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 – 17 and 18 September 2018
■ On the eve of the World Ozone Day (17th September), the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, underlined the need to work consistently under the aegis of the Montreal Protocol to phase out Ozone Depleting Substances. The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.
He was launching the ‘Ozone Cell’, at the 24th World Ozone Day celebrations, in New Delhi. Dr. Harsh Vardhan also released the draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) and a booklet on ‘Montreal Protocol – India’s Success Story’.
Note that: India is the first country in world to develop such a document (ICAP), which addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand. This will help in reducing both direct and indirect emissions.
The theme for this years’s Ozone Day celebration was : “Keep Cool and Carry on” : The Montreal Protocol.
About the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP): The MoEFCC released the draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), with a vision to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society. The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are:
- Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38,
- Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38,
- Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38, and
- Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
About Montreal Protocol: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has been recognized as the most successful international environment treaty in history. It is the only environmental treaty which enjoys universal ratification of 197 UN numbers countries. Its implementation has not only led to the phase-out of around 98% of ozone depleting chemicals, but also averted more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Nearly 2 million cases of skin cancer per year have been averted globally. The 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol is this year.
■ The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman to come out with a legal framework to ensure transparency of the MPLAD Scheme, and hold parliamentarians and political parties accountable for their obligations under the scheme. While noting that Rs 12,000 crore of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds have remained unspent, the CIC has ordered the leaders of the two Houses of Parliament to consider providing the “necessary legal frame”. The framework should make transparency a legal obligation, with all MPs and parties required to present the public and Parliament with a comprehensive report on the number of applications received for their constituency, works recommended, works rejected with reasons, progress of works and details of beneficiaries. Further, the framework should prohibit and prevent MPs using the funds for their private works, or diverting them to private trusts or to their own relatives. Liabilities for any breach of duties should also be imposed.
About MPLADS: The MPLADS allots Rs 5 crore per year to each MP to be spent on projects of their choice in their constituency.
The scheme is funded and administered through the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
The projects are to be recommended to and implemented by the district-level administration.
■ The Union Minister for Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal inaugurated the ‘first ever’ India Tourism Mart (ITM 2018) in the presence of Union Tourism Minister, K J Alphons and the Tourism Minister of Morocco, Mr. Mohamed Sajid, in New Delhi. The India Tourism Mart has been organized by the Ministry of Tourism from 16th to 18th September 2018, in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) and with support of State /UT Governments.
■ The Nagaland government has declared the Singphan Wildlife Sanctuary as an elephant reserve, thereby making it the 30th reserve for Elephants in India. This reserve is located in Mon district of Nagaland and spreads over an area of 5825 acres (2357 hac).
■ Rajasthan’s first lion safari has been inaugurated at the Nahargarh Biological Park. This park is located on Delhi-Jaipur National Highway in the Aravalli foothills, nearly 12 kilometers from state capital Jaipur. The lions in this park were brought from Junagarh, Gujarat under an exchange programme. The park will serve for breeding lions and also centre of attraction for tourists. It will provide new habitat to lions and also add tourism venue to the Pink City.
■ The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) has completed a year in operation, the anniversary of the launch of scheme was celebrated as Matru Vandana Saptah. Over the course of one year, about 48.11 Lakhs of women have been enrolled under the scheme, out of which 37.30 Lakhs have been paid the maternity benefit which accounts to a total fund disbursement of Rs 1168.63 Crores.
All about PMMVY: The Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit rechristened from erstwhile Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The IGMSY was launched in 2010. The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.
The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first live birth. It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
The benefits under this scheme is available to all women, except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.
■ The Union Cabinet chaired has approved a proposal for introduction of Bill in Parliament for amendment of National Institutes of Design (NID) Act, 2014 for establishing four new NIDs across the country. These four new NIDs are :
- National Institute of Design, Amaravati/Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
- National Institute of Design, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
- National Institute of Design, Jorhat, Assam.
- National Institute of Design, Kurukshetra, Haryana.
■ Based on the recommendations of the NGT, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has apprised the States of the extent of pollution in their rivers. The number of critically polluted stretches has gone up to 45 from 34, according to an assessment by the CPCB. The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago.
- Note that: The CPCB, since the 1990s, has a programme to monitor the quality of rivers primarily by measuring BOD, which is a proxy for organic pollution. The health of a river and the efficacy of water treatment measures by the States and municipal bodies are classified depending on BOD.
- With a BOD greater than or equal to 30 mg/l is termed ‘priority 1,’ while those between 3.1-6 mg/l is ‘priority 5.’
- The higher the BOD worse is the river. The CPCB considers BOD less than 3 mg/l an indicator of a healthy river.
The most significant stretches of pollution highlighted by the CPCB assessment include:
- In Mumbai, Mithi river — from Powai to Dharavi — with a BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) of 250 mg/l,
- Godavari — from Someshwar to Rahed — with a BOD of 5.0-80 mg/l;
- Sabarmati — Kheroj to Vautha — with a BOD from 4.0-147 mg/l;
- Hindon — Saharanpur to Ghaziabad — with a BOD of 48-120 mg/l.
■ The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C42) of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched two satellites — NovaSAR and S1-4– from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The PSLV-C42 rocket was carrying two British Earth observation satellites from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota. These two satellites, NovaSAR and S1-4, are intended to improve UK’s disaster management capabilities. The PSLV-C-42 is the lightest version of the PSLV flying in its core-alone version without the six strap-on motors.
Note : This marks the 44th flight of the PSLV and the third launch by ISRO this year.
■ Karnataka Government has announced a Rs 2 cut in the cess of both petrol and diesel in the state. Petrol was priced at Rs 84.59/litre in Bengaluru on Sunday, while diesel was being sold at Rs 76.10/litre.
Note that : Karnataka is the 4th state after Rajasthan, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh to have reduced state taxes on petrol and diesel.
■ The Uttar Pradesh Police is launching a first of its kind dial-FIR scheme where a common man can register regular crimes without going to a police station. Besides this, they are also expanding the counter-terror combat and response grid in the State by training over 100 fresh commandos in special skills including a maiden batch of women personnel.
Additionally, to combat crime, an online dossier of criminals in the state has also been prepared. The investigating officers in various districts of the state will be given 22,000 new i-pads soon on which we have fed a dossier of over 1-lakh small and big criminals. This dossier would help in solving a case fast as the suspects can be identified quickly.
Note that: Uttar Pradesh is the only the second state to prepare such a localised online criminal database after Punjab.
■ Indigenous anti-tank missile, Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) has been successfully test-firedfor the second time from Ahmednagar test range.
It has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).. The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), which has been under development by DRDO in partnership with Indian defense contractor VEM Technologies Ltd. since 2015.
This low-weight MPATGM will complement the Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile to be procured from Israel. It has been fitted with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, the MPATGM reportedly boasts a top attack capability and has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers.
■ India’s first underwater robotic drone, named EyeROV TUNA, was launched and handed over to the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) of DRDO. The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) underwater drone was developed by EyeROV Technologies, a company incubating at Kalamassery-based Maker Village, Kochi.
Features of EyeROV TUNA:
- It can be navigated up to a depth of 50 metres to take real-time HD video images to examine ship hulls or undersea cables or bridge moorings, eliminating the need for costlier and riskier manual inspection by divers.
- It weighs less than 10 kilogram and can be used for inspection of ship hulls, ports, dams and nuclear power plants
EyeROV is a light rover which can be easily accessed and controlled with the supporting attached and connected hardware such as laptops and joysticks.
- It can be used for inspection of ship hulls, ports, dams and nuclear power plants.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 17 and 18 September 2018
■ The iconic TIME magazine is being sold by Meredith Corporation (present owner) to Salesforce.com’s Co-founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff for $190 million (Rs 1,378 crore).
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 17 and 18 September 2018
■ In order to the ongoing fall in the value of Indian currency, Rupee, the government has announced a plan to check “non-essential imports”, boost exports and initiated five measures to attract dollar inflows into the country. These steps have been taken in order to trim the widening current account deficit that is seen as a factor behind the rupee’s sharp slide against the dollar.
The five measures include:
- Mandatory hedging conditions for infrastructure loans through the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route will be reviewed.
- 20 percent exposure limits of foreign portfolio investors’ corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate group, company and related entities will be removed, and 50 percent of any issue of corporate bonds will be reviewed.
- Manufacturing sector entities will be permitted to avail external commercial borrowings up to $50 million with a minimum maturity of one year instead of the earlier period of three years.
- Masala Bond issues done in the current financial year will be exempted from withholding tax.
- Restrictions on Indian banks’ market making in Masala Bonds, including restrictions on underwriting of such bonds, will be removed.
Reasons for the fall in value of Rupee: The Indian Rupee is Falling Against the US Dollar due to following factors mainly,
- Turkish currency turmoil: The Indian currency had plunged by Rs 1.08, or 1.57 per cent, to a record low of 69.91 against the US currency amid fears that Turkish currency turmoil could turn out into global financial crisis.
- The Spike in oil prices has pulled down the rupee, by pushing up dollar demand.
- Global Trade war fears triggered by the US and China’s retaliatory import tariffs have also weakened the Rupee.
- The Chinese yuan has fallen sharply in the last few sessions. This also has triggered a dollar flight from many emerging economies. The Spurt in dollar outflow has pulled down most Asian currencies, including the rupee.
Sports Current Affairs – 17 and 18 September 2018
■ Team India captain Virat Kohli and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who bagged gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2018, have been recommended for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2018, which is India’s highest sporting honour. If approved by Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Kohli will become only the 3rd cricketer to get the award after Sachin Tendulkar (1997-98) and MS Dhoni (2007).
■ The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has appointed former left-handed Sri Lankan cricketer Nuwan Seneviratne as Team India’s throwdown specialist to help Indian batsmen prepare for left-arm fast bowlers in the Asia Cup.
■ Veteran freedom fighter and former Odisha minister Dolagobinda Pradhan has passed away at age of 93 years. Pradhan had joined the Quit India movement and was also jailed during the freedom movement. He was elected to the state Assembly twice from Cuttack Sadar constituency and served as a minister from 1989 to 1990.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 17 and 18 September 2018 “
Q1. Every year Hindi Diwas is celebrated on 14 September. In which year, Hindi was chosen to be state language of Union?
- A) 1950
- B) 1948
- C) 1949
- D) 1951
Q2.Which country is host to the 2018 G-20 trade and investment ministerial meeting?
- A) Argentina
- B) France
- C) Germany
- D) Brazil
Q3.The agricultural festival of Nuakhai has started in which state?
- A) Nagaland
- B) Odisha
- C) West Bengal
- D) Assam
Q4.India’s first tribal circuit tourism project has launched in which state?
- A) Assam
- B) Rajasthan
- C) Madhya Pradesh
- D) Chhattisgarh
Q5.What is the total fund outlay of recently launched Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund Scheme, which provides financial assistance to cooperatives?
- A) Rs 12, 801 crore
- B) Rs 9, 801 crore
- C) Rs 10, 881 crore
- D) Rs 11,008 crore
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!