Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - February 12, 2018

SPMAA Scheme for Pension and Medical Aid to Artistes’ (SPMAA)

What it is -

  • to improve financial and socio-economic status of the old aged artistes and scholars who have contributed significantly in their specialized fields of arts, letters etc

Eligibility -

  • personal income of the applicant artiste (including income of the spouse) must not exceed Rs.4,000/month
  • This excludes artiste pension assistance amount already getting by a beneficiary from the Government (i.e. concerned State Govt./UT Administration and/or Ministry of Culture).
  • Also, the applicant artiste should not be less than 60 (sixty) years of age (this does not apply in the case of spouse) and the applicant artiste is getting pension of at least Rs.500/- per month from the concerned State Government/UT Administration.

State Specific

Karnataka State Flag Committee constituted by the state government recommends separate State Flag

Specification of the flag -

  • Tricolour having yellow (at top), white (in middle) and red (at bottom) colorus, with state’s emblem Gandaberunda (a two-headed mythological bird)

What’s the next step

  • After getting formal state Cabinet approval, state government will make a formal application to Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) under whose purview the issue falls to amend the Flag Code 2002.
  • The amendment will add provisions of including Karnataka flag as one of the symbols in the Flag Code.

Enlighten about the committee

  • The committee was headed by the principal secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture and was set up in June 2017 after a representation from noted Kannada writer and journalist PatilPuttappa, and social worker BheemappaGundappaGadada had requested state government to design a separate flag for ‘Kannada Naadu’ and accord it legal standing.
  • Currently, unofficial yellow and red ‘Kannada flag’ is hoisted in state on 1 November every year to commemorate state formation day.
  • It was designed by Veera SenaniMa.Ramamurthy in the 1960s.

Renewable Energy

DEVELOPMENT OF Solar Cities Scheme

Implementing Ministry -

  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)
  • MNRE has sanctioned development of 60 Solar Cities including 13 Pilot and 5 Model Cities up to 12th Five-year Plan period (2012–2017).

Enlighten about the Scheme

  • The Scheme aims at reducing minimum 10% in projected demand of conventional energy at end of five years, through combination of enhancing supply from renewable energy sources in city and energy efficiency measures.
  • Under it, local Governments are motivated for adopting renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.
  • This scheme will have all types of renewable energy based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, waste to energy etc.


Prithvi-II missile test Successfully test-fired

  • Indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile
  • It was tested as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range in Odisha
  • The was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur

Enlighten about the Missile -

  • It is a surface-to-surface missile
  • It has a strike range of 350 km
  • It is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kilogram of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines
  • It is nine-metre-tall and single-stage liquid-fuelled missile
  • It was developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)
  • It is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

Cabinet Approvals

Union Cabinet has approved amendment to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development(MSMED) Act, 2006

Why -

  • to encourage ease of doing business, make MSME classification norms growth oriented and align them to new indirect tax regime revolving around Goods & Services Tax (GST).
  • This will define units producing goods and rendering services in terms of annual turnover.
  • It will pave the way for increased direct and indirect employment in the MSME sector of the country.

New Classification Criteria (based on turnover)

  • Micro enterprise: It will be unit with annual turnover does not exceed Rs. 5 crore.
  • Small enterprise: It will be unit with annual turnover is more than Rs. 5 crore but does not exceed Rs. 75 crore.
  • Medium enterprise: It will be unit with annual turnover is more than Rs. 75 crore but does not exceed Rs. 250 crore.
  • The amendment empowers Central Government to vary turnover limits, provided not exceeding thrice the limits specified in Section 7 of MSMED Act by issuing notification.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved to enhance target base of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) from 5 crore to 8 crore.

Enlighten about Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • Implemented by -Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • PMUY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016 with the tagline of Swachh Indhan, Behtar Jeevan.
  • To provide free of cost LPG (cooking gas) connections to women from BPL Households.
  • Through it, cash assistance is given to beneficiaries to get a deposit-free new connection
  • The scheme aims to empower women and protect their health by shifting them from traditional cooking based on unclean cooking fuels or on fossil fuels to clean cooking gas.

Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)

  • The Union Cabinet has approved implementation of Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme for doctoral students pursuing research in areas related to technology.
  • It aims to realize importance of innovation and technology for progress and development of the nation.

Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme

  • The fellowship scheme was announced in the Budget Speech 2018-19.
  • It will be implemented for period of seven years beginning 2018-19 at total cost of Rs. 1650 crore.
  • Under it, best students who have completed or are in final year of B. Tech/Integrated M.Tech/M.Sc courses in Science and Technology streams from IISc/IITs/IISERs/ NITs/IIITs will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in IITs/IISc.
  • Maximum of 3000 Fellows would be selected in three year period, beginning 2018-19.
  • Monthly fellowship: Selected students through selection process laid down in PMRF Guidelines will be offered monthly fellowship of Rs.70,000 for first two years, Rs.75,000 for 3rd year and Rs.80,000 in 4th and 5th years.
  • Research grant: Each selected fellow students will be also provided research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh for period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.

Ratification of Minamata Convention

What -

  • The Union Cabinet has approved proposal for ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury and depositing instrument of ratification enabling India to become Party of Convention.
  • The approval entails ratification of convention along with flexibility for continued use of mercury-based products and processes involving mercury compound up to 2025.

Minamata Convention on Mercury

  • It is global treaty that aims to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
  • It derives its name after Japanese city Minamata which had went through devastating incident of mercury poisoning.

It aims to control anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle.

Obligations on Parties of Convention

  • Ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones.
  • Phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes.
  • Control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water.
  • Regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold minining

Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) Ratification of protocol between India and China

  • The Union Cabinet has approved signing and ratification of protocol amending Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and China.
  • The DTAA aims for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and update the provisions on exchange of information of the DTAA to the latest international standards.

Enlighten about the amending protocol -

  • The amending protocol updates existing provisions of DTAA for exchange of information to the latest international standards.
  • It also incorporates changes required to implement treaty related minimum standards under Action reports of Base Erosion & Profit shifting (BEPS) Project, in which India also had participated.
  • It will also bring in changes as per BEPS Action reports as agreed upon by two countries.

Discovered Small Field (DSF)

  • The Union Cabinet has approved second round of Discovered Small Field (DSF) auctions under Discovered Small Field Policy.
  • The auction will offer total of 60 discovered small fields/un-monetized discoveries with an estimated 194.65 Million Metric tonnes of oil.

Enlighten about the significance

  • These fields will be developed and monetized faster.
  • It will augment production of oil and gas leading to enhance energy security of the country.
  • The investments into these fields will lead to estimated generation of over 88,000 jobs as direct, indirect and induced employment.
  • This policy will be also extended for future round of bidding.
  • The Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had launched first round of DSF in May 2016 under new liberalized DSF policy.

International Labour Organization (ILO) The Recommendation No.-205

  • Cabinet approves placing new recommendation adopted by International Labour Organization (ILO) concerning “The Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience (Recommendation No-205) before Parliament.
  • The Recommendation No.-205 was adopted at 106th Session of International Labour Conference of ILO in Geneva in June, 2015.
  • India also had supported the adoption of Recommendation.
  • Its adoption and placing for information of Parliament does not create any immediate obligation on countries.
  • ILO Recommendations are non-binding instrument which seeks to serve as guiding principle for national policy process.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • The ILO is United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all.
  • It was established in 1919 as an agency of the League of Nations and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • India is a founder member of the ILO. At present, it has 187 members.
  • The principal means of action in the ILO is the setting up of International standards in the form of Conventions, Recommendations and Protocol.


Mahamastakabhisheka – 2018

  • 88th Mahamastakabhisheka (head anointing ceremony) of the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali has begun at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka.

Enlighten about About Mahamastakabhisheka

  • The mastakabhisheka is held once in 12 years.
  • One of the biggest festivals for the Jain community, it honors Lord Bahubali, a revered Jain icon.
  • According to Jain texts, Bahubaliattained liberation from the cycle of births and deaths (moksha) at Mount Kailash and is revered as a liberated soul (Siddha) by the Jains.
  • Bahubali is also called Gommateshwara because of theGommateshwara statue dedicated to him and as lord “Kammateswara” from an inscription.
  • The Gommateshwara statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya; it is a 57-foot monolith situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district, Karnataka state, India.
  • It was built in around 981 A.D. and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world.