Category Archives: CURRENT AFFAIRS

Current Affairs for IAS,KAS,IPS,UPSc Coaching in Bangalore

National Current Affairs – UPSC / IAS – 10th July 2017

G20 hails India’s labour reforms

G20 BSCS

  • On steps being taken by G20 countries for promoting inclusive growth this year, the Action Plan said India is introducing labour market reforms to provide security to workers, increase female participation in the workforce and make doing business easier in the country.
  • The acknowledgement from the G20 Summit, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among other world leaders, assumes significance in the wake of India trying hard to improve its global ranking for ease of doing business.
  • The World Bank ranked the country at a low 130th position last year, an improvement of just one position from the previous year.
  • The Modi government has said it wants India to be ranked in the top-50 nations in terms of ease of doing business. The next update to the ranking is expected later this year.
  • The areas where India ranks poorly as per the World Bank ranking include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
  • The country has implemented a spate of reforms in the recent months in areas like insolvency, taxation and starting a business and expects the rankings to improve substantially.
  • The acknowledgement of various reform measures by G20, whose members include 19 countries and the European Union, has come as the latest boost to hopes for better ranking for India in terms of ease of doing business.
  • Global institutions like the World Bank, IMF, WTO, OECD, ILO, WHO and the Financial Stability Board (FSB) are among the partners to the G20.
  • The G20 Hamburg Action Plan, which sets out the group’s strategy for achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, also said the closer partnership and action by G20 members will boost confidence and contribute to shared prosperity.
  • It included new policy actions to tackle challenges in economies, focusing on initiatives that foster inclusive growth, enhancing resilience and further the G20 efforts to implement structural reforms.
  • In the action plan, the G20 members resolved that they would continue to use all policy tools — monetary, fiscal and structural — individually and collectively to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, while enhancing economic and financial resilience.

India, ADB inks $220 million Loan Agreement for Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program

India, ADB inks $220 million Loan Agreement for Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on 3rd June signed a $220 million loan agreement meant to improve connectivity, transport efficiency, and safety on the State highways of Rajasthan.
  • “The loan is the first tranche of the $500 million Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program, approved by ADB Board in May this year, that will upgrade about 2,000 km of State highways and major district roads to two-lane or intermediate-lane standards to meet road safety requirements,” the government said in a release.
  •  “The first tranche loan will improve about 1,000 km of State highways and major district roads,” the release added.
  • Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program aims improve State Highways and major district roads in Rajasthan.
  • It will enhance the capacity of the State public works department (PWD) in the areas of road asset management, road safety and project management.
  • One of the focus areas of the program is to attract private sector financing through government capacity building on public private partnership (PPP) development.
  • ADB will finance part of the construction costs for the annuity-based PPP concessions and engineering procurement construction (EPC) contracts.
  • It will also enhance the stability of contract regime, and ensure good governance during project implementation. The first tranche loan will improve about 1,000 kilometres of State Highways and major district roads.
  • It will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 8 years. The loan will carry an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s London interbank offered rate-based (LIBOR) lending facility.
  • The total cost of the project is $1.415 billion, of government contributing $465 million and $450 million from the private sector and other concessionaries.

National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS/IPS – 28th June 2017

China launches its Biggest Naval Destroyer

China India

  • China launched its most powerful naval destroyer, the Type 055, which is among the largest warships in the world.
  • China is building four of these destroyers, the first of which was shown off this morning at the Shanghai port.

About the ship

  • Weighing in when fully armed at more than 12,000 tonnes, the colossal Type 055 is considerably larger and more powerful than India’s latest Project- 15B “Visakhapatnam” class destroyers which have still not been commissioned.
  • India’s latest destroyers will displace close to 8,200 tonnes when completely armed and are designed to carry a mix of nearly 50 surface-to-air, anti-ship and land attack missiles.
  • In contrast, China’s giant cruiser will combine nearly 120 missiles, making it one of the most heavily-armed ships in the world.
  • Powerful phased array radars will help it focus on targets at sea, on land and in the air.
  • The giant new warship is the most sophisticated design put to sea by China which has commissioned a host of new, advanced warships at a remarkable pace over the last five years. According to PLA Realtalk, an ope-source online platform which discusses Chinese military developments, “The 055 is expected to field a substantially more modern and more capable command and control and battle management system.”

Worry to India?

  • Since March 2014, China has commissioned five Type 52D destroyers thought to be similar in capability to India’s `Visakhapatnam’ class warships mentioned above.
  • Worryingly for India, which has planned seven of these warships, China plans a fleet of at least 18 ships of this class.
  • Earlier this year, China launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier, construction of which started in November 2013.
  • India’s own homegrown aircraft carrier, the Vikrant (named after India’s first aircraft carrier), in development since 2009, she sailed out for the first time in 2011, but is unlikely to be completed before 2023 according to a report last year of the national auditor.

India – USA – China

  • China is presently locked in a war of words with the United States over its presence on artificially-created islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
  • India is an important maritime ally of the United States and shares deep concerns on the expansion of the Chinese Navy, particularly in the Indian Ocean.
  • In the last five years, China has constantly deployed submarines (including nuclear submarines), warships and support vessels in the Indian Ocean.
  • In January this year, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., the Commander of the US Pacific Command said, “I believe India should be concerned about the increased Chinese influence. If you believe there is only a finite amount of influence in the region, then whatever influence that China has is influence that India doesn’t have.”

EC takes Facebook help to call unregistered eligible Indian voters

EC takes Facebook help to call unregistered eligible Indian voters

  • The Election Commission will launch a special drive to enrol new electors, and has collaborated with Facebook to launch a ‘voter registration reminder’ on July 1.
  • From next month, Facebook will remind eligible Indian voters to get themselves enrolled as the Election Commission of India has teamed up with the social media giant to push its “No Voter To Be left Behind” moto.
  • An official statement said that ECI is launching a ‘Special Drive’ to enrol left out electors, with a special focus on first time electors from 1st July , 2017 , so as to move in the direction of Commission’s motto that ‘NO VOTER TO BE LEFT BEHIND’
  • “In order to reach out to maximum eligible voters, the ECI is collaborating with Facebook to launch first Nationwide “Voter Registration Reminder” on 1st July ,2017,”the statement adds.

How will it work?

  • On 1st July, a notification of the “voter registration reminder” will be sent to people on Facebook in India who are eligible to vote.
  • The reminder will be sent out in 13 Indian languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya.
  • Facebook has over 180 million people in India on Facebook, which will now have the ‘Register Now’ button designed to encourage Indian citizens to register themselves with the Election Commission of India.
  • By clicking on the “Register Now” button on Facebook, people will be directed to the National Voters’ Services Portal (www.nvsp.in) , which will guide them through the registration process.
  •  This is the first time Facebook’s voter registration reminder has been rolled out across India. In 2016 and 2017, Chief Electoral Officers made such efforts at state level during their respective state elections.

India’s First Blood Bank for Cattle to Come up in Odisha

India's First Blood Bank for Cattle to Come up in Odisha

  • Odisha is all set to become the first state in the country to have a blood bank for the cattle.
  • Stating this, the Vice-chancellor of the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) Surendra Nath Pasupalak said that the first of its kind blood bank would be established on the premises of OUAT at an estimated cost of Rs. 3.25 crore.
  • Mr. Pasupalak said a proposal in this regard was earlier submitted to the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP). After approval from the NADP, the OUAT is now awaiting approval from the state government.
  • The project will have a 60:40 sharing between the Centre and the state government
  • 60% of the project cost would be funded by the Central government and the rest 40% would be funded by the Odisha state government.
  • The cattle farmers will provide blood voluntarily.
  • The blood bank will also go and collect blood from centres.
  • Blood transfusion facility for cattle blood will also be done at the proposed blood bank. This will prevent death of cattle during deliveries and other ailments, he said.
  • The storage facility would come in handy for the veterinarians to save lives of the domesticated animals.

ISRO launches India’s heaviest rocket GSLV Mk III

ISRO New

  • India successfully launched its heaviest-ever rocket GSLV-Mk III on 5th June which it hopes will eventually be able to carry astronauts into space, a feat that only Russia, the United States and China have achieved, space agency ISRO said.
  • The Indian Space Research Organization said the 43-metre (140-foot) Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III rocket lifted off at 5:28 pm from the space launch centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of Andhra Pradesh, and placed a communication satellite into orbit.
  • Scientists hugged each other and cheered as the 640-tonne rocket lifted off.
  • The space agency’s director, AS Kiran Kumar, said it is the heaviest rocket and satellite to be launched from India. The rocket is powered by an indigenous engine that uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel, he said.
  • In the past, India has used French rockets to launch its heavier communication satellites.
  • Indian space scientists worked “relentlessly for decades and for this project since 2002 to successfully put the satellite into orbit”, Kumar said. “This is a historic day for ISRO.”
  • India hopes the launch of the satellite, which weighs 3,136 kilograms (6,914 pounds), will expand its commercial launch business.
  • The rocket boasts a powerful engine that has been developed in India over many years. Programme managers hope to reduce reliance on European engines that have propelled some of India’s spacecraft in the past.
  • The launch is the latest in a string of successes for the Indian space agency. In February, it launched a record-breaking 104 nano satellites into orbit, all on board a single rocket. In November 2013, India launched a space probe that has been orbiting Mars since September 2014.
  • The GSLV Mk III rocket carried a satellite weighing more than three tonnes into a high orbit above Earth, a landmark achievement as India had struggled to match the heavier payloads of other space giants.
  • The GSAT-19, says ISRO, is a multi-beam satellite that carries Ka and Ku band forward and return link transponders and geostationary radiation spectrometer (GRASP) to monitor and study the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components.
  • The satellite, which has a life span of 10 years, also features certain advanced spacecraft technologies including miniaturised heat pipe, a fibre optic gyro, micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometer, Ku-band TTC transponder, as well an indigenous lithium-ion battery.
  • The GSLV-Mk III is a three stage/engine rocket. The core of first stage is fired with solid fuel and its two motors by liquid fuel. The second is liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.

Current Affairs for UPSC / IAS Exams – 2nd June 2017

India’s first automatic coastal warning for disasters to come up in Odisha

India's first automatic coastal warning for disasters to come up in Odisha

  • Odisha can warn the population residing along its 480km long coastline by pressing one single button from a control room in the State capital in the event of the occurrence of natural disasters like a cyclone or tsunami.
  • The government is all set to commission the ambitious Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) that would enable loud sirens, going off simultaneously from towers at 122 locations by July.
  • Odisha is the first state in India that has developed an automatic public address system that can be activated along its entire coastline.
  • Odisha is the first State in India to have developed an automatic public address system that can be activated along its entire coast. Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is also building up such capability to face natural calamities.
  • The 122 locations include tourist destinations, fish landing centres and coastal habitations.
  • The protocol, which will be developed in due course of time, will help people understand the gravity of situation depending on the number of sirens that would go off from towers.
  • The EWDS comprises of technologies like Satellite-Based Mobile Data Voice Terminals (SBMDVT), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), Mass Messaging System (MMS) and Universal Communication Interface (UCI) for inter-operability among different communication technologies.
  • The project, which is being implemented with assistance from the World Bank, will have towers in 22 blocks under six coastal districts such as Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri and Ganjam at an estimated cost of Rs 82 crore.

Highlights:

  • The warning can be circulated just by the press of a button from the control room in the State capital in the event of occurrence of natural disasters
  • It would trigger loud sirens simultaneously from 122 towers at various locations across the state, including tourist destinations, fish landing centres and coastal habitations
  • The sound eliminating from the towers can be heard in localities up to a radius of 1.5 km
  • The towers will be installed in 22 blocks under six coastal districts such as Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri and Ganjam
  • The EWDS comprises of Satellite-Based Mobile Data Voice Terminals (SBMDVT), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), Mass Messaging System (MMS) and Universal Communication Interface (UCI) for inter-operability among different communication technologies
  • The project at an estimated cost of Rs 82 crore will be implemented with assistance from the World Bank
  • The EWDS will help the people to move to safer places before government agencies commenced evacuation
India, Russia Sign Pact For Two More Units of Kudankulam N-plant, to Push Military Ties
India Russia
  • India and Russia on 1st June signed the much-awaited agreement on setting up of two more units of a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and decided to give a “new direction” to the defence cooperation between the two “great powers”.
  • The two countries also decided to hold the first Tri-Services exercises, named ‘Indra-2017’, this year and start joint manufacturing of frigates, adding on to the co-production of Kamov-226 military helicopters.
  • These decisions were taken at the wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg which covered a range of issues, including terrorism and increasing trade and investment.
  • A Joint Declaration issued after the talks said that “the Indian-Russian special and privileged strategic partnership is a unique relationship of mutual trust between two great powers.”
  • An agreement on cultural exchanges for a period of two years (2017-2019) has been signed between the two nations.
  • An agreement for the construction of the third stage of the Kudankulam NPP (KK5 & KK6) along with the Credit Protocol has been signed between NPCIL and ROSATOM
  • An agreement between the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) and the Council of India on Scientific and Industrial Research has been signed to provide access to Rospatent experts to the Indian Digital Library of Traditional Knowledge (TKDL).
  • Contract between JSC (Russian Railways) and the Ministry of Railways on the preparation of the justification for the implementation of the high-speed service at the Nagpur-Secunderabad section has been signed.
  • Memorandum of cooperation between ALROSA Joint Stock Company and the Council for the Promotion of the Export of Precious Stones and Jewellery of India has been signed.
  • It said the relationship covers all areas of cooperation, including in the spheres of political relations, security, trade and economy, military and technical field, energy, scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges, and foreign policy.
  • The relationship helps promote national interests of both countries, and contributes to the establishment of a more peaceful and just world order, the declaration said. The two sides signed five agreements, which included one on setting up of Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu with the Russian help.
  • Modi said the nuclear agreement, which was a major outcome of the summit meeting, will further strengthen the ties between the two countries.
  • The other pacts included a contract for a high-speed train service between Nagpur and Secunderabad, an MoU for export of precious stones and jewellery and a programme on cultural exchanges.
  • The reactors will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex. Each of the two units will have a capacity to produce 1,000 MW of power.
  • The document titled ‘A vision for the 21st Century’ said economies of India and Russia complement each other in the energy sector and both countries will strive to build an “energy bridge”.
  • It said the future of Indian-Russian cooperation holds great promise across a wide spectrum covering nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear science and technology.

Prithvi-II missile successfully test-fired from Odisha

Prithvi II

  • India on 2nd June successfully test-fired its indigenous nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile from a test range in Odisha as part of a user trial by the Army.
  • The trial of the surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha at around 9.50 am
  • The trial of the sophisticated missile was successful and the mission objectives were met.
  • The Prithvi-II missile is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target with precision and accuracy.
  • The state-of-the-art missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the entire launch activities were carried out by the specially formed strategic force command (SFC) and monitored by the scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of training exercise
  • Teams on board the ship deployed near the designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal monitored the terminal events and splashdown.
  • In salvo mode, two Prithvi-II missiles were successfully test fired in quick succession from the same base, on November 21, 2016. Inducted into Indian armed forces in 2003, the nine-metre-tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi-II is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

US to Withdraw Paris Climate Deal

Paries

  • President Donald Trump on 1st June said he would withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, drawing anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry.
  • Trump, tapping into the “America First” message he used when he was elected president last year, said the Paris accord would undermine the U.S. economy, cost U.S. jobs, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.
  • Republican U.S. congressional leaders backed Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded Trump “for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.”
  • Supporters of the accord, including some leading U.S. business figures, called Trump’s move a blow to international efforts to tackle dangers for the planet posed by global warming.
  • Former Democratic President Barack Obama expressed regret over the pullout from a deal he was instrumental in brokering.
  • Though the US will remain part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Trump declared: “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord.”
  • That includes contributions to the UN Green Climate Fund (to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and expand clean energy) and reporting on carbon data (though that is required in the US by domestic regulations anyway).
  • In a joint statement, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy responded to Trump’s decision “with regret”, but said the Paris agreement could not be renegotiated.
  • The question now becomes what efforts, if any, the US will adopt towards tackling climate change on its own terms – and whether the nearly 200 countries that remain in the deal will amend their own obligations.
  • The US is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon, behind only China – which, along with India, was singled out by Trump as being favoured under the Paris deal. But both Beijing and New Delhi have reaffirmed their commitment to meeting their targets.
  • Trump is currently reviewing major US regulations on power plants and car rules that are aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The US Conference of Mayors, which strongly opposed his decision, said its members would continue efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming at the city and state level.

National Current Affairs – UPSC / IAS Exams – 9th May 2017

India-Japan to strengthen defence cooperation for ‘regional stability’

INdia Japan

  • India and Japan affirmed on 8th May, plans to strengthen their military cooperation amid rising tension in the Asian region.
  • Defence minister Arun Jaitley told his Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada in Tokyo that India hopes to pursue a strategic partnership with Japan for regional peace and stability.
  • His visit comes at a time of rising tension in the region, including territorial rows over the South China Sea and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
  • Jaitley welcomed a planned trilateral naval exercise among the US, India and Japan in July as a way of strengthening cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.
  • Japan and India have been stepping up defence cooperation amid China’s increased assertiveness in the region.
  • China has long been wary of joint maritime exercises between India and the United States. Japan, a staunch US ally that hosts about 50,000 American troops, has in recent years developed military cooperation with other countries, including Australia, France, Britain and the Philippines.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to expand Japan’s defence role and capability amid security concerns over China and North Korea. Jaitley visited Japan to attend an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank that ended on 7th May.

Donald Trump picks Indian-American for key post in energy agency

Trump

  • US President Donald Trump has appointed Neil Chatterjee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees electricity, natural gas and oil at the national level.
  • Chatterjee will play a key role in Trump’s programme to reshape energy policy, most of which is opposed by environmentalists and Democrats, if his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
  • He is the second Indian American to be appointed by Trump to a major regulatory position with a controversial mission.
  • The other is Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who is spearheading the administration’s drive to end net neutrality, a policy that prevents internet service providers from giving special treatment to preferred web companies.
  • Chatterjee held the influential position of energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and helped shape energy legislation.
  • His work backed the Senator’s campaign against regulations to restrict use of coal for electricity generation.
  • A lawyer by training, he started as an intern with the House Works and Means Committee.
  • Between his stints on Congressional staff, he has been a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
  • Chatterjee, 40, grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, where his parents worked in cancer research. He is married with two sons and a daughter.
  • Among issues he will likely deal with are Trump’s plans to allow the construction of the Keystone pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada to Texas in the US, which was stopped by former President Barack Obama, and several gas pipeline projects.

India- Indonesia Co-Ordinated Patrol Commences

India Indonesia

  • The 29th series of IndiaIndonesia CORPAT is scheduled from 09 25 May 17 with the opening ceremony being conducted from 09 -12 May 17 at Port Blair under the aegis of Andaman and Nicobar Command.
  • The Indonesian Naval Ship KRI Sutedi Senoputra has arrived at Haddo Wharf, Port Blair to mark the commencement of the 29th series of INDINDO CORPAT today. An Indonesian Maritime Patrol Aircraft also flew in with the Indonesian Naval delegation led by First Admiral Bambang Irwanto to INS Utkrosh, Port Blair.
  • First Admiral Bambang Irwanto called on Maj Gen PS Sai, Chief of Staff, Andaman and Nicobar Command and the delegation also interacted with Commodore Ashutosh Ridhorkar, the Naval Component Commander.
  • Apart from securing the trade sea route, the Coordinated Patrol also serves to enhance mutual understanding and interoperability between the two navies.
  • The CORPAT thus reflects the shared concerns between the two countries for a peaceful Indian Ocean for the benefit of international community.
  • During the stay at Port Blair from 09 12 May 17, the visiting crew shall be engaged in interactions at various strata, including sports fixtures, ship visits, professional interactions and visits to places of historical and tourist interests.
  • The closing ceremony of the CORPAT is scheduled at Belawan, Indonesia from 22 25 May 17.
  • The close defence relations between India and Indonesia have been growing steadily with regular joint activities and exchanges of personnel between the Armed Forces of the two countries.
  • Under the broad ambit of this strategic partnership, Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) and the Indian Navy have been carrying out coordinated patrolling twice a year since 2002 near the International Maritime Boundary Line to keep this part of the Indian Ocean region safe and secure for commercial shipping and international trade.

Centre Tells States To Link Prisons With Courts Via Video

India Prisoners

  • The Centre has asked all states to link prisons with courts through video conferencing for expeditious trial and to save costs of escorting undertrials to courts.
  • In an advisory to all states, the Ministry of Home Affairs also said prison e-system should be integrated with Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) as well as e-courts on priority basis.
  • Combined training of prison, police, health department and judiciary on under trial management should be conducted periodically.
  • Separate training course on deradicalisation of prisoners should also be conducted, it said.
  • The home ministry suggested to the states that the existing vacancies in all ranks of prison departments be filled up expeditiously.
  • The advisory was issued following a national conference of heads of prisons in states and UTs on prison reforms.
  • The state and UT governments have been advised to consider for implementation of some suggestions which are aimed at having an effective prison administration system.
  • These include, the nomenclature of Prisons Department may be changed to “Prisons and Correctional Administration”, which should have integrated prison, correctional and probation services, it said.
  • Every state should establish a welfare wing under prison department comprising welfare officers, law officers, counsellors and probation officers.
  • In order to ensure basic uniformity in prison rules and regulations, all states and UTs should revise their existing prison manuals by adopting the provisions of model prison manual, 2016 prepared by the home ministry and circulated to all states and UTs in May 2016, it said.

National Current Affairs – UPSC / IAS Exams – 2nd May 2017

India, Turkey ink 3 agreements after delegation level talks

India Turkey

  • India and Turkey signed three agreements after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New Delhi.
  • The pacts were inked in areas of culture, communication and foreign relations.
  • Prime Minister Modi said, India and Turkey have agreed to deepen bilateral economic and commercial ties.
  • Mr Modi said he and President Erdogan feel that strengths of the economies present an enormous scope to expand and deepen the commercial linkages.
  • He said India will encourage stronger partnership of Turkish companies with India’s flagship programmes and tap into diverse and unique opportunities inherent in rapidly growing India.
  • He said, the two countries should see the all business opportunities in a strategic and long-term manner.
  • On terrorism, the Prime Minister said, the world needs to work unitedly to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and put a stop to cross border movement of terrorists.
  • Mr Modi said, there is also a need to stand and act against those who create, support, shelter and spread terrorism.
  • Mr Modi said he and President Erdogan have decided to work together to strengthen cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to effectively counter the menace.
  • Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is with India in the fight against terrorism.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar launches Vidya-Veerta Abhiyan

HRD

  • Union Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar on 2nd May launched the VIDYA VEERTA ABHIYAN here in New Delhi.
  • He was accompanied by Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Ramrao Bhamre, writer Shri Tarun Vijay, Senior Officers from Indian Army, Air Force and Navy Lt. General Sarat Chandra, Air Marshal H.N.Bhagwat, Rear Admiral K.K.Pandey, Paramveer Chakra recipient Grenadier Sanjay Kumar and Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav on this occasion. A collage of photo portraits and book on Paramveer Chakra recipients was also released and presented to Vice-Chancellors of universities.
  • Highlighting the importance of the occasion Shri Javadekar expressed his gratitude towards the most difficult service rendered by our armed forces.
  • He said we feel secure just because of the continuous vigil and alertness of our forces busy in securing our borders.
  • The Minister said these are our real post independence heroes while the freedom fighters who laid their lives and faced atrocities for the cause of freedom are the natural heroes since the days of Satyagraha which culminated in the revolution for getting independence from the foreign rule.
  • Shri Javadekar said through this campaign a wall of valour will be built in colleges and universities across the country and this will be built on contributory   funding by students and teachers on voluntary basis.
  • He said this wall will be 15X20 feet in size and will depict the portraits of all the 21 Paramveer Chakra recipients. The Minister expressed the hope that this will help revive and re-energize the patriotic fervour in our young minds.
  • The Minister said organising of such events help in changing atmosphere in our colleges and universities. It is just to revive the patriotic feeling in our youth.
  • He said we are not interested to teach lessons of patriotism to anyone   as it is innate in every individual. But its continuous revival is a dire need.  Shri Javadekar said we do not want to force it.

Department of Telecommunications launches Portal for Information on Mobile Tower Radiation

Telcomunication

  • The Telecom Department today launched a portal that will allow people to track radiation emitted from mobile towers within a locality and check their compliance with the stipulated norms.
  • Launching the ‘Tarang Sanchar’ web portal, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha hoped the site will help in clearing “myths and misconceptions” about mobile towers and emissions from them.
  • He said the portal will empower consumers to know, at the click of the mouse, about the towers working in a particular area and whether they are compliant to the Electromagnetic field (EMF) emission norms defined by the government.
  • The timing of the launch coincides with the recent SC order on deactivation of a mobile tower in Gwalior on the plea of a 42-year-old cancer patient.
  • The order had intensified the debate on the impact of radiation from mobile phone towers on health. However, the government has maintained that the mobile tower emissions rules in India are ten times more stringent than the global norms.

Northeast India’s largest IT hub opens in Tripura

tripura

  • Northeast India’s sixth and largest Information Technology (IT) hub was inaugurated here on 24th April to boost employment and e-governance besides to export software technology.
  • Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, accompanied by IT and Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) Director General Omkar Rai inaugurated the IT hub, set up at a cost of Rs 50 crore.
  • Sarkar said that this IT hub would help to create employment opportunities for the IT educated youths and to further extend the e-governance to the door step of people.
  • Rai said that it would help the state to bring famous IT companies of India to set off their business and services taking the facilities of this newly set-up IT hub.
  • According to Rai, the STPI, under the union Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology, shared technological knowledge with the state government to set up this hub, sixth of its kind in northeast India and largest such hub in the region.
  • Noting people are getting various certificates and documents from their panchayats or blocks concerned through the e-district scheme, he said that over 30 lakh people, or 80 per cent of the state’s 37 lakh, are now using mobile phones leading to an IT boom.
  • Principal Secretary, Industries and Information Technology, M. Nagaraju said that in the new IT hub, ready-to-use incubation space would be available for start-up companies, aspiring entrepreneurs, Indian and multi-national companies as per their requirements.

Current Affairs – UPSC / IAS Exams – 19th April 2017

Centre Clears 3,000 Crores For VVPATs, Vote Machines With Paper Receipts

VVPATs, Vote Machines With Paper Receipts

  • The next general election in 2019 will be conducted entirely with new electronic voting machines that print a paper receipt for each vote cast.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced on 19th April that the centre is releasing 3174 crores for 16 lakh odd machines to BEL ECIL, and will be ready by September 2018, as needed by the Election Commission.
  • The decision comes as opposition parties have attacked the machines currently in use as being vulnerable to rigging.
  • In 2013, the Supreme Court said that the Election Commission must introduce the new machines called VVPATs (machines with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail) in phases.
  • The court said that the 2019 national election must be run entirely with these upgraded machines, but the Election Commission has been warning that it is running out of time to place orders for VVPATs.
  • Last week, the Supreme Court asked the Election Commission and the centre to explain the delay in switching to VVPATs which function like this: when a button is pushed to choose a candidate on a voting machine, a slip of paper shows the party symbol of the candidate selected. The receipt is visible to the voter for a few seconds before it drops into a sealed box.

What happened in the past?

  • Opposition parties including Mayawati’s BSP have asked the top court to order that only VVPATs are used in all elections; if that is not feasible, they want India to return to using ballot papers.
  • Their case was filed after the BJP’s outsized victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in March, where they allege voting machines were gamed in favour of the BJP.
  • The Election Commission has firmly rejected the accusations and said that in May, it will hold a hackathon to prove that the voting machines in use cannot be manipulated.
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who was the first opposition leader to suggest that machines had been rigged to help the BJP – he said this was the only explanation for his Aam Aadmi Party falling well short of winning February’s election in Punjab.
  • Mr Kejriwal said that next week’s municipal corporation election in Delhi should either be conducted with VVPATs or ballot paper, but was turned down by the Election Commission.

Modi bans red beacons for central govt ministers, officials

Modi bans red beacons for central govt ministers, officials

  • The Narendra Modi government on 19th April banned the use of red beacon on vehicles attached to dignitaries, including the central and state ministers and other VVIPs.
  • The prime minister banned the “lal batti culture” at the meeting of the cabinet ministers on Wednesday. The decision will be implemented from May 1.
  •  It is reported that five categories would be allowed to use the red beacon – President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the Lok Sabha Speaker.
  • Gadkari, who has removed his own beacon, said that red beacon will be allowed only on emergency service vehicles from May 1.
  • The ban applies to union ministers, chief ministers, state cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and judges of the High Court and Supreme Court.
  • It was reported last week that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has called a meeting to discuss whether the red beacon should be discarded or restricted to certain dignitaries.
  • Captain Amarinder Singh and Yogi Adityanath, the new chief ministers of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, have already taken steps to either end or restrict VIP culture.
  • In its first cabinet meeting, chaired by Captain Amarinder, the newly formed Punjab Government decided to completely shun the VIP culture by removing the red, yellow and blue beacons from their official vehicles.

Donald Trump signs executive order for overhaul of H-1B visa system

Donald Trump signs executive order for overhaul of H-1B visa system

  •  In a blow to Indian IT industry and professionals, US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its “abuse” and ensure that the visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners.
  • Acting on his ‘Buy American, Hire American’ pledge, Trump signed the order that calls for an overhaul of the programme at the Kenosha, Wisconsin, headquarters of tool-maker Snap-on Inc
  • He said the order sets in motion the first steps to initiate “long-overdue” reforms to end “visa abuses”.
  • “Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that’s wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans,” the US President asserted.
  • “No one can compete with American workers when they’re given a fair and level playing field, which has not happened for decades,” he said.
  • Trump said his administration is going to enforce ‘Hire American’ rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the United States.
  • The executive order also declares that American projects should be made with American goods.
  • According to the executive order signed by Trump, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labour, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.
  • In a statement, the White House said H-1B visas are supposed to bring the highest skilled and paid labour to the United States.
  • But according to studies, 80 per cent of the approved applications were for the two lowest wage levels allowed.
  • India accounts for the highest pool of qualified IT professionals, whose services go a long way in making American companies globally competitive.
  • As mandated by the Congress, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) every year issues 65,000 H-1B visas and another 20,000 to those applicants having masters and higher degrees from a US educational institution.
  • This month USCIS received 199,000 H-1B visa petitions and as a result, the federal agency had to resort to a computerised draw of lots to decide the fate of successful applicant.

Layoffs Warned In Indian IT Sector Amid H-1B Visa Curbs, Rising Rupee

ayoffs Warned In Indian IT Sector Amid H-1B Visa Curbs, Rising Rupee

  • A tightening H-1B visa regime in the United States will force IT giants to create fundamental changes to their strategies in terms of hiring, salaries and jobs, which could impact employees in India too, industry body Assocham has warned.
  • “Indian IT companies are bound to face disruptions by way of higher costs and even some laying off work force back home, as the rising rupee is aggravating the situation further for the technology export firms,” Assocham said in a report.
  • As the cost pressure would increase, aggravated by rising rupee leading to lower realizations, Indian IT companies may be forced to displace workforce, Assocham said. “In that case, the chances of layoffs are real,” the industry body’s secretary general DS Rawat warned.
  • H-1B visa curbs could also have an adverse macro impact for the Indian external sector economy, Assoham warned.
  • Remittances from US would decline hurting the balance of payment. World Bank data showed the US was the second largest source of remittance for India in 2015 with $11 billion – nearly 16 per cent of the total inflows.
  • The Indian outsourcing industry should invest in near shore centres or facilities close to the US and focus on local hiring in America and to work virtually, which is becoming easier with the wider adoption of cloud services and greater digitisation, Assocham said.
  • On the other hand, IT industry’s top body Nasscom says it is too early to assess the impact from Mr Trump’s latest move.
  • The immediate impact of the move would be greater scrutiny of visa applications and deeper oversight from US agencies, Nasscom president R Chandrasekhar told NDTV Profit, adding that this could result in higher compliance cost for Indian IT companies.
  • However, he warned that the review of H-1B visa programme as ordered by the US President could come up with recommendations that could have “far reaching consequences”. Mr Chandrasekhar also said big changes in H-1B visa regime can only come through legislation’s and that might take some time.

Current Affairs – UPSC / IAS Exams – 19th April 2017

Disabled People Exempted From Standing During National Anthem In Movie Halls

IAS IPS

  • The Supreme Court has exempted six categories of disabled people from standing when the national anthem is played in theatres.
  • These include people suffering from cerebral palsy, Parkinson disease, muscular dystrophy and other categories of disability.
  • In November the Supreme Court had made it mandatory to play national anthem in movie halls before every screening with the image of the national flag displayed on the screen.
  • Delivering the order, the SC had observed that standing up for the national anthem in movie halls will “instil a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in people’s minds.
  • It had later clarified people need not stand up if the national anthem was played as part of the film. The verdict had however resulted in a number of people who refused to stand up for the national anthem being physically attacked by fellow movie goers.

B.N.Mohapatra takes over as new Financial Commissioner

IAS

  • B.N.Mohapatra has been appointed as the new Financial Commissioner (FC) (Railways) and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India and has taken over the charge on 17/04/2017.
  • Prior to this posting, Mohapatra was posted as Additional Member/ Finance since 01.11.2016.
  • An officer of Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) of 1980 examination batch, Mohapatra completed his post graduation in Political Science and graduation in LLB.
  • During his career, Mohapatra has worked on various higher and middle level management posts on the Indian Railways like DRM/ Tinsukhia, NFR, Assistant General Manager (AGM) on East Coast Railway.
  • In Railway Board he has worked in various directorates like Pay Commission, Establishment, Expenditure and Accounts as Executive Director and Advisor.