ForumIAS: Facts in News (August 8th – 15th)

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 for the Second week of August.

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

Bills, Programs, Policies, Schemes, Orders, Judgements
Information Network on Animal Health and Productivity • Pashu Sanjivni component under National Mission on Bovine Productivity scheme was initiated by the Government in November 2016.
• Data of the identified animals is being uploaded on Information Network on Animal Health and Productivity (INAPH) data base
• 88 million milk producing animals being identified using polyurethane tags with 12 digit unique identification (UID) number.
• crucial for control and spread of animal diseases and scientific management of animals
• improvement in quality of livestock & livestock products
• increase in trade of livestock and livestock products by meeting out sanitary and phtyosanitory issues.
Suspension of telecom services• Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and Public Safety) Rules, 2017 have been notified by the government
• The government often suspends telecom services in disturbed areas with an aim to maintain law and order.
• However, no comprehensive guidelines were in place to deal with such situations.
• It authorises Union and state home secretary to order suspension of telecom services in a given area in case of emergency.
GIS• Centre has brought out an online database of more than half a million hectares of land assisting industry.
• The Geographic Information System-enabled database - details of close to 3,000 industrial parks/clusters
• + area-wise availability of agricultural/horticultural crops, and mineral production
• developed by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)and the National e-Governance Division in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
• to eliminate the information asymmetry affecting the country’s industrial policy-making and investments in the manufacturing sector
• Geographic Information Systems is a computer-based tool that analyzes, stores, manipulates and visualizes geographic information, usually in a map.
She Means Business’ programme• Odisha government has launched ‘She Means Business’ programme of Facebook for women entrepreneurs
• to reduce the digital divide and empower nearly 25,000 women entrepreneurs and SHGs
• will be given training on digital marketing skills within next one year.
CBFC reconstituted• Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983
• Central Government has reconstituted the existing Central Board of Film Certification for a period of three years or until further orders
• The new board will be headed by Sh. Prasoon Joshi.
• a statutory body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
• regulates the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.

• Economic Survey proposed Transparency of Rules Act (TORA)
• a legislation to end any asymmetry of information regarding rules and regulations faced by an average citizen.
• TORA will require all departments to mandatorily place all citizen-facing rules on their website.
• Officials will not be able to impose any rule not mentioned beforehand.
• Once a department has shifted to the platform, it can be deemed “TORA compliant” and citizens can be sure that the information is authentic and updated

• Law Ministry has approved a revised Cabinet proposal on the creation of the Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC).
• FDMC will collect data in electronic format from the (financial) regulators.
• Over time, it will gradually build capacity to collect data from the regulated entities i.e. Financial Service Providers.
• FDMC will be set up through an Act.
• to collect data from financial sector regulators, standardise and analyse them on issues relating to financial stability for onward decisions by the Financial Stability and Development Council
• Department of Legal Affairs turned down the initial Cabinet proposal
• a non-statutory FMDC would find it difficult to acquire data from the regulators, majority of which were statutory.

RBI role in financial information
• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would now no longer be the sole collector and custodian of financial data.
• The RBI is against sharing raw data that it gets from banks and other market sources with FDMC
• as it is not obliged to share confidential client information of banks with anybody.
• only exception is when a law enforcement agency has to get specifics on an individual company for investigation purpose which is also allowed only after court orders.
• A parliamentary standing committee report asserts
• government’s new system of rating officers on the basis of a 360-degree approach - opaque and susceptible to bias, manipulation and lacks fairness.
• 360-degree approach is a new multi-source feedback system for performance appraisal of bureaucrats started by the current government for future postings.
• The system seeks to look beyond the ratings received in appraisal reports written by their bosses
• relies on feedback of juniors and other colleagues for an all-round view.
• Lack of objectivity
• Possibility of biasness
• No statutory status
• empowers the Reserve Bank of India to issue instructions to the banks to act against major defaulters
• amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets
• Stressed assets are loans where the borrower has defaulted in repayment or where the loan has been restructured (such as by changing the repayment schedule).
• central government may authorise the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue directions to banks for initiating proceedings in case of a default in loan repayment
• proceedings would be under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
• RBI may, from time to time, issue directions to banks for resolution of stressed assets.
• RBI may specify authorities or committees to advise banks on resolution of stressed assets
• will also be applicable to the State Bank of India, its subsidiaries, and Regional Rural Banks.

The Code on Wages Bill• Government has introduced in the Lok Sabha ‘The Code on Wages’ Bill
• to consolidate and amend the laws relating to wages and bonus
• also seeks to empower the Centre to fix a “universal minimum wage” aimed to benefit over 40 crore unorganised sector workers.
• to amalgamate four laws — Payment of Wages Act 1936, Minimum Wages Act 1948, Payment of Bonus Act 1965 and Equal Remuneration Act 1976
• Code provides for the government to determine the minimum wages every five years
• Code stipulates that the wages are to be paid in coin or currency notes or by cheque or through digital or electronic mode or by crediting the wages in the bank account of the employee
National Cyber Coordination Centre• National Cyber Coordination Centre set up to scan the country’s web traffic to detect cyber security threats has been made operational now
• will be implemented by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) at Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
• scans internet traffic coming into the country to detect real-time cyber threat and alert various organisations as well as internet service providers for timely action.
• Centre derives necessary powers as per provisions of section 69B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Rules notified thereunder
All India Judicial Service• Nine High Courts have opposed a proposal to have an all-India service for the lower judiciary
• eight have sought changes in the proposed framework and only two have supported the idea.
• However, most of the High Courts want the administrative control over the subordinate judiciary to remain with the respective High Courts.
• The idea was first mooted in the 1960s.
• Seeking to overcome the divergence of views, the government had recently suggested to the Supreme Court various options, including a NEET-like examination, to recruit judges to the lower judiciary.
• There were vacancies of 4,452 judges in subordinate courts in the country.
• The quality of judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary is a matter of concern
NCRB merged with Bureau of police research
• National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) - the principal source of reference by policy makers, police, criminologists, researchers and media
• established in 1986 with a mandate to empower Indian police with information technology solutions and criminal intelligence
• NCRB’s data on crimes against women, particularly rapes, has shaped government’s policies on safety of women in last few years.
• Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D)- conducts its own researches and commissions many to private institutes/bodies to study the crime patterns, policing and other related aspects
• BPRD’s research is not related to crime
• focusses more on research and data collection on how police, central paramilitary forces work, manpower problems, pattern of registration of crime, or influences of police on society etc.
• Now it will be more accurate and research based data collection
E - Shakti• e-Shakti is a pilot project of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for digitisation of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
• initiated to address certain concerns like improving the quality of book keeping of SHGs
• to enable banks to take informed credit decisions about the group through a Management Information System (MIS)
• aims at digitisation of all the SHG accounts to bring SHG members under the fold of Financial Inclusion
• helping them access wider range of financial services together with increasing the bankers’ comfort in credit appraisal and linkage
• Transparent and proper maintenance of records of SHGs will facilitate in nurturing and strengthening of SHGs.
• bringing SHGs on a common web based e-platform by making book keeping easy for low literacy clients.
• pave the way of credibility of SHG data which can later be used by Credit Bureaus to reduce the issues related to multiple financing by banks.
SATH• NITI Aayog has launched SATH, a program providing ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital’ with the State Governments
• The vision of the program is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors.
• SATH aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health systems
• NITI will work in close collaboration with their state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention
• develop a program governance structure
• set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms
• hand-hold state institutions through the execution stage
• provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.
States chosen for SATH• NITI Aayog has announced partnership with three States each to radically transform their Health and Education sectors
• Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Karnataka to improve healthcare delivery
• In Education, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand
• six States have been chosen after a rigorous competitive process based on comprehensive metrics to determine potential for impact and likelihood of success
• On thorough technical evaluation, the chosen States have committed to time-bound, governance reforms in both sectors
• three-way partnership between NITI, State Governments and a knowledge partner for each of the sectors
Social Issue
Gorkhaland statehood movement• Gorkhaland consists of Nepali-speaking people of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and other hilly districts.
• The people belonging to these areas hardly have any connection with the Bengali community and are different in ethnicity, culture and language.
• under the leadership of Gorkha Janmurti Morcha(GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung.
• 2007 Gorkha uprising intensifies following the 2005 Centre and state government initiative
• of bringing it to the sixth schedule of the constitution giving some degree of autonomy to a predominantly tribal area.
• Gorkhas opposed this sixth schedule and instead demanded statehood
Health related issues
Measels Rubella capaign• Government intends to eliminate measles and curb instances of rubella by 2020
• The campaign against the two diseases intends to cover approximately 41 crore children in a phased manner, making it the largest-ever worldwide
• All children in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years will be vaccinated in a phased manner
• Following the campaign, MR vaccine will become a part of routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine
• currently given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child.
• Measles is a viral infection that can be fatal
• Congenital rubella syndrome is responsible for irreversible birth defect - congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects
• 10-30% of adolescent females and 12-30% of women in the reproductive age-group are susceptible to rubella infection in India.
Deflation of generic drugs• The trend toward deflating generic prices appears to have accelerated as companies have more aggressively undercut each other’s prices.
• put pressure on profits and threaten the viability of the companies.
• This could lead to a wave of mergers and acquisitions, reducing competition and leading to higher prices.
Quality of AYUSH drugs• Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic drugs are regulated in accordance with the exclusive provisions for them in the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules there under
• In addition, two voluntary certification schemes are implemented respectively by the Quality Council of India
• grant of AYUSH Standard & AYUSH Premium marks and quality certification of products as per WHO-GMP and COPP guidelines by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO)
• Appellate Laboratories for Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy under the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945 have reported testing of referred samples of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs
Medicinal plants
• Medicinal Plants are the major resource base of raw materials used in the manufacturing of AYUSH medicines.
• In order to augment the availability of plant raw materials under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission
• agro techniques for cultivation of medicinal plants and Good Agricultural & Collection Practices developed
• financial support is provided to the states for large scale cultivation of medicinal plants under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission.
• Through the “Central Sector Scheme on Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants”
• National Medicinal Plants Board is providing project based support for resource augmentation of medicinal plants in forest areas and for establishment of Herbal Gardens.
• Under NAM scheme –
• component on ‘Medicinal Plants’ primarily aimed at supporting cultivation of herbs/medicinal plants on farmer’s land with backward linkages through establishment of nurseries for supply of quality planting material, and forward linkages for post-harvest management.
• Presently, 140 medicinal plants species have been prioritized for supporting cultivation throughout the country for which the subsidy is provided to farmers
National Deworming Programme
• launched in 2015 as WHO estimates that 220 million children below 14 years of age are at risk of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) infections in India.
• National Deworming Day is organised twice in a year covering all the children from 1-19 years of age
• except the States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where deworming is carried out once in a year as prevalence here is less than 20%.
• All the children are provided deworming tablet (Albendazole ) in schools and anganwadis.
• Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is also being organised in schools and anganwadis
• in close collaboration with Ministry of Human Resource & Development and Ministry of Women & Child Development.

Soil Transmitted Helminths
• Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) interfere with nutrients uptake in children
• can lead to anaemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development.
• Helminths are large multicellular organisms, which when mature can generally be seen with the naked eye
• often referred to as intestinal worms even though not all helminths reside in the intestines.
• India carries the highest burden of worm infestation and 64% of Indian population less than 14 years of age are at risk of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or worms’ infestation
Malnutition in India• According to the 2012 report ‘Children in India’, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
• 48% of children under the age of 5 years are stunted and 19.8% are wasted
National Issues
Article 35 A• empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them
• It was added through the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued under Article 370.
• Kashmiris are apprehensive that such a move would open the sluice gates for a demographic transformation of the Valley.
• discriminates against women who marry outside the State from applying for jobs or buying property, which is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution
• The denial of these rights extend to her children also
• also empowers the State’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other States or any other right under the Constitution
AFSPA   in Assam for one more month• Centre has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Assam for one more month
• declaring the entire state of Assam as a “disturbed” area due to various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others
• AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry
• Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
Swachh Survekshan survey• Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) started the “Swachh Survekshan” survey, ranking of cities on cleanliness and other aspects of urban sanitation, in 2016 which ranked 73 cities across the country.
• On the same lines, MoUD has initiated “Swachh Survekshan” 2017 which will conduct a survey to rank 500 cities of India
Supreme Court seeks Centre’s reply on validity of special status to JK• Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response on a plea against a Delhi high court order which had rejected a petition challenging validity of Article 370
• Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir.
• Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Article 370
• All the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K.
• Except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws
• Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state.
• Indian Parliament cannot increase or reduce the borders of the state
Paper trail in Gujarat Assembly Elections this year• VVPAT stands for Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail.
• VVPAT system maintains a physical trail of all votes cast. Small slips of paper records the details of the vote.
• The Election Commission (EC) first introduced VVPAT in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections
• In 2013, conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended to facilitate the introduction of VVPAT units.
• In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Election Commission of India (ECI), the Supreme Court held that VVPAT is “indispensable for free and fair elections” and directed the ECI to equip EVMs with VVPAT systems.
• The apex court had directed the EC to introduce EVMs in a phased manner for the next General Elections in 2014, saying it would ensure free and fair polls.
• SC also directed the Centre to provide financial assistance for introducing VVPAT system.
PM Modi address on Independence day • Quit India Movement was “Bharat Chhodo,” but the call today is “Bharat Jodo.”
• take the country ahead with the determination of creating a 'New India
• 1st January 2018 will not be an ordinary day- those born in this century will start turning 18. They are Bhagya Vidhatas of our nation
• We have to leave this 'Chalta Hai' attitude. We have to think of 'Badal Sakta Hai'- this attitude will help us as a nation
• after the recent passage of the Benami Act, within a short span of time, government has unearthed Benami property worth Rs. 800 crores
• GST has shown the spirit of cooperative federalism. The nation has come together to support GST & the role of technology has also helped
• Neither by bullet: nor by abuses but by embracing we can solve the problem of Kashmir.
• People would be the driving force behind the establishment, rather than the other way around – Tantra se Lok nahin, Lok se tantra chalega
• Nature of job is changing with changing demand and changing technology - nurturing our youngsters to be job creators and not job seekers.
• India is about Shanti, Ekta and Sadbhavana. Casteism and communalism will not help us
• Over 5.75 crore farmers have been covererd under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojaana
• Under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, 30 projects have been completed while work is on for 50 more projects.
• Under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samapada Yojana we are providing handholding to the farmers from availing seeds to accessing the markets for their produce.
• More than 14000 un-electrified villages have been electrified.
• 29 crore JanDhan accounts opened.
• More than 8 crore youth have received loans without any guarantee.
• Black money worth Rs. 1.25 lakh crore has been unearthed.
• Over 1.75 lakh fake companies have been shut down
• Post GST savings and efficiency in transportation sector has increased.
• We have moved from Co-operative Federalism to Competitive Co-operative federalism
• We aspire to build a Divya and Bhavya Bharat.
Economy and banking
Crackdown on shell companies• Securities and Exchange Board of India recently imposed trading restrictions on 331 companies suspected of being shell entities
• trading on the shares of these “shell” companies was used as a way to launder black money.
• The term ‘shell company’ is not defined under the Companies Act, 2013
• Similarly corporate affairs ministry has already cancelled the registration of more than 1.62 lakh companies that have not been carrying out business activities for long, but the action was mandated under Companies Act.
Economic Survey August• India is emerging as a knowledge based economy, poised for double digit growth
• needs to strengthen social infrastructure by investing in health and education.
• deterioration in quality learning in primary education sector
• yet to achieve targeted enrolment level in the middle education
• under employment, skill shortages, with the labour markets impacted by rigid labour laws, and the emergence of contract labour.
• role of public delivery of health services, high Out of Pocket (OoP) expenses on health
• decline in the number of people who defecate in the open, which is estimated at less than 35 crores.
Education sector• The education policies need to be designed with focus on learning outcomes and remedial education with interventions which work and maximize the efficiency of expenditure.
• There is need for bio-metric attendance of school staff, independent setting of examination papers, neutral examination and for DBT for schools.
• There is need to adopt outcome measures for the education and skilling activities to ensure improvement in delivery of schemes/ programmes
Economic survey on Labour reforms• Government has been imparting short term skill training through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and long term training through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).
• Model Skill Centers are being set up in every district of the country under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra Scheme.
• enhance the quality of skill training programmes and making a competency-based framework with giving individuals an option to progress through education, training, prior learning and experiences.
Economic survey on Health sector• There has to be concerted efforts by the Central and State governments to reform the health sector, by addressing quality issues, standardising rates for diagnostic tests, generating awareness about alternative health systems and introduction of punitive measures like fines on hospitals and private health providers for false claims through surgery, medicines etc.
• For more equitable access to health services, government should provide health benefits and risk cover to poorer sections of the society
Economic survey on Social security• Address the social security of large number of vulnerable workers in the informal economy
• ensure the safety and security of women to raise their participation in economic activities.
Inequality in India• World Bank estimates (2015), there has been a decline in India’s poverty rate but this is cold comfort — 172 million citizens still live below the poverty line and constitute 24.5 per cent of the world’s poor.
• India’s richest one per cent now hold 58 per cent of the nation’s wealth
• Oxfam report released this year revealed that 57 billionaires in India own as much as the bottom 70% of the population.
Capital goods procurement• National Capital Goods Policy, 2016 - adverse effect on the domestic demand of capital goods because of
• lack of positive bias towards domestic value addition in public procurement policies
• difficult contract conditions
• persistent import
• use of second-hand machinery with no incentive for replacement
• zero duty import under ‘Project Imports’
• delays in project implementation
• In February, 2017, Ministry of Finance has revised General Financial Rules to encourage procurement by domestic manufacturers
• June, 2017, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has issued a detailed Order on Public Procurement to enhance the positive impact of Public Procurement on ‘Make in India’
• Ministry of Defence had revised their Procurement Procedure with effect from April 2016 which have provisions to facilitate participation of domestic manufacturers in defence procurement
WPI Inflation• The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI
• 1.88% (provisional) for the month of July, 2017 (over July,2016)
• 0.90% (provisional) for the previous month and 0.63% during the corresponding month of the previous year.
Economic survey on Farm waivers• Economic Survey part 2 has asked the states to follow UP model, if they are doling out farm loan waivers.
• could reduce aggregate demand in the economy by as much as 0.7%, shaving off Rs 1.1 lakh crore from GDP. This would impart a significant deflationary shock.
• Farm loan waivers and declining profitability in the power and telecom sectors would exacerbate the twin balance sheet problem — overleveraged companies and the pile up of bad debt at banks
• A reduction in private consumption and higher borrowings by states, among others, could affect aggregate demand
• impact on private consumption via increases in private sector net wealth
• impact on the public sector via changes in government expenditure or taxes
• crowding out impact via higher borrowings by state governments boand crowding in impact via higher credit availability as bank NPAs fall

• The progress in agriculture needs to be evaluated in terms of outcomes such as catching up with global yields of various crops as a means to increase incomes of farmers
• Managing and reducing the various risks in agriculture activities can make the sector resilient, increase profitability and can ensure stable income


• Land holding size: The average farm size in India is small, and declining since 1970-71 - major limitation to reap the benefits of economies of scale in agriculture
• Credit - informal sources of credit - regional disparity in the distribution of agricultural credit
• Post- harvest losses: key challenge that the horticulture sector faces in India are post-harvest losses, availability of quality planting material and lack of market access for horticultural produce of small farmers.

Reforms needed in agricultural sector To address the price risks in agriculture and allied sectors, marketing infrastructure along the entire value chain needs to be built and strengthened.
 To address production risks, the share of irrigated area should be expanded by increasing the coverage of water saving irrigation systems like micro irrigation systems.
 To increase productivity of crops, standards should be set and enforced for better quality, pest and disease resistant seeds.
 Trade and domestic policy changes should be announced well before sowing and should stay till arrivals and procurement is over.
 To enhance women’s involvement in the dairy projects, funds should be earmarked through appropriate mechanisms.
 Providing timely and affordable formal and institutional credit to the small and marginal farmers is the key to inclusive growth.
 Regime based on timely interventions needs to be adopted.
GeMSamvad• MoU signed between Government eMarketplace (GeM) SPV and the Confederation of Indian Industry
• establishing GeM Samvaad- a participative and collaborative approach with the industry for promoting Indian industry and entrepreneurship
Anti-dumping duty on 93 products from China• including chemicals and machinery items, steel and other metals, fibres and yarn, rubber or plastic, electric and electronics and consumer goods
• Anti dumping is a measure to rectify the situation arising out of the dumping of goods and its trade distortive effect.
• The use of anti dumping measure as an instrument of fair competition is permitted by the WTO.
• It provides relief to the domestic industry against the injury caused by dumping. It is levied on distrustfully low-priced imports, so as to protect the domestic manufacturers.
Defence related issues
Military exercise with Russia• India and Russia will hold a mega war game in October involving their armies, navies and the air forces.
• The exercise Indra, which will be held in Russia in October
• focus on achieving coordination between forces of the two countries in a tri-services integrated theatre command scenario.
• It will be for the first time India will participate in a tri-services exercise with a foreign country with such a large scale participation by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force
• The exercise is taking place at a time when India’s ties with China have nosedived due to the simmering border dispute and its ties with Pakistan have deteriorated over cross-border terrorism and number of other issues
IONS• Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, commonly known as IONS, is a forum to increase maritime cooperation among the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region.
• It was launched by India in February 2008.
• helps to preserve peaceful relations between nations, and thus is critical to building an effective maritime security architecture in the Indian Ocean Region
• fundamental to our collective prosperity.
• Members
o South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
o West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
o East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
o South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
• Observers
China, Germany, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Russia and Spain.
Defence procurement fund• Ministry of Defence (MoD) has gone back on its demand for a non-lapsable capital fund for defence procurements
• Though parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Defence asked the Ministry of Finance to work out the modalities for the creation of such a fund in consultation with the MoD.
• to prevent the unspent amount in a financial year from being returned to the Finance Ministry as defence purchases generally tend to have long procurement cycles
• The reasons cited by the MoD for no longer seeking the fund are:
• the limited utility of such a fund,
• rules governing its creation that state the Government should have surplus funds (which is not so in the prevailing fiscal situation),
• assurance from the Finance Ministry for additional funds, if required.
Science and Technology
CubeSats• Engineers from US have designed and tested a micropropulsion system that uses liquid water as the propellant for orbital maneuvering of tiny satellites called CubeSats
• CubeSats which typically weigh about two kilograms
• poised to take over the sky in the future to carry out tasks like imaging and remote-sensing currently performed by heavier satellites which are expensive to build and launch
• However cannot totally replace them as incapable of changing orbit or performing complex manoeuvres.
• The propulsion system uses capillaries thinner than human hair through which the propellant water can flow.
• Small heaters located near the ends of the capillaries turn the water into vapor, which, on escape from these tiny tubes, provides the thrust.
• The minuscule capillaries act like valves that can be turned on and off by activating the heaters.
• Pure water is chosen as the propellant since it is green, safe, easy to use and free from the risk of contaminating sensitive instruments by the backflow from plumes as in the case of thrusters using chemical propellants
Quantum satellite communication• China launched a quantum satellite into space through which secret unhackable message transmission can be done.
• The technology is called quantum key distribution (QKD)
• Typical encryption relies on traditional mathematics and while for now it is more or less adequate and safe from hacking
• Quantum computing refers to a new era of faster and more powerful computers, and the theory goes that they would be able to break current levels of encryption.
• QKD works by using photons — the particles which transmit light — to transfer data.
• A photon cannot be perfectly copied and any attempt to measure it will disturb it.
• This means that a person trying to intercept the data will leave a trace
• The implications could be huge for cyber-security, making businesses safer, but also making it more difficult for governments to hack into communication.

Why do we need GM crops?• Higher crop yields.
• Reduced farm costs.
• Increased farm profit.
• Improvement in health and the environment
Why don’t we need GM Crops?
• The technology of genetic engineering is an evolving one and there is much, especially on its impact on human health and environment, that is yet to be understood properly
• irreversibility of this technology and uncontrollability of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) once introduced in the ecosystem is worrisome
• could be a major threat to the vast number of domestic and wild varieties of these crops.
• India also has mega biodiversity hotspots like the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats which are rich in biodiversity yet ecologically very sensitive where it will destroy biodiversity.
• potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops and the risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms
• also the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.
Elephant conservation• Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day. The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states
• The 15 months campaign will be led by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
• African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “endangered” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
World Bio Fuel Day
• Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas celebrated the World Biofuel Day 2017 on 10th August.
• sensitize youths, farmers and other stakeholders about the benefits of biofuel and seek their involvement in Biofuel programme run by the Government.
• On this day in 1893, Sir Rudolph Diesel (inventor of the diesel engine) for the first time successfully ran mechanical engine with Peanut Oil.
• His research experiment had predicted that vegetable oil is going to replace the fossil fuels in the next century to fuel different mechanical engines.
• Recently Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been made responsible for BioFuel Policy.
• Both the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas will be working towards more utilisation of biofuels
Landslide in Himachal Pardesh• National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to take necessary steps for averting accidents like in Himachal Pardesh.
• soil stabilization, land protection wall, zeo static and slope stabilisation in all the DPRs for constructing national highways
India ratifies second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol• India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
• commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases, reaffirming its stand on climate action
• Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
• Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005
• The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012.
• The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Qatar in December 2012.
• The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Kyoto Protocol
• agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from January 2013 to December 2020 and a revised list of greenhouse gases.
• commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets
• to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations
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