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Current Events 18 March 2017

 

NEWS

18 March 2017


Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II :  SOCIAL- EDUCATION

UGC stops funds to JNU centre

2.

GS III : ECONOMY

Plastic Rs. 10 notes in five cities soon

3.

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Supreme Court collegium reserves final call on judges

4.

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Justice Karnan rejects warrant issued by SC

5.

GS II: POLITY LEGISLATURE

Strong opposition needed: President

6.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Ten elephant corridors in Odisha viable for restoration

7.

GS I : CULTURE

‘Return Assam's treasure'

8.

GS II : SOCIAL  LABOUR

Labour code to provide social security cover to all workers

9.

GS III: AGRICULTURE

ICRISAT, ICAR join hands for crop improvement

10.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-RUSSIA

Long-term supply pact for Sukhoi jets inked

11.

GS III : SECURITY

Parliamentary panel fumes as NATGRID posts remain vacant

12.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL CHINA

China and Pakistan step up military ties

13.

GS II : GOVERNANCE

‘Assess impact of Make in India plan'

14.

GS II :  BILATERAL INDIA-USA

Indian drugmakers face squeeze in U.S.

15.

GS III :  S&T - HEALTH

Arunachal teen develops goggles to help the blind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS II :  SOCIAL- EDUCATION

UGC stops funds to JNU centre

  • A University Grants Commission letter to Jawaharlal Nehru University on 16 March 2017, saying that it would not fund its Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion after the 12th Plan, has taken academics teaching social exclusion across universities by surprise.
  • Established in about 35 Central universities since 2007, the Centres for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy are dedicated spaces for research on Dalits, tribes and minorities.
  • When contacted, a top Commission official said the latest letter just meant that the expenditure under the scheme to fund these Centres would move from Plan to Plan and not be merged with non-Plan expenditure.

 

GS III : ECONOMY

Plastic Rs. 10 notes in five cities soon

  • Five cities with diverse geographical and climatic conditions will be the first to start using plastic bank notes of Rs. 10 denomination, with the Centre approving a field trial.
  • Plastic bank notes are expected to last longer than cotton substrate-based ones.
  • The Finance Ministry was silent on the locations.

 

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Supreme Court collegium reserves final call on judges

  • The Supreme Court Collegium has handed over the finalised Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to the government.
  • While maintaining the government's proposal for a national security clause in the MoP, the Collegium has reserved to itself the right to reiterate a name rejected by the government.
  • In the final draft MoP handed over by the government to the Supreme Court Collegium in August 2016, the government had included the controversial clause that allowed it to reject a judicial candidate recommended by the Collegium if he or she is perceived to be a security threat.
  • The clause resulted in a government-judiciary impasse for over a year.
  • Now, while accepting national security and public interest as the new ground of objection to appoint a candidate as a judge, the collegium is learnt to have made it clear that the government will not have a right to reject its recommendation.
  • The body of five seniormost judges of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar has made it clear that if the government has objections on the ground of national security and public interest, it will convey the same to the collegium.
  • The collegium will then take a final call, sources said.
  • While accepting the government's demand to set up secretariats in the apex court and the 24 high courts to assist collegiums in SC and HCs in selecting judges, the collegium has refused to accept the demand for committees of retired or sitting judges to assist the collegiums.
  • Since last January, the government and the apex court have been trying to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure - a document to guide appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

Justice Karnan rejects warrant issued by SC

  • Calcutta High Court judge C.S. Karnan has "refused to accept" the bailable warrant issued against him by the seven judge Supreme Court bench in a suo motu contempt of court order.
  • Justice Karnan sought a compensation of Rs. 14 crore from the seven judges for having stopped his judicial and administrative work.

 

GS II: POLITY - LEGISLATURE

Strong opposition needed: President

  • President Pranab Mukherjee converted his prepared speech into an impromptu one at the India Today Conclave in Mumbai on 17 March 2017, but the media group's consulting editor Rajdeep Sardesai read out two operative parts from the prepared address, in which Mr. Mukherjee had quoted Jawaharlal Nehru as saying, "I do not want millions of people saying ‘yes' to one man; I want a strong opposition."
  • The President, a Congress party parliamentarian of 43 years until he assumed the country's highest office in July 2012, spent a considerable part of his address speaking about the various prime ministers he has worked with, but gave special emphasis to his career as a minister in the cabinets of Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.
  • However, he expressed anguish that the functioning of India's Parliament has taken a deep dive into inefficiency over the years, mostly due to disruptions, and exhorted that there should be public opinion against such incidents.

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Ten elephant corridors in Odisha viable for restoration

  • Ten of the 14 proposed elephant corridors identified to facilitate unhindered movement of jumbos and prevent their inbreeding have been found viable for restoration in Odisha.
  • Odisha, which houses 70% of the total elephant population in eastern India, is witnessing frequent human-elephant conflicts with 423 elephants perishing since 2011-12 and 421 humans deaths reported during the same period.
  • Elephants move long distances in search of food and require substantial areas to support their ecological needs.
  • The wildlife wing of the State forest department says habitat loss, expansion of human habitation and fragmentation of traditional elephant corridors have forced elephants to split into a number of metapopulation.
  • Odisha has three elephant reserves - Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur.

GS I : CULTURE

‘Return Assam's treasure'

  • Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit urged British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata, Bruce Bucknell to take steps to ensure return of Assam's treasure -- 16th Century's Vrindavani Vastra -- to the State.
  • Vrindavani Vastra was a drape woven by Assamese weavers during the 16th Century under guidance of the Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardev.
  • It is now in Victoria and Albert Museum in London. .
  • The Governor pointed out that the State is rich in Eri and Muga silk, handloom and bamboo craft, and both Assam and Britain could work together in these sectors for further promotion so that both could reap rich dividends.

 

 

GS II : SOCIAL LABOUR

Labour code to provide social security cover to all workers

  • The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has proposed a labour code which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers.
  • Even households employing domestic help will also have to contribute towards schemes including provident fund and gratuity for the worker, according to a ‘draft code on Social Security and Welfare' proposed by the Labour Ministry.
  • Factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the proposal.
  • A National Social Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, has been proposed to streamline and make policy on social security schemes related to all the Ministries. Other members would include: Finance Minister, Labour Minister, Health and Family Welfare Minister along with employer and employees' representatives.
  • The council will co-ordinate between central and State governments, monitor the implementation of social security schemes.

 

GS III: AGRICULTURE

ICRISAT, ICAR join hands for crop improvement

  • In a bid to benefit small farmers in India and globally, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) would work together on crop improvement and agronomy programmes for grain legumes and dryland cereals.
  • Climate smart crops, smart food and digitisation of breeding database have been identified as some of the core areas of research.
  • Other areas of focus over the next three years include - integrating systems modelling tools for upscaling climate resilient agriculture, developing genetic and genomic resources of finger millet and enhancing genetic gains for priority traits.
  • Dryland cereals and grain legumes are branded as smart foods - good for consumers, farmers and the planet as they diversify farming systems and help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. "

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

  • It is an international organisation which conducts agricultural research for rural development, headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad, Telangana, India) with several regional centers (Bamako (Mali), Nairobi (Kenya)) and research stations (Niamey (Niger), Kano (Nigeria), Lilongwe (Malawi), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)).
  • It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organisations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller foundations.
  • Its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.
  • Since its inception, host country India has granted a special status to ICRISAT as a UN Organization operating in the Indian territory making it eligible for special immunities and tax privileges.

 

 

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) 

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India.
  • It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.
  • It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.


GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-RUSSIA

Long-term supply pact for Sukhoi jets inked

  • In a move to address a long lasting concern of India with respect to Russian-origin military equipment, the two countries signed two long-term supply agreements for the Sukhoi fighter aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to address issues of life-cycle support and maintenance.
  • The deals were signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from India and the United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporations of Russia at the first India-Russia Military Industrial Conference in the national capital.
  • Observing that India has the third largest armed forces in the world, Mr. Jaitley said, "We are also one of the largest importers of defence equipment and this definitely is not a label we are happy with."
  • This agreement covers about 57,000 spares and components related to the Su-30 aircraft, a defence official said.
  • The deal follows a Russian legislation permitting its companies to enter into direct agreement with foreign companies for long-term support agreements.
  • Currently, procurement of spares is a long and cumbersome process as India cannot deal directly with the Original Equipment Manufacturers but designated intermediaries like Rosoboronexport.
  • Officials said they were exploring the possibility of Russian OEMs allowing licence manufacture of the spares locally by Indian vendors.
  • India has contracted 272 Su-30 fighter jets from Russia in various batches and has so far inducted over 230 jets.
  • However, their serviceability rate has been an issue of constant concern with availability rates dropping below 50% at one point and has improved to over 60% over the last couple of years.

 

GS III : SECURITY

Parliamentary panel fumes as NATGRID posts remain vacant

  • The Union Home Ministry informed a parliamentary panel that it couldn't get qualified IT professionals to fill 35 posts in the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), an ambitious intelligence project conceptualised by the United Progressive Alliance government after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
  • The panel has asked the Ministry to "re-publicise the posts" and "offer remuneration commensurate with that of the private sector to attract the most qualified professionals."
  • The NATGRID is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens, from almost two dozen agencies, to be made available for counterterror investigations.
  • Questions were raised on the cut in the NATGRID's budget from Rs 45 crore to Rs. 18.71 crore last fiscal.
  • In July 2016, the NDA government appointed Ashok Patnaik, a serving officer of the Intelligence Bureau, as the CEO of the NATGRID. The post had been lying vacant after the former CEO Raghu Raman's contract expired in April 2014. The government refused to renew his contract following an adverse intelligence report.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

China and Pakistan step up military ties

  • China appears set to strengthen Pakistani military forces to protect the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and to combat cross-border infiltration by militants in China's western Xinjiang province.
  • China blames the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for carrying out attacks in its far western region of Xinjiang, and has long urged Islamabad to weed out what it says are militants from the region.
  • Recent talks covered weapon exchanges, including the mass production of FC-1 Xiaolong, a lightweight and multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the two countries.

 

GS II : SOCIAL SCHEME

‘Assess impact of Make in India plan'

  • The Department Related Parliamentary Committee on Commerce and Industry has sought an assessment of how the government's Make In India (MII) initiative has helped the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the country.
  • It also said dedicated measures should be made to ensure that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) promotes the MSME sector.
  • Given the large population of youth in the country, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce also wanted the assessment to show if the MII programme - aimed at boosting manufacturing in India and generating jobs mainly for the youth after ensuring that they get opportunities to skill themselves through skill development programmes - has seized the opportunity of the demographic dividend.
  • "The manufacturing sector has grown only by an average of 1.6% in the last five years till 2015-16," it said.
  • Stating that the capital goods sector is crucial for the industrial growth of the country, the panel said, "appropriate measures may be taken to revive the growth of the capital goods sector."
  • On industrial development of backward and remote areas, the panel said, "possibility of giving suitable subsidy may be explored for industries investing high capital, which may be Rs. 500 crore or above in select sectors like food processing and other employment generating industries congenial to the region."
  • On proposals to boost export performance, the panel said a healthy increase in the allocation of the Interest Equalisation Scheme would enable greater coverage and help augment export competitiveness, which otherwise, had been adversely affected by high rate of credit.
  • Professionalism needed to be infused in the working of the Directorate General of Trade Remedies so that maximum benefit of the country's foreign trade potential may be reaped, the panel said.

 

GS II :  BILATERAL INDIA-USA

Indian drugmakers face squeeze in U.S.

  • India's small and medium sized generic drugmakers say the threat of tougher rules and higher barriers for outsiders in the U.S. healthcare market will force many to find a niche or focus their expansion efforts on other countries.
  • India supplies nearly a third of medicines sold in the U.S., the world's largest healthcare market.
  • The mid-sized generics drug maker said it had no plans to scale up its U.S. business and would invest more in Asia and Africa instead.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also banned dozens of Indian drug factories from supplying the U.S. market following inspections that found inadequate quality-control practices.

GS III :  S&T - HEALTH 

Arunachal teen develops goggles to help the blind

  • A high school student in Arunachal Pradesh has invented a unique pair of goggles that uses ultrasound and infrared sensors to help the visually impaired detect obstacles on their path.
  • The State government pledged financial support for him to develop the gadget.
  • Anang Tadar, a Class XI student of New Galaxy Academy, Nirjuli, was recently awarded the Dinanath Pandey Smart Idea Innovation Award for inventing a gadget called Goggle for Blind (G4B).
  • Impressed by his innovation and keen to launch it in the market, the National Innovation Foundation, set up by the Department of Science and Technology, has asked Anang to create a few prototypes for the visually impaired to test.
  • The technology Anang chose to make his gadget is similar to what is used in parking sensors used in cars.
  • The teenager said the googles could be used to detect any obstacles on all sides within a distance of two metres.
  • He says he used the principle of echolocation as used by bats at night.
  • There are two ultrasound sensors on the left and right of the goggles to detect obstacles.
  • "There is also an infrared sensor in the middle of the gadget to detect obstacles in case both the ultrasound sensors fail," he said.
  • When an obstacle is detected, a beep sound is heard through the audio output along with vibration to alert the person.
  • "With the intensity of the beep and vibration the person could know how far and near the obstacle is," Anang added.
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