Daily News Analysis for IAS/UPSC (25-06-2015) Current Affairs

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e-stamping to be introduced in State

  • Cabinet approves amendment to Kerala StampAct, 1959
  • The government is preparing to introduce e-stamping to prevent malpractices in land registrations and make revenue transactions safer.
  • Registered vendors can transact e-stamp certificates.
  • The e-stamp is a Web-based, secure, tamper-proof system to replace the conventional registration documents.
  • Authorised stamping centres will collect the payment for stamp duty and issue stamp certificates.
  • Besides the convenience of online payment of stamp paper fee, the system enables verification by the user and the government and round-the-clock availability of stamp papers.
  • It also offers the facility to deposit the exact fee and avoid fleecing by vendors.
  • The stamp certificate generated by the system comes with a unique identification number that can be verified online.
  • The Stockholding Corporation of India has been authorised by the Centre to act as the central record keeping agency for the e-stamping project.
  • It is touted as an effective method to curb corruption and prevent fake stamp paper circulation.

 

Govt. nod for revised cost estimate of freight corridor

  • Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved the revised cost estimate of Rs. 81,459 crore for the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) Project.

 

I-T refunds will soon be credited into your accounts

  • In a move aimed at simplifying the income tax refund process and reducing errors, the Income Tax department has decided to begin a process that will see the refund due to an individual directly transferred to a bank account of his/her choosing as soon as the sum is processed
  • Central Board of Direct Taxes chairperson Anita Kapur recently said it was working with banks and the RBI after it found that the problem of wrong refunds or no refunds at all was continuing unabated.
  • CBDT was working with banks to eliminate any errors.

 

Bar coding to check sale of illicit liquor

  • The State government is planning to introduce Headolostic Pathfinding System (HPFS) for curbing the sale of Non-Duty Paid (NDP) and cheap liquor in the State.
  • Government is proposing to make HPFS mandatory in all retail outlets from July 1.
  • Each bottle will be given a unique bar coding system, which can be tracked from distillery companies to the retail outlets.
  • The retail traders should compulsorily install HPF System in all outlets, along with filing of IT returns for two years, failing which licences would not be renewed
  • The Excise officials will conduct surprise raids and check whether the trader was following HPF System during sale of liquor or not.

 

India funded MQM, Pakistan official tells BBC

  • The Indian government funded Pakistan’s MQM party, party officials told the U.K. authorities who are investigating the MQM for money laundering.
  • Quoting “an authoritative Pakistani source” the BBC reports that India trained “hundreds of MQM militants over the last 10 years.”
  • The officer claimed that the militants were trained in explosives, weapons and sabotage over the last 10 years in camps in north and northeast India.
  • In response to the claims of Indian funding, the British High Commission in London told the BBC: “The shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalised by blaming neighbours.”
  • In April Rao Anwar, a senior Karachi police officer said that two arrested MQM militants claimed they had been trained in India, and even gave details on how the two men went to India via Thailand to be trained by RAW.

 

Report baseless, says government

  • Ministry of External Affairs said: “The BBC Report on India training MQM members is completely baseless. Shortcomings of governance cannot be rationalised by blaming neighbours.”
  • The BBC report comes close on the heels on an ongoing and protracted war of words between India and Pakistan.
  • Both countries have been exchanging accusations over denial of visas, while Pakistan denied visas to Yoga instructors, India refused to grant visa an official who was deputed to join Islamabad’s High Commission in Delhi. India’s plea at the United States for action against Pakistani for releasing 26/11 mastermind Zakirur Rahman Lakhvi have also been blocked by China

 

SC has ruled out mediation in rape cases

  • The Madras High Court’s judgment allowing a man found guilty of raping a minor to “settle” the matter through mediation raises several disturbing questions about the way in which higher courts approach issues relating to women and gender.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court observed that rape was a non-compoundable offence and not a matter for compromise between the parties.
  • Yet, the Madras High Court, in its judgment, goes one step further by proposing an alternative dispute resolution mechanism apparently geared toward a “happy” resolution through marriage.
  • However, granting interim bail on the condition of alternate dispute resolution or mediation geared towards marriage between a rape accused and the complainant is an astounding newer way of formalising compromise in non-compoundable offences
  • Arranging the marriage of a rape accused with his victim is seen as a legitimate form of “rehabilitation” that restores “phallo-centric” social order.
  • This is a non-issue especially when the court sees the accused as an ‘eligible bachelor’ and the woman as having no future if she is not ‘happily’ married
  • Supreme Court must suo motu intervene and stop the “mediation”.

 

Greenpeace top officials quit over handling of sexual harassment cases

  • The Executive Director of Greenpeace India, Samit Aich, resigned on Wednesday following an internal review of the organisation’s handling of two sexual harassment cases.
  • The Greenpeace India Board has also decided to commission a full, independent audit of how the NGO dealt with sexual harassment cases to strengthen internal processes to ensure a safe working environment for women.

 

Hooch racket linked to Gujarat, Rajasthan

  • As per the material on record, there is a chain of business, [supplying] contaminated and poisonous liquor, in States such as Gujarat and Rajasthan. This is an interstate chain

 

Live near noisy roads at risk of early death, warns study

  • Living in an area with noisy road traffic may reduce life expectancy as well as increase the risk of strokes, scientists have warned.
  • Deaths were four per cent more common among adults and the elderly in areas with daytime road traffic noise of more than 60 decibel (dB) compared with areas with less than 55 decibel (dB).
  • The researchers said the deaths were most likely to be linked to cardiovascular disease. They said this could be due to increased blood pressure, sleep problems and stress.

 

Cabinet nod for six new IIMs

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the proposal for the setting up of six new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in the country, which will start offering courses from the coming academic session
  • The new IIMs will be located at Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Bodh Gaya (Bihar), Sirmaur (Himachal Pradesh), Nagpur (Maharashtra), Sambalpur (Odisha) and Amritsar (Punjab).

 

18 killed in Uighur knife and gun attack in China

  • At least 18 people were killed when ethnic Uighurs attacked police with knives and bombs after speeding through a traffic checkpoint in a car in China’s troubled Xinjiang region
  • Tensions in the southern city between Muslim Uighurs, who call the region home, and the majority Han Chinese have led to bloodshed in recent years.

 

Dutch govt. asked to cut emissions

  • In a sweeping victory for environmental activists that could have global repercussions, a Dutch court ordered its government on Wednesday to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020 to help fight global warming.

 

Australia to join China-led infra bank

  • Australia, on Wednesday, announced that it would join the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member, contributing about $930 million to the financial institution of which India will be the second largest shareholder.
  • AIIB will have paid-in capital of $20 billion (A$25.2 billion) with total authorised capital of $100 billion (A$126.2 billion).
  • According to official statement, there was an estimated infrastructure financing gap of around $8 trillion in the Asian region over the current decade.
  • Joining AIIB presents Australia with great opportunities to work with our neighbours and largest trading partner to drive economic growth and jobs. AIIB will work closely with the private sector, paving the way for Australian businesses to take advantage of the growth in infrastructure in the region
  • However, it has been shunned by the United States and Japan, the world’s largest and third largest economies.

 

India among top 10 FDI recipients

  • After 2008, for the first time, India again broke in to the top 10 recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) during 2014, the UNCTAD said in its World Investment Report 2015
  • India jumped to the ninth rank in 2014 with a 22 per cent rise in FDI inflows to $34 billion. India was at the 15th position in the previous two years.
  • India, however, is the only BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) country that hasn’t yet crossed the $50 billion-a-year FDI mark.
  • China became the largest recipient of FDI in 2014 with $129 billion inflows, followed by Hong Kong (China) that received $103 billion and the U.S. with $92 billion
  • Russia dropped out of the top 10 as foreign investors exited its oil sector and other projects after Western countries slapped economic sanctions on it
  • Among the top 10 FDI recipients in the world, half are developing economies - Brazil, China, Hong Kong (China), India and Singapore.
  • In a development of significance to India, for the first time FDI inflows in to China’s services sector were greater than into its manufacturing sector.
  • Global FDI fell 16 per cent to $1.23 trillion in 2014 mainly due to the fragility of the global economy, policy uncertainty for investors and elevated geopolitical risks, according to the report.
  • India, however, dropped out of the top 20 countries in the outward FDI flows.
  • The report also found that developing countries lost $100 billion in tax revenues owing to investors routing FDI through tax havens such as Mauritius, and has made a strong case for multilateral action to address the issue.
  • The report records the big surge in investments from China into every region of the world, and especially in India’s neighbourhood.
  • FDI inflows to Pakistan increased by 31 per cent to $1.7 billion as a result of rising Chinese FDI flows in services.
  • Further, the country will benefit significantly from the China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor and associated Chinese investment in infrastructure and manufacturing in the overall context of implementing the “One Belt, One Road” strategy.
  • In Sri Lanka, where China has become the largest source of FDI in recent years, FDI flows from it rose
  • China Merchants Holdings (International) Company has invested $500 million in Colombo International Container Terminals, the largest foreign investment project in Sri Lanka.
  • A China-Sri Lanka FTAwill be signed in June 2015. Moreover, if the implementation of the China-led 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt gains ground, an increasing amount of Chinese investment will flow to Sri Lanka, particularly in large infrastructure projects.

 

Freight corridor will cut cost

  • The Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) Project will significantly reduce transportation cost and benefit power plants, mines, ports, and boost trade and industry.
  • The Western DFC starts from JNPT Mumbai and passes through Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and terminates at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. The total length will be about 1,500 km
  • The Eastern DFC starts from Sahnewal near Ludhiana in Punjab and passes through Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand and terminates at Dankuni in West Bengal. The total length is about 1,856 km.
  • Western DFC has secured a loan of 645.173 billion yen (around Rs.45,434 crore) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
  • The Eastern DFC has secured a loan of $2.725 billion (around Rs.17,327 crore) from the World Bank, according to the website

 

Centre may make solar systems mandatory on roof-tops

  • The Central government is likely to make it mandatory for buildings to install solar roof-top systems. The proposal is among the initiatives planned by the Government of India to support the massive solar capacity addition target (100 GW by 2022).
  • An official statement has indicated that there would be a proposal for amendment in building norms for mandatory provision of roof-top solar for new construction and 10 per cent renewable energy provision for end-customers under the new scheme of Ministry of Urban Development.
  • Mandatory roof-top solar is not new to India. Similar policies have earlier been formulated by the states of Haryana and Tamil Nadu
  • Tamil Nadu unveiled a solar policy three years ago under which large power consumers (with a connected load of above 11 kVA) were asked to meet a share of their power consumption from solar source.
  • Haryana also made it mandatory for all buildings with an area of 500 sq. yards or more to install solar roof-top systems of a minimum size of 1 kW or 5 per cent of their power requirements, whichever is higher. The deadline for meeting the requirements is September 2015.
  • The primary reason for non-compliance is that other aspects of the policy are not being effectively implemented. Central and state government subsidies have been announced but they are not available. Net-metering exists on paper but the process for providing inter-connection has not yet been streamlined.

 

Detecting exoplanets close to their host star

  • The 'vector Apodizing Phase Plate' (vector-APP) coronagraph installed at the 6.5-m Magellan Clay telescope in Chile recently can reveal the image of an exoplanet next to its parent star.

 

One’s sense of smell is unique to one

  • Scientists have designed a new test called “olfactory fingerprint” that can distinguish individuals based upon their perception of odours, possibly reflecting a person’s genetic makeup.

 

Bubble power for new industrial applications

  • Cavitation bubbles, which form in a fluid like water, can kill fish and damage boat propellers. Learning more about them could harness that power for industrial uses, like safer cleaning processes.

 

Robot controlled by thoughts and brain signals developed

  • The robot is developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Switzerland.
  • The robot can be controlled remotely through brain signals and can perform various tasks
  • Particularly had disabled people in mind while working on the concept to restore a sense of independence to the disabled.
  • Nine disabled people and 10 healthy people in Italy, Germany and Switzerland took part in the task of piloting a robot with their thoughts. For several weeks, each of the subjects put on an electrode-studded hat capable of analysing their brain signals.
  • The robot is able to avoid obstacles by itself,
  • The tests revealed no difference in piloting ability between healthy and disabled subjects.
  • In the second part of the tests, the disabled people with residual mobility were asked to pilot the robot with the movements they were still capable of doing, for example by simply pressing the side of their head on buttons placed nearby.

 

Rosetta comet mission extended

  • Mission Rosetta would be extended until September 2016 and may end with the dying mothership touching down on the comet.
  • “I may get to retire on the surface of 67P at end of my mission,” the mothership tweeted. “But first I have a lot of exciting new science to do up here.”
  • It comprises an orbiter and a lander, which seek to unveil the secrets of comets — primordial clusters of ice and dust that may shed light on how life developed on Earth. After a 10-year chase, the pair caught up with 67P last August.
  • In November, Philae was landed on the comet surface, and in a nail-biting 60-hour episode carried out a range of experiments before its stored battery power gave out. But the plucky 100 kg lander has revived, thanks to sunlight bathing its solar panels as the comet zips closer to the Sun.
  • By the end of September 2016, “as the comet moves far away from the Sun again, there will no longer be enough solar power to run Rosetta’s set of scientific instrumentation efficiently," ESA said.

 

MDR-TB spreads less within households

  • Unlike people with drug-susceptible TB, those with multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) are less likely to transmit disease to others living in the same household (also known as household contacts), a study published
  • As a rule, people who are in close contact for extended periods of time with a person who has TB disease — either drug-susceptible TB or MDR-TB — are at heightened risk of getting infected and suffering from TB disease.
  • All the more when more number of people live in small households with poor ventilation.
  • This is reason why the WHO and the Indian TB control programme (RNTCP) insist that all household contacts of a TB index patient should be screened for TB disease when the index patient is diagnosed.
  • Such active case finding greatly reduces the time lag between developing TB disease and testing.
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