ForumIAS: Facts in News (January 7th–15th. 2018)

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 second week of January 2018.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

Bills, Policies, Programs, Schemes, Orders, Judgements
Virtual Aadhar IDContext:
• The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has introduced the concept of a virtual ID.
Virtual ID:
• It can be used in lieu of the Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.
• It eliminates the need to share and store Aadhaar numbers.
• It can be generated only by the Aadhaar number-holder via the UIDAI website, Aadhaar enrolment centre, or its mobile application.
• Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) categorised as ‘global AUAs’ by the UIDAI will be exempted from using the virtual IDs.
• These are likely to be entities which require de-duplication for subsidy transfer, such as banks and government agencies.
Face Authentication for AadhaarContext:
• The Unique Identification Authority of India has decided to enable Face Authentication by July 1st this year for validating Aadhaar cards.
• This move comes on the back of reports that beneficiaries of government schemes were not able to avail themselves of their entitlements in the absence of Aadhaar authentication.
World Social Protection Report 2017-19Context:
• The World Social Protection Report 2017-19 has been released by International Labour Organization.
Major findings of the report:
• A vast majority of people (4 billion) live without any safeguard against the normal contingencies of life.
• Less than half (45.2%) have guaranteed access to only one social protection benefit in the face of a whole gamut of risks such as ill health, unemployment, occupational injuries, disability, and old age.
• More than half the population in rural areas are not covered by universal health programmes, as compared to less than a quarter in urban locations.
• The goal of comprehensive coverage evidently remains a mere slogan in several parts of the world.
• The expansion of old-age pensions to include 68% of people in the retirement age is a move in the right direction.
• The levels of support are not adequate enough even to lift people out of poverty.
• A trend away from the privatisation of pension protection in Poland, Argentina, Hungary, among others, is perhaps a moment for other countries to rethink
• About 29% of the population enjoy comprehensive social protection
• There has been a 2% increase in coverage in the last two years.
Operation Digital Board in the offingContext:
• The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) passed a resolution to take steps towards Operation Digital Board on the lines of Operation Blackboard of 1987 which was started with the purpose of providing minimum basic facilities to all primary schools.
Operation Blackboard:
• Operation Blackboard is a centrally sponsored programme.
• It was started in 1987 immediately after the Rajiv Gandhi NPE of 1986 was released to supply the bare minimum crucial facilities to all primary schools in the country.
• The objective of the scheme is providing students studying in primary settings with the necessary institutional equipment and instructional material to facilitate their education.
Hindi at the UNContext:
• Obtaining official language status for Hindi at the UN is an attractive way of enhancing its stature among languages and propagating the greater use of Hindi.
• Hindi is spoken not only in India, but also in Fiji, Suriname, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
UN official languages:
• Chinese, French, English, Russian and Spanish were the UN official languages, but by subsequent resolutions over the years, all five became working languages too.
• In 1973, Arabic was adopted by the General Assembly as an official and a working language.
New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill of 2018Context:
• The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Law and Justice, Mr. P.P. Chaudhary on January 5, 2018.
• It aims to establish an autonomous and independent institution for better management of arbitration in India.
New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill of 2018:
• This Bill proposes the establishment of a new institution called the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) for better management of arbitration in the country.
• The Bill also aims to declare it as an institution of national importance
Members of NDIAC:
• The Bill envisages appointment of persons of repute and those having knowledge and expertise in institutional arbitration as the chairperson and members of the NDIAC
• The members are to hold office for three years and they will be eligible for re-appointment.
• Facilitating arbitration: To provide facilities and assistance for the conduct of arbitration, mediation and conciliation proceeding.
• Professional standards: To conduct arbitration in a professional manner and in the most cost-effective way.
• Promoting study: The NDIAC will also be entrusted with promoting study in the field of alternative dispute resolution
• Establishment of Chamber of arbitration: The Bill also proposes to set up a Chamber of Arbitration, which would have a permanent panel of professionals at the national and international levels
• Establishment of an arbitration academy: An Arbitration Academy is to be set up by NDIAC to train arbitrators in India, so as to empower them to compete on par with other reputed arbitration institutions
Sole woman among the 25-strong Supreme Court judiciaryContext:
• Justice Banumathi is the sole woman among the 25-strong Supreme Court judiciary.
• 1st woman SC judge: Justice M. FathimaBeevi was the first woman Supreme Court judge, appointed 39 years after the apex court was established in 1950
• 2nd woman SC judge:The second woman judge was Justice Sujata V. Manohar, who was appointed in 1994 for a five-year tenure in the Supreme Court
• Other 5 SC judges:The other five women judges are
• Justices Ruma Pal, GyanSudhaMisra.
• Ranjana Prakash Desai, who was part of the Bench which confirmed the death penalty of the lone 26/11 Mumbai attacks convict AjmalKasab.
• Banumathi, who was one of the judges who confirmed the death sentence for four convicts in the Nirbhayagangrape appeals.
International Relations
NarendraModi’s visit to Israel Context:
• NarendraModi’s visit to Israel last year, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, stood out for his decision not to visit the Palestinian territories.
Indo-Israel bilateral relations:
Defence trade:
• By one estimate, India accounts for 41% of Israel’s defence exports, and a possible sale of Spike anti-tank missiles during Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to India will give this steadfast relationship an added fillip.
• Counter-terrorism cooperation remains a cornerstone of India-Israel cooperation and there will be a powerful joint remembrance ceremony during Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to Mumbai’s Chabad House, one of the targets of the 26/11 attack.
MoU’s to be signed:
• The biggest growth areas in bilateral ties will also come from memorandums of understanding in agriculture and water technology, given Israeli expertise in this area.
Desalinization vehicles:
• During Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to Ahmedabad, where he and Mr.Modi will undertake a roadshow together, he will hand over two desalinisation vehicles that Mr.Modi saw in Haifa.
Beijing wary of Indian presence in S. China seaContext:
• China objected to Vietnam’s invitation to India to invest in oil and natural gas sector in the disputed South China Sea.
• China has been opposing Oil and Natural Gas Corporation exploring oil in wells claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea for years.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC):
• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) is an Indian multinationaland gas company headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India.
• It is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
• It is India's largest oil and gas exploration and production company.
• It produces around 77% of India's crude oil (equivalent to around 30% of the country's total demand) and around 62% of its natural gas.
National Security Advisers (NSAs)Context:
• The National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan met on December 26 in Bangkok.
• It was part of the mechanism to hold Pakistan accountable for the terrorism that emanates from its territory.
Talk on terror model:
• The ‘talks on terror’ model to engage Pakistan is a break in India’s position that India had taken following the attack on the Pathankot airbase when New Delhi had cancelled the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD).
• CBD was launched by External Affairs Minister SushmaSwaraj during her visit to Islamabad on 9 December 2015.
Operational-level dialogue:
• The NSA-level meetings are a part of an “operational-level dialogue” similar to the talks that are held between the DGMOs of both sides and between the border forces of two countries.
SC asks for panels on Mullaperiyar damContext:
• The Supreme Court on directed Union government to set up a special committee to exclusively prepare disaster management plans wrt Mullaiperiyar Dam.
Mullaiperiyar dam:
• The dam is built on an elevated junction of 850 metres and has a height of of 53.6 metres (176 feet) from the foundation, and a length of 365.7 metres (1,200 feet) for catering to the irrigational needs of Tamil Nadu.
• The dam built in the Periyar River.
• The dam was built in the late 1800s in the princely state of Travancore (present-day Kerala) and given to British-ruled Madras Presidency on a 999-year lease in 1886.
• The agreement granted full rights to the secretary of state of Tamil Nadu, a British official, to construct irrigation projects on the land
• The dam was built to divert eastwards a part of the west-flowing Periyar river, to feed the arid areas of Tamil Nadu.
Benami propertyContext:
• The Income-Tax Department warned people to “keep away” from benami transactions.
• Violations under the newly enacted law invite criminal prosecution and rigorous imprisonment up to seven years.
Benami property:
• Benami essentially means property without a name.
• In this kind of transaction the person who pays for the property does not buys it under his/her own name.
• The person on whose name the property has been purchased is called the benamdar and the property so purchased is called the benami property.
• The person who finances the deal is the real owner. ‘The property is held for the benefit – direct or indirect – of the person paying the amount
Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC)Context:
• The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) informed us that ‘landlessness and dependence on manual casual labour for a livelihood are key deprivations facing rural families’, which make them far more vulnerable to impoverishment.
Indicators of Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC):
• The rural census, or SECC, mapped deprivation using seven indicators:
• ‘households with a kuchha house;
• without an adult member in working age;
• headed by a woman and without an adult male in working age;
• with a disabled member and without able-bodied adult;
• of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST);
• without literate adults over 25 years;
• and the landless engaged in manual labour.
Findings of the SECC:
• The more the number of parameters on which a household is deprived, the worse its extent of poverty.
• Nearly 30% have two deprivations, 13% have three. Only 0.01% suffer from all seven handicaps’.
• While 48.5% of all rural households suffer from at least one deprivation indicator, “landless households engaged in manual labour” are more vulnerable.
• Nearly 54 million households are in the landless-labourer category; assuming that each such household has five members, that makes 250 million of the nearly 850-900 million rural population.
• This number is almost certainly an underestimate, since 84% of all those who even hold agricultural land are small and marginal farmers.
• The intersection of any of the six other handicaps with “landless labour” makes it more acute.
• The SECC also said that ‘59% of households with kuchha houses are landless labourers; similarly, 55% of those with no literate adult above 25 years and 54% each of SC/ST households and female-headed households without adult male members are also landless households.
• At the same time, 47% households without an adult member of working age are landless labourers as are 45% of those with disabled members and no able-bodied adult members’.
Union government liberalised and simplified the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)Context:
• The Union government liberalised and simplified the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime in a host of sectors, including Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT).
Benefits of the move:
• The relaxation in sourcing norms could help companies like Apple, which had been seeking exemption from the 30% local sourcing norm.
• The move will attract additional foreign capital into the country.
• It will also provide an impetus to the retail industry growth, at a time when organised retail is already seeing strong growth over the last 12 months.
• Global brands across different categories, from apparel to electronics to accessories will be aided through this, providing further options to Indian consumers and improving India’s ranking in ease of doing business.
• The relaxation in local sourcing norms would allow the SBRT entity adequate time to set up their supply chain for local souring in India.
• The move would open up the Indian retail markets, leading to greater number of brands entering the Indian retail space and thus increasing competition.
Nesting season for Olive Ridley turtlesContext:
• The Andhra Pradesh Wildlife authorities have prepared the ground for a safe nesting season for Olive Ridley turtles along the 970-km coastline from the Srikakulam district to the Nellore district.
Locations identified for setting up of rookeries:
• After a field study by the forest staff in all the districts to identify the locations, construction of the rookeries was in full swing.
• Among the identified strategic breeding locations, Baruva, Kalingapatnam, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Hamsaladeevi and Nagayalanka beaches have been found prime destinations of the turtles for nesting, which commences in January and ends in May.
• Five new locations have been identified to set up the rookeries includingLankavenidibba, Nachugunta and Sorlagondi where mass nesting was observed in the previous seasons.
Olive Ridley sea turtle:
• The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
• They can also be found in warm waters of Atlantic ocean.
• Growing to about 2 feet in length, the Olive ridley gets its name from its olive colored carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded.
• Males and females grow to the same size; however, females have a slightly more rounded carapace as compared to the male.
Soils in the context of climate changeContext:
• It is not usual to think of soils in the context of climate change.
• There has been a renewed interest in understanding how soils can serve as a sink for carbon dioxide since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed 410 parts per million and oceans are already turning acidic.
Soil Organic Carbon:
• Soil organic carbon (SOC) comes from plants, animals, microbes, leaves and wood, mostly found in the first metre or so.
• There are many conditions and processes that determine changes to SOC content including temperature, rainfall, vegetation, soil management and land-use change.
• Increasing SOC through various methods can improve soil health, agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and reduce the need for chemicals.
• Approaches to increase SOC include reducing soil erosion, no-till-farming, use of cover crops, nutrient management, applying manure and sludge, water harvesting and conservation, and agroforestry practices.
Wholesale inflation eases to 3-month low of 3.58%Context:
• Wholesale price-based inflation (WPI) has cooled in December, 2017 to a three-month low of 3.58%.
• The deflation is due to the decline in prices of food items, according to data released on Monday by the Commerce and Industry Ministry.
Annual rate of inflation based on monthly WPI:
• In November, the annual rate of inflation based on monthly WPI, was 3.93% (provisional), while in December 2016 it was 2.1%
• Inflation in food articles eased to 4.72% in December 2017 from 6.06% in November 2017.
• Lowering of repo rate in the upcoming monetary policy is critical to boost investments and build growth momentum at this juncture.
Wholesale Price Index (WPI):
• The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is the price of representative basket of wholesale goods.
• Some countries (like the Philippines) use WPI changes as a central measure ofinflation.
• But now India has adopted new CPI to measure inflation.
• It also influences stock and fixed price markets.
Gujarat to count elusive tigersContext:
• A census is to be held 33 years after a tiger was spotted.
Dang District of Gujarat:
• The counting exercise in Dang will be part of the nationwide tiger census.
• Gujarat, which houses a rich population of lions, will now see an exercise to find out if tigers also inhabit the State.
• The last time a tiger was spotted in Gujarat was way back in 1985
• Now, over three decades later, a census has been planned next month to ascertain the presence of the striped animal in the forest of Dang district.
Proposal approved by NTCA:
• The State forest department earlier sent a proposal to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for the census after some media reports suggested the presence of tigers in Dang.
• The proposal was approved by the NTCA, a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
National Tiger Conservation Authority:
• The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force, constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
Science and Technology
Space companies bet big on PSLVContext:
• At least three overseas space companies have bet big on the PSLV-C40.
• They each have put a 100-kg-class microsatellite on it as a testbed of their potential future constellations.
• The PSLV, resuming after a failure in August, is placing these and 25 nanosatellites (up to 10 kg) in orbits 505 km away from Earth.
• The nanosats also carry experiments of companies and universities from multiple countries.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):
• The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, commonly known by its abbreviation PSLV, is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO).
• It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun-synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV in 1993, commercially available only from Russia.
• PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
A pioneer in biotechnologyContext:
• Nobel Laureate HarGobind Khorana’s contributions to biology are of contemporary relevance for some of the most exciting areas such as synthetic biology and gene editing.
• A Google Doodlemark the 96th birth anniversary of the Indian-origin American scientist this week stoked much interest in his work.
HarGobind Khorana’s contribution:
• After James Watson and Francis Crick found that DNA (De-oxy ribonucleic acid) had a double-helix structure, Khorana was among those who significantly built on that knowledge.
• He explained how this sequence of nucleic acids (better known as the genetic code) goes about making proteins, which is critical to the functioning of cells.
About HarGobind Khorana:
• Khorana was born in 1922 in Raipur, a village in Punjab now part of Pakistan.
• He was the youngest of six siblings and his father was a ‘patwari’, a village agricultural taxation clerk in the British Indian system of government.
• He lived in India until 1945, when the award of a Government of India Fellowship made it possible for him to go to England for a PhD at the University of Liverpool.
• Khorana became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1966.
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