Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - August 1, 2017

Environment

Lithium, antimony, mercury, arsenic and lead- S.C banned their use in firecrackers

  • Use of five harmful heavy metals like lithium, antimony, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacturing of firecrackers has been banned by The Supreme Court as they cause air pollution.
  • In 2015 a petition was filed by three Delhi children who had requested the apex court to intervene to regulate the use of crackers and fireworks during festivals like Diwali.
  • The apex court held that it is the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to ensure compliance of ban order particularly in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu where there are large number of firecracker manufacturers.
  • CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and PESO to make collaborative efforts for setting up of standards with regard to air pollution caused by the bursting of fire-crackers.

Enlighten about PESO

  • It is Under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives and is headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra.
  • PESO is the apex department to control and administer manufacture, storage, transport and handling of explosives, petroleum, compressed gases and other hazardous substances in India

Global Trade

19th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - Hyderabad

  • The 19th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) meetings and other related meetings were held in Hyderabad, Telangana.
  • Besides, the 19th round of TNC, other meetings were also held by the Working Groups on Trade in goods, services and investment. Working Groups in other areas like electronic commerce, Intellectual Property, Legal and Institutional Issues etc. also had held their meetings.
  • All RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) agreed that RCEP agreement has immense potential to deliver on new economic opportunities including job creation that are much needed in today’s uncertain world. India held that RCEP can offer a forward looking alternative in face of growing protectionism in world. RPCs also expressed shared commitment to work collectively and in cooperative manner to progress the negotiations in an accelerated way and achieve a comprehensive, modern, high-quality and mutually beneficial agreement that balances and addresses sensitivities and aspirations of participating countries

Enlighten about RCEP

  • It is a proposed comprehensive regional economic integration agreement (mega Free Trade Agreement) amongst the 10-ASEAN countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam) and its six Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) partners, viz. Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan and Korea.
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched at 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement that includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.

International Relations

India –Bhutan – signed new bilateral treaty – becomes effective

  • Bilateral Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan came into force from July 2017.
  • It aims to further strengthen the bilateral trade relations between both countries.
  • The new agreement signed in November 2016 provides for a free trade regime between the territories of India and Bhutan.
  • It also provides for duty-free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries.
  • Bilateral trade between both countries will continue to be transacted in Bhutanese Ngultrums and Indian Rupees

Persons in News

Arvind Panagariya resigned as Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog

  • He resigned after his public service leave for two years from the Columbia university, where he is professor of Indian Political Economy did not receive extension.
  • He was appointed as the as Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog in January 2015 and held cabinet minister rank.
  • Before joining Niti Aayog, he was a professor at Columbia University and chief economist at the Asian Development Bank (ABD).
  • He has also worked for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTP), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) in various capacities.
  • He has earned PhD in economics from prestigious Princeton University. He has written around 10 books and the latest was India: The Emerging Giant published in 2008. He was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 2102.

Enlighten about NITI ayog

  • It is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs
  • NITI Aayog was formed on January 1, 2015. NITI Aayog via a resolution of the Union Cabinet.
  • Prime Minister is ex-officio Chairperson of the Aayog.
  • It is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs
  • It had replaced the 65-year old Planning Commission established in 1950.
  • NITI Aayog plays important role in designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the Government.
  • It also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States. It also acts as the quintessential platform of Union Government to bring States to act together in national interest, and thereby fosters Cooperative Federalism.

Governance

National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017

  • The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, deals with setting up of a National Commission for Backward Classes, was recently passed by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed after dropping Clause 3.
  • Clause 3 pertains to the insertion of a new article 338B about the constitution and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes.

Enlighten about NCBC bill-2017

  • The bill is meant to upgrade the Backward Classes Commission from a statutory body to a constitutional body, which will give it powers equal to a court to summon people and inquire into incidents of violence and discrimination against backward classes.
  • The amended bill will now have to be returned to the Lok Sabha for its fresh approval. The Lower House had already passed the bill but in the Upper House it had been referred to a Select Committee as the Opposition had wanted more scrutiny. The Constituent amendment bill’s passage requires two-third majority of those present and voting.

Energy Resources

Methanol as an alternative fuel

NITI Ayog to study the automobile standards developed in China to use methanol as an alternative fuel. Experts believe that Methanol economy will help India use its vast reserves of coal while driving import substitution.

Enlighten about Methanol

  • Methanol is a promising fuel for waterways as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels
  • India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present.
  • Methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future.
  • Methanol can be blended with gasoline in low-quantities and used in existing road vehicles, or it can be used in high-proportion blends
  • Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide.