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Insights Daily Current Events, 13 May 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 13 May 2016


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Nehru’s 5-year plans to make way for 15-year ‘vision’

The Centre has decided to discontinue five-year plans after the current one, which ends in March next year, and replace it with a longer vision of 15 years that will factor in social goals and sustainable development goals.

Details:

  • Starting next financial year, the government intends to put in place a seven-year strategy as part of what will be called a ‘National Development Agenda’ (NDA) to convert the long-term vision into a policy statement that can be implemented.
  • Unlike the five-year plans, which largely focused on social and economic sectors, the ‘NDA’ will also extend to defence and internal security.
  • The ‘NDA’ will be reviewed every three years with the first mid-term appraisal due in 2019-20, the year the next Finance Commission award is implemented and a new Lok Sabha is elected.

Sources: toi.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

China and Pakistan join hands to block India’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group

It has been reported that China and Pakistan are closely coordinating moves to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

How?

China is using Pakistan’s non-starter position with the NSG to block India’s application in the name of parity, stating that it would either support NSG entry for both India and Pakistan, or none of them.

Way ahead:

Pakistan is expected to write to all the NSG Participating Governments about its wish to join the group. This is being done in anticipation of an application by India for NSG membership at the forthcoming plenary session of the group in June. By taking the lead in rejecting the Pakistani application along with that of India, China would like to project its position as “neutral”.

About NSG:

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.

  • Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
  • Currently, it has 48 members.

Once admitted, an NSG member state:

  • Gets timely information on nuclear matters.
  • Contributes by way of information.
  • Has confirmed credentials.
  • Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination.
  • Is part of a very transparent process.

Sources: toi.


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

India, China sign global pact to help tax MNCs

In a move aimed at ensuring that multinational corporations don’t get away without paying taxes anywhere, India and China have joined a club of countries that agreed to automatically share information, laying bare the structure of operations of these companies.

Details:

  • The agreement was signed as part of the global initiative called Base Erosion and Profit Shifting that is meant to ensure that MNCs do not get away without paying taxes.
  • Apart from these two Asian countries, Canada, Iceland, Israel and New Zealand have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority agreement for the automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports, bringing the total number of signatories to 39 countries.

Benefits:

This agreement will help ensure that tax administrations obtain a complete understanding of how multinational enterprises structure their operations, while also ensuring that the confidentiality of such information is safeguarded.

Background:

Several international giants including Apple, Google and Starbucks are among companies that are seen to be indulging in aggressive tax planning to minimise their burden. Companies resort to multi-layering of their operations and use tax treaties in what government sees as denying them their share of revenue.

Sources: toi.


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

‘Smart’ paper responds to gestures

Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have created ‘smart’ paper with sensing capabilities that can respond to gesture commands and connect to the digital world.

Details:

  • The method relies on small radio frequency (RFID) tags that are stuck on, printed or drawn onto the paper to create interactive, lightweight interfaces that can do anything from controlling music using a paper baton, to live polling in a classroom.
  • The technology — PaperID — leverages inexpensive, off-the-shelf RFID tags, which function without batteries but can be detected through a reader device placed in the same room as the tags. Each tag has a unique identification, so a reader’s antenna can pick out an individual among many.
  • When a person’s hand waves, touches, swipes or covers a tag, the hand disturbs the signal path between an individual tag and its reader. Algorithms can recognize the specific movements, then classify a signal interruption as a specific command. For example, swiping a hand over a tag placed on a pop-up book might cause the book to play a specific, programmed sound.
  • Using the technology, connecting real-world items such as a paper airplane or a classroom survey form to an Internet of Things environment may be possible.
  • They also can track the velocity of objects in movement, such as following the motion of a tagged paper conductor’s wand and adjusting the pace of the music based on the tempo of the wand in mid-air.

Video illustration: https://youtu.be/DD5Wnb0f1rg.

What is RFID tagging?

RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes. An RFID tagging system includes the tag itself, a read/write device, and a host system application for data collection, processing, and transmission. An RFID tag (sometimes called an RFID transponder) consists of a chip, some memory and an antenna.

RFID tags that contain their own power source are known as active tags. Those without a power source are known as passive tags. A passive tag is briefly activated by the radio frequency (RF) scan of the reader.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

  • China has surpassed US as the biggest overseas investor. Chinese companies inked the highest number of overseas deals so far this year. The number of deals, mostly purchase of foreign companies, since January amounted to $110.8 billion.

 

  • In a study, it has been revealed that the Bene Israel community in the western part of India carries genetic proof of the Jewish roots. The community too has identified itself as Jewish. Almost nothing is known about the Bene Israel community before the 18th century, when Cochin Jews and later Christian missionaries first came into contact with it. According to their oral history, the Bene Israel people descended from 14 Jewish survivors of a shipwreck on India’s Konkan shore. The exact timing of this event and the origin and identity of the Jewish visitors are unknown. Some date the event to around 2,000 years ago. Others estimate that it took place in 175 BCE. But others still believe their Jewish ancestors arrived as early as the 8th century BCE.

 

  • `No More 50‘ campaign has been launched Maharashtra in order to press for stronger animal rights law so that the culprits do not get away by merely paying Rs 50 for their unlawful action under the prevailing Act. The campaign urges the Ministry of Environment to increase punishment for animal cruelty in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

 

  • The United States has unveiled the first federal regulations on methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that accelerates global warming — aimed at reducing emissions from new oil and gas operations. The Environmental Protection Agency rules are part of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight climate change, curb pollution and protect public health. Methane is a key component of natural gas, and it is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of fueling global warming. It is the second most common greenhouse gas emitted in the United States as a result of human activities, with nearly one-third of its emissions coming from oil production and the production, transmission and distribution of natural gas. The new rules extend to methane from hydraulically fractured oil wells and equipment that was not regulated in 2012.

 

  • Kerala has once again been named as the best family destination in the country at the Lonely Planet Magazine India (LPMI) Travel Awards 2016. The annual awards showcase the best travel experiences available to Indians and anoint the best service providers, the preferred places to stay and the destinations Indians most love to visit.

 

  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been suspended to face impeachment. Only a simple majority of the 81-member Senate was required to suspend Ms. Rousseff for six months pending judgment on charges that she broke budget accounting laws. A trial could now take months, with a two-thirds majority vote eventually needed to force Ms. Rousseff from office.

 

  • According to the Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database by WHO, Delhi is no longer the most polluted city in the world. From the No. 1 position in 2014, the national capital now ranks at No. 11 on the list. However, Delhi’s annual mean of PM 2.5 stood at 122 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³), while the WHO guideline value stands at 10 µg/m³. Zabol, an Iranian city, is now the most polluted city in the world, according to the data for PM 2.5 pollution. The top 10 list features four smaller Indian cities, with Gwalior taking the second-most polluted spot, followed by Allahabad in the third spot. Patna and Raipur are in the sixth and seventh spot. From six in the previous list, the number of Indian cities has now come down to four. Similarly, there are 10 in the top-20 list, down from 13.