This Daily Current Affair Capsule aims to be a time-saving tool for going through relevant news from national dailies and government releases on PIB. Aspirants for UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. will find it highly useful to cover for revision and awareness purposes.
National Important Current Affairs – 1 and 2 May 2018
■ Anu Kumari, the second rank holder in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2017, has been appointed as the new brand ambassador of the Haryana government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign in Sonipat district. Anu Kumari is the mother of a four-year-old, and cracked the paper in her second attempt after failing to qualify due to one mark in her previous attempt.
■ On the occasion of Buddha Jayanti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in the celebrations at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, in New Delhi, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC). It was attended by the Buddhist monks and Buddhist representatives from various countries including Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand as well as India among others.
PM presented the Vaishakh Sammaan Prashasti Patra to the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath; and the All India Bhikshu Sangha, Bodh Gaya.
The Prime Minister offered Sangh Dana and offered his respect to the sacred Piprahwa Holy Relics brought specially for the occasion from National Museum.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister asserted that India is home to a unique heritage, where the overriding thought has always been the benefit of mankind. He said that the teachings of Lord Buddha have shaped many nations. He said India has never been an aggressor. He said a sum of Rs. 360 crores has been approved for the development of Buddhist Circuit. India is the land of Buddha and 7 out of 8 prominent sites of Buddhist pilgrimage are located in India.
About Piprahwa relics: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), conducted excavations at Piprahwa from 1971-77, and discovered two un-inscribed steatite stone caskets containing 12 relics (from the bigger casket) and 10 sacred relics (from the smaller casket). These are believed to be the sacred relics of the Buddha from the famed ‘kapilvastu’, and are now on long term loan from the ASI to the National Museum, New Delhi.
About Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS):
CIHTS is a centrally funded institute that was started in 1967 following a discussion between Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the early 1960s. It was started with a view to educating the young Tibetan Diaspora and those from the Himalayan border regions of India, who have religion, culture and language in common with Tibet. It is located at Sarnath, Varanasi.
■ About 70 years after Independence, the Indian Government has announced that all villages in the country, now have access to electricity. The Leisang village in Senapati district of Manipur has become the last village to be brought on the national power grid under the Rural Electrification Scheme. The government had allocated Rs 75,893 crore for the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana with the aim of providing electricity access to all villages.
Note that: The government considers a village electrified if it has a basic electrical infrastructure and 10% of its households and public places including schools, local administrative offices and health centres have power.
The Government of India has launched the scheme “Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana” for rural electrification. The erstwhile Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) scheme for village electrification and providing electricity distribution infrastructure in the rural areas has been subsumed in the DDUGJY scheme.
Rural Electrification Corporation is the Nodal Agency for implementation of DDUGJY. Its components are: To separate agriculture and non agriculture feeders facilitating judicious rostering of supply to agricultural and non-agricultural consumers in rural areas and
Strengthening and augmentation of sub transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas, including metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers.
■ The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has launched the ‘Gobar Dhan’ scheme for Nation for trading cow dung and agricultural waste. The Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBAR-DHAN) scheme was first announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during his budget speech on February 1.
Details of the GOBAR-Dhan Yojana: The scheme would focus on managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, biogas and bio-CNG. It will help in keeping the village clean while increasing the income of farmers and cattle herders. This is hugely helpful for the country as India is home to the highest cattle population in the world, close to 300 million in number, with a daily output of 3 million tonnes of dung.
- The Scheme will encourage the farmers to consider dung and other waste not just as a waste but as a source of income.
- It will provide many benefits to the rural people. It will be easier to keep the village clean and sanitized, livestock health will improve and farm yields will increase.
- Biogas generation will increase self-reliance in energy utilized for cooking and lighting.
- Farmers and cattle herders will be helped in augmenting their income. There will be novel opportunities for newer jobs linked to waste collection, transportation, biogas sales etc.
- The scheme also provides a stable fuel supply in the market for oil companies and accessible credit in the market through government schemes and banks for entrepreneurs.
■ The 2nd edition of Shirui Lily Festival 2018 has recently concluded at Ukhrul district in Manipur. The festival is sponsored by the Department of Tourism, Government of Manipur to spread awareness about conservation of the endangered state flower, Shirui Lily and promote the district of Ukhrul as a tourist destination in Manipur.
■ The book “My Journey from Marxism-Leninism to Nehruvian Socialism” that has been authored by C H Hanumantha Rao, who is former Planning Commission and Finance Commission member was launched by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Rao is presently one of the most creative thinkers, social activist, and distinguished economist in India.
■ The Maharashtra government has signed a MoU with the British Council to strengthen educational and cultural cooperation. The British Council will expand its existing work in the state, where it has trained more than 100,000 teachers benefitting around five million learners. The areas of collaboration include developing further initiatives to improve English teaching and enhance employability skills in schools and training institutes.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 1 and 2 May 2018
■ The 10th multi-nation counter-terrorism exercise “Peace Mission” will be held at the Ural mountains of Russia in September 2018, under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The exercise is meant to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the eight SCO member countries. This will be for the first time since Independence that India and Pakistan will both be part of a military exercise, though the armies of both nations have worked together in UN peacekeeping missions.
This drill will see the resumption of bilateral military exercise between India and China, which was suspended in 2017 following the 73-day Doklam standoff. Peace Mission exercises are held once in two years. The last time, it was held in 2016 in Kyrgyztan.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan were admitted as observers of the grouping in 2005. Both these nation became full members of the bloc last year. With expansion of the grouping, SCO now represents over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP.
■ The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) or the Ujjwala Scheme, which was initiated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide a shield to women and children from smoke, has been much praised in the new WHO pollution report. “Countries are taking measures to tackle and reduce air pollution from particulate matter. For example, in just two years, India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use,” the report has said.
About the Ujjwala scheme: It was launched by PM Modi on May 1, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, to protect women and children from the smoke emitted from households using firewood for cooking purposes. Under the scheme, families below the poverty line are to be provided with LPG connections with a support of Rs. 1,600 per connection in the next three years. It has also laid down an empowering condition — that the LPG connections will be issued in the name of the women of the households. The scheme promises to install five crore connections by the end of 2019.
■ Blue Origin, the US aerospace company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has launched its first test flight of the year of their suborbital New Shepard rocket and space capsule. The mission marked the second flight of the New Shepard 2.0 spacecraft.
About New Shepard : The New Shepard system is a fully reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) space vehicle. The system consists of a pressurized capsule atop a booster. The name New Shepard makes reference to the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts. New Shepard 2.0 space capsule is designed to fly commercial payloads and up to 6 passengers on suborbital space flights for science and tourism. The capsule remarkabely also features giant windows to give future passengers a stunning view of their launch into space.
■ Australia has pledged more than 500 million Australian dollars ($379 million) to help preserve the Great Barrier Reef from the effects of climate change. It is being described as the largest single investment for reef conservation and management in the country’s history, and the money will be used to improve water quality, control a major predator and expand reef restoration. It is worth noting that, with the heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population, Australia is considered one of the world’s worst per-capita greenhouse gas polluters.
Australia has also pledged Aus $500 million ($379 million) in new funding to restore and protect the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is a critical national asset, contributing Aus $6.4 billion a year to the Australian economy.
Note that: The World Heritage Site is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change. It is also under threat from the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which has proliferated due to pollution and agricultural run-off. The predator starfish feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue.
■ Data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has pointed out that 14 out of world’s 20 most polluted cities are located in India. The report also estimated that about 7 million people across the globe are dying each year from exposure to ambient and household air pollution. Delhi and Varanasi are among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a list of 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2016. Other Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia.
WHO’s global urban air pollution database measured the levels of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) from more than 4,300 cities in 108 countries, according to which ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016
- The WHO data also said that nine out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.
- The PM2.5 includes pollutants like sulfate, nitrate and black carbon, which pose the greatest risk to human health.
- Major sources of air pollution from particulate matter include inefficient use of energy by households, industry, agriculture and transport sectors, and coal-fired power plants.
- In some regions, sand and desert dust, waste burning and deforestation are additional sources of air pollution.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 1 and 2 May 2018
■ In order to facilitate cheaper access of overseas funds Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has further liberalised External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) Policy by including more sectors in its window.
- Now, the scope of ECB applicants will also include housing finance companies (HFCs), port trusts, and companies engaged in the business of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and freight. The move opens up access to large pools of efficient debt funding for HFCs from FIIs and foreign banks.
- Also, the ECB liability of a borrower (including outstanding loans and the proposed one) towards a foreign equity holder has been increased to seven times the equity contributed by the latter; earlier it was four times.
- According to the new norms, a uniform all in cost(AIC) ceiling of 450 bps over the benchmark rate will be applicable, which is most cases is the 6 months London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).
- The benchmark rate for rupee denominated bonds will the prevailing yield of government bonds of corresponding maturity.
■ The Government of India (GoI) has entered into a legal agreement with the World Bank for a flexible financing arrangement to accelerate research towards early development for biopharmaceuticals.
The agreement was executed between the project implementing agency, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, a PSU of Department of Biotechnology, Department of Economic Affairs Ministry of Finance and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) on behalf of World Bank.
The mission has been approved at a cost of 250 million dollars for five years with 50 percent funding through the World Bank Loan. The aim is to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products.
■ The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to review the regulations for underwriting of a public issue, which were last framed in 1993 and has since been in operation.
What is underwriting? Underwriting is the mechanism by which a merchant banker gives an undertaking that in the event of an initial public offer (IPO) remaining undersubscribed, the banker would subscribe to unsold shares. The underwriting clause, mandatory in all SME IPOs, ensures the issue does not fail due to low demand from investors.
Sports Current Affairs – 1 and 2 May 2018
■ Pune’s Siddhant Banthia has won the Indian leg of the junior French Open wild card tournament in New Delhi. Banthia will now compete with winners from China and Brazil in the final Qualifier to get an entry into the main draw of the junior French Open.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 1 & 2 May 2018 “
Q1. Which Indian city hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)?
C) New Delhi
Q2. Who has been chosen for the 2017 Saraswati Samman?
A) Vijay Tendulkar
B) Sitanshu Yashaschandra
C) Ramakanta Rath
D) Sri Ramayana Mahanveshanam
Q3. Which Indian shooter has made brand ambassador for Haryana’s Measles and Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign?
A) Apurvi Chandela
B) Ronjan Sodhi
C) Vijay Kumar
D) Gauri Sheoran
Q4. Who clinched the 2018 Barcelona Open tennis tournament?
A) Dominic Thiem
B) Rafael Nadal
C) Kei Nishikori
D) Stefanos Tsitsipas
Q5. Who has become India’s longest serving Chief Minister of India?
A) Naveen Patnaik
B) Raman Singh
C) Shivraj Singh Chauhan
D) Pawan Chamling
Answer these questions in the comments below. We encourage you to discuss your thoughts on the news and issues mentioned in today’s current affairs post. The idea is to promote healthy discussions on interesting issues to make preparation fun. Have a good day!