22nd June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘World’s Hungry Population’ (GS2: Issue related to Human Resources)
Issue: The number of hungry people in the world has risen for the first time in more than a decade, according to a United Nations report.
What the report says?
- There are now approximately 38 million more undernourished people in the world, rising from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016
- According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2018 report, conflict is now one of the main drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries
- Conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change are among the key factors causing this reversal in progress
- Noting the increasing impact of extreme events related to a changing climate, the report said economic losses attributed to disasters were estimated at over $300 billion in 2017.
‘Share Buy-Back’ (GS2: Regulatory agencies)
Issue: As part of its attempts to rationalize stock market regulations, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has amended the rules related to public issues, takeovers and buy-backs
Aim of this move
- The aim was to remove redundancies, simplify language and factor in the changes in the Companies Act and also the circulars issued by SEBI
- While raising funds through an IPO, a company can now announce the price band just two days before the opening day of the issue instead of the earlier requirement of five days.
- Financial disclosures now need to be mentioned only for three years instead of five. Also, companies making a rights issue have to submit a draft document only if the issue size is more than ₹10 crore.
- Disclosure requirements related to group companies have been made more specific in the SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations.
- SME IPO segment, the minimum anchor investor size has been reduced to ₹2 crore from the existing ₹10 crore.
- The regulator has also brought parity in terms of shareholding limits for domestic and foreign entities in stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories. This would allow eligible foreign and domestic entities to hold up to 15% stake in such market institutions.
About Anchor investors
Anchor investors are institutional investors who are offered shares in an IPO a day before the offer opens. As the name suggests, they are supposed to ‘anchor’ the issue by agreeing to subscribe to shares at a fixed price so that other investors may know that there is demand for the shares offered.
SEBI introduced the concept of anchor investors in IPOs in 2009
The anchor investor can’t sell his shares for at least 30 days after the allotment. This rule ensures that investors, who want to flip shares on listing, do not use the ‘anchor’ route. Anchor investors can bid for shares at anywhere within the price band declared by the company.
‘RITES Public offering’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The initial public offer of railways consultancy firm RITES was oversubscribed 2.11 times on the second day of bidding
RITES Limited (earlier known as Rail India Technical and Economic Service) is an engineering consultancy company, specializing in the field of transport infrastructure. Established in 1974 by the Government of India, the company’s initial charter was to provide consultancy services in rail transport management to operators in India and abroad. RITES has since diversified into planning and consulting services for other infrastructure, including airports, ports, highways and urban planning. On-shore WDS6 Diesel Loco leasing service has been introduced. It was awarded the status of MINIRATNA in 2002.
It has executed projects in over 62 countries on every major continent. As of 2011, it was executing projects in over 30 countries
‘Automated Teller Machine (ATM)’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: With banks failing to upgrade software in automated teller machines (ATM) despite repeated reminders, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has now directed the banks to complete the process in a phased manner latest by June 2019.
Reason for Upgrading
- many ATMs were still running on Windows XP and other unsupported software
- According to banking industry sources, there could be 30% of the present 2.2 lakh ATMs that still use old software.
- RBI said the vulnerability arising from the ATMs operating on unsupported version of operating system and non-implementation of other security measures, could potentially affect the interests of customers and the banks’ image.
‘Competition Commission of India’ (GS2: Regulatory Agency)
Issue: In a bid to protect farmers’ interests, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has attached several conditions to its approval for the merger of global major Bayer and Monsanto in India.
Condition fixed by CCI
For a seven-year period post the merger, the new entity must follow a non-exclusive licensing policy for non-selective herbicides and for GM and non-GM traits which are currently or soon to be commercialized in India, on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis
What is Non-Exclusive Licensing Policy?
In an exclusive license the parties agree that no other person/legal entity can exploit the relevant IPRs, except the licensee.
On the other hand, a Non-Exclusive License grants to the licensee the right to use the IPRs, but on a non-exclusive basis. That means that the licensor can still exploit the same IPRs and he/she can also allow other licensees to exploit the same intellectual property.
‘E-Auction’ (GS2: Transparency in Governance)
Issue: Coal India Ltd. on Thursday announced the commencement of the fourth tranche of auction of coal linkages for non-regulated sectors such as cement, steel/sponge iron, aluminium and others.
The move to allot coal through this route follows the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in this regard two years ago
Benefits of E-auction
The Cabinet Committee aimed at putting in place a transparent mechanism to enable the user sectors to secure coal linkages irrespective of the size of the industry or their geographic location, through a market mechanism.
The policy initiative followed the logic of the e-auction of coal mines after the cancellation of allocation of the 204 coal blocks in 2014.
‘Stonehenge’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Some experts have claimed that the Pythagoras’ theorem was used to build ancient stone structures like the Stonehenge 2,000 years before the Greek philosopher was born
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds
Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC
Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. Deposits containing human bone date from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug, and continued for at least another five hundred years
‘In-Vitro Diagnostic (IVD)’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The government has proposed to do away with clinical trials for in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices that have been approved and marketed for at least two years in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and Japan, with the aim of speeding up availability of such devices in India.
Benefit of this move
Medical device experts believe that the move will help importers to a large extent as the exemption of trials would also mean accelerating approval of state-of-the-art devices, which can land in the country in four to six weeks.
What is an IVD?
An IVD Medical Device is defined as a device which, whether used alone or in combination, is intended by the manufacturer for the in-vitro examination of specimens derived from the human body solely or principally to provide information for diagnostic, monitoring or compatibility purposes
IVDs include all blood testing techniques, tests that can detect diseases, conditions or infections for major conditions such as HIV, HBV (Hepatitis B), HCV (Hepatitis C).
‘Artificial Intelligence’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that can accurately diagnose Zika virus and several other viral, bacterial and even genetic diseases from the patient’s blood.
Development and validation of the platform involved analysis of blood samples from 203 patients treated
- Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito ( aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
- Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
- There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Zika can be transmitted
- Through mosquito bites
- From a pregnant woman to her fetus
- Through sex
- Through blood transfusion
The most common symptoms of Zika are
- Joint pain
- Red eyes
- Muscle pain
Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
‘Vaporized Water’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists have developed a low-cost solution to harvest high-quality distilled water from cooling towers of power plants to meet the increasing drinking water demand across regions.
About the approach
The new approach involves zapping the air that is rich in fog with a beam of electrically-charged particles, or ions. The water droplets become electrically charged and can be drawn towards a mesh of wires placed on their path. The droplets can then be drained into a container.
Capturing evaporated water is an established distillation process, and the new solution would help capture pure water, even if the cooling water was salty or contaminated. The water could then be piped to a city’s drinking water system, or used in processes that require pure water, such as in a power plant’s boilers.
The findings could solve drinking water problems across regions, given the fact that power plants are the largest industrial user of water, and are exceedingly contributing to water-stress.
In India, almost 90% of thermal power generation depends on freshwater, which is used for cooling of power plants. But, much of that water is lost as clouds of vapour, since the currently used systems to capture droplets are not very efficient.
With more than 1.1 billion people lacking access to potable water worldwide, the technology could potentially be used to develop a significant source of clean, safe drinking water for coastal cities, where seawater is used to cool local power plants, according to the research paper.
‘Fake News’ (GS3: Technology)
Issue: Tech giant Google announced the launch of a new training programme for journalists to protect them from falling prey to fake news stories.