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Current Events 16 January 2017

 

NEWS

16 JANUARY 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : POLITY  JUDICIARY

Why can’t FM stations broadcast news, asks SC

2.

GS III: SECURITY

Rajnath reviews Manipur situation

3.

GS II : POLITY -ELECTIONS

Stay on hearing public appeals till polls

4.

GS III: S&T -SPACE

Getting to know Tabby’s star

5.

GS III: S&T -SPACE

The moon is 4.51 billion years old

6.

GS III : S&T- OTHER

One hundred years of the ‘bond’

7.

GS III : ECONOMY

Market regulator tightens merger norms

8.

GS II : BILATERAL RELATIONS-  INDIA- JAPAN

It’s time to say ‘Irasshaimase’ to Japan

9.

GS II : SOCIAL  HEALTH

India superbug resistant to available antibiotics?

10.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT -  CLIMATE CHANGE

Epic Antarctic voyage maps seafloor to predict ocean rise                                                                


GS II : POLITY  JUDICIARY

Why can’t FM stations broadcast news, asks SC

  • A Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud picked up from a plethora of pending public interest litigation petitions a 2013 one filed by Common Cause for a judicial declaration to end the monopoly of the Prasar Bharati Corporation, which owns and operates All India Radio, over news broadcasting and current affairs programmes.
  • The Bench asked why there should be a continuing prohibition on FM radio stations and community radios from airing their own news and current affairs on  par with private TV channels and the print media.
  • The government’s prohibition, Common Cause argued, was in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict in 1995 in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting vs Cricket Association of Bengal.
  • The apex court then held that “airwaves are public property to be used to promote public good and expressing a plurality of views, opinions and ideas”. “Policy Guidelines and of the Grant of Permission Agreements framed by the government which prohibit private FM radio stations and community radio stations from broadcasting their own news and current affairs programmes are clearly violative of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.
  • It is submitted that the right to freedom of speech and expression also includes the right to information, which encompasses diverse interpretations of news and current affairs,” civil rights advocates Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal submitted before the Bench in the present case.
  • The court, in turn, directed the government to explain, in four weeks, the series of orders systematically passed between 2008 and 2013 to gag private radio from airing their own news and current affairs broadcasts.

 

GS III: SECURITY

Rajnath reviews Manipur situation

  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting on to assess the security situation in pollbound Manipur, hit by an economic blockade for more than 70 days.
  • Manipur is reeling under the blockade called by the United Naga Council protesting against the creation of seven new districts.

 

GS II : POLITY  - ELECTIONS

Stay on hearing public appeals till polls

  • The Election Commission has issued an order barring chief ministers, ministers and political appointees in the five pollbound States from hearing appeals filed by people before statutory bodies till the election process was over as their decisions could influence voters.
  • It said the hearings by politicians “may have direct or indirect influence on voters and may also disturb the level-playing field” during the elections.
  • All such hearings of statutory bodies should be deferred till the conclusion of poll in all constituencies in your State.
  • If any such hearing is required to be held in compliance with the mandatory provisions of law/any court order, such hearing in lieu of chief minister/ministers or politically appointed office-bearers of statutory bodies, should be held by a Secretary-level officer nominated by the Chief Secretary,” the Commission has said.
  • The poll body has also asked the five States to send their compliance report by 17th January.

 

GS III: S&T SPACE

Getting to know Tabby’s star

  • Tabby’s star (or Boyajian’s star), named after the lead author on the paper announcing its unusual fluctuating light, is also called WTF (Where’s the flux?) star because of the unexplained large fluctuation of light energy.
  • A part of the Cygnus constellation, Tabby’s star shows anomalously large fluctuations of light intensity which has puzzled astronomers.
  • The observations by Kepler spacecraft have shown that its light intensity drops by more than 20 percent at times, with regular smaller fluctuations which are also in excess of that seen in many other stars.
  • The observed drop in light intensity, which is about 20 percent of the normal brightness, is too large to be explained as being due to a transiting planet blocking its path to the earth.
  • After several guesses were made, the reason for this fluctuation has now been partly explained in a paper in the journal Physical Review Letters by a group from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
  • In a novel way, this work has brought in ideas from the theory of phase transitions in magnetism to understand the star’s wavering light.
  • The work draws an interesting parallel between the fluctuations of magnetic field in the star and what is seen in a ferromagnetic transition, for the first time.
  • “We do not yet know for sure if the transition is the result of a change of magnetization. We do not yet have an exact mechanism for the transition,” a researcher involved states, hinting that there is more work in store to decipher this puzzle.

GS III: S&T  SPACE

The moon is 4.51 billion years old

  • The moon is at least 4.51 billion years old. This is from 40 to 140 million years older than previously thought, says new research published in Science Advances, based on an analysis of minerals from the moon called zircons.
  • These minerals were brought back to Earth by the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 and have now been studied by researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
  • The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a “planetary embryo” called Theia.
  • The Earth’s collision with Theia created a liquefied moon, which then solidified. Scientists believe most of the moon’s surface was covered with magma right after its formation.
  • The new research would mean that the moon formed “only” about 60 million years after the birth of the solar system.
  • This is an important point because it would provide critical information for astronomers and planetary scientists who seek to understand the early evolution of the Earth and our solar system.

GS III : SCIENCE

One hundred years of the ‘bond’

  • The chemical bond has just crossed a century. The ‘bond’ has been central to science, second only to atoms perhaps, both of which together make the physical world.
  • In the past hundred years, the bond has been manipulated in numerous ways, which made drugs, polymers, plastics, dyes, detergents, agrochemicals, liquid crystals, and many others possible and in the process, the world around us has changed irreversibly.
  • We synthesized over nine million compounds, making the chemical industry the largest in the world, second only to energy.
  • The chemical bond decides the ‘horoscope’ of the molecule.
  • It decides the properties of molecules such as colour, reactivity, solubility, etc. all of which decide their applications.
  • Metals, ceramics and semiconductors are what they are due to their chemical bonding.
  • Today, structure and bonding are essential aspects of chemical pedagogy.

GS III : ECONOMY

Market regulator tightens merger norms

  • In a bid to safeguard the interests of the public shareholders, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened the norms for merger of an unlisted company with a listed entity.
  • The board of the capital market regulator, at its Jaipur meeting, has decided that the holding of public shareholders post the merger cannot be less than 25%.
  • Further, the watchdog has stipulated a similar threshold for institutional shareholders of the unlisted entity as well, post-merger.
  • “The objective is to have wider public shareholding and to prevent very large unlisted company to get listed by merging with a very small company,” according to a SEBI statement.
  • The regulator has also decided that an unlisted company can be merged with a listed company only if the latter is listed on a stock exchange having nationwide trading terminals.
  • To ensure larger say for the public shareholders, the regulator has also made their e-voting mandatory in cases wherein the stake of such shareholders reduces by more than 5% in the merged entity.
  • Among other issues, the regulator also reduced the broker fees by 25% from ?.20 per Rs. 1 crore of turnover to ?.15 per Rs. 1crore of turnover.
  • This will result in reduction of overall cost of transactions and will benefit the investors and promote the development of securities market, according to the statement.
  • In order to help mutual fund investors take better informed decisions, SEBI has decided that fund houses will have to include in their advertisements, the performance of the scheme in terms of CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) for the past one year, three years and five years and since inception.
  • Currently, the fund house only publishes the scheme’s returns for as many twelve month periods as possible for the past three years.
  • The regulator has also allowed mutual funds to invest in hybrid instruments like REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) and InvITs (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) but has laid down certain criteria on the cap for such investments.
  • A mutual fund scheme cannot invest more than 5% of its net asset value (NAV) in units of a single REITs/InvITs issuer. Further, the overall exposure of a scheme in REITs/InvITs has been capped at 10%.
  • However, such limits will not be applicable for investments in case of index fund or sector or industry specific scheme pertaining to REITs and InvITs.

 

GS II : BILATERAL RELATIONS – INDIA-JAPAN

It’s time to say ‘Irasshaimase’  (welcome) to Japan

History:

  • Japan and India have had a long trade and economic relationship starting from the later part of the 19th century.
  • However, post-World War II and the establishment of diplomatic relations, the imperatives of the cold war kept the relations between the two countries at a suboptimal level.
  • In the late 1980s, with the cold war fading, Japan-India relations again looked promising.
  • It is worth noting that even during the cold war period, Japan’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) was still active in India.
  • The landmark event which signalled the high point of the relationship in that period was the joint venture between Maruti Udyog and Suzuki Motors in 1984 to produce small cars in India.
  • Despite having been an early investor in India’s industrialisation, Japan in the early 1990s was focused on trade and investment with China.
  • India’s nuclear tests in 1998 again led to severe condemnation and harsh sanctions by Japan and the relations moved to a low keel.
  • The P.V. Narasimha Rao government’s look east policy”, which was furthered by Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh governments, laid the foundations of a special strategic global partnership with Japan at the turn of the century and in the first few years of the new millennium when the signs of a shift in global power balance in favour of Asia became apparent.

Trade and investment:

  • Trade and investment between the two countries is significantly lower than the potential.
  • As per data from the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan’s aggregate outward investment in China during the period 1996-2015 was $116 billion and in India was $24 billion. China has received close to 5 times more investment than India.
  • Between FY15 and FY16, while FDI from Singapore and the U.S. have more or less doubled, Japan’s FDI into India has increased by only 30%.
  • By 2015-16, Japan-India two-way trade had increased to $14,512 million (a cumulative annual growth rate of 6.3%), China-India two-way trade had grown to $70,758 million (CAGR of 22.6%) and South Korea- India two-way trade had grown to $16,587 million (CAGR of 14.6%).

Challenges to partnership

  • There are three main challenges which have constrained the Japan-India partnership from achieving its full potential.

1.     First, India’s complex regulations, red tape, ad hoc nature of state-level interventions.

2.      Second, Japanese companies face considerable logistics challenges and non-availability of uninterrupted power supply constrains their manufacturing plans in India.

3.     Third, while India can emerge as a large market for Japanese infrastructure system exports, there have been incredible delays in the commencement of the projects.

Initiatives taken:

  • In order to facilitate investment from Japan, the union government has set up a Japan Plus committee which comprised four senior bureaucrats from the government and three Japanese officials chosen, one each from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Aichi prefecture to deal with all aspects of investment, mainly challenges faced by Japanese companies post investment.
  • In fact, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has funded the Tamil Nadu Investment Promotion Program for strengthening policy framework and urban and industry infrastructure to facilitate foreign investment.
  • Japan is working on developing 12 Industrial townships called Japan Industrial Townships (JITs) which will operate like Little Japan with all the infrastructure to support the operations of Japanese companies. Still, the JITs face challenges from access to ports, lack of uninterrupted power supply and poor level of benchmarking to global best standards as applicable for industrial parks.
  • While there is the shining example of the Delhi Metro Rail, the delays with Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which was set up in 2007, and the pace of the ongoing feasibility studies of Chennai Mumbai Industrial Corridor (CBIC) are disappointing.

 Tokyo Declaration, 2014

  • The Tokyo Declaration of November 2014 sets a target for doubling Japan’s foreign direct investment, the number of Japanese companies operating in India and an ambitious investment target of JPY 3.5 trillion ($33.5 billion) within a five-year period.
  • The number of Japanese companies in India in October 2014 was 1,156 and by October 2015 it was 1,229, an increase of 6%, much lower than the needed growth to achieve the target.
  • The cumulative Overseas Development Assistance disbursement by Japan (India is the largest recipient of Japanese ODA) in 2014 was JPY4.6 trillion and in FY 15-16 only JPY 185.6 billion was disbursed.
  • Given the under performance on all the benchmarks set up under the Tokyo Declaration, timely intervention from the highest levels of both governments can still ensure that the ambitious metrics can be achieved.
  • The Japanese government must play a more active role in building India’s infrastructure, which will serve as a foundation for sustained economic growth.

GS II : SOCIAL  HEALTH

India superbug resistant to available antibiotics?

  • A woman in the U.S. died after being infected by a superbug during her visit to India, say doctors who found that the “nightmare” bacteria was resistant to all available antibiotics.
  • The infection was caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a multidrug-resistant organism associated with high mortality.
  • After the CRE, identified as Klebsiella pneumoniae, was confirmed by lab testing, an isolate from a wound specimen was sent for further susceptibility testing and to determine the mechanism of resistance.
  • That testing confirmed the presence of New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), an enzyme that directly breaks down carbapenems, a powerful class of antibiotics that are often used to treat multidrug-resistant infections.
  • The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s antimicrobial testing showed the isolate was resistant to 26 different antibiotics.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT  CLIMATE CHANGE

Epic Antarctic voyage maps seafloor to predict ocean rise

  • In East Antarctica, 3,000 km south of the West Australian town of Albany, an ice shelf the size of California is melting from below.
  • The concerning trend was confirmed by Australian scientists in December 2016, who reported that warming ocean temperatures were causing the rapid melt of the end of the Totten glacier, which is holding back enough ice to create a global sea rise of between 3.5 metres and six metres.
  • A team of international scientists left Hobart aboard the Australian research ship Investigator to map the seafloor ahead of the glacier to trace its history back to the last ice age, in the hopes of predicting its future melting patterns.
  • The 51-day mission is one of the longest ever voyages by Australian scientists to Antarctica and will involve mapping the unexplored Sabrina Coast seafloor and taking samples of piles of glacial sediment left behind by the retreating ice sheet. 

 


 

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