This post covers relevant news from national dailies and government releases for aspirants of examinations like UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. It is highly useful for both, revision and awareness purposes.
National Important Current Affairs – 14 and 15 September 2018
■ Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Dawoodi Bohra community’s holy occasion Ashara Mubaraka – Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Imam Husain , organized by the Dawoodi Bohra community, at Indore. The event also included speeches by His Holiness Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin – the spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, and the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
■ The Union Government celebrated Hindi Diwas to mark Hindi becoming an official language of the Union government under Article 343 of the Constitution on September 14, 1949. Hindi Diwas is an annual day celebrated to mark Hindi written in Devanagari script becaming the official language of India.
- Take note that: Vishv Hindi Diwas (World Hindi Day) is celebrated on 10 January to spread the use of hindi across the globe.
About Hindi in Constitution: There are 22 Scheduled languages of India, of which, two are officially used at Union government of India level: Hindi and English. Hindi is spoken by 250 million people as the original language and it is the fourth highest used language of the world. Bihar was the first state of India to adopt Hindi in 1881, when it accepted Hindi as its sole official language, replacing Urdu.
■ India celebrates Engineer’s Day on September 15, the birth anniversary of the legendary engineer Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. For his numerous industrial, economic and social projects, he was called “Father of Modern Mysore“. Visvesvaraya was born on September 15, 1861, in a village called Muddenahalli in Karnataka.
- Visvesvaraya was the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam in Mysore, the biggest in Asia at that time.
- He designed and patented the floodgates which were first installed at the Khadakwasla reservoir in Pune in 1903.
- Visvesvaraya was the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918, during which time he transformed the state into what was then known as a ‘model state’.
- Due to his outstanding contribution to the building of India, the government has conferred ‘Bharat Ratna’ to him in 1955.
- He was also awarded the British knighthood by King George V.
The memorial of Visvesvaraya stands at Muddenahalli, which is managed by the Visvesvaraya National Memorial Trust. His name lives on through various universities including Visvesvaraya Technological University located in Belagavi.
■ The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, organised the ‘National Conference of District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRC)’. The participants in this one day conference included District Magistrates of 263 districts where DDRCs have been set up, Principal Secretaries Social Welfare, reputed NGOs, District Social Welfare officers, eminent Doctors etc.
The conference is aimed to strengthen DDRCs further, which play a crucial and central role for the wellbeing of Divyangjan and to give clarification about the mechanism of schemes and disseminate its success stories.
About DDRC: District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC) provides comprehensive services to persons with disabilities and facilitate the creation of infrastructure and capacity building at the district level for awareness generation, rehabilitation and training of rehabilitation professionals. The District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are set up under the Plan Scheme- “Scheme for implementation of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 (SIPDA).”
Objectives of the District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are: Awareness generation, early intervention and assessment of the need of assistive devices to divyangjans. Disseminating therapeutic services such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy etc. to divyangjans through rehabilitation professionals. Providing equipment for rehabilitation services.
■ Actor R Madhavan is set to host the National Geographic’s new television series ‘Mega Icons’, which explores the success stories of five Indian prominent personalities. It is scheduled to premier on September 24. This five-part series will feature episodes on the following personalities:
- former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam,
- movie star and politician Kamal Haasan,
- Nobel laureate the Dalai Lama,
- Indian cricketer Virat Kohli
- first woman Indian Police Service officer, Kiran Bedi.
Each episode would be a journey into the life of an iconic personality, with help of not only intimate interviews with the icons and their families but also through research and analysis by experts.
■ The Supreme Court has reviewed its earlier order on Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with husband or relatives of husbands subjecting a woman to cruelty. Punishment under the Section is a maximum of three years and was so far a non-bailable offence. Taking note of the ‘misuse’ of Section 498A, the apex Court has said that the accused can now seek anticipatory bail.
The latest verdict modifies the verdict given by its two-judge bench, and also said that there is no scope for courts for constitutionally filling up gaps in the penal law. The earlier order of July 2017 had provisions for setting up of a committee to deal with complaints of dowry harassment. Now, erasing the role of NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) and NGOs, the SC said courts exist to protect those harassed husbands and their relatives, who are not remotely connected to matrimonial cruelty, by granting them anticipatory bail.
- Note that: A number of pleas were filed in the Supreme Court seeking revisiting of the 2017 judgement that had reduced the severity of the anti-dowry law on the offence of subjecting a married woman to cruelty by spouse and in-laws. In this said judgement a two-judge bench of the apex court in July last year had voiced concern over “abuse” of section 498 A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) and passed directions that no arrest should “normally be effected” without verifying allegations as violation of human rights of innocents could not be brushed aside.
The need for review: The anti-dowry law was enacted with the objective of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives – particularly when such cruelty drives the wife to suicide. However, complaints have been mounting up over the years alleging misuse of the anti-dowry harassment law – framed in 1983 following a spate of dowry-related deaths – by disgruntled wives. A growing trend is being observed among women involved in marital discord to abuse Section 498A of IPC to rope in their husbands’ relatives — including parents, siblings and grandparents — in criminal cases. Though Section 498A of the IPC was enacted to protect women from cruelty in matrimonial homes, its misuse to harass the other side too is causing social unrest.
■ The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the continuation of Capacity Development Scheme for period 2017-18 to 2019-20. It is ongoing Central Sector Scheme (CSS) of Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI).
The main objective of the scheme is to augment infrastructural, technical as well as manpower resources for making available credible and timely Official Statistics for policy makers and public at large. The Two Sub-schemes under it are:
- Economic Census: It includes a listing of all non-agricultural establishments is undertaken periodically, which forms the basis for conducting detailed socio-economic surveys. The last (6l) Economic Census was conducted during January 2013 to April 2014. Government is now aiming to conduct this census once every three years in future.
- Support for Statistical Strengthening (SSS): It seeks to strengthen State and sub-State level statistical systems and infrastructure to facilitate development of robust national system. Under it, funds are released to States and UTs after detailed examination of their proposals.
Major ongoing activities carried out under this scheme
■ The first Tribal Circuit Project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme will be inaugurated in Chhattisgarh. It covers 13 sites in Chhattisgarh i.e. Jashpur, Kunkuri, Mainpat, Kamleshpur, Maheshpur, Kurdar, Sarodadadar, Gangrel, Kondagaon, Nathiya Nawagaon, Jagdalpur, Chitrakoot, Tirthgarh.
It will include development of eco log huts, craft haats, souvenir shops/ kiosk, tourist reception & facilitation centres, open amphitheatre, tribal interpretation centres, workshop centres, tourist amenities centres, last mile connectivity etc. These components will improve the existing tourist facilities and enhance the overall tourist experience, therefore, increase the number of visitors which in return will boost job opportunities in the area.
Note that: Development of Tribes and Tribal Culture is one of the prime area of focus for the Ministry of Tourism. Under the tribal circuit theme of the scheme the Ministry has sanctioned 4 projects to Nagaland, Telangana and Chhattisgarh for Rs. 381.37 Crores.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme: The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner. Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme: The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding. To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
■ Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has launched Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) Scheme with an outlay of Rs. 10881 crore. The first installment of Rs. 440 crore was given to National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) recently. Under this scheme, eligible milk organisations will be provided financial assistance in the form of a loan at 6.5% interest for building an efficient milk procurement system and other dairy processing infrastructure. This loan will be reimbursed over period of 10 years. It also has provision of interest subsidy on loans. The scheme will benefit 95,00,000 farmers in about 50,000 villages. In addition to this, it provide direct and indirect employment to many skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
About Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) Scheme: This scheme was approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in September 2017 with aim to boost dairy sector. It is managed by NDDB and will be implemented from 2017-18 to 2028-29. Milk unions, multi-state milk cooperatives, state dairy federations, milk producer companies and NDDB subsidiaries can avail loan under this scheme after meeting eligibility criteria.
The loan proceeds will be provided for putting in place efficient milk procurement system by setting up of chilling infrastructure and installation of electronic milk adulteration testing equipment. It will be also used for creation, modernisation and expansion of processing infrastructure and manufacturing faculties for value-added dairy products. The scheme will also help in creating additional milk processing capacity of 126 lakh litre per day, milk drying capacity of 210 MT per day, milk chilling capacity of 140 lakh litre per day.
■ The Additional Secretary & Mission Director (NHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Manoj Jhalani, has been conferred with the prestigious UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) Award for his outstanding contribution towards prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and related Sustainable Development Goals.
All About UNIATF: A July 2013 resolution at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) formally established the UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) on NCDs by expanding the mandate of the existing UN Ad Hoc Interagency Task Force on Tobacco Control. The Task Force is convened and led by the WHO, and reports to ECOSOC through the UN Secretary General. The UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) on the Prevention and Control of NCDs coordinates activities of relevant United Nations funds, programmes and specialised agencies and other intergovernmental organisations, to support the realisation of the commitments made in the UN Political Declaration on NCDs, in particular through the implementation of the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020.
In pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development established in 2015, UNIATF’s scope of work was expanded in 2016 to include “NCD related SDGs” – i.e. mental health, violence and injuries, nutrition, and environmental issues that impact on NCDs.
Note that: Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular (CV) diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
■ The Union Ministry for Minority Affairs has launched the country’s first National Scholarship Portal Mobile App (NSP Mobile App) which aims to provide smooth, accessible and hassle-free scholarship system for students from poor and weaker sections.
- The mobile app will be beneficial for beneficiary students in many ways as they will get all information regarding various scholarships on this mobile app, they will be able to apply for scholarships sitting in their home.
- By using it, students can also upload necessary documents and can check the status of their application, scholarship disbursement etc.
- Students from far-flung, hilly areas and North East will be the mostly benefitted from this app.
■ The Union Ministry of Water Resources has instituted the National Water Awards with an objective to encourage all stakeholders including NGOs, Gram Panchayats, Urban local bodies, water user associations, institutions, corporate sector, Individuals etc. to manage their water resources efficiently and create water consciousness in the country. It also seeks to encourage water use efficiency, recycling and reuse of water and creating awareness through people’s participation in targeted areas for ground water resources development, adequate capacity building etc.
National Water Awards will be given for 13 categories – Best State; Best District; Best Village Panchayat; Best Municipal Corporation; Best research, innovation and adaptation of new technology for water conservation; Best educative and mass awareness efforts; Best TV show for promoting water conservation; Best Newspaper; Best School; Best Institution for successful campus water usage; Best Resident Welfare Association (RWA;, Organizations for Best Religious and Recreational & Tourism Water Uses and Best Industry for industrial water conservation.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 14 and 15 September 2018
■ International Day of Democracy is celebrated on 15th September to look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers to the systemic challenges it faces. Democracy is understood to provide the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which celebrate 70th anniversary), also states that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government”.
- The 2018 Theme is: Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World
Note that: According to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, democracy is under Sustainable Development Goal 16 in order to recognize the indivisible links between peaceful societies and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
■ Tropical Storm, Hurricane Florence has hit the east coast of the US and caused flash floods and disruptive rains. The storm is moving slowly west-southwest over the east of South Carolina causing the destruction of life, power infrastructure and property. Residents of western North Carolina have been warned they could see flooding and landslides from Saturday night through to Monday.
■ Super Typhoon Mangkhut has slammed into the Philippines, bringing ferocious gale-force winds and pounding rains, as aid agencies warned millions are at risk from rising flood waters and landslides. It’s now pounding the Philippines with heavy rain, and heading west into the South China Sea toward Hong Kong and southern China. Authorities have warned of potential storm surges up to six meters high in affected areas along the coast.
Note that: Mangkhut is the strongest storm anywhere on the planet in 2018, carrying gusts of up to 325 kmph (200 mph) before it made landfall in Cagayan province of the Phillippines. Mangkhut is also the strongest storm to make landfall in the Philippines since Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which resulted in more than 6000 deaths.
|Difference between Typhoon and Hurricane: the location where the storm occurs.|
Hurricanes and typhoons are both same weather phenomenon- tropical cyclones. A tropical cyclone is described as a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a low-level circulation. The pre-requisites for tropical cyclones include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds.
If a tropical cyclone reaches maximum sustained windspeed of 74 mph or higher, it is then classified as a hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone, according to where the storm originates in the world.
■ As per a culture study survey by US-based multi-national workforce management firm, Kronos Incorporated, India has been ranked as the world’s hardest working country with 69% of full-time employees being happy with the the 5-day work week. Indian workers have stated that they would work five days a week even if they had the option to work fewer days for the same pay.
- Mexico was the 2nd-highest at 43% of workers, followed by the US at 27%.
- The study found workers in the United Kingdom, France and Australia were least content with the standard five-day workweek.
- According to a survey If pay remained constant, one-third of global workers felt their ideal workweek would last four days (34%), while 20% said they would work 3 days a week. For this study, the survey was carried out amongst 2, 700 full and part-time employees living in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK and the US.
■ The second edition of the 10-day Nepal-China joint military exercise “Sagarmatha Friendship-2018” is set to be held at Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan Province, from September 17. The aim of the exercise is to share expertise in disaster management and to fight terrorism, among others. This will reduce Nepal’s dependence on India and allow China to get a stronger foothold in the sub-continental land-locked nation.
Note that: This comes at a time when Nepal refuses to participate in the first-ever BIMSTEC military exercise “MILEX-18”, which has started in India from September 10, citing lack of agrreement signing on this issue.
■ Prof. Arul Chinnaiyan, an Indian-American scientist and professor at the University of Michigan, has been awarded an “Outstanding Investigator Award” along with a grant of $6.5 million by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, for developing molecular markers to identify cancer biomarkers. The award is designed to support the very best researchers who have a track record of innovation and success. The funding is pointed at identifying cancer biomarkers, which may improve diagnosis and help develop targeted therapies for treatment.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 14 and 15 September 2018
■ The Cabinet has approved MoU on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block Chain Technology towards the development of digital economy by Exim Bank under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism. The Distributed Ledger or Blockchain technology has immense potential for providing solutions to various challenges being faced in the financial sector space of the BRICS nations.
Note that: The Xiamen Declaration on digital economy signed in China by the BRICS leaders had highlighted the importance of the digital economy and how the BRICS nations could leverage the thriving and dynamic digital economy that will foster global economic development and benefit everyone. In pursuit of this, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Blockchain Technology’ in the Context of the Development of the Digital Economy was suggested to be inked by all member banks.
About BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism: The BRICS interbank cooperation mechanism was entered into a Memorandum on cooperation in 2010 state financial institutions for development and export support of the BRICS nations.It was created in order to develop and strengthen economic ties and investment cooperation between BRICS countries. One of its main purposes of cooperation is to set up a scheme designed to provide financing and banking services for future investment projects that could be beneficial for the economic development of the BRICS countries.
■ The Cabinet has also approved the fixation/Revision of ethanol price derived from B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice and 100% sugarcane juice under Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme for Ethanol Supply Year 2018-19. This decision will reduce excess sugar in the country, increasing liquidity with the sugar mills for settling cane farmer’s dues and also making higher ethanol available for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.
- All distilleries will be able to take benefit of the scheme and large number of them are expected to supply ethanol for the EBP programme.
- The remunerative price to ethanol suppliers will help in reduction of cane farmer’s arrears, in the process contributing to minimizing difficulty of sugarcane farmers.
- Increased ethanol blending in petrol has many benefits including reduction in import dependency, support to agricultural sector, more environmental friendly fuel, lesser pollution and additional income to farmers.
About Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme: Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme is being implemented by the Ministry or Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs). It was launched by the Government in 2003 on pilot basis which has been subsequently extended to the Notified 21 States and 4 Union Territories to promote the use of alternative and environmental friendly fuels.
It aims at blending ethanol with petrol, thereby bringing it under the category of biofuels and saving millions of dollars by cutting fuel imports. This intervention also seeks to reduce import dependency for energy requirements and give boost to agriculture sector. But, has been a consistent shortfall in supply of ethanol in the past, mainly on account of the cyclical nature of the sugarcane harvests in the country.
Note that: The National Policy on Bio-fuels has set a target of 20% blending of biofuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. This will require an integrated approach in the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP).
■ Union Ministry of Steel for the first time gave away Secondary Steel sector awards to 26 mini steel companies in recognition of their contribution to the national economy. These awards were given in order to enhance the global competitiveness of companies involved in the secondary steel sector. Under this, 12 companies were awarded Gold Certificates and 14 Silver Certificates for their performance during 2016-17. It will encourage secondary steel sector to strive for improving performance as well as quality of production.
About the Steel Sector in India: Steel is one of the core sectors of the Indian economy. India is 3rd largest steel producer in the world. Steel contributes to over 2% to India’s GDP and creates virtuous cycle of employment generation throughout the economy. The steel consumption of India has almost touched 70 kg per capita.
About the Secondary Steel Sector: The secondary steel sector is critical and important segment of market spanning from construction, cold rolled products, machine tools, pipes, stainless steel, galvanized and color coated steel as well as exports. It contributes to more than half of the total steel production in the country.
Sports Current Affairs – 14 and 15 September 2018
■ The Former Indian hockey team captain, Sardar Singh has announced his retirement from international hockey. Sardar Singh has represented India in over 350 international matches over the course of his 12-year-long career. He also captained the national team from 2008 to 2016.
■ In Cricket, Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami has become the first bowler in women’s cricket to pick 300 international wickets. She achieved this after reaching the landmark figure in India’s 9-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
- Recently, Indian Cricketer Mithali Raj became the most capped player in the history of Women’s ODI cricket.
■ Prof. Vijay Shankar Vyas, the Padma Bhushan awardee and noted agricultural economist, has passed away in Jaipur, Rajasthan at the age of 87 years. The economist was the director of the IIM Ahmedabad and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of Jaipur. He had held several prestigious, professional and leadership positions in national and international organisations. He was a senior advisor in the World Bank’s agriculture and rural development department. Beside this, Prof. Vyas also remained the vice president of the Rajasthan planning board.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 14 and 15 September 2018 “
Q1. India’s first indigenously designed and developed 205T Electric Drive Rear Dump Truck (BH205-E) has been launched by which public sector company?
- A) GAIL
- B) BHEL
- C) BEML
- D) SAIL
Q2. Who will head the panel of secretaries to look into the issues raised on some proposals of the draft e-commerce policy?
- A) Rajiv Gauba
- B) S S Ahluwalia
- C) Ajay Prakash Sawhney
- D) Ramesh Abhishek
Q3. India’s first railway university “National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI)” is located in which city?
- A) Ahmedabad
- B) Kanpur
- C) Patna
- D) Vadodara
Q4. Who has been appointed new chairman of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee?
- A) Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank
- B) Chandrakant B Khaire
- C) L K Advani
- D) P Karunakaran
Q5. Which state government has banned the manufacture, sale and possession of e-cigarettes?
- A) Odisha
- B) Assam
- C) Tamil Nadu
- D) Karnataka
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!