20th April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Issue: Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda gave away the Kayakalp awards in New Delhi on Thursday.
About the awards
The award is given by the Ministry to those best performing public health facilities which demonstrate high level of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control. On the basis of numbers of patients and bed occupancy, the awards have been listed in two categories. In the first category, AIIMS, New Delhi received the first prize worth Rs. 2.50 crore, while PGI Chandigarh won the second prize worth Rs. 1.50 crore. In the second category, North Eastern Indira Gandhi regional Institute of Health and Medical Science, Shillong was adjudged the winner with prize money worth Rs. 1.50 crore.
Issue: Keep your heads up at night this weekend to witness a spectacular celestial show as scientists expect the Lyrid meteor shower to peak shortly before dawn on April 22. Up to 20 meteors per hour will likely be visible overnight on April 21-22
About Lyrid Meteor
1. The Lyrids are classified as a medium-strength shower and are visible every year in April
2. The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest known meteor showers. Records of this shower go back some 2,700 years
What is a Meteor?
A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body in outer space. When a meteoroid, comet, or asteroid enters Earth’s atmosphere at a speed typically in excess of 20 km/s (72,000 km/h; 45,000 mph), aerodynamic heating of that object produces a streak of light, both from the glowing object and the trail of glowing particles that it leaves in its wake. This phenomenon is called a meteor or “shooting star”. A series of many meteors appearing seconds or minutes apart and appearing to originate from the same fixed point in the sky is called a meteor shower. If that object withstands ablation from its passage through the atmosphere as a meteor and impacts with the ground, it is then called a meteorite.
‘Coconut farmer’s distress’
(GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: Coconut growers in Tumakuru — referred to as the ‘Kalpatharu Naadu’ ( Land of coconut trees) — are in distress. They are giving up coconut farming altogether and turning to dairy farming or the garment industry
Reasons for giving up coconut farming
1. Drought has seen a drastic change in fortunes over the past four years, as coconut trees have been hit by lack of water, diseases and pests.
2. The 2017 rains were not sufficient to recharge the groundwater table, which had depleted due to continuous drought and drilling of borewells in previous years.
‘New defence panel’
(GS3: Security challenges and their management)
Issue: In an effort to improve higher defence management, the government on Wednesday constituted a new committee headed by the National Security Adviser.
About newly constituted Defence planning committee
1. Defence Planning Committee (DPC) will draft reports on national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, road map to build a defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans. The DPC will submit these to the Defence Minister.
2. The committee will have the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, three service chiefs, secretaries of the Ministries of Defence, Expenditure and Foreign Affairs as its members.
3. The Chief of Integrated Staff in the Defence Ministry will be the member secretary of the DPC, and his headquarters will be the secretariat.
4. The order has also listed four sub-committees. One to look at policy and strategy; the second one will work on plans and capability development; third one on defence diplomacy and the fourth one on defence manufacturing ecosystem.
About National Security Advisor
The National Security Adviser (NSA) is the chief executive of the National Security Council (NSC), and the primary adviser to the Prime Minister of India on national and international security. Due to such vested powers, NSA is a prominent and powerful office in the bureaucracy. All the NSAs appointed since the inception of the post belong to the Indian Foreign Service except M K Narayanan and the incumbent, Ajit Doval, who belong to the Indian Police Service.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) is tasked with regularly advising the Prime Minister on all matters relating to internal and external threats to the country, and oversees strategic issues. The NSA of India also serves as the Prime Minister’s Special Interlocutor on border issues with China, and frequently accompanies the Prime Minister on Foreign State visits.
The NSA receives all intelligence reports and co-ordinates them to present before the Prime Minister. NSA is assisted by a Deputy NSA. Retired Indian Police Service officer Rajinder Khanna currently serves as Deputy National Security Adviser
Brajesh Mishra was appointed the first National Security Adviser of India. The post was created on 19 November 1998 by the Government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
‘Sustainable development and India’
(GS3: Conservation of environment)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the Commonwealth to put sustainable development and climate change, particularly of small island states, at the heart of its agenda, as India announced an increased funding for various Commonwealth initiatives and sought to take a leadership role in a renewed group.
India has said that it would double its contribution to the Commonwealth’s small states offices in New York and Geneva to help them deal with multilateral areas of concern
India’s interest in renewed interest in CHOGM summit this year
1. From the Indian perspective, the Commonwealth offers opportunities to reach out to small states that make up around 60% of Commonwealth members. In some of these states, India has no diplomatic presence, and forging relations with these countries could help India secure crucial votes during UN or multilateral contests it is involved in
2. India also views the Commonwealth as a counterpoint to China, and its expanding influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean
3. Security, counterterrorism, education, climate change and environmental issues were set to feature prominently in discussions, as well as opportunities to grow intra-Commonwealth trade to $700 billion by 2020, challenging rising protectionist sentiment globally.
‘KS satellite gas project’
Issue: BP and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) have announced the sanctioning of the ‘Satellite cluster’ project in Block KG D6. The ‘Satellite cluster’ is the second of three projects in the Block KG D6 integrated development
About the project
Together, the three projects will develop a total of about 3 trillion cubic feet of discovered gas resources with a total investment of ₹40,000 crore ($6 billion). They are expected to bring a total 30-35 million cubic metres (1 billion cubic feet) of a day new domestic gas production on-stream, phased over 2020-2022.
According to the companies, Satellites cluster is a dry gas development and comprises four discoveries with five well sub-sea development in 1700 metres water depth, up to 15 kilometres east and southeast of the producing D1D3 fields in KG D6.
Significance of this project
India today consumes over 5 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas and aspires to double gas consumption by 2022. Gas production from the integrated development is expected to help reduce India’s import dependence and amount to over 10% of the country’s projected gas demand in 2022, benefiting India and domestic consumers at large
(GS3: Digital infrastructure)
Issue: Flyers will soon be able to avail data services during flights with the Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body at the department of telecommunications (DoT), set to approve the much-awaited proposal at its next meeting scheduled on 1 May
As soon as DoT approves the plan, airlines would be free to offer Wi-Fi services to passengers. Moreover, the pricing would be left to airlines, the person said, adding that the DoT would sign a licence contract with the particular provider, similar to what it has with telecom and internet service providers.
The regulator had also recommended that internet services through in-flight Wi-Fi should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used, only in-flight or airplane mode and an announcement regarding this should be made after boarding is completed and the aircraft is about to taxi. This would ensure no encroachment on the scope of terrestrial internet service provided by telecom service providers.
Issue: A mass extinction event 232 million years ago may have triggered an expansion of dinosaurs, according to a study that sheds light on the origin of the giant prehistoric animals.
What the study says?
It is commonly understood that the dinosaurs disappeared with a bang—wiped out by a great meteorite impact on the Earth 66 million years ago. However, their origins have been less understood. In a study, published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from MUSE—Museum of Science, Universities of Ferrara and Padova in Italy and the University of Bristol in the UK showed that the key expansion of dinosaurs was also triggered by a crisis – the mass extinction, called the Carnian Pluvial Episode.
‘Study in India’
(GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The government on Wednesday announced an ambitious plan to attract 200,000 foreign students to India, more than four times the current number.
The target is part of a “Study in India” scheme launched jointly by four ministries—human resource development, external affairs, home and commerce.
What the scheme entails?
From easing the visa process to giving a sizable fee waiver to foreign students from Asia and Africa, the scheme marks a concerted effort to make Indian campuses diverse, in terms of the number of international students. India can become a hub of affordable education for foreign students
As part of the move, India will target students from countries in South, South-East and West Asia, Africa and Commonwealth of Independent States that were part of the former Soviet Union.
Authorities said that in order to make the plan attractive, institutions and government will offer fee waiver—partial or full —to over 53% of these foreign students. All admission will happen via a single window system: applicants from these 30 countries will apply on an online platform for selection to 160 institutions.
Besides, it is expected to bring in revenue over time. Currently, India has some 47,000 foreign students—a tiny number compared to countries with traditionally strong higher education sectors. The US in 2016-17, for instance, was home to more than one million foreign students, including around 187,000 from India alone.
‘Drug resistant malaria’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Novartis AG will contribute research funds to an almost $4 billion global effort to combat malaria as drug-resistant strains of the disease threaten to undo years of progress.
Need for more research
Urgency is rising as malaria cases grew significantly in 2016 for the first time in a decade, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Emerging resistance to drugs and insecticides is making efforts to eliminate the disease more difficult, and some regions are experiencing resurgence.
Certain variants of the lethal parasite called Plasmodium falciparum can evade artemisinin, the most potent medicine available. These resistant strains have been detected in five Asian countries and risk taking hold in Africa, according to Novartis, which makes a version of the drug.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is expected to unveil commitments at the London event of $2 billion from 46 countries affected by malaria between 2018 and 2020, while Uganda is setting up a malaria fund to help raise additional resources of $785 million by 2020. The UK government committed $230 million in addition to prior funds.
The number of malaria cases rose 2% to about 216 million globally in 2016, and the number of deaths was about the same at 445,000, according to the Geneva-based WHO.
What causes Malaria?
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite. The parasite can be spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
There are many different types of plasmodium parasite, but only five types cause malaria in humans.
*Plasmodium falciparum – mainly found in Africa, it’s the most common type of malaria parasite and is responsible for most malaria deaths worldwide
*Plasmodium vivax – mainly found in Asia and South America, this parasite causes milder symptoms than Plasmodium falciparum, but it can stay in the liver for up to three years, which can result in relapses
*Plasmodium ovale – fairly uncommon and usually found in West Africa, it can remain in your liver for several years without producing symptoms
*Plasmodium malariae – this is quite rare and usually only found in Africa
*Plasmodium knowlesi – this is very rare and found in parts of southeast Asia
The plasmodium parasite is spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes, which are known as “night-biting” mosquitoes because they most commonly bite between dusk and dawn. If a mosquito bites a person already infected with malaria, it can also become infected and spread the parasite on to other people. However, malaria can’t be spread directly from person to person.
Once you’re bitten, the parasite enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver. The infection develops in the liver before re-entering the bloodstream and invading the red blood cells.
The parasites grow and multiply in the red blood cells. At regular intervals, the infected blood cells burst, releasing more parasites into the blood. Infected blood cells usually burst every 48-72 hours. Each time they burst, you’ll have a bout of fever, chills and sweating.
Malaria can also be spread through blood transfusions and the sharing of needles, but this is very rare.
‘Dumping of Chemical in India’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India has started investigations into alleged dumping of a chemical, used mainly in the paint industry, from China, European Union, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand following a complaint from a domestic industry.
Atul Ltd has filed an application before the commerce ministry’s Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) for imposition of anti-dumping duty on imports of certain “Epoxy Resins” exported from these five countries.
Epoxy Resins have various uses, such as marine paints, industrial paints, adhesives, laminates, civil engineering and construction industry, and automotive coatings
What are Anti-dumping duties?
Anti-dumping duties are levied to provide a level playing field to local industry by guarding against below-cost imports. Imposition of anti-dumping duty is permissible under the World Trade Organization (WTO) regime. Both India and China are members of the Geneva-based body.
The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-a-vis foreign producers and exporters.
DGAD works under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
‘National Pension Scheme’
(GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: Pension fund regulator PFRDA has made bank account details and mobile number mandatory for subscribers of national pension scheme (NPS)
Further, in compliance with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) guidelines, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has also made Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Central Registry of Securitization Asset Reconstruction and Security Interest (CERSAI) mandatory for new and existing subscribers.
What is NPS?
National Pension Scheme is a government approved pension scheme for Indian citizens in the 18-60 age groups. While central and state government employees have to subscribe to NPS (it’s compulsory for them), it’s optional for others.
A Non Government employee, between age of 18 to 60 years, can also invest in National Pension scheme. He can join as as an individual investor or if his company(Corporate house) joins NPS.
For corporate NPS contribution will be in addition to Employee Provident Fund, or EPF, investments. Wipro Technologies was among the first corporate houses to subscribe.
*If the employer is offering NPS, he will be making an equal contribution in the scheme from his side.
*The structure will be of Tier-1 type where premature withdrawal will not be allowed.
*Since December 2011 the employer’s contribution up to 10% of basic plus DA is eligible for deduction under Section 80CCE over and above the Rs 1 lakh limit of 80C.
*Employee contribution up to 10% of basic plus dearness allowance, or DA, is eligible for deduction under Section 80CCD within the Rs 1 lakh limit.
*Employer can claim tax benefit for its contribution by showing it as business expense in the profit and loss account.
The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), a statutory body, is the pension regulator of India which was established by Government of India on August 23, 2003 and was authorized by Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services. Upon introduction of the PFRDA Bill by the Government of India in the Parliament of India and the subsequent passage of the PFRDA Act in 2013, the Authority became a Central Autonomous Body. Like other financial sector regulators namely Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), PFRDA is a quasi government organization having executive, legislative and judicial powers. PFRDA promotes old age income security by establishing, developing and regulating pension funds and protects the interests of subscribers to schemes of pension funds and related matters. Currently, PFRDA is regulating and administering the National Pension System (NPS) along with administering the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) which is a defined benefits pension scheme for the unorganized sector, guaranteed by the Government of India. PFRDA is responsible for appointment of various intermediate agencies such as Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA), Pension Fund Managers, Custodian, NPS Trustee Bank, etc.