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 – 13 March 2018
■ More than 30,000 farmers and tribals who had gathered in Mumbai for a “Kisan long march” have called off their stir after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis agreed to – clear all pending claims made by landless tribals under the Forest Rights Act within six months and waive loans taken by farmers up to June 2017.
The main demand of the tribals, who comprised the biggest chunk of the march from Nashik to Mumbai from 7-12 March, was to be given the land ownership rights that are guaranteed by the Forest Rights Act passed by the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
An unconditional loan waiver programme to include categories of farmers that were earlier excluded, the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission Report which includes a higher compensation for land acquisition, an Rs. 50,000 compensation for farmers affected by natural calamities are the demands conceded.
■ A reciprocal logistics support deal has been signed between the respective armed forces of India and France during the recent visit by French President to India. The deal will facilitate the French and Indian armed forces to receive logistical support, supplies and services from each other during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
This deal is similar to the logistical support pact with the US, which is an indicator of the strategic depth and maturity in defence ties between the two countries.
■ The government has introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha seeking punitive powers to target fugitives who have committed white-collar crimes. The provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 will extend to loan defaulters and fraudsters and to those who violate laws governing taxes, black money, benami properties, financial sector and corruption.
Cabinet had earlier cleared a bill that seeks to give the government powers to attach assets of offenders who are outside the country and do not return to India to face prosecution proceedings even after an arrest warrant is issued.
- This bill will be applicable for all offences where the monetary value exceeds Rs 100 crore.
- All individuals attempting to elude the Indian legal process from the date of the enactment of the law will be covered.
- The confiscation of property will not be limited to those acquired through the proceeds or profits of the crime, but also provides for confiscation of benami properties.
- The Enforcement Directorate will be the apex agency that will implement the provisions of this bill.
- The government has also inserted a clause to protect itself and the officers from any legal suits.
■ A Multilateral Air Force exercise, ‘Ex Samvedna’, is being initiated by Indian Air Force and conducted by Southern Air Command (SAC) off the coast of Kerala. It is the first Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise in the South Asian region and would be focused on practising Air Force-centric HADR solutions in a Multi-national cooperative Disaster Management environment. ‘Samvedna’ means ‘Empathy’ and will ensure better understanding and sharing of response procedures between a number of friendly neighbouring nations. The 6-day multilateral exercise would involve representatives from air forces of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and the UAE.
It is aimed at setting up a scenario of pre and post Tsunami disaster requirements and guides participants to work out Air Force Centric HADR solutions.
■ National Legislators Conference was recently held at the Central Hall of Parliament House. It was hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, on the theme “We for development”. It is being attended by Members of Parliament and state Assemblies. The motive of the conference is to bring MPs and MLAs on a single platform where ideas and plans for development can be exchanged.
■ The Government has constituted a three-member Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal to adjudicate the dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over sharing the river’s water. The Ministry of Water Resources has released a notification in this regard, based on instructions from the Supreme Court recently. The Chairman of the tribunal will be Supreme Court Judge AM Khanwilkar with Justice Ravi Ranjan of the Patna High Court and Justice Indermeet Kaur Kochhar of the Delhi High Court being the other two members.
■ The Union home ministry has sanctioned the launch of the National Academy of Coastal Policing (NACP) from a campus of Gujarat’s Fisheries Research Centre located in coastal Okha in the newly created Devbhoomi Dwarka district. It is the country’s first national academy to train police forces in effectively safeguarding the Indian shoreline. It will sharpen the response and skills of the marine forces of multiple states which have sea coastlines.
- The first-of-its-kind institution of the country will be created and run by a multi-agency team of paramilitary and defence forces. The Union home ministry’s policing think tank — the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) — will be running of the academy.
- The academy will have faculty from the Navy, Coast Guard and the BSF, to train police personnel and other security agencies staff in maritime laws, seamanship, boat work, navigation, weapons handling, usage of sea guidance and surveillance gadgets and survival skills for long haul operations on the sea or during distress times when they may get stranded in these waters running up to 12 nautical miles from the shore.
■ The proclaimed actor and director, Amol Palekar, has been honoured with the ‘Godavari Gaurav’ award. He is known for his performance in films like “Gol Maal” , “Choti Si Baat”, “Chitchor” among others. The award carries a prize of Rs 21,000 and a memento, has been instituted by city-based ‘Kusumagraj Prathishthan’.
Classical singer Pandit Satyasheel Deshpande also received the ‘Godavari Gaurav’ award.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 13 March 2018
■ India has offered a 100 million dollar Line of Credit (LoC) to Mauritius for defence procurement to help its security capacity. India will also sell a Multi Purpose Offshore Petrol Vessel to the island nation, which will be financed through this LoC. It will also have a five-million dollar grant component in addition to the LoC. The Line of Credit is a big step in India’s defence cooperation with Mauritius.
Earlier, four MoUs were exchanged in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in Port Louis. These agreements are in the fields of education, health, culture and civil services.
■ India has won the “Best Exhibitor Award ” at ITB – Berlin, the foremost business platform for global touristic offers. It is the Leading Travel Trade Show, which takes place annually in March at the Messe Berlin, Germany.
India was represented by Tourism Minister K. J. Alphons along with Ministry officials in the ITB-Berlin. More than 100 countries participated in the ITB- Berlin meet with their respective Tourism Ministers. India’s Incredible India (Ministry of Tourism) presented a short film named “Yogi of the Racetrack ” in the meet, which got 3.2 million hits in 60 hours.
■ For the first time, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) have declared an 8.3 km stretch along the Indo-Bangladesh border as ‘crime-free zone’ to curb criminal activities including smuggling.This is a pilot project that will be reviewed after 5-6 months. This is the first-ever crime-free zone declared by both the countries. With the help of civil administrations of the two countries, NGOs and the local populace, both border-guarding forces will help ensure no crime takes place along the stretch.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 13 March 2018
■ Alarmed by recent banking frauds, the RBI has initiated special audit of State-owned lenders with focus on trade financing activities, especially relating to issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) by them. The RBI has also asked all banks for details of the LoUs they had issued, including the amounts outstanding, and whether the banks had pre-approved credit limits or kept enough cash on margin before issuing the guarantees.
About Letter of Undertaking: An LoU is a bank guarantee under which a bank allows its customer to raise money from another Indian bank’s foreign branch in the form of short-term credit.
This loan is used to make payment to the customer’s offshore suppliers in foreign currency. The overseas bank usually lends to the importer based on the LoU issued by the importer’s bank. LoUs are important instruments that allow those in the import trade to transact their business.
As an importer in India cannot simply buy dollars and send it abroad to make payments to his supplier, various instruments such as LoUs and Letters of Credit are required to carry out the transaction. LoUs, which are essentially a form of guarantee, have come to be a far cheaper and convenient way for importer to raise credit.
■ The agriculture ministry has slashed the price of Bt cotton seeds to Rs 740 per packet weighing 450 grams from Rs 800 earlier, a move that will benefit over 8 million cotton growers in India. The cotton farmers in the country are battered by repeated pest attacks and crop losses.The new prices will come into effect from the upcoming Kharif crop season beginning in June 2018.
- Earlier in March 2016, the agriculture ministry, on the recommendation of a nine-member panel, had slashed prices to Rs 800 per packet, compared with Rs 830-1,000 charged earlier—and also cut royalty fees sharply by over 70%.
- Also, the ministry has reduced the trait or royalty fees that is payable by domestic companies to technology developer Monsanto Mahyco Biotech (India) Ltd to Rs39 per packet from Rs49 earlier.
India had approved the genetically modified Bt cotton technology for commercial cultivation in the year 2002. Following the introduction of Bt cotton, India became a leading exporter of cotton globally, due to its efficacy in resisting bollworm pest attacks. However, in recent years, Bt cotton fields have seen repeated pest attacks and crop losses—in Punjab in 2015 and in Maharashtra in 2017.
■ European Investment Bank (EIB) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Ltd. have signed a loan agreement for a second line of credit (LoC) of Euro 150 million on non-sovereign basis. This line of credit is for tenure of 15 years including a grace period of 3 years. It will be used for financing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency projects in India, which will benefit more than 1.1 million households.
About Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd: The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) is a Mini Ratna (Category – I) Government of India Enterprise under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
IREDA is a Public Limited Government Company established as a Non-Banking Financial Institution in 1987 engaged in promoting, developing and extending financial assistance for setting up projects relating to new and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency/conservation with the motto: “ENERGY FOR EVER”.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 13 March 2018 “
Q1. Which country’s hockey team has won the 27th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah cup 2018?
Q2. India has extended how much amount of line of credit to support 27 solar power projects in 15 countries at the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA-2018)?
Q3. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has recently signed pact with which international organisation to promote solar energy deployment in Asia & Pacific?
Q4. Which union minister has been given additional charge of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation?
Q5. Which online payment service provider has become the official umpire partner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for 5 years?
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!