Comprehensive News Analysis - 10 March 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

GEOGRAPHY

1. NIO finds a new canyon system close to Kovvada coast

2. Ostriches lived in India once

B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Multi-phase polls are here to stay: Nasim Zaidi

2. Voting with our feet

3. Leaders must tell voters not to take bribes, says CEC Nasim Zaidi

4. Inter-State River Water sharing Disputes

5. The Government has enacted various laws and implemented large number of schemes to ensure safety of women

6. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed in the Parliament

7. New midday meal norms ‘inhuman’

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. ‘No change of stance, says India on veto power at UNSC’

2. H1B visa reform: Why US companies are worrying about changes

3. Sri Lanka to scale back China deal

4. India sees options in U.S. energy policy

5. Silk Road evolved from nomadic movements

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMY

1. India and Belgium sign Protocol amending the India-Belgium Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Protocol

2. Centre may raise equity cap for pensions: PFRDA

3. Centre issues draft rules on e-wallet payments

ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Punjab varsity develops new Bt cotton varieties

2. Illegal Construction along Ganga River Banks

3. Pilot Project for improving Water Table

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1. Psephology

2. Cognizable offence

3. Benthic ecosystem

F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs


A. GS1 Related

Category: GEOGRAPHY

1. NIO finds a new canyon system close to Kovvada coast

What’s in news?

  • Scientists of CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in VisakhapatnamCurrent Affairs 1 have found three new canyons forming a major canyon system in the depths of Bay of Bengal close to Kovvada in Srikakulam district.
  • The finding has been evading them since the last 50 years, and for the first time they have clearly mapped the ocean floor between Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam by sending over 32 high density beams to the depths of the sea.
  • The new canyon system is very huge and probably formed by the river Kandivalasa. The depth of the canyon varies from about 90 metres from the starting point to about 2,500 metres at the deepest point, and it extends to about 50 to 70 km deep
  • The depth is more than the Grand Canyon, which is about 1,857 metres.
  • The discovery of the canyon is not only a major breakthrough in underwater geological formations, but also gives us immense scope to study and explore new benthic ecosystem.
  • The study of ecology and fauna and micro organisms will not only tell us about our past but also throw light on new science. The study of how organisms live and flourish at low oxygen level and high current system can lead us to understand human heart diseases better and help us develop new treatment system

 Canyon system

  • Canyon systems are generally formed by flow of river water into the sea and they could be as old as the river system, which is close to 23 million years. The new canyon system is very huge and probably formed by the river Kandivalasa. The depth of the canyon varies from about 90 metres.
  • Most of the canyons in the ocean system across the world act as channels for depositing sediments in the shelf region. The more the deposit, the more are the chances of finding hydro-carbons.

2. Ostriches lived in India once

What’s in news?

  • Clues found in DNA extracted from 25,000-year-old fossilised eggshells.
  • Based on a DNA analysis of a fossilised eggshell fragment of ostrich, Indian researchers have for the first time found molecular evidence to confirm the presence of these birds in India more than 25,000 years ago.
  • Scientists found 92% genetic similarity between the fossil eggshell samples and Struthio camelus, an ostrich species found in Africa.
  • Eggshell fragments of ostrich discovered from India before have been studied using morphological features, which is insufficient to confirm that ostriches may have lived in India. This is the first time that molecular evidence indicating their presence has been obtained.
  • The ostrich sample analysed has close proximity to the African ostrich species and underlines the movement of these birds between Africa and India (supportive evidence for continental drift theory) before the Indian landmass drifted away from Africa.

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Multi-phase polls are here to stay: Nasim Zaidi

What’s in news?

  • Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) Nasim Zaidi has said that long-drawn-out, multiple-phase elections are here to stay because of the use of Central police forces for the conduct of free and fair polls.
  • According to CEC, Our elections have become heavily dependent on Central forces as people have their own reservations about the State police. The Commission, therefore, over the years, has come to depend on Central police forces. Our anxiety and the anxiety of political parties that all polling stations should be covered by Central police has led to this situation. There have been examples in the past that voters too feel that to truly ensure an unafraid exercise of franchise, Central forces are required. Keeping all that in mind, there is no way out but to conduct polls in phases. Our voters have shown unprecedented enthusiasm, so they are, at least, not fatigued by the length of the poll.

Inference

  • People are having more trust on Central forces than the state police forces.
  • To conduct fair polls, Central force has to be deployed at the polling booths, so if elections are held simultaneously, deployment of the force at the polling station will be a herculean task. In order to avoid this situation, multi-phase polling method is adopted.
2. Voting with our feet

What’s in news?

  • Current round of Assembly elections has witnessed deepened participation.
  • Tripura’s Assembly election turnout of 90-plus.
  • The 2014 Lok Sabha election turnout indicated, it has also bridged the gender gap, with the EC reckoning it has come down to 1.46 percentage points, from 4.42 in 2009.

Inference

  • In India there is enthusiasm among voters which cuts across class and age, where as in the so called mature democracies there is lack of participation by the younger generation-millennial’s.
  • Ethnographic studies suggest that the Indian voter perceives voting day to be a special one, with a celebratory camaraderie at the polling booth reflecting a determination to make her vote count.
  • Voter turnouts generally rising as one goes from parliamentary to State to local polls, it is clear that personally felt outcomes matter most to voters. Nonetheless, the old thumb rule about higher turnout meaning an anti-incumbent vote is a thing of the past.
  • The decreasing gender gap is one to particularly celebrate. From the first election in 1951-52, when millions of women did not figure in the electoral rolls as they would not share their names, to the conversations on the sidelines of these elections, with women asserting they’d vote differently from their husbands, India has come a long way.

3. Leaders must tell voters not to take bribes, says CEC Nasim Zaidi

Highlights of Interview

i. Facts proving voter inducement

  • Seized total cash, liquor, drugs, bullion- 350 crore, a three-fold increase over 2012 seize was around ₹100 crore worth of stuff.
  • Liquor worth 86 crore has been seized during present polls.

ii. Bribery a cognisble offence

  • The Commission is seeking to make bribery a cognisable offence.
  • Cognisability is required because when you lodge an FIR today and under the current laws, police cannot take action, it will have to go back to the courts to do that. In this regard, the Ministry of Home Affairs, on our pursuance has circulated a Bill seeking to amend certain sections of the IPC relating to making bribing a cognisable offence. As a part of that note, they have proposed the enhancement of punishment for the offence as well.
  • The EC will continue to pursue an earlier proposal of ours about countermanding elections if there is a widespread bribing of voters, based on material evidence and reports of returning officers.

iii. State funding of elections

  • State funding can come only subject to certain deep reforms in the entire system. It cannot be a stand-alone proposal.
  • Internal democracy -There is a need to reform the functioning of political parties. Complete transparency of the funding of political parties and any other means of black money getting into the political system or in the hands of candidates.

iv. Nationwide simultaneous election

The first condition is to amend the Constitution, for which there are recommendations that debate should be held among the political parties.

Time consuming requires around two months for entire process , huge logistical exercise and involves lot of expenditure.

4. Inter-State River Water sharing Disputes

What’s in news

  • On the complaint made by the State Governments, the Central Government has, so far, set up eight tribunals to settle water disputes among the States under the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 .
  • Supply of water to concerned States varies on year to year basis depending mainly on availability of water in the basin/reservoirs in a particular year and other relevant factors and is monitored by the concerned.

Current Affairs 1

  • Board/Authority/regulatory body functioning in a particular river basin project.
  • The mechanism for settlement of water disputes is already available in the form of ISRWD Act, 1956. The ISRWD Act, 1956 has been last amended in 2002 whereby adjudication of the water disputes by tribunals has been made time bound after consultation with all State Governments.
  • Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation adopted a revised National Water Policy (NWP) in 2012. As per Clause 12.2 of the Policy, a permanent Water Disputes Tribunal at the Centre should be established to resolve the disputes expeditiously in an equitable manner. The proposal to set up a standing tribunal to adjudicate interstate river water disputes has been approved by the Cabinet and Notice for introduction of Bill for the same has been sent.

5. The Government has enacted various laws and implemented large number of schemes to ensure safety of women

Laws enacted by Parliament

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006 (PCMA).
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment), Act 2013 has been enacted making the punishment more stringent for offences like rape.

Schemes being implemented by various ministries

Implemented by The Ministry of Women and Child Development

  • One Stop Centre scheme- Provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence
  • Scheme for Universalisation of Women Helpline–Provides 24 hours immediate and emergency response to women affected by violence.
  • Ujjawala scheme– A comprehensive scheme to combat trafficking, is being implemented in all over the country.
  • The Swadhar and Short Stay Homes Schemes – Swadhar Greh Scheme targets the women victims of unfortunate circumstances who are in need of institutional support for rehabilitation so that they could lead their life with dignity. The Scheme envisages providing shelter, food, clothing and health as well as economic and social security for the women victims of difficult circumstances. Swadhar Greh Scheme is a sub-scheme of the Centrally Sponsored Umbrella Scheme “Protection and Empowerment” and is being implemented through States/ UTs.

Implemented by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India

  • Nirbhaya fund: a dedicated fund called Nirbhaya Fund was set up in 2013, for implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security of women in the country.
  • Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs) has issued guidelines by which an Empowered Committee of Officers was constituted under the Chairmanship of Secretary, WCD for appraising and recommending various schemes/projects proposed by the Ministries/Departments to be funded from the Nirbhaya Fund. The Empowered Committee of Officers, which is an inter-ministerial committee appraises and recommends various proposals/projects proposed by different Ministries/Departments/States. The concerned Ministries then take up the sanction and implementation of the schemes/proposals so appraised as they do for their other schemes/projects.

6. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed in the Parliament 

Updates regarding passage

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
  • The Bill had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session.

Main Provisions in the bill
The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide for the following

  1. Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.
  2. Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
  3. Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The Current Affairs 1commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
  4. Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche.
  5. The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so. Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.

Inference

  • These changes in the provisions of the act enable working woman to get enough time to exclusively breast-feed her child for 6 months after the birth.
  • This period also enables the working mother to recover herself before she goes to back to work.

7. New midday meal norms ‘inhuman’

Issue

  • Related to poverty and hunger
  • Recently centre decided to link Mid-day meal scheme to Aadhar. 

What’s in news?

  • Teachers and Anganwadi workers in Rajasthan have spoken out against the Current Affairs 1Centre’s recent decision to link the midday meal scheme to Aadhaar, saying it would completely disrupt the process of food distribution and teaching and learning. The teaching-learning process will also be disrupted, as the day would be over in the exercise to authenticate an average of 200 children in each school.
  • Creates an “inhuman culture” where children would be denied food due to exclusion through biometrics. Children coming to the government schools are from economically weaker sections, mostly Dalits and minorities, schools generally ensure that the little siblings who come with the older children are also fed. If the machine does not match biometrics of a child, he/she will remain without food and sit in a corner watching others having their meals-inhuman.
  • Teachers gave instances of classroom hunger and stunted children coming to their schools. So teachers called upon the administration to focus on more nutritious food for the children along with a strong school health programme.

Positive Impact

  • Many parents allegedly enrol their children simultaneously in state and private schools to take advantage of government benefits. The government pays the tuition fees for poor children enrolled in private schools, while those in government schools are entitled to the meal, uniforms and textbooks. Since Aadhaar stores biometric data that are accessible online, the school can easily authenticate a beneficiary’s identity.
  • Curtail leakages in the institutional mechanism and diversion of food items.
  • Proper rationing from FCI

Negative

  • The Aadhaar-linking will take away the little nutritional support the kid gets.
  • Focus more on nutritional requirement of children


Category: 
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. ‘No change of stance, says India on veto power at UNSC’

  • India’s Ambassador to the UN addressed the General Assembly’s Inter Governmental Negotiations on behalf of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan (called the G-4).
  • India and other G-4 countries are ready to accept a United Nations (UN) permanent Security Council seat without using a veto for the first 15 years.
  • He said there had been “no change in the government’s position” on securing veto power at the UNSC, but India did not wish to “impede” the process.
  • New permanent members would as a principle have the same responsibilities and obligations as current permanent members they shall not exercise the veto until a decision on the matter has been taken during a review [expected after 15 years]
  • India is hopeful that the Chairpersons of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) will now respond to every country’s views to take the reforms to the next step.
  • However, few doubted whether India could uphold the moratorium if there were any resolutions at the UNSC that affected India directly. 

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What is the “Power of veto”?

  • The United Nations Security Council “power of veto”refers to the veto power wielded solely by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States), enabling them to prevent the adoption of any “substantive” resolution.
  • Abstention or absence from the vote by a permanent member does notprevent a draft resolution from being adopted.
  • The permanent members can vote against a “procedural” draft resolution without blocking its adoption by the Council.
  • A negative vote by a permanent member will also block the selection of a Secretary-General, although this is a “recommendation” to the General Assembly rather than a Resolution.

2. H1B visa reform: Why US companies are worrying about changes

  • President Trump’s immediate focus is on tackling illegal immigration and the overall revamp of the immigration process will come subsequently.
  • No changes in the H-1B visa program for skilled temporary foreign workers.
  • S. admits 85,000 people on H-1B visas every year, through a lottery process that begins with the filing of applications on April 1.
  • Revamping of immigration policy has focused on border security, keeping country safe and people safe.
  • Senators pushing for legislation that will restrict family-linked and employment-related legal immigration to the U.S
  • S is one of only a handful of countries that doesn’t use a merit-based system of immigration.
  • Trump’s preference for merit-based immigration as opposed to family-linked immigration could be seen as beneficial for Indian tech workers
  • Trump has spoken about merit-based immigration throughout his campaign, even while opposing immigrant workers allegedly undercutting or replacing American workers.
  • Neither Mr. Trump nor his advisers believe the H-1B program is merit-based, going by their public statements so far.

3. Sri Lanka to scale back China deal

Why in news?

  • The Hambantota port, built during the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has become a white elephant with insufficient revenues.
  • Sri Lanka is to steps back a profitable but controversial deal to sell a deep-sea port to a Chinese company after widespread protests.
  • It had hoped to transfer an 80% stake to the China Merchants Port Holdings on a long lease, but the proposed deal met with opposition from residents in the southern town of Hambantota and some members of the ruling coalition.
  • Official sources wanted to reduce the Chinese company’s equity holding and the lease period, and ensure overall security of the port remained in its control.
  • The new government, which came to power in January 2015, has been trying to renegotiate terms of its $8-billion Chinese debt, which includes the construction costs of the Hambantota port.

Chinese projects in Sri Lanka and its impact on India’s external security(String of Pearls)

  • The String of Pearlstheory is a geopolitical theory regarding potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region through a network of Chinese military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication.
  • This Chinese Influence routes from the Chinese mainland to Port Sudan.
  • The are several major maritime choke pointssuch as the Strait of Mandeb, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz and the Lombok Strait, as well as other strategic maritime centers (String of Pearls) include a facility in Gwadar and a port in Karachi (both in Pakistan); Construction of new facility at Colombo and new port Hambantota (both in Sri Lanka); container facility in Chittagong (Bangladesh); and ports in Myanmar.
  • Chinese warships have stopped at Colombo on the way to Pakistan and to anti-pirate operations in the Gulf of Aden. Two Chinese Submarines also harbored at Colombo port despite India’s strong opposition. 

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4. India sees options in U.S. energy policy

 Why in news?

  • The Trump administration’s is on making American oil and gas sector competitive in the world market.

How?

  • By deregulating oil and gas, and rolling back incentives available to non–conventional energy.
  • The Trump administration does not want environmental concerns holding back the sector.

How will it Impact India?

  • India bids to enhance its bilateral cooperation in the field of oil and gas exploration taking this opportunity.
  • Thirty percent of all increase in world’s energy demand from now to 2040 will be from India. Right pricing can enable India to ramp up imports from the U.S.
  • India will start importing Liquefied Natural Gas from the U.S. in 2018 under contracts signed during the previous Obama administration.
  • Three Indian public sector companies, GAIL, Oil India and IOC and Reliance have invested in U.S. shale gas production.
  • The Obama administration’s focus was on pushing renewable energy cooperation with India, but Trump administration’s focus is different.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modiji commitment is to increase the share of non-conventional sources in India’s energy mix and it is independent of what the American administration thinks or does.
  • India’s PM is clear that India will go ahead with its COP 21 commitments.
  • India’s cooperation could be in the areas of clean coal technology, and in converting coal to synthetic gas.
  • India looks forward for American technology and investment that could be of great help in coal sector. U.S technology will also be helpful in building smart grids and reducing transmission losses.

current affaris

5. Silk Road evolved from nomadic movements

 Background

  • The Great Silk Road that spans across many countries including India was cacarved by nomads who were moving herds to lush mountain pastures nearly 5,000 years ago.

Research Study

  • The analytical study combines satellite analysis, human geography, archaeology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to show that 75% of ancient Silk Road sites across highland.
  • All along the path its model simulates as optimal for moving herds to and from prime mountain meadows.
  • Historic mobility by highland nomadic herders structured enduring routes for seasonal migrations to summer pastures which correspond significantly with the evolving geography of ‘Silk Road’ interaction across Asia’s mountains.
  • The locations of ancient cities, towns, shrines and caravan stops have long illustrated key points of interaction along this vast network, but defining its many routes has been far more elusive with this project.
  • Scholars have previously traced Silk Road trade corridors modeling the shortest “least-cost” paths between major settlements and trade hubs. This connect-the-dots approach makes sense in lowland areas where direct routes across arid plains and open deserts correlate with ease of travel between trade centers.
  • According to Archaeological documentation the development of mountain-herding economies in highland Asia is recorded as early as 3,000 BC
  • Researchers designed a model that simulates highland herding mobility as “flows” directed by seasonally available meadows. This model is generated without using Silk Road sites in its calculations; the pathways it projects show remarkable geographic overlap with known Silk Road locations.
  • The field work showed that these societies had inter-continental connections spanning thousands of years that formed the grassroots network that became the Silk Road.

 

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. India and Belgium sign Protocol amending the India-Belgium Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Protocol

Key Points:

  • Fighting the menace of Black Money stashed in offshore accounts is a key priority area for the Government
  • The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information. This in turn will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.
  • Fighting the menace of Black Money stashed in offshore accounts has been a key priority area for the Government.
  • To further this goal, India has either signed or amended international agreements, declarations or conventions for the Avoidance of Double Taxation & Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and for the Exchange of Information with Switzerland, Mauritius, Cyprus, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Singapore and Austria during the financial year 2016-17.

What is DTAA(Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement)?

  • A DTAA is a tax treaty signed between two or more countries.
  • Its key objective is that tax-payers in these countries can avoid being taxed twice for the same income.
  • A DTAA applies in cases where a tax-payer resides in one country and earns income in another.
  • DTAAs can either be comprehensive to cover all sources of income or be limited to certain areas such as taxing of income from shipping, air transport, inheritance, etc.
  • India has DTAAs with more than eighty countries, of which comprehensive agreements include those with Australia, Canada, Germany, Mauritius, Singapore, UAE, the UK and US.

Why is it important?

  • DTAAs are intended to make a country an attractive investment destination by providing relief on dual taxation. Such relief is provided by exempting income earned abroad from tax in the resident country or providing credit to the extent taxes have already been paid abroad. DTAAs also provide for concessional rates of tax in some cases.
  • Favourable tax treatment for capital gains under certain DTAAs such the one with Mauritius have encouraged a lot of foreign investment into India. Mauritius accounted for $93.65 billion or one-third of the total FDI flows into India between April 2000 and December 2015. It has also remained a favoured route for foreign portfolio investors.

Concern

  • The problem is DTAAs can become an incentive for even legitimate investors to route investments through low-tax regimes to sidestep taxation. This leads to loss of tax revenue for the country.

2. Centre may raise equity cap for pensions: PFRDA

Key Points

  • The pension fund regulator is hopeful of the Centre soon agreeing to its suggestion for allowing up to 50% of the funds contributed by government subscribers under the National Pension System to be invested into equities.

Present Scenario

  • Presently, the ceiling on investments in equity markets from contributions made by government subscribers is 15%. In contrast, up to 50% of the contributions by non-government subscribers is permitted to be invested in equities.
  • Contributions from non-government subscribers account for 15% of the corpus which is managed by seven pension fund managers (PFMs).

Other Suggestions to improve coverage

  • Among other suggestions is one to permit auto enrolment aimed at increasing pension coverage in the informal sector.
  • Noting that some countries, including the U.K., had tried this out successfully, anybody who came under the ambit of the scheme was automatically covered but had an option to opt out.

Outcome

  • The Centre is examining PFRDA’s suggestion to make auto enrolment mandatory for Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and employees of gram panchayats, the PFRDA Chairman added.

3. Centre issues draft rules on e-wallet payments

Key Points

  • The rules are meant to ensure integrity, security and confidentiality
  • The Centre has issued draft rules to ensure integrity, security and confidentiality of electronic payments made through prepaid payment instruments (PPIs), popularly called e-wallets.
  • The draft rules, on which the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has sought public comments, make it mandatory for e-PPI (electronic pre-payment instrument) issuers to develop an information security policy that ensures that the systems operated by them are secure.
  • The Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Instruments) Rules, 2017, define an e-PPI issuer as a “person operating a payment system issuing prepaid payment instruments to individuals/organisations” under the aegis of Reserve Bank of India.
  • The rules make it compulsory for e-PPIs to publish on their websites and mobile applications both their ‘privacy policy’ and terms for use of their payment systems.
  • The draft also details the requirements of a privacy policy. The rules mandate that e-PPIs should carry out risk assessment to spot security risks and also ensure adequate due diligence is done before issuing PPIs.

 

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Punjab varsity develops new Bt cotton varieties

What’s in news?

  • Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana has announced that it has Current Affairs 1developed the country’s first genetically-modified varieties of cotton — the seeds of which could be reused by farmers with no commercial restrictions, resulting in savings on repeat purchases every season.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has identified three Bt cotton varieties – PAU Bt 1, F1861 and RS2013 – for cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

 Advantages

  • All three varieties carry the Cry1Ac gene imparting resistance against bollworm complex.
  • The genetic modification involves introduction of the Bt bacterial gene that codesCurrent Affairs 2 for a protein which kills the bollworm cotton pest.
  • Cost effective: Farmers need not have to buy costly Bt cotton seeds every year. The farmers can keep their own harvest for next year’s sowing. The price of these varieties will be much lower than current Bt cotton hybrid seed, and it can cut cultivation costs.

Facts check

  • Cotton is the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in India.
  • Punjab alone needs around 20-25 lakh packets of Bt cotton seed which amounts to about 225 crore.

2. Illegal Construction along Ganga River Banks

Case– M.C. Mehta V/s Union of India & Others, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is dealing with the case of pollution and rejuvenation of river Ganga.

National Green tribunal order

  • Segment -Gaumukh to Haridwar (Uttarakhand)
  • Illegal constructions activities likely to affect river Ganga are hotels/dharamshalas/ashrams, construction of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for treatment of sewage or domestic affluent falling directly into the river Ganga and to stop its discharge.
  • The NGT has also directed that at least 100m from middle of the river would be treated as ‘Eco-sensitive and prohibited zone’. No activity whether permanent or temporary in nature will be permitted to be carried on in this zone.
  • The NGT has further directed that the area beyond 100 meters and less than 300 meters would be treated as regulatory zone in the hilly terrain.
  • The area upto 200 meters shall be the prohibited area in the plain terrain and more than 200 meters and less than 500 meters would be treated as regulatory zone.
  • Restrictions have been imposed on activity or construction in the regulated area where the gradient is beyond 350 meters to prevent ecological damage and land sliding in that area.
  • The river bed mining, shall be carried on in a highly regulated manner and under strict supervision of the authorities concerned.
  • Discharge of domestic waste directly into the Ganga river is being managed by a mix of interception & diversion projects, sewage network and sewage treatment plant projects.

3. Pilot Project for improving Water Table

  •  The National Groundwater Management
  • Improvement Scheme (NGMIS), supported by the World Bank, is under active consideration of the Government.
  • The Scheme envisages sustainable ground water management through suitable supply/demand side interventions with stakeholder participation in identified priority areas of seven States viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The estimated cost of the Scheme is Rs. 6,000 crore and it will be implementedCurrent Affairs 1over a period of six years.
  • Half of the total cost of the scheme, called National Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme (NGMIS), will be supported by the World Bank as loan while the remaining half (Rs 3,000 crore) will be funded by the government through budgetary support.
  • Infrastructure development includes building recharge structure\facilities for utilising rain water directly from roof top, creating rain water harvesting structures for conserving surplus run-off and recharging ground water in aquifers.
  • Program is being designed in coordination with existing programmes and activities including MGNREGA, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) as well as the National Hydrology Project (NHP).
  • The programme will also have a ‘performance-based incentive’ system as its key component to reward states and local authorities for improvement in groundwater management. The NGMIS will also look after the policy aspects of irrigation efficiency, crop diversification and artificial recharge in the areas which witnessed uncontrolled and unplanned groundwater extraction over the last 50 years.
  • The water resources ministry will coordinate implementation of the programme which includes clear targets for groundwater recharge, water use efficiency and aquifer protection by participating states.

Fact’s Review:

  • India annually extracts 245 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) of groundwater which accounts for nearly 25% of the total global groundwater abstraction. About 222 BCM out of 245 BCM of groundwater is being used annually for irrigation while remaining 23 BCM is consumed by domestic and industry sector.


D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

 

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn

1.Psephology

  • A branch of political science which deals with the study and scientific analysis of elections.
2.Cognizable offence

  • Cognizable offence means a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court. By contrast, in the case of a non-cognizable offence, a police officer does not have the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and an investigation cannot be initiated without a court order. The police can file a First Information Report (FIR) only for cognizable offences.
3.Benthic Ecosystem

  • The benthic zone is the ecological region at the lowest level of a body of water such as an ocean or a lake, including the sediment surface and some sub-surface layers. Organisms living in this zone are called benthos, e.g. the benthic invertebrate community, including crustaceans and polychaetes. The organisms generally live in close relationship with the substrate bottom and many are permanently attached to the bottom. The superficial layer of the soil lining the given body of water, the benthic boundary layer, is an integral part of the benthic zone, as it greatly influences the biological activity that takes place there. Examples of contact soil layers include sand bottoms, rocky outcrops, coral, and bay mud.
     

F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS 

BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS About the Article 136
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide for the following:

  • a) Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.
  • b) Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
  • c) Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
  • d) Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche.
  • e) The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so. Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂

Question 1: As seen in the news regarding UNSC reforms negotiations, 
consider the following statements:
  1. G4 countries in the lead for permanent seat in UNSC comprise of Brazil, India, South Africa and Japan.
  2. The United Nations Security Council “power of veto”refers to the veto power wielded solely by the six permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Identify the incorrect statements.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above 
See
Answer
Question 2: Consider the following statements with respect to adjournment 
motion:
  1. Motion should be introduced on a matter of definite and urgent public importance.
  2. A question of privilege or any other questions which can be raised via other distinct motion cannot be raised in adjournment motion.
  3. Both the houses of parliament do not exercise equal rights with respect to adjournment motion.
  4. Such a motion needs support of at least 30 members.

Identify the correct statements.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1,2 and 3
  4. All the above
See
Answer
Question 3: Consider the following statement with reference to the newly 
discovered canyon system by the National Institute of Oceanography:
  1. The canyon system was found near kovvada coast.
  2. The new canyon system is very huge and probably formed by the river Kandivalasa.
  3. The depth is more than that of Grand Canyon.
  4. Most of the canyons in the ocean system across the world act as channels for depositing sediments in the shelf region. The more the deposit, the more are the chances of finding hydro-carbons.

Choose the correct answer

  1. 1 and 3
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 1,2 and 4
  4. All are correct
See
Answer
Question 4: Choose the correct statement with reference to National 
Groundwater Management Improvement Scheme.
  1. The scheme is supported by World Bank
  2. The Scheme envisages sustainable ground water management through suitable supply/demand side interventions with stakeholder participation in identified priority areas.
  3. Program is being designed in coordination with existing programmes and activities including MGNREGA, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) as well as the National Hydrology Project (NHP).
  4. All are correct.
See
Answer
Question 5: Recently Centre has issued draft rules on e-wallet payments. 
Which of the following ministry has issued them?
  1. Ministry of Finance
  2. Ministry of Commerce
  3. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  4. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
See
Answer
Question 6: Consider the following statements about DTAA(Double Taxation 
Avoidance Agreement) 
  1. A DTAA is a tax treaty signed between two or more countries.
  2. It allows tax-payers in countries which have signed the treaty to avoid being taxed twice for the same income.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None
See
Answer


For previous practice questions solution, click here

 

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