30 th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
‘CIMON’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, or CIMON, is an English-speaking droid roughly the size of a basketball that will help German astronaut Alexander Gerst conduct experiments on the International Space Station.
CIMON will verbally communicate step-by-step instructions to Gerst during three planned science experiments on the space station’s European module. Currently, astronauts read these instructions from a laptop, which is an arduous process that a responsive, hands-free companion like CIMON can replace.
A robot like CIMON with human-like personalities could help mitigate the disorientation astronauts may feel in space. CIMON is among 5,900 pounds of cargo launching to the International Space Station on Friday, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
‘Milky Way’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Astronomers have discovered that the Milky Way is filled with vast amounts of toxic grease, which could one day hamper interstellar space travel.
About this new discovery
The grease-like molecules, called aliphatic carbon. There are 100 greasy carbon atoms for every million hydrogen atoms, meaning the Milky Way contains about 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes of greasy matter. This equates to around 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter.
The grease is not present in our solar system, as it is forced out by the solar wind. The only way to encounter it would be by sending a space craft into interstellar space — the windscreen of which could become coated by the fine mist of grease.
‘Monsoon in India’ (GS1: Indian Climate)
Issue: The monsoon has covered the entire country, reaching Sriganganagar in western Rajasthan — its last outpost — a fortnight ahead of schedule, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Friday. The normal date for monsoon onset in Sriganganagar is July 15.
Indian Meteorological Department’s observation in this regard
There’s no linkage between the speed with which the monsoon spreads out across the country and the quantum of rainfall. While 2013 recorded a 6% excess rain than normal, 2015 saw a 14% rainfall deficit. The monsoon deficiency, which until early this week was 10%, fell to 4% on Friday.
Typically the monsoon traverses the northern-most portions of the country by July 1, and then takes about a fortnight to reach western Rajasthan. This time, a Western Disturbance as well as pressure system across the northern portion of the Bay of Bengal has propelled the rains
About the current monsoon pattern in India so far
The bulk of the rain has been in the southern peninsula, with Kerala, Karnataka and Goa pooling in 20% more rain than normal. East and Northeast India are experiencing a 26% deficit. The southwest monsoon accounts for 70% of the rainfall in the country, where agriculture still remains a major contributor to the GDP.
‘Ceasefire in South Sudan’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: A ceasefire has begun at midnight in South Sudan as a weary nation wonders whether this latest attempt to end a five-year civil war will hold.
They had faced a possible U.N. arms embargo and sanctions if fighting didn’t stop and a political deal wasn’t reached by Friday.
About the Civil War
The civil war that erupted just two years after winning independence from Sudan has killed tens of thousands and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Millions are near famine. The new peace deal calls for the unhindered delivery of aid.
About South Sudan
South Sudan is in east central Africa with a land area of over 0.6 million km2 and an estimated population of 12 million. The capital city is Juba. It is dominated by the River Nile and borders the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a landlocked country and Its land borders total 5,431 km. The climate is hot with seasonal rainfall influenced by the annual shift of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone; rainfall is heaviest in the upland areas of the south and diminishes to the north. The terrain gradually rises from plains in the north and centre to southern highlands along the border with Uganda and Kenya; the White Nile, flowing north out of the uplands of Central Africa, is the major geographic feature of the country supporting agriculture and extensive wild animal populations.
The Sudd is a vast swamp in South Sudan, formed by the White Nile, comprising more than 15% of the total area of the country; it is one of the world’s largest wetlands. Its name is derived from floating vegetation that hinders navigation.
‘Soft Policing’ (GS3: Challenges to Internal Security through communication networks)
Issue: Troubled by the rising frequency of incendiary social media posts, the Assam police have been experimenting with a slew of ‘soft policing’ tactics. These include making the local policemen campaign at weekly haats or rural markets, where they would meet school and college students, parents and teachers, and motivate them to become informants on social media misuse.
‘Oil Imports from Iran’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Four months and a week from now, India may be on slippery ground with an oil problem. Starting November 4, India’s hotline with Iran for oil imports may very well be dead, courtesy US President Donald Trump’s assertion of ‘zero tolerance’ against any country or entity that flouts its diktat to stop buying crude from the west Asian country beyond the November deadline.
Why this is a challenge for India?
- Iran offers economic sweeteners on freight and insurance on its oil. Iranian oil is a lucrative buy for refiners as the Persian Gulf nation provides 60 days of credit for purchases, double the amount of time given by other producers.
- While severing ties and finding replacement for Iran oil should not be as painful with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait willing to fill in, the changed dynamics are expected to raise India’s oil import bill.
- At a time when oil imports and the volatility of global crude oil prices are intensifying inflationary pressure in the Indian markets
- The challenge for India also involves the prospect of balancing its age-old relations with Tehran and the financial and strategic stake in the Chabahar port project in Iran with the imperative of avoiding US clampdown.
‘Renewable Energy Dialogue’ (GS3: Conservation of environment)
Issue: The Renewable Energy Dialogue was organised by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in collaboration with Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), International Solar Alliance (ISA), International Energy Agency (IEA), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), and REN21. This edition of the Dialogue had a special focus on market creation and market trends.
Important highlights of the meeting
- India has set a target of achieving 40% of its total electricity generation non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
- International Solar Alliance is sending positive market signals therefore all countries want to invest in renewables encouraging new technologies to be made available thereby promoting financial investments in renewables.
- Government of India’s target of installing 20 GW of solar power by 2022 was achieved four years of ahead of schedule in January, 2018 through solar parks and India has set a fresh target of achieving 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
- Independent studies on scaling up rooftop solar panels, clean energy investment trends, addressing renewable energy curtailment, and risks in renewable energy markets in emerging economies were released at the Dialogue
‘ReUnite’ (GS2: E-governance)
Issue: Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu today launched a mobile application called ReUnite which helps to track and trace missing and abandoned children in India.
About the app
The app is multiuser where parents and citizens can upload pictures of children, and provide detailed description like name, birth mark, address, report to the police station, search and identify missing kids. The photographs will not be saved in the mobile phone’s physical memory. AmazonRekognition, web facialrecognition service, is being used to identify missing kids. The app is available for both Android and iOS.
BachpanBachaoAndolan, (BBA) is India’s largest movement for the protection of children and works along with law enforcement agencies and policymakers. BBA has played a very important role in formulation of several lawsfor protection of child’s rights.
‘Good and Services Tax Network (GSTN)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is using data analytics to look at industry outliers who may be under-reporting sales and also to target transactions between related parties specifically shown to avoid paying taxes.
The information technology network has also started matching the e-way bill data with the tax returns
Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is a Section 8 (under new companies Act, not for profit companies are governed under section 8), non-Government, private limited company. It was incorporated on March 28, 2013. The Government of India holds 24.5% equity in GSTN and all States of the Indian Union, including NCT of Delhi and Puducherry, and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers (EC), together hold another 24.5%. Balance 51% equity is with non-Government financial institutions. The Company has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The Authorised Capital of the company is Rs. 10,00,00,000 (Rupees ten crore only).
The design of GST systems is based on role based access. The taxpayer can access his own data through identified applications like registration, return, view ledger etc. The tax official having jurisdiction, as per GST law, can access the data. Data can be accessed by audit authorities as per law. No other entity can have any access to data.
‘Fiscal Deficit’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India reported on Friday a fiscal deficit of ₹ 3.45 trillion ($50.37 billion) during the April-May period, or 55.3% of the budgeted target for fiscal year 2018-19
India expects to trim the deficit to 3.3% of GDP in this fiscal year, after meeting an upwardly revised fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP in 2017-18.
What is Fiscal Deficit?
A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings. Deficit differs from debt, which is an accumulation of yearly deficits.
A fiscal deficit is regarded by some as a positive economic event. For example, economist John Maynard Keynes believed that deficits help countries climb out of economic recession. On the other hand, fiscal conservatives feel that governments should avoid deficits in favor of a balanced budget policy.
‘Global real estate transparency index’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India has moved up just one spot in the global real estate transparency index from 36 in 2016 to 35 in 2018, despite the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act or RERA, according to a report by real estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL).
Observations made in the report
- RERA was implemented in May 2016 to bring accountability and transparency into the sector. However, unlike a few states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, several states have been slow in its implementation.
- India is thus yet to figure among the transparent markets, despite the regulatory changes and the possibility of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) listing
- India is one of the 10 countries that have registered maximum improvement in transparency in real estate over the last two years. Since 2014, India has moved up by five spots from 40th in the global real estate transparency index.
About the index
The index measures transparency based on factors such as data availability, authenticity and accuracy; governance of public agencies as well as stakeholders of the realty sector; transaction processes and costs associated with those; and the regulatory and legal environment.
The report also pointed out that a rise in private equity (PE) investments over the last four years is an indicator of the growing confidence large PE funds have in the Indian market. PE investment in Indian realty has grown every year from $2.2 billion in 2014 to $6.3 billion in 2017
‘Leela row dayal’ (Facts that could be asked in prelims)
Issue: In 1934, Leela beat Gladys Southwell in the first round of the ladies singles in a Wimbledon tournament
About Leela row dayal
Leela Row Dayal climbed mountains, wrote plays, was a dab hand at the violin, knew the Dalai Lama, and, also, won a match at Wimbledon.
She went on to write books in English and Sanskrit. The 1972 annual report of the Samskrita Ranga (a Chennai-based organisation for the promotion of Sanskrit drama) notes that she helped translate many of her mother’s poems into highly regarded Sanskrit plays.
‘Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and IDBI bank deal’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The board of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, which met on Friday, has approved Life Insurance Corporation’s (LIC) proposal to increase its stake in troubled state-run lender IDBI Bank.
However, LIC needs to get a board-approved plan to bring down its stake to 15% over time. Now, the LIC board will have to consider the matter for approval.
The deal will also require an approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
IDBI Bank has been under the prompt corrective action framework of the RBI due to deteriorating financial health. Its loss widened to ₹8,238 crore in FY18 from ₹5,158 crore in FY17.
‘External Debt’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s external debt stood at $529.7 billion at the end of March 2018, recording an increase of $58.4 billion year-on-year, primarily on account of a rise in commercial borrowings, short-term debt and non-resident Indian deposits
The external debt to GDP ratio was 20.5% at end-March 2018, compared with 20% in March 2017.
What is External Debt?
External debt is the portion of a country’s debt that was borrowed from foreign lenders including commercial banks, governments or international financial institutions. These loans, including interest, must usually be paid in the currency in which the loan was made. In order to earn the needed currency, the borrowing country may sell and export goods to the lender’s country.
Sometimes referred to as foreign debt, external debt can be procured by corporations as well as governments. In many instances, external debt takes the form of a tied loan, which means the funds secured through the financing through must be spent back into the nation that is providing the financing. For instance, the loan might allow one nation to buy resources it needs from the country that provided the loan.