This Daily Current Affair will be useful to aspirants for UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. for revision and awareness purposes.

 

National Important Current Affairs – 13 and 14 August 2018

■ The Delhi Police has inducted an All-female Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team, making it the first unit of its kind in the country. The 36 women, all from Northeastern states, underwent 15 months of training under the National Security Guard (NSG). These women are trained to handle challenges unique to the capital—like climbing multi-storey buildings or carrying out hostage rescue operations at hotels, buses or metro.

Note that: Amid intel inputs of women fidayeens planning to target the capital, this all-women unit will be an asset in security arrangements.  The formation of this team is being considered a big achievement as even most western countries do not have all-women SWAT teams due to the kind of tough training required to become one.

 

■ The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has released the Ease of Living Index. The index covers 111 cities – smart city contenders, capital cities, and 1M+ population cities. The Ease of Living Index help cities assess their liveability in relation to global and national benchmarks.

The index captures the quality of life-based on the data collected from the urban local bodies on four parameters:

  1. Institutional (governance),
  2. Social (identity, education, health, security),
  3. Economic ( economy, employment)
  4. Physical factors (waste water and solid waste management, pollution, housing/ inclusiveness, mixed land use, power and water supply, transport, public open spaces).

Pune (Maharashtra) has emerged as the number one city in the Ease of Living Index 2018, followed by Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai at the second and third position. While Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijaywada and Bhopal feature in descending order in the list.

 

Union Civil Aviation Ministry has approved the setting up of Water Aerodromes (a small airport or airfield for seaplanes) in states of  Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.

 

■ The Centre has notified rules for operationalising a Rs 66,000 crore fund collected as compensations under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016  to promote the green cover in the country.

As per the new rules the following 13 activities are permitted for funding. They include plantation, assisted natural regeneration of forests, forest fire prevention, pest and disease control in forests, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat. The rules also specify that the working plan will be taken up “in consultation with the gram sabha or village forest management committee”.

The unspent amount will now be transferred to the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund at the Centre and the respective State Compensatory Afforestation Funds — both non-lapsable — can be utilised for only the activities listed under the CAF Act, in a phased manner, depending on its utilisation.

Background of CAMPA Fund: Over the last ten years, the fund had accumulated the amount as compensations by user agencies for diverting forest land for industries and infrastructure projects. The CAMPA was created as per a Supreme Court ruling in 2009. Much of the funds collected under the legislation had been left unspent in absence of enabling rules. Until now, the funds were disbursed to states under a temporary mechanism.

 

■ In order to strengthen the cause of conservation of endangered and protected animals, India has got its first scientific and most modern national wildlife genetic resource bank in Hyderabad at the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), a research wing of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). The bank contains genetic resources of about 250 wildlife species.

  • The state-of-the-art bank is equipped with sophisticated equipment to preserve the genetic resources that could be utilised to virtually resurrect an animal species in case it goes extinct. It will also help in protecting India’s biodiversity and environment.
  • The Genetic Resource Bank (GRB) is the systematic collection and preservation of tissues, sperm, eggs and embryos, genetic material (DNA/RNA).

About the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES): It was established in 1998 with the help of Central Zoo Authority of India, CSIR and the government of Andhra Pradesh. LaCONES is India’s only research facility engaged in conservation and preservation of wildlife and its resources. It has helped the Mouse Deer Conservation Breeding Centre at Nehru Zoological Park to increase the population of mouse deer in Telangana’s Amrabad forest.

 

■ Manipur’s first project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme the ‘North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom’ has been inaugurated.

The ‘North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom’ project covers two sites i.e. Kangla Fort and Khongjom.

  • Kangla Fort is one of the most important historic and archaeological site of Manipur located in the heart of the Imphal city. It served as the seat of Manipur’s power till 1891. Kangla has a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Manipur.
  • Khongjom is the place where the last war of resistance of Anglo Manipur War of 1891 was fought, in which patriots like Paona Brajabashi and Chinglensana and their troops laid down their lives for Manipur.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme: The programme is run by Ministry of Tourism with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner. The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 and as on date the Ministry has sanctioned 70 projects for Rs.5708.88 Crore to 29 States and UTs.

 

Rekha Sharma has been appointed as Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW). Prior to this appointment, she was a member of the Commission. The previous Chairperson was Lalitha Kumaramangalam, who demitted office in September 2017.

 

■ The Union Cabinet has approved the raising of four additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in order to strengthen India’s disaster response set-up. These battalions will be placed in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi National Capital Region based on their disaster vulnerability profile.

 

■ Lok Sabha has passed Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017 by voice vote to extend the facility of ‘proxy voting’ to overseas Indians, on the lines of service voters. The Bill seeks to amend the Representation of People Act (RPA), 1950 and Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951 to allow for proxy voting and also make certain provisions of these Acts gender-neutral.

 

■ Parliament has passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill,2018. The Bill replaces the ordinance promulgated in this regard and amends Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. As per the bill, home buyers will get due representation in the Committee of Creditors that takes a call on resolution proposals, making them an integral part of the decision making process.

 

■ Union Cabinet has approved an extension of the term of Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Central List till November 2018. This is third extension granted to commission for submission of its politically crucial report on creating quotas within quotas. The five member Commission was constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution in October 2017 with the approval of President.
It is headed by G. Rohini (former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice).

 

■ The Lok Sabha has passed Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to help India become a hub for domestic and global arbitration for settling commercial disputes. It seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration and defines law for conducting conciliation proceedings.

What is Arbitration? Arbitration is a settlement of dispute between two parties to a contract by a neutral third party i.e. the arbitrator without resorting to court action. The process can be tailored to suit parties’ particular needs. Arbitrators can be chosen for their expertise. It is confidential and can be speedier and cheaper than court. There are limited grounds of appeal. Arbitral awards are binding and enforceable through courts.

 

■ As per the latest amendment to the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, it is now mandatory to disclose compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 in the Annual Reports of Private companies. This is a major step towards making the workplace safe for the women in the private sector, by posing higher responsibility on the Directors of the Companies for implementation of the Act.

About the sexual harassment of women at workplace Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal Act 2013: The Act seeks to cover all women, irrespective of their age or employment status and protect them against sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organized or unorganized. It came into force on December 9, 2013.

Note that: Companies Act, 2013 provides the disclosure framework which the Directors of every company are required to comply with in the Annual Reports. It also includes the penal provisions for non-disclosure.

 

■ The Indian Army has launched the major rescue and relief operation “Operation Sahyog” at Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Idukki regions after incessant rain and landslides have hit various northern districts of Kerala. Apart from the Army, the Southern Naval Command of Indian Navy has also launched ‘Operation Madad’ to assist the state administration and undertake disaster relief operations due to unprecedented flooding in many parts of Kerala following incessant rainfall and release of excess water from Idukki and other dams.

 

International Current Affairs Capsule – 13 and 14 August 2018

■ India has handed over 404 houses built for Indian-origin people (mostly Tamils) in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas at Dunsinane Estate in Nuwara Eliya city. With a grant of over US $350 million, it is India’s largest assistance project in any country. This is the first lot of houses built under the Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas in Sri Lanka.

Note that:  The Tamils, mostly residing in the central hill areas of the country, were brought from India by British rulers during the 19th century to work in coffee plantations in Sri Lanka. More than a million are still associated with tea and rubber plantations, though they have been given the Sri Lankan citizenship, housing remains a major issue for these workers employed as daily wagers.

 

■ The International Youth Day was celebrated on 12th August on the theme of : “Safe Spaces for Youth”. The day is the brainchild of the United Nations to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the youth of today. The first International Youth Day was observed on 12th August 2000 by United Nations.

 

Pakistan and Russia have signed a contract regarding the admission of service members of Pakistan in Russia’s Military Training Institutes at the conclusion of first meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), held in Rawalpindi.

Note that: This will be for the first time Pakistani soldiers will undergo training at Russian military institutes.

 

■ The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully launched its Parker Solar Probe, aimed to enter the Sun’s corona (outer atmosphere), where no spacecraft has ever gone before.

  • The project, with a $1.5 billion price tag, is the first major mission under Nasa’s Living With a Star program. 
  • The mission will probe why temperatures in corona reach a million ºC while Sun’s visible surface below it only reaches about 5,500ºC.
  • It is the first NASA mission to be named after a living individual, Dr Eugene Parker, who had predicted the existence of the solar wind (a stream of charged particles blasted from the Sun) in 1958. The American Physicist also theorised why the Sun’s corona (outer atmosphere) is hotter than its surface below.

About the Parker Solar Mission: Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star. It will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The primary science goals for the mission are to track how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to investigate what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. It will also work to determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.

About the Corona of Sun: The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun, and gives rise to the solar wind – a continuous flow of charged particles that fills the solar system. Unpredictable Solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth.

 

Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 13 and 14 August 2018

■ In its recent report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India’s GDP growth 7.3% in the 2018-19 fiscal and 7.5% in 2019-2020 based on a strengthening of investment and robust private consumption.

 

■ The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched an initiative “RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil)” that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel.  Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil. Beside this, FSSAI is also working in partnership with Biodiesel Association of India and the food industry to ensure effective compliance of used cooking oil regulations.

Note that: According to FSSAI regulations, the maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption.

 

Sports Current Affairs – 13 and 14 August 2018

Viraj Madappa of Kolkata has become the youngest Indian golfer to claim the Asian Tour title after lifting the 2018 TAKE Solutions Masters trophy in Bengaluru on August 12. At the age of 20 years, Madappa has also become the first rookie and youngest player to win on Tour this season.

 

■ Argentine professional footballer Lionel Messi has became the most decorated player in Barcelona’s history, by winning his 33rd trophy for the club as defending La Liga champions, beating Sevilla to win their 13th Spanish Super Cup.

 

■ The 2018 Vietnam Open badminton tournament concluded at Nguyen Du Cultrual Sports Club in Vietnam.
Indian shuttler Ajay Jayaram finished as runner-up in the men’s singles event by losing the final to Indonesian shuttler Shesar Hiren Rhustavito.

 

Obituaries

■ Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has passed away at the age of 89 years. Chatterjee had served for over four decades in active politics, including his duties as the Lok Sabha Speaker from 2004 to 2009. He was the Speaker in the first five-year term (2004-2009) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and was elected to the Parliament’s Lower House ten times since 1971.

Somnath Chatterjee joined Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in 1968 and was a member till his expulsion in 2008. He was expelled from CPI-M in July 2008 for refusing to resign as Speaker after CPI-M withdrew support from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, citing his constitutional role of Speaker being non-partisan. He is revered across party lines for his steadfast ethical conduct while holding the office of the Speaker.

 

■ Nobel Prize-winning author V S Naipaul, who was born to parents of Indian descent, has passed away at the age of 85 years. He was known for his critical commentary on colonialism, idealism, religion and politics.  Naipaul was born in 1932 in Trinidad into an Indian Hindu family, and wrote more than 30 books of fiction and non-fiction including ‘A Bend in the River’, ‘A House for Mr Biswas’, The Writer and the World, Magic Seeds, etc. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories.

 

“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 13 and 14 August 2018 “

Q1. Recently, the first electronics manufacturing cluster in the northeastern region under the Indian Government’s ‘Digital North East Vision 2022’ was inaugurated in which city?

  • A) Agartala
  • B) Dispur
  • C) Guwahati
  • D) Kohima

Q2. Which Indian author has won the 2018 Hindu Playwright Award 2018 for the play ‘Untitled’ ?

  • A) Keval Arora
  • B) Sneh Sapru
  • C) Swetanshu Bora
  • D) Annie Zaidi

Q3. Which of the following has become India’s first bank to introduce iris authentication for Aadhaar-based transactions through micro ATMs?

  • A) ICICI Bank
  • B) Punjab National Bank
  • C) Axis Bank
  • D) State Bank of India

Q4. Justice Manjula Chellur, who has been appointed as new chairperson of Appellate Tribunal for Electricity was previously a chief justice of which high court?

  • A) Jammu & Kashmir High Court
  • B) Punjab & Haryana High Court
  • C) Bombay High Court
  • D) Gujarat High Court

Q5. On which date, the 2018 World Elephant Day (WED) was observed recently?

  • A) August 13
  • B) August 14
  • C) August 12
  • D) August 15

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!

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