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Current Events 12 March 2017

 


NEWS

12 March 2017 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II: POLITY  ELECTIONS

BJP rides Modi wave to win big in U.P.

2.

GS III : SECURITY

12 killed as Maoists ambush CRPF personnel in Sukma

3.

GS III : AGRICULTURE

Monkeys wreak havoc with crops in Himachal Pradesh

4.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA PAKISTAN

India, Pak. spar over Aseemanand

5.

GS II : POLITY  BILL/ACT

The lowdown on the Bill to regulate surrogacy

6.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

WHO launches a website for vaccines

7.

GS III: AGRICULTURE

Indian researcher uses novel strategy to increase wheat yield

8.

GS II : SOCIAL - HEALTH

New clone of MRSA identified in Kerala aquatic environment

9.

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Study on fish reveals key to cure blindness

10.

GS II : SOCIAL - HEALTH

Time for men to stand up and be counted

11.

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Insight into jumping genes

12.

GS III : S&T - IT

13.

GS III: DEFENCE

BrahMos missile test-fired

14.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-IRAN

Oil payments to Iran exempted from tax

15.

GS III: DEFENCE

Non-lapsable fund sought for arms buy

16.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL JAPAN

In Fukushima, radioactive boars pose a new danger

17.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA

‘U.S. under Trump will be difficult to work with’

18.

GS III: ECONOMY SECTORS

Regulator spots ‘sick’ tea gardens

19.

GS III: S&T  IT

‘Big data’s power will spur nations to fight’

20.

GS III : ECONOMY

RBI caps cash loan against gold at NBFCs
















 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II: POLITY  ELECTIONS

BJP rides Modi wave to win big in U.P.

  • In what is regarded as a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a victory that could influence the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, voters handed the Bharatiya Janata Party a three-fourths majority in both India’s most populous State, Uttar Pradesh, and the neighbouring hill State of Uttarakhand.
  • The BJP took 312 of the 403 Assembly seats in U.P., and its allies another 13 seats; in Uttarakhand, it won 57 of the 70 seats at stake.
  • In Punjab, however, anti-incumbency sentiment finally sank the Akali Dal-BJP combination, and returned the Congress to power after a gap of 10 years, with 77 of the 117 seats.
  • Goa and Manipur delivered fractured mandates as the Congress fell short of the halfway mark in both States.
  • In Goa, Congress tallied 17 seats in the 40-member Assembly, with the BJP close behind at 13.
  • In Manipur, the Congress won 28 of the 60 seats, three short of a majority; the BJP managed only 21 seats.
  • Smaller regional parties and independents will decide who gets to form the government in the two States.

 

GS III : SECURITY

12 killed as Maoists ambush CRPF personnel in Sukma

  • Twelve CRPF personnel were killed in an ambush by Maoists at the Bhejji forest area in Sukma district, along the Chhattisgarh- Andhra Pradesh border.
  • The Maoists triggered landmines and opened fire indiscriminately at the personnel.

 

 


GS III : AGRICULTURE

Monkeys wreak havoc with crops in Himachal Pradesh

  • Monkeys have unleashed devastation in Himachal Pradesh. In the last one year, they have caused a loss of Rs. 184.28 crore to the State’s farmers by destroying their crops.
  • A majority of the population in Himachal Pradesh is dependent on agriculture for survival. However, with crops being attacked by Rhesus Macaques, a species of monkeys that abound in the State, farmers are in trouble.
  • In a bid to control the menace, the previous government had set up a few parks across the State to house the animals. The project, however, failed.
  • Various farmer’s organisations in the State have also been demanding the culling or export of monkeys for bio-medical research.
  • However, culling is strongly opposed by animal rights groups.

 

 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-PAKISTAN

India, Pak. spar over Aseemanand

  • A fresh round of diplomatic exchanges began between India and Pakistan after the Ministry of External Affairs summoned a Pakistani diplomat and lodged a “strong protest” over ceasefire violation at the Line of Control (LoC).
  • India’s protest came a day after Pakistan described the acquitted Swami Aseemanand as the ‘mastermind’ of terror attacks that killed Pakistani citizens in India.
  • On 8 March 2017, Aseemanand was acquitted by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, which gave him the ‘benefit of doubt’ in Ajmer Sharif blast case.
  • Swami Aseemanand had publicly confessed that he was the ‘mastermind’ of the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack and had also identified a serving Indian army officer Col Purohit ... as his accomplice ...,” said a statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The exchanges have cast a shadow on India returning two Pakistani juveniles — Faisal Hussain Awan and Ahsan Khursheed — who were arrested after the September 2016 Uri terror strike.

 

 

GS II : POLITY  BILL/ACT

The lowdown on the Bill to regulate surrogacy

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill was introduced in Parliament in November 2016.
  • The Bill seeks to regulate the surrogacy part of a rather flourishing infertility industry in the country.
  • Defining ‘surrogacy’ as a practice in which a woman undertakes to give birth to a child for another couple and agrees to hand over the child to them after birth, the Bill allows ‘altruistic surrogacy’ — wherein only the medical expenses and insurance coverage is provided by the couple to the surrogate mother during pregnancy. No other monetary consideration will be allowed.

Commercial surrogacy picked up in India:

  • India has emerged a hub for infertility treatment, attracting people from the world over with its state-of-the-art technology and competitive prices initially to treat infertility.
  • Soon after, with the prevailing socio-economic inequities, underprivileged women found an option to ‘rent their wombs’ and thereby make money to take care of their expenses — often to facilitate a marriage, enable children to get education, or provide for hospitalisation or surgery for someone in the family.
  • Once information of the availability of such wombs got out, the demand also picked up. Unscrupulous middlemen inveigled themselves into the scene, and the exploitation of women began.

Issues involved:

  • Several instances began to emerge after women, in desperate straits, began to file police complaints when they did not receive the promised sum. Other issues also began to crop up.
  • For instance, in 2008, a Japanese couple began the process with a surrogate mother in Gujarat, but before the child was born they split and there were no takers for the child.
  • In 2012, an Australian couple commissioned a surrogate mother, and arbitrarily chose one of the twins that was born. The time was ripe for regulation, or a revolt.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

  • The ‘intending couple,’ as the Bill calls them, will be eligible if they have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
  • The ‘certificate of essentiality’ will be issued if the couple fulfils three conditions:

1.     A certificate of infertility of one or both from a district medical board;

2.     An order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a magistrate’s court;

3.     Insurance cover for the surrogate mother.

  • An eligibility certificate mandates that the couple fulfil the following conditions:

1.     They should be Indian citizens who have been married for at least five years;

2.     The female must be between 23 and 50 years and the male 26 and 55 years; and

3.     They cannot have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate).

4.     However, this would not include a ‘child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness.’

  • Conditions for surrogates:

1.     Only a close relative of the couple, who is able to provide a medical fitness certificate, can be a surrogate mother.

2.     She should have been married, with a child of her own, and must be between 25 and 35 years, but can be a surrogate mother only once.

Concerns raised:

  • There are some apprehension about the regulations being too restrictive.
  • For instance, it does not allow single women or men, or gay couples to go in for surrogacy.
  • It is pointed out how despite a similar stringent law, the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, organ commerce continues to thrive.
  • Clearly, the issue will have to be handled firmly, even as the sensitivities of people are factored in.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

WHO launched a website for vaccines

  • The extent to which rumours about the safety of vaccines can impact the number of children vaccinated was witnessed in Tamil Nadu during the measles-rubella vaccination drive last month.
  • Only about 50% of children between nine months and 15 years in the State were vaccinated.
  • Such patently wrong, misleading and unbalanced information about vaccine safety has been a menace across the world for many years now.
  • While Andrew Wakefield’s infamous 1998 paper in The Lancet on measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine that sparked the fear of vaccine-induced autism in children was retracted in 2010 and several studies have demonstrated the safety of the vaccine, misapprehension and doubts about its safety still persist.
  • Measles outbreaks in the U.K. in 2008 and 2009 and small measles outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada have been attributed to the non-vaccination of children as a result of unfounded fears.
  • As is the norm today, parents and caregivers often turn to the Internet for information about vaccine safety.
  • Chances are that many people inadvertently land on websites that contain wrong and alarmingly misleading information.
  • With such websites mushrooming, the World Health Organization launched the Vaccine Safety Net (http://www.vaccinesafetynet.org/) to provide doctors, parents and others access to “accurate and trustworthy information about vaccines.”
  • Launched in 2003, the Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of vaccine safety websites, evaluated by the WHO.

 

 

GS III: AGRICULTURE

Indian researcher uses novel strategy to increase wheat yield

  • Using a novel route, an Indian researcher has been able to increase wheat grain yield by 20% and also improve the resilience of wheat to environmental stress such as drought.
  • By using a precursor that enhances the amount of a key sugar signalling molecule (trehalose-6- phosphate (T6P)) produced in wheat plant, Dr. Ram Sagar Misra, from the Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford and currently with the Department of Chemistry, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, has been able to increase the amount of starch produced and, therefore, the yield.
  • The T6P molecule stimulates starch synthesis, which in turn, increases the yield.
  • Since the pathway of T6P molecule is the same in other plants, the yield can potentially be increased by using suitable precursors.
  • While genetic methods can increase the T6P level two-three fold, the four precursor compounds were able to achieve 100-fold increase in the sugar-signalling molecule level compared with plants that did not receive the molecule.
  • In field trials using wheat, a tiny amount of precursor given to the plant increased the yield significantly — the grains produced were bigger as the amount of starch content in the grains increased by 13-20% compared to controls that got only water.
  • In a trial, a four-week-old wheat plants already treated with the precursor molecules were not watered for nine days to simulate a drought like condition.
  • “The plants were almost dying. When we watered the plants after nine days, only those that were pre-treated with the precursors were able to regrow while the control plants did not survive,” says Dr. Misra.
  • More trials on a larger scale are needed to confirm the role of the precursor molecules in increasing yield and withstanding drought-like conditions.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL  HEALTH

New clone of MRSA identified in Kerala aquatic environment

  • A new clone of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is exclusive to Kochi, has been identified.
  • The new clone, christened ‘t15669 MRSA’, is unique to seafood and the aquatic environment of Kerala.
  • MRSA can lead to diseases ranging from milder form of skin infections, boils, furunculosis to life threatening septicemia and bacteraemia from post-surgical contamination.
  • The situation turns worse given their resistance to wide range of drugs, warned the researchers.
  • “[The emergence of MRSA] has been identified as a health concern globally since the 1960s.
  • The presence of MRSA in fish meant for human consumption is a potential health hazard for food handlers. The fingerprinting of MRSA can be useful for tracing local source and spread of MRSA isolates in a defined geographical area, they said.
  • However, as S. aureus causes disease by producing enterotoxin in the food, there is no immediate threat in consumption of seafood contaminated with MRSA.

 

 

GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Study on fish reveals key to cure blindness

  • Scientists have discovered a chemical in the zebra fish brain that helps reveal how it regrows its retina, a finding that can potentially cure blindness in humans.
  • The findings showed that the levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter, best known for its role of calming nervous activity, drop when the unique self repair process kicks in.
  • Thus, blocking the chemical (GABA) could lead to new treatments for AMD (age-related macular degeneration), the most common cause of blindness and and retinitis pigmentosa.
  • “If we are correct, then it might be possible to stimulate human retinas to repair themselves by treating them with a GABA inhibitor,” a researcher said.
  • In the study, the scientists injected drugs that kept GABA concentrations in the retinas of newly blinded fish at a high level, They found that doing so suppressed the regeneration process.
  • After injecting an enzyme that lowers GABA levels in normal fish, they found that the Muller glia (retinal cells) began changing and proliferating, the first stage in the regeneration process.
  • The Muller glia (which in fish play a key role in regeneration) is a special type of adult stem cell. When regeneration is triggered in zebrafish, the Muller glia begins proliferating and then differentiating into replacements for the damaged nerve cells.

 

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Time for men to stand up and be counted

  • In an attempt to offer a bouquet of choices to women in need of family planning services, India has introduced hormonal injectable contraceptives in its national programme.
  • While the injections are popular around the world, a 2010 report by USAID-India noted that India’s contraceptive choices were highly skewed towards single method use.
  • Over 75% resort to female sterilisation, followed by condoms (10%), birth control pills (6%), and intrauterine devices (4%).
  • Herein lies the fundamental problem with the introduction of hormonal injectable contraceptives.
  • “In India, women don’t make a choice when it comes to family planning. They make a sacrifice. Women are not making informed choices or giving consent with full understanding of what the drug does to their bodies. The first choice offered to these women is sterilisation. This is extremely regressive situation,” says Poonam Muttreja, executive director of Population Foundation of India (PFI).
  • To add to the lack of informed consent is the growing controversy over safety issues concerning injectable contraceptives. They have side effects ranging from menstrual irregularities, migraine headaches, abdominal cramps to bone degeneration.
  • The injectable contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) was introduced in India in 1994 by the Drug Controller General of India as a prescription drug.
  • In 1995, the Drug Technical Advisory Board, on the direction of the Supreme Court, made an interim recommendation that DMPA should not be allowed for mass use in the national family planning programme and its use should be restricted to women who are aware of the implications of its use.
  • Objections flagged by women’s groups were validated in 2004 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Pfizer to put a black-box warning on the label of its contraceptive Depo-Provera in view of findings that the osteoporotic effects of the injection grow worse the longer it is administered and may last long after its use is stopped.
  • “The injections cannot be used by women year after year. This is a short-term option for women deciding whether they want a permanent solution, or if, say, their husbands are migrant workers who visit home for a few months,” explains Ms. Muttreja.
  • Another practical objection to injectable contraceptives is that it is “provider-controlled” — medical professionals must give the injection and the contraceptive effects are irreversible for the period of efficacy.
  • As against oral birth control pills, which are “user-controlled” and can be stopped soon as a woman develops complications.
  • The most worrying concern, however, is the “severe and deep” gender bias, which is not being addressed by the government.
  • In 2014, 13 women died and 65 were injured aT a government-run sterilisation camp in Chhattisgarh.
  • The laparoscopic surgeon Dr. R.K. Gupta, was found to have used the same sutures, syringes and gloves on all 83 patients, causing life threatening infections.
  • Between 2015 and 2016, 110 women died in India due to botched sterilisation procedures. The onus of family planning rests solely on Indian women.
  • Results of the latest National Family Health Survey 4 showed that as against a deplorable 1% men who opted for sterilisation services in 2005, only 0.3% opted for it a decade later.
  • Sterilisation is a risky procedure for women but it is not for men. A vasectomy is a simple 10-minute procedure.
  • While pills, intrauterine devices and injectable contraceptives now make for a wider mix in the family planning programme, what’s conspicuously missing is the men. It’s time to bring them in.

 


GS III : S&T - HEALTH

Insight into jumping genes

  • Duke University scientists in the U.S. have identified a mechanism in the molecular machinery of the cell that could help explain how neurons begin to falter in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s, even before amyloid clumps appear.
  • This rethinking of the Alzheimer’s process centres on human genes critical for the healthy functioning of mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell, which are riddled with mobile chunks of DNA called Alu elements.
  • If these “jumping genes” lose their normal controls as a person ages, they could start to wreak havoc on the machinery that supplies energy to brain cells, leading to a loss of neurons and ultimately dementia, the researchers say.
  • And if this “Alu neurodegeneration hypothesis” holds up, it could help identify people at risk sooner before they develop symptoms or point to new ways to delay onset of the disease.

 

 


GS III : S&T  IT

What are time crystals?

  • To put it simply, time crystals are hypothetical structures that have movement without expending energy.
  • First proposed by Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek in 2012, time crystals are structures that appear to have movement even at their lowest energy state, known as a ground state.
  • This ability violates a fundamental symmetry in physics called time translation symmetry, but physicists have now demonstrated that it might actually be possible for time crystals to physically exist.
  • Earlier this year, two separate teams of physicists described ways of actually creating such structures. Because they passed a preliminary peer review earlier this week, the scientific community is excited about it.
  • Being able to create them would mean a leap forward in creating quantum computers, said to be the next evolutionary step in data storage.
  • The newly created matter joins a host of other exotic states of matter, such as superconductors, quantum-spin liquids and superfluids.

 

 

GS III: DEFENCE

BrahMos missile test-fired

  • India successfully test-fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, capable of carrying a 300-kg warhead, from a test range along the Odisha coast.
  • It was fired from a mobile launcher from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur.
  • The two-stage missile, one being solid and the second one a ramjet liquid propellant, has already been inducted into the Army and Navy, while the Air Force version is in the final stage of trials, the DRDO officials said.
  • While induction of the first version of Brahmos missile system in the Navy began in 2005 with INS Rajput, it is now fully operational with two regiments of the Army, the officials said.
  • The air launch version and the submarine launch version of the missile system are in progress.
  • BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, is also in an advance stage of test-launching the air version of the sophisticated missile system.

 

 

 

 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-IRAN

Oil payments to Iran exempted from tax

  • The Union government has granted tax exemption for oil payments to Iran.
  • The measure is also aimed at boosting India’s trade with that country.
  • The decision comes a little over a year after international sanctions on Tehran were lifted.
  • Meanwhile, Mumbai- based new generation private bank, IndusInd Bank has come forward to facilitate all Iran-related transactions.
  • In a February 23 notification, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, in effect, said the National Iranian Oil Company’s (NIOC) income received in India in Indian Rupees for sale of crude oil to an entity in India shall be exempt from (withholding) tax from August 16, 2016 onward.
  • The related conditions include: (i) such income should stem from a pact/arrangement entered into by the Centre or approved by it (in this case, an MoU between India’s Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry and the Central Bank of Iran in January 2013); (ii) the foreign company (NIOC) and the arrangement/ pact are notified by the Centre and that (iii) the foreign company (NIOC) is not engaged in any activity, other than receipt of such income, in India.
  • The exemption from withholding tax will encourage oil company of Iran to keep some portion of oil import payment in India to augment funds under Rupee Payment Mechanism (RPM) as the funds under RPM was fast depleting.
  • This will benefit Indian exports as payment in free foreign exchange with Iran has not yet stabilised though a few banks have come forward.
  • Previously, following economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities, both the nations had agreed in 2012 that 45% of India’s oil import payments to Iran would be paid in rupees and deposited in UCO Bank as that bank hardly had an exposure to the U.S. or the European Union.
  • Presently, Vostro accounts are operational for exports to Iran and soon may open up for imports, as well.”
  • ‘Nostro’ and ‘Vostro’ are Italian terms meaning ‘ours’ and ‘yours’ respectively. Here, nostro account refers to holding of ‘our’ money or that of Indian clients while ‘vostro’ account refers to holding ‘your’ money or Iranians’ money.
  • In FY’16, India-Iran trade was $9 billion of which $6.3 billion were imports from Iran (of which $4.5 billion was the oil import bill) while India’s exports were only $2.7 billion.
  • Of the $7 billion worth imports from Iran in April-December FY’17, oil imports were $5.85 billion.

 

 

GS III: DEFENCE

Non-lapsable fund sought for arms buy

  • A major defence purchase often takes years to complete, but the budget allocation lapses at the end of the financial year.
  • As a result, the Ministry of Defence is often forced to return money meant for capital acquisition.
  • To overcome this, the MoD has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Finance proposing the setting up of a ‘Non-lapsable Capital Fund Account

 

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL JAPAN

In Fukushima, radioactive boars pose a new danger

  • Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan, where the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago in 2011 forced thousands of residents to desert their homes, pets and livestock.
  • As Japan prepares to lift some evacuation orders on four towns within the more than 12-mile exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant, officials are struggling to clear out the contaminated boars.  
  • According to tests conducted by the Japanese government, some of the boars have shown levels of radioactive element cesium-137 that are 300 times higher than safety standards.
  • Photographs and video footage of the crisis-hit Japanese towns and villages are reminiscent of Chernobyl, where wildlife continues to thrive despite high radiation levels in the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.
  • With the absence of humans, Chernobyl, in Ukraine, has become a refuge for all kinds of animals, including moose, deer, brown bear, lynx and even wolves.

 

Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, 1986:

  • During a hurried late night power-failure stress test, in which safety systems were deliberately turned off, a combination of inherent reactor design flaws, together with the reactor operators arranging the core in a manner contrary to the checklist for the stress test, eventually resulted in uncontrolled reaction conditions that flashed water into steam generating a destructive steam explosion and a subsequent open-air graphite "fire".

 

 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA

 ‘U.S. under Trump will be difficult to work with’

  • The new U.S. trade policy unveiled by Donald Trump administration, National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017, could turn India’s commercial ties with its second-biggest trading partner more contentious, according to an international trade expert and a U.S official.
  • India is the ninth biggest trading partner of the U.S. and India had a trade surplus of about $26 billion with the U.S., in goods trade alone last year.
  • The President’s National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 reiterates Mr. Trump’s campaign with its four-point agenda — “defending national sovereignty over trade policy, strict enforcement of U.S. trade laws, using leverage to open foreign markets and negotiating new and better trade deals.”
  • The emphasis on opening [the] market for U.S. agriculture products and intellectual property are of particular significance for India.
  • The push for agriculture directly affects India. We are in dispute at the WTO with the U.S. on poultry. India does not allow poultry imports from the U.S. and it lost the case at WTO at two stages. Now, the U.S., is seeking punitive measures against India. We can expect they will go full speed to force open the Indian market to U.S. poultry, under the Trump administration.
  • There will be a push for dairy products and beef too.
  • India has filed a case against the U.S. at WTO for subsidising its solar panel manufacturing in certain U.S. states after we lost the case on solar panels brought by the U.S.
  • India is also challenging certain provisions of the U.S. H-1B visa programme as discriminatory against Indian companies and workers.
  • The document rejected multilateralism as the favoured trade route for the U.S. but this is more in the context of FTAs such as NAFTA and TPP, which the U.S. has already withdrawn from.
  • The emphasis on sovereignty essentially means the U.S. would not abide by WTO decisions that are not in its favour. The U.S. has a very a poor record of enforcing WTO decisions that are against it anyway.


 

GS III: ECONOMY SECTORS

Regulator spots ‘sick’ tea gardens

  • Industry regulator, the Tea Board of India, has completed a survey by grading the large tea estates on the basis of certain parameters including workers’ welfare, and agricultural practices, which may be used for deciding future policies for the sector.
  • The survey comes in the backdrop of recurring reports of deaths in tea gardens. The exercise can save the workforce from any undue closure, sickness or stress as it reveals a garden’s state-of-affairs.
  • Reported starvation deaths in gardens abandoned by owners have been a recurring feature of the Indian tea industry causing embarrassment to the government and industry.
  • This survey covers 1,413 gardens across Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and West Bengal where 4.1 lakh hectares are under tea cultivation.
  • Assam, accounting for 50% of India’s tea output, fared well as per this survey, with quite a few of its gardens getting the top score.
  • West Bengal, the next largest tea producing state, encompassing the Darjeeling tea estates had a fair share of good gardens but most of them came in the ‘average’ to ‘slightly above average’ category.
  • The three southern states accounting for a quarter of India’s more than 1,200 million kg output have not come up trumps in the survey as none of them — Tamil Nadu, Kerala or Karnataka — had a garden in the top slot.

 

 

GS III : S&T  IT

‘Big data’s power will spur nations to fight’

  • From making scientific discoveries possible, predicting traffic patterns and helping fight crime, big data will gain importance not only for enterprise businesses but also for nations and their citizens.
  • At the Google Cloud Next conference, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, said that big data was the future of businesses and would also play a key role in providing huge nation states with benefits.

 

 

GS III : ECONOMY

RBI caps cash loan against gold at NBFC

  • In a fresh push toward a less cash economy, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has prohibited non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) of all kinds from lending more than Rs. 20,000 in cash against gold.
  • The NBFCs have been told to issue cheques for loan amounts above this prescribed limit.
  • Earlier, NBFCs had been directed to disburse only high value loans of Rs. 1 lakh and above against gold by cheque.
  • The RBI has now decided to reduce the cash disbursal limit on loan against gold to Rs. 20,000 from Rs. 1 lakh in line with the provisions of the Income- Tax Act.
  • The RBI fiat comes into effect immediately.
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