Insights Daily Current Events, 26 March 2016
Paper 3 Topic: space.
Highest peak on Saturn
Scientists working on NASA’s Cassini mission have identified the highest point on Saturn’s largest moon Titan.
- Titan’s highest peak is 10, 948 feet high. It is found within a trio of mountainous ridges called the Mithrim Montes.
About Cassini Mission:
Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.
- Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan. The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005. The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
- Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the rings of Saturn.
- Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object.
- Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus’s leading hemisphere.
- Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere.
- Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn’s atmosphere at cloud level.
- Study the time variability of Titan’s clouds and hazes.
- Characterize Titan’s surface on a regional scale.
Sources: the hindu, Wiki.
Paper 3 Topic: intellectual property rights.
India to appeal WTO verdict in solar case
India has decided to appeal against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) verdict over its policy relating to solar power equipment.
- Meanwhile, the government is also examining options to file a case against the US in the World Trade Organisation based on programmes run by American state governments which give protection to domestic manufacturers.
A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel, in February 2016, ruled against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme, requiring the government to offer a level playing field to both foreign and domestic manufacturers of solar panels.
- The panel found that the domestic content requirement imposed under India’s national solar programme is inconsistent with its treaty obligations under the global trading regime.
- The United States had challenged the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power programme. A requirement that certain cells and modules be made in India fell afoul of WTO rules on discriminating against imports.
- The United States said its solar exports to India had fallen by 90% from 2011, when India imposed the rules.
India’s Solar Mission offers a subsidy of up to Rs 1 crore per MW to solar developers sourcing components from local manufacturers. It also stipulates that 10% of the solar capacity target of 100,000 MW by 2022 should be built with domestically manufactured solar modules.
How India defends its move?
India principally relies on the ‘government procurement’ justification, which permits countries to deviate from their national treatment obligation provided that the measure was related to “the procurement by governmental agencies of products purchased for governmental purposes and not with a view to commercial resale or use in production of goods for commercial sale”.
- India also argued that the measure was justified under the general exceptions since it was necessary to secure compliance with its domestic and international law obligations relating to ecologically sustainable development and climate change.
- Besides, it is also being said that only a small portion of demand can be met by India, leaving still a substantial market for foreign component makers.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Election Commissioon clears PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday
The Election Commission of India has given its approval for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming radio broadcast “Mann Ki Baat”, with a condition that his address to the public should not violate the Model Code of Conduct in place for the coming Assembly elections in four States and a Union Territory.
- The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 4 when the ECI announced the schedule for elections.
Model Code of Conduct (MCC):
What is MCC?
These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.
When it comes into force?
The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
- The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect.
- It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.
- The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time.
- This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
- The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.
Sources: the hindu.
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.
Karnataka develops mobile app to monitor rural employment scheme
A mobile application developed by the Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has drawn the attention of the Union government.
- Officials of the Union Ministry of Rural Development have sought a report on the unique features of the App, titled ‘MGNREGA M-platform.’
The App, titled ‘MGNREGA M-platform,’ helps officials monitor the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, and allows the beneficiaries to monitor progress at every stage.
- It has been devised to increase transparency, reduce fund diversion and interference by middlemen.
- It can also be used to ensure automatic payment of wages to labourers by transferring data to the central server.
How it operates?
- If a beneficiary plans to build a pond in his field, he does so by telling the Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) and starts feeding data through pictures.
- He posts ‘before and after’ pictures at every stage of construction. Once the construction is complete, he poses at his pond and uploads the picture to the M-platform.
- This initiates the process of payment of wages and material cost to him. The money is transferred electronically to his account.
- The most important aspect of the app is citizen interface. It helps the labourers or below poverty line families to communicate with senior officials and tell them how they are progressing.
- This also speeds up the process and ensures that there is no misuse of funds.
- The app also helps collate data for the government. Officials can get real-time feedback.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:
As per the provisional data with SEBI, Indian firms have raised over Rs.58,000 crore through issuance of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) in the ongoing fiscal. This is much higher than last year. Most of the funds have been mobilized for expansion, to support working capital requirements and for other general corporate purposes.
What are NCDs?
The debentures which can’t be converted into shares or equities are called non-convertible debentures (or NCDs).
- Non-convertible debentures are used as tools to raise long-term funds by companies through a public issue. To compensate for this drawback of non-convertibility, lenders are usually given a higher rate of return compared to convertible debentures.
- Besides, NCDs offer various other benefits to the owner such as high liquidity through stock market listing, tax exemptions at source and safety since they can be issued by companies which have a good credit rating as specified in the norms laid down by RBI for the issue of NCDs. In India, usually these have to be issued of a minimum maturity of 90 days.
What are debentures?
Debentures are long-term financial instruments which acknowledge a debt obligation towards the issuer.
Coal unit by BHEL
State-run power equipment maker BHEL recently commissioned a 500 MW coal-based unit at Singareni Thermal Power Project in Adilabad District of Telangana.
Arvind Kejriwal has been placed at 42 in Fortune’s list of top 50 world leaders. Kejriwal is the only Indian in the list. The list features men and women from across the globe from the fields of business, government, philanthropy and the arts who are “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same.”