Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - June 8, 2018

Science and Tech

Indian Scientists discovered Planet

  • A team of scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, have discovered a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size planet, which is about 27 times the mass of Earth and six times the radius of Earth.
  • The plant revolves around a Sun-like star, some 600 light years away from Earth.
  • The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed ‘PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search’ (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m telescope at PRL’s Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu.
  • With this discovery, India has joined a select league of countries which has discovered planets around stars.
  • Name of host star - EPIC 211945201 or K2-236
  • The planet will be known as - EPIC 211945201b or K2-236b.

Government Schemes

Atal Bhujal Yojana The aim is to improve water management through community participation. World Bank approves Rs. 6,000 crore Atal Bhujal Yojana

  • To address concerns about depleting groundwater reserves in India, the government has joined hands with the World Bank to execute a ₹6,000-crore scheme called the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY).
  • The scheme is to be implemented over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23, according to a statement from the Union water Ministry
  • The Atal Bhujal Yojana “aims to improve ground water management in priority areas in the country through community participation,” the statement said.
  • The priority areas identified under the scheme fall in Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which represent about 25% of the total number of over-exploited, critical and semi-critical blocks in terms of groundwater in India.

Enlighten about the objective of ABY

  • The scheme envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as formation of Water User Associations, monitoring and disseminating ground water data, water budgeting, preparation and implementation of Gram-Panchayat wise water security plans and IEC activities related to sustainable ground water management.
  • Community participation is also expected to facilitate bottom-up groundwater planning process to improve the effectiveness of public financing and align implementation of various government programs on groundwater in the participating s0tates.
  • The implementation of the scheme is expected to have several positive outcomes like better understanding of the ground water regime, focused and integrated community based approach for addressing issues related to ground water depletion, sustainable ground water management through convergence of on-going and new schemes, adoption of efficient water use practices to reduce ground water use for irrigation and augmentation of ground water resources in targeted areas.

Index/Report

Global Peace Index (GPI) Released by Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)

  • India’s rank has marginally improved in “global peacefulness
  • Pakistan’s rank too has improved marginally, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI), released by Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
  • The IEP, world’s leading think tank that develops metrics to analyse peace and quantify its economic value, released the 12th edition of the GPI
  • India’s GPI rank was 137 out of 163 countries in 2017, when the year 2016 was assessed. India’s rank moved up to 136 for 2017.
  • Nepal’s rank moved up from 93 to 84, while Sri Lanka’s position moved up too, from position 80 to 67.
  • Pakistan’s rank moved from 152 to 151.
  • South Asia experienced the largest regional improvement in peacefulness
  • Bhutan, slipped from 13th to 19th position, while Bangladesh’ peace index deteriorated sharply. Bangladesh moved from 84th to 93rd position.
  • The results of the 2018 GPI find that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27% last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations
  • Syria remained the least peaceful country in the world, a position that it had held for the past five years.
  • Iceland continues to remain the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008.

Election Commission

ECI Launches its online RTI Portal

  • The online portal will facilitate applicants seeking information under the Right to Information Act.
  • The portal can be accessed by general public on the Home Page of the Commission’s website `eci.nic.in’ by clicking on `Online RTI’.
  • There is also online payment gateway for making payment of requisite fees under the RTI Act.
  • The portal also facilitates online reply to applications and also for making first appeal and reply thereto.
  • There will be timely notification alerts to RTI applicant via SMS and E-Mail.

Ministry of Commerce

President Approves Promulgation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018.

  • The President gave assent to promulgate the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018.

Relief for Home Buyers

  • The Ordinance provides significant relief to home buyers by recognizing their status as financial creditors.
  • This would give them due representation in the Committee of Creditors and make them an integral part of the decision making process.
  • It will also enable home buyers to invoke Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 against errant developers.

Special dispensation for MSME

  • The Ordinance empowers the Government to provide the MSMEs with a special dispensation under the Code.
  • The immediate benefit it provides is that, it does not disqualify the promoter to bid for his enterprise undergoing Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) provided he is not a willful defaulter and does not attract other disqualifications not related to default.
  • It also empowers the Central Government to allow further exemptions or modifications with respect to the MSME Sector, if required, in public interest.
  • The Ordinance lays down a strict procedure if an applicant wants to withdraw a case after its admission under IBC 2016.
  • Such withdrawal would be permissible only with the approval of the Committee of Creditors with 90 percent of the voting share or we can say that there can be no withdrawal once the commercial process of EoIs and bids commences.
  • Separately, the Regulations will bring in further clarity by laying down mandatory timelines, processes and procedures for corporate insolvency resolution process.
  • The above mentioned changes are expected to further strengthen the Insolvency Resolution Framework in the country and produce better outcomes in terms ofresolution as opposed to liquidation, time taken, cost incurred and recovery rate.

Banking

Public Credit Registry (PCR)

  • A Public Credit Registry (PCR) as a repository of information regarding loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers is going to be set up by RBI as per recommendations of Y.M. Deosthalee committee set up by the central bank.
  • This registry will distinguish between bad borrowers and good borrowers and will offer interest rates accordingly.
  • This will help in improving access to credit, strengthen the credit culture and strengthen the banking system because at present, the corporate borrowers lend from multiple banks without disclosing their existing debt.
  • The Y.M. Deosthalee committee was set up by RBI and had submitted its report in April, 2018.

The major recommendations of this committee report are as follows:

  • RBI should set up a Public Credit Registry in due course and this should be backed by a legal framework. The central bank may also consider moving such registry to a separate non-profit entity.
  • PCR will work as a repository of all loan contracts, duly verified by reporting institutions for all / any lending in India, regardless of the amount of the loan.
  • PCR should also capture data such as external commercial borrowings, market borrowings, and all contingent liabilities; and should provide an holistic picture about the borrower’s indebtedness.
  • The registry should capture both positive and negative information about all loans. The borrowers should also be able to access their own history.
  • The PCR data should be available to all stakeholders such as banks on a need-to-know basis. There should be adequate safeguards on privacy protection.
  • Onus of data quality should be on reporting agencies and institutions and action should be taken against the institutions in case of any violations in rules.
  • The database should also be linked to defaulter databases such as those maintained by Export Credit Guarantee Corp. of India, GST network etc.

Defence

Exercise-Malabar 2018

  • Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri, Shakti and Kamorta arrived at Guam to participate in the 22nd edition of Exercise Malabar, off Guam, USA from 07 to 16 June 2018.

Enlighten about Exercise Malabar

  • It was started as a bilateral exercise between the US Navy and the Indian Navy in 1992, has evolved over the years with the participation of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) from 2007.
  • Over the last 26 years, this Maritime Exercise has grown in scope and complexity and aims at increasing the level of mutual understanding, inter-operability and sharing of the best practices between the three navies.
  • Malabar 17 was held in July last year on the Eastern Sea Board of India, off Chennai and Visakhapatnam.
  • It is for the first time that the exercise is being conducted off Guam, a major US Naval Base in the Western Pacific.
  • It would be of interest to note that the US has recently named their Hawaii-based Pacific Command as the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
  • The Indian Navy will be represented by the two indigenously designed and built ships, the multi-purpose stealth frigate INS Sahyadri and Anti-Submarine Warfare corvette, INS Kamorta as also by Fleet Tanker INS Shakti and Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft P8I.

Operation NISTAR Successfully Culminates with Safe Disembarkations of 38 Indian Nationals at Porbandar

  • Indian Naval Ship Sunayana successfully evacuated 38 Indian Nationals at/ off Socotra Islands (Porbandar) during a swift Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operation (HADR), code named Operation NISTAR.
  • The Indian Nationals were stranded for nearly ten days after severe Cyclonic Storm – Mekunu devastated the area around Socotra Island.

Sources – PIB, The Hindu, TOI