24 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Lynching’ (GS2: Indian Executive)
Issue: A high-level committee, headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, had been constituted to check cases of “mob lynching.” The committee will submit its recommendations within four weeks
Observations made by Supreme Court in this regard
- On July 17, the Supreme Court condemned the recent spate of lynchings as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” and told Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
- Describing lynchings and mob violence as “creeping threats”, the court warned that the rising wave of frenzied mobs — fed by fake news, self-professed morality and false stories — would consume the country like a “typhoon-like monster.”
The State Governments have been advised to implement the directions issued in the matter by the Supreme Court on July 17 since ‘Police‘ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects and State governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order and protecting the life and property of the citizens.
‘Informal Settlements’ (GS2: Issues arising out of government policies)
Issue: The seven-year project, which was conducted by Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, interviewed 4,522 slum-dwellers. It was found that over 70% of households had been living in informal settlements of the city (Bengaluru) for over four generations.
Other observations made in the report
- While the Karnataka State Slum Board recognizes 597 slums in the city, analysis of satellite imagery shows that there could be as many as 2,000.
- The survey reveals that households who have been in these slums for more than four generations earn just ₹8,000 per month, which is marginally more than a first-generation migrant to the city
- Satellite imagery of 40 slums between 2000 — when the IT industry was strengthening its hold in the city — and 2015, showed that 60% of the slums had no perceptible change in physical characteristics. Only in three were there significant improvements.
- Considering the rapidly changing landscape and dynamics of the city, satellite imagery may hold the key to understanding the accommodations of the urban poor.
‘Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India in 2018 has fallen out of the top 10 destinations for FDI in terms of its attractiveness, according to an AT Kearney report
Reasons for such a performance
- due to teething troubles in the implementation of the goods and services tax
- Government’s demonetization decision in 2016
- India ranks 11 in the 2018 AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index, down from 8 in 2017 and 9 in 2016.
The report highlighted several of the reforms — such as removing the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and liberalizing FDI limits in key sectors — that have maintained India’s high rankings in terms of FDI attractiveness.
‘Rohingyas issue’ (GS2: Important international institutions)
Issue: The UN Security Council has urged Myanmar’s government to step-up efforts to create conditions that will allow Rohingya Muslims who fled a violent crackdown to safely return to the country from neighboring Bangladesh.
Rohingya face official and social discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Dire conditions led more than 2,00,000 to flee the country between 2012 and 2015.
The council “stressed the need to step up efforts, including through providing assistance to the social and economic development, in order to create conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine state.”
‘Foreign Direct Investment’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Karnataka registered the biggest increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) last year, as inflows from overseas jumped 300% in the 12 months ended March 2018. Tamil Nadu too saw a rebound reversing a slowdown in the preceding period, while Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh all saw a drop in FDI inflows, data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) presented in Parliament show.
What the data shows?
- While Karnataka received $8.58 billion in 2017/18, a sharp increase from the $2.13 billion in the previous fiscal, Tamil Nadu netted $3.47 billion, a 56% increase from the $2.22 billion in the prior period, as the State appeared to buck concerns about the investment climate.
- Other major states Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh saw a dip in FDI inflows
- Overall, sector-wise investment data show that computer software and hardware gained from a 68% jump in FDI last year to $6.15 billion.
- Interestingly, the services sector which comprises finance, banking, insurance and outsourcing among others, remained the top recipient of FDI despite seeing a 23% decline in inflows at $6.71 billion.
‘National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill
Aim of this bill
To grant retrospective recognition to Central/State institutions that are conducting teacher education courses without NCTE approval.
This has been done as a one-time measure to ensure that the future of students studying in these institutions is not jeopardized.
All institutions running teacher education courses, such as B.Ed and D.El.Ed have to obtain recognition from the NCTE under section 14 of the NCTE Act.
The NCTE Act, 1993, came into force in 1995 and applies to all parts of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
‘Heat-wave in Japan’ (GS3: Disaster management)
Issue: Japan’s weather agency has declared a heatwave sweeping the country a natural disaster, with at least 65 deaths recorded in the past two weeks.
More than 22,000 people have been admitted to hospital with heat stroke, nearly half of them elderly, emergency officials say
What is a Heat wave? (As defined by National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA)
A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India. Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July. The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves :
- Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40*C for Plains and at least 30*C for Hilly regions
- When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40*C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5*C to 6*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7*C or more
- When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40*C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 4*C to 5*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 6*C or more
- When actual maximum temperature remains 45*C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared. Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.
Health Impacts of Heat Waves
The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. The signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Heat Cramps: Ederna (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39*C i.e.102*F.
- Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
- Heat Stoke: Body temperatures of 40*C i.e. 104*F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma. This is a potential fatal condition
‘Mini-cloud bursts’ (GS1: Indian Climate)
Issue: With an increase in heavy rainfall of short durations during the summer monsoon in many places in India, scientists at Pune’s Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) have coined a new term to define such events — mini-cloud bursts.
What is a Mini-cloud burst?
A mini-cloud burst is defined as rainfall in excess of 50 mm in two consecutive hours.
Based on hourly rainfall data from 126 stations between 1969 and 2015, the researchers found an average of 200 mini-cloud bursts occurring every year in India. Between 1988 and 2007, there were around 265 mini-cloud bursts.
The India Meteorological Department already recognises cloud bursts — heavy rainfall, irrespective of the amount — in the mountainous regions of Himalayas with its steep slopes, which lead to flash floods, and rainfall over 100 mm per hour in other places. In contrast, mini-cloud bursts are indicative of torrential downpour but of lower intensity than cloud bursts.
The study found that mini-cloud bursts are “very common” in the foothills of the Himalayas. While the west coast records more than three mini-cloud bursts per season, the Indo-Gangetic plains and the Saurashtra region receive two per season.
‘India- Africa economic ties’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will encounter challenges of Chinese competition as well as declining Indian trade and investment figures on his three nations, five-day tour to Africa
Current scenario of ties between India and Africa
- Despite the ramping up of high-level visits, various studies and statistics show that Indian interest in the Africa growth story has not kept pace, and even declined through most of the period. The greatest slump appears to have been in investment figures.
- According to the “World Investment Report for 2018”, issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Indian FDI in Africa in 2016-17 at $14 billion was even lower than it was in 2011-12 at $16 billion.
- China, for example, increased from 2011-12, when its investment levels were identical to India’s at $16 billion, to a massive $40 billion in 2016-17.
- A similar slump both in actual and comparative terms has been seen in India-Africa trade figures from 2013 to 2017, when export and import figures fell from $67.84 billion to $51.96 billion. The China-Africa bilateral trade, in comparison, has hovered around the $170 billion mark.
- India’s exports to African countries have also been dominated by petroleum products, and a diversification is needed to broaden economic engagement.
‘Stressed Assets’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Leading lenders of the country on Monday signed an agreement among themselves to grant power to the lead lender of the consortium to draw up a resolution plan for stressed assets.
About this agreement
The agreement, known as Inter-Creditor Agreement (ICA) was framed under the aegis of the Indian Banks’ Association and follows the recommendations of the Sunil Mehta Committee on stressed asset resolution. Lenders including State Bank of India, Bank of India, and Corporation Bank have already signed the pact.
The ICA is applicable to all corporate borrowers who have availed loans for an amount of ₹50 crore or more under consortium lending / multiple banking arrangements
The Mehta committee had estimated ₹2.1 lakh crore of stressed assets in the ₹50 crore to ₹500 crore category. The total stress in public sector banks is estimated at ₹10.6 lakh crore, as on March 31, 2018.
‘Oil Import’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Iran was the second-biggest oil supplier to Indian state refiners between April and June, India’s oil minister said on Monday, replacing Saudi Arabia as companies took advantage of steeper discounts offered by Tehran.
Top supplier to India
Iraq continued to be the top oil supplier to India in the April-June period. New Delhi shipped in 7.27 million tonnes of oil from Iraq, while shipments from Saudi Arabia totaled 5.22 million tonnes, making it the third largest supplier
India and other major buyers of Iranian oil are under pressure to cut imports from the country after Washington in May withdrew from a 2005 nuclear deal with Tehran and decided to re-impose sanctions on the OPEC member.
‘Artificial Embryos’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: An international team of scientists has moved closer to creating artificial embryos after using mouse stem cells to make structures capable of taking a crucial step in the development of life.
Experts said the results suggested human embryos could be created in a similar way in future — a step that would allow scientists to use artificial embryos rather than real ones to research the very earliest stages of human development.
What are Stem cells?
Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.
‘Shekatkar committee’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Shekatkar Committee to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure submitted its report in December 2016. The Report was taken up by the Ministry of Defence to frame key action points and roadmap for implementation.
Measures as recommended by the Committee and taken up for implementation include:
- Optimization of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.
- Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static / Station Workshops in the field Army.
- Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
- Better utilization of Supply and Transportation echelons and Animal Transport Units.
- Closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.
- Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.
- Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.
‘UNNAT BHARAT ABHIYAN’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Government has successfully launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0.
About the programme
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship programme of the Ministry of HRD, it aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with set of at least (5) villages, so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base. It is a significant initiative where all Higher Learning Institutes have been involved for participation in development activities, particularly in rural areas. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.
Objective of the scheme are (i) To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions in understanding rural realities; (ii) Identify and select existing innovative technologies, enable customization of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by people; and (iii) To allow Higher Educational Institutions to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government Programs.