Current Affairs 29TH MARCH 2015-4TH APRIL, 2015
29TH MARCH 2015 TO 4TH APRIL, 2015
A six months extension has been given by the Centre to the States for rolling out the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The deadline has already been extended twice. Only 11 States and Union Territories have so far implemented the Act which was passed by Parliament in September 2013.The Central government has given further six months’ time to the States to implement the NFSA. The deadline had been extended for the third time so that the remaining States could adopt and implement the law within six months. The law aims at providing a legal entitlement to 5 kg of subsidised foodgrains a person per month at Rs 1-3 a kg to two-thirds of the country’s population.
The Centre had warned the States that it would stop the supply of subsidised APL(Above Poverty Line) foodgrains if they failed to meet the April deadline. Despite the extension of the deadline twice, only Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Chandigarh have so far implemented the Act, some fully and others partially. To ensure proper distribution of PDS supplies, the Centre had decided to give a fixed cash amount of Rs 87 per quintal, to be contributed equally by the Centre and the State, to ration shop dealers. For storage, there was sufficient godown space to store foodgrains. There would be no storage of stock beyond 18 months in FCI godowns. On the impact of crop damage due to unseasonal rains the Centre was reviewing the situation in the northern States. It would consider the States’ demand to simplify the norms of the National Calamity Relief Fund to accommodate every farmer whose crop has perished up to 25 per cent. There was also a proposal to give relaxation on partially damaged foodgrains based on nutritive value. Procuring agencies, like the FCI could assess the standards of foodgrains.
National Food Security Act, 2013
This Act aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. It was signed into law on September 12, 2013, retroactive to July 5, 2013. The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA 2013) converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the Government of India. It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System. Further, the NFSA 2013 recognizes maternity entitlements. The Midday Meal Scheme and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas) Salient features 75% of rural population and 50% of the urban population are entitled for three years from enactment to 5 kilograms food grains per month at 3, 2, 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains (millet), respectively; The states are responsible for determining eligibility criteria; Pregnant women and lactating mothers arel entitled to a nutritious “take home ration” of 600 Calories and a maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000 for six months; Children 6 months to 14 years of age are tol receive free hot meals The central government will provide funds tol states in case of short supplies of food grains; The current food grain allocation of the statesl will be protected by the central government for at least six months; The state government will provide a foodl security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of food grains; The Public Distribution System is to be reformed; The eldest woman in the household, 18 yearsl or above, is the head of the household for the issuance of the ration card; There will be state- and district-level redressl mechanisms; and State Food Commissions will be formed forl implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Act. The poorest who are covered under thel Antodaya yojna will remain entitled to the 35 kilograms of grains allotted to them under the mentioned scheme.
FOREIGN TRADE POLICY 2015-2020
India unveiled its much delayed Foreign Trade Policy that aims to nearly double exports by 2020 to $900 billion. The country exported goods worth $312 billion in 2013-14 and exports for the year ended March 31, 2015 are expected to be in the same range. This is basically due to the global economic conditions especially India’s largest trade partners, the US and Europe. While US is in a better position, economic recovery in Europe is still lagging. The two markets make up 30% of India’s exports. The turmoil in Middle East is going to impact Indian exports as European Union, Japan, Russia and Middle East combined account for 20% of Indian exports. The economic news from China, with its growth slowing down to a 25-year low, doesn’t bode well for India’s over 4% exports that reach Chinese shores. The impact is clearly visible from the fact that since 2011, India’s exports have hovered between $300 billion to $312 billion in 2013-14 as against a target of $325 billion. According to the Export body Federation of Indian Exports Organisations (FIEO), in December 2014 the body doesn’t expect any ‘drastic’ increase in exports next year (2015-16) as the situation is getting worse in Europe, Japan and Russia. $900 billion by 2019-20 is an ambitious over 23% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) but the geopolitical turmoil needs a realistic assessment. Just to put this in perspective, India’s exports grew by a CAGR of 21.6% from 2001 to 2010. Although inclusion of services exports prop up the number to $466 billion of exports and CAGR dramatically falls to 11.5%.
GUJARAT LEADS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF SBM DURING 2014-15
As per an assessment carried out by the Union Urban Development Ministry for the years 201415, Gujarat has topped the list of states for the implementation of Swatchh Bharat Mission, while Odisha has done the best as far as construction of community toilets is concerned, shows
INFO-CRUX: According to the Ministry of the 2,70,069l household toilets constructed during the last financial year under the Mission, Gujarat alone accounted for 60 per cent of them having built 1,65,376 household toilets.
Madhya Pradesh has constructed 99,151 household toilets followed by Karnataka with 4,697. Odisha was ahead of the others in thel [ 6 ] Weekly Current Affairs 29th March 2015 to 4th April, 2015 www.ias100.in construction of community toilet seats, having constructed 740 seats during 201415. Andaman and Nicobar Islands reported construction of 200 and Karnataka has built 100 community toilet seats.
GUIDELINES FOR ‘NIRBHAYA FUND’
In 2013, The Nirbhaya Fund was set up by the Union Government with 1000 crore rupees corpus for empowerment, safety and security of women and girl children. The Government of India has issued the Guidelines for utilization of ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ with the approval of the Union Finance Minister.
The Guidelines are as follows: Ministry of Women and Child Developmentl (WCD) is the nodal authority which can be approached by various Ministries/ Departments with the proposals/schemes, to be funded from ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ targeted to strengthen the safety and security of women in the country.
Ministry of WCD would appraise these schemes to decide their suitability to qualify for getting funds from the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’.
Ministry of WCD shall forward the suitable proposals to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) for necessary budgetary allocations in the respective Demands. DEA shall appraise the proposal on financial and other aspects to avoid any duplicity of schemes/ Government efforts to strengthen safety and security of women in the country.
AMENDMENTS TO THE HOMOEOPATHY CENTRAL COUNCIL ACT, 1973
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for amending the Homeopathy Act to ensure quality homoeopathy education. It gave its approval for the amendment of the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973. According to official sources, the amendment will make provisions granting permission by the central government to all homoeopathic medical colleges for continuing course so that homoeopathy education is given only through colleges which can impart quality education
APPROACH AND KEY COMPONENTS OF E-KRANTI : NATIONAL E-GOVERNANCE PLAN 2.0
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, approved the Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti : National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) 2.0.
MUHAMMADU BUHARI ELECTED AS THE NEW PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA
Muhammadu Buhari defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan by about 2 million votes and became the President of Nigeria. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, the opposition defeated the ruling party in democratic elections. Since independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria had faced numerous military coups and most of the elections were rigged in the past.
PAKISTAN EIGHTH MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
According to recently released Country Threat Index (CTI) by US-based intelligence think tankIntel Center Iraq is number one and Pakistan is eighth most dangerous countries in the world. Afghanistan, the only other South Asian country in the list, is placed fifth in the Country Threat Index (CTI). The other countries in the top 10 are Nigeria (third), Somalia (fourth) followed by Yemen (seventh), Syria (Second), Libya (sixth), Egypt (tenth) and Kenya.
PERU SACKED PRIME MINISTER ANA JARA OVER ALLEGED DOMESTIC SPYING
Peru has sacked the Prime Minister, Ana Jara, over alleged spying against lawmakers, reporters, business leaders and other citizens. The sacking follows the magazine Correo Semanal’s 19 March publication of a list of Peruvians who had allegedly been investigated by the National Intelligence Directorate, or DINI. Jara was voted out 72 to 42. There were two abstentions.
MYANMAR GOVERNMENT SIGNS DRAFT CEASEFIRE DEAL WITH REBEL GROUPS
Myanmar’s government and 16 ethnic armed groups have agreed the wording of a draft nationwide ceasefire agreement aimed at ending more than 65 years of civil unrest and armed conflict in the country. The agreement was signed between the Union Peace-making Working Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team in Yangon. Negotiators from the armed rebel groups still have to consult with their leaders before giving final approval. Rebels from the newest and most active conflict in Kokang did not attend the talks.
IRAN AND P5+1 GAVE NOD FOR NUCLEAR AGREEMENT JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION (JCPOA)
Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers have adopted a joint statement after talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne, calling for the removal of UNSC resolutions and sanctions against the Islamic Republic. In the framework of the agreement, none of Iran’s nuclear facilities as well as the previous activities will be stopped, shut down or suspended and Iran’s nuclear activities in all its nuclear facilities including Natanz, Fordow, Isfahan and Arak will continue. These comprehensive solutions will guarantee the continued enrichment program inside the Iranian territory and according to this, Iran will be allowed to go on with industrial production of nuclear fuel which is meant for running its nuclear power plants.
INDIA & WORLD
‘MAITRI’PROJECT ON THE GO
The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the ‘Maitri’ project for the co-development of a Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with MBDA of France. The DRDO has been directed by the government to engage Original Equipment Manufacturer for joint development. The project has been in the works since 2007 to meet the requirements of the Army and the Air Force. The DRDO had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MBDA in 2013, but there has hardly been any progress because the DRDO’s Akash missile system has similar functions. The Army and the Air Force have expressed satisfaction with the capabilities of Akash, but the Navy has made it clear that Akash is not suitable for installation on warships. Recently, the Defence Acquisition Council gave approval for the upgrade of 10 Kamov-28 anti-submarine helicopters of the Navy at a cost of €297 million. The helicopters are at the end of their service life.
THE YEMEN CRISIS & ITS IMPACT ON INDIA
Yemen is in the grip of its most severe crisis in years, as competing forces fight for control of the country. Impoverished but strategically important, the tussle for power in Yemen has serious implications for the region and the security of the West.
INFO-CRUX Who is fighting whom? In recent months Yemen has descended into conflicts between several different groups, pushing the country to the edge of civil war. The main fight is between forces loyal to the beleaguered President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis, who forced Hadi to flee the capital Sanaa in February. Yemen’s security forces have split loyalties, with some units backing Hadi, and others the Houthis and Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has remained politically influential. Hadi is also supported in the predominantly Sunni south of the country by militia known as Popular Resistance Committees and local tribesmen.
INDIA SOON TO HAVE LARGEST MUSLIM POPULATION
As a key result of an in-depth study on “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,” by the Pew Research Center, which sought to explain “Why Muslims Are Rising Fastest” in terms of the community’s higher fertility – 3.1 children per woman and the fact that 34 per cent of Muslims are below the age of 15 years, the world population of Hindus will grow rapidly between now and 2050, based on a relatively high expansion rate and the youth profile of this community. The largest global growth, however, will be among Muslims, outpacing the growth of every other religion’s population.
NINE NORTH-EASTERN INDIAN PRODUCTS GETS GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION REGISTRY
The organic and exotic agricultural produce of Northeast India got leg up with as many as nine products accorded geographical indication (GI) registry. These products included Assam Karbi Anglong Ginger, Assam Tezpur Litchi, Meghalaya Khasi Mandarin, Sikkim Large Cardamom, Mizoram Bird Eye Chilly, Manipur Kachai Lemon, Tripura Queen Pineapple, Arunachal Orange and Nagaland Tree Tomato. Government owned North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (Neramac) took the initiative to get GI registry to protect exclusive, special local crops of Northeast India four years back. North Eastern Council gave financial support to the initiative.
AMENDMENTS TO GUIDELINES FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN INFRASTRUCTURE
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the change in the definition of a ‘Private Sector Company’ in the guidelines for financial support to Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure under the Viability Gap Funding Scheme (VGF Scheme). This has been done to remove any ambiguity in interpretation of the term ‘Private Sector Company’ and to align it with the definition of ‘Government Company’ at Section 2 (45) of the Companies Act, 2013. The definition of a ‘Private Sector Company’ has been amended to mean a company which is not a “Government Company”, where “Government Company” is defined under Section 2 (45) of the Companies Act, 2013 as …. Any company in which not less than fifty-one per cent of the paidup share capital is held by the Central Government, or by any State Government or Governments, or partly by the Central Government and partly by one or more State Governments, and includes a company which is a subsidiary company of such a Government company.
RINL COMMISSIONS GREEN POWER PROJECT TO GENERATE 120 MW
Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, launched a novel project to generate a completely pollutionfree 120 MW captive power generation by using 100 per cent blast furnace and coke oven gas. This is the first of its kind in the Indian steel Industry. The average power requirement of VSP at 6.3 million tonne stage will be 418 MW. The RINL is currently having three turbo generators each 60 MW (180 MW) capacity and two turbo generators of 67.5 (135MW) each taking the total captive power generation capacity to 315 MW.
FOREIGN TRADE POLICY (2015- 2020) UNVEILED
The government unveiled the new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) on April 1, aiming at giving fillip to exports with an objective to drive economic growth and create more employment opportunities.
The policy seeks to make the country a bigger player in global trade by doubling overseas sales to $900 billion by 2019-20 while giving a boost to the Make in India initiative. The simplified Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) for 2015-20 integrated five earlier schemes for promotion of merchandise goods into one single programme and revamps one for promotion of services. It focuses on reducing transaction costs for exports besides extending incentives to special economic zones (SEZs) and ecommerce. The focus of the foreign trade policy is to support services and exports along with improving the ease of doing business. The new trade policy aims to boost exports and create jobs while supporting Make in India and Digital India.
INDIA RANKS 119 ON GLOBAL BUSINESS RESILIENCE INDEX
India, “despite its scope and global potential”, has been ranked a low 119 out of 130 countries on an index that measures business resilience of nations based on economic, risk quality and supply chain factors, dropping seven notches from last year. The 2015 FM Global Resilience Index has been topped by Norway for being the country best suited for companies seeking to avoid disruptions in their global supply chain operations. Among the top 10 countries that are most resilient, Norway is followed by Switzerland (2), Netherlands (3), Ireland (4), Luxembourg (5), Germany (6), Qatar (7), Canada (8), Finland (9) and the US (10). At the 123rd spot, Pakistan is in the bottom 10 countries on the index. Venezuela is ranked last on the list.
UNION GOVERNMENT LAUNCHED FAME-INDIA SCHEME
To promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government today formally launched the FAME India scheme offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars. FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year.
SCIENCE & TECH
GEOPHYSICAL OBSERVATORY INAUGURATED IN PORT BLAIR
India can now boast of being one of the most scientifically advanced countries to tackle any situation effectively arising out of natural calamities and disasters. The Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has inaugurated the Multi-Parametric Geophysical Observatory set up by the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism at Shoal Bay No. 8 in Port Blair on Andaman & Nicobar Islands on March 30, 2015. The Minister attributed this to the invaluable contributions made by Indian scientists who continue to make relentless efforts for their scientific innovations for the development of the country. ““India is much ahead in terms of Early Warning Systems and this is evident from the fact that about 28 nations depend and act upon the real time data provided by India, which is a matter of great pride for all.
UPGRADED BEIDOU NAVIGATION SATELLITE LAUNCHED
China launched a new-generation satellite into space for its indigenous BeiDou global navigation and positioning network on March 30, 2015. Launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, the satellite was boosted by a Long March-3C carrier rocket developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. This is the 17th satellite for the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). The launch marked the beginning of an expansion of the BDS from regional to global coverage. The latest satellite will be tasked with testing a new type of navigation signaling and inter-satellite links, providing a basis to start building the global network.
CERN RESTARTS LHC TO INQUIRE FOR DARK UNIVERSE
Scientists at Europe’s physics research center CERN restarted their ‘Big Bang’ Large Hadron Collider (LHC), embarking on a bid to probe into the ‘dark universe’ they believe lies beyond the visible one. CERN reported that particle beams were successfully pushed around the LHC in both directions after a two-year shutdown for a major refit described as a Herculean task that doubled its power — and its reach into the unknown. But it will be two months before particle collisions — miniversions of the Big Bang primordial blast that brought the universe into being 13.8 billion years ago — begin and at least a year more before any results can be expected.
HEALTH & NUTRITION
To promote Ayurveda for Rheumatoid Arthritis India’s premier medical institution, AIIMS, has found certain Ayurvedic formulations effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which causes irreversible joint damage. The study found Ayurvedic medicines Ashwagandha powder and Sidh Makardhwaj, helped in relieving pain in tender and swollen joints, and increased mobility in a majority of subjects. Ashwagandha powder is derived from a plant while Sidh Makardhwaj is a formulation of herbal and mineral ingredients. PM Narendra Modi’s endorsement of alternative medicine has given further push to the programme.“AIIMS is also conducting multiple studies to validate alternative therapies for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and chronic heart failure, among others. Interest in traditional medicines is renewed and growing exponentially due to the adverse drug reactions and economic burden associated with modern system of medicine. The central government is promoting them too.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Vishwanathan Anand On 1 April, a minor planet was named after the Indian grandmaster and five-time world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand, by the Minor Planet Center, proposed by Michael Rudenko, a chess buff and a committee member at the Center. Minor planet 4538 Vishyanand was discovered by Kenzo Suzuki in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, on 10 October 1988 but has remained unnamed for almost 10 years, until now. The Minor Planet Center operates at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), under the auspices of Division F (formerly Division III) of the IAU. The Minor Planet Center derives its operating budget from a five-year Nasa grant and SunitaTomar SunitaTomarwho became the poster girl of India’s anti-tobacco campaign after the Union ministry made a 30-second video – ‘Sunita’ – highlighting the devastating effect of smokeless tobacco – died recently. Sunita was also active in “Lives Bachao Size Badhao” public awareness campaign where she along with other volunteers gathered 38,740 signatures through an online and offline petition for implementing larger and stronger pictorial warnings on tobacco packages and submitted it to the former Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan.“ KailashVajpeyi Renowned Hindi poet KailashVajpeyi, who received the Sahitya Akademi award for his work, Hawa mein hastakshar, passed away. His other notable works include Sankrant, Dehant Se Hatkar, Teesra Andhera and Sufinama. ““KailashVajpeyi was one of the prominent poets in a group that shaped what became known as San saatth ke baad ki kavita (Post-1960 poetry) in Hindi literature. Raghuvir Sahay, Kunwar Narayan, Sarveshar Dayal Saxena, Srikant Verma and Kedarnath Singh were other well-known poets in the group. Later he was also influenced by the Akavita or antipoetry movement. A well-travelled poet, Kailash Vajpeyi evolved with life and the experiences that came his way. In his early years, he wrote geet (lyrics) as well politically-aware, anti-establishment poetry. His later poetry is more metaphysical.