ForumIAS: Facts in News (August 22nd – 31st)

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Read summaries of all important News Articles

Facts in news is published on a weekly basis that consists a gist of all crucial news articles from ‘The Hindu’ that may bear relevance to Civil Services Preparation.

Here is the Summary of all current happenings from around the world for the fourth week of August.

Bills, Programs, Policies, Schemes, Orders, Judgments
Unruly fliers now face life ban• Air passengers can now be banned for a lifetime for unruly behaviour on flights by both domestic and foreign airlines, the Union government announced on 8th September, 2017.
• The unruly passenger will be put on a no-fly list, which will be made public and maintained by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
• The ban will range between three months and a lifetime depending upon the gravity of the offence.
MPs for early passage of road safety Bill• Two Lok Sabha MPs from Rajasthan on Tuesday called for early enactment of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2016, which is at present lying with the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.
• The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha after a debate on April 10, 2017
• The Bill addresses the issues relating to road safety, citizen facilitation, strengthening public transport, automation and computerisation of procedures and imposes hefty penalties for violation of traffic rules.
• The two MPs expressed the hope that it would be passed in the upcoming winter session of Rajya Sabha.
When farmers got 1 loan waiver• As many as 17,262 farmers in Uttar Pradesh have received loan waiver certificates for only 1,000 or less, though the BJP government had promised a scheme to waive up to 1 lakh in agricultural borrowings.
• As many as 4,814 of those farmers got waivers of loans as low as between 1 and 100. A total of 6,895 got waivers between 100 and 500 and another 5,553 between 500 and 1,000.
• Under the first phase of its farm loan waiver scheme, the government said it had so far distributed loan waiver certificates amounting to 7,371 crore of more than 11.93 lakh farmers in the State.
• A statement issued by the government said 41,690 farmers had received loan waiver certificates of 1,000- 10,000, while the largest chunk, 11.28 lakh farmers, had received waiver certificates of more than 10,000 each.
• The government was forced to issue a clarification after criticism that some farmers received loan waiver certificates of inconsequential amounts under the loan waiver scheme.
Income limit raised for creamy layer• The ‘creamy layer’ ceiling for OBC reservation has been raised to 8 lakh per year, according to an official order issued on 13th September.
• It has now been decided to raise the income limit from 6 lakh to 8 lakh per annum for determining the creamy layer among the Other Backward Classes.
• In 1993, the limit was kept at 1 lakh.
• It was raised thrice to 2.5 lakh in 2004, 4.5 lakh in 2008 and 6 lakh in 2013
Plea against NOTA not valid: EC• Every worker in the unorganised and organised sector will get a unique identification number
• This will make it easier for them to get benefits under different social schemes, the Union Minister for Labour and Employment, Santosh Gangwar.
Deogarh named Odisha’s first open defecation free district• Deogarh became the first open defecation-free (ODF) district in Odisha.
• Government has decided to give villages having 100% toilet usage priority in government programmes to keep the cleanliness and sanitation momentum going.
Forest dept stops illegal cutting of trees• Direct intervention of the Forest Department and chairperson of the Berhampur Development Authority (BDA), an illegal attempt to cut down a peepal and three banyan trees in Lanjipalli area of the city was averted on 13th September, 2017.
Plantation drive brings extra money for panchayats in Rajasthan• A tree plantation drive is launched under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act on the pasture land situated outside the villages in Rajasthan
• It has become a source of additional revenue for panchayats.
• The State government’s scheme, aptly named ‘Panchphal Yojana’, has also helped resolve encroachment issues on the pasture land.
• The problem of shrinking size of land, a cause of tension earlier, has been solved considerably with the plantation.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu unveils scheme for brides of poor families• Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on 11th September, 2017 announced the launch of Pelli Kanuka (marriage gift), a scheme aimed at helping families of brides belonging to the poor and disadvantaged sections of society.
New observers for Ayodhya site• The Supreme Court on 11th September, 2017 directed the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court to nominate two additional district judges within 10 days as observers to deal with the upkeep and maintenance of the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.
Free city from open defecation by Oct. 2: L-G• Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal on 11th September, 2017 directed city’s municipal corporations to ensure that the drive to make Delhi open defecation-free should remain their top priority and is achieved by October 2, 2017.
Unions offer tips to govt on taxi scheme• The City Taxi Scheme, 2017, is a regulatory framework that will oversee the operation of cabs in Delhi.
• It is in the process of being reviewed at the higher levels of the city’s administrative circles and expected to be notified soon.
Scrutinise staff, fix CCTV cameras: govt to schools• All schools will have to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms and have their non-teaching staff undergo police verification, according to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
‘Cooling off’ period in Hindu divorce can go: SC• Hindu couples who have mutually agreed to separate need not wait anymore for the mandatory “cooling off” period of six months before divorce, the Supreme Court held on 12th September, 2017.
• Divorce was granted only after the ‘cooling off’ period and once the court found there was no further chance for reconciliation.
• The court held that the waiting period should be done away with in cases where there is no way to save the marriage and all efforts at mediation and conciliation have run their course.
Odisha: Progress on UN target on AIDS tardy• Ganjam is the most HIV-infection prone district in Odisha.
• Experiences have hinted that progress on the ‘90-90- 90’ target set by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) has been tardy in the State
• UNAIDS has envisioned to achieve the ‘90-90-90’ target by 2020, which would result in controlling HIV infection to sustainable limits by 2030.
• As per the ‘90-90-90’ target, 90% of all HIV infected persons should get diagnosed and know their HIV positive status.
• Ninety per cent of these diagnosed HIV positive persons are to be provided regular Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), and 90% of people taking ART should show signs of viral suppression, which reduces their scope of infection.
Time for course correction• The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the estimates of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter (April-June) of 2017-18.
• The numbers showed that in Q1 of 2017-18, GDP grew by 5.7%. Gross value added (GVA) at basic prices grew by 5.6%.
• The growth rate has fallen below 6%.
• In the corresponding quarter of the previous year, GDP grew at 7.9% and GVA at 7.6%.
• Demonetization must have had a negative impact.
• Also, the destocking of goods which might have happened prior to the introduction of goods and services tax (GST) must have also had a negative impact.
• The fundamental problem has been the sharp fall in the investment rate. Gross fixed capital formation rate stood at 34.3% in 2011-12.
• This started falling steadily and touched 29.3% in 2015-16. It fell further to 27.1% in 2016-17.
• One of the arguments attributed to the low growth rate is the poor performance of the external sector.
• India’s declining growth rate has also coincided with poor export performance.
Rajasthan may issue licences to tobacco vendors• The Rajasthan government is considering controlling the sale of tobacco products in the open market by issuing licences to tobacco vendors.
• The decision, if implemented, will take the State one step closer to the target of achieving the tobacco-free status.
Marriage most foul• The government plans to bring out an ordinance and later a legislation banning all foreigners from marrying girls here unless they come with proper documents or a declaration before immigration authorities stating that their purpose of visit is to marry a woman of statutorily mandated marriageable age and that they would take care of them.
• The man will be liable to undergo imprisonment of seven years under Section 196 of the IPC.
• The government is proposing to launch a women empowerment programme.
• This will involve extending loans for women and offering financial assistance of 50,000 to each family to perform the marriage of their daughter.
West Bengal settles for Bangla as new name• On August 29, 2016, the Assembly had passed a resolution changing the name of West Bengal to Bengal in English, Bangla in Bengali and Bangal in Hindi.
• Thus, at the Cabinet meeting held on 9th September, 2017, it was decided that that the name will be Bangla in all the languages.
NPS: Welcome Changes • The NPS, promoted by the government, aims to provide postretirement income to the country’s citizens; all Indian citizens including non-resident Indians between the age of 18 and 60 can join the scheme. But it being market-linked, the risk lies with the investor, not the government.
• Recent reports suggest that the government plans to increase the maximum entry age into NPS to 65 years from 60 years currently.
Types of NPS:
• Under NPS, there are two main account types — Tier I and Tier II.
• Tier I is the primary retirement account in which withdrawals are restricted until the age of 60 or retirement.
• Tier II is a savings facility that can be opened once you have a Tier I account; there are no withdrawal restrictions in the Tier II account.
• Recent Budgets have given big sops for investment in the NPS Tier I.
• Budget 2015 provided an extra tax break of 50,000 in addition to the existing 1.5 lakh deduction eligibility under Section 80C.
• Budget 2016 allowed taxfree withdrawal of 40 per cent of corpus on maturity, mitigating a major drawback of the scheme.
• Budget 2017 exempted partial withdrawals from tax.
National Issue
All that data that Aadhaar captures• There is a common perception that the main privacy concern with Aadhaar is the confidentiality of the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR).
Main Causes:
• This is misleading for two reasons:
• One is that the CIDR is not supposed to be inaccessible.
• On the contrary, the Aadhaar Act 2016 puts in place a framework for sharing most of the CIDR information.
• The second reason is that the biggest danger, in any case, lies elsewhere.
• To understand this, it helps to distinguish between three different types of private information: biometric information, identity information and personal information.
• The first two are formally defined in the Aadhaar Act, and protected to some extent.
• Aadhaar’s biggest threat to privacy, however, relates to the third type of information.
• In the Aadhaar Act, biometric information essentially refers to photograph, fingerprints and iris scan, though it may also extend to “other biological attributes of an individual” specified by the UIDAI.
Utilities to get 6,000 cr. relief due to GST on coal• Changes in the tax structure on coal following the introduction of GST would translate to a 6,000 crore relief to the power sector, a senior Coal India Ltd. (CIL)
• The impact of demonetisation and GST: there had not been much of an impact due to demonetisation as payments were online.
• GST, however, had brought some changes in the way coal was taxed, he said.
• Coal, which had earlier attracted 6% excise and 11% VAT, was now taxed 5% GST.
• Changes in the tax structure on coal following the introduction of GST would translate to a 6,000 crore relief to the power sector, a senior Coal India Ltd. (CIL)
• The impact of demonetisation and GST: there had not been much of an impact due to demonetisation as payments were online.
• GST, however, had brought some changes in the way coal was taxed, he said.
• Coal, which had earlier attracted 6% excise and 11% VAT, was now taxed 5% GST.
‘33% reservation for women is just a mirage’• In a move aimed at taking forward the struggle for implementation of 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha, seven organisations took part in a meeting at the YWCA on 12th September, 2017.
• The Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament on September 12, 1996.
• But it is stated that 33% reservation is just a mirage.
• There is hardly any representation of women in Parliament and it is unfortunate for a developing country to not include its women in the process.
Fake Aadhaar network busted in UP• Hackers have devised ways of bypassing not just the Aadhaar biometric procedure of fingerprinting but also retina-scanning.
• Hackers would bypass the biometric norms of the UIDAI through clone fingerprint and tamper the source code of the UIDAI application client to create a fake tampered client application.
ExxonMobil slashes LNG price to India• India has won a price cut on a 20-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with global giant ExxonMobil Corp.
• In a trade-off for ExxonMobil, India’s Petronet LNG will increase its volumes from the Gorgon LNG project in Australia by an extra 1 million tonnes a year to about 2.5 million tonnes a year, but at cheaper rates than initially agreed in 2009.
M.P. seeks to quash solar power project• Madhya Pradesh has appealed to the country’s top court to quash a Goldman Sachs-backed solar project.
• Madhya Pradesh’s attempts to scrap the agreement with ReNew Power over the 51 megawatts (MW) project, citing land acquisition delays, were thrown out by a state court.
• But the central Indian state’s distribution company (discom) has now appealed to the country’s highest court, potentially setting up a prolonged legal battle.
• Solar tariffs fell to a record low of 2.44 per unit earlier this year, leading several State discoms to try to renegotiate contracts, saying the prices they were paying to buy power were too high.
Is India’s GDP growth falling?• As per the estimates released by the Central Statistics Office on August 31, 2017 India’s economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), grew by 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017-18, compared with 7.9% in the same quarter a year ago.
• This is the slowest pace of GDP growth recorded since the NDA came to power in May 2014.
• India grew by a strong 9.1% in the quarter from January 2016 to March 2016. The growth recorded in the subsequent quarters was 7.9%, 7.5%, 7% and 6.1%.
• So this is the fifth quarter in a row that the growth has slipped, with the pace of decline picking up momentum in the last two quarters.
• The gross value-added (GVA) in the economy grew at 5.6% between April and June, the same pace as the previous quarter, but sharply lower than the 7.6% growth in the first quarter of the last year.
Despite rain, lack of water in reservoirs affects sowing in A.P.• Though the rainfall is said to be normal, the absolute lack of water in the reservoirs seems to be affecting the morale of the agricultural community.
• While 72% of the normal area was sown at the end of the 13th week of kharif, the area sown at the end of 14th week is just 77%.
• The poor sowing of minor millets (55%), jowar (73%) and ragi (80%) has brought down the overall average of sowing.
• Farmers have preferred to sow irrigated dry crops like maize (129%) and bajra (108%) covering areas that are more than normal.
A few smart cities will not make big difference: Naidu• Unless all cities are made smart it will not make a big difference to the country and for this the participation of the people and stake holders is important.
• In this regard, local bureaucracy, local bodies and politicians must work together taking on board the common people to fulfil the ambitious projects.
• The authorities to develop smart city in such a way that it should have both parks and parking facilities.
• The smart city should be traffic free zone, more and more solar energy should be used, energy-efficient street lights should be used there should be pedestrian path and more over there should be a separate cycle track.
• Waste management system, efficient education system, efficient traffic system and health amenities are parts of smart cities.
Social Issue
Income inequality in India at its highest level since 1922• Top tax rates which were very high in the 1970s (up to 98%) decreased to 30% in the 1980s.
• Wages set by governments in government enterprises were liberalised after privatisations and the dispersion increased.
• It is also likely that privatisations principally benefited richest income groups, those who already had capital, rather than the majority of the population which didn’t access equity.
• On the other hand, growth at the bottom of the distribution was notably lower than average growth rates since the 1980s.
International Issues
Pak. rakes up Kashmir yet again• India has firmly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of the country and criticised Islamabad for using terrorism as a tool of state policy to covet the Indian Territory.
• India strongly hit back at Islamabad for raking up the Kashmir issue at a UN forum on culture of peace.
Pakistan not keen on improving ties: Rajnath• Ceasefire violations by Pakistan indicate that it’s not interested in improving relations with India.
• Pakistan is regularly resorting to ceasefire violations.
N. Korea: Japan draws in India• Displaying strategic convergence, India and Japan on 14th September, 2017 asked North Korea to shut down its nuclear and missile programmes.
• Both sides also hinted at Pakistan’s past involvement with North Korean nuclear and missile programmes and sought accountability of all parties who helped Pyongyang acquire nuclear technology even as Japan promised to help India deal with crossborder terrorism.
• Japan and India will take firm steps against the challenges that have emanated from North Korea.
• Both the countries will force North Korea to roll back its recent aggressive moves.
‘Fly’ on train from Mumbai by 2022• Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on 14th September, 2017 laid the foundation stone in Ahmedabad for the country’s first1,10,000 crore, 508 km high-speed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
• The ambitious project is being implemented with nearly 90% financial support and technology from Japan.
• To be built on elevated corridor with a seven-km undersea tunnel in Mumbai, the project will be based on the famed Japanese Shinkansen high-speed railway system with a record of zero casualties in its 50 years of operation.
Over 8 km, Japan and India come closer• Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 13th September,2017 kicked off his two-day visit to the home State, Gujarat.
• The high point of the visit was the joint inauguration of the high-speed rail project and bilateral security dialogue.
• The two leaders will review the recent progress in the multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of their ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’ and will set its future direction.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promises peace in Indo-Pacific region• Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Ahmedabad on 13th September, 2-17,
• Mr. Abe will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday during the India-Japan annual summit, when both sides will firm up military and strategic ties.
• Both India and Japan place importance on the universal values and strategic interests that we commonly share. B
• Both countries are major Asian democracies and global powers
• The Japanese prime Minister is determined that Japan and India will lead the way towards peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
• The visit of Mr. Abe is significant in view of the weeks-long standoff between India and China at the Doklam plateau of Bhutan when China’s belligerent rhetoric indicated a negative turn in ties.
• Japan would seek ballistic and cruise missiles to deal with the dual threat of ‘expansionist’ China and a nuclear armed North Korea.
Nepal, China discuss railway connectivity project• Nepal on 7th September, 2017 began talks about a railway connectivity project with China.
• Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who visited Beijing, held talks with top Chinese decision-makers and said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) opens up the railway connectivity project as a national priority of Nepal.
• Both sides agreed to take necessary measures to carry out technical study of the project.
• Apart from the talk on railways, both sides also sealed an agreement on energy cooperation.
• A third agreement signed on the day opened up Nepal’s tourism sector for greater Chinese investment.
• The agreements came two days after China held the BRICS summit and indicate Nepal’s desire to reach out to Chinese and Eastern markets as an alternative to India.
India seeks more Chinese investments• In a bid to reduce the huge bilateral trade deficit with China, which, in the last fiscal, was a whopping $51 billion, the Centre has now sought greater investments from Chinese firms including in India’s export-focused Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
• Trade deficit can be reduced to sustainable levels through more exports from India to China, as well as by China’s investing in building manufacturing capacities in India.
• Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from China in India between April 2000 and June 2017 was worth only $1.67 billion — or a minuscule 0.49% of the total FDI inflows of $342 billion during that period.
• In this regard, subsequently, MoUs were signed by Indian State Government Agencies and Chinese investors.
2,70,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh: UN• An unprecedented surge of 2,70,000 Rohingya has sought refuge in Bangladesh over the past two weeks.
• Satellite images showed about 450 buildings had been burned down in a Myanmar border town largely inhabited by Rohingya.
Defence Issues
Army to induct 800 women into military police• In yet another significant step towards inducting women into the military, the Army on 8th September, 2017 said that it would admit nearly 800 women into the Corps of Military Police in non-officer ranks over the next few years.
• The decision has been taken to introduce women in the ranks, starting with the Corps of Military Police.
• In the light of increasing requirement for investigations into gender-specific crimes and allegations, it was felt necessary to introduce women in the Corps of Military Police.
• The Army will set up two residential Army Public Schools, with a capacity of 2,000 children each.
Science and Tech
Pluto mountains named after Norgay, Hillary• Two mountain ranges on Pluto have been named after Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary by the International Astronomical Union, which for the first time, has officially approved the naming of 14 features on the icy dwarf planet.
IIT-R to deploy quake warning system in North• IIT-Roorkee is planning to deploy an early earthquake warning system across all sesmic-prone major cities of the north India.
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