Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 7, 2017

Nobel Prize 2017

Nobel Peace Prize 2017 awarded to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

  • Norwegian Nobel Committee has selected Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations from over 100 countries around globe for 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee honoured ICAN for its decade-long campaign to get rid the world of atomic bomb and for its work to draw attention to catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and its ground-breaking efforts to achieve treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

  • ICAN is a global civil society coalition of 468 partner organizations from 101 countries working to promote adherence to and full implementation of Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
  • It is a leading civil society actor which has taken efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

Kazuo Ishiguro selected for 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature

  • The Swedish Academy has selected Japanese-born English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (62) for the 2017 Nobel Prize in literature.
  • The award was given for his works that are of great emotional force which uncovers the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.

Science & Technology

Embryo transfer technology (ETT)

  • Department of Animal husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in co-operation with 12 States had undertaken Mass Embryo Transfer programme in indigenous breeds under National Mission on Bovine Productivity Scheme.
  • The programme is implemented with the objective of conservation and development of indigenous breeds under Rashtriya Gokul Mission using Embryo transfer technology (ETT).
  • Using ETT, embryos of higher genetic merit indigenous bovines such as Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Ongole, Deoni and Vechur are being transferred in to surrogate cows.

National Mission on Bovine Productivity

  • It was launched in November 2016 with aim of enhancing milk production and productivity and thereby making dairying more remunerative to farmers.

It is being implemented with following components

  • Pashu Sanjivni It includes identification of animals in milk using UID, issuing health cards to all animals in milk and uploading data on INAPH data base.
  • Advance reproductive Technique Under it, sex sorted semen production facility is being created at 10 A graded semen stations and 50 EET Labs with IVF facilities.
  • Creation of E Pashu Haat Portal It is for linking farmers and breeders of indigenous breeds and
  • Establishment of National Bovine Genomic Centre for Indigenous Breeds (NBGC-IB) It is established for enhancing milk production and productivity through genomic selection among indigenous breeds.

Rashtriya Gokul Mission

  • It was launched in December 2014 for development and conservation of indigenous bovine breeds for enhancing milk production and productivity through induction of high genetic merit bulls for semen production, field performance recording, strengthening of bulls mother farms, setting up of Gokul Grams etc.

Bilateral Relations

India signs €300 million agreement with European Investment Bank for Bangalore Metro Phase II

  • Government has signed Finance Contract with European Investment Bank (EIB) for lending of €300 million for Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II Line R6.
  • The Phase II of metro project is jointly financed by EIB (€500 million) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (€300 million).
  • The project envisages extension of East-West & North-South lines for Bangalore Metro Rail which includes a total length of 72.095 km (13.79 km underground) and 61 stations with 12 underground stations.

Banking/ Economy

RBI to allow inter-operability in prepaid payment instruments

  • Reserve Bank of India is going to allow inter-operability among prepaid payment instruments (PPI) soon.
  • It will enable users to transfer funds from one mobile wallet to another as per the vision for Payment and Settlement Systems in the country.
  • PPIs which include the likes of e-wallets, gift cards and meal coupons are used as substitutes for cash

RBI panel pushes new rules so lenders pass on rate cuts more quickly

  • A RBI set- up panel has come out with a set of new rules to make lenders pass on rate cuts more quickly. The panel submitted its report recently to the RBI.

Enlighten about the issue

  • The RBI has cut its policy rate by a total of 200 basis points from January 2015 to August 2017 to support economic growth, but to its frustration banks have lowered their lending rates by only about 120 bps.

Suggestions made by the panel

  • Remove some of the leeway that banks have enjoyed, including allowing lenders to use only one of three benchmarks to set their lending rates: the policy repo rate, Treasury bill rates or certificate of deposit rates.
  • Currently, banks can use multiple market rates and each one is free to set its own benchmark.
  • Adjust the key criteria used to set their lending rates once a quarter, rather than the current once a year.

Why are banks not willing to reduce lending rates

  • Indian banks are struggling with a record $140 billion in stressed assets, and have sought to protect their margins by trying to avoid lowering their lending rates.

Environment & Ecology

Snow leopard photographed for first time in Arunachal Pradesh

  • Thembang village’s Community Conserved Area (CCA) in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The camera trap study was conducted by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-India) in collaboration with Arunachal Pradesh Environment and Forest Department to focus on unexplored snow leopard habitats.

Some More Facts

  • This is first evidence of elusive snow leopard in Arunachal Pradesh and also outside protected areas.
  • Arunachal Pradesh is one of 22 priority landscapes of Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program.
  • Only small fraction of snow leopard habitats falls in two protected areas (Dibang Biosphere Reserve and Namdapha National Park) in State.

Community Conserved Area (CCA)

  • In 2004, WWF-India had introduced concept of CCAs in State to empower local communities to become active decision-makers and implement conservation initiatives.
  • Local communities in these CCAs form committees to undertake wildlife monitoring, patrolling and community-based tourism activities.

Snow leopard

  • Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is a large cat native to mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains.
  • It inhabits in alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m. In northern range countries, it is also found at lower elevations.
  • It is threatened by poaching for their fur, habitat destruction by infrastructure developments and climate change.
  • It is National Heritage Animal of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • In September 2017, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had downgraded conservation status of snow leopard to “vulnerable” from “endangered”

Government Schemes

Mudra Yojana promotions

  • The government has launched promotion campaigns for its flagship scheme Mudra Yojana.
  • 50 promotion campaign will be organised in different parts of the country where the union ministers will be participating among others.
  • The promotion campaigns will be launched by the department of financial services and state level banking committee (SLBC) of different states will actively participate and coordinate all these campaigns.

Enlighten about the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) scheme

  • The PMMY Scheme was launched in April, 2015.
  • The scheme’s objective is to refinance collateral-free loans given by the lenders to small borrowers.
  • The scheme, which has a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, can lend between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh to small entrepreneurs.
  • Banks and MFIs can draw refinance under the MUDRA Scheme after becoming member-lending institutions of MUDRA.

There are three types of loans under PMMY

  • Shishu (up to Rs.50,000).
  • Kishore (from Rs.50,001 to Rs.5 lakh).
  • Tarun (from Rs.500,001 to Rs.10,00,000).

United Nations

India seeks greater role for troops contributing countries in UN peacekeeping missions

  • In the decision-making process of UN peacekeeping missions. Also, India has asked the UN Security Council to revisit the way mandates are designed.
  • It is because, according to India, the current system of excluding the troop and police-contributing countries (T/PCCs) from the process of framing the mandates is not sustainable.
  • There is also a need to ensure more effective triangular cooperation between the T/PCCs, Secretariat and Security Council on important policy and doctrinal issues being formulated in the field of peacekeeping.
  • Today’s peacekeeping operations pose complex challenges. Non-state actors have become the major players in many of these conflicts.
  • Today’s peacekeeping requires a political consensus among Security Council members, Troop Contributors and Secretariat on the cost, limits and dangers of operations in high-risk environments.

Enlighten about UN Peacekeeping

  • United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948.
  • Its first mission involved the establishment of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which served to observe and maintain ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
  • UN Peacekeeping maintains three basic principles: Consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
  • The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO).
  • There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.
  • UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds, from areas all around the world.
  • They include police, military and civilian personnel. They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
  • The UN Peacekeeping Force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
  • The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security.
  • For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations.