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 – 17 January 2018
■ The Defence Ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 close quarter battle (CQB) carbines on a fast-track basis for Rs 3,547 crore to enable the defence forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders. The assault rifles will be of 7.62mm calibre, while the carbines will be of 5.56mm calibre. Both these deals had been repeatedly cancelled in the past.
The DAC chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has also simplified the ‘Make II’ procedure, which prescribes guidelines “to develop and manufacture defence equipment through Indian industry”. The revised procedure will now allow the Ministry of Defence to accept suo motu proposals from the industry and also allows start-ups to develop equipment for the armed forces. The minimum qualification criteria to participate in the ‘Make II’ projects have been relaxed by removing conditions related to credit rating and reducing financial net worth criteria. Now all vendors meeting the criteria will be allowed to participate in the prototype development process instead of only two vendors earlier.
■ The newly-constituted 5-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, set up to hear a range of crucial cases, will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. The cases that the bench will hear include –
- Challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act
- The 2013 apex court judgement re-criminalising gay sex between consenting adults.
- Issue of the ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.
■ India has posted its sharpest, year-on-year decline in the under-5 infant mortality rate (u5) since 2010, according to figures from the Sample Registration Survey (SRS). The u5, at 39 deaths per 1,000 live births, has recorded a 5-point decline from the 2015 figure of 43. According the Union Health Ministry, this was a “landmark achievement” that translated to nearly 1,20,000 fewer deaths in 2016 as compared to 2015.
At the national level, the u5 varies from 43 in rural areas to 25 in urban areas and ranges from 11 in Kerala to 55 in Madhya Pradesh. Except for Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all the “bigger States/Union Territories” have higher u-5mortality rates among girls than boys.
■ Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has announced that the Centre would phase out subsidies for the annual Haj pilgrimage this year.
Centre’s this decision has followed a 2012 Supreme Court order asking that subsidies for the Haj be phased out by 2022 and the money saved (amounting to around Rs 450 crore annually) be diverted to more welfare-oriented activities. The government has hinted that the money saved from the Haj subsidy withdrawal would be used for the education of the girl child.
A new Haj policy, has been formulated by a committee headed by former bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah had also suggested that women Hajis be allowed to perform the pilgrimage without a male escort, or mehram. A batch of over 1300 women will perform the annual pilgrimage of Haj from India without a mehram this year.
■ The Centre will finalise regulations enabling universities with high National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) scores to offer online degree, certificate and diploma courses for non-technical subjects.
Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar told this after the culmination of the 65th Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) in which it was also decided to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education from the present 25.2-% to 30-32-% in 5 years. It is believed that online education would help improve enrolment figures.
Only institutions with a NAAC grade of A plus and A plus plus – would be permitted to start these online degree courses, which would essentially be open and distance learning in online mode.
■ In Tamil Nadu, the famous Alanganallur Jallikattu, the bull taming sport, was held in the presence of Chief Minister Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. It was witnessed by thousands of people including foreign tourists. Stringent measures imposed for the bull-taming youth participants are said to have helped reduce injuries to them, though the spectators in some places remain exposed to the danger of getting hit by the raging bulls.
Note that: he Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition filed by PETA to quash the new jallikattu law passed by the TN Assembly. This law has brought bulls back into the fold of ‘performing animals’ and hence, allowed for the conduct of the sport in the name of culture despite a 2014 ban by the Supreme Court.
■ Telecommunication Minister Manoj Sinha has said that the Centre has sanctioned projects over 10,000 crore rupees in the North East to upgrade the network connection in border areas. Majority of these projects will be completed this year. Two MoUs have been signed to cover the uncovered areas in the North East including Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
■ Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has launched a programme for documentation of the tangible and intangible heritage sites along both sides of the Mahanadi river.
About River Mahanadi:
Mahanadi rises from Raipur district of Chhatisgarh and flows into the Bay of Bengal. The 850km long Mahanadi river is divided between Chhattisgarh and downstream Odisha. Its main tributaries are the Seonath, the Jonk, the Hasdeo, the Mand, the ib, the Ong and the Tel. It has been dammed near the city of Sambalpur, by the largest earthen dam in the world, the Hirakud Dam.
Seven teams of culture enthusiasts will cover nearly 1000 kilometres on both side of the river Mahanadi under this project. Civilisation has flourished on the banks of the river and there are numerous tangible heritages like temples, palaces, forts as well as intangible heritage like folklore, songs and dances, tribal art and craft.
INTACH is an autonomous non-governmental Indian non-profit society founded in 1984 that seeks to preserve Indian culture and heritage.
■ The Union Government has decided to revisit the 2003 Malimath report on criminal justice system. The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, or the Justice Malimath Committee, was constituted by the Home Ministry in 2000 by then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister L.K. Advani. It was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts.
The Malimath Commitee’s report was discussed at the recently held annual Directors General of Police (DGP) conference at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present.
- The Committee on reforms in the criminal justice system had recommended admissibility of confessions made before a police officer as evidence in a court of law.
- It also suggested constituting a National Judicial Commission and amending Article 124 to make impeachment of judges less difficult.
- Regarding lack of discipline in High Courts, the committee noted that “In the High Court, the Chief Justice is regarded as only the first among the equals. Except constituting benches and assigning work, he does not exercise any authority over his colleagues. This has considerably eroded discipline which is so necessary for any institution”.
■ The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), in collaboration with ASSOCHAM and ERICSSON India, has launched the competition ‘IPrism’. It is one of its kind Intellectual Property (IP) Competition for college and university students. The competition aims to provide young creators a unique opportunity to see their creations recognized on a national platform.
- IPrism invites students to submit films on piracy & counterfeiting under two categories of 30 and 60 seconds.
- Another category in the competition is for a mobile gaming app on IP.
■ The contention about the birthplace of the pitamaha of Carnatic music, Purandara Dasa, has been resolved by an expert committee constituted by Kannada University, Hampi. It has concluded that most likely a small village called Kshemapura (now called Keshavapura) located at Araga hobli in Shivamogga district in Karnataka. This place was a major province of the Vijayanagara empire.
Purandara Dasa (1484–1564) was a Haridasa, great devotee of Lord Krishna and a saint. He was a disciple of the celebrated Madhwa philosopher-saint Vyasatirtha, and a contemporary of yet another great Haridasa, Kanakadasa. Purandaradasa was the pioneer who blended the rich musical streams, namely the Dravidian and Aryan music, into a single stream known as Carnatic music.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 17 January 2018
■ Bangladesh and Myanmar have reached an agreemnet to repatriate 650,000 Rohingya refugees, who had fled Myanmar’s crisis-hit Rakhine province, in two years. According to the agreement signed between the two countries, Bangladesh would establish five transit camps from which returnees would be received initially in two reception centres on the Myanmar side. Under the deal, According to the arrangement, Myanmar would consider resettling the displaced people staying at the zero line on a priority basis and reiterated its commitment to the stop outflow of its residents to Bangladesh.
The countries held the first meeting of a joint working group on the issue in Naypyidaw, where the deal was signed.
■ Australia is offereing payments of MILLIONS of dollars to fund research into protecting the Great Barrier Reef, world’s largest living structure. It is calling on the world’s top scientific minds to help save the UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef, which is reeling from significant coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures that as been linked to climate change.
Threats are also witnessed by the 2,300-kilometre site from farming runoff, development and predatory crown-of-thorns starfish. Experts have warned that this could be causing irreparable damage to the reef.
Hence, the Australian government has announced a Aus$2 million ($1.6 million) funding pot available to people with significant ideas on how to save the reef. A further Aus$1 million will then be made available to the best solutions at the proof of concept stage, where applicants will develop and test their prototypes for up to 12 months.
Those that are successful will retain intellectual property rights and will be able to commercialise their innovation.
The 2017 coral bleaching has marked the second-straight year that corals have been damaged by warming sea temperatures, which is an unprecedented occurrence that scientists said will give the invertebrate marine creatures insufficient time to fully recover.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 17 January 2018
■ Punjab Government has signed a MoU with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to set up 400 bio-gas and bio-CNG plants in the state, to find sustainable solutions to paddy straw burning that caused severe fog conditions in the Delhi NCR region on the onset of the Winter season.
Sports Current Affairs – 17 January 2018
■ Assam Hockey has won the 8th Hockey India Sub Junior Men National Championship 2018 (B Division) by beating Hockey Rajasthan in the finals held at Hojai Hockey stadium, Assam.
■ Prof. Narayana Sadashiv Pharande, the senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC), has passed away at 78 years of age. He was popularly known as Na Sa Pharande and was elected three times as the Member of the Legislative Council.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 17 January 2018 “
Q1. India has recently signed pact with which country on illegal migrants’ return?
- A) United States
- B) United Kingdom
- C) Germany
- D) France
Q2. Which Bollywood personality has been named advocacy ambassador for Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat initiative?
- A) Priyanka Chopra
- B) Kajol
- C) Amitabh Bachchan
- D) Aamir Khan
Q3. Which country’s Head has inaugurated the third edition of the geo-political conference – the Raisina Dialogue 2018?
- A) Israel
- B) Canada
- C) Afghanistan
- D) Sweden
Q4. W.B. Rao, who passed away recently, was the noted personality of which of the following field?
- A) Cinematography
- B) Law
- C) Journalism
- D) Sports
Q5. ‘Global Entry Program’ which was recently in news is related to _ ?
- A) Entry to African mineral mine
- B) Negotiations related to SAFTA
- C) Traveler initiative of US
- D) Special WTO norms
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!