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Current Events 06 March 2017

 

NEWS

6 MARCH 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II BILATERAL INDIA-USA

Sikh shot at in Washington

2.

GS III: DEFENCE

A.P. govt. wants INS Viraat turned into luxury hotel

3.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIOIDVERSTIY

Centre launches survey on Gangetic dolphins

4.

GS II:  GOVERNMENT SCHEMES

Jalyukt Shivar Yojana unsustainable, says study

5.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Dry Kolleru turns birds away

6.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

India runs out of life -saving HIV drug for children

7.

GS II : GOVERNANCE

Aadhaar data not misused: UIDAI

8.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Colombo not to allow foreign judges

9.

GS III : ECONOMY STOCKS

Small businesses lobby for rules to increase liquidity

10.

GS III : ECONOMY DISINVESTMENT

Centre gives nod to sell three SAIL plants

11.

GS III : ECONOMY POLICIES

Policy drags e-commerce exports

12.

GS III : CYBER SECURITY

Law enforcement in the digital era

13.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Struggle to fight ultra-rare diseases made more difficult

 

 


















 

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-USA

Sikh shot at in Washington

  •  In the third incident of violence targeting Indian-Americans in two weeks, a white man who had his face partially covered shot at 39- year-old Deep Rai on 3 March 2017 night in Kent, Washington State.
  •  Mr. Rai — an American citizen and a Sikh — was hit on his arm and is out of danger, Indian officials in Washington said.
  •  The gunman yelled ‘go back to your country’ during a brief altercation with Mr. Rai, who was working on his car in his driveway, before shooting at him, according to Sikh community leaders in the area.
  •  Indian-American convenience store owner Harnish Patel was found murdered on 2 March 2017 night in Lancaster, South Carolina, and on February 22, Indian- American engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead in Olathe, Kansas, and his friend Alok Madasani was injured.
  •  The two of the men attacked are U.S. citizens. There is little jurisdiction or official responsibility for India when it comes to U.S. citizens.
  •  The incident is, however, an indicator of the task cut out for the government over fears that hate crimes are allegedly on the rise because of the anti-immigration rhetoric of the Trump administration.


GS III: DEFENCE

A.P. govt. wants INS Viraat turned into luxury hotel

  •  On its last day in service on March 6 after three decades of sailing, the fate of INS Viraat, the oldest aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, remains unclear as to whether it will be converted into a luxury hotel or will it head to the scrapyard to be broken up.
  •  The Defence Ministry is yet to take a decision on the proposal from the Government of Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) to convert it into an entertainment hub in Visakhapatnam through a joint venture with the Government of India.
  •  The Navy is keen on an early decision to avoid Viraat meeting the same fate as its predecessor Vikrant, which eventually went to the scrapyard.
  •  INS Viraat, weighing 27,800 tonnes, is the world’s oldest aircraft carrier in service.
  •  It had served in the British Navy as HMS Hermes for 25 years from November 1959 to April 1984 and after refurbishment, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in May 1987.
  •  The Navy had maintained Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier, at Mumbai for 17 years as various proposals to convert it into a museum went back and forth unsuccessfully before the ship was eventually sent to the scrapyard in 2014.
  •  The Navy has also stated that it cannot keep the Viraat indefinitely as it would block space in the dockyard.

 

GS III : ENVIRONMENT  BIODIVERSITY

Centre launches survey on Gangetic dolphins

  •  The Centre has launched the first ever across-the-river survey in the Ganga to determine the population of aquatic life, including that of the endangered Gangetic doplhin.
  •  The survey will create a baseline scientific data for the government to take suitable measures to improve quality of the river water, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has said.
  •  The authority is conducting the survey through Wildlife Institute of India (WII), under the Namami Gange programme.

 Apart from number of dolphins, number of ghariyals and turtles in the river will also be ascertained after summer sets in fully, NMCG has said.

 

 

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) 

  •  It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India.
  •  WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Ecodevelopment, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
  •  WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library.

 

GS II:  GOVERNANCE SCHEMES

Jalyukt Shivar Yojana unsustainable, says study

  •  The Maharashtra government’s flagship Jalyukt Shivar Yojana, launched in December 2014, has been touted as a drought-proofing scheme, with an objective to harvest rainwater and enhance groundwater levels.
  •  But a field study conducted by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) gives a different picture.
  •  The organisation carried out the study at Hiwargaon- Pawasa, a backwater village with a population of 1,500, in Ahmadnagar district’s Sangamner Taluk.
  •  The research presents a microcosmic example of how indiscriminate digging of farm ponds has accelerated the rate of groundwater extraction.
  •  The project has run into stormy weather for its haphazard and unscientific implementation, undue reliance on machinery, lack of transparency and public participation.
  •  The 300-odd ponds in the Hiwargaon village are the main source of sustenance for the pomegranate-dependent agro economy.
  •  The arrival of ponds has led many farmers to shift to horticulture, with pomegranate cash-crop rapidly supplanting the traditional horsegram (bajra), wheat, pulses and onion crops.
  •  The SANDRP study revealed that none of the farm ponds in Hiwargaon had inlets and outlets or any other arrangement for excess rainwater inflow that was envisioned in the scheme.
  •  Instead of digging the ponds in a low-lying area, many of them are dug on the highest points of the farms.
  •  It further noted that soil conservation is the key to groundwater recharge, but it has been omitted in the scheme.
  •  Water conservationist Vijay Anna Borade said, “In the Jalyukt Shivar works, soil, fine sand and all the medium which hold the water and percolate it have been scrapped. If the rocks are exposed, then how is the recharge supposed to take place?” He added that the works under the scheme appeared to hold water, but would not recharge it.
  •  Another problem with the farm ponds is that they expose the groundwater to losses through evaporation, something that may not become immediately apparent.
  •  The Fadnavis government has also paid [little consideration] to the educative process regarding judicious use of water.”
  •  According to data, around 13,950 ponds were dug between 2014 and 2016 under the NHM, the JSY and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, while nearly 24,700 more were under construction under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in 2016-17.


GS III : ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

Dry Kolleru turns birds away

  •  With the onset of summer, a major portion of the Kolleru Lake has dried up, raising anxiety among residents of lake bed villages.
  •  Bird lovers are worried about the drought-like situation as many species are flying off to nearby water bodies in search of food.
  •  The lake is home to thousands of birds during the wintering season, especially spot-billed pelicans and painted storks.
  •  The pelicans also roost at Nelapattu in Pulikat Lake of Nellore district, Uppalapadu in Guntur district and Cilemeelapuram in Srikakulam district.
  •  But more than 5,000 pelicans were counted at the Atapaka Bird Sanctuary, located in Kolleru Lake last year, and the sanctuary has been identified as one of the biggest grey pelican habitats in the world.


GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

India runs out of life-saving HIV drug for children

  •  Desperate over withdrawal of a life-saving drug, children living with HIV (CLHIV) have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help.
  •  The letter, written on March 4, is signed by 637 children ranging from ages 3 to 19 and states that, “the pharmaceutical company Cipla has in various forums cited delay in payments by the national programme for the HIV medicines by several years and even non-payment of its dues in many cases. Profits on child doses of HIV medicines are small and delayed payments are having a chilling effect on the ability of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to convince the company to participate in the bids it invited annually.”
  •   Stocks of Lopinavir syrupa child friendly HIV drug — ran out after Cipla, the sole manufacturer of the drug, stopped manufacturing it over the issue of non-payment from the Health Ministry.
  •  Cipla is the dominant player in the Indian market across the HIV segment and has not stopped participating in government tenders after the Health Ministry failed to pay Cipla for consignments sent in 2014.
  •  Faced with a crisis, the Health Ministry says it has instructed State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) to purchase from local markets.
  •  However, since the syrup has gone out of production, they are not available in retail markets.
  •  Experts say the critical shortages are proving to be both tragic and embarrassing for India’s HIV programme.


GS II : GOVERNANCE AADHAAR

Aadhaar data not misused: UIDAI

  •  Dismissing reports of misuse of Aadhaar biometrics for identity or financial thefts, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said personal data held by it were secure.
  •  “There has been no incident of misuse of Aadhaar biometrics leading to identity theft and financial loss during the past five years when more than 400 crore Aadhaar authentication transactions have taken place,” an official statement said.
  •  Recently, a breach of Aadhaar data was reported after the UIDAI sent a notice to three firms for possible unauthorised authentication attempt and storing of biometric data.
  •  The notice it had served was shared widely on social media and questions were raised over the safety of Aadhaar data.
  •  Describing the incident as an “isolated case of an employee working with a bank′s business correspondents′ company”, the authority said the employee had attempted to misuse his own biometrics. This was detected by the UIDAI internal security system and subsequently action under the Aadhaar Act was initiated.
  •  The UIDAI said it had “carefully gone into these reports”, and asserted that the “Aadhaar system has the capability to inquire into any instance of misuse of biometrics and identity theft and initiate action. UIDAI uses one of the world’s most advanced encryption technologies in transmission and storage of data. As a result, during the past seven years, there has been no report of breach or leak of residents′ data out of UIDAI.”
  •  Further, the authority said it continuously updated the security parameters and undertook security audits.
  •  Any unauthorised capture of iris or fingerprint data or storage or replay of biometrics or their misuse is a criminal offence under the Aadhaar Act.
  •  More than 111 crore people have Aadhaar in India, covering more than 99% of the adult population.
  •  According to official data, more than 4.47 crore people have opened bank accounts using Aadhaar e-KYC.
  •  Aadhaar has helped the government transfer LPG subsidy under the PAHAL scheme, MGNREGS payments, scholarships and pensions directly into the accounts of beneficiaries eliminating diversion and leakage of funds by middlemen.
  •  The direct benefits transfer has saved the government Rs. 49,000 crore during two-and-a-half years, the release added.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL SRI LANKA

Colombo not to allow foreign judges

  •  Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has rejected a fresh appeal from the United Nations to allow international judges to investigate alleged war-era atrocities, vowing to not prosecute soldiers.
  •  “I am not going to allow non-governmental organisations to dictate how to run my government. I will not listen to their calls to prosecute my troops,” he said in remarks distributed by his office on 5 March 2017.
  •  The UN on 3 March 2017 criticised Sri Lanka′s “worryingly slow” progress in addressing its wartime past, urging the government to adopt laws allowing for special hybrid courts to try war criminals.


GS III : ECONOMY STOCKS

Small businesses lobby for rules to increase liquidity

  •  Close to five years after the introduction of a separate segment for listing of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), market participants are now looking at ways to increase the liquidity to attract more institutional and retail investors.
  •  One of the main issues being proposed is lowering the trading lot size post listing, which is currently pegged at Rs. 1 lakh.
  •  Minimum lot size refers to the minimum amount that an investor has to put in to trade in the shares of a company.
  •  The country′s leading equity bourses — BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) — introduced their separate SME platforms in 2012.
  •  Asia′s oldest stock exchange has seen 165 SMEs listing on its segment, while NSE has close to 60 entities on board so far.
  •  Merchant bankers are of the view that once the company has been listed for a certain period of time and a trading history has been created, the lot size could be lowered to one share so that retail investors can also participate if they are convinced with the quality and potential of the entity.
  •  When SEBI framed the guidelines for the SME segment, it intentionally kept the minimum trading lot at Rs. 1 lakh to keep out retail investors since the view was that SMEs carry higher risk compared to companies on the main board.


 GS III : ECONOMY DISINVETMENT

Centre gives nod to sell three SAIL plants

  •  The Centre has approved outright sale of state-owned SAIL’s three special steel units.
  •  In pursuance of the decision, The ‘Maharatna’ PSU has now sought advisers, including legal and merchant bankers, to carry out the strategic sale along with transfer of management control in the three steel plants — Alloy Steels Plant, Salem Steel Plant and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant.
  •  The government has budgeted to raise Rs.15,000 crore from strategic disinvestment in 2017-18.
  •  The Centre currently holds 75% stake in SAIL, which is the largest steel producer in India.
 

Maharatna

Navratna

Miniratna Category-I

Miniratna Category-II

Eligibility

Three years with an average annual net profit of over Rs. 5000 crore, OR

Average annual Net worth of Rs. 50,000 crore for 3 years, OR Average annual Turnover of Rs. 25,000 crore for 3 years

A score of 60 (out of 100), based on six parameters which include net profit, net worth, total manpower cost, total cost of production, cost of services, PBDIT (Profit Before Depreciation, Interest and Taxes), capital employed, etc., AND

A company must first be a Miniratna and have 4 independent directors on its board before it can be made a Navratna.

Have made profits continuously for the last three years or earned a net profit of Rs. 30 crore or more in one of the three years

Have made profits continuously for the last three years and should have a positive net worth.

Benefits for investment

Rs. 1,000 crore - Rs. 5,000 crore, or free to decide on investments up to 15% of their net worth in a project

up to Rs. 1,000 crore or 15% of their net worth on a single project or 30% of their net worth in the whole year (not exceeding Rs. 1,000 crores).

up to Rs. 500 crore or equal to their net worth, whichever is lower.

up to Rs. 300 crore or up to 50% of their net worth, whichever is lower.

 


GS III : ECONOMY  POLICIES

Policy drags e-commerce exports

  •   India had woken up to the huge potential of e-commerce exports when the Centre decided to provide incentives in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 to promote exports of goods hosted on a website and dispatched through courier or postal mode.
  •  However, exporters have now identified several ‘restrictions’ under the FTP and related norms as ‘challenges’ that are preventing them from maximising the potential of e-commerce exports.
  •  As per India’s FTP 2015- 20, the incentives for e-commerce exports are under the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS).
  •  The FTP incentives for e-commerce exports are only for low-value goods —“falling in the category of handloom products, books and periodicals, leather footwear, toys and customised fashion garments, having free-on-board value up to Rs.25,000 per consignment and finalised using the e-commerce platform.”  
  •  The rewards are in the form of freely transferable duty credit scrips (that gives duty benefits for imports of inputs / import of goods including capital goods / domestic procurement of inputs and goods including capital goods, etc).
  •  According to the exporters, the list of items for incentives should be expanded to include jewellery, which is among the biggest finished product exports from India, as well as health & beauty items, auto spare parts and musical instruments.
  •  Also, in order to promote exports from the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises through e-commerce, the value limit for availing MEIS benefits should be enhanced up to Rs. 5 lakh from the current level of Rs. 25,000 per consignment.
  •  A major disincentive is that currently, when a buyer sends an item back to an ecommerce exporter, import duty is charged. However, in the case of exports other than through the e-commerce route, customs duties are exempted on return of exported goods.
  •  Another difficulty being faced by e-commerce exporters is that such exports through India Post or via the commercial courier mode are ticked as “samples” or “gifts” and not as ‘Commercial Shipment’.
  •  Therefore, such documents are not “recognised” or “acknowledged” by Value Added Tax (VAT) authorities, despite proof of receipt of foreign exchange through bank realisation certificate.
  •  This leads to a situation where VAT and service tax are not refunded in such cases of e-commerce exports as there are no Custom stamped documents in such cases to prove ‘Commercial Shipment’, thereby reducing the competitiveness of Indian products.
  •  India’s e-commerce retail exporters are also facing major competition from their counterparts in China and South Asia.

E-commerce potential:

  •  According to an assessment with the Commerce Ministry and the apex body for exporters in the country — the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) — there are more than 25,000 Indian companies, small and medium firms and entrepreneurs present on the American multinational e-commerce company eBay alone, exporting their items directly to the consumers across the world.
  •  It is estimated that there are more than two lakh such Indian business-to-consumer (B2C) exporters making use of their own websites or other e-commerce platforms and social media sites.
  •  According to FIEO, there is a market opportunity of about $5 billion in the near term, say in the next 2-3 years, for Indian e-commerce retail exports provided the concerns of such exporters are addressed expeditiously by the government.
  •  According to the World Trade Organisation, in 2015, e-commerce in goods and services was worth about $22 trillion globally, and has grown the fastest in emerging economies.


GS III : CYBER SECURITY

Law enforcement in the digital era

  •   One consequence of the recent demonetisation was a push towards the digitisation of the economy — a move that will create transparency in the financial system.
  •  But this digital push must be accompanied by greater security of digital transactions to deal with the tsunami of cybercrimes that is bound to follow.
  •  A recent ASSOCHAMPwC study found that cybercrime in India surged almost 300% between 2011 and 2014.

  •  The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), the national agency tasked with maintaining cybersecurity, reported more than 50,000 security incidents in 2015.
  •  Dealing with cyber offences necessarily means upgrading the capabilities of law enforcement, either through new recruitment or by imparting technical training to existing personnel.
  •  The more promising option is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to combat cybercrime. Such a partnership will draw upon the skills in the private sector to train the police, while providing practical experience in dealing with cybercrimes to corporate employees. Such models already exist and are fairly successful.
  •  In India, the NASSCOM affiliated Data Security Council of India (DSCI) sets up cyber labs in different cities and imparts training. This model is now ripe for scale-up across the country and can be tapped into by the jurisdictional police.


 GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Struggle to fight ultra-rare diseases made more difficult

  •  The ultra-rare Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSDs) have 23 diagnosed and registered patients in Delhi. The disorder has under its umbrella 45-50 diseases.
  •  Of these, less than 10 have treatments available. Medicines, which have to be taken life-long, cost anything from an upward of Rs. 5 lakh a month.
  •  Delhi has 14 known patients suffering from Gaucher’s disease, one of the most common form of LSDs.
  •  Gaucher’s disease is a genetic condition that causes fatty deposits to build up in organs and bones.
  •  People with Gaucher’s disease don’t have enough of an important enzyme (glucocerebrosidase) required to breakdown a certain type of fat molecule (glucocerebroside). As a result, cells get filled with undigested fat. This build-up occurs in different parts of the body, primarily liver, spleen and bone marrow.
  •  Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT), the most effective treatment for LSDs is available in India.
  •  However, most patients can’t afford the treatment.

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