Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 September 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 September 2017


 

Paper 1:

 

Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

 

Gorakhpur, Koraput and Thane to launch Zero Hunger Programme

zero hunger program

Three districts – Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Koraput in Odisha and Thane in Maharashtra – will initiate India’s ambitious ‘Zero Hunger’ programme through interventions in farm sector on October 16 (World Food Day).

Though many more districts will eventually be covered under this dedicated farm-based programme in sync with India’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger by 2030, these three would act as a model of an integrated approach to deal with hunger and malnutrition by adopting suitable agricultural\horticultural practices.

 

Key facts:

  • The Programme will be initiated by the the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • The concerned state governments will also be involved in the programme which consists of organisations of farming system for nutrition, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants/crops and initiation of a ‘Zero Hunger’ training.
  • The programme will ensure suitable methods of measuring the impact of intervention. There will be intensive training programme in order to identify the nutritional maladies in each district and the appropriate agricultural/horticultural and animal husbandry remedies.
  • This programme will be launched in addition to what the government has planned to deal with the issue of malnutrition through various other initiatives under its goal to make India malnutrition free by 2022.

 

SDG: Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

 

What is a genetic garden?

A genetic garden for biofortified plants/crops contains the germplasm of naturally biofortified crops or such crops through plant breeding. It has plants and crops that help supplement micro-nutrient deficiencies, including iron, iodine, vitamin A and zinc among others.

 

Hunger:

  • Globally, one in nine people in the world today (795 million) are undernourished
  • The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 12.9% of the population is undernourished.
  • Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years but in western Asia it has increased slightly.
  • Southern Asia faces the greatest hunger burden, with about 281 million undernourished people. In sub-Saharan Africa, projections for the 2014-2016 period indicate a rate of undernourishment of almost 23 per cent.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 per cent) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
  • One in four of the world’s children suffer stunted growth. In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Paper 2:

 

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

 

TRAI issues draft recommendations

 

Promoting ‘ease of doing business’ is essential for unhindered growth of the telecom sector.  Thus, aiming to promote unhindered growth in the telecom sector, TRAI has released draft recommendations for ease of doing telecom business.

 

Important recommendations made:

  • There should be a cap on the market share when a new company is formed through a merger. Until now the rule was to permit a merger of licenses under the premise that new firm will reduce its market share to less than 50% in a year. But that is not possible since the new operator can neither drop its subscribers from its network nor stop providing them with service.
  • Also, the new company formed should pay the differential amount in spectrum license fee against the entry fee paid by the transfer company, once the telecom department has approved the merger, the regulator said in its recommendations.
  • For an existing service provider, for renewal of licence or migration of its licence to Unified Licence (UL), the condition of minimum net worth should not be applicable.
  • In respect of electro-magnetic field (EMF) compliance, DoT may review the need of calling biennial certification for all the existing sites of every telecom service provider (TSP). TSPs should be asked to submit all requisite certifications only through the Sanchar Tarang portal.
  • DoT should devise a suitable matrix, linking the penalty to the severity of the incident and the number of occurrences of the violation for imposition of financial penalties.

 

About Trai:

  • It is the independent regulator of the telecommunications business in India.
  • It was established in 1997 by an Act of Parliament to regulate telecom services and tariffs in India.
  • In January 2000, TRAI act was amended to establish the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory functions of the TRAI.
  • The TDSAT was set up to resolve any dispute between a licencor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers. In addition, any direction, TRAI orders or decisions can be challenged by appealing to TDSAT.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

Banks can classify priority loans as standard debt: RBI

 

The Reserve Bank of India has assured banks that they can classify priority loans extended to defaulting companies in the bankruptcy process as standard debt in a move aimed at ensuring that entities which can be revived are able to raise resources. This will come as a relief to those companies that are struggling to recast loans within the strict deadline imposed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

  • The central bank has however said this classification will be allowed only if repayments are made every month rather than later in the form of bullet payments or after a few months.

 

Background:

The banks had sought a clarification on the difference in treatment of such loans by banks and finance companies. Priority loans take precedence over other forms of debt and are repaid before other loans in the event of liquidation.

 

Priority sector lending:

Priority Sector Lending is an important role given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the banks for providing a specified portion of the bank lending to few specific sectors like agriculture or small scale industries. This is essentially meant for an all round development of the economy as opposed to focusing only on the financial sector. Typically, these are small value loans to farmers for agriculture and allied activities, micro and small enterprises, poor people for housing, students for education and other low income groups and weaker sections.

 

What is meant by Priority Sector?

Priority sector refers to those sectors of the economy which may not get timely and adequate credit in the absence of this special dispensation.

 

Sources: et.


 

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

 

Centre rethinks joining Hague child custody pact

 

An “inter-ministerial process” is under way to discuss the repercussions of the Hague convention on India. The government had in November 2016 announced that it would not sign the convention.

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has reservations about the treaty because they believe it could trample on women’s rights.
  • However, America says India should sign this convention to create a more effective response to deal with abduction cases and prevent inter-country parental child abduction.

 

What is Inter-country parental child abduction?

Inter-country parental child abduction is a situation that is attained when one parent takes a child or children to a foreign country to prevent the other parent from seeking custody of the child.

 

Indian scenario:

India’s case-load (regarding IPCA) is second largest in the United States which is followed by Mexico. At least 90 children from 80 Indian-American families were affected by separating parents and the legal problems involved. As more and more Indians are studying and working in the U.S, such cases are growing in number and it is necessary to get a better mechanism to deal with this.

 

Background:

Currently, there is no specific Indian legislation addressing issues related to abduction of children from and into India. However, Law Commission of India had submitted the 218th Report titled “Need to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980” on 30th March, 2009.

 

About Hague Abduction Convention:

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.

  • The Convention entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.
  • The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
  • The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court.
  • The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

US resumes premium processing of H-1B visas

h1b visa

The US has resumed fast processing of H-1B work visas in all categories subject to Congress-mandated limit, five months after it was suspended temporarily to handle the huge rush of applications for the work visas popular among Indian IT professionals.

 

Background:

Premium processing of H-1B visa was suspended in April to handle huge rush of new petitions.

 

What is H- 1B visa?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

 

Why is H1B visa programme criticised?

The aim of the H1B visa programme was to supplement the US workforce with high-skilled workers to do jobs that Americans are not skilled to do, not to replace the US workers. But over time, there have been many grumblings that many companies use the H1B visa to replace American workers with foreign ones, as the latter can be hired at lower salaries without compromising on the skill sets. In some cases, American employees have alleged that they were made to train H1B holders to do their own jobs, and then fired.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

NGT paves way for Chardham highway project

-national-green-tribunal

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has paved the way for the NH-34 stretch of the PMO’s ambitious Chardham highway widening project, that will connect Uttarakhand’s holy sites, as it disposed of a plea that alleged that the project was violating provisions of Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone.

  • In an undertaking, the Uttarakhand state government and the Border Roads Organisation assured the green court that the project would be carried out with due compliance of laws in force.

 

Background:

A plea was filed before the NGT. It had raised an alarm about mountain blasting and felling of thousands of trees in the Bhagirathi river valley for widening of National Highway-34. One of the related petitions in the matter also pertained specifically to a nine-km stretch in Bhairon Ghati on the Uttarkashi to Gangotri route. It had said that debris were being dumped into the river valley during the road widening. In fact, during a hearing on May 4, the state government had admitted that BRO dumped muck on the fragile hill slopes.

 

Chardham project:

In December 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the all-weather Chardham highway project. The project involves developing and widening 900-km of national highways connecting the holy Hindu pilgrimage sites of; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri at an estimated cost of Rs.12,000 crores. The roads will be widened from 12m to 24m and the project will involve construction of tunnels, bypasses, bridges, subways and viaducts.

 

Sources: et.


 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

Maharashtra approves 50 per cent cost sharing for Sagarmala project

 

The Maharashtra government today approved the implementation of the Centre’s ambitious Sagarmala project, with a 50% cost sharing by the state.

 

What you need to know about Sagarmala?

The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast. The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline. It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.

The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.

 

The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:

  • Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development.
  • Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  • Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Fast spinning star confirms Indian Nobel Laureate’s theory

stars-nasa-image

Over 70 years after Indian astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar predicted that rapidly rotating stars would emit polarised light, scientists in Australia have observed the phenomenon for the first time.

  • Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and University College London in the UK used a highly sensitive piece of equipment to detect the polarised light from Regulus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.
  • The equipment provided unprecedented insights into the star, which is in the constellation Leo, allowing the scientists to determine its rate of spinning and the orientation in space of the star’s spin axis.

 

Background:

In 1946, Chandrasekhar predicted the emission of polarised light from the edges of stars, prompting the development of sensitive instruments called stellar polarimeters to try to detect this effect. In 1968, other researchers built on Chandrasekhar’s work to predict that the distorted, or squashed, shape of a rapidly rotating star would lead to the emission of polarised light, but its detection has eluded astronomers until now.

 

Polarized light:

Optical polarisation is a measure of the orientation of the oscillations of a light beam to its direction of travel.

 

Sources: et.