Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 16, 2017

Cabinet Decisions

Cabinet approves continuation of NLCPR scheme for North East till March 2020
Also approves introduction of new Scheme, NESIDS till March 2020

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the continuation of the existing Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme with funding pattern of 90:10 till March, 2020 with an outlay of Rs.5300.00 crore. It would enable completion of ongoing projects.
The Union Cabinet also approved the introduction of new Central Sector Scheme of “North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS) from 2017-18 with 100% funding from the Central Government to fill up the gaps in creation of infrastructure in specified sectors till March, 2020.

Features of NESIDS:

The new scheme will broadly cover creation of infrastructure under following sectors:-

a) Physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and specially the projects promoting tourism;
b) Infrastructure of social sectors of education and health.

Benefits of NESIDS:

The assets to be created under the new scheme of NESIDS will not only strengthen health care and education facilities in the region but will also encourage tourism thereby the employment opportunities for local youth. The scheme will act as a catalyst in overall development of the region in the years to come.

Environment & Ecology

ECO-NIWAS

  • On the Energy Conservation Day celebrated on December 14th, the government unveiled the interactive online portal, ECO-NIWAS (Energy Conservation – New Indian Way for Affordable & Sustainable homes) for increasing awareness to build sustainable and energy efficient homes in the country.

Enlighten about the Energy Conservation Day

  • The Energy Conservation Day is organized on 14th December each year by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under Ministry of Power, with an aim to demonstrate India’s achievements in energy efficiency and conservation, while working for its ambition of holistic development as part of the nation’s overall effort towards climate change mitigation.
  • As part of its awareness outreach, BEE recognizes and encourages endeavours of industries in reducing energy consumption by felicitating them with National Energy Conservation Awards.
  • BEE also awards prizes to the national winners of the annual National Painting Competition on Energy Conservation.

Science & Technology

CSR Summit for Pioneering Cochlear Implant Surgery

  • CSR Summit for Pioneering Cochlear Implant Surgery under CSR initiative of Airport Authority of India (AAI) through Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO) was recently inaugurated.
  • This major CSR initiative of AAI will help the children to completely overcome their hearing disability, thereby enabling them to hear and speak coherently and making them fully independent to lead a normal and productive life.
  • This effort will not only bring these underprivileged children to the mainstream of life but will also contribute to national economy.

Enlighten about its background –

  • An estimate shows that around 35,000 children need Cochlear Implant annually in India.
  • Government of India has made provision to sponsor 500 numbers under the ADIP Scheme which is minuscule in comparison to actual requirement.
  • Till date more than 1000 number of Cochlear Implant Surgeries have been successfully conducted in the country under the ADIP Government of India and CSR funds.

Enlighten about Cochlear implant –

  • Cochlear Implant is an electronic device having two parts (External and Internal).
  • Internal part is surgically implanted in the skull (Cochlear) by ENT surgeons.
  • Post-operative rehabilitation is undertaken by Audiologist and speech language pathologist and special educator of Hearing Impaired.
  • Parent have very important role in stimulating child to learn speech and language at home and maintain the external part (Processor).
  • The cochlear implant technology may help children who:
  • Have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.
  • Receive little or no benefit from hearing aids.
  • No Development Delay or Mental Retardation.

Enlighten about CSR

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) acknowledges the corporation’s duty that the corporation owes to the community within which it operates.
  • It regards the community as an equal stakeholder.
  • As per provision of Company Act 2013 it is now mandatory for all companies to contribute 2% of their 3-year average annual net profit on their CSR activities as mentioned in Schedule VII of the acts with effect from April, 2014.
  • Further added in Scheduled VII there is provision of aids and appliances to Divyangjans under ‘Promoting Health and Care including preventive health care’.
  • Activities undertaken by corporates under their CSR obligation could prove a game changer for providing sustainable development in Social Sector.
  • Disability sector is one of the area which needs to be addressed for inclusive growth of the society and CSR provide the huge opportunity to serve the persons with disabilities that fall under vulnerable section of society.

Defence

Exercise Ekuverin – 2017
India – Maldives bilateral military exercise
Where – Belagavi, Karnataka

Implementing body –

  • The eight edition of India, Maldives bilateral military exercise EKUVERIN 2017 was held in India in Belagavi, Karnataka.
  • The aim of the exercise was to conduct military training between armies of both countries with emphasis on counter insurgency, counter terrorism operations (CICT Ops).

Enlighten about the exercise -

  • The focus of exercise was to acquaint both armies with each other’s operating procedures in backdrop of CICT Ops in urban or semi-urban environment under United Nations charter.
  • It was aimed at enhancing interoperability between two armies as contingents hone their tactical and technical skills. The exercise provided opportunity for two armies to activate Joint Operations Centre at Belagavi.
  • In this edition of exercise, Maldivian team was represented by two officers and 43 other ranks, while Indian Army was represented by three officers, three Junior Commissioned Officers and 39 other ranks belonging to Gorkha Rifles Battalion (Sirmoor Rifles).
  • Indian Army and Maldives National Defence Force have been holding Exercise Ekuverin (meaning ‘friends’ in the Maldivian language) since 2009 on alternate years in their countries.
  • The last one was held at Kaddhoo in the Lammu Atol of Maldives.
  • It had conducted military training between armies of both countries with emphasis on amphibious & CICT Ops.

Environment

Ken – Betwa linking Project
Government is planning to club phase I and phase II

Implementing body –

  • The Union Government is planning to club phase I and phase II of its ambitious Ken-Betwa inter linking river (ILR) project.
  • The phases will be clubbed after Madhya Pradesh, one of the two beneficiary states (Uttar Pradesh in another), demanded so.
  • It will result in revision of project’s cost.
  • The costs for first phase was estimated at Rs. 18,000 crore and second phase was Rs. 8000 crore.

Enlighten about the linking Project –

  • The Centre’s ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project, which had received almost all major environmental clearances had hit roadblock earlier this year after Madhya Pradesh government allegedly objected to it.
  • The state government had allegedly warned that first phase of project would not be allowed to take off if as it has not reworked to incorporate three other smaller projects – Bina complex, Lower Orr dam and Kotha barrage projects – in initial phase.
  • These three projects were to be implemented in the second phase which aimed to connect the rivers Ken in Madhya Pradesh and Betwa in Uttar Pradesh.

Ken-Betwa ILR project

  • The Ken-Betwa ILR project aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken River to the Betwa basin through concrete canal to irrigate India’s worst drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
  • On completion, the multipurpose project will benefit Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in terms of meeting irrigation, drinking water and electricity needs of people across 6 districts in the two states.
  • The project comprises two powerhouse of 2×30 MW and 3×6 MW each, two tunnels of 1.9 km long upper level, 1.1 km long tunnel lower level and 221 km long Ken-Betwa link canal passing through Jhansi, Banda and Mahoba districts of Uttar Pradesh and Chhatarpur, Panna and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh.

India & The World

India – Australia – Japan Trilateral Dialogue
4th edition – held in New Delhi

  • The 4th India-Australia-Japan Trilateral Dialogue was hosted by India in New Delhi.
  • It was hosted by India’s Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar, Australia’s Secretary of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson and Japan’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shinsuke J. Sugiyama

Enlighten about the trilateral dialogue –

  • The three sides highlighted the growing convergence of their respective countries’ interests in Indo-Pacific region.
  • They underscored their shared commitment to peace, democracy, economic growth and rules-based order in region.
  • They also underscored their support for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) centrality in political and security architecture of Indo-Pacific region.
  • The three sides also stressed need for greater collaboration on maritime security and domain awareness and disaster response capabilities.
  • They also renewed their resolve to fight scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed need for enhanced cooperation on counterterrorism.
  • They also deliberated on strengthening regional connectivity as well.
  • They welcomed regular meetings of this important dialogue mechanism.
  • The Japanese Vice Minister has proposed to host the next round of the dialogue in Tokyo, capital city of Japan

Science & Tech

MIT Scientists create plants that can glow in dark

Implementing body –

  • Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US have found a novel way to induce plants to give off dim light by embedding specialised nanoparticles into their leaves.
  • The purpose of this experiment was to make plant function as a desk lamp, powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself and not by electricity connection.

Enlighten about it -

  • To create the glowing plants, scientists has used luciferase, an enzyme that gives fireflies their glow.
  • Luciferase acts on molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light.
  • Moreover, they had used another molecule called co-enzyme A which helps process along by removing reaction by-product that can inhibit luciferase activity.
  • They had packaged each of these three components into silica nanoparticle carrier about 10 nanometres in diameter to carry luciferase.
  • They also used slightly larger particles of the polymers PLGA and chitosan to carry luciferin and coenzyme A, respectively.
  • To get the nanoparticles particles into plant leaves, scientists first had suspended particles in solution.
  • Then plants were immersed in solution and later exposed to high pressure.
  • It allowed particles to enter leaves through tiny pores called stomata.
  • Particles releasing luciferin and coenzyme A were designed to accumulate in extracellular space of mesophyll, an inner layer of leaf, while smaller particles carrying luciferase enter cells that make up mesophyll.
  • The PLGA particles gradually released luciferin in solution, which then entered plant cells, where luciferase performs chemical reaction that makes luciferin glow. In this experiment, plants glowed for about 45 minutes.

Bilateral Agreements

India – Morocco ink agreements for cooperation in Water Resources, Road and Marine Sectors

  • India and Morocco have signed four agreements for cooperation in Water Resources, Road and Marine Sectors.
  • They were signed after Morocco’s Minister for Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water meet Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping in New Delhi.
  • Both sides discussed matters relating to India-Morocco bilateral cooperation in road transport, water resources and the marine sector.

MoUs /Agreements signed are

  • MoU on cooperation in the field of Water Resources;
  • Agreement to establish cooperation between Indian Maritime University (IMU) and Higher Institute of Maritime Studies (ISEM) of Morocco.
  • Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Training between National Ports Agency (NPA) of Morocco and Indian Maritime University (IMU).
  • Cooperation Framework Agreement between Institute of Training in Engines and Road Maintenance of Morocco (IFEER) and Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE).

Reports/Index

World Inequality Report 2018

  • It is published by World Wealth & Income Database, which tracks information on income distribution
  • Among major economic blocks, with the exception of West Asia, India’s record on inequality is the worst
  • The level of income inequality in India in 2016 matched that in sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil,

Role played by tax laws

  • Rise in income inequality has been more gradual in India since 1980 compared to Russia, where it has been abrupt and compared to China, where it was moderate
  • This indicates the role played by policies and institutions in evening out inequality by using “tax progressivity” i.e. higher taxes on the rich
  • Income taxes are levied based on a person’s ability to pay and the rate increases as income level progresses

Efforts by India to bridge the gap

  • India has been trying to tackle income inequality with a combination of direct transfer of entitlements to the intended beneficiaries, drive against tax evasion and schemes meant to improve access to energy and finance by the poor
  • The findings of the report come at a time when the central government has started working on drafting a new direct tax code which is likely to rejig the tax structure
  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir is set to make a bold experiment with a universal basic income scheme from the next financial year