10th Mar, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘Model code of conduct’ (GS2: Elections)
Issue: Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora on Sunday announced the schedule of the general elections, officially putting in place the model code of conduct with immediate effect.
Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases with polling in the first phase on 11 April and the last phase on 19 May. Results for all phases will be announced on 23 May.
What is a Model code of Conduct (MCC)?
The model code of conduct, which ensures a level playing field between political parties during elections, will be in place till the entire election schedule ends and results are announced. During this time, the guidelines to political parties and candidates ensure that there is ‘no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes’ and corrupt practices are avoided.
It also lays down guidelines for political parties and candidates to be followed during the poll schedule, while holding meetings, processions and conduct at polling booths. It imposes guidelines on the party in power and restraints it from combining official visits with electioneering work.
From the time elections are announced by the Election Commission, ministers and other authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof, lay foundation stones etc. of projects or schemes of any kind, make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc or make any appointments in government and public undertakings which may have the effect of influencing voters in favor of the party in power.
Other announcements made by the Election Commission of India for Lok Sabha elections 2019
- The Election Commission said ‘voter-verifiable paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time along with electronic voting machines (EVMs).
- In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, photographs of politicians will be used on EVM ballot paper.
- Ten lakh polling stations will be set up this time as against nine lakh in 2014.
- CEC Sunil Arora said all political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification. These ads will also be part of the poll expenditure of the party. A social media expert will be part of the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee.
- In order to fight the menace of fake news, all candidates contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will have to declare their social media accounts to the Election Commission as part of their affidavit.
- The EC also directed political parties/candidates to desist from using environmentally hazardous publicity material and promote usage of eco-friendly substances for the preparation of election campaign material.
‘Strategic oil reserves’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: India is seeking investment from Saudi Arabia to build emergency crude reserves that will act as a buffer against volatility in oil prices and supply disruptions for the third-largest oil consumer
Saudi’s participation in the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve program was discussed at a meeting between the kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and his Indian counterpart Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi. They also discussed expediting a proposed $44-billion oil refinery project on India’s west coast with investment from Saudi Arabian National Oil Co.
About Indian strategic Petroleum Reserve program
- India, which imports four out of every five barrels of oil it consumes, is expanding its strategic reserves to shield from perennial political risk in the Middle East and Africa that account for the bulk of its purchases
- Government has opened some of the underground caverns for commercial storage to lessen the strain on state finances. It has already leased out tanks to Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
- India has already built 5.33 million tons of underground reserves in three locations, which can meet 9.5 days of the country’s oil needs. It now plans two new reserves with a combined capacity of 6.5 million tons, sufficient to cover an additional 12 days.
Saudi Arabia is a key oil supplier to India and exported 36.8 million tons of crude to Indian refiners in the year ended March 2018, accounting for 16.7 percent of their total purchases, according to the statement.
‘Pulse polio programme’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: President of India launched the Pulse Polio programme for 2019
More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops as part of the drive of Government of India to sustain polio eradication from the country. To provide additional protection to children, Government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine into its routine immunization program
About Polio virus
Poliovirus is a member of a family of viruses called the Picornaviridae. Viruses are classified into families, and then genera, based on many criteria, including physical and biological properties. The poliovirus capsid is about 30 nanometers in diameter. Within the capsid is the information to make new virus particles – a single molecule of ribonucleic acid, or RNA.
In humans, poliovirus is ingested, and replicates in cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Newly synthesized virus particles are released into the intestine and shed in the feces. Transmission of poliovirus to another human occurs through contact with virus-containing feces or contaminated water. After multiplying in the gastrointestinal tract, poliovirus may enter the spinal cord and brain. Destruction of motor neurons by the virus leads to limb paralysis.
Two vaccines were developed in the 1950s that can effectively prevent the disease – inactivated poliovaccine (IPV, developed by Jonas Salk) and live, oral poliovaccine (OPV, developed by Albert Sabin).
‘Indian rupee’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Indian rupee hit at a fresh two-month high against US dollar, tracking gains of its Asian peers and ahead of key consumer price inflation (CPI) data
So far this year, the rupee has declined 0.15% against the US dollar, while foreign investors have bought $2.97 billion in equity and sold $1.59 billion in debt market.
Reason for this phenomenon
- Asian currencies were trading higher after weaker-than-expected US jobs data and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments on monetary policy.
- Among Asian currencies, South Korean won was up 0.22% against the US dollar, Thai Baht 0.13%, Philippines peso 0.13%, Indonesian rupiah 0.06% and Japanese yen 0.05%.
‘Non-performing assets’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: IDBI Bank Ltd., the lender with India’s worst-bad loan ratio, is seeking to curtail its soured debt by selling 100 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) of stressed assets and stepping up efforts to recover dues from delinquent borrowers.
Steps taken by IDBI to improve its financial health
- Indian lenders burdened with the world’s worst bad-loan ratio are stepping up effort to recover delinquent debt after the Reserve Bank of India announced tougher rules.
- Life Insurance Corp. of India, the nation’s largest insurer, bought a controlling stake has infused more than 210 billion rupees into IDBI to bolster its risk buffers and bring it out of the regulator’s emergency program that restricts lending.
- The lender is also planning to raise about 10 billion rupees by selling its holding in National Stock Exchange and National Stock Depository Ltd
Effect of these steps taken by the bank on the overall growth of IDBI
IDBI Bank will be out of the Reserve Bank’s prompt corrective action framework by September as bad-loan ratio narrows and profits rise
‘Cloud seeding’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: As 176 taluks reel under drought, the Karnataka government is hoping to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds through cloud seeding
On March 8, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department pushed a tender call for cloud seeding operations to enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. The project is expected to cost ₹50 crore each year
The department is aiming to replicate the ₹35-crore ‘Varshadhare’ project two years ago that was called a success by an independent evaluation committee. Its report, submitted to the State government in 2018, estimated that rainfall was enhanced by 27.9%
What is Cloud seeding?
During droughts water is scarce but is it possible to make it rain to provide water.
Experiments in cloud seeding suggest that it may be possible to artificially create rainfall.
Rainfall occurs when super-cooled droplets of water – those that are still liquid but are at a temperature below the usual freezing point of zero centigrade – form ice crystals. Now too heavy to remain suspend in the air, these then fall, often melting on their way down to form rain.
Even in dry areas the air usually contains some water. This can be made to come together and form ice crystals by seeding the atmosphere with chemicals such as silver iodide or dry ice.
They work to promote rainfall by inducing nucleation – what little water is in the air condenses around the newly introduced particles and crystallizes to form ice.
The ‘seeds’ can be delivered by plane or simply by spraying from the ground.
‘State-specific disasters’ (GS3: Disaster management)
Issue: The Kerala government has declared heat wave, sunstroke and sunburn as ‘State-specific disasters’ making the victims’ eligible for distress relief from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
Regulations bought by the government include:
- Forty to 60% loss of vision caused by heat wave, sunburn or sunstroke will make the victim eligible for an ex gratia payment of ₹59,100. If the damage to eyesight is above 60%, he/she will be eligible for a financial assistance of ₹2 lakh.
- If the victim is hospitalized for more than a week, he/she will be eligible for ₹12,700. If the hospitalisation is less than a week, the victim will be eligible for ₹4,300 as assistance.
The Central government has permitted States to use 10% of the allocation under State Disaster Response Fund/National Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)for relief assistance for State-specific disasters within the local context of the State.
The State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) is the primary fund available with States for disaster response and is constituted under Section 48 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act).
The State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) is the primary fund available with States for disaster response and is constituted under Section 48 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act). If the amount available under the SDRF is not sufficient, states can request for making available assistance from a similar fund managed by the central Government – National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).