25th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Defence procurement’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman cleared the acquisition of military hardware for the Indian Army and Navy worth around Rs 46,000 crore
Among its key decisions, the council approved the procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore
Significance of this decision
This is the first project under the MoD’s strategic partnership model that aims to provide significant fillip to the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme
What is strategic partnership model?
The strategic partnership model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner, who will collaborate with foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the country
The model has a long-term vision of promoting India as a manufacturing hub for defence equipment, thereby enhancing self-sufficiency and establishing an industrial and R&D ecosystem, capable of meeting the future requirements of the Armed Forces
Other procurements made include:
- The council also cleared the procurement of 14 vertically launched Short Range Missile Systems to enhance the self-defence capability of ships against Anti-Ship Missiles
- The DAC also cleared some other proposals worth around Rs 24,879.16 crore, including approval for the procurement of 150 indigenously designed and developed 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems for the Indian Army
‘Ordinance’ (GS2: Legislative powers)
Issue: The state cabinet passed the ‘Karnataka Debt Relief Bill 2018’, in a move to ease financial burden on small farmers, agricultural labourers and other weaker sections of society.
About the bill
The bill proposes that any loans taken from non-institutional sources excluding non-banking finance corporations (NBFCs), stand null and void, and any pledged items such as gold and land documents, will have to be returned. However, the government is still not clear on the losses that will be borne by lenders.
The government’s decision is targeted at a large section of agricultural community who depend on non-institutional sources of credit, whose interest rates and collateral are much higher compared to institutional sources.
The Cabinet also asked its finance department to initiate steps to waive off farm loans taken from nationalized and cooperative banks in addition to those taken from the cooperative sector.
What is an Ordinance?
Article 123 Power of President to promulgate Ordinances during recess of Parliament
(1) If at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinances as the circumstances appear to him to require.
(2) An Ordinance promulgated under this article shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, but every such Ordinance –
(a) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassembly of Parliament, or, of before the expiration of that period resolutions disapproving it are passed by both Houses, upon the passing of the second of those resolutions; and
(b) may be withdrawn at any time by the President.
(3) If and so far as an Ordinance under this article makes any provision which Parliament would not under this Constitution be competent to enact, it shall be void.
Article 213 deals with the Ordinance making power of the Governor of a state. However, the Governor cannot issue an Ordinance without instructions from the President in three cases where the assent of the President would have been required to pass a similar Bill ie (a) if a Bill containing the same provisions would have required the previous sanction of the President for introduction into the legislature; (b) if the Governor would have deemed it necessary to reserve a Bill containing the same provisions for the consideration of the President; and (c) if an Act of the legislature containing the same provisions would have been invalid unless it received the assent of the President.
‘G Satheesh Reddy’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Renowned aerospace scientist G Satheesh Reddy has been appointed as the Chairman of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) for a period of two years
About the chairman
Reddy has a distinguished reputation for his research and development in missile systems and contributions towards advancement of aerospace technologies and industries, is presently employed as the Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
He holds the distinction of being inducted as fellow of Royal Institute of Navigation, London, Royal Aeronautical Society, UK, and has been awarded the full member diploma as a Foreign Member of the Academy of Navigation and Motion Control, Russia.
He is the first defence scientist working in India to receive the Silver Medal of Royal Aeronautical Society, UK, and has also been selected for the first IEI (India) and IEEE (USA) joint award for Engineering Excellence.
‘Asteroid Bennu’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: After a nearly two-year space chase, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe finally has its asteroid target in sight
About the mission
OSIRIS-REx will study Bennu from orbit for a while, and then spiral down to snag a sizable sample from the rock’s surface in the middle of 2020. The spacecraft will depart Bennu in March 2021, and the sample, encased in a special return capsule, will parachute down to Earth in September 2023.
Bennu is a carbon-rich asteroid; the type that many scientists think delivered the chemical building blocks of life, along with lots of water, to our planet via impacts long ago. So, analyses of the returned sample in labs around the world could reveal key insights about the early solar system and the origin of life on Earth, mission team members have said.
Bennu is a potentially hazardous asteroid; there’s a very slight chance the rock could slam into Earth in the late 22nd century. OSIRIS-REx’s observations should help scientists better understand the forces that shape asteroids’ paths through space, and therefore better predict where, exactly, dangerous rocks are going
‘Onam’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: President of India extended greetings and good wishes to fellow citizens on the eve of Onam
About the festival ‘Onam’
Onam is an annual Hindu festival with origins in the state of Kerala in India. It falls in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September. According to legends, the festival is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam
. It is a harvest festival, one of three major annual Hindu celebrations along with Vishu and Thiruvathira, and it is observed with numerous festivities. Onam celebrations include Vallam Kali (boat races), Pulikali (tiger dances), Pookkalam (flower arrangement), Onathappan (worship), Onam Kali, Tug of War, Thumbi Thullal (women’s dance), Kummattikali (mask dance), Onathallu (martial arts), Onavillu (music), Kazhchakkula (plantain offerings), Onapottan (costumes), Atthachamayam (folk songs and dance), and other celebrations. It is the New Year day for Malayali Hindus
‘Sukanya Samriddhi’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The government recently amended the rules for Sukanya Samriddhi account to lower the amount required for opening the popular girl child savings scheme.
About the scheme:
- The scheme was launched in January 2015 to encourage savings for a girl child’s education.
- Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) is a small deposit scheme for the girl child launched as a part of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’
- The minimum amount required for opening a Sukanya Samriddhi account has been brought down to Rs 250, from Rs 1,000 earlier.
- The minimum annual deposit requirement, or the minimum amount required to be deposited in Sukanya Samriddhi account every year, has also been lowered to Rs 250, from Rs 1,000 earlier.
- The interest rate on Sukanya Samriddhi account is revised every quarter, like other small savings instrument such as public provident fund (PPF), and Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS). Currently, Sukanya Samriddhi account fetches an interest of 8.1% per annum, compounded yearly.
- Apart from higher interest rate as compared to other small savings instruments such as PPF, tax exemption is also one of the greatest advantages of the Sukanya Samriddhi account.
- Under Section 80C of Income Tax Act. The entire interest earned and maturity amount is also non-taxable. The maximum amount that can be deposited in a Sukanya Samriddhi account is Rs 1.5 lakh in a financial year.
- Deposits in a Sukanya Samriddhi account may be made till the completion of 15 years
- Sukanya Samriddhi account will mature on completion of 21 years from the date of opening of account.
- A Sukanya Samriddhi account can be opened up to age of 10 years only from the date of birth of the girl child. A guardian can open only one Sukanya Samriddhi account in the name of one girl child and maximum two accounts in the name of two different girl children in post offices and designated banks.
- Partial withdrawal will be allowed on the account holder attaining the age of 18 to meet educational or marriage expenses. Withdrawal will be limited to 50% of the balance standing at the end of the preceding financial year.
‘Urbanization’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: An analysis of 14 cities in India, including six mega cities and eight metropolises, on how they fare when it comes to pollution and energy consumption from urban commuting, places Kolkata as the top-performing megacity
What the report says?
- Air pollution was a national crisis and road transport was the sector showing the highest increase in emission of greenhouse gases.
- In terms of overall emissions and energy consumption, Bhopal was followed by Vijayawada, Chandigarh and Lucknow.
- According to the report, though metropolitan cities scored better than megacities due to lower population, lower travel volume and lower vehicle numbers, they were at risk due to a much higher share of personal vehicle trips.
- Mumbai, the report stated, had the highest GDP but a lower rate of motorization compared with other megacities, proving that income levels were not the only reason for deciding a population’s dependence on automobiles.
‘Asian Games 2018’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Tejinderpal Singh Toor clinched the men’s shot put gold with a record-shattering throw to open India’s medal account in athletics in the Asian Games
The 23-year-old threw the iron ball to 20.75m to win the gold and set a national record as well. He bettered the six-year-old record of 20.69m in the name of Om Prakash Karhana.
Other medals won include
- Squash stars Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal clinched bronze medals in the singles competition
- Indian rowers won a gold and two bronze medals
- Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan brought that all-important gold medal
- Heena Sidhu’s composure to rise from the seventh position in the early stage of the 10 m women’s air pistol final, to winning the Asian Games bronze medal.
‘Electoral reforms’ (GS2: Constitutional bodies)
Issue: The Election Commission will be debating several issues, including limiting of expenditure and increasing participation of women, at a multi-party meeting
Major issues that will be discussed
- The Commission has asked the parties if the print media should also be brought within the ambit of Section 126(1)(b) (which lists mediums in which display of election matter is prohibited and includes television, cinematograph or similar apparatus) of the Representation of the People Act.
- The Commission has asked political parties on whether there should be a ceiling on party election expenditure. The present election laws only provide a limit on a candidate’s expenditure.
- The Commission wants to know the views of political parties on bringing a ceiling for expenditure in the Legislative Council elections. In these elections, huge amounts of unaccounted-for money are often spent by the candidates.
- The Commission has asked the parties to take note of alternative modes of voting for domestic migrants and absentee voters, such as postal, proxy and e-voting.
- The Election Commission has also asked “what measures can political parties undertake to encourage enhanced representation of women within the organisation structure of the political party.”
There are only 11.4% women in the 16th Lok Sabha, substantially lower than the global average of 22.9%, the Commission noted.