🚩Only IMPORTANT Current Affairs for IAS, BANKING & SSC
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NRIs/PIOs Can Now Send Funds Online For Flagship Schemes-Sushma Swaraj:
NRIs and Persons of Indian Origion (PIOs) will now be able to make monetary contributions online for government’s flagship programmes ‘Swachch Bharat’ and Clean Ganga among other social sector projects External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj chairing a meeting of the India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI), a not-for-profit trust established by government of India with an aim to supplement country’s social development efforts.
The Facilitating diaspora’s desire to give back to India. EAM chairs 6th Board Meeting of IDF-OI in Delhi @GivingtoIndia. It now be able to make contributions online to IDF-OI, by using their credit/debit cards
IDF-OI is presently promoting Government of India’s flagship programmes- Swachh Bharat and National Mission for Clean Ganga.
IDF-OI, which leads overseas Indian philanthropy into India, is also partnering with the state governments to select projects identified by the states and seek overseas Indians engagement with these projects.
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Lok Sabha decided to take up debt recovery bill:
With an objective to improve the ease of doing business in the country the government is scheduled to move in the Lok Sabha an amended bill to strengthen the debt recovery laws.
Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (Sarfaesi) Act, 2002, the Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993, the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and the Depositories Act, 1996 are introduced in the Lok Sabha during the month of May.
Following the introduction, the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, 2016 was referred to a Parliamentary Joint Committee.
The Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 are listed for consideration and passing.
The government has come up with this legislation at a time when there is mounting concerns over loan recovery in view of stressed assets to the tune of over Rs. 8 lakh crore in the banking system.
The legislation proposes to give the RBI powers to regulate asset reconstruction companies, prioritise secured creditors in repayment of debts and provide stamp duty exemption on loans assigned by banks and financial institutions to asset reconstruction firms.
Around 70,000 cases involving more than Rs. 5 lakh crore are pending in Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRT) and the proposed amendments would facilitate expeditious disposal of recovery applications.
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Retrenched workers to return from Saudi:
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia thousands of Indian workers lost their jobs and were forced to starve, the city’s Indian Consulate and members of the Indian community in the country rallied together to distribute nearly 16,000 kilograms of food to them. The show of solidarity came after External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had called on her Twitter followers.
Under the ‘kafala’ system migrant worker’s visas are tied to their employers so they cannot change jobs without their employer’s consent. On July 27th 2016 reported that 15 workers from Tamil Nadu had appealed for help from the Indian government – both in a video and in writing. They received last time they’d been paid was in November last year, and that they’d been forced to work without remuneration after their work documents expired, and were left unrenewed by their employers. In addition, each of them had paid an agent Rs. 2 lakh to get a job abroad
According Indian expatriates constitute the largest migrant workforce in the Gulf nations, which include Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – another country in which Indian workers faced a similar plight at the weekend. Reports on Indian migrant workers struggling to live and work with dignity in the region aren’t rare. Workers have complained about ill-treatment by employers, and about being detained even after their work documents expire.
About Kafala system –
The kafala system meaning “sponsorship system” is a system used to monitor migrant laborers, working mostly in the construction and domestic sectors, in Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The system requires all unskilled laborers to have an in-country sponsor, usually their employer, who is responsible for their visa and legal status. This practice has been criticised by human rights organizations for creating easy opportunities for the exploitation of workers, as many employers take away passports and abuse their workers with little chance of legal repercussions.
According to The Economist, “The migrant workers’ lot is unlikely to improve until the reform of the kafala system, whereby workers are beholden to the employers who sponsored their visas. The system blocks domestic competition for overseas workers in the Gulf countries.”
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SAR which provides broad-area imaging at high resolutions Chinese Army had conducted a reconnaissance mission:
Using high class aircraft armed with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which provides broad-area imaging at high resolutions Chinese People’s Liberation Army had conducted a reconnaissance mission.
Chinese PLA ‘TupolovTu 153M’ aircraft had carried out two to three sorties earlier this year in the middle sector falling in the areas of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
It can flies at an altitude of above 40,000 feet and can go up to 60,000 feet to avoid detection by radars and can click pictures and other cyber and communication signatures at that height.
It has an SAR which can provide high-resolution pictures even in bad weather or in night time.
The information about the flight was shared during exchanges with foreign intelligence agencies.
At least 20 to 25 Chinese troops had entered into the demilitarised area in Barahoti pastures in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand earlier this month, besides flying its helicopters in the Indian air space for over five minutes.
Barahoti is one of the three border posts in the ‘middle sector’ comprising Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where ITBP jawans are not allowed to take their weapons as per the unilateral decision of the then government in June, 2000.
In 1958, both the countries listed Barahoti, an 80-square KM sloping pasture, as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops. In 1962 war, Chinese PLA did not enter the 545-KM middle-sector and focused on Western (Ladakh)+ and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors .
However, after the 1962 China-Indian war, the ITBP jawans used to patrol the area with weapons in non-combative manner under which the barrel of the gun is positioned downward.
During prolonged negotiations on resolving border dispute, the Indian side had unilaterally agreed in June, 2000, that ITBP troops would not be carrying arms to the three posts – Barahoti, Kauril and Shipki in Himachal Pradesh.
The ITBP men do patrolling in civil dress and the pasture attracts Indian shepherds from the border villages tending their sheep and people from Tibet bringing their yaks for grazing.
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Russian builders reported that Kudankulam plant is safe from Fukushima like incident:
Russian nuclear industry reported that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is the first in the world to have post-Fukushima safety enhancement requirements implemented and operated successfully.
It has been analysed the basic technical design of Units 1 and 2 in terms of the lessons from Fukushima. It concluded that they would have withstood a Fukushima-like incident.
As part of India-Russia nuclear cooperation, the Rosatom state nuclear corporation is scheduled to construct six units of VVER-1000 light-water reactors at Kudankulam. On India’s request, additional safety measures are being enforced in Units 3 and 4 to withstand even higher seismic, climatic and technical impact.
There are a number of advanced active and passive safety systems which ensure unprecedented design-level nuclear and ecological safety of the plant. According to an estimations, the KKNPP can withstand any anticipated operational occurrences, it can even withstand a fall of aircraft. Therefore, we can firmly state that presently India possesses the safest NPP in the world.
Given that a large amount of seawater is drawn in to cool the reactors, measures have been taken to preserve the biological diversity of the Mannar Bay adjacent to Kudankulam. In February, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. began soil excavation and preparation of pits for construction of Units 3 and 4.
As part of the agreement, their company had signed several contracts to supply material and equipment and began delivering some of the long-term manufacturing equipment. In February, a road map for construction of Units 5 and 6 prior to the General Framework Agreement (GFA) has been signed. The GFA is expected to be signed in autumn this year.
Background of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant-
An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on the project was signed on 20 November 1988 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev, for the construction of two reactors. The project remained in limbo for a decade due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. There were also objections from the United States, on the grounds that the agreement did not meet the 1992 terms of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). M R Srinivasan, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman from 1987 to 1990, called the project “a non-starter”. However, the project was revived on 21 June 1998.
About Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant –
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power station in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Construction on the plant began on 31 March 2002 but faced several delays due to the fishermen’s objection.
Unit 1 was synchronised with the southern power grid on 22 October 2013. The original cost of the two units was Rs 13,171 crore, but it was later revised to Rs 17,270 crore. Russia advanced a credit of Rs 6,416 crore to both the units.
In 2015, Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd (NPCIL) announced a price of Rs 4.29/kW·h for energy delivered from Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
The ground-breaking ceremony for construction of units 3 & 4 was performed on 17 February 2016. Work is expected to begin in April 2016. Due to operators and suppliers requirement to insure the two following units, at Rs 39,747 crore, the cost of units 3 & 4 is twice the cost of units 1 & 2.
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Solar cell turns CO2, sunlight into burnable fuel:
U.S. researchers have developed “potentially game-changing” solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide and sunlight directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel.
Conventional solar cells convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, but the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting carbon dioxide into a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide, which can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels.
significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently can be removed by a solar farm of “artificial leaves” . The new solar cell is not photovoltaic it’s photosynthetic.
It works on a nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides or TMDCs as catalysts, pairing them with an unconventional ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two-compartment, three- electrode electrochemical cell.
The best of several catalysts they studied turned out to be nano flake tungsten diselenide, which was not only more active and more able to break carbon dioxide’s chemical bonds, it is also 1,000 times faster than noble-metal catalysts and about 20 times cheaper.
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Five Years Post-Launch, Juno Is at a Turning Point:
Five years after departing Earth, and a month after slipping into orbit around Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is nearing a turning point. On July 31 at 12:41 p.m. PDT (3:41 p.m. EDT), Juno will reach the farthest point in its orbit of Jupiter for the first time, known as “apojove,” 5 million miles (8.1 million kilometers) from the giant planet. After that point, Jupiter’s gravitational grip on Juno will cause the spacecraft to begin falling back toward the planet for another pass, this time with its scientific eyes wide open.
The spacecraft is currently executing the first of two long orbits prior to beginning its science mission. Each capture orbit is nearly two months long quite the wait for the mission’s eager team of scientists but it’s nothing compared to the long wait the team endured on the trek to Jupiter.
Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011. The spacecraft took a long, looping path around the inner solar system to set up an Earth flyby, in which our planet’s gravity flung the spinning probe onward toward Jupiter.
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Commerce Ministry working to align FDI policy with NIC code:
With a view to promote ease of doing business for overseas investors the Commerce and Industry Ministry is working to align the FDI policy with the National Industrial Classification (NIC) code. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has asked the Department of Economic Affairs to examine the draft on mapping of NIC code prepared by it.
The exercise is important as there is lack of clarity with regard to the code and the FDI policy. There are number of sectors mentioned in NIC like legal practices and number of other sectors also where FDI policy is not clear like whether it is under automatic or approval route or is there any condition to receive FDI.
All the economic activities are classified as per the NIC code. The classification is necessary for seeking industrial licenses and submitting industrial entrepreneurs memorandum. The code classifies business activities and helps the industry seek policy approvals for specific activities.
After finalising the draft, the ministry is expected to seek Cabinet’s approval on the same. The government has relaxed norms in the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in about two dozen sectors in the last two years including defence, food processing, civil aviation, pharmaceuticals and private security agencies.
The DIPP, under the ministry, is the nodal agency on FDI policy. It compiles all policies related to India’s FDI regime into a single document to make it simple and easy for investors to understand. FDI in 2015-16 grew 29 per cent to USD 40 billion. India ranks 130th out of 189 countries in the ease of doing business, moving up four places from 2015, according to a World Bank report.
About National Industrial Classification-
A statistical system must be capable of measuring the contribution of all the economic activities towards the national wealth and be responsive to the needs of the planners to critically evaluate the steps necessary for planned development. Such measurements should also provide comparable estimates over time between regions and allow for corrective steps to achieve the goal of maximum benefit to the entire society. The official statistical data have to be collected and presented according to classifications designed to facilitate their use for national economic policy and for international comparison.
The National Industrial Classification (NIC) is an essential Statistical Standard for developing and maintaining comparable data base according to economic activities. Such classifications are frequently used in classifying the economically active population, statistics of industrial production and distribution, the different fields of labour statistics and other economic data such as national income. Comparability of statistics available from various sources, on different aspects of the economy, and usability of such data for economic analysis, are prerequisite for standardization of a system of classification.
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CAG report has blamed the Indian Railways leading to overcrowding and death of passengers:
Due to inadequate train services, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has blamed the Indian Railways leading to overcrowding and death of passengers in suburban trains.
It is noted that 33,445 people died between January 2010 and December 2014, with half the cases being reported from the Mumbai suburban train network. This translates into more than 18 deaths a day in suburban trains.
Crush load refers to a passenger density of twice the seating capacity of a rake, as per the Indian Railways. Around 15 per cent of the deaths happened due to passengers falling from running trains.
For instance, in its annual statement, Eastern Railway reported 154 deaths during 2010-14 whereas the GRP reported 7,923 deaths during the period of 2010-13 in the two divisions of Sealdah and Howrah of the Eastern Railway itself.
This shows a mismatch on reporting of deaths by Railway administration to the Railway Board concerning safety issues.
In terms of on-time performance, except Southern Railway (Chennai, Madurai, Palghat, Trichy and Trivandrum) and Central Railway (Mumbai, Nagpur, Bhusawal, Pune and Sholapur), the punctuality target of suburban trains in other railway zones was met.
About Comptroller and Auditor General-
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution under Constitution of India/Part V Chapter V/Sub- part 7B/Article 148, who audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
Receipts and expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India and of the State and Union Territory having legislative assembly.
Trading, manufacturing, profit and loss accounts and balance sheets, and other subsidiary accounts kept in any Government department; Accounts of stores and stock kept in Government offices or departments.
Authorities and bodies substantially financed from the Consolidated Funds of the Union and State Governments. Anybody or authority even though not substantially financed from the Consolidated Fund, the audit of which may be entrusted to the C&AG.
Grants and loans given by Government to bodies and authorities for specific purposes.
Entrusted audits e.g. those of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies under Technical Guidance & Support (TGS).