ForumIAS: Facts in News (September 23rd – 30th)

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 September.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

Bills, Programs, Policies, Schemes, Orders, Judgments 
Private players may run rail lines• The Union government is open to the idea of giving operations of railway lines to private players for enhancing competition.
• The government is engaging with other countries to rapidly scale up the bullet train project.
• The country will be able to generate competition in the process and improve customer satisfaction.
SC lets States frame rules for PCBs• The Supreme Court on 27th September, 2017 directed State governments to frame guidelines or recruitment rules within six months for appointment of suitable professionals in State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs).
• It set aside an August 24, 2016 order of the National Green Tribunal laying down guidelines for SPCB appointments, saying it exceeded its jurisdiction.
Gurugram schools directed to implement 8-point security rules• The local administration here on Tuesday directed all private schools in the city under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to implement eight urgent points related to security of the students and to submit a compliance report within a fortnight.
8-point security:
• The order said that any violation of law would be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
• constitution of school safety committees with two representatives being parents,
• to ensure all fire equipment are in working condition, separate toilets for non-teaching staff,
• installation of sufficient number of close-circuit television cameras at appropriate places,
• deployment of women attendants at toilets for minors,
• ramps and toilets for children with special needs,
• installation of GPS and CCTVs in school buses along with deployment of women attendants, and
• Police verification of non-teaching staff.
Centre forms group to work on plans for 5G roll-out by 2020• The government has formed a high-level panel to evaluate and approve road maps and action plan to achieve the target of rolling out 5G technology in India by 2020.
• The Centre has created a support fund of about 500 crore to facilitate research and development for 5G.
• 5G technologies roll-out will help in increasing GDP, creating employment and digitising the economy.
• The 5G will aim to have Indian participation in the process of defining global standards for the next generation of wireless technology.
• Under the 5G technology, the government aims to deliver about 10,000 megabit per second (10 gbps) in urban areas and 1,000 mbps (1 gbps) in rural areas, the Minister said.
• The ‘5G 2020’ forum will also aim to strengthen domestic telecommunication equipment manufacturing that is necessary for the technology, with the aim that local manufacturers should be able to capture 50% of the Indian market and 10% of the global market over the next five to seven years.
Government schemes for electricity:
• The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme, launched by Mr. Modi aims to make electricity accessible to every household by the end of 2018.
• Under the scheme, expected to cost a little over 16,000 crore, poor households that have no access to electricity will be provided electricity connections free of cost.
• This builds on previous work carried out under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana launched in 2015, and the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana launched by the UPA government in 2005, both of which also aimed to provide free electricity connections to the poor.
• A free electricity connection can ease the financial burden on the poor to some degree, but it will not address the recurring burden of power bills.
• The aim of improving affordability would require that supply be increased drastically to lower the price paid by retail consumers.
Modi to lay foundation stone of AIIMS Bilaspur• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the upcoming All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh on October 3rd, 2017.
• The AIIMS would provide the much-needed tertiary medical services to Himachal Pradesh and its neighbouring States.
Colour blind get a shot at medical education• The Supreme Court has opened the doors for colour blind students to pursue medical education.
• The court said peculiar facts and circumstances of the case required it to invoke special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.
• Various colleges and the Medical Council of India were arbitrarily denying admissions to candidates suffering from Color Vision Deficiency, popularly called color blindness.
Color Blindness:
• Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency, is the decreased ability to see color or differences in color.
• Color blindness can make some educational activities difficult.
• Buying fruit, picking clothing, and reading traffic lights can be more challenging, for example.
Ministry: sale of tobacco only through licensed shops• The Ministry has asked all the State governments to develop a mechanism through the municipal authority to provide “permission/authorisation” to retail outlets selling tobacco products.
• Shops authorised to sell tobacco products will not be permitted to sell any non-tobacco products such as biscuits, toffees and chips that are essentially meant for non-tobacco users, especially children.
• Such an initiative will prove to be beneficial in achieving the objective of preventing children/ non-user from exposure to tobacco products
• Selling tobacco products through licensed shops will prevent mushrooming of outlets selling tobacco products and shrewd marketing of tobacco products to kids.
Anti-encroachment drive to start from today• Special anti encroachment drive is being launched by the three municipal corporations.
• Parking in unauthorized spots or along the roadside might cost as much as 1,000.
• The drive will not only concentrate on illegal parking lots and roadside parking but will also remove encroachments along roadsides and on kerfs that block pedestrian passage.
• The violators will not only be breaking the rules under the Motor Vehicle Act but also the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act.
• The civic bodies, along with the Delhi Traffic Police, will target busy markets and other public places in an attempt to decongest the city.
Motor Vehicle Act:
• The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of India which regulates all aspects of road transport vehicles.
• The Act came into force from 1 July 1989. It replaced Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 which earlier replaced the first such enactment Motor Vehicles Act, 1914.
• The Act provides in detail the legislative provisions regarding licensing of drivers/conductors, registration of motor vehicles, control of motor vehicles through permits, special provisions relating to state transport undertakings, traffic regulation, insurance, liability, offences and penalties, etc.
• For exercising the legislative provisions of the Act, the Government of India made the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.
Economic Issues
All you need to know about Graded Surveillance Measure• SEBI introduced Graded Surveillance Measure to keep a tab on securities that witness an abnormal price rise that is not commensurate with financial health and fundamentals of the company such as earnings, book value, and price to earnings ratio among others.
• The underlying principle behind the graded surveillance framework is to alert and protect investors trading in a security, which is seeing abnormal price movements.
• SEBI may put shares of companies under the measure for suspected price rigging or under the ambit of ‘shell companies’.
• The measure would provide a heads up to market participants that they need to be extra cautious and diligent while dealing in such securities put under surveillance.
‘GST: MSMEs to gain via better competitiveness’• The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is all set to enhance the competitiveness of the almost five crore Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that account for 25% of employment, 40% of industrial output and 45% of exports of the country.
• This will be achieved by making them a part of organised commerce and offering them a level playing field.
• A simplified tax structure and a unified market are the two great promises of GST but the key benefits for MSMEs, a majority of whom are getting into the indirect tax net for the first time, include lower freight costs, which are estimated to come down by 1.5-2%.
• Significant benefits will be seen in lower cost of raw materials (in the past 2% CST was applied to raw materials imported from other states), and a lower tax burden.
• These benefits will have a more significant effect on boosting the cost competitiveness of MSMEs — a sector comprising tens of thousands of self-funded proprietary firms, private self-help groups, private cooperatives, khadi, village and coir industries.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs):
• The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India.
Defence Issues
Govt. plans Made-in-India body armour for soldiers• The Prime Minister’s Office has asked the NITI Aayog to set up an inter-ministerial committee to prepare a road map to encourage domestic manufacturing of lightweight body armor for the Army and paramilitary forces.
• This year, the PMO asked NITI Aayog to prepare a draft note on the possibility of encouraging production of home-made lightweight body armor.
• Though India is a major producer and exporter of body armor, its own security forces are often deprived of such equipment, particularly the lightweight ones.
• Huge demand as per an estimate, there is a requirement of over 50,000 bulletproof kits for the police force in the country.
Significant benefit:
• Making lightweight armor in India will ensure low-cost supplies.
India plans to train Afghan police officers• After training Afghan National Army officers and soldiers for four years, India is now planning to train Afghan police officers here as well, says Afghanistan’s envoy to India.
• This will be a good opportunity for India, Afghanistan and the U.S. to develop their partnerships in Afghanistan.
• The two countries will hold a trilateral meeting of officials where they will focus on further enhancing cooperation in the economic and development field
India and Afghan defence ties:
• At present about 200 Afghan soldiers are trained at a time at the Indian Military Academy, including 130 cadets and 30 to 40 officers.
• The training of police officers, which India had first offered to Afghanistan in 2011, will be a significant step in security ties, which are a small part of the relationship, compared with India’s $3 billion investment in civilian projects since 2002, with 116 new projects announced this month.
• Last year, India sent Afghanistan four Russian-made Mi-25 helicopters.
International Issues
Japan keen on friendship with northeast• At the fourth Northeast Connectivity Summit in Kohima from September 22 to 23, a representative of the Embassy of Japan said Tokyo would invest in the North-east of India’s infrastructure, education and people-to-people sectors.
• The northeastern region is located at a strategically and economically important juncture between India and Southeast Asia as well as within the Bimstec (Bay of Bengal) community.
• Therefore, Japan has placed a particular importance on the cooperation in the northeastern region.
• For the northeast, Japan had undertaken works on road connectivity, energy projects, water supply and sanitation, forest resources management, Japanese language education and postwar reconciliation, which aimed to build a deeper understanding of the actions of Japanese forces in the region during the Second World War.
• Japanese officials said Tokyo was committed to undertaking two major road and infrastructure building projects in Mizoram and Meghalaya.
• Nagaland’s Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar also urged improved connectivity with Myanmar for unlocking the regional trade potential. The summit included diplomatic participation from Bhutan, Russia, Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand.
All help, but no troops to Afghanistan• India on 25th September, 2017 ruled out deploying troops in Afghanistan even as it pledged to expand development and medical assistance for the strife-torn nation.
India and Afghanistan defence ties:
• Indian contribution to Afghanistan has been for a very long time and has been consistently on developmental issues.
• Medical assistance is also provided by India.
• India has already extended $3 billion aid to Afghanistan, provides security assistance in the form of training and has also supplied some utility and attack helicopters.
• Kabul has repeatedly sought lethal weapons and ammunition from India. In their press statements after the talks, the two leaders also resolved to eradicate terrorist safe havens across the globe.
Hasina floats five-point peace plan• Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has floated a five-point proposal at the United Nations to find a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.
The five-point proposal:
• Ms. Hasina’s five-point proposal says: Myanmar must stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State unconditionally, immediately and forever.
• The UN Secretary General should immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar.
• All civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, must be protected in Myanmar
• For this, ‘safe zones’ could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision; sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar must be ensured
• And the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission Report must be implemented immediately, unconditionally and entirely.
Sushma raises H-1B issue in U.S.• External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 27th September, 2017 raised issues related to H-1B visas and people of Indian origin with an uncertain immigration status in America in her first bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
• Ms. Sushma Swaraj strongly raised the issue of H-1B visa and children falling under DACA policy.
Issues discussed:
• The two sides reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relationship, including expanding our trade and investment relations.
• Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal government protection created by former President Barack Obama for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
• The programme gives them temporary right to live, study and work in America for a period of two years and renewable on expiry.
• The Trump administration has announced a rollback of the programme, and nearly 8,000 Indians could be affected by it.
Science And Technology
Fly me to the moon: lunar settlement possible by 2030• By 2030, there could be an initial lunar settlement of six to 10 pioneers i.e. scientists, technicians and engineers, which could grow to 100 by 2040.
• Potential moon resources include basalt, a volcanic rock that could be used as raw material for 3D-printing satellites to be deployed from the moon at a fraction of the cost of a launch from the earth.
• There is also helium-3, a rare isotope on our planet, but common on the moon, that could theoretically be used to generate cleaner, safer nuclear energy for the earth.
• The main target however is water, locked up in ice on the moon’s poles.
• Water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen, two gases which explode when mixed providing rocket fuel.
Environmental Issues
Work initiated to stop flow of garbage into Ganga: Yogi• A work plan worth 30,000 crore has been started under the Prime Minister’s ‘Namami Gange’ project.
• The massive work plan has been initiated to
• ensure that garbage and waste stop flowing into the Ganga before the 2019 ‘Ardhkumbh’
• Before the 2019 Prayag (Allahabad) Ardhkumbh not even a single drain or garbage will flow into the Ganga.
• In the coming two years no one will be allowed to release garbage or waste in the river and treatment plants will be set up at different places to first treat the discharge before it is allowed to flow into the river.
• In the first phase the government has resolved to make all villages falling on the river’s banks open defecation free (ODF) and have also succeeded in it.
• A vast plantation drive has also been launched in the areas falling on the banks of the River Ganga.
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