Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 28, 2017

Bilateral Relations

India, Sri Lanka ink housing project deal in Hambantota

  • Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India to build 1,200 houses in the southern port city- Hambantota.
  • Of the 1,200 houses to be built, 600 will be constructed in the Southern Province, while the remaining would be built across Sri Lanka, through one model village in each of the country’s 25 districts.

Enlighten about it -

  • The coastal city of Hambantota gained strategic significance after President Rajapaksa built a massive port and an airport with huge Chinese loans.
  • In July this year, his successor government sold a majority stake of the port to China to service an outstanding $8-billion debt it owes China, fanning concerns of countries with competing strategic interests, particularly India and the U.S. Local residents protested the selling of “national assets to foreign entities” leading to violent clashes.

Significance of Hambantota -

  • Hambantota is right in the middle of vital energy supply lines in the Indian Ocean, connecting the Middle East and East Asia
  • The signing of the MoU in Hambantota assumes significance not only in its timing, but also in taking India’s housing project to the Sinhala-majority Southern Province.
  • India has been taking steps to protect itself in the Indian Ocean by allying itself with the United States and Japan in a clear bid to counter growing Chinese influence

Hambantota

  • Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.
  • This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is underwent a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport.

Consumer Affairs

International Conference on Consumer Protection

  • PM inaugurates International Conference on Consumer Protection for East, South and South-East Asian Countries with the theme of “Empowering Consumers in New Markets” in New Delhi

Enlighten about the conference

  • International Conference on Consumer Protection is being organised by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India in association with UNCTAD.
  • This is the first time an international conference on consumer protection is being organised by India for 22 countries from East, South and South-East Asia which account for a majority of the global consumers and share common challenges and experiences.

UNCTAD

  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964.
  • UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues.
  • The primary objective of UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology.
  • The conference ordinarily meets once in four years; the permanent secretariat is in Geneva.

Judicial Directions

Cell to fight child porn – Direction from the SC

  • The SC has asked the Centre to implement the proposal of a high-powered committee to set up a cell within the CBI or the Ministry of Home Affairs to deal with such crimes
  • The bench asked the government to file a status report on the implementation of the recommendations and submit it in a sealed cover before December 11

Some important recommendations of the committee

  • According to the committee, the solution lay in “proactively identifying rogue sites by an independent agency which can identify sites that contains child porn and rape and gang rape content and blocking these sites”
  • It added that “to prevent the circulation of subject imagery, government can block any additional sites/applications if they do not remove such contents of their own”

Economy

BLOCK DEAL norms revised by SEBI

  • Markets regulator SEBI has revised the framework for ‘block deals’ by providing two separate trading windows of 15 minutes each and increasing the minimum order size to Rs. 10 crore.

Why this move by SEBI

  • The move is aimed at ensuring confidentiality of the large trades and stable prices for such transactions.
  • The block deal window is provided for buyers and sellers to execute trades for a large number of shares.
  • Such deals are usually negotiated before their execution.
  • Presently, block deal for shares worth Rs. 5 crore through a single transaction is allowed.
  • The final norms have been put in place after taking into consideration views of market participants and Secondary Market Advisory Committee (SMAC).
  • The pricing would be based on the volume weighted average market price (VWAP) of the trades executed in the stock in the cash segment between 1:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Rural Development

Bharat Net Project – Phase - I to be completed by December

  • Bharat Net has now reached 83,000 gram panchayats
  • It will be providing internet access to 100,000 gram panchayats

‘i-Bharat 2017’

  • It was a conference based on the theme of ‘ICT Elucidations for Unserved and Unsolved’
  • It was organized by industry body FICCI in association with the ministry of electronics and information technology

Two important areas in the interplay of technology and policy

  • There are two areas in the interplay of technology and policy where the world is closely looking at India
  • One is how India will leverage its Aadhaar and Election Commission data base
  • Second, how will the country tackle the privacy debate after the Supreme Court ruling on privacy being a fundamental right

Bharatnet Project

  • Bharat Net Project is the new brand name of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) which was launched in October, 2011 to provide broadband connectivity to all 2.5 Lakh Gram Panchayats. It was renamed Bharatnet in 2015.

Objective

  • The primary objective was to extend the existing optical fibre network up to Panchayat level.
  • Bharat Net is being funded through Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF).
  • The Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF) was established with the fundamental objective of providing access to ‘Basic’ telegraph services to people in the rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.
  • Subsequently the scope was widened to provide subsidy support for enabling access to all types of telegraph services including mobile services, broadband connectivity and creation of infrastructure like OFC in rural and remote areas

National Solar Mission

Indian Railway’s first set of solar plant of 5 MW capacity launched

  • Indian Railway’s first set of solar plants with total capacity of 5 megawatt peak (MWp) was launched on roof tops of Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi, Anand Vihar and Delhi railway stations by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
  • This project was launched as part of Union Government’s ambitious National Solar Mission in which Indian Railways plans to commission 1000 MWp solar plants across its network.

Enlighten about it

  • The first set of solar plant will generate 76.5 lakh units of solar power cumulatively per year and will meet about 30% of energy requirement of these stations.
  • Through these project, railways will save Rs 421.4 lakh annually and will reduce 6082 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • The project was awarded in December 2016 and bought in by the developer at cost Rs.37.45 crore under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
  • The developer will maintain it for 25 years and Railways will only pay energy consumed at Rs 4.14 per unit.

Science and Tech

REPAIR: Scientists develop RNA editing tool to combat genetic disease

  • Scientists from The Broad Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in US have developed RNA Editing for Programmable A to I Replacement (REPAIR), a new gene editing tool therapies that can reverse disease-causing mutations in humans.
  • REPAIR gene editing tool can tweak an individual RNA ‘letters’ in human cells without making changes to entire genome and can have profound potential as a tool for both research and disease treatment.

REPAIR

  • REPAIR is based on gene editing tool CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) that can be used to modify DNA in cells.
  • The new tool can change single RNA nucleosides in mammalian cells in a programmable and precise fashion.
  • To create REPAIR, scientists had systematically profiled CRISPR-Cas13 enzyme family for potential editor candidates.
  • They had selected enzyme called PspCas13b from Prevotella bacteria which was most effective at inactivating RNA.

National

Government gives LoI to 7 companies for 14 monuments under Adopt a Heritage Scheme

  • The Union Ministry of Tourism gave Letters of Intent (LoI) to seven shortlisted companies for adopting 14 monuments under Adopt a Heritage Scheme at the closing ceremony of ‘Paryatan Parv’ held in New Delhi.
  • The shortlisted companies will be future ‘Monument Mitras’ who would associate pride with their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) activities.
  • 14 adopted monuments include: Jantar Mantar, Purana Quila, Safdarjung Tomb, Agrasen ki Baoli, and Qutub Minar (Delhi), Hampi (Karnataka), Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra), Sun Temple, Raja Rani Temple and Ratnagiri Monuments (Odisha), Leh Palace and Mt. StokKangri (Jammu & Kashmir), Mattancherry Palace Museum (Kerala), Gangotri Temple Area and Trail (Uttarakhand).

Enlighten about it –

  • These companies were selected by Inter-Ministerial Oversight and Vision Committee of Ministry after detailed scrutiny of 57 responses ranging from travel industry, hospitality industry and banking industry for adopting monuments under the Adopt a Heritage Scheme.

Adopt a Heritage Scheme (Apni Dharohar Apni Pehchan Project)

  • The scheme was launched by Union Ministry of Tourism on World Tourism Day (27th September).
  • Under it, Private, Public Sector Companies and Corporate individuals were invited to adopt heritage sites and to take up responsibility for making them and promote sustainable tourism through conservation and development under their CSR activities.
  • This scheme was launched by Tourism Ministry in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • It envisages at developing monuments, heritage and tourist sites across India and making them tourist friendly and enhance their tourism potential and cultural importance in planned and phased manner.

Infra Sector

India has to spend 50 lakh crore on infra – CRISIL

  • India has to spend 50 lakh crore on infra over the next five years or close to Rs 3000 crore a day to build its infrastructure sustainably.

Challenges:

  • Investments by the private sector and states are likely to remain subdued in the near term.
  • Weak project preparation
  • Poorly structured contracts with inappropriate risk allocation
  • Irrational bidding exuberance
  • Over reliance on bank-led financing leading to deeply indebted developers and gargantuan stressed assets in banking.
  • The takeover of distribution utility losses under the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) and the recent agri-loan waivers have further strained state finances.

Measures to be taken:

  • To resolve the issue of non-performing assets NPAs
  • To revive stalled projects
  • To facilitate easier exits
  • Front-ending of bankable projects
  • Comprehensive retooling of public-private partnership frameworks – introduce calibrated public-private partnership (PPP) models such as hybrid annuity and toll-operate-transfer in highway
  • Deepening of the infrastructure financing ecosystem.

CRISIL rating

  • Crisil launched it infrastructure investability index that tracks, measures and assesses the development, maturity and investment attractiveness of infrastructure sectors.
  • The index is based on four parameters – policy direction, institutional strength and regulatory maturity, financial sustainability, and implementation ease.
  • Being an ascending scale, a score of 1 reflects least investment attractiveness and maturity, and a score of 10 highest investment attractiveness and maturity.
  • The Crisil InfraInvex scores for 2017 show that the power transmission sector in India is the most attractive to invest in currently, followed by roads & highways, and renewable energy. The urban sector, which is the least attractive right now.

Bilateral Agreements

India, Sri Lanka ink housing project deal in Hambantota

  • Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India to build 1,200 houses in the southern port city- Hambantota.
  • Of the 1,200 houses to be built, 600 will be constructed in the Southern Province, while the remaining would be built across Sri Lanka, through one model village in each of the country’s 25 districts.

Enlighten about Hambantota

  • Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.
  • This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is underwent a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport.

Bilateral Agreements

India, Sri Lanka ink housing project deal in Hambantota

  • Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India to build 1,200 houses in the southern port city- Hambantota.
  • Of the 1,200 houses to be built, 600 will be constructed in the Southern Province, while the remaining would be built across Sri Lanka, through one model village in each of the country’s 25 districts.

Enlighten about Hambantota

  • Hambantota is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.
  • This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is underwent a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport.

Defence

Russian Team In Vizag To Inspect Damaged Submarine

  • A Russian technical team is in Vizag for a joint investigation into the mysterious damage suffered by INS Chakra, the nuclear submarine leased to India in 2011,

INS Chakra –

  • INS Chakra is a Russia-made, nuclear-propelled, hunter-killer submarine.
  • The Akula class submarine is an SSN, and is to provide escort to INS Arihant, the indigenously constructed ballistic missile submarine that would carry nuclear missiles.
  • INS Chakra has been taken on lease from Russia for 10 years to provide the Navy the opportunity to train personnel and operate such nuclear-powered vessels.

National Day

27 October: Infantry Day

  • The Infantry Day in observed every year in India on 27 October to commemorate supreme sacrifices made by Indian Army’s infantry against Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1947.
  • It was first infantry action by Indian Army after independence. Observance of the day also commemorates infantry’s exceptional courage and dedicated service to nation.

Enlighten about it

  • On this day in 1947, Indian Army from 1st Battalion of SIKH Regiment had taken bold action to thwart nefarious designs to invade J&K by Pakistani Army supported tribals.
  • The infantry of Indian Army was airdropped after troops were airlifted from Delhi and landed at Srinagar to liberate Kashmir from invaders in order to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation.
  • The operation was undertaken following orders of then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru after Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of princely state of J&K signed Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 to accede or merge state with India

Miscellaneous

Kilogram will get new measure set by value of Planck constant from 2019

  • The International Conference of heads of Metrology Institutes held in Sevres, France has decided that the measure of kilogram will no longer be pegged to cylinder. From 2019 onwards, it will be set by value of Planck constant in combination with definitions of meter and second.

Why it was changed?

  • Till now, the kilogram is the only one among units of measures pegged to real object.
  • It was pegged to a cylinder (shown in fig) made up of 90% platinum and 10% iridium (In India, salt-shaker-sized cylinder weighing exactly a kilogram in National Physical Laboratory was used as ideal measure of kilogram since 1957).

New measure for kilogram

  • The new measure for kilogram from 2019 will be derived from constants of nature that are all interdependent.
  • ‎It will be set by value of Planck constant in combination with definitions of meter and second.
  • Kibble balance will be used to make accurate measures of Planck constant. ‎Kibble balance is set of scales, which uses force produced by current-carrying wire in magnetic field to balance weight of mass.