Insights Daily Current Events, 05 March 2016
Paper 3 Topic: resource mobilization.
Governemnt announces third round of Gold Bond Scheme
After two rounds of issuance in November 2015 and January this year, the government is preparing to launch the third tranche of the gold bond scheme.
- The government had raised around Rs 1,045 crore through earlier two rounds of issuance of gold bonds.
- The government had launched the first tranche of sovereign gold bond scheme in November for which it got subscription for 915.95 kg of gold worth Rs 246 crore. In January, it came out with the second tranche and received subscription for 3,071 kg gold amounting to Rs 798 crore.
About Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme:
Under the scheme, gold bonds are issued in denominations of 5 grams, 10 grams, 50 grams and 100 grams for a term of 5-7 years with a rate of interest to be calculated on the value of the metal at the time of investment. The scheme has an annual cap of 500 grams per person.
- The bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited and designated post offices.
- As per the scheme, the gold bonds will be sold only to resident Indian entities including individuals, Hindu undivided families, trusts, universities, and charitable institutions.
- The bond tenure will be eight years with exit option beginning the fifth year onwards. They will also be tradable in the bourses.
- Bonds can also be used as collateral for loans.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: subsidies.
Special cell set up to gather data on subsidies of other nations
The government has set up a special cell to compile information on subsidies given by other countries to their industry.
- The constitution of the special cell is aimed at indirectly helping India Inc file applications before the government seeking imposition of anti-subsidy duties on subsidised imports of items, such as steel, harming local industries.
Significance of this move:
The development comes in the backdrop of slowdown in global trade and measures taken (including against merchandise exports from India) by several countries such as the U.S. to protect their domestic industries from unfairly low-priced imports.
What are ‘subsidies’?
Under the WTO norms, subsidies refer to financial contribution (loan, loan guarantee, grant, import duty exemption, equity infusion, fiscal incentives and purchase of goods) by the government or state agencies resulting in advantages to those players availing it.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Zika virus kills cells that form key brain tissue: report
Researchers in the United States have found that Zika virus severely damages a type of neural stem cell that gives rise to the brain’s cerebral cortex.
- The researchers found that the Zika virus infects neuronal cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.
- Several other questions however remain. For instance, why are the symptoms in adults so mild? How is the virus entering the nervous system of the developing foetus?
Significance of these findings:
- The findings are significant given that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to decide, within the next few months, whether the Zika virus — historically known to be relatively benign — is indeed wholly responsible for the outbreak of microcephaly, or deformed skulls, in newborns in Brazil and other parts of South America.
- Also, this is the first lab evidence of the potency of the Zika virus.
Zika virus disease is an emerging viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that is known to transmit infections like dengue and chikungunya.
- World Health Organisation has reported 22 countries and territories in Americas from where local transmission of Zika virus has been reported.
- It is now assumed that microcephaly in the newborn and other neurological syndromes (Guillain Barre Syndrome) are associated with Zika virus infection.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Prime Minister Launches Setu Bharatam Programme
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently launched the Setu Bharatam programme for building bridges for safe and seamless travel on National Highways.
About Setu Bharatam Programme:
The Setu Bharatam programme aims to make all National Highways free of railway level crossings by 2019. This is being done to prevent the frequent accidents and loss of lives at level crossings.
- 208 Railway Over Bridges (ROB)/Railway Under Bridges (RUB) will be built at the level crossings at a cost of Rs. 20,800 crore as part of the programme.
- In addition to this, about 1500 old and worn down bridges will also be improved by replacement/widening/strengthening in a phased manner at a cost of about Rs. 30,000 crore.
- The Ministry has already invited bids for appointing consultancy for preparing Detailed Project Report for this. The target is to award the consultancy work by March, 2016.
Facts for Prelims:
Dadasaheb Phalke award for veteran actor Manoj Kumar
Veteran actor and director Manoj Kumar will be conferred the 47th Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2015.
- Manoj Kumar is chosen for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.
About the award:
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India’s highest award in cinema. It is presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony.
- The award is conferred by the Centre for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema.
- The award consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and a shawl.
- The award is given on the basis of recommendations of a committee of eminent personalities set up by the Centre.
- First presented in 1969, the award was introduced by the Government of India to commemorate Dadasaheb Phalke’s contribution to Indian cinema. Phalke (1870–1944), who is popularly known as and often regarded as “the father of Indian cinema”, was an Indian film-maker who directed India’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra (1913).
The first recipient of the award was actress Devika Rani. Among 46 awardees, actor Prithviraj Kapoor is the sole posthumous recipient.
Sources: the hindu.
Chapchar Kut, the most important traditional festival of the Mizos is being celebrated across Mizoram and also in the Mizo-inhabited areas in the neighbouring states. It is celebrated after completion of their most arduous task of Jhum operation i.e., jungle-clearing (clearing of the remnants of burning). It is a spring festival celebrated with great fervour and gaiety.