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Current Events 12 January 2017

 

NEWS 

12 JANUARY 2017

 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS I: CULTURE

Ensure no illegal construction in Tughlaqabad Fort area: HC to ASI

2.

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT

Air pollution a national problem

3.

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT

Green tribunal orders test of cosmetics containing microbeads

4.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT

Hope Island becomes graveyard for Olive Ridleys

5.

GS II:POLITY

Talaq certificate issued by Chief Kazi has no legal sanctity, says Madras HC

6.

GS II :  POLITY

Tax break for parties legal, says SC

7.

GS II:   INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Pakistan to renovate Katas Raj temple

8.

GS II: POLITY

Electronic media guidelines for polls

9.

GS III: SECURITY

BSF to ensure quality food

10.

GS III:  ECONOMY

Banarasi sari sector fades, as traditional credit vanishes after note ban

11.

GS III:  ECONOMY

World Bank cuts growth forecast to 7%

12.

GS III:  ECONOMY

NITI Aayog projects 8% growth rate

13.

GS III:  ECONOMY

Cut borrowing: RBI’s Patel exhorts Centre

14.

GS III:  ECONOMY

‘April 1 still the target for GST’

15.

GS III: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Telescope to seek habitable planets in nearest star system

16.

GS III: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Hand-powered blood centrifuge developed

17.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT

New species of gibbon found in China

18.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Russian spares to support India

19.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

‘Strategic partners’ are now dime a dozen

 

GS I: CULTURE

Ensure no illegal construction in Tughlaqabad Fort area: HC to ASI

  • The Delhi High Court directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ensure that there is no unauthorized activity or construction taking place within the Tughlaqabad Fort area.
  • Meanwhile, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) shared a survey map of Delhi, including the Tughlaqabad Fort area, with the court and was then ordered to give the map to the ASI and the Delhi government.
  • Earlier, the DDA had refused to share the map with the ASI stating that it was a “secret and restricted document”.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India had contended that since it did not have the survey map, it was unable to do much conservation work as all the inhabitants within the Tughlaqabad Fort area had got a stay on eviction after 1993.
  • The map had therefore become important to assess the construction, illegal encroachment and changes in the area after 1993.


 

 

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT - POLLUTION

Air pollution a national problem

  • Delhi’s toxic air may be making news every few months. But pollution levels across the country are alarming too.
  • A new report released on 11th January shows that over 90 per cent of the cities studied had pollution levels higher than the prescribed standards.
  •  According to an analysis of 2015 data for 168 cities by Greenpeace India, 154 were found to have an average particulate matter level higher than the national standard.
  • None of the cities studied had air quality matching the standard prescribed by the World Health Organisation. Hasan in Karnataka came closest to the standard.
  • Due to the Himalayas and the cooler weather as well as big industrial clusters, the levels of pollution are higher in the North.
  • Looking at the sources of pollution, the report found that fossil fuels were the biggest contributors to the particulate matter.
  • In the report, Greenpeace recommended setting up more monitoring stations in order to get a better picture of pollution levels.



GS III:  ENVIRONMENT - POLLUTION

Green tribunal orders test of cosmetics containing microbeads

  • The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to test cosmetic products containing microbeads after a plea sought a ban on their use on the ground they are extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.
  • Microbeads are tiny plastic substances measuring less than five millimetres that act as exfoliators (agents which remove dead cells) on skin and teeth when used in soap, toothpaste and other products.
  • It directed the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to analyse the products in laboratory and submit a report in four weeks.
  • The plea said: “The unregulated production and usage of plastic in microbeads in various cosmetic products and their excessive usage by the end user is leading to water pollution across the globe....”

 

GS III:  ENVIRONMENT - BIODVERSITY

Hope Island becomes graveyard for Olive Ridleys

  • Carcasses of Olive Ridley turtles are washing ashore on beaches in Odisha, indicating that the breeding cycle of the endangered species has been dealt a severe blow this year by mechanized fishing boats.
  • The turtles, which are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, commence their journey from the Indian Ocean during their mating season in October and November. When they reach the Bay of Bengal, the females lay eggs on the beaches.
  • Even as the destination for a majority is Gahirmatha in Odisha, the sandy stretches of Hope Island of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary have turned into a breeding area for a few hundred turtles every year.
  • A female lays 100 to 150 eggs in a pit dug by it carefully and leaves the shore after covering the hollow with sand. Six weeks later, the newly hatched turtles start the journey to their Indian Ocean habitat.


 

 


GS II: POLITY - JUDICIARY

Talaq certificate issued by Chief Kazi has no legal sanctity, says Madras HC

  • The Madras High Court passed an interim order restraining the Chief Kazis from issuing ‘talaq certificates’ (a certificate validating talaq as per Islamic Shariat) till further orders.
  • The Bench also clarified that “for the purposes of courts of legal proceedings, the certificate issued by the Chief Kazi is only an opinion and has no legal sanctity.”
  • The Bench passed the order on a public interest litigation petition moved by senior advocate Bader Sayeed seeking to declare that Kazis in India, particularly Tamil Nadu, were not empowered to certify talaq.
  • Ms. Sayeed claimed that Kazis were issuing certificates recognising talaq without following necessary precedents like reconciliation. Sometimes, it was done without even the knowledge of the wife.
  • She said the Kazis, once considered judicial authorities under the Muslim Personal Law, no longer possessed such powers after courts of law were established during the British regime.
  • The Kazi Act established in 1880 was very clear. It had not vested any powers of adjudication with Kazis.
  • Also, such certificates merely stated that “on a representation of the spouse on a particular date, the talaq pronounced in respect of his wife is valid as per Islamic Shariat.”
  • “As to what facts which persuaded the Kazi to opine to issue a certificate has not been set out. Moreover, it does not clarify that the certificate is only in the nature of opinion,” the petitioner argued.
  • To this, the Muslim Personal Law Board submitted that it was willing to examine the format in which such certificate may be issued as an opinion of the Kazi, so that there would be no ambiguity on its effect.
  • The Bench passed the interim direction pending consideration of the issue by the Muslim Personal Law Board.

 

GS II :  POLITY - JUDICIARY

Tax break for parties legal, says SC

  • The Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking to lift “100 per cent tax exemption” granted to political parties.
  • Every political party needs funds to project their political regime and politically represent the people who follow them,” a three judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said.
  • The court observed that it was up to the government of the day to decide what tax regime they need to impose.

 

GS I:   CULTURE

Pakistan to renovate Katas Raj temple

  • Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Katas Raj Hindu temple in Chakwal district of Punjab to inaugurate its renovation.
  • The Katas Raj temple is revered by Hindus across the globe as legend has it that the foundation of the sacred site was laid by Lord Shiva.
  • Mr. Sharif said the temple was over 5,000 years old and had been the focal point of four civilisations.
  • Al-Biruni, Persian scholar and polymath, had computed the earth’s circumference from here.

 

 

 

 

 



GS II: POLITY - ELECTIONS

Electronic media guidelines for polls

  • While extending the scheme of equitable timesharing on electronic media for the ensuing Assembly elections under State funding of recognized political parties through the free use of State-owned television and radio, the Election Commission (EC) released a set of stringent guidelines for observance in the telecasts/broadcasts.
  • The guidelines said that telecasts/broadcasts on Doordarshan/All India Radio (AIR) will not permit criticism of other countries, attacks on religions or communities, anything obscene or defamatory, incitement of violence, anything amounting to contempt of court, aspersions cast on the integrity of the President and the Judiciary, anything affecting the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the nation, and any criticism by name of any person.
  • At the time of General Elections to the Lok Sabha in 1998, a new initiative for State funding of recognized political parties through free use of the State owned Television and Radio was introduced under directions of the Commission.
  • The said scheme was subsequently extended in all the General Elections to the State Assemblies held after 1998 and General Elections to the Lok Sabha in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

 

GS III: SECURITY

BSF to ensure quality food

  • The BSF came out with fresh guidelines for maintaining high quality of food for its personnel along the border as the Union Home Ministry directed it to file a complete report on allegations of substandard food made by a soldier posted along the LoC.
  • BSF Director-General K.K. Sharma met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and submitted a second interim report on the allegations made by Tej Bahadur Yadav on a video that was uploaded on social networking sites.

Border Security Force (BSF):

  • It is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of the Union of India charged with guarding India's land border during peacetime and preventing transnational crime.
  • It was raised in the wake of the 1965 War, "for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected there with".
  • It is a Union Government Agency under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The BSF has its own cadre of officers but its head, designated as a Director-General (DG), since its raising has been an officer from the Indian Police Service.
  • The BSF has grown exponentially from a few battalions in 1965, to 186 battalions with a sanctioned strength of 2.5 lakh personnel including an expanding air wing, marine wing, artillery regiments, and commando units.
  • It currently stands as the world's largest border guarding force.
  • BSF has been termed as the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.

 

GS III:  ECONOMY

Banarasi sari sector fades, as traditional credit vanishes after note ban

  • For already distressed weavers and poorly-paid labourers in the famous Banarasi sari industry, demonetization has come as a crippling blow.
  • The prospects of weavers are further hit by the paralysis of the local “batta” system after demonetisation.
  • From production (weavers and small-time producers) to marketing (traders in Varanasi and wholesalers from metro cities), the trademark Banarasi sari industry primarily works on credit —a complex and age-old system of rolling credit relying on post-dated bearer cheques exchanged against cash.
  • This ensures cash flow. Business in the market is much above capital available always and traders pay weavers and producers by bearer cheques, which act as credit.
  • The traders may themselves be awaiting payments for sales.
  • The weaver uses the cheques, each less than ₨. 20,000, in one of three ways.

1.        With good financial standing, he may wait to encash it after it matures.

2.       Second, he may forward the bearer cheques, which usually have random names, to suppliers of raw material.

3.       Third, if the weaver is short on capital, has to pay unbanked labourers and meet daily expenses, he cannot wait for the cheques to mature. He may set aside a part or take all cheques to the “batta” market, and get them exchanged for cash, for a commission.

  • The batta (discount) rate ranges from 0.5% to 3% a month but may rise during festivals or emergencies, when weavers are desperate.
  • After demonetisation, most of the few dozen battawallahs in Varanasi have shut shop as they are unable to withdraw money or encash the cheques.
  • They have stopped accepting new post-dated bearer cheques.
  • This has halted the supply of cash downstream, affecting the weavers as well as the labourers.

 

GS III : ECONOMY

World Bank cuts growth forecast to 7%

  • The World Bank has cut its 2016-17 economic growth forecast for India to 7% from 7.6%, citing a slowdown in consumption and manufacturing due to demonetisation, an ongoing decline in private investment and credit constraints due to impaired bank balance sheets.
  • “Weak industrial production and manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indexes (PMI), further suggest a set back to activity in the fourth quarter of FY2017.”
  • “A retrenchment of private investment, reflecting excess capacity, corporate deleveraging, and credit constraints due to impaired commercial banks’ balance sheets, also had an adverse effect on activity,” according to the report.
  • However, four key recent reforms could help growth rebound, the bank said. These, it said, were :

1.       the passage of the bankruptcy and insolvency code,

2.       the liberalization of FDI norms across sectors,

3.       the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Amendment Bill, and

4.       the agreement between the government and the Reserve Bank of India on a monetary policy framework that included the setting up of a monetary policy committee and agreement on a flexible inflation target.

  • A benefit of ‘demonetisation’ in the medium term may be liquidity expansion in the banking system, helping to lower lending rates and lift economic activity.
  • “In the short-term, ‘demonetisation’ could continue to disrupt business and household economic activities, weighing on growth,” it said.
  • The challenges in phasing out large currency notes and replacing them with new ones “may pose risks to the pace of other economic reforms (e.g., GST, labour, and land reforms).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS III : ECONOMY

NITI Aayog projects 8% growth rate

  • NITI Aayog has estimated a growth rate of 8% for 2016-17 as per a ‘cautiously optimistic’ prognosis it has laid out in the appraisal document for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, flagging the lack of reforms in land acquisition, labour and simplification of administrative procedures as impediments to growth.
  • The review, however, does not take into account the impact of demonetisation.
  • Stating that a large number of reforms by the present government over the past two years created a ‘strong foundation’ for such a growth trajectory, the government think-tank said caution was essential as reforms in areas such as skill development, infrastructure, labour laws and land acquisition are far from complete.
  • NITI Aayog stated that much needed to be done to spell out tax laws clearly so that future investors can assess their liabilities with reasonable certainty.
  • “Urgent attention” was needed for simplification of regulatory cum administrative procedures “or what has come to be popularly referred to as ease of doing business,” it said.
  • A key lacuna in the Indian growth story has been slow growth of manufacturers in general and labour-intensive manufacturing in particular.
  • Sectors in which India lags behind are electronics, food processing, leather, and textiles and garments.
  • The 12th Plan is the last five-year Plan and from 2017- 18, the Centre would adopt a three-year action plan and a fifteen-year vision document.

 

 

GS III : ECONOMY

Cut borrowing: RBI’s Patel exhorts Centre

  • RBI Governor said borrowing more and pre-empting resources from future generations by governments could not be a short cut to long-lasting higher growth.
  • “Instead, structural reforms and reorienting government expenditure towards public infrastructure are key for durable gains on the Indian growth front.
  • Investment in public transport, specifically railways and urban MRTS, can lead to reduced costs and productivity gains as also help us to lower our oil import bill, and, as collateral benefit, improve air quality in our cities,” Dr. Patel said.
  • The government had maintained the fiscal roadmap in the last budget by proposing to keep the fiscal deficit target at 3.5% for 2016-17.
  • The deficit target was to be lowered to 3% by 2017-18.
  • The central bank Governor also cautioned against large credit guarantees by the government and steep interest rate subventions as these impeded optimal allocation of financial resources and increased moral hazards.
  • “Guarantees increase government’s contingent liabilities, and add to risk premium for its own borrowing. Guarantees per se, at the end of the day, have limited utility in solving important sector issues,” Dr. Patel said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS III : ECONOMY

 ‘April 1 still the target for GST’

  • Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre was committed to implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 1 this year and all contentious issues with the States would be resolved in the next few weeks.
  • One Nation, One Tax regime will lead to a seamless and hassle-free transfer of goods and services in the country. Implementation of GST will improve and expand India’s economy,” Mr.Jaitley said.
  • GST and the withdrawal of high value currency notes would boost growth and their impact on the economy would be seen next year, he said.

 

 

 

GS III: S&T - SPACE

Telescope to seek habitable planets in nearest star system

  • The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile will be modified in order to allow it to search more effectively for potentially habitable planets in Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to Earth.
  • The European Southern Observatory is an intergovernmental astronomy organization backed by 16 countries in Europe and South America and hosted in Chile.
  • The ESO said it has signed a deal with Breakthrough Starshot, a venture that aims to deploy thousands of tiny spacecraft to travel to the system and send back pictures.
  • Starshot, which is backed by internet billionaire Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking, will provide funding to allow equipment on the Very Large Telescope that studies in the mid-infrared to be adapted to better detect faint planets, the ESO said in a statement.
  • The adaption will have the effect of reducing bright stellar light that drowns out relatively dim planets, improving the chances of finding them, it said.
  • Interest in exploring the sun's nearest neighbor has increased since scientists announced last year that they had discovered evidence of an Earth-sized planet circling Proxima Centauri, a star in the Alpha Centauri system.
  • Larger telescopes planned for the 2020s - such as the ESO's own Extremely Large Telescope, current under construction in Chile - should provide researchers with more information on the number and nature of exoplanets.

 

GS III: S&T - HEALTH

Hand-powered blood centrifuge developed

  •  Stanford engineers, including those of Indian origin, have built an ultra-lowcost, human-powered centrifuge that separates blood into its individual components in only 1.5 minutes, and may enable precise diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and African sleeping sickness.
  • This version will enable precise diagnosis and treatment in the poor regions where these diseases are most prevalent.

 

 

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT - BIODIVERSITY

New species of gibbon found in China

  • Scientists have discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests
  • It has been named the ‘Skywalker hoolock gibbon’ by its discoverers, who are Star Wars fans.
  • The name is also a nod to the fact that the Chinese characters of its scientific name, Hoolock tianxing, mean “Heaven’s movement”.
  • Gibbons are renowned for their loud song, which they use to mark territory, and this also sounded unusual.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Russian spares to support India

  • Russia has amended its laws, allowing long-term contracts for spares and support for military equipment supplied to India by their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
  • This will address longstanding concerns on the serviceability of the imported equipment.
  • Currently, procurement of spares is a long and cumbersome process as India cannot deal directly with the OEMs but with designated intermediaries like Rosoboronexport. The change in law does away with that.
  • Indian military largely constitutes platforms and equipment of Russian origin and a constant concern has been the availability of spares for them.
  • One of the biggest beneficiaries of this will be the frontline Su-30MKI fighter jets of the Indian Air Force, the serviceability of which had at one time fallen below 50 per cent, which means less than half of the over 210 jets in service were available for operational deployment.
  • In the next step, India is also discussing the possibility of Russian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) allowing licence manufacture of spares locally by Indian vendors.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

‘Strategic partners’ are now dime a dozen

  • India and Rwanda announced a strategic partnership after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Paul Kagame at the ongoing Vibrant Gujarat summit, promising to enhance their exchanges and tighten cooperation between them.
  • But the move has raised eyebrows both within the External Affairs Ministry and outside, with officials conceding that they have “lost count” of the number of such strategic partnerships announced by India in the past two decades.
  • The larger problem, officials and experts said, was that “really important” strategic partnerships with countries such as the U.S., Russia, France and Germany and neighbours such as Afghanistan lose some value every time the government associates a country with the title that does not have the same strategic importance.
  • Officials said the Ministry was often asked to come up with “qualifiers” to add emphasis during summits with those countries. For example, India’s ties with Russia were referred to as a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.
  • India has signed strategic partnership agreements with more than two dozen countries/supranational entities listed here in the chronological order of the pacts: France (1998), Russia (2000), Germany (2001), Mauritius (2003), Iran (2003), United Kingdom (2004), United States (2004), EU (2004), Indonesia (2005), China (2005), Brazil (2006), Vietnam (2007), Oman (2008), Kazakhstan (2009), Australia (2009), Malaysia (2010), South Korea (2010), Saudi Arabia (2010), Uzbekistan (2011), Afghanistan (2011), Tajikistan (2012), Japan (2014), ASEAN (2012), Seychelles (2015), Mongolia (2015), Singapore (2015), and UAE (2015)

 

 

 

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