05 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Fund for Education’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Union cabinet allowed the human resource development (HRD) ministry to raise ₹1 trillion from the market for funding education research and infrastructure.
About the project
- The funds will be raised from a clutch of sources, including education bonds, commercial borrowings and corporate houses. The money shall be given as loans to government-controlled higher educational institutions, including medical colleges, as well as central government-run school chains such as Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVs) as the Union government explores innovative ways to fund education to reduce the burden on the exchequer.
- The funds will be raised through the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), a recently minted non-banking financial company under the HRD ministry. The cabinet committee on economic affairs approved to increase capital base to ₹10,000 crore from the current approved enhancing HEFA’s ₹3,300 crore
- The ₹10,000 crore capital base includes present and subsequent contribution from Canara Bank, a joint venture partner of the HRD ministry for establishing and running HEFA.
- This move will reduce the budgetary pressure on the exchequer at a time when the government is facing a funds crunch
- The ministry may effectively save the few thousand crores of rupees it is giving on grant for infrastructure development and bring in fiscal accountability among institutions, as most of these loans will be paid back by institutions
- Funding proposals worth ₹2,016 crore from some of the older IITs have been approved by HEFA and nearly ₹9,000 crore more of loan proposals are in the pipeline for development of education infrastructure and research capabilities at various IITs, NITs and other technical schools.
‘Inflation’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The recent MSP (Minimum Support Price) hike for paddy is believed by some experts who have pointed out that the move may stoke inflation, prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to hike interest rate, as well as widen fiscal deficit.
The government on Wednesday approved steep MSP hikes of up to 52 percent for 15 crops, which is expected to cost the exchequer about Rs 15,000 crore. MSP for one of the most significant kharif crops, paddy, has been increased by Rs 200 per quintal to Rs 1,750 per quintal. Pulses, such as moong, as well as cotton and sunflower seeds saw a hike of at least Rs 1,000 per quintal.
Observations made by some experts on this move
- wholesale inflation may rise by 38 bps year-on-year and retail inflation by 70 bps
- The impact on inflation could be lower if agricultural production is stronger than expected, coupled with the forecast of favorable, spatial and temporal distribution of this year’s monsoon
About Minimum Support Price
Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices. The minimum support prices are announced by the Government of India at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). MSP is price fixed by Government of India to protect the producer – farmers – against excessive fall in price during bumper production years. The minimum support prices are a guarantee price for their produce from the Government. The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution. In case the market price for the commodity falls below the announced minimum price due to bumper production and glut in the market, govt. agencies purchase the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced minimum price.
Minimum support prices are currently announced for 24 commodities including seven cereals (paddy, wheat, barley, jowar, bajra, maize and ragi); five pulses (gram, arhar/tur, moong, urad and lentil); eight oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed/mustard, toria, soyabean, sunflower seed, sesamum, safflower seed and nigerseed); copra, raw cotton, raw jute and virginia flu cured (VFC) tobacco.
Such minimum support prices are fixed at incentive level, so as to induce the farmers to make capital investment for the improvement of their farm and to motivate them to adopt improved crop production technologies to step up their production and thereby their net income. In the absence of such a guaranteed price, there is a concern that farmers may shift to other crops causing shortage in these commodities.
‘Trade War’ (GS2: Effect of policies of Developed countries on India’s interest)
Issue: After months of threats and dwindling hopes the two sides would pull back from the brink of all-out trade war, steep US tariffs on tens of billions in Chinese goods are due to take effect at midnight Thursday.
The tariffs hit a broad spectrum of Chinese goods — like passenger vehicles, radio transmitters, aircraft parts and computer hard drives
Beijing will hit back with tariffs initially on nearly $30 billion in US goods, also taking effect Friday, including vehicles and many agricultural and food products, such as soybeans, which will hit US farmers hard.
The remaining $15 billion would be imposed in the second phase would target crude oil, propane and chemicals
Concerns about this taking effect
Economists have for months warned of the potential damage to the US and global economies from aggressive trade policies that evolve into protectionism, which would raise prices and upend global supply chains.
Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, warned the tit-for-tat cycle of retaliation would create “losers on both sides.”
‘Eta Carinae’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Eta Carinae — the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years — is accelerating particles to high energies, some of which may reach the earth as cosmic rays
About Eta Carinae
Eta Carinae, located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, is famous for a 19th century outburst that briefly made it the second-brightest star in the sky.
This event also ejected a massive hourglass-shaped nebula, but the cause of the eruption remains poorly understood.
The system contains a pair of massive stars whose eccentric orbits bring them unusually close every 5.5 years. The stars contain 90 and 30 times the mass of our Sun and pass 225 million km apart at their closest approach — about the average distance separating Mars and the Sun
‘ISRO’ (GS3: Space Technology)
Issue: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has scheduled a ‘pad abort test’ of an experimental space crew capsule on Thursday morning as an important cog of its plan to send Indians to space one day.
About the mission
The launch pad abort test, or PAT, involves aborting a space capsule at launch to save the inmates. It is slated at ISRO’s Sriharikota launch venue, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), in coastal A.P.
The priority of all space agencies in a human space mission is the safe return of its astronauts. With the pad abort test, ISRO aims to prove its technology that will safely parachute future astronauts down in case their space vehicle develops snags while taking off
‘World Intellectual Property Right Organization’ (GS2: Important International institutions)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment
Significance of this move
The approval is a step towards the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government on 12thMay 2016 which aims to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support to IPR owners about commercial opportunities of e-commerce through Internet and mobile platforms.
Benefits of accession
Meeting the demand of the copyright industries, these treaties will help India:
- To enable creative right-holders enjoy the fruit of their labour, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
- To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
- To instill confidence and distribute creative works in digital environment with return on investment; and
- To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN). WIPO was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world”.
WIPO currently has 191 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The current Director-General of WIPO is Francis Gurry
“Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates” (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for continuance of the 8 existing schemes of the Ministry of Home Affairs up to March 2020 for relief and rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates under the Umbrella scheme “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates”.
The schemes will provide relief and rehabilitation assistance to the refugees, displaced persons, civilian victims of terrorist/communal/LWE violence and cross border firing and mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory and riot victims of various incidents etc.
The schemes are as under:
- Central Assistance for one-time settlement of displaced families from Pak Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and Chhamb settled in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
- Rehabilitation Package and up-gradation of infrastructure of the
Bangladeshi Enclaves and Cooch Behar District after transfer of enclaves between India and Bangladesh under Land Boundary Agreement.
- Relief assistance to Sri Lankan refugees staying in camps in Tamil Nadu and Odisha.
- Grant-in-Aid to Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) for five years for administrative and social welfare expenses of Tibetan settlements.
- Grant-in-Aid to Government of Tripura for maintenance of Brus lodged in relief camps of Tripura.
- Rehabilitation of Bru/Reang families from Tripura to Mizoram.
- Grant of enhanced relief of Rs. 5.00 lakh per deceased person, who died
During 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots
- Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims/Family of Victims of Terrorist/Communal/LWE Violence and Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory’.
‘Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval to rename the Agartala Airport in Tripura as ‘Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore Airport, Agartala.
About Maharaja Bir Bikram
Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore, who ascended the throne of the erstwhile Tripura Princely State in 1923, was an enlightened and benevolent ruler. Agartala Airport was constructed in 1942 on the land donated by Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore. As a visionary ruler, who had travelled extensively across the globe, he took several steps for the all-round development of Tripura
‘Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the extension of the scheme of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for the next three years i.e. up to 2019-20. This will enable the RRBs to maintain the minimum prescribed Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9 per cent.
Impact of this move
A strong capital structure and minimum required level of CRAR will ensure financial stability of RRBs which will enable them to play a greater role in financial inclusion and meeting the credit requirements of rural areas.
RRBs were set up with the objective to provide credit and other facilities, especially to the small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers, artisans and small entrepreneurs in rural areas for development of agriculture, trade, commerce, industry and other productive activities. RRBs are jointly owned by Government of India, the concerned State Government and Sponsor Banks with the issued capital shared in the proportion of 50%, 15% and 35% respectively.
‘Khan Prahari’ (GS2: E-governance)
Issue: Union Minister of Coal, Railways, Finance & Corporate Affairs, Shri Piyush Goyal launched the Coal Mine Surveillance & Management System (CMSMS) and Mobile Application ‘Khan Prahari’ developed by CMPDI, Ranchi a Subsidiary of CIL and Bhaskarcharya Institute of Space Application and Geo-informatics (BISAG)
About the app
Khan Prahari is a tool for reporting any activity taking place related to illegal coal mining like rat hole mining, pilferage etc. One can upload geo-tagged photographs of the incident along with textual information directly to the system. Hence, both satellite data and human information will be used to capture information on the unauthorised mining activities. Once reported, the information will be automatically directed to the nodal officers to take suitable action on those activities. The complainant can also track his complaint through the system. The identity of the complainant shall not be revealed. This app can easily be downloaded in Android and IOS.
‘Common Service Centre (CSC)’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: CSC SPV, a Special Purpose Vehicle under the Ministry of Electronics & IT, has entered into agreement with HDFC Bank to enable its three lakh Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) managing the Common Services Centers operate as Banking Correspondents of HDFC Bank
The Common Service Center (CSC) Scheme is an integral part of “Digital India” initiative of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India. Currently, close to three lakh VLEs are operational across the country, of which 2.10 lakh are at Gram Panchayat level.
‘Fake news and WhatsApp’ (GS2: Challenges to internal security through social networks)
Issue: WhatsApp has said it has introduced mechanisms to curb misuse of its platform to spread rumors.
Actions being taken by WhatsApp
It said it was testing a new label in India that “highlights when a message has been forwarded versus composed by the sender”.
“This could serve as an important signal for recipients to think twice before forwarding messages because it lets a user know if content they received was written by the person they know or a potential rumor from someone else.” They planned to launch this feature soon.
‘DNA profiling bill’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The Union Cabinet has cleared a bill that allows law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples, create “DNA profiles” and special databanks for forensic-criminal investigations.
About the bill
The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018, is the latest version of a Bill that originated as a DNA “profiling” Bill, framed by the Department of Biotechnology. The aim of that draft legislation was to set in place an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies to identify persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or for identifying missing persons.
Several clauses of the Bill were tightened to make it stronger and immune to data abuse. The databanks can only store information related to criminal investigations and the DNA details of suspects will be deleted
The Bill creates a DNA Profiling Board that would be the final authority that would authorise the creation of State-level DNA databanks, approve the methods of collection and analysis of DNA-technologies.