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Current Events 08 May 2017

 

NEWS

8 May 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III:   AGRICULTURE

Glut ruins farmers trapped in ‘cobweb phenomenon’

2.

GS III : DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Sunkesula barrage goes dry after four decades

3.

GS II :  SOCIAL- HEALTH

Odisha to deploy six boat ambulances in cut-of areas

4.

GS II :  SOCIAL- VULNERABLE GROUPS

Dalits continue to flee Shabbirpur

5.

GS III:   MONEY LAUNDERING

CBI busts web of shell firms

6.

GS III :  DEFENCE

Defence pay hike from May

7.

GS III: SECURITY

CRPF command shifted back to Chhattisgarh

8.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA –JAPAN

Japan pitches for Chabahar port

9.

GS II : MULTILATERAL ORGANISATIONS 

ADB eyes Delhi as regional hub

10.

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-USA

All you need to know about FATCA: Deadline, procedure and details

11.

GS III: ECONOMY - ENERGY

Where energy is waiting to be tapped

12.

GS III: S&T -SPACE

Converting Martian soil into concrete

13.

GS III :  S&T- HEALTH

Cinnamon cuts cardiac risk

14.

GS III: S&T- HEALTH

How body fights harmful bacteria

15.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Morocco goes all out to save its iconic monkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

GS III:   AGRICULTURE

Glut ruins farmers trapped in ‘cobweb phenomenon'

  • If it is tomatoes in Karnataka, it is red chillies in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and tur and grapes in Maharashtra.
  • An abundance of the produce has led to a crash in prices, dashing the hopes of farmers.
  • While farmers in Kolar, Karnataka, dumped tomatoes on the road after the prices collapsed to a new low of Rs. 2 per kg last week from Rs. 10 to Rs. 15 a month ago, violent protests broke out in parts of Telangana after a good yield of the commodity in the two Telugu-speaking States brought down the prices from a high of Rs. 10,000 per quintal last year to a measly Rs. 2,500 this year.
  • While most farmers complain about the poor remuneration for their produce in comparison to the prices that prevailed in the previous season, agricultural economists have traced the reasons for the glut and the resultant price crash to the "cobweb phenomenon."
  • After the prices of a particular agricultural commodity shoot through the roof during a season of scarcity, farmers resort to boosting the production on the premise of the pre-existing demand and prices, leading to a problem of plenty, reasoned Dr. R.S. Deshpande, former Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru, explaining the cobweb phenomenon.
  • Most of the agricultural products that have now suffered a price crash due to their abundance had yielded a rich dividend in the previous season.
  • A long duration crop, consuming up to eight months for harvesting, red chilli cultivation was expanded in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh this year after the commodity commanded a good price last year.
  • However, in the absence of minimum support price (MSP) for the crop, categorised as commercial, the market dynamics of demand-supply kept the price low from the beginning of arrivals in the market this season from April first week.
  • The Centre has, however, announced a market intervention plan to procure 33,700 tonnes out of the 7 lakh tonnes produced in Telangana with a support price of Rs. 5,000 per quintal and assistance of another Rs. 1,250 per quintal for other expenses.
  • The crash in the prices of grapes not only soured the expectations of the vineyard owners in Maharashtra, but also claimed the lives of at least two farmers.
  • The suicide of 36-year-old Manik Randive and 25-year old Chetan Vasal, both from Nashik, has been attributed to the poor price their grapes fetched.
  • Despite a robust grape production, there were few takers as the prices had collapsed.
  • Tur dal, which hit the headlines last year with its skyrocketing prices, has suffered a dent in its demand this year after large scale production.
  • In Maharashtra, production of tur went up from 4.4 lakh tonnes last year to 20.35 lakh tonnes during 2016-17, bringing down the prices by a huge margin.
  • The total purchase by the government through its agencies at an MSP of Rs. 5,050 per quintal was only around 4 lakh tonnes while another 5 lakh tonnes had been sold at rates lesser than the MSP through the Agriculture Produce Market Committees.
  • Several lakh tonnes remain unsold.
  • But, even during the season of scarcity, rarely do farmers benefit.
  • For instance, even though a consumer paid almost Rs. 220 for a kg of tur dal last year, the farm gate price was just Rs. 45 to Rs. 50, said Dr. Deshpande.

 

 

GS III : DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Sunkesula barrage goes dry after four decades

  • Lack of rainfall and severe drought in Kurnool district, lack of inflows from Tungabhadra river and scanty rainfall in Karnataka led to the drying up of Sunkesula barrage across Tungabhadra river, about 25 km from Kurnool.
  • The Sunkesula barrage, has gone dry after a gap of four decades, portraying the severity of the drought and resulting in acute drinking water scarcity in the city.

 

 


GS II :  SOCIAL- HEALTH

Odisha to deploy six boat ambulances in cut-of areas

  • The Odisha government will soon deploy six boat ambulances in four districts (Koraput, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Kendrapara) where a sizeable population is surrounded by large water bodies such as rivers and dams.
  • The move follows the launching of a mobile health unit, which will provide better healthcare facilities to over 20,000 villagers in 151 villages located across the Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district.
  • IIT Chennai is providing technical support to this project.
  • Inhabitants comprise mostly scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities.
  • The State government also approved a proposal to upgrade 28 existing basic life support ambulances to advanced life support ambulances for their deployment in accident prone areas of the national highways and State highways.

 

GS II :  SOCIAL- VULNERABLE GROUPS

Dalits continue to flee Shabbirpur

  • Days after a person was killed and over 60 Dalit houses were burnt in caste clashes in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur, UP, most of the Dalits living in Thakur dominated villages of the district have led to "safer areas" fearing further violence.
  • Seventeen people, including the village head, have been arrested on charges of murder and arson.
  • The clash erupted after Dalits objected to the loud music played during a procession being taken out by the Thakur community in memory of Maharana Pratap.
  • The procession, it is alleged, did not have permission from the local administration.
  • An angry mob of Thakurs living around Shabbirpur attacked the Dalits and burnt over sixty households after a Thakur youth was killed during the clash.

 

GS III:   MONEY LAUNDERING

CBI busts web of shell firms

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has unearthed multiple complex webs involving 339 shell companies, allegedly used to divert funds to the tune of Rs. 2,900 crore, as part of its probe into such cases over the last three years.
  • CBI sources said the shell companies were being used by the suspects to divert loan funds meant for specified purposes, creating fake invoices, andround-tripping' of funds to evade taxes and generate black money.
  • Round-tripping is sending money to tax havens abroad in the guise of payments for fake imports through shell companies and bringing back that money, showing it as "foreign investment".
  • The findings of the CBI are just a tip of the iceberg as these are only those cases where the agency has been able to find ‘legally tenable' evidence of the money trail, cheating and diversion of funds to cheat the banks, said the sources not willing to be named.
  • The murky activities have been exposed during the CBI probe into various loan fraud cases involving 28 public sector banks and a private bank, the sources said.
  • The agency is also probing about 200 bank fraud cases involving funds of at least Rs. 30,000 crore, they said.
  • The CBI is prosecuting these companies for corruption and scheduled offences associated with it.
  • In addition, it will also refer these cases to other investigating agencies for action under various laws like the Companies Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, Income Tax Act etc, the sources said.

GS III :  DEFENCE

Defence pay hike from May

  • After a wait of about eight months, military personnel are likely to receive their revised pay recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission with arrears in May's salary, say the general instructions issued by the three Services to their personnel.
  • The Union Cabinet issued orders for implementing the recommendations for military personnel.
  • The recommendations approved include extension of pay stages for junior commissioned officers ( JCO) and other ranks from 24 to 40 to prevent stagnation, increase in index of rationalisation for Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels from 2.57 to 2.67 and extension of pay stages for Brigadiers by two.
  • On the pension front, two recommendations approved are restoration of the percentage- based disability pension and an additional option for pension by pay fixation method in addition to the consolidation method, whichever is higher.
  • However, some of the core anomalies raised by the services are yet to be addressed, top among them are Non-Functional Upgrade (NFU) and higher Military Service Pay (MSP) for JCOs.
  • NFU entitles all officers of a batch who are not promoted to draw the salary and grade pay that the senior-most officer of their batch would get after a certain period.
  • In a reference to that the instructions notes: "Pay comparison between defence services, all India services and Group A services must be understood in totality and explained to rank and file to dispel apprehensions about discrepancies.

GS III: SECURITY

CRPF command shifted back to Chhattisgarh

  • The strategic anti-Naxal operations command headquarters of the Central Reserve Police Force has been shifted from Kolkata to the heart of the Naxal violence- hit Chhattisgarh after 37 jawans of the paramilitary force were killed by Maoists in less than two months.
  • In a May 4 order, the CRPF directed the "immediate" transfer of the central zone command headquarters, roughly seven years after it was shifted from Raipur to Kolkata because of "logistics and connectivity issues".
  • Raised on August 7, 2009, the central zone was tasked with overseeing troops deployment across the States affected by Left Wing Extremism such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It was moved to Kolkata in July 2010 for want of better rail and air links for the command office, days after the Maoists killed 75 CRPF jawans and a Chhattisgarh policeman in Dantewada on April 6.
  • Top sources in the security establishment said the Union Home Ministry, after reviewing the April 24 ambush in Sukma district that killed 25 jawans, ordered the CRPF to immediately shift the central zone command to Raipur, without even bothering about the logistics to be put in place.

 

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -JAPAN

Japan pitches for Chabahar port

  • Japan is keen on collaborating with India on projects in Asia and Africa as a counter to China's 60-nation Belt and Road initiative (B&RI), Tokyo's Ambassador to New Delhi said here, indicating Japan's nod for Australia's bid to join a quadrilateral for military exercises with India and the U.S.
  • "We are interested in connectivity projects and to make sure that this region is free and open and an important port like Chabahar is good for regional connectivity ... I can't tell when it will materialise, but we have expressed our interest," Mr. Hiramatsu said.
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in May 2016 to build trade and transit routes from the strategically located Iranian port into Afghanistan and Central Asia, a $20-billion investment for India, and will be seen as a rival to the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor's Gwadar port.
  • The Indo-Japan civil nuclear cooperation agreement is still on track, and has been presented for ratification in the Japanese Parliament .

GS II : MULTILATERAL ORGANISATIONS

ADB eyes Delhi as regional hub

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has operationally started working to create several regional hubs including New Delhi as one for South Asia, the bank's President Takehiko Nakao said.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, India's Governor to the ADB, had earlier urged the multilateral lender to establish a hub in New Delhi, so that it could expedite lending to development projects across the region.
  • Observing that the "time required to approve a proposal as well as the time lag between approval and disbursement of loans can be further reduced," Mr. Jaitley had stressed that speedier financing would help lend an edge to the ADB.
  • The ADB, given its objective of combating poverty, also needed to sharpen its focus on affordable renewable energy, and in the urban development context, both drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Jaitley said.
  • "The major challenges remain in the realm of user charges and financial sustainability of urban bodies," he observed, adding that the bank could leverage its expertise to promote models that would focus on these challenges.
  • Mr. Jaitley also exhorted the lender to step up its support for climate resilient agriculture and social infrastructure including health and education.
  • Mr. Nakao told reporters that the ADB had approved a new procurement framework as part of its efforts to reform the speed of procurement and project implementation.
  • India, is a founding member of the ADB and its fourth-largest shareholder.
  • The bank's current portfolio of financing in the country includes 87 sovereign loans totalling $13.2 billion.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • ADB is a regional development bank established in 1966, and headquartered in Manila, Philippines.
  • The company maintains 31 field offices around the world to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • From 31 members at its establishment, ADB now has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
  • The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members' capital subscriptions.
  • ADB is an official United Nations Observer.

 

GS II: BILATERAL INDIA-USA

All you need to know about FATCA: Deadline, procedure and details

  • The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a United States federal law that requires United States persons, including U.S. citizens who live outside the United States, to report their financial accounts held outside of the U.S., and requires foreign financial institutions to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about their U.S. clients.
  • India had signed an agreement with the U.S. on July 9, 2015 which enables automatic exchange of financial information between India and the U.S.
  • The agreement provides that Indian Financial Institutions will provide the necessary information to the Indian tax authority i.e. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which information will then be transmitted to the U.S. automatically in the case of FATCA.
  • The agreement came into effect on August 31, 2015.
  • The compliance is needed for bank accounts, mutual fund, national pension scheme and other such transactions.

GS III: ECONOMY - ENERGY

Where energy is waiting to be tapped

  • Today, wind and solar energy account for 7% of the country's electricity production - small still, but firmly set to grow, by at least ten percentage points in the next five years.
  • Coal, on the other hand, while still being the dominant player, is on the back foot. Apart from being a source of pollution and global warming, it is also a water guzzler.
  • Newer materials such as perovskites that can replace silicon are showing up, giving solar panels more bang for the buck; the cost of offshore wind is falling dramatically so as to open up literally new areas - the seas.
  • But solar is a daytime source, wind is seasonal, and both are on-off energy generators.
  • Even with the advances in storage technology, these two sources cannot replace coal completely.
  • The search for clean energy has not stopped with wind and solar. A phalanx of sources is waiting to be tapped into.
  • Some-like Helium 3 from the moon-are on the very edge of science. But there are others that are not so far away.

Hydrogen

  • Fuel cells are devices that split the hydrogen atoms into protons and electrons and get the electrons to flow through a circuit - flow of electrons is electricity.
  • Smaller fuel cells can be used in vehicles and in applications such as powering telecom towers.
  • Larger fuel cells, or stacks of them, can used for electricity for the grid.
  • French company, Alstom, has just come up with a fuel cell-powered passenger train.
  • The rise of hydrogen is impeded only by the cost of the gas, but the cost is expected to decline when demand, and production, increase.

Ocean energy

  • There are three subsets of this 24x7 energy source - waves (including up-down bob of the water surface), tides and underwater currents. A few commercial scale projects have come up, but there are dozens of pilots.
  • There are many tricks to steal energy from the oceans. For instance, the Swansea Bay project, U.K., is to build a U-shaped wall - or, breakwater - on the coast where there is a tide, with the mouth open to the sea and place an array of turbines along the mouth. Water comes in when the tide flows and goes out when it ebbs - it turns the turbines both times.
  • Another U.K. company, AIM-listed Atlantis Resources, places ‘underwater windmills' on the sea bed - the turbines are turned by the flow of currents.
  • Atlantis Resources has an agreement with Gujarat State Power Corporation to build a 250 MW tidal energy project.

Cold fusion

  • Energy from fusion of sub-atomic particles at near room temperatures has received a pep ever since an Italian engineer called Andrea Rossi came up in 2011 with a device that he claimed produces more energy than it consumes.
  • His ‘E-Cat', which is a small box with a pinch of nickel, hydrogen and lithium, has rejuvenated the cold fusion talk.
  • Cold fusion, as low energy nuclear reaction is commonly called, is not yet established science, but there is too much happening for it to be unreal.
  • It has been at the heart of a huge technical and commercial controversy.
  • While Mr. Rossi has kept the workings of his machine secret, a group of scientists were able to replicate it in a now-famous experiment carried out in 2014 in Lugano, Switzerland, and found it working, though they said they did not know how. Later, a respected Russian scientist, Alexander Parkhimov, repeated the experiment and reported success.
  • Alongside, a few companies in the U.S. have long been labouring over different forms of cold fusion.

 

GS III: S&T -SPACE

Converting Martian soil into concrete

  • A new form of concrete made using Martian or lunar soil and animal proteins may allow future astronauts to build colonies on Mars and the Moon, according to Stanford and NASA scientists.
  • To establish settlements on the Moon or Mars, humans would need thousands of tonnes of concrete to survive.
  • Both Mars and the Moon are bombarded constantly with both lethal radiation and micrometeorites that would quickly punch holes into any ordinary structure.
  • However, since it is nearly impossible to ship such quantities of cement from Earth to Mars, the best way forward would be to start making it in space.
  • The protein from bovine blood is a fairly cheap by-product of slaughterhouses, and it is known to become very gluey when mixed with soil.

 

GS III :  S&T- HEALTH

Cinnamon cuts cardiac risk

  • Cinnamon may reduce the effects of a high-fat diet and risk of cardiovascular damage by slowing the fat storing process in the body, scientists including one of Indian origin have found.
  • Researchers fed rats cinnamon supplements for 12 weeks along with a high-fat diet. They found that after 12 weeks, the rats weighed less and had less belly fat along with healthier levels of sugar, insulin and fat in their blood, compared to rats that did not receive cinnamon.

GS III: S&T - HEALTH

How body fights harmful bacteria

  • Researchers have cracked the mystery of how our body quickly prevents an infection from spreading uncontrollably during wound healing, an advance that may lead to new ways to counteract harmful bacteria.
  • A new study found that fragments of thrombin - a common blood protein found in wounds - can aggregate both bacteria and their toxins, something that was not seen in normal blood plasma.
  • The aggregation takes place quickly and causes bacteria and toxins not only to gather but also to be "eaten" by the body's inflammatory cells.
  • "Our discovery links aggregation and amyloid formation to our primary defence against infections - our innate immunity," Ms. Petrlova said.
  • It is well known that various aggregating proteins can cause amyloid disease, in skin or internal organs, such as the brain.

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Morocco goes all out to save its iconic monkey

  • Barbary macaque monkey, the only species of macaque outside Asia, which lives on leaves and fruits and can weigh up to 20 kg, was once found throughout North Africa and parts of Europe.
  • But having disappeared from Libya and Tunisia, it is now restricted to the mountainous regions of Algeria and Morocco's northern Rif region.
  • Another semi-wild population of about 200 individuals in Gibraltar are the only free-ranging monkeys in Europe.
  • Today, the only native primate north of the Sahara, apart from humans, is in danger of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • Conservationists blame illegal poaching, tourists who feed the monkeys and overexploitation of the cedar and oak forests that form the species' natural habitat.
  • In response, Morocco has launched a campaign to save the species - monitoring and making a census of the species in the Rif and raising awareness among locals so that they actively help rescue it.
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