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Current Affairs 2 April 2017

 

NEWS

 2 April 2017


Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III : MONEY LAUNDERING

ED cracks down on 300 shell firms

2.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT

Wildlife ambulance to fill up waterholes

3.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

More employment opportunities for those suffering from autism today

4.

GS II : GOVERNANCE

Civil-military parity row to end

5.

GS I : HISTORY

Gandhi's satyagraha centenary in Champaran

6.

GS III: S&T - ENVIRONMENT

IISc researchers' ecofriendly way of recycling e-waste

7.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Hepatitis linked to Parkinson's risk

8.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION

Algae bloom

9.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Help for the Hangul

10.

GS II : RIVER WATERS

Ken-Betwa: Forest body for lowering dam height

11.

GS II: MULTILATERAL INDIA-BRICS

India needs $646 bn. in infra in 5 years: FM

12.

GS III : ECONOMY SECTORS

New scheme for powerlooms unveiled

13.

GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

India's external debt eases to $456 bn. in Dec

14.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

Ease land laws to help tackle climate change

 

 

GS III : MONEY LAUNDERING

ED cracks down on 300 shell firms

  • In a major crackdown, the Enforcement Directorate on 1 April 2017 conducted searches on 300 shell companies across 16 States on suspicion of large-scale money laundering and foreign exchange violations.
  • The premises of some professionals, the "brains" behind the operation of such companies, were also searched.
  • The searches were conducted at 110 locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, among other places.
  • Some of the companies searched were allegedly involved in major money-laundering cases related to the former Maharashtra leader Chhagan Bhujbal, the Andhra Pradesh Opposition leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and an Uttar Pradesh based official Yadav Singh.
  • Certain shell firms were found to have remitted huge amounts to other countries for imports that never materialised. They had either produced forged bills of entry or had simply skipped the procedure.



GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Wildlife ambulance to fill up waterholes

  • The cash-strapped Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS), Kerala, which has been facing an unprecedented drought this year, has customised its wildlife ambulance to a fire tender to tackle the water crisis in the sanctuary.
  • Said to be a first-of-its kind initiative in Kerala, the department has begun filling up ponds in the forests, with water supplied through tankers, to quench the thirst of the animals during summer.
  • Major rivers flowing in the sanctuary such as Nugu, Kalindhi and Bavali have also dried up.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

More employment opportunities for those suffering from autism today

  • People with autism often excel in areas that cater to their strengths. Organisations are slowly waking up to this fact, offering vocational training to autistic individuals in sectors that play up their strengths and turn them into assets.
  • "The general awareness about the disorder is more now. Also, acceptance levels have increased in educational institutions. However, after school, the question of vocation arises," said Vijay Patil, Autism Society of India.
  • Computer-based vocations, such as software testing that is both a repetitive activity and an art, are areas where persons with autism are being trained and finding employment, he added.
  • Many say that the idea to train and employ autistic persons gained momentum after the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016, was passed and included Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in its list of disabilities.
  • In fact, the retail and hospitality sectors are beginning to offer more employment opportunities to people with autism.


GS II : GOVERNANCE

Civil-military parity row to end

  • The report of a government appointed committee is expected to put an end to the contentious issue of parity between military officers and their civilian counterparts in the service headquarters.
  • The three-member committee was appointed to look into an order issued last October by the Defence Ministry "reiterating" the rank equation between civilian officers and serving military officers based on duties and functional responsibilities.
  • By the order,

                   i.          a Principal Director is equivalent to a Major-General,

                 ii.          a Director is equivalent to a Brigadier and

               iii.          a Joint Director to a colonel.

  • This led to severe displeasure in the services, which see the order as effectively lowering the status of their officers.
  • Serving and retired military officers have questioned the order, citing past orders, court orders and other reports.
  • By these, a Lieutenant-Colonel or one of equivalent rank in the Army is equal to a Director, while a Colonel has no civilian equivalent.
  • A Brigadier is equivalent to a Principal Director. The communication from a retired officer noted that the junior commissioned officers in the armed forces have been accorded status of Group B-equivalent gazetted officers by Section 3 (xii) of Army Act 1950 and Para 151 of Defence Services Regulations 1987 (revised).
  • "In view of foregoing, it is submitted that anything contrary to benchmarked equivalence would not only be in violation of Warrant of Precedence ... but also amount to unacceptable downgrade of the established status of armed forces officers. It is likely to result in serious resentment and court cases in future," the letter says.



GS I : HISTORY

Gandhi's satyagraha centenary in Champaran

  • On April 10, the Bihar government will launch year-long celebrations to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's Champaran satyagraha with a series of events.
  • Mr. Nitish Kumar will set off on a Gandhi Smriti Yatra from Motihari on April 15 to mark Gandhi's first visit to Champaran hundred years ago.
  • Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has announced stringent prohibition laws, sees the celebrations as a natural follow-up to the liquor ban in the State as Gandhi was a strong advocate of prohibition.
  • Gandhian scholars and activists have pointed out that the state of farmers in and around Champaran and other parts of Bihar now is no better than the condition of Indigo farmers in 1917, which had brought Gandhi to the State in the first place.
  • An official of the Tourism Department said Rs. 50 crore had been earmarked for infrastructure development on the ‘Gandhi circuit' under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's special package for Bihar announced before the 2015 Assembly elections. But the funds are awaited.
  • Bihar recently organised celebrations to mark the 350th Prakash Parv for Sikh devotees in Patna, Kal Chhakra puja for Buddhist pilgrims at Bodh Gaya and an International Buddhist Conclave at Rajgir in Nalanda.

 

 

GS III: S&T - ENVIRONMENT

IISc researchers' ecofriendly way of recycling e-waste

  • Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers have found a novel way to recycle the mounting pile of electronic waste more efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • According to the United National Environmental Programme, about 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated annually across the world.
  • The new approach is based on the idea of crushing e-waste into nanosize particles using a ball mill at very low temperature ranging from -50 to -150 degree C.
  • When crushed to nanosize particles for about 30 minutes, different classes of materials - metals, oxides and polymer - that go into the making of electronic items get physically reduced into their constituent phases, which can then be separated without using any chemicals.
  • The use of low-temperature grinding eliminates noxious emission.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Hepatitis linked to Parkinson's risk

  • People with the viruses hepatitis B and C may both be associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a study in the latest issue of Neurology.
  • The hepatitis virus affects the liver.
  • Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person, such as having unprotected sex, getting a tattoo, being pierced with unsterilised tools or sharing razors, needles or toothbrushes with an infected person.
  • Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact such as sharing needles, razors and toothbrushes. It is also passed on at birth by infected mothers.
  • For the study, researchers examined hospital records from a large British database and found nearly 22,000 people with hepatitis B, 48,000 with hepatitis C, 6,000 with autoimmune hepatitis, 4,000 with chronic active hepatitis, and nearly 20,000 with HIV. They were compared to more than six million people with minor conditions.


 

 

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT - POLLUTION

Algae bloom

  • A giant algae bloom, the size of Mexico, is spreading in the Gulf of Oman threatening marine life.
  • While the algae is known to create a pretty bioluminescence at night, it releases ammonia that is toxic to marine life.
  • The sea for most part is "almost guacamole-like" according to biologists and not surpisingly, turning away tourists.
  • The algae bloom is believed to have been triggered by human activity and sewage run-off.

 

 

 

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT  BIODIVERSITY

Help for the Hangul

  • There might be some hope for the Hangul deer, of which just 186 remain in Kashmir's Dachigam National Park.
  • State government intends now to move out a sheep breeding farm from inside the park.
  • Several factors could be responsible for the dramatic decline of the Hangul population from 5,000 in the early 1900s, including development activity such as factories and a golf course near the park.

 

 

GS II :  RIVER WATERS

Ken-Betwa: Forest body for lowering dam height

  • The Environment Ministry's Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has said the Ken-Betwa river-interlinking project should consider reducing the height of the proposed Dhaudan dam by 10 meters, if not at least 5 metres, as well as re-aligning the main water-bearing canal to minimise the use of forest land.
  • The FAC is a body that decides on whether forest land can be given up for industrial projects,
  • The project involves building a 77-m tall and 2- km wide dam and a 230- km long canal to transfer water from the Ken river and irrigate 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of U.P. and Madhya Pradesh.
  • However, building them means encroaching into Madhya Pradesh's Panna Tiger reserve and inundating 6,221 hectares - 4,141 of which is core forest - when the reservoir is filled to the brim.
  • The project has been cleared over the last year by several government authorities such as the National Board for Wildlife and the Expert Appraisal Committee.
  • Two officials in the Water Ministry told that reducing the dam height was non-negotiable.


GS II: MULTILATERAL - INDIA-BRICS

India needs $646 bn. in infra in 5 years: FM

  • India needs to make infrastructure investments to the tune of $646 billion over the next five years, Union Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley said on 1 April 2017 as he sought investments for projects worth $2 billion from the New Development Bank (NDB), backed by the BRICS nations.
  • "India has a huge unmet need for investment in infrastructure, estimated to the tune of Rs. 43 lakh crore over the next five years...70% of this will be required in the power, roads and urban infrastructure sectors," Mr. Jaitley said in his address as India's governor at the Bank's annual meeting being held in the capital.
  • Terming this as an opportunity for the NDB, whose core mandate is sustainable infrastructure development, the finance minister said the bank now has its first footprint in India with the signing of a pact on 30 March 2017 to fund major district roads in Madhya Pradesh.
  • "We have proposed projects worth about $2 billion for NDB funding, which I hope will be taken up by the Board expeditiously. We shall work with the NDB to develop a strong shelf of projects in specific areas such as Smart Cities, renewable energy, urban transport, including Metro Railways, clean coal technology, solid waste management and urban water supply," the minister said.
  • When asked about India's request for lending to the $2 billion infrastructure projects, NDB president K.V. Kamath said it was likely to be done over the next two months, once the pipeline of projects being proposed was complete.
  • Being leaner than other multilateral lenders, the NDB should be expected to not only pursue faster appraisals of loans, but also provide loans at cheaper rates to influence established development banks to ‘revisit their high cost model,' he said.
  • "The estimated unmet demand for infrastructure investment in emerging markets and developing economies is gargantuan, estimated at above $1 trillion a year by the World Bank. The established multilateral development banks are now capital constrained, and with their overemphasis on processes, are unable to meet this financing challenge," the Finance Minister said.

 

 

GS III : ECONOMY SECTORS

New scheme for powerlooms unveiled

  • A three-year Comprehensive Scheme for Powerloom Sector Development, launched by Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani at Bhiwandi on 1 April 2017 and simultaneously at 47 powerloom centres in the country, aims to boost common infrastructure and modernisation of the powerloom sector.
  • The scheme, with an outlay of Rs. 487 crore for three years from 2017-2018, has nine major components, including two new ones.
  • The two new schemes are: Pradhan Mantri Credit Scheme for powerloom weavers and solar energy scheme for powerlooms.
  • Existing powerloom units, new ones, and group enterprises in weaving will now get 20 % of project cost with a ceiling of Rs. 1 lakh as margin money subsidy and 6% interest subvention, both for working capital and term loan up to Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of five years.
  • Powerloom units with maximum eight looms each will be eligible for 50 % subsidy for going in for solar energy for captive use, be it on grid or off grid system.
  • Funds made available for upgradation of plain powerlooms, establishing yarn banks, and group workshed scheme have been increased and the minimum number of looms needed for group workshed scheme has been brought down to 24 from 48.
  • Some of these existing schemes such as yarn bank and insitu upgradation of plain powerlooms have huge response already and these have been modified to benefit more weavers.

 

 

 


GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

India's external debt eases to $456 bn. in Dec

  • India's total external debt declined by $29 billion to $456 billion at the end of December 2016 from end-March 2016, says a Finance Ministry report.
  • Long-term external debt declined, particularly the NRI deposits, reflecting a redemption of FCNR(B) deposits and a decline in commercial borrowings with fall in both commercial bank loans and securitised borrowings.



GS III : ENVIRONMENT  - CLIMATE CHANGE

Ease land laws to help tackle climate change

  • With irrigation emerging as one of the most critical tools to tackle climate change in tea industry, the Tea Board has said that Central Government intervention is necessary to help ease state land laws.
  • This is required for making changes in landuse pattern within tea estates for setting up water storage facilities.
  • Tea Research Association said in its presentation that climate change impacts the tea industry through changes in temperature, erratic rainfall and extreme events like floods and droughts.
  • These lead to lower yield, reduced life of tea bushes, higher pest attacks and erratic output which in turn leads to market imbalances.
  • It was pointed out that irrigation had assumed increased importance in view of the erratic rainfall brought on by climate change.
  • The Tea Board mooted the idea of Central Government intervention to ease out state land laws, which prevent change in land use pattern and construction of check dams and ponds in plantation areas.
  • The Tea Board officials said that as part of the 12th plan, Rs. 428 crore had been given to the industry for development schemes, which included funds for irrigation.

 


 

 

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