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Current Events 30 March 2017

 

NEWS 

30 March 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II :  POLITY  BILL/ACT

Lok Sabha passes GST Bills after marathon debate

2.

GS III :  ENVIRONMENT  POLLUTION

SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1

3.

GS II :  BILATERAL INDIA-USA

Westinghouse files for bankruptcy

4.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT  CLIMATE CHANGE

CEOs plan to ‘go under' to stop pollution

5.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

Early shift to renewables needed to save climate: IRENA

6.

GS II : POLITY  JUDICIARY

SC directs Centre to prepare media guidelines for police briefings

7.

GS III : S&T SPACE

5 new satellites this year to raise ISRO capacity

8.

GS III : DEFENCE

Data jugglery over arms purchases?

9.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL UK

Theresa May triggers U.K. exit from EU

10.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL CHINA

China to fund local elections in Nepal

11.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE 

EU, China rally around Paris deal

12.

GS II :  REGULATORY  BODIES  SEBI

SEBI eyes one registration for equity, commodities brokers

13.

GS II : SOCIAL -HEALTH

TB vaccine trial on adults begins in June

14.

GS I : CULTURE

The ‘tail end' of a ritual

15.

GS III : S&T  ENERGY

Japan scientist's ‘typhoon turbine'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

  

 

 

GS II : POLITY  BILL/ACT

Lok Sabha passes GST Bills after marathon debate

  • The Lower House passed the Central GST Bill, Integrated GST Bill, GST Compensation Bill, and the Union Territory GST Bills.
  • The fifth GST legislation, the State GST Bill, will need to be passed by the legislative assemblies of each of the States and Union Territories with legislature.
  • The passage of the Bills followed a day-long debate in the Lok Sabha, in which Opposition leaders raised several objections such as the disempowerment of Parliament in setting tax rates, the reduction in the fiscal autonomy of the States, why there are several tax rates when the principle is to be of ‘one nation, one tax', and the need for the levy of additional cesses.
  • "The States and the Centre have pooled their sovereignty in the GST Council," Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in reply to the objections.
  • The 101st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2016 gave that power in Article 279A providing for the formation of the GST Council.
  • The recommendation of the rates will come from the GST Council. But the Council has two-thirds voting by the States and one-third by the Centre. The GST Council has been given the power to only make a recommendation regarding the model law.
  • The plenary power to frame legislation can only be with Parliament or the state legislative assemblies as the case may be."
  • Regarding the need for multiple rates, the Finance Minister explained that if there was only a single rate, then the GST regime would be a highly regressive one as luxury goods would then be taxed at the same rate as necessities.
  • "A single rate is not possible. The easiest formula for this was that the GST rate for a good or service will be the closest slab to the current rate of tax."

Latest Current Affairs March 30th 2017 for UPSC Exam Prep, IAS Current Affairs

GS III : ENVIRONMENT  POLLUTION

SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1

  • The health of the citizen is more important than the commercial interests of the automobile industry, the Supreme Court observed and ordered a freeze on the registration and sale of BS-III fuel compliant vehicles by "any manufacturer or dealer" on and from April 1, when the next level and environmentally friendly BS-IV fuel emission standards are scheduled to kick in.
  • Vehicle manufacturers who had approached the court argued that they were entitled by law to manufacture BS-III vehicles till March 31, 2017.
  • They had not violated the law. So, the sale and registration of these vehicles should not be prohibited after April 1 with the introduction of BS IV norms.
  • They should be given a reasonable time after April 1 to dispose off their stock.
  • The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had submitted data on the manufacturing and sale of BS-III vehicles on a monthly basis from January 2016 and told the court that the companies were holding stock of around 8.24 lakh such vehicles, including 96,000 commercial vehicles, over six lakh two wheelers and around 40,000 three-wheelers.
  • The Centre too had favoured the prospect of selling the existent stock of BS-III vehicles. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar had submitted that it was done twice before when fuel emission norms were upgraded to BS-II and BS-III, respectively.
  • However, the court agreed with the arguments of its amicus curiae, who said that allowing their sale after April 1 would be a cause for "potential health hazard" for millions of people.
  • The court had pointed out that the new fuel was "cleaner" and the oil refineries had spent about Rs. 30,000 crore since 2010 to produce it.
  • The court asked why manufacturers decided to sit back and not take proactive steps despite knowing way back in 2010 that BS-IV norms would kick in by April 2017.
  • Passenger vehicles compliant with Bharat Stage-III emission norms vary widely from their Bharat Stage-IV compliant engines, depending on the size of the car and whether they are petrol or diesel versions.
  • On the outside, the differences are indistinguishable. However they differ in the electronics, sensor system, the engine's ability to process low-sulphur fuel and their "after-exhaust" system that determines emissions.
  • BS-IV engines requires that the sulphur content of the fuel they use be less than 50 part per million (ppm) whereas BS-III ones can run on 350 ppm fuel.
  • The Centre for Science and Environment said that the transition can lead to substantial reductions in particulate matter emissions.
  • For instance, from new trucks, the emissions can dip by 80% and from cars by 50%.

 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA

Westinghouse files for bankruptcy

  • Japanese nuclear major Toshiba has announced that its embattled U.S. nuclear wing Westinghouse has filed for bankruptcy.
  • Westinghouse's move to file for bankruptcy would cause a $4.3 billion loss for Toshiba and is likely to impact the company's plans for setting up six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh under the India-U.S. nuclear deal.
  • According to the agreement over nuclear liability which followed former U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India in January 2015 and Prime Minister NarendraA Modi's visit to Washington DC in June 2016, both sides had agreed to "work toward finalising the contractual arrangements by June 2017" for six reactors to be built in Andhra Pradesh by Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
  • However, the U.S. embassy issued a statement after the development, and said that the U.S. Government remains committed to civil nuclear cooperation with India. Though Westinghouse has faced several controversies in recent years, the bankruptcy is the biggest crisis for the company.
  • The AP1000 reactors, however, have never been installed anywhere in the world though three of them have also been chosen by China.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

CEOs plan to ‘go under' to stop pollution

  • Five chosen Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram, are set to participate in the first ever undersea conference of CEOs off Kovalam on April 10, to draw attention to the twin environmental challenges - marine pollution and global warming.
  • They will swim off Grove beach in a resort, to descend five or six metres into the Arabian sea, aided by scuba gear.
  • They will conduct business for 30 to 35 minutes, seated on steel chairs around a steel Ushaped table.
  • The CEOs will take a pledge and sign a memorandum to "Protect the Ocean and Marine life," and also unveil the logo, long-term plan and sustainability itinerary for their ‘Ocean Love' campaign.
  • Each CEO is to have an assistant at the meeting, and communication will happen using hand gestures and slates.
  • Kerala Tourism is extending support to the event.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

Early shift to renewables needed to save climate: IRENA

  • Countries across the world must focus on accelerated deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency measures to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions critical to keeping global temperature rise to no more than two degree Celsius, new findings released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) say.
  • The findings released at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD2017) held on March 20 and 21 are significant for India as the country races to meet its target of 175 GW of power from renewables by 2022.
  • IRENA estimates that global carbon emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased out by 2060.
  • The report also emphasises the importance of considering the needs of those without energy access.
  • "The Paris Agreement reflected an unprecedented determination to act on climate change. The focus must be on decarbonisation of the global energy system as it accounts for almost two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions," said IRENA Director- General Adnan Z. Amin.
  • IRENA's macroeconomic analysis suggests that the investment for decarbonising the energy sector would boost global GDP by 0.8% by 2050, generate new jobs in renewable energy, and improve human welfare through environmental and health benefits due to reduced air pollution.
  • Renewable energy now accounts for 24% of global power generation and 16% of primary energy supply.
  • To achieve decarbonisation, the report says that by 2050, renewables should meet 80% of power generation and 65% of total primary energy supply.
  • The study stresses the need for rapid growth in solar and wind power, in combination with enabling grids, and new operating practices.
  • It also underlines the need to promote electric vehicles and liquid biofuel production as well as to equip a total of 2 billion buildings worldwide with energy efficiency measures.

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 

  • It is an intergovernmental organization to promote adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy.
  • It was founded in 2009 and its statute entered into force on 8 July 2010.
  • The agency is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

 

GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY

SC directs Centre to prepare media guidelines for police briefings

  • A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar gave six weeks to the Centre to prepare a fresh memorandum of police guidelines on media by taking into consideration the rights of the accused so that their rights are not prejudiced during trial and also the sensitive rights of victims.
  • The court was of the view that the last such office memorandum by the Centre was issued on April 1, 2010 and since then much deliberation has taken place and the subject has been examined from various angles particularly keeping in mind the protection of rights of the accused as well as the protection of the rights of the sufferer.
  • The issue of police briefing to the media has been dealt with by the Supreme Court and it has passed several directions on a petition filed by the NGO People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
  • The court on September 23, 2014 had passed a slew of directions for framing guidelines in encounter cases after it was alleged by the PUCL that 99 encounters took place in Mumbai resulting in death of about 135 persons between 1995 and 1997.

GS III : S&T  SPACE

5 new satellites this year to raise ISRO capacity

  • An unprecedented row of five national communication spacecraft is slated to be put in space this year with hopes of vastly cutting the gap in satellite capacity for different users.
  • The first of them, GSAT-9 or the South Asia Satellite, will kick off the serial launches in the first half of April from the Sriharikota space port.
  • Mr. Kumar said the ISRO has been taking conscious action to improve its overall communication transponders capacity; this space infrastructure supports broadcasters, telephone, Internet service and other businesses.
  • The agency says its communication fleet of 14 provides 200-odd transponder equivalents. Another 95- odd transponders have been hired on foreign satellites to support Indian direct- to-home broadcasters and the agency aims to bring them back to its satellites.
  • The success and regularisation of the GSLV Mark-II rocket programme - that can put up to 2,000-kg satellites to space - in 2016 is also significant.
  • GSAT-9 will ride on one such indigenous GSLV.
  • Five communication spacecraft spread over less than a year is historic and a rarity for ISRO; all these years, it has launched one or two communication satellites a year.
  • GSAT-18 was the lone communication satellite sent up in late 2016.
  • Tentatively, ISRO has lined up :

1.     GSAT-9 or the South Asia Satellite, in the first half of April

2.     GSAT-19 the Internet user friendly satellite for launch around May;

3.     GSAT-17 around June;

4.     GSAT-6A, which like GSAT-6, is for the Defence forces, in September;

5.     GSAT-11 the 5,000- plus satellite (ISRO's largest) around December.

  • GSAT-17 and GSAT-11 will be launched on the European Ariane launcher.

 

GS III : DEFENCE

Data jugglery over arms purchases?

  • India has been the world's largest importer of arms in recent years, with a majority of its weapon systems imported, reliable estimates show.
  • But official data contradict the hard statistics that capture those realities.
  • The Defence Ministry says that in the past two financial years, India has spent a lion's share of its capital expenditure on procurement from Indian vendors.
  • In a statement in Parliament on 28 March 2017, Union Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said that in 2015-16, of the total capital expenditure of Rs. 62,341.86 crore for procurement, Rs. 39,149.64 crore was spent on purchases from Indian vendors and Rs. 23,192.22 crore from foreign vendors.
  • The number shows that over 62% of the capital expenditure is spent in India.
  • The figures go against the oft-repeated figure of India importing about 65% of its military requirements.
  • The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says India is the largest importer of military equipment in the world, accounting for 13% of the total global arms imports between 2012 and 2016.
  • It is more than both China and Pakistan's. The report points out that India increased its arms imports by 43% between 2007- 11 and 2012-16.
  • Another official pointed out that Parliament's figures may not reflect the foreign exchange spent by Indian suppliers, such as defence public sector units.
  • Many of the military procurements from the units and even private vendors often have a significant amount of foreign components.
  • There are several equipment on which the foreign exchange spending might be accounted as Indian spending, he said.
  • Among them, possibly, are the imports of parts for the indigenously made Tejas fighter aircraft and the BrahMos missiles.
  • In 2014, when Arun Jatiley was holding the Defence portfolio, he told Parliament that between 2010-11 and 2012-13, 69% of the total capital and revenue requirements of the Services were met through indigenous procurements. That again was mere statistical jugglery.

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL - UK

Theresa May triggers U.K. exit from EU

  • Britain has formally triggered its departure from the EU, commencing two years of negotiations with its European partners.
  • The six-page letter, signed by Prime Minister Theresa May late on 28 March 2017, was handed over to the European Council.
  • The handover will propel both Britain and the EU into a new territory, as the country becomes the first nation in history to trigger Article 50, the six-paragraph- long section of the Lisbon Treaty, briefly outlining the process for exiting the union.
  • "The U.K. is now leaving the European Union... there is no turning back," Ms. May told the House of Commons just after the handover.
  • "I have been clear that we will work constructively - in a spirit of sincere cooperation - to bring this partnership into being." Britain will also withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community.
Latest Current Affairs March 30th 2017 for UPSC Exam Prep, IAS Current Affairs

 

GS II : INTERNATIONAL CHINA

China to fund local elections in Nepal

  • In an unprecedented move, China has extended financial support to Nepal for holding local-level elections, drawing criticism from the Madhesi agitators.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping said, following his 28 March 2017 meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda' in Beijing, that China would grant 136 million Nepali rupees for the elections.
  • This will be the first time that Nepal will hold local polls since the return of democracy a decade ago.
  • Madhesi protesters accused Beijing of fanning divisive undercurrents in Nepal.
  • The Nepali leader also gave assurances for Nepal's participation in the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE

EU, China rally around Paris deal

  • Nations led by China and the European Union rallied around a global plan to slow climate change on 29 March 2017 after U.S. President Donald Trump began undoing Obama-era plans for deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Mr. Trump's order on 28 March 2017, keeping a campaign promise to bolster the U.S. coal industry, strikes at the heart of an international Paris Agreement in 2015 to curb world temperatures that hit record highs in 2016 for the third year in a row.
  • Many nations reacted to Mr. Trump's plan with dismay and defiance, saying a vast investment shift from fossil fuels to clean energy such as wind and solar power is under way with benefits ranging from less air pollution to more jobs.

GS II : REGULATORY  BODIES  SEBI

SEBI eyes one registration for equity, commodities brokers

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will soon approve a single registration mechanism for brokerages that are present in both commodity and equity segments.
  • The capital markets regulator is expected to give its approval to the plan at its board meet scheduled next month.
  • The move, once implemented, will benefit a large number of market intermediaries who currently have to block separate funds in the form of net worth and base minimum capital for their stock and commodity broking entities.
  • For investors, it could mean a single registration form and one-time KYC - Know Your Client - process to allow them to buy shares as well as trade in commodity derivatives thereby making it easier for individuals and institutions looking to invest in both.
  • Incidentally, a single registration and complete fungibility between the two segments was always part of the long-term plan of SEBI ever since the erstwhile Forward Markets Commission (FMC) was merged with the capital market regulator in September 2015.
  • Since the SEBI-FMC merger, the regulator has reviewed and amended many regulations related to commodity trading, exchanges and intermediaries to bring it on par with the norms for the equity segment.
  • For instance, trading and surveillance norms for commodity exchanges were tightened after the bourses came under the regulatory purview of SEBI.

GS II : SOCIAL - HEALTH

TB vaccine trial on adults begins in June

  • In June 2017, the Pune based Serum Institute of India Pvt. Limited will begin a Phase II/III vaccine trial for tuberculosis using a novel, recombinant BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine.
  • The new TB vaccine (VPM1002), which will be tested, is based on the BCG vaccine that is in use.
  • However, it is more powerful and efficacious as it contains a gene, better recognised by the immune system
  • The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial will be carried out on 2,000 adults who have been successfully treated (and cured) for TB.
  • The safety of the vaccine has already been tested in two Phase I trials - 80 adults in Germany (2009) and 24 in South Africa (2010) - and one Phase 2a trial in South Africa in 2012 in 48 newborns who have not been exposed to HIV.
  • The results of the Phase 2a trial in newborns in South Africa, published in February this year in Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, has confirmed the safety of the vaccine.

 

GS I : CULTURE

The ‘tail end' of a ritual

  • The unique aanavaal pidi (catching the elephant's tail) ritual was held on the precincts of the Umayanallur Sree Bala Subramanya Swamy temple in Kerala.
  • The ritual, during which devotees chase an elephant in an area of about 100 square metres to catch its tail, is held in the Malayalam month of Meenam.
  • Temple authorities said the ritual had been in place for the past 1,500 years, and it is symbolic of the beliefs about the childhood pranks of the god-siblings Ganesha and Balasubramanyan.

 

GS III : S&T  ENERGY

Japan scientist's ‘typhoon turbine'

  • Most people look for a place to hide when a typhoon is on the horizon, but Atsushi Shimizu hopes that the fury of nature may one day help resource-poor Japan tackle its energy woes.
  • The Tokyo-based engineer believes that his bladeless wind turbine can not only stand up to the raw force of these destructive storms, but also harness that power to generate electricity.
  • Mr. Shimizu's egg-beater shaped creation - it has three cylinders and a central rod - responds to wind coming from any direction and doesn't use a propeller to spin.
  • Instead it takes advantage of the Magnus effect, a force that sees air curve when passing by a spinning object, such as a football.
  • Japan turned to expensive and polluting fossil-fuel options when it shut down dozens of nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident.
  • A quake-sparked tsunami swamped the plant in Fukushima, sparking the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
  • Six years later, a wary public is resisting government efforts to switch reactors back on - boosting interest in solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
  • The amount of electricity produced by wind nearly doubled in 2016 from a year earlier, according to a recent survey by the Japan Wind Power Association.
Latest Current Affairs March 30th 2017 for UPSC Exam Prep, IAS Current Affairs

 


 

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Current Affairs News Covered:

1. GS II : POLITY BILL/ACT - Lok Sabha passes GST Bills after marathon debate
2. GS III : ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION - SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1
3. GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA - Westinghouse files for bankruptcy
4. GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE - CEOs plan to ‘go under' to stop pollution
5. GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE - Early shift to renewables needed to save climate: IRENA
6. GS II : POLITY JUDICIARY - SC directs Centre to prepare media guidelines for police briefings
7. GS III : S&T SPACE - 5 new satellites this year to raise ISRO capacity
8. GS III : DEFENCE - Data jugglery over arms purchases?
9. GS II : INTERNATIONAL UK - Theresa May triggers U.K. exit from EU
10. GS II : INTERNATIONAL CHINA - China to fund local elections in Nepal
11. GS III : ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE - EU, China rally around Paris deal
12. GS II : REGULATORY BODIES SEBI - SEBI eyes one registration for equity, commodities brokers
13. GS II : SOCIAL -HEALTH - TB vaccine trial on adults begins in June
14. GS I : CULTURE - The ‘tail end' of a ritual
15. GS III : S&T ENERGY - Japan scientist's ‘typhoon turbine'

Daily Current Affairs March 30th 2017. Find Latest Current Affairs March 30th 2017 only at A A Shah's IAS Institute.

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Latest Current Affairs March 30th 2017 for UPSC Exam Prep, IAS Current Affairs

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