are unique and measures as one of the most efficient systems of the ancient world. 
  • Town planning – it consisted of a bipartite ‘Citadel’, a ‘Middle town’ and a ‘lower town’, two ‘stadia’, an ‘annexe’, a series of reservoirs all set within a fortification running on all four sides. 

Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate –

  • The Monuments demonstrate the convergence of national and international styles of Islamic architecture and their intersections with the Hindu architecture of the period southern Indian in present-day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • It comprises of four components namely:
  1. Bahmani Monuments at Gulbarga, Karnataka.
  2. Bahmani and Barid Shahi Monuments at Bidar, Karnataka.
  3. Adil Shahi Monuments at Bijapur, Karnataka.
  4. Qutub Shahi Monuments at Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh.

President rejects mercy petition of Nirbhaya convicts

President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected the mercy petition of Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four men on death row in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

Pardoning powers of the President –

  • Article 72 of the constitution empowers the President to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.
  • Pardon – A pardon completely absolves the offender from all sentences and punishment and disqualifications and places him in the same position as if he had never committed the offence.
  • Commutation– Commutation means exchange of one thing for another. In simple words to replace the punishment with less severe punishment. For example for Rigorous imprisonment-simple imprisonment.
  • Reprieve– Reprieve means temporary suspension of death sentence. For example- pending a proceeding for pardon or commutation.
  • Respite – Respite means awarding a lesser punishment on some special grounds. For example- the Pregnancy of women offender.
  • Remissions – Remission means the reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, for example, a sentence of 1 year may be remitted to 6 months.

India committed to two-state solution

India has remained ‘steadfast’ in its support for Palestinian rights and has consistently voted in favour of Palestine at the UN on ’15 key resolutions’, said members of a key UN body, calling for New Delhi to play an ‘enhanced’ role in the search for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

What is the two-state solution?

  • The two-state solution would create an independent Israel and Palestine, and is the mainstream approach to resolving the conflict.
  • The 1993 Oslo Accords marked the first time that the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) formally recognised one another and publicly committed to negotiate a solution to their decades-long conflict.
  • That two-state vision requires Israel to abandon its opposition of Palestinian claims (to national sovereignty).
  • Ever since the Oslo Accords, giving statehood to the Palestinians has been the bedrock of any proposal to solve the conflict as it is considered the internationally acknowledged solution.

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