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Current Affairs 21 April 2017

 

NEWS 

21 April 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III:  SECURITY

India makes fresh bid to get Headley, Rana

2.

GS II :  POLITY-ACTS/BILLS

States to be consulted on BC panel Bill

3.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -U.S.

Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done'

4.

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -SRILANKA

Sri Lankan PM to visit India

5.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Nawaz Sharif survives graft ruling

6.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

‘U.S. must support Paris accord'

7.

GS II : BILATERAL-INDIA-EU

India, EU likely to resume talks

8.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Oz toughens citizenship test

9.

GS III:  ECONOMY

RBI cracks whip on errant banks

10.

GS III:   ECONOMY-ENERGY

Auctions may help private coal miners tap 100 million tonnes

11.

GS III: S&T SPACE

China successfully launches first cargo spacecraft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS III:  SECURITY

India makes fresh bid to get Headley, Rana

  • India has made a fresh request to the U.S. for the extradition of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana, wanted for their roles in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
  • Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), visited India earlier this month and met senior officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • The NIA, which is probing the conspiracy behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, raised with Mr. McCabe the pending requests for extradition of Headley and Rana.
  • The NIA told him that its multiple requests for the custody of Rana went unanswered.
  • Revising its demand, the NIA told Mr. McCabe that though Rana was convicted by a U.S. court of the charge of providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was behind the attacks, he had not been tried for offences, registered in India, of forgery and criminal breach of trust.
  • Rana, a school friend of Headley, is serving a 14-year term in the U.S. for providing material support to the LeT, but has not entered a plea bargain as Headley did.
  • Headley has been sentenced to 35 years in prison by a U.S court.
  • The ‘double jeopardy' clause in the U.S. law prohibits punishment for the same crime twice.
  • So, last year, India renewed its attempt at Rana's custody on the ground that he was involved in the planning of an attack on the National Defence College (NDC) in Delhi and Chabad Houses ( Jewish religious centres) in several cities.
  • Mr. McCabe assured the NIA that its request would be looked into.

 

GS II :  POLITY-ACTS/ BILLS

States to be consulted on BC panel Bill

  • A select committee of the Rajya Sabha looking into a Bill according constitutional status to the Backward Classes Commission, a cause close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's heart, will be inviting all State governments to depose before it, and hold meetings every Monday till the logjam over the Bill is resolved.
  • Under the new Bill, any addition to the Central list of OBCs will need to be cleared by Parliament.

 

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -U.S.

Logistics pact with U.S. ‘almost done'

  • In just about two days, India is expected to notify the operationalising of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S.
  • India and the U.S. concluded the logistics agreement, the first of the three foundational agreements between the two nations, last August.
  • However, its implementation has been delayed, as India was unable to streamline administrative procedures to enable its operationalisation.
  • LEMOA gives access to both countries to designated military facilities on either side for refuelling and replenishment in primarily four areas -

      i.            port calls,

      ii.            joint exercises,

      iii.           training

      iv.           humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

  • The notification includes designating the points of contact for the U.S. military to work with and setting up a common account for payments.
  • The U.S. has similar agreements with several countries.
  • Several U.S. officials had stated in the past that the agreements were required for taking forward high-technology cooperation forward.
  • The other foundational agreements are :

1.     Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

2.     Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Information and Services Cooperation (BECA)

  • Discussions are under way on the next one - the COMSCA - as the BECA is considered the trickiest of the three with India expressing serious reservations about the clauses as well as the need for it.

 

 

GS II :  BILATERAL -INDIA -SRI LANKA

Sri Lankan PM to visit India

  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe will visit India next week to set the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Colombo in May.
  • Officials said an MoU to develop Trincomalee port's prospects through operating a major oil-storage facility, LNG plant and piped-gas projects and developing it as a key transit point with major expressways and industrial zones in the region is in the final stages of negotiations.
  • The two sides will also hold discussions on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), a version of the free trade agreement, and will be taken forward during Mr. Modi's visit for International Vesak Day, the annual Buddhist festival on May 12, officials told.
  • Mr. Wickremesinghe's visit is also significant as it comes a few weeks before his trip to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Summit, that Sri Lanka has joined.
  • While Chinese companies have already clinched many important infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, including the Hambantota and Colombo port development projects, India is hopeful of more projects in the North and the East of the island.
  • Mr. Wickremsinghe is expected to discuss the ongoing dispute over fishing rights in the Palk Strait with Ms. Swaraj.
  • Despite several rounds of negotiations between the fishing communities of the two countries, Indian fishermen continue to be apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy for trespassing on their waters.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL PAKISTAN

Nawaz Sharif survives graft ruling

  • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 20 April 2017 narrowly escaped disqualification from Parliament after the Supreme Court gave a split verdict in favour of him on corruption allegations against his family members.

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

‘U.S. must support Paris accord'

  • The nodal climate agency of the United Nations, the UNFCCC, is seeking alternative sources of funding, in the face of likely budget cuts by the United States, its Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said.
  • U.S. government has postponed a meeting to decide whether to remain in the Paris Agreement.
  • The U.S. government's budget proposal which aimed at slashing funds for the Global Climate Change Initiative could lead to a reduction of 20% of funding towards the UNFCCC's operational costs.
  • On the recent executive orders issued by U.S. President Donald Trump, seeking to reverse the Obama administration's climate-friendly policies, she said, "The Trump administration has asked the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to review the Clean Power Plan to make recommendations on what they should do with that policy. We need to wait and see what comes out of that revision."
  • The veteran diplomat said the economy of the future had been aligned with the climate agenda, as sustainable use of natural resources was key to survival.
  • During her visit, Ms. Espinosa met the Union Ministers of Environment, Power and Railways, and interacted with industry representatives.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 

  • It is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992, then entered into force on 21 March 1994.
  • The UNFCCC objective is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
  • The framework set no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms.
  • Instead, the framework outlines how specific international treaties (called "protocols" or "Agreements") may be negotiated to set binding limits on greenhouse gases.

 

GS II : BILATERAL-INDIA-EU

India, EU likely to resume talks

  • The talks between India and the EU that were stalled in the backdrop of the Italian marines crisis are likely to kick-start during the April 21- 23 visit of a high official of the European Union.
  • The 14th EU-India summit will be held in New Delhi in 2017.
  • Both sides had also revived joint working groups on defence, and science and technology.
  • The joint working group on terrorism also met in January this year.
  • India-EU negotiation over the free trade agreement mainly involve issues over duties and market access but additional points of disagreement have reportedly emerged over new clauses that would not allow international companies to rush to international arbitration without completing cases in Indian legal system.


GS II : INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALIA

Oz toughens citizenship test

  • Canberra on 20 April 2017 unveiled plans to put "Australian values" at the heart of tougher requirements to gain citizenship, days after scrapping a visa programme for temporary foreign workers.
  • The new requirements include competent English, belief in gender equality and a four-year qualification period.
  • Candidates for citizenship will be required to be permanent residents for four years against the current one-year period.
  • They will also need to demonstrate a job record and how they have integrated into the local community.
  • Some 1,14,109 people sat the Australian citizenship test in 2014-15, with 1,12,474 passing it, according to the latest immigration figures.


GS III:  ECONOMY  BANKING

RBI cracks whip on errant banks

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked several banks to make a provisioning of 25% of their outstanding loan exposure to Jaiprakash Associates for the January-March quarter of 2016-17, which could impact the profitability of these lenders adversely.
  • Total bank loans to the Jaypee group, which decided to sell its cement business to Aditya Birla group last year, are as much as ?58,000 crore.
  • State Bank of India and ICICI Bank have exposures of ?7,000 crore and ?6,000 crore respectively.
  • While the sale is yet to be concluded, the central bank has said the provision could be reversed once the deal was completed.
  • On 19 April 2017, IndusInd Bank and YES Bank said they had set aside 25% of their exposure to the cement maker as provisioning.
  • IndusInd Bank, which had an exposure of about ?500 crore, made a provision of ?122 crore, while YES Bank set aside ?228 crore for its ?911.5 crore exposure.
  • IndusInd Bank decided to keep the loan as a standard asset and YES Bank classified it as non-performing.
  • Stressed loans were flagged by the RBI in its asset quality review of December 2015 and banks were asked to make provisions.
  • "Since the group sold two of its hydro power plants to JSW Energy, some bankers argued this amounts to strategic debt restructuring (SDR) as ownership changed, hence avoided provisioning. However, now it seems the regulator has tightened the screws."
  • IndusInd and YES Bank expect provisions will be reversed once the cement assets deal is concluded.

 

GS III:   ECONOMY - SECTORS

Auctions may help private coal miners tap 100 million tonnes

  • Private players will be able to bid for mines with about 100 million tonnes of coal reserves in the initial phase of auctions for commercial mining rights, a top Coal Ministry official said.
  • Public sector major Coal India Limited is gearing up to compete with private competition for the first time since 1973 when coal blocks were nationalised and will shut down all unviable mines in the coming years, the official added.
  • Allowing competition in the commercial mining space will create a positive disruption in the market, the official said, citing the precedents of the BSE, State Bank of India and MTNL that once dominated the market but now compete with large new players in their respective sectors.

 

GS III: S&T SPACE

China successfully launches first cargo spacecraft

  • China successfully launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou-1, powered by a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket.
  • It roared into the air from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in the southern Hainan Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
  • In space, the cargo ship will dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space station, provide fuel and other supplies, and conduct space experiments before falling back to Earth.
  • China aims to build by 2022 a permanent space station, which is expected to orbit for at least 10 years, and the debut of the cargo ship is important as it acts as a courier to help maintain the space station.
  • Without a cargo transportation system, the station would run out of power and basic necessities, causing it to return to Earth before the designated time.
  • If the Tianzhou-1 mission completes its objective, China will become the third country besides Russia and the United States to master the technique of refuelling in space.
  • Tianzhou-1 is larger and heavier than Tiangong-2, which is 10.4 metres in length and has a maximum diameter of 3.35 metres, weighing 8.6 tonnes.
  • Refuelling is conducted during docking, a process that is much more complicated than refuelling vehicles on land.
  • The refuelling procedure will take 29 steps and last for several days each time.
  • China's fast-expanding space programme targets a landing on the dark side of the Moon by 2018.
  • It aims to launch its first Mars probe around 2020, followed by a second mission that would include collection of surface samples from the red planet.
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