26th April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Benami asset Cases’
(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Issue: Close to 18 months after the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act was enacted, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Adjudicating Authority has cited acute manpower crunch for not being able to dispose of all the ‘Benami’ assets cases.
Only 35 cases have been disposed of since March 2017, while over 750 are pending hearing with the Authority.
I-T department issues orders for provisional attachment of assets under the Act. Based on the findings, after hearing all the parties, the Adjudicating Authority confirms the attachments, which leads to confiscation of the properties.
The Authority has already requested the Ministry to provide more office staff for assistance to the courts. While the proposal is under the consideration of the government, it has sought additional contractual staff for the time being to handle ‘Benami’ property cases.
About Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha on May 13, 2015. The Bill seeks to amend the Benami Transactions Act, 1988. The Act prohibits benami transactions and provides for confiscating benami properties.
The Bill seeks to: (i) amend the definition of benami transactions, (ii) establish adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions, and (iii) specify the penalty for entering into benami transactions.
The amended law empowers the specified authorities to provisionally attach benami properties which can eventually be confiscated. Besides, if a person is found guilty of offence of benami transaction by the competent court, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the property.
‘Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation’
Issue: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today chaired his twenty-fifth interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.
PRAGATI is a unique integrating and interactive platform. The platform is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
Key features of the PRAGATI application are as follows:
*It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States);
*Prime Minister will hold a monthly programme where he will interact with the Government of India Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries through Video-conferencing enabled by data and geo-informatics visuals;4
Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programmes and pending Projects;
*The system will ride on, strengthen and re-engineer the data bases of the CPGRAMS for grievances, Project Monitoring Group (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. PRAGATI provides an interface and platform for all these three aspects.
*It will also take into consideration various correspondences to PM’s office by the common people or from high dignitaries of States and/or developers of public projects;
*The issues flagged are uploaded seven days prior to the PRAGATI day (i.e. on third Wednesday of every month).
*These issues can be viewed by the Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries after entering into the application;
*User ID and Password for each of the Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries have been created and made available;
*Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries will be able to see the issues pertaining to their Department /State;
‘Exercise HARIMAU SHAKTHI 2018’
(GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: As part of ongoing Indo-Malaysian defence cooperation, a joint training exercise HARIMAU SHAKTI will be conducted in the dense forests of Sengai Perdik, Hulu Langat, Malaysia from 30 April 18 to 13 May 18. The exercise is aimed at bolstering cooperation & coordination between armed forces of both the nations and to share the expertise of both the contingents in conduct of counter insurgency operations in jungle terrain.
Significance of this exercise
The exercise will involve a cross training phase followed by a field training phase of seven days in the jungles of Hulu Langat wherein both armies will jointly train, plan and execute a series of training activities. The focus will remain on tactical operations in jungle warfare. Overall, the exercise will not only provide an excellent opportunity to both the armies to hone their operational skills but will also contribute to enhance the strategic partnership between India and Malaysia.
‘Innovate in India for Inclusiveness Project’
(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: A Loan Agreement for IBRD credit of US$ 125 (equivalent) for the “Innovate in India for Inclusiveness Project” was signed with the World Bank on 24th April, 2018 in New Delhi.
About the project and its objectives
The Objectives of the project is to nurture indigenous innovation, foster local product development and accelerate commercialization process by bridging critical skill and infrastructure gaps to promote affordable and innovative healthcare products generation for inclusive development and increasing competitiveness in India. The project would support consortia of public, private, and the academic institutions to overcome the key market failures currently holding back the development of an innovative biopharmaceutical and medical devices industry in India.
The project consists of the following parts:
(i) Strengthening of pilot-to market innovation ecosystem
(ii) Acceleration of the pilot –to-market process for specific products and
(iii) Project Management and monitoring & Evaluation.
‘Vector Borne Diseases’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, held a high level meeting to review the preparedness of the Ministry for prevention and control of vector borne diseases like kalaazar, dengue, malaria and chickungunya in the country
What are Vector Borne diseases?
Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. Many of these vectors are bloodsucking insects, which ingest disease-producing microorganisms during a blood meal from an infected host (human or animal) and later inject it into a new host during their subsequent blood meal.
Mosquitoes are the best known disease vector. Others include ticks, flies, sandflies, fleas, triatomine bugs and some freshwater aquatic snails.
Rift Valley fever
West Nile fever
Sandfly fever (phelebotomus fever)
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Relapsing fever (borreliosis)
Rickettsial diseases (spotted fever and Q fever)
Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)
Sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis)
Plague (transmitted by fleas from rats to humans)
Onchocerciasis (river blindness)
Typhus and louse-borne relapsing fever
*Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700 000 deaths annually.
*More than 3.9 billion people in over 128 countries are at risk of contracting dengue, with 96 million cases estimated per year.
*Malaria causes more than 400 000 deaths every year globally, most of them children under 5 years of age.
*Other diseases such as Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
*Many of these diseases are preventable through informed protective measures.
‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0’
(GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: Human Resource Development Ministry launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 in New Delhi. Addressing the launching ceremony at AICTE headquarters through video message, Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar said that the students are the real agents of change who can develop, empower and brighten the future of the country.
About the programme
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, with the intention to enrich Rural India. The knowledge base and resources of the Premier Institutions of the country are to be leveraged to bring in transformational change in rural developmental process. It also aims to create a vibrant relationship between the society and the higher educational institutes, with the latter providing the knowledge and technology support to improve the livelihoods in rural areas and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private organisations in the society.
Under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, the institutions have been selected on a Challenge Mode and the scheme has been extended to 750 reputed Higher Educational Institutes (both public and private) of the country. Also, scope for providing Subject Expert Groups and Regional Coordinating Institutes to handhold and guide the participating institutions has been strengthened. IIT Delhi has been designated to function as the National Coordinating Institute for this programme and the Ministry intends to extend the coverage to all the reputed Higher Educational Institutes, in a phased manner. Each selected institute would adopt a cluster of villages / panchayats and gradually expand the outreach over a period of time.
Institutes through their faculty and students, will carry out studies of living conditions in the adopted villages, assess the local problems and needs, workout the possibilities of leveraging the technological interventions and the need to improve the processes in implementation of various government schemes, prepare workable action plans for the selected villages. Such knowledge inputs would make their way into the development programmes in rural areas. The Institutes would be expected to closely coordinate with the district administration, elected public representatives of panchayat / villages and other stakeholders and will become very much a part of the process of development planning and implementation.
‘Atal New India Challenge’
(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under the NITI Aayog shall be launching the Atal New India Challenge on Thursday, 26th April 2018
About Atal New India Challenge
Under the Atal New India Challenge, which shall be run in collaboration with five ministries, AIM will invite prospective innovators/MSMEs/start-ups to design market-ready products, using cutting edge technologies or prototypes across 17 identified focus areas such as Climate Smart Agriculture, Smart Mobility, Predictive Maintenance of Rolling Stock, Waste Management etc.
Applicants showing capability, intent and potential to productize technologies will be awarded grants up to Rs. One crore. This grant will be further supplemented by mentoring, handholding, incubating and other support as needed at various stages of commercialisation, while generating wider deployment for the product.
Restructured National Bamboo Mission
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today has approved Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Bamboo Mission (NBM) under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) during remaining period of Fourteenth Finance Commission (2018-19 & 2019-20).
About the mission
1. The Mission would ensure holistic development of the bamboo sector by addressing complete value chain and establishing effective linkage of producers (farmers) with industry.
2. The scheme will benefit directly and indirectly the farmers as well as local artisans and associated personnels engaged in bamboo sector including associated industries. Since it is proposed to bring about one lakh ha area under plantation, it is expected that about one lakh farmers would be directly benefitted in terms of plantation.
3. The Mission will focus on development of bamboo in limited States where it has social, commercial and economical advantage, particularly in the North Eastern region and States including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
4. Bamboo plantation will contribute to optimizing farm productivity and income thereby enhancing livelihood opportunities of small & marginal farmers including landless and women as well as provide quality material to industry. Thus, the Mission will not only serve as a potential instrument for enhancing income of farmers but also contributing towards climate resilience and environmental benefits. The Mission will also help in creating employment generation directly or indirectly in both skilled and unskilled segments.
More details about the mission
The restructured NBM strives to –
(i) To increase the area under bamboo plantation in non forest Government and private lands to supplement farm income and contribute towards resilience to climate change.
(ii) To improve post-harvest management through establishment of innovative primary processing units, treatment and seasoning plants, primary treatment and seasoning plants, preservation technologies and market infrastructure.
(iii) To promote product development at micro, small and medium levels and feed bigger industry.
(iv) To rejuvenate the under developed bamboo industry in India.
(v) To promote skill development, capacity building, awareness generation for development of bamboo sector.
‘World Malaria Day 2018’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: World Malaria Day is observed on April 25 every year to recognize the global effort to control malaria and also to spread awareness about the around the world.
About World Malaria Day 2018
The theme for this year’s Malaria Day is ‘Ready to beat Malaria’ and emphasizes the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community that is uniting all around the world to curb the disease and working towards the common goal to making the world malaria free
As per the World Malaria Report that was released in November 2017, there were 216 million cases of malaria in 2016 whereas in 2015 211 million cases were reported.
The disease is caused by the Plasmodium parasites, which is spread to people through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito, also known as malaria vectors. While there are a total of five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, two of those — P falciparum and P vivax — pose the greatest threat.
It was in May 2007 that the 60th session of the World Health Assembly decided to establish the World Malaria Day. This was done to provide education and understanding of the disease and also to spread information on the implementation of national-malaria-control strategies, which also included community-based activities for the prevention of malaria and also treatment in the endemic areas.
‘3D mapping of Milky Way
(GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: Europe’s Gaia satellite has produced a 3-D map of more than a billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy — complete with their distance from Earth, color, and motion through space.
About the satellite
1. Launched in 2013, Gaia started operating the following year, gathering data on 1,00,000 stars per minute — some 500 million measurements per day. Its first map was published in September 2016, based on a year’s worth of observations of about 1.15 billion stars.
2. Gaia also revealed the orbits of some 14,000 “solar system objects” — mapped as an intricate web of space rocks shooting around the sun. “It represents the most accurate survey ever of asteroids in the solar system
(GS3: Indigenization of Technology)
Issue: The Bhabha Atomic Reseach Centre (BARC) has developed a next-generation bulletproof jacket for the Indian armed forces, which is not only cheaper but also much lighter.
About the Bullet-proof jacket developed by BARC
Bhabha Kavach, named after nuclear physicist Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, the jacket was developed at BARC’s Trombay centre in response to a request from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The jacket weighs just 6.6 kg in comparison to the 17-kg jackets in use, and has passed over 30 tests carried out by certified agencies. Bhabha Kavach is available in three variants as per the requirement of the armed forces. Bhabha Kavach has been designed to protect our soldiers against AK-47 (hard steel bullets), SLR and INSUS weaponry