04 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Vigilantism’ (GS2: Governance)
Issue: Taking a strong exception to the alleged lynchings by cow vigilantes, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the onus lies on states to ensure that such incidents do not occur.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said this was a law and order issue and each state has to be responsible. The bench observed that the instances of vigilantism were actually mob violence, which is a crime. The top court has reserved its order on pleas seeking directions to formulate guidelines to curb such violence.
Note: From main perspective, you can use this judgment/observation of the Supreme Court of India to suffice your answer. It would be prudent to quote Supreme Court judgments in your answers wherever possible
‘Hubert Cecil Booth’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth. Today’s Google Doodle remembers Booth on his 147th birthday. Vacuum cleaners modeled on Booth’s design were made commercially available for the first time in 1901.
‘Stressed Assets’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The government and banks unveiled a new strategy to revive stressed assets outside the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), including through asset management companies (AMCs) and investment funds that are expected to help lenders generate better value, while cleaning up their books to enable further lending.
What the plan includes?
- The plan includes a thrust for loans of up to Rs 50 crore given to small and medium enterprises as well as mid-segment loans of up to Rs 500 crore. A special focus will be on loans of over Rs 500 crore, where the plan is to use independent AMCs, which could be set up by banks and other investors to manage assets acquired by the asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) to nurse them back to health and generate value when the market improves.
- A second element of this plan is to rope in alternate investment funds (AIFs) that will provide capital support to the ARCs and the AMCs to acquire the entire loan from all banks as opposed to the current practice where a handful of lenders sell the stressed assets to ARCs
- Apart from resolution approaches for small, medium and large loans, the panel set up last month also recommended that assets that are not resolved within the RBI-stipulated 180-day deadline be sent to the National Company Law Tribunal for action under the IBC.
- The plan addresses the concerns of the finance ministry bureaucracy as it will not entail any obligation on the exchequer and has been structured within the current regulatory remit.
‘Dawn Spacecraft’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has gotten its best-ever looks at the weird bright spots that speckle the dwarf planet Ceres.
About the mission
The $467 million Dawn mission launched in September 2007 with an ambitious goal: to orbit and study Vesta and Ceres, the two biggest objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Vesta and Ceres — which are 330 miles (530 km) and 590 miles (950 km) wide, respectively — are building blocks left over from the solar system’s planet-formation period, which explains the mission’s name.
Dawn orbited Vesta from July 2011 through September 2012, when it departed for Ceres. The probe arrived at the dwarf planet in March 2015, becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit two objects beyond the Earth-moon system.
‘c-VIGIL’ (GS2: E-governance)
Issue: The Chief Election Commissioner Shri. O.P. Rawat, along with the Election Commissioners Shri Sunil Arora and Shri Ashok Lavasa launched a mobile app, called ‘Cvigil,’ on July 3, 2018, for citizens to report any violation of the model code of conduct during elections.
About the app
“cVIGIL” will allow anyone in the election-bound state to report violations of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that comes into effect from the date of announcement of elections and goes on till a day after the polls. By using this app, citizens can immediately report on incidents of misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer to lodge a complaint.
The vigilant citizen has to click a picture or record a video of upto two minutes’ duration of the scene of violations of the model code. The photo or video is to be uploaded on the app. The automated location mapping will be done by the app using the Geographic Information System. After its successful submission through the app, the vigilant citizen gets a Unique ID to track and receive the follow up updates on her or his mobile. A citizen can report many incidents in this manner and will get a unique id for each report for follow up updates. The identity of the complainant will be kept confidential.
About the Model Code of Conduct
The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) kicks in as soon as elections to either state assemblies or the Lok Sabha are announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The MCC is a set of instructions to be followed by both political parties and candidates contesting elections. The MCC is a set of guidelines and instructions on general conduct, campaigning, meetings etc. during elections. The MCC is in place till the entire process of elections is complete.
Guidelines for General Conduct
The following are the important guidelines for general conduct when the MCC is in place.
- No party or candidate should include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.
- Criticism of other political parties, when made, should be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and Candidates should refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion should be avoided.
- There should be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship should not be used as forum for election propaganda.
- All parties and candidates should avoid activities which are corrupt practices and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters, canvassing within 100 meters of polling stations, holding public meetings during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of the poll, and the transport and conveyance of voters to and from polling station.
Any violation of the above guidelines will invite a notice from the ECI as to why action should not be taken and why a case should not be registered against the guilty.
‘Repatriation of Bru’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: In a major breakthrough on repatriation of displaced Bru persons from Mizoram since 1997, an agreement has been signed by Government of India, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF)
About the agreement
5,407 families comprising of 32,876 persons presently in temporary camps in Tripura will repatriate to Mizoram before 30th Sept., 2018. Government of India will provide financial assistance for rehabilitation of Brus in Mizoram and address their issues of security, education, livelihood etc. in consultation with Governments of Mizoram and Tripura.
A Committee under Special Secretary (Internal Security) will coordinate the implementation of this agreement.
‘Whatsapp’ (GS3: Challenges to Internal Security)
Issue: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has taken serious note of the irresponsible messages and their circulation in such platforms. Deep disapproval of such developments has been conveyed to the senior management of the WhatsApp
The Government has also directed that spread of such messages should be immediately contained through the application of appropriate technology.
It has also been pointed out that such platform cannot evade accountability and responsibility especially when good technological inventions are abused by some miscreants who resort to provocative messages which lead to spread of violence.
‘Global Mobility Summit’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Steeply falling technology costs and business – model innovation are driving the world’s transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles. Against this background, NITI Aayog, in collaboration with various ministries and industry partners, is organizing ‘MOVE: Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi on 7th and 8th September, 2018. This Summit will help drive Government’s goals for vehicle electrification, renewable energy integration and job growth and also speed up India’s transition to a clean energy economy.
About the summit
MOVE Summit aims to bring together and engage with key stakeholders within the rapidly transforming global mobility landscape and to evolve a public interest framework for a shared, connected, zero emission and inclusive mobility agenda for the future.
The Summit has been organized along key ‘tracks’ to anchor debate and deliberations on towards preparing a collective mobility agenda. The six tracks or themes for the Summit will focus on:
- Asset Utilization and Services;
- Comprehensive Electrification;
- Alternative Energy;
- Reinventing Public Transit;
- Logistics and Goods Transport;
- Data Analytics and Mobility.
Other similar actions taken by NITI AYOG in this field
NITI Aayog has also been working towards evolving a National Strategy for Transforming Mobility, in the spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism, urging all States and Union territories to formulate state-specific comprehensive strategies by constituting respective State Task Forces. Inputs received from the various States will be integrated with global best practices to come up with a National Strategy, which will also be launched.
‘Currency Derivatives’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX), the country’s largest commodity bourse in terms of market share, plans to enter the currency derivatives segment.
The unified license regime kicks in on October 1 and will allow equity and commodity exchanges to expand their offerings by starting new segments. The BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) have already announced plans for commodity trading under the new regulations framework.
What is Currency Derivative?
The term ‘Derivatives’ indicates it derives its value from some underlying i.e. it has no independent value. Underlying can be securities, stock market index, commodities, bullion, currency or anything else. From Currency Derivatives market point of view, underlying would be the Currency Exchange rate.
Derivatives are unique product, which helps in hedging the portfolio against the future risk. At the same time, derivatives are used constructively for arbitrage and speculation too
Currency derivatives see average daily volumes in excess of ₹60,000 crore. The BSE is the largest player in the currency segment followed by the NSE with the Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSEI) having small share. In June, it reported an average daily turnover of ₹33,961 crore on its currency derivatives platform while the NSE clocked ₹29,161 crore. MSEI reported a daily average turnover of only ₹239 crore in June.
Just like the equity segment, the commodity market is dominated by two entities — MCX and the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX). While MCX mostly has energy, bullion and metal contracts, NCDEX has created a niche for itself with agri-contracts.
The Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX), India’s first listed exchange, is a state-of-the-art, commodity derivatives exchange that facilitates online trading, and clearing and settlement of commodity derivatives transactions, thereby providing a platform for risk management. The Exchange, which started operations in November 2003, operates under the regulatory framework of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
MCX offers trading in commodity derivative contracts across varied segments including bullion, industrial metals, energy and agricultural commodities. It is India’s first exchange to offer commodity options contracts. The Exchange focuses on providing commodity value chain participants with neutral, secure and transparent trade mechanisms, and formulates quality parameters and trade regulations, in conformity with the regulatory framework. The Exchange has an extensive national reach, with 668 registered members and 52,497 Authorized Persons with its presence in more than 1100 cities and towns across India as on 31 March, 2018. MCX is India’s leading commodity derivatives exchange with a market share of 89.6 per cent in terms of the value of commodity derivatives contracts traded in FY 2017-18.
The Exchange’s flagship index series, iCOMDEX, developed jointly with Thomson Reuters, is a series of real-time commodity futures price indices, which give information on market movements in key commodities traded on MCX.
The Exchange is committed to nurturing communities that are vital for the development of its business. To achieve its goal of inclusive growth, it collaborates with diverse partners. Gramin Suvidha Kendra, its social inclusion programme in partnership with India Post, seeks to enhance farmers’ value realization from agricultural activities.
MCX has been continuously raising the bar through effective research and product development, intelligent use of information and technology, innovation, thought leadership and ethical business conduct.
‘Tow-an-Iceberg plan for Cape Town’ (GS3: Climate Change)
Issue: It is a plan as crazy as the situation is desperate — towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Cape Town to supply fresh water to a city in the grip of drought.
About water crisis in Cape Town
Earlier this year, Cape Town came within weeks of shutting off all its taps and forcing residents to queue for water rations at public standpipes.
The cut-off was narrowly averted as people scrambled to reduce their water usage and Autumn rains saved the day. But the threat is expected to return to the coastal South African city again next year and beyond.
It would cost $100 million to haul an iceberg on a journey that could take up to three months, and another $50-60 million to harvest the water for one year as it melts
‘Minimum Support Price’ (GS3: Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies)
Issue: The government hiked the minimum support price for paddy by a steep ₹200 per quintal as it looked to fulfill its poll promise to give farmers 50 per cent more rate than their cost of production.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) at its meeting on July 4 approved the MSP of 14 Kharif (summer-sown) crops. According to sources, the MSP of paddy (common grade) has been increased by ₹200 to ₹1,750 per quintal, while that of Grade A variety by ₹160 per quintal to ₹1,750.
Effect of this move
Hike in paddy MSP will increase the food subsidy bill by over ₹11,000 crore based on procurement figure of the 2016-17 marketing year (October-September).
The Food Corporation of India (FCI), the government’s nodal agency for procurement and distribution of food grains, buys wheat and rice from farmers at MSP and supply the grains under the food security law.
Paddy is the main kharif (summer sown) crop, the sowing of which has already begun with the onset of southwest monsoon.
‘Railway Health Track monitoring’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, have developed computer vision approach for the monitoring of railway tracks using drones and satellite data.
Aim of this project
The aim of the project is to provide some automated techniques for track inspection, which is carried out manually at present.
The track-monitoring task involves inspection of various railroad components such as loose rail fasteners, defect in clips and switches, broken and misplaced crossings, cracks in various components of track and gauge measurement between the rails
In the newly developed technology titled “Railtel”, the inspection of rail tracks will be done by applying image processing and computer vision techniques on drone images.
The objectives of the new technology are pre-processing of the data collected using a drone; creation of reasonable, simple, and fast computer vision algorithm that is capable of processing the experimental field data and finding railroad defects reliably; comparative evaluation of the performance of different algorithms and design schematics uncovering their better and worse features.
‘Lieutenant Governor of Delhi’ (GS2: Functioning of the Executive)
Issue: A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously held that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi is bound by the “aid and advice” of the popularly-elected government
Other observations made by the Supreme Court of India
- Titular head (LG) has to act in accordance to aid and advice
- There is no independent authority with the LG to take decisions except in matters under Article 239 or those outside the purview of the National Capital Territory (NCT) government.
- Every “trivial difference of opinion” between the LG and the NCT government cannot be referred to the President for a decision. The issues referred should be of substantive or national importance.
- The NCT government needs only to inform the LG of its “well-deliberated” decisions. The government need not obtain his “concurrence” in every issue of day-to-day governance.
- The CJI, however, adhered to the nine-judge Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in the NDMC versus State of Punjab to conclude that Delhi is not a ‘State.’ The judgment also held that the LG is not a Governor but only an “administrator in a limited sense.”
- Except for issues of public order, police and land, the Lieutenant Governor is bound by the “aid and advice of the government