13th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘ATAL Tinkering Labs’ (GS3: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has selected 3,000 additional schools for the establishment of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs), bringing the total number of ATL schools to 5,441.
About the ATL
The selected schools shall receive a grant of Rs 20 lakh spread over the next five years to establish Atal Tinkering Labs for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurial spirit among secondary school children across India. ATLs will soon be established in every district of India, seeking to enable an innovation ecosystem, which will facilitate transformational change in technological innovation and pedagogy.
With these new schools, NITI Aayog’s AIM envisions strong growth in the collaborative ecosystem created by the ATL initiative, where students, teachers, mentors and industry partners work to facilitate innovation, foster scientific temper and an entrepreneurial spirit in the children of today, who will go on to become successful contributors to nation-building tomorrow.
About Atal Innovation Mission of NITI Aayog
The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs. The Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) create innovators, Atal Incubation Centres and support to Established Incubation Centre ensure that innovations are taken to the market and help create enterprises around these innovations.
‘SWACHH Iconic places’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Ten new iconic sites have been taken up under Phase III of the flagship project Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
About the project
The project envisioned by the Prime Minister is being coordinated by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation with the support of State governments and local administration. The consultation is in process for finalizing the PSUs/corporates for extending support to new sites as CSR partners.
SIP is a collaborative project with three other central Ministries: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, M/o Culture, and M/o Tourism. It also involves local administrations in the concerned States and Public Sector and Private Companies as sponsoring partners.
‘Exercise SURYA KIRAN’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Exercise SURYA KIRAN-XIII, a joint military training exercise between India & Nepal culminated today at Pithoragarh, wherein the troops of both Armies participated in 14-day long joint training based on counter terrorist operations.
Aim of such joint exercises
Besides promoting understanding and inter-operability between the two armies, it further helped in cementing ties between both the nations.
‘Singapore Summit’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged at a historic summit on Tuesday to move towards complete denuclearization, while the U.S. promised its security guarantees.
History Korean Peninsula tensions
The USA and North Korea have been at loggerheads with each other since the 1950s, when cold war politics resulted in the Korean peninsula being divided between the North and the South. While on one hand, South Korea got into a powerful alliance with America, the North, under Communist influence, became a strong ally of the USSR. In the ensuing years, while the Soviet Union disintegrated, North Korea’s relations with America were primarily marked by an aggressive nuclear weapons programme.
History of India-North Korea relations
- The first time that India and North Korea developed consular relations was in 1962 and in 1973, full diplomatic ties were established between the two countries
- Relations between India and North Korea have been historically positive, marred only by North Korea-Pakistan ties related to missile and nuclear technology.
- India’s commitment to go ahead with diplomatic relations with North Korea is evident from the fact that the former continued to have an embassy at Pyongyang, despite significant pressure from the USA to not do so.
- As per government data, in the year 2015-16, Indian exports from North Korea amounted to $111 million, while imports amounted to $88 million.
- Further, the Center for Space Science and Technology in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP) located in Dehradun is reported to have been one of the first institutes in the world to have provided technical training to North Korean students, even after the United Nations declared its first set of nuclear sanctions against the country in 2006.
- It was only in 2017 that India’s Ministry of External Affairs, reacting strongly to North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch, declared a ban on all trade with the region, with the exception of shipments of food and medicine. The declaration brought to an end the long-held trade links between the two countries. The decision to ban trade links with North Korea came at a time when India was increasing its trade links with South Korea.
‘Retail Inflation’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s retail inflation hit a four-month high after jumping to 4.87 percent in May from April’s 4.58 percent driven by costlier food and fuel
About the index
CPI is the main price gauge that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) tracks. May’s data is an indication that inflation, which is close to 5 percent, is inching towards the apex bank’s upper tolerance level of 6 percent.
Core inflation — comprising non-food and non-fuel components — was at a 45-month high, at 6.17 percent, leaving less room for a rate cut by the central bank.
‘Parliamentary Standing Committee’ (GS2: Parliament: structure and conduct of business)
Issue: Blaming the board of directors of the Punjab National Bank for the embezzlement of over Rs. 13,000 crore the Reserve Bank of India said in a written reply to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance
About standing committee
In the Indian Parliament, a Standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament. It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.
Both Houses of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, have similar Committee structures with a few exceptions. Their appointment, terms of office, functions and procedures of conducting business are broadly similar. These standing committees are elected or appointed every year, or periodically by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, or as a result of consultation between them.
There are two types of Parliamentary Committee, the Standing Committee and the Ad hoc Committee. 1. The Standing Committees are constituted every year or frequently and they work on continuous basis. 2. Ad hoc committees are temporary and created for specific task. Once that task is completed, the ad hoc committees cease to exist
‘Monsoon in India’ (GS1: Indian Climate)
Issue: The monsoon is expected to take a break for at least a week, according to an update from the India Meteorological Department.
Other observations by IMD
Ideally, the branch of the monsoon system that enters from Kerala and moves northwards should have reached Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh by June 15, but this is unlikely to happen for a few days.
However, heavy rainfall will continue in several parts of Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura because of favorable weather clouds — called a low-pressure system — that are present in eastern India.
So far, June rainfall has been 54 mm, about 20% more than what is normal for this time of the year.
‘Non-performing asset’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: While public sector banks have claimed a ₹1,50,960 crore reduction in their non-performing asset (NPA) levels over 2017-18, about 55% of this was due to write-offs and only 27% was actual recoveries, according to data provided by RBI Governor Urjit Patel to the parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.
The data also showed that the same period saw ₹2,37,475 crore of loans being added to the NPA list, thereby leading to an overall worsening of the NPA situation.
The data also showed that bank frauds increased in both number and value over the last three years.
What is NPA?
A nonperforming asset (NPA) refers to a classification for loans or advances that are in default or are in arrears on scheduled payments of principal or interest. In most cases, debt is classified as nonperforming when loan payments have not been made for a period of 90 days. While 90 days of nonpayment is the standard, the amount of elapsed time may be shorter or longer depending on the terms and conditions of each loan.
‘ATAL Pension Yojana’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) has proposed to double the monthly pension limit to Rs 10,000 from the existing Rs 5,000 under the Atal Pension Yojana. The proposal is now under the consideration of the central government.
If approved, it will attract more people towards the scheme and provide better inflation-beating returns.
The other change proposed was to increase the maximum age to enter the scheme to 50 years from the existing 40.
Atal Pension Yojana, which was introduced in June 2015 and aims to provide sustainable old-age income for more than 80% of India’s workforce, had recently touched the 10 million subscriber mark, with nearly five million people enrolling for the scheme in 2017-18. It is specifically aimed at the unorganized sector.
As on 31 March, 10.2 million subscribers have contributed to the scheme with Rs 4,400 crore. Currently the scheme has 60% men and 40% women
‘INTERPOL’ (GS2: Multilateral agencies)
Issue: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) closed in on Nirav Modi on Monday, asking Interpol to issue a red corner notice against the fugitive billionaire who masterminded the Rs14,356 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank.
If Interpol accepts the request, Modi can be arrested by the police of any country
The International Criminal Police Organization, more commonly known as Interpol, is an international organization that facilitates international police cooperation. It was established as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) in 1923
Its work focuses primarily on public safety and battling transnational crimes against humanity, child pornography, computer crime, cybercrime, drug trafficking, environmental crime, genocide, human trafficking, illicit drug production, copyright infringement, illicit traffic in works of art, intellectual property crime, money laundering, organized crime, corruption, terrorism, war crimes, weapons smuggling, and white-collar crime.
The role of INTERPOL is defined by the general provisions of its constitution.
Article 2 states that its role is:
- To ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- To establish and develop all institutions likely to contribute effectively to the prevention and suppression of ordinary law crimes.
Article 3 states:
It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
The organization functions as an administrative liaison among the law enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing communications and database assistance, assisted via the central headquarters in Lyon, France.
‘Surgery in a pill’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Scientists have developed a less invasive and effective treatment for reversing type 2 diabetes, one that can offer the same benefits as surgery
About the new method
Researchers administered an oral agent in rats to deliver a substance that could temporarily coat the intestine to prevent nutrient contact with the lining in the proximal bowel and avoid post-meal spikes in blood sugar.
Researchers searched for a starting material that would have just the right properties to adhere to the small intestine and then dissolve within a matter of hours. The researchers selected a substance known as sucralfate, an approved drug in the US that is used in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers.
The team further engineered the substance into a novel material that can coat the lining of the intestine without requiring activation by gastric acid. The engineered compound, referred to as LuCI (Luminal Coating of the Intestine), can be made into a dry powdered form that can be encapsulated as a pill.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus type 2 (also known as type 2 diabetes) is a long-term metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin. Common symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss
‘Indian Companies and Foreign Exchange’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The markets regulator is considering allowing Indian companies to list directly on overseas exchanges
Current procedure for listing of Indian companies on foreign exchange
Currently, companies incorporated in India can list abroad through American Depository Receipts or Global Depository Receipts. Similarly, foreign companies wishing to trade on Indian exchanges need to float Indian Depository Receipts
Reasons for not allowing direct listing of companies
The regulator and the government have been reluctant to allow Indian companies to list abroad, on concerns that capital would leave the country, domestic primary market would be dampened, and that companies could go out of their regulatory ambit.
About Global Depository Receipts
A global depositary receipt (GDR) is a bank certificate issued in more than one country for shares in a foreign company. The shares are held by a foreign branch of an international bank. The shares trade as domestic shares but are offered for sale globally through the various bank branches. A GDR is a financial instrument used by private markets to raise capital denominated in either U.S. dollars or Euros.