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Current Events 15 March 2017

 

 NEWS 

15 March 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

Parrikar takes oath in Goa as SC declines Cong. plea

2.

GS III : SOCIAL RURAL

On computing ability, rural India is lost in the woods

3.

GS II : SOCIAL - EDUCATION

No Aadhaar, no scholarship

4.

GS II : POLITY  BILL/ACT

Lok Sabha clears amended Enemy Property Bill

5.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL EU

EU religious signs ban sparks outrage

6.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL UK

U.K. Parliament clears way for Brexit talks

7.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL GERMANY

Marx′s hometown to accept China′s gift statue

8.

GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

Food and fuel prices spur acceleration in inflation

9.

GS III : ECONOMY

MeitY upsets Apple cart, says tax sops not feasible

10.

GS II : MULTILATERAL  BRICS

BRICS to discuss steps to boost investment

11.

GS III :ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

A glow-in-the-dark frog found in Argentina

12.

GS III :ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

U.K. cruise ship damages Indonesian coral reef

13.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

Boaty McBoatface goes from joke to polar explorer

14.

GS II :  SOCIAL- HEALTH

Trachoma eliminated in India, say AIIMS doctors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

GS II : POLITY  JUDICIARY

Parrikar takes oath in Goa as SC declines Cong. Plea

  • Hours after the Supreme Court refused the Congress plea to stay the swearing-in of Manohar Parrikar as Goa Chief Minister, the BJP leader took charge in Panaji, along with a nine-member team.
  • The court, however, requested Governor Mridula Sinha to hold a floor test in the Assembly on March 16.
  • The Congress had moved the SC on March 13, claiming that the Governor′s decision to appoint Mr. Parrikar as Chief Minister without consulting it - the single largest party - was a "brazen" misuse of constitutional office.
  • Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley gave instances where this rule was invoked and Congress or Congress backed governments came to power.
  • "In 2005, BJP won 30 out of 81 seats in Jharkhand, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shri Shibu Soren, with the support of 17 of his own MLAs plus others was invited to form the government.
  • In 2002, in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference had 28 MLAs but the Governor invited the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress combinations of 15 + 21 MLAs to form the government," he said.
  • He also quoted former President K.R. Narayanans communiqué from March 1998, which said, "when no party or pre-election alliance of parties is in a clear majority, the Head of State has in India or elsewhere, given the first opportunity to the leader of the party or the combination of parties that has won the largest number of seats subject to the Prime Ministers so appointed obtaining majority support on the floor of the House within a stipulated time."

 

GS II : SOCIAL RURAL

On computing ability, rural India is lost in the woods

  • The ability to use computers remains low in the country, in spite of campaigns for digitalisation, an analysis of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data reveals.
  • An estimated 8.8% of the rural population has computing ability.
  • In urban areas, the figure is nearly four times higher, at 30.2%.
  • Computing ability was defined as a user′s ability to operate a desktop, laptop, palmtop, notebook, smartphone and tablets.
  • Among the major States, Kerala has the highest computing ability at 32.3% in rural areas, while Chhattisgarh has the lowest, 2.9%.
  • In the urban areas, Kerala is in second position, after Delhi.
  • Computing ability, measured from NSS data on Social Consumption and Education, was found to be the lowest in the tribal population.
  • Data on access to gas, electricity or kerosene for clean cooking indicates a wide gap between rural and urban consumption. While 14.9% of rural population has access to clean cooking, the figure goes up to 76.4% in urban areas.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL- EDUCATION

No Aadhaar, no scholarship

  • A key set of scholarships that encourages middle school students to pursue careers in science, collegians to opt for basic science research and women to return to labs after a break in career, will soon require an Aadhaar registration.
  • A March 9 notification by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology says, "...an individual desirous of availing benefits under the Schemes is required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar or undergo Aadhaar authentication.
  • The schemes are DISHA Programme, INSPIRE Award, INSPIRE Scholarship, INSPIRE Internship, INSPIRE Fellowship and INSPIRE Faculty".
  • The last date for application would be September 30 and, were a scholarship holder to live in a block or taluka without an Aadhar enrollment centre, the Science Ministry would be required to set up a facility, the notification adds.
  • The INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) scholarships and DISHA scheme (for women scientists) have been designed to reach students and women-researchers across all districts.
  • As of July 2016, 1.3 million students have benefited from the three-pronged INSPIRE scheme.
  • As part of this, 10,000 students get Rs. 80,000 to pursue a research career; 200,000 children from every school in India are awarded a Rs. 5,000 cash prize every year to develop science models with 60 of them chosen to display it at Rashtrapati Bhavan, and newly-minted scientists are offered an assured 5-year research contract.
  • The Aadhaar link to the scholarship comes even as a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by former Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, said that the use of the Aadhaar card was purely voluntary and not mandatory.
  • While the Supreme Court is yet to rule on whether the Aadhaar scheme is an invasion of a citizen′s right to privacy, it has only allowed it to be used for subsidies under the public distribution system and for distributing LPG cylinders.
  • However, the government now uses it to manage a variety of schemes, from grants to Bhopal gas leak victims and the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • It also decided last month that children wanting to avail midday meals in schools need to be Aadhaar-registered.

DISHA - A programme for women scientists

  • The scholarship scheme for women scientists for societal programmes is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology.
  • It is aimed at women who have a "break in their careers" due to social responsibilities but have a desire to return to mainstream science and work as bench-level scientists.

 

Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)

  • It is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for attraction of talent to Science.
  • The basic objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base.
  • A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for identification of talent at any level.
  • It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for identification of talent.



GS II : POLITY BILL/ACT

Lok Sabha clears amended Enemy Property Bill

  • Heirs of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition will have no claim over the properties left behind in India, with Parliament passing a Bill to amend a 49-year-old law.
  • The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, was passed by voice vote in the Lok Sabha, incorporating the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The LS had passed the Bill earlier but certain amendments were introduced to it in the RS, on the recommendations of a Select Committee.
  • Those amendments had to be approved by the Lower House, which was done on 14 March 2017.
  • After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the Enemy Property Act was enacted in 1968, which regulates such properties and lists the Custodian′s powers.

 

 

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL EU

EU religious signs ban sparks outrage

  • Religious organisations and rights groups have expressed concerns about a "disturbing" European Court of Justice ruling that enables European companies to ban employees from wearing visible religious signs.
  • The court ruled that employers can ban the wearing of visible political, philosophical or religious signs, so long as it was already included in company laws, and equally applied.
  • While the cases considered by the ECJ involve the headscarf, the ruling will also apply to other religious symbols such as Sikh turbans, Christian crucifixes, or Jewish Kippahs.
  • The Luxembourg-based court′s ruling involves two cases: that of Samira Achbita who was dismissed from her role with Belgian firm G4S Secure Solutions in 2006 after expressing her intent to start wearing a headscarf.
  • The second involved Asma Boughnaoui, who was dismissed by French firm Micropole in 2009, after a client complained about her wearing of the headscarf.
  • In the case of Ms. Achbita, the court noted that there was an internal G4S rule that employees were prohibited from wearing visible signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace without distinction.
  • Prohibiting wearing a headscarf, under such circumstances where the rule was applied in a "consistent and systematic manner" did not "constitute direct discrimination based on religion or belief," it concluded.
  • However, in the case of Ms. Boughanaoui, the court concluded that the ban could not be based on "subjective considerations" such as the employer′s willingness to listen to the customer′s demands.



GS II : INTERNATIONAL U.K.

U.K. Parliament clears way for Brexit talks

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May scored a parliamentary victory as both Houses of Parliament passed the Brexit bill unamended late on 13 March 2017, leaving her free to trigger Article 50 by the end of March as planned.
  • March 25 marks the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties, the founding treaties of the European project.
  • The parliamentary victory was somewhat overshadowed by announcement by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of plans to hold a second referendum before the end of Brexit talks in 2019.
  • Also complicating matters was the call by the Sinn Fein, the second largest party in Northern Ireland, for a vote on unifying Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.


GS II : INTERNATIONAL GERMANY

Marx′s hometown to accept China′s gift statue

  • The bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx was supposed to bring his hometown, Trier, Germany, an important exhibition about his life and an increase in tourism.
  • But an offer from China to present the city with a nearly 20-foot-tall bronze statue of Marx, the 19th-century intellectual who was one of the writers of The Communist Manifesto, is overshadowing the festivities a year before they begin.
  • Trier, in western Germany near the border with Luxembourg, decided to accept the gift from the Chinese government, by the sculptor Wu Weishan.
  • However, it left open the thorny questions of how large it would be and where in the city it would stand.
  • Statues of Marx, who was born in Trier on May 5, 1818, and later lived in Berlin, London and Paris, were common throughout Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and several still survive in Germany's formerly communist eastern states, including in Berlin.
  • But his birthplace, firmly in the former West Germany, has struggled with how best to remember its famous son.
  • The city, which is on the banks of the Moselle River and in an important wine producing area, has increasingly become a destination for tourists from China.

Karl Marx 

  • Karl Marx; (5 May 1818 - 14 March 1883) was a German-born scientist, philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist.
  • Born in Trier to a middle-class family, he later studied political economy and Hegelian philosophy.
  • As an adult, Marx became stateless and spent much of his life in London, England, where he continued to develop his thought in collaboration with German thinker Friedrich Engels and published various works, the most well-known being the 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto.
  • His work has since influenced subsequent intellectual, economic, and political history.
  • Marx's theories about society, economics and politics-collectively understood as Marxism-hold that human societies develop through class struggle; in capitalism, this manifests itself in the conflict between the ruling classes (known as the bourgeoisie) that control the means of production and working classes (known as the proletariat) that enable these means by selling their labour for wages.
  • Through his theories of alienation, value, commodity fetishism, and surplus value, Marx argued that capitalism facilitated social relations and ideology through commodification, inequality, and the exploitation of labour.
  • Employing a critical approach known as historical materialism, Marx propounded the theory of base and superstructure, asserting that the cultural and political conditions of society, as well as its notions of human nature, are largely determined by obscured economic foundations. These economic critiques were set out in influential works such as the three volumes, published between 1867 and 1894, that comprise Das Kapital.
  • According to Marx, states are run in the interests of the ruling class but are nonetheless represented as being in favor of the common interest of all.
  • He predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism.
  • For Marx, class antagonisms under capitalism, owing in part to its instability and crisis-prone nature, would eventuate the working class' development of class consciousness, leading to their conquest of political power and eventually the establishment of a classless, communist society governed by a free association of producers.
  • Marx actively fought for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic emancipation.
  • Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and his work has been both lauded and criticised.


GS III: ECONOMY INDICATORS

Food and fuel prices spur acceleration in inflation

  • Retail and wholesale price inflation accelerated in February, spurred by food and fuel prices, vindicating the Reserve Bank of India's decision to change its monetary stance to "neutral" amid concerns about the "persistence" of price gains in categories excluding food and fuel.
  • While retail inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) quickened to 3.65%, from January's 3.2%, according to data from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, wholesale price inflation accelerated sharply to a 39-month high of 6.55%, a separate release from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed.
  • The RBI, which is aiming at CPI inflation of 5% by March-end with a mandate to achieve a medium-term target of 4% plus/minus 2%, last month cautioned that vegetable prices may "potentially rebound" as the deflationary effects of demonetisation wear off.
  • The central bank said at the time that "a broad-based stickiness is discernible in inflation," particularly in housing, health, education, and miscellaneous goods and services consumed by households.

GS III : ECONOMY

MeitY upsets Apple cart, says tax sops not feasible

  • Apples′ plans to Make in India may get delayed, with the Ministry of Electronics and IT stating that it "may not be feasible" to grant the U.S.-based technology major exemptions from certain duties that it had sought.
  • "Apple is seeking an exemption from Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP), which means that chargers, batteries and headphones for manufacture of Apple phones be exempted from basic custom duty (BCD) and countervailing duty (CVD), which may not be feasible," the Ministry had said in its response to the Apple wish list received for comments from the Prime Minister's Office, a senior official told.
  • Presently, all inputs for manufacture of mobile handsets, except chargers, batteries and headphones, are exempted from BCD and CVD.
  • Since Apple does not intend to source its components locally, it had asked for removal of all forms of duties, pre and post GST, on completely knocked down and semi-knocked down units of its iPhones that will be assembled in India.
  • The official explained that the government had introduced the Phased Manufacturing Programme for mobile handsets to increase domestic value addition.
  • Under PMP, headphones, chargers and batteries are subject to CVD of 12.5% on import since Budget 2016-17 and the domestic manufacturers of these products are extended differential excise duty dispensation "by virtue of which all their imports are exempted from BCD and CVD and excise duty of 2% is levied on domestically manufactured headphones, chargers and batteries."


GS II : MULTILATERAL  BRICS

BRICS to discuss steps to boost investment

  • BRICS nations will soon consider a proposal to frame ‘guiding principles' for investment policymaking to boost investment flows into Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as well as take steps to promote ecommerce among the five leading emerging economies.
  • In addition, the BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI) meeting - slated for early next week in Beijing - will also discuss measures for closer cooperation among the BRICS countries for developing their respective national single window for trade facilitation, official sources told.
  • China, the current BRICS chair, wants to push ‘investment facilitation' and ‘ecommerce'- related issues, the sources said.
  • Beijing′s proposal for ‘Guiding Principles for BRICS Investment Policymaking' is similar to ‘Guiding Principles' agreed by the G20 (group of 20 major economies of the world) Trade Ministers at Shanghai in July 2016 under the Chinese G20 Presidency, they said.
  • China has also been at the forefront of a proposal for a global pact on ‘investment facilitation and promotion' at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)- level, and is making efforts to ensure that the proposal on a global investment pact gains traction before the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC) meeting in December 2017 in Buenos Aires (Argentina).
  • India had recently rejected a proposal by the European Union and Canada at the WTO-level for a global investment pact that incorporates the contentious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.
  • The ISDS mechanism allows firms to drag governments to international arbitration without waiting to exhaust the available local remedies and seek huge compensation.

BRICS

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

  • Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC" (or "the BRICs"), before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
  • The BRICS members are all leading developing or newly industrialized countries, but they are distinguished by their large, sometimes fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional affairs; all five are G-20 members.
  • Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. China will host the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen, China in September, 2017.
  • As of 2015, the five BRICS countries represent over 3.6 billion people, or half of the world population; all five members are in the top 25 of the world by population, and four are in the top 10.
  • The five nations have a combined nominal GDP of US$16.6 trillion, equivalent to approximately 22% of the gross world product, combined GDP (PPP) of around US$37 trillion and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.

2016 BRICS summit

  • The 2016 BRICS summit was the eighth annual BRICS summit, an international relations conference attended by the heads of country or heads of government of the five member countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • It was held from 15 to 16 October 2016 at the Taj Exotica hotel in Benaulim, Goa, India.

 

GS III :ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

A glow-in-the-dark frog found in Argentina

  • Scientists have discovered the world′s first fluorescent frog in Argentina that sports a muted palette of greens, yellows and reds under normal light, but gives off a bright blue and green glow in the dark.
  • Researchers found that the South American polka dot tree frog (Hypsiboas punctatus) uses fluorescent molecules totally unlike those found in other animals.
  • The ability to absorb light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths is called fluorescence, and is rare in terrestrial animals.
  • Until now, it was unheard of in amphibians.
  • Many ocean creatures exhibit fluorescence, including corals, fish, sharks and one species of sea turtle.
  • On land, fluorescence was previously known in only parrots and some species of scorpions.
  • It is unclear why animals have this ability, although explanations include communication, camouflage and mate attraction.

  

 

GS III :ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

U.K. cruise ship damages Indonesian coral reef

  • British-owned cruise ship has smashed into pristine coral reefs, causing extensive damage in a remote corner of Indonesia known as one of the world′s most biodiverse marine habitats.
  • Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia has long been a top attraction for intrepid travellers and avid divers, home to palm-fringed islands surrounded by an underwater kaleidoscope of coral and fish.
  • The accident has damaged an estimated 13,500 sq.m. of coral reef, which could cost up to $16.2 million to restore.
  • There has been outrage in the local tourism industry which relies on Raja Ampat's natural wonders for its survival.

 

GS III : SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Boaty McBoatface goes from joke to polar explorer

  • Boaty McBoatface is back, but this time it′s serious.
  • The high-tech remote-operated yellow submarine, bearing a name that began as a joke, will begin its first mission this week through a deep current that starts in Antarctica and goes through the Southern Ocean.
  • Boaty will navigate through underwater waterfalls and rapids on a two month mission, collecting data to help scientists understand how global warming affects oceans.
  • The robot submarine's missions can last for several months and include travelling thousands of miles under ice while reaching depths of about 5.6 km to measure seabed properties on an oceanic scale.
  • It can then rise to the surface to transmit data to oceanographers via a radio link.
  • The British National Oceanography Centre says it hopes Boaty will be able to make the first under-ice crossing of the Arctic Ocean.

 

GS II :  SOCIAL- HEALTH

Trachoma eliminated in India, say AIIMS doctors

  • Trachoma, a common eye infection among children that often leads to blindness, has been eliminated from the country, doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) announced recently.
  • Trachoma is caused by bacterial agent chlamydia trachomatis and usually spread due to flies, poor hygiene, crowded places, lack of water, and environmental factors such as humid conditions.
  • Improper disposable of garbage also adds to the spread of the disease.
  • "It′s a major achievement and part of the national three-year survey conducted in collaboration with the Union Health Ministry," said Dr. Vashist.
  • He was part of the team of experts from the centre who visited high-risk States including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Nicobar Islands to conduct mass treatment programmes among children.
  • AIIMS will now submit a report about the achievement to the Union Health Ministry. About 50% to 80% children from north-west India showed incidence of trachoma in 1950s.
  • This was followed by the Union Health Ministry starting the National Trachoma Control Programme.
  • The first major survey on this ailment was conducted in 1971-74, which found that the disease was still prevalent and a major cause of blindness among children.
  • The second major survey was conducted in 1986-89, the results of which turned out to be positive.
  • It found only 10% to 15% children had contracted the disease.
  • Dr. Vashist noted that the most recent national survey that was done over three years ago. "We discovered that nearly 50% of tribals in the Nicobar Islands were at high risk of contracting the disease. We recommended mass treatment for the entire population of the island. The tribals were trained to follow good hygiene in their daily lives as well," he said.


 

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