19th Nov, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Quami Ekta week (Facts that could be asked in prelims)
Issue: With a view to foster and reinforce the spirit of Communal Harmony, National Integration and pride in vibrant, composite culture and nationhood, the “Qaumi Ekta Week” (National Integration Week) will be observed all over the country, from tomorrow to 25th November, 2018.
Significance of ‘Quami Ekta Week’
The observation of the ‘Quami Ekta Week’ will help to highlight the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand actual and potential threats to the eclectic and secular fabric of our country, and nurture a spirit of communal harmony in its widest sense. This occasion also provides an opportunity to reaffirm age old traditions and faith in the values of tolerance, co-existence and brotherhood in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH)
The National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH), an autonomous organisation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, organizes Communal Harmony Campaign coinciding with the Qaumi Ekta Week and observes the Communal Harmony Flag Day on 25th November. The Foundation promotes Communal Harmony and strengthens National Integration. It also provides financial assistance for relief and rehabilitation of children rendered orphan or destitute in communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence.
‘Colonial Reparations’ (GS1: Indian history)
Issue: In a collection of essays published recently by Columbia University Press, Usha Patnaik (an economist) attempts to make a comprehensive estimate. Over roughly 200 years, the East India Company and the British Raj siphoned out at least £9.2 trillion (or $44.6 trillion; since the exchange rate was $4.8 per pound sterling during much of the colonial period).
Observations made by economist
- In the colonial era, most of India’s sizeable foreign exchange earnings went straight to London—severely hampering the country’s ability to import machinery and technology in order to embark on a modernization path similar to what Japan did in the 1870s.
- Between 1765 and 1938, the drain amounted to £9.2 trillion (equal to $45 trillion), taking India’s export surplus earnings as the measure, and compounding it at a 5% rate of interest. Indians were never credited with their own gold and forex earnings.
- The ‘drain’ varied between 26-36% of the central government budget.
- There was virtually no increase in per capita income between 1900 and 1946, even though India registered the second largest export surplus earnings in the world for three decades before 1929.
- C. Dutt, a civil service officer in the British Raj, documented that between 1765 and 1770, the Company trebled the tax revenue in Bengal, compared to the erstwhile Nawab’s regime
- During Britain’s industrial transition, 1780 to 1820, the drain from Asia and the West Indies combined was about 6 percent of Britain’s GDP, nearly the same as its own savings rate.
- Not only Britain, but the whole of today’s advanced capitalist world flourished on the drain from India and other colonies. Britain was too small to absorb the entire drain from colonial India. so it became the world’s largest capital exporter, which aided the industrial development of Continental Europe, the U.S., and even Russia. The infrastructure boom in these countries would not have been possible otherwise.
‘Mars and water’ (GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: Billions of years ago, the planet flowed with water and was subjected to ‘catastrophic floods’ that carved out the canyons in the landscape that are still there today.
The flooding came from gigantic lakes that would overflow with water. Now, these lakes are nothing more than huge craters pockmarking the Martian surface.
Using high-resolution photos taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite, the researchers examined the topography of the outlets and the crater rims and found a correlation between the size of the outlet and the volume of water expected to be released during a large flooding event.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a multipurpose spacecraft designed to conduct reconnaissance and exploration of Mars from orbit.
MRO contains a host of scientific instruments such as cameras, spectrometers, and radar, which are used to analyze the landforms, stratigraphy, minerals, and ice of Mars. It paves the way for future spacecraft by monitoring Mars’ daily weather and surface conditions, studying potential landing sites, and hosting a new telecommunications system. MRO’s telecommunications system will transfer more data back to Earth than all previous interplanetary missions combined, and MRO will serve as a highly capable relay satellite for future missions
One of the mission’s main goals is to map the Martian landscape with its high-resolution cameras in order to choose landing sites for future surface missions.
‘Antibiotic resistance’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Antibiotic-resistant infections are spreading wings in India, killing over 58,000 children every year, while uncontrolled dumping of untreated urban waste into water bodies is affecting aquatic life and environment.
What is antibiotic resistance?
The antibiotic resistance is the ability of disease-causing bacteria and micro-organisms to resist the antibiotics or medicine due to adaptation.
Earlier in 2017, a team of experts from India and Sweden had also flagged concerns over uncontrolled dumping of partly treated and untreated urban waste into rivers — leading to the spread of antibiotic resistance.
‘Disinvestment’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The current NDA government accounts for a whopping 58% of all the disinvestment that has taken place since 1991, an analysis by The Hindu of data released by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) showed.
What the data says?
- The data showed disinvestments worth about ₹3.63 lakh crore have taken place since 1991, out of which about ₹2.1 lakh crore came in the last four years alone, with five months still left in this financial year.
- The government has set a target of ₹80,000 crore of disinvestments for this financial year, of which it has so far achieved only ₹15,247.11 crore. If it does manage to meet its target, then the present government’s share in total disinvestment since 1991 will go up to nearly 65%.
What is Disinvestment?
Disinvestment is the action of an organization or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary. Absent the sale of an asset, disinvestment also refers to capital expenditure reductions, which can facilitate the re-allocation of resources to more productive areas within an organization or government-funded project. Whether a disinvestment action results in divestiture or the reduction of funding, the primary objective is to maximize the return on investment (ROI) on expenditures related to capital goods, labor and infrastructure.
Disinvestments, in most cases, are primarily motivated by the optimization of resources to deliver maximum returns. To achieve this objective, disinvestment may take the form of selling, spinning off or reducing capital expenditures. Disinvestments may also be undertaken for political or legal reasons.
‘President’s rule’ (GS2: Federalism)
Issue: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said on Sunday that the State was all set for President’s rule in January as there were no plans to dissolve the Assembly yet.
Since J&K has a separate Constitution, Governor’s rule is imposed under Section 92 for six months after an approval by the President.
About President’s rule in Kashmir
In other states, President’s Rule is imposed after collapse of the local government under Article 356 of the Constitution. But Jammu and Kashmir has its own separate Constitution that provides for an intermediary statutory layer in the state.
As per Article 92 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, Governor’s Rule is imposed in the state for a period of six months. Jammu and Kashmir assembly remains under suspended animation during this period. However, the governor may dissolve the assembly.
Suspended animation of the assembly means the elected MLAs remain in office and legislative assembly continues to exist without the power of legislation. The governor assumes the power of legislation during this period.
At the expiry of six months of Governor’s Rule and if suspension of assembly has not been revoked, Jammu and Kashmir comes under the President’s Rule as mandated by the Constitution of India as per Article 356. However, in both the cases, the governor administers as per the Centre’s directions.
If the Governor decides to dissolve Legislative Assembly during his own rule or when the state is under the President’s Rule, election shall be held within six months. If the Election Commission does not hold polls in Jammu and Kashmir within six months from the date of dissolution of Assembly, it is required to explain reasons for not doing so.
‘Agro diplomacy’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: As the trade war with the United States continues to bite — with only a slim chance that the world’s two biggest economies can go past a possible truce — China appears to be opening up to non-U.S. imports.
The focus by India so far has been on pushing Agri-products into the Chinese market. Sensing that China would look first at its food security by diversifying imports in view of the trade war, New Delhi has stepped up its agro-diplomacy with Beijing.
Agriproducts that can be exported to China
- Indian soya bean exports are apparently a priority, especially after the China imposed a 25% levy on U.S. imports
- On November 6, Jay Shree Tea and Industries Ltd. signed a $1-million black tea export contract with State-owned COFCO. Assam tea, in particular, has good prospects in China as it blends well with milk-based tea drinks
- India’s efforts to export sugar to China, which began in earnest in June, also appear to have paid dividends
- China has also opened up imports of non-Basmati rice from India in June on the sidelines of the Qingdao summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Despite signs of incremental progress, India’s $63-billion trade imbalance with China is alarming. Earlier this year, India had raised the red flag about its adverse trade balance during China’s trade policy review at the WTO, specifically citing hindrances that Indian exporters of rice, meat, pharmaceuticals and IT products were encountering to access the Chinese market.
‘Space industry’ (GS3: Science and technology)
Issue: In recent years, new aerospace companies have been founded to try and extend the lifespan of satellites, on the hunch that many clients would find this more profitable than re-launching new ones.
What does this mean?
In 2021, one company will launch a vehicle that is capable of servicing two to three dozen satellites in a distant geostationary orbit, some 36,000 km from the earth. This unmanned spacecraft will be able to latch onto a satellite to inspect it, refuel it, and possibly even repair it or change components, and put it back in the correct orbit.
Need for such companies
The orbit includes nearly 3,000 inactive satellites, 2,000 pieces of rockets and thousands of fragments produced by two key events: the deliberate missile explosion of a Chinese satellite in 2007, and the 2009 collision of an Iridium satellite with an ageing Russian one.
No short term solution has been identified for small-scale space junk, but some companies would like to be able to remove defunct satellites from orbit.
Other measures taken to tackle this issue
- Since 2008, France has required satellite operators to take steps to “deorbit” their spacecrafts by programming them to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere in 25 years so that they burn up
- Airbus’s future “Space Tug,” planned for 2023, is being built to grab old satellites and push them down to 125 miles (200 kilometers) above Earth so they burn up.