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 – 16 March 2018
■ The 105th session of the Indian Science Congress (ISC) will be hosted by Manipur Central University in Imphal from 16 to 20 March 2018. The theme for the ISC is “Reaching the Unreached Through Science & Technology”.
Note that: The Indian Science Congress is an annual event, in which top scientists from across the country and the world are present. The previous session, the 104th ISC was held at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.
■ The Haryana Assembly has unanimously passed a Bill which provides for the death penalty to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less. After Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, now Haryana has become the third State where the Assembly has approved the provision of capital punishment for such sexual offenders.
The Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018, was passed on the last day of the budget session. The Bill also provides for making the existing criminal laws related to other sexual offences more stringent. The punishment under Section 354 of the IPC (Assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty) will not be less than two years (earlier not less than one year) but may extend up to seven years (earlier up to five years).
■ The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) was inaugurated by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. The theme of the 2-day conference is “Challenges to Policing in 2020 – How is Cyber Space shaping our approach to Cybercrime and Terrorism, how do we perform within it and take advantage of it”. The conference focused on holding discussions about the growing interest of various terrorist or organized groups and radical elements in exploiting the Cyberspace for their various heinous crimes and nefarious designs.
About IACP: The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is a professional association for law enforcement worldwide. The IACP is the world’s largest organization of Police and law enforcement executives that is highly regarded for its role in identifying and responding to changing needs of the law enforcement community.
■ The Union Cabinet has approved an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income between India and Iran.
This Agreement will stimulate flow of investment, technology and personnel from India to Iran & vice versa, and will prevent double taxation and will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. It will also provide for exchange of information between the two Contracting Parties as per latest international standards, thus bringing transparency in tax matters.
The proposed Agreement also meets treaty related minimum standards under G-20 OECD Base Erosion & Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.
About BEPS: It refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations.
The Central Government is authorized under Section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to enter into an Agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for avoidance of double taxation of income, for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.
■ The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) has developed a coded drug AYUSH QOL-2C for bringing relief to cancer patients. The CCRAS has also developed and commercialized the following two drugs:
- AYUSH 82 An Anti Diabetic Ayurvedic Formulation.
- AYUSH SG An Anti-Rheumatoid Arthritis preparation.
The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) is an autonomous body of the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) and is headquartered at New Delhi. It is an apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, development and promotion of research on scientific lines in Ayurveda and Sowa-Rigpa system of medicine.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 16 March 2018
■ According to a study conducted by NASA on astronaut Scott Kelly, Space travel caused lasting changes to 7% of his genes. The NASA’s Twins Study compared his DNA to that of his identical twin brother, who had remained on the earth, while Scott Kelly went for one-year mission in space.
Scott’s telomeres (the end caps of chromosomes that shorten as one ages) — had actually become significantly longer in space. This unexpected finding was presented in 2017, and verified by scientists with multiple assays and genomics testing.
A new finding is that the majority of those telomeres shortened within two days of Scott’s return to the earth. About 93% of Scott’s genes returned to normal after landing. However, the remaining 7% have remained longer pointing to possible longer term changes in genes related to his immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia and hypercapnia.
■ Singapore has been named as the world’s most expensive city for the 5th time in a row in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Cost of Living Index. While Damascus has been listed as the world’s cheapest city in the list.
Note that : India’s Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi have also been named among world’s 10 cheapest cities.
■ According to the annual UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s 2018 World Happiness Report, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. While India ranked 133rd in the list (last year’s rank was 122nd). The World Happiness ranked 156 countries on happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.
The main focus of this year’s report, apart from the usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries. The report has four chapters on migration, both internal (within-country) and international (cross-country), investigating the happiness of migrants, their families left behind, and others living in the cities and countries receiving migrants.
- Finland is followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland respectively.
- Burundi in east Africa, scarred by bouts of ethnic cleansing, civil wars and coup attempts, is placed at the last in the index.
- Among the eight Saarc nations, Pakistan was at 75th position, up five spots from last year.
- Nepal stood at 101, Bhutan at 97, Bangladesh at 115 while Sri Lanka was at 116.
- China is far ahead at 86th place in the Happiness Index.
■ The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project has received environmental clearance as a special case after the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has given permission to set up the lab in Bodi West hills. The Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district, Kerala, is situated within five km from the project site.
About the INO:
The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx.1200 m for non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India. The initial goal of INO is to study neutrinos.
It is a mega-science project under the XII five-year plan of Government of India with an investment of about 1350 crores, jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
What are Neutrinos?
A neutrino is a subatomic particle that is very similar to an electron but has no electrical charge and a very small mass, which might even be zero. Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles which make up the universe.
There are three types of neutrinos differing based on mass, these are-
(a) Electron neutrinos (ve)
(b) Muon neutrinos(vu)
(c) tau neutrinos(vT)
■ Making a case for doing away with plastic bottles, a recent study across nine countries led by microplastic researcher Sherri Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia, has found that the world’s leading brands of bottled water are contaminated with tiny plastic particles that are likely seeping in during the packaging process.
- Researchers tested 250 bottles of water in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Thailand and the US.
- Plastic was identified in 93% of the samples, which included major name brands such as Aqua, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino. It also included Bisleri, Epura, Gerolsteiner, Minalba and Wahaha.
- The plastic debris included polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used to make bottle caps.
- Scientists used Nile red dye to fluoresce particles in the water – the dye tends to stick to the surface of plastics but not most natural materials.
- Particle concentration ranged from “zero to more than 10,000 likely plastic particles in a single bottle,” said the report.
- “Widespread contamination” with plastic was found in the study, where 65% of the particles found were actually fragments and not fibers. This contamination is believed to be arising out of the industrial process of bottling the water.
Plastic particles in the 100 microns (0.10 millimetre) size range— are considered “microplastics”
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 16 March 2018
■ Private sector lender HDFC Bank has barred the use of its credit, debit and prepaid cards to buy or trade in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Earlier, Citibank India also banned the use of its cards for buying cryptocurrencies.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 16 March 2018 “
Q1. What is the theme of the 2018 World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD)?
A) Building a digital world consumer can trust
B) Making Digital Marketplaces Fairer
C) Antibiotics off the menu
D) Time for Consumer Justice Now
Q2. Which of the following teams has won the Newton-Bhabha Fund for project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin?
A) India-Russia Joint Team
B) India-UK Joint Team
C) India-Japan Joint Team
D) India-Israel Joint Team
Q3. The 2018 Pi Day, which is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is observed on which date?
A) March 13
B) March 14
C) March 15
D) March 12
Q4. What is India’s GDP growth forecast for FY 19, as per World Bank’s latest report “India Development Update – India’s Growth Story”?
Q5.Which union ministry has bagged the award for best implementation of E-office?
A) Ministry of External Affairs
B) Ministry of Finance
C) Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation
D) Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions
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!