Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 April 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 April 2017


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

New Taxi Policy Guidelines

 

The safety measures, recommended by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, concerning safety of women commuters availing of cab services have been included in the new Taxi Policy Guidelines.

  • These measures were recommended by the WCD Minister, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping (MoRTH).

taxi

Recommendations of WCD Ministry included in the New Taxi Policy Guidelines:

  • The taxis should be mandatorily fitted with GPS panic devices.
  • For the safety of women and child passengers, the central locking system in the taxis should not be allowed.
  • The driver’s identification along with the photo and registration number of the vehicle should also be prominently displayed in the taxi.
  • Violation of the stipulated rules by the taxi operators/drivers should be strictly dealt in accordance with law.
  • Sharing of seat should be subject to willingness of passengers.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection

 

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Power for Signing of “Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection“.

  • This MoU will provide a broad framework for the Parties to cooperate towards the implementation of grid interconnections for the trade in electricity with a view to promoting rational and optimal power transmission in the BIMSTEC region.
  • It will be signed among member states of BIMSTEC at the upcoming 3rd BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Meeting to be held in Nepal shortly.

This MoU will facilitate:

  • The optimization of using the energy resources in the region for mutual benefits on non-discriminatory basis subject to laws, rules and regulations of the respective Parties.
  • The promotion of efficient, economic, and secure operation of power system needed through the development of regional electricity networks.
  • The necessity of optimization of capital investment for generation capacity addition across the region.
  • Power exchange through cross border interconnections.

 

Background:

The “Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation in BIMSTEC” was formulated in the first BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Conference held in New Delhi on October 4, 2005. In this plan, under the “BIMSTEC Trans-Power Exchange and Development Project”, it was decided that a Task Force led by Thailand, with representatives of member countries, will give a report on draft MoU for grid interconnections.

  • Total five meetings Task Force for BIMSTEC on Trans-power Exchange were held and the draft MoU for establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection was finalized by the Task Force on 16th Mar 2015.
  • In the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat 2016, held in Goa on 16th October 2016, the Leaders decided to expedite the signing of the MoU on BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. Eventually, during the 4th meeting of BIMSTEC Senior Officials on Energy held on 11th-12th January 2017, the MoU was discussed and finalized.

 

BIMSTEC: The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation involving a group of countries in South Asia and South East Asia viz. Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

 

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Petrol, diesel prices to be fixed daily

 

From May, oil marketing companies are expected to introduce a daily revision of petrol and diesel prices in select markets, on a pilot basis.

  • The move is expected to shield the state-owned oil companies from the volatility in global crude prices which keep changing everyday.

petrol

Significance of this move:

  • Daily price change will remove the big leaps in rates that need to be effected at the end of the fortnight, and consumers will be more aligned to market dynamics.
  • Analysts say that a daily change in price will help the OMCs to get accurate price reflecting international oil prices and rupee-dollar fluctuations, and will also enable them to not make big cuts or surge in prices which are often not taken well by consumers as well as becomes a political issue.

 

Background:

In many countries, auto-fuel prices move in sync with the price of crude oil. Now, state-run fuel retailers revise prices on the 1st and 15th of every month based on average international price of crude in the preceding fortnight and the currency exchange rate.

While petrol price was freed from government control in June 2010, diesel rates were deregulated only in October 2014.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Global interest in PSLV soars

 

The Indian PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) space vehicle has received more than double its normal share of inquiries from prospective customers ever since it launched a record 104 satellites in a single flight in February. ISRO is also ramping up availability of the PSLVs.

  • The PSLV, with a near impeccable 37 successes in 39 flights is a clear leader in the category of rockets that lift small satellites to low Earth orbits or LEOs.
pslv-c37

clearias

About PSLV:

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV, commercially available only from Russia. PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage, one of the largest solid rocket motors in the world, carries 138 tonnes of hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene urethane-bound (HTPB) propellant.

  • ISRO has envisaged a number of variants of PSLV to cater to different mission requirements. There are currently three operational versions of the PSLV — the standard (PSLV), the core-alone (PSLV-CA) without the six strap-on booster motors, and the (PSLV-XL) version, which carries more solid fuel in its strap-on motors than the standard version.
  • In 2015 India successfully launched 17 foreign satellites belonging to Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some notable payloads launched by PSLV include India’s first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1, India’s first interplanetary mission, Mangalyaan (Mars orbiter) and India’s first space observatory, Astrosat.
  • On 15 February 2017, India successfully launched a payload of 104 foreign satellites in polar orbit around the Earth using PSLV tripling the previous record held by Russia for most number of satellites sent to space in a single launch.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

 

Panel to suggest norms for Bitcoins, virtual currencies

 

To examine the existing framework for virtual currencies, the department of economic affairs in the Ministry of Finance has constituted an inter- disciplinary committee chaired by Special Secretary (Economic Affairs) with representatives from the departments of revenue and financial services and the ministries of home Affairs as well as electronics and Information Technology.

  • The committee will also include experts from the RBI, the central government’s think tank NITI Aayog and the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India.
bitcoin

Bitcoin

Key facts:

  • The committee recommends measures to close the regulatory gaps to keep a check on virtual currencies, including Bitcoins.
  • The panel has been asked to submit its report within three months and its terms of reference require it to take stock of the present status of Virtual Currencies both in India and the world over, examine the existing regulatory and legal structures governing them and suggest measures for dealing with such currencies.
  • The committee will necessarily examine how to cope with money laundering opportunities as well as consumer protection concerns that could arise from the use of virtual currencies.

 

Background:

The circulation of Virtual Currencies which are also known as Digital/Crypto Currencies has been a cause of concern. This has been expressed in various fora from time to time. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had also cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins, about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Centre files curative plea on AFSPA

 

The government has asked the Supreme Court to urgently reconsider its July 2016 verdict which ripped open the cloak of immunity and secrecy provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) to security forces for deaths caused during encounters in disturbed areas.

afspa

Background:

The Supreme Court had held that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court” if an Army man has committed an offence. The judgment had held that every death caused by security forces in a disturbed area, even if the victim was a dreaded criminal or a militant or a terrorist or an insurgent, should be thoroughly inquired into to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force.

The judgment came on a plea by hundreds of families in Manipur for a probe by Special Investigation Team.    

 

What the centre says?

  • The centre argues that the judgment had become a fetter on security forces involved in anti-militancy operations.
  • The centre also observed that the principles of right to self-defence cannot be strictly applied while dealing with militants and terrorist elements in a hostile and unstable terrain because of the complexity and the reality of the conduct of military operations and tactics, especially while combating terrorists.

 

What is AFSPA?

AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.

  • The Act provides army personnel with Constitutional safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.

 

How is a region declared ‘disturbed’?

Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Bihar sets up court for prohibition cases

 

A year after enforcing stringent prohibition laws, the Bihar government has set up a special court for speedy trial in cases registered against violation of the law.

  • Following the High Court directive, the first special court has been set up in Patna.

dry state

Need for special courts:

Bihar became a dry State on April 5, 2016. In last one year, over 45,000 people have been arrested for violating the liquor laws and 44,996 were sent to jail. Police and Excise department officials conducted 2,18,722 raids and seized over 3.5 lakh liters of liquor. Every day, trucks and vans loaded with liquor are being seized in different parts of the State. The border districts have also become more vulnerable for smuggling of liquor bottles.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Fact for Prelims:

 

Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh as “an Institute of National Importance” through an Act of Parliament.
  • The Institute will have the governance structure as well as legal mandate to grant degrees in a manner similar to that enjoyed by IITs. A separate Act will also impart the required status to the Institute to become a “Centre of Excellence” in petroleum and energy studies.
  • The Cabinet has also approved Rs 655.46 crore as capital expenditure to set up IIPE and contribution of Rs 200 crore towards its Endowment Fund.
  • The objective is to meet the quantitative and qualitative gap in the supply of skilled manpower for the petroleum sector and to promote research activities needed for the growth of the sector.

 

Songkran:

  • Thai New Year – or Songkran – takes place every year on April 13.
  • The word Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word and literally translates as “astrological passage”.
  • The celebration marks the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year, as the sun moves into Aries in April.

 

Fun & feast as several communities celebrate new year, harvest festivals:

The second spell of Hindu new year and harvest festivals falls are being celebrated across the country:

  • Bengalis celebrate Poila Boishakh.
  • Malayalis celebrate Vishu.
  • Tamilians celebrate Puthandu.
  • Assamese celebrate Rongali Bihu.
  • Punjabis celebrate Baisakhi.
  • Odia celebrates Maha Vishuba Sankranti.