ForumIAS: Facts in News (December 1st – 7th)

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 First week of December.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

Bills, Programs, Policies, Schemes, Orders, Judgments
FM seeks to ally depositor’s fear, hits at review of BillContext:
• The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017, or FRDI Bill, is expected to be tabled in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.
• Together with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Code, re-capitalization of PSU banks, and FDI in insurance, this Bill is touted to be a landmark reform in the the financial sector
What is FRDI Bill?
• The FRDI Bill seeks to create a framework for resolving bankruptcy in banks, insurance companies and other financial establishments.
• It has recommendation for setting up of a resolution corporation.
• While India never had such a resolution authority before, the Reserve Bank and the IRDAI were handling these functions for the banking and insurance sectors.
What is Resolution Corporation?
• The Bill proposes to establish a ‘Resolution Corporation’ to monitor financial firms, calculate stress and take “corrective actions” in case of a failure.
• This Corporation will classify financial firms based on their risk factors as low, moderate, material, imminent, and critical.
• In case of critical firms, the Corporation will be empowered to take over and resolve issues within a year.
Centre offers a helping hand to every inter-caste marriage with a DalitContext:
• The Central government has decided to pay Rs 2.5 lakh to couples in which either the bride or the bridegroom is a Dalit.
What is the ‘Dr Ambedkar scheme for social Integration through inter caste marriage’?
• The ‘Dr Ambedkar scheme for social Integration through inter caste marriage’ was started in 2013.
The objective of the scheme is to:
• appreciate the socially bold step of inter-caste marriage and
• settle down in the initial phase of their married life.
Courts can turn down child repatriation, says Supreme CourtContext:
• A Supreme Court judgment delivered accords courts in India unlimited discretion to determine which parent should have the custody of minor children involved in international parental child abduction.
What does the verdict say?
• The verdict holds that Indian courts can decline the relief of repatriation of a child to the parent living abroad even if a foreign court, located in the country from where the child was removed, has already passed orders for the child’s repatriation
• The welfare of the child was the “paramount and predominant” consideration when such a case came up before a court here
• The welfare of the child came first over the repatriation order of the foreign court as India was not a signatory to the Hague Convention of “The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction”
Instant triple talaqContext:
• The Centre has written to the States asking for their views on a draft law that imposes a maximum of three-year jail term on a Muslim man for giving instant triple talaq — or talaq e biddat — to his wife
Introduction of the Bill:
• Government was set to introduce the Bill in the winter session of Parliament, which starts on December 15.
• Once the proposed Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill is approved by Parliament, it will cover all cases of instant triple talaq across the country, except in Jammu and Kashmir.
What is Triple Talaq?
• Triple Talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), is a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence.
• It allows any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by stating the word talaq (the Arabic word for "divorce") three times in oral, written, or more recently electronic form.
Goa ranks top, Bihar at bottom of Gender Vulnerability IndexContext:
• Goa ranked top and Bihar featured at the lowest in Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI)
What is Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI):
• The GVI is a multidimensional composite index comprised of over 170 indicators, and ranks all the states in India across four dimensions of gender vulnerability –
• Protection
• Poverty
• Education
• Health
• The Index has been developed with the aim of being used, first and foremost by Plan India, and by development practitioners, academicians and non-governmental organisations, among others, in addressing issues of gender equality.
‘Muzrai’ ActContext:
• A seven-member committee, currently in the process of suggesting comprehensive changes in the Act, is considering inclusion of mutts and temples controlled by mutts under the purview of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, popularly known as ‘Muzrai’ Act.
What is Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act?
• This Act may be called the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997.
• It shall extend to the whole of the State of Karnataka.
• It shall come into force on such date as the State Government may, by notification appoint and different dates may be appointed for different classes of Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments.
It shall not apply:
• (i) to a mutt or a temple attached, thereto ;
• (ii) to any Hindu Religious institution or charitable endowment founded, organised run or managed by Hindu Religious denomination.
International Issues
Rooppur Nuclear Power PlantContext:
• Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated construction work on the much-awaited Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Ishwardi, located in the western part of the country.
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant:
• The plant is expected to add 2,400 MW of electricity to the national grid by 2024, helping the country meet its increasing demand for electricity.
• The mega project is being implemented by state-run Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission with financial and technological support from Russia through its state nuclear agency, Rosatom
India’s participation:
• There is a possibility that India will be participating in the project
• No document is signed yet and it is under negotiation
• Though India cannot directly take part in the construction of nuclear power plants — as it is not a member of the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group — it has signed individual agreements with Bangladesh and Russia
What is Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?
• The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
• NSG consists of 48 members which include the five nuclear weapon states US, UK, France, China, and Russia.
• It is not a formal organization.
• And its guidelines are not binding.
• Decisions, including on membership, are made by consensus.
Back India’s entry into NSG, China toldContext:
• Russia is speaking to China at “all levels” for India’s membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and hopes that India will win membership to the Wassenaar Arrangement, another multilateral technology regime India has applied to.
What is Wassenaar agreement?
• The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement, is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) with 41 participating states including many former Comecon (Warsaw Pact) countries.
• The Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilising accumulations.
• Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.
• The aim is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.
How Chabahar Port could bring India and its partners a new springContext:
• Chabahar Port, inaugurated on Sunday, has been jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan. The port, noted by both Al Biruni and Alexander the Great, could be a game-changer for its developers now
About Chabahar:
• Modern Chabahar came into being in the 1970s.
• It became strategically important when Tehran realised its value and in the 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war, it was developed as a strategic-economic port
• “Chabahar” literally means a place where all four seasons of the year are like spring.
Stand up against tortureContext:
• India has undermined its prestige by repeatedly promising — and failing — to ratify the Convention against Torture.
What is Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?
• The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
• The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction.
• And forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
Recruitment for RohingyaContext:
• The Border Security Force, manning the 4096.7-km border, has asked the Union Home Ministry to sanction recruitment of 5,000 more men so as to identify and stop the Rohingya.
• Most Rohingya had entered India through three points: South 24 Parganas and Hili in Dakshin Dinajpur of West Bengal and Karimganj in Assam.
Rohingyas in India:
• By the Home Ministry’s estimate, there are around 40,000 Rohingya in India, including 5700 in Jammu.
• Only 16,000 of them are said to have registered themselves with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
• Rohingya came to India in large numbers during 2012-13.
National Issues
National Register for CitizensContext:
• The Supreme Court has rejected the Centre’s plea for more time to publish the draft National Register for Citizens (NRC) for Assam and said it will be published after midnight on December 31.
Why has it been rejected?
• The court slammed the request for more time saying that it is the sheer inaction on the part of the executive in dragging the matter for a period of over three years.
• And the absence of any justifiable cause to hold back even a partial publication that has led the Court to direct publication of the draft NRC on or before 31st December, 2017.
What is NRC?
• The National Register of Citizens (NRC) contains names of Indian citizens.
• The NRC was prepared in 1951, after the Census of 1951.
• It was prepared by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during that Census and was further kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.
• Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s
Twenty¬ first century society cannot justify shunning persons affected by leprosy, SCContext:
• As per SC, twenty¬ first century society cannot justify shunning persons affected by leprosy or keeping them hidden in homes and away from the mainstream.
What is Leprosy?
• Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis.
• Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to 20 years
• Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.
Road safetyContext:
• The most effective measure to keep roads safe is enforcement of rules with zero tolerance to violations.
What are the major SC guidelines:
• Road Safety Action Plan: The most important among SC guidelines is the Road Safety Action Plan that each State and Union Territory must announce by March 2018, and roll out after giving due publicity.
• Police forces and transport bureaucracies should not wait for formalisation of the plan, and should start enforcing rules relating to lane-based driving, using CCTV cameras to penalise offenders, and conducting safety audits along with experts
District Road Safety Committee: The orders of the Supreme Court provide a road map, and the direction to States to form a District Road Safety Committee headed by the Collector before January 31, 2018 should ensure that someone is accountable when citizens file complaints on hazardous conditions
Inter-spousal child removalContext:
• A former Supreme Court judge describes inter-spousal child removal as one of the most unfortunate outcomes of such break ups.
• Children are “abducted” by one parent and taken to a country with a different culture.
• The Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016 seeks to address the issue.
What is the Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016?
Some of the salient features of the revised recommended Bill (Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016 are as follows:
• The Bill provides for the constitution of a Central Authority.
• A decision under the Hague Convention, 1980 concerning the return of the child is not a final determination on merits of the issue of custody.
• It outlines the role of the Central Authorities with regard to a child, who is removed to India, and from India to another Contracting State of the Hague Convention, 1980.
• It lays down procedure for securing the return of a child and provides for the Central Authority to apply to the High Court for restoring custody of the child.
• It empowers the court to deny custody on certain grounds.
• It allows the courts in India to recognize decisions of State of the ‘habitual residence’ of the child.
• It also states that the Indian court that wants to disregard the interim/final order of the foreign court must record reasons for the same.
• The 263rd report of the Law Commission sets the stage for India to sign the Hague Convention, 1980.
Delhi tops crime chart among metro citiesContext:
• Despite the marginal dip it witnessed in crime against women, Delhi continued to record the highest number of such cases in 2016 among metropolitan cities.
• The city ranked no. 1 in terms of crime rate that accounts for 33.1% share among metropolitan cities when it comes to women’s safety.
Most cases of crimes are of:
• Delhi accounted for the maximum number of rape cases among 19 major cities, at 40%.
• The figures for ‘cruelty by husband and his relatives’ and ‘dowry deaths’ stood respectively at 29% each.
• Overall, crimes against women in Delhi only marginally decreased from 17,222 cases in 2015 to 15,310 in 2016.
Article 239 AAContext:
• The problem of jurisdictional conflicts between Delhi’s elected government and the lieutenant governor (LG) is attributable to the conundrum called Article 239 AA of the Indian Constitution.
239AA. Special provisions with respect to Delhi:
• As from the date of commencement of the Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991, the Union territory of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi (hereafter in this Part referred to as the National Capital Territory) and the administrator thereof appointed under article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant Governor.
• (2)(a) There shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory and the seats in such Assembly shall be filled by members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the National Capital Territory.
One Nation, One ElectionContext:
• In his address on National Law Day 2017, Prime Minister of India once again raised the issue of simultaneous elections to Parliament and all State Assemblies, under the banner of “one nation one election”.
What is ‘One Nation, One Election’?
• ‘One Nation, One Election’ is the method of holding single elections for both Lok Sabha and States instead of separate and continuous elections.
• Four reasons have been cited for the same:
• massive expenditure;
• diversion of security and civil staff from primary duties;
• impact on governance due to the model code of conduct, and
• disruption to normal public life.
Agricultural issues
From Plate to Plough: Agri-futures, like ChinaContext:
• In November, prices of most major kharif crops crashed below their respective minimum support prices (MSPs), triggering farm distress.
• One of the many reasons behind this situation is that planting decisions of our farmers are based on last year’s prices, rather than the prices expected at the time of harvest.
What are Kharif crops?
• The terms ‘kharif’ is originated from Arabic language where Kharif means autumn.
• The kharif crops include rice, maize, sorghum, pearl millet/bajra, finger millet/ragi (cereals), arhar (pulses), soyabean, groundnut (oilseeds), cotton etc.
Economic Issues
World Trade OrganisationContext:
• The U.S. protested at the World Trade Organisation against China’s bid for recognition as a market economy.
• Its opposition is a counter to China’s 2016 legal challenge against the U.S. and the European Union, both of which refuse to accord China the coveted status it wants.
View of US:
• The use of state subsidies in China distorts market prices.
• Also the U.S. Commerce Department is conducting separate investigations into the dumping of aluminium foil by China.
• Were China to be granted the coveted position, it would be hard for the U.S. to defend its anti-dumping rulings against Chinese firms at the world body.
What is Market Economy?
• A market economy is a system where the laws of supply and demand direct the production of goods and services.
• Supply includes natural resources, capital, and labor.
• Demand includes purchases by consumers, businesses and the government.
• Businesses sell their wares at the highest price consumers will pay. At the same time, shoppers look for the lowest prices for the goods and services they want.
• Workers bid their services at the highest possible wages that their skills allow. Employers seek to get the best employees at the lowest possible price.
• Capitalism requires a market economy to set prices and distribute goods and services.
PSU banks : reform with recapContext:
• The proposed recapitalisation of public sector banks will include a package of reforms.
What has been proposed?
• The Centre had announced a 2.11 lakh crore recapitalisation plan for PSU banks, of which 1.35 lakh crore would be raised through recapitalisation bonds.
• Reeling under the pressure of poor asset quality over the last three years, these banks have seen their capital erode
• Apart from making provisions for bad loans, the lenders would need capital to meet the Basel-III norms and to support their business growth.
‘Services, agri slowdown, a concern’Context:
• While the rebound in GDP growth in the second quarter can act as a ‘confidence booster’ for the economy, the slowdown in the services sector, including finance, transport and hotels, as well as in agriculture is cause for concern
What are its causes?
• Possible causes for the slowdown include the larger working capital requirements faced by the services sector (especially export-oriented ones)
• And severe process issues post-GST implementation
GDP growth rebounds to 6.3% in September quarterContext:
• India’s economy regained momentum in the September quarter.
GDP growth in 2nd quarter:
• GDP growth recovered in the second fiscal quarter (July, Aug, Sept) from a three-year low of 5.7% in the preceding three-month period, while Gross Value Added (GVA) growth accelerated to 6.1% from 5.6% in the first quarter
• This quarter’s positive result has been impacted significantly by growth in manufacturing
• The manufacturing sector expanded by 7% in the quarter, a robust acceleration from 1.2% in the first quarter. Still, the pace was slower than the 7.7% seen in the second quarter of 2016-2017
Slowdown in services sector:
• There has been a slowdown in the services sector, especially finance, transport, and hotels, all of which saw growth slowing in the second quarter compared with the first quarter
• The possible causes could be the larger working capital requirements faced by services sector (especially export- oriented ones) and teething process issues post-GST implementation.
Worst performance in Agriculture:
• The sector that has performed worse is agriculture, which grew at 1.7% in 2nd Quarter.
• The performance in the agriculture sector has been held up by the non-crop sector.
Improvement in GFCF:
• It grew by 4.7% in the second quarter compared with 1.6% in the first quarter
What is Gross Fixed Capital formation (GFCF)?
• Gross Fixed Capital formation refers to the net increase in physical assets (investment minus disposals) within the measurement period.
• It does not account for the consumption (depreciation) of fixed capital, and also does not include land purchases.
Environmental Issues
2 kiwi birds are rare bright spot in grim extinction reportContext:
• The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has upgraded the Okarito kiwi and the Northern Brown kiwi from endangered to vulnerable. These birds belong to New Zealand
What more does the IUCN update say?
• The conservation group’s latest update mostly detailed grave threats to animals and plants due to loss of habitat and unsustainable farming and fisheries practices.
• It said three reptile species are now considered extinct in the wild.
• The whiptail-skink, the blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko from Australia’s Christmas Island all have mysteriously disappeared.
• The group said a disease or the arrival of an invasive species, the yellow crazy ant, might be to blame.
What is IUCN?
• It was created in 1948.
• The International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organizations.
• It provides public, private and non-governmental organizations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.
• It is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
Solar Alliance comes into existenceContext:
• India’s global initiative, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) that aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries, came into legal, independent existence.
What is International Solar Alliance (ISA)?
• The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by Indian PM and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, on the side-lines of COP-21, the UN climate conference.
• It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
• Members: So far, 19 countries are part of the compact — Bangladesh, Comoros, Fiji, France, Ghana, Guinea, India, Mali, Mauritius, Nauru, Niger, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tuvalu, Australia, Cuba, Malawi and Peru
Endangered SpeciesContext:
• Paying attention towards conserving species other than large mammals like tiger, elephants, rhinos, leopards and snow leopards.
• There is a great deal of concern over the death and destruction of habitats of large mammals like elephants, rhinos, leopards and snow leopards because they attract tourists and bring in revenue
Critically endangered Species:
• The National Board for Wildlife in 2012 identified more than 15 species, including the magnificent Hangul of Kashmir and the Barasingha of Madhya Pradesh, as critically endangered
Cyclone Ockhi Context:
• Heavy rain continued to batter coastal areas of Kerala and south Tamil Nadu on Friday, crippling normal life, even as Cyclone Ockhi lay centered off the Lakshadweep islands.
• The death toll in the two States in rain-related incidents rose to 11.
What is a cyclone?
• Cyclonerefers to any spinning storm that rotates around a low-pressure center.
• The low-pressure center is also referred to as the ‘eye’ of the storm.
• The areas enveloping the center are called ‘arms’ of the storm.
• All the action happens in the ‘arms’ area where the storm is throwing out all of its rain and wind.
• Cyclones are categorised by the maximum wind speed they generate.
What is Cyclone Ockhi?
• Ockhi was described as a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’.
• It is the third strongest category according to the definitions used by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Science and Technology
New graphene battery charges 5 times fasterContext:
• Scientists have developed a new Graphene-based battery material with charging speed five times faster than today’s lithium-ion batteries
Significance of the battery:
• Provides promise for the next generation mobile batteries and electric vehicles
• The latest research will enable mass synthesis of Graphene at an affordable price.
What is Graphene?
• Among the materials looked at, Graphene, a material with high strength and conductivity, has widely become the primary source of interest.
• This “Graphene ball” was utilized for both the anode protective layer and cathode materials.
• This ensured an increase of charging capacity, decrease of charging time as well as stable temperatures.
• In theory, a battery based on the “Graphene ball” material requires only 12 minutes to fully charge.
• It is ultra-light yet immensely tough
• It is 200 times stronger than steel, but it is incredibly flexible.
• It is the thinnest material possible as well as being transparent.
• It is a superb conductor and can act as a perfect barrier – not even helium can pass through it.
L¬G seeks report on non-utilisation of ECCContext:
• A report has been soughed from the Delhi government over alleged nonutilisation of 1,002 crore collected as environment compensation charge (ECC).
What is Environment Compensation Charge (ECC)?
• The Supreme Court has ordered an Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) of 1% for the registration of diesel cars above 2000 cc in Delhi.
• With the imposition of ECC, the ban imposed by the SC on large cars will go and they can get registered by paying the ECC.
Charge sheets filed in only 30% cases reported in 2016, shows NCRB dataContext:
• More than 12,000 incidents of cybercrime were reported in 2016, but nearly the same number of such crimes carried forward from the previous years had not been investigated, as per the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
What is cybercrime?
• Cyber crime, or computer oriented crime, is crime that involves a computer and a network.
• The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target.
• Cybercrimes can be defined as: "Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet (networks including but not limited to Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones (Bluetooth/SMS/MMS)".
Security and Defence
Doklam standoffContext:
• Chinese military has hinted at maintaining sizeable presence of its troops near the area of Doklam standoff during winter, asserting that the region is in Chinese territory.
What is Doklam standoff?
• India and China resolved the 73-day tense standoff on August 28 at Doklam after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stopped building a strategic road close to India’s narrow Chicken Neck area connecting north-eastern States.
• India objected to the road building by the PLA, saying that it endangered the security of the narrow corridor
• Bhutan also claims the Doklam area to be its part
• According to official accounts, both China and India in the past used to withdraw troops from the advanced regions of that area during the winter which is harsh
What is Doklam?
• Doklam is a tri-junction between India, China, and Bhutan, where the road construction activities of China were strongly objected by the Indian armed forces.
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