This is the Daily Current Affair Capsule for going through relevant news from national dailies and government releases on PIB.
National Important Current Affairs – 2 February 2018
■ World Wetlands Day is being celebrated in the country on 2nd February. World wetland day is celebrated to commemorate the Convention on Wetlands means the Ramsar Convention which was held on 2nd of February in 1971 in the city of Ramsar, Iran at the Caspian Sea coasts. “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future” is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2018 and marks the role of healthy wetlands play in making cities and towns liveable, through their role in groundwater recharge, buffering floods, filtering wastewater, enhancing landscape aesthetics, providing income generation opportunities and ultimately supporting well-being.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in collaboration with Department of Forests, Assam government organised the national-level celebration of World Wetlands Day (WWD), 2018 at Deepor Beel, a Ramsar Site in Guwahati.
About Wetlands: They are vital for our water and food security and termed as ‘kidneys of landscape’. The extensive food chain and biological diversity in wetlands make them ‘biological supermarkets’.
Read here about All the wetlands in India.
■ Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has presented the present government’s last full budget – the general Budget 2018-19 in Parliament. The Budget has been guided by mission to strengthen agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, MSME and infrastructure sectors.
- The Government has launched a series of structural reforms to propel India among the fastest growing economies of the world.
- The country is on course to achieve over 8 % growth as manufacturing, services and exports back on good growth path.
- The MSP for all unannounced Kharif crops will be 1.5 times of their production cost like the majority of rabi crops- Institutional Farm Credit has been raised to 11 lakh crore in 2018-19 from 8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15.
- About 22,000 rural haats will be developed and upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets to protect the interests of the 86% small and marginal farmers in the country.
- “Operation Greens” has been launched to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for benefit of farmers and consumers.
- There have been no changes in personal income tax slabs. Salaried tax-payers will get a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 in lieu of transport allowance and “other medical expenses”.
- All senior citizens will now be able to claim benefit of a deduction of Rs 50,000 for any medical insurance. For critical illnesses, the deduction has been increased to Rs 1,00,000.
- Free power connections to 4 crore homes will be given under the Saubhagya Yojana and 8 crore free gas connections for poor women through Ujjwala Yojana.
- New flagship National Health Protection Scheme, providing a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year has been announced for the poor.
- The railway capex for 2018-19 has been set at Rs 1.48 lakh crore. While the disinvestment target for this year has been set at Rs 80,000 crore.
■ Post-graduates and doctorates from premier institutes like Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and National Institutes of Technology are going to teach undergraduates in engineering colleges in backward regions of 11 districts as part of an HRD Ministry initiative – Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP). This initiative is aimed to improve quality of education and help secure NBA accreditation of the engineering programme. The teachers will get paid Rs 70,000 a month, and more than 1,200 youngsters with PhD and M. Tech degrees will teach at 53 government engineering colleges in rural areas of districts lagging behind in technical education. Later, they can either choose to stay in academics or join the corporate world.
This TEQIP initiative, entailing an expenditure of Rs 370 crore, is taken by the Centre to help state governments fill up vacancies in backward districts in 11 states where engineering students are suffering because of a dearth of teachers. The focus is on states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.
Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme is an initiative of the National Project Implementation Unit (NPIU) which implements World Bank Assisted Projects in Technical Education. It is aimed at improving the quality of engineering graduates. Under this project, all the Government engineering colleges are selected for direct intervention, and all private engineering colleges are selected for indirect intervention.
■ A massive rail coach factory will be set up in Latur, Maharashtra by the Indian Railways to manufacture Electric Multiple Units for suburban trains and coaches for metros. Latur is located in the backward region of Marathwada, Maharashtra. This project will massively benefit the employment generation for a large number of people. In addition, this will also create an industrial ecosystem in the drought-prone region boosting shift from agriculture to industry.
■ The four-day ‘Sammakka – Saralamma Jatara’ at Medaram has begun in Telangana. It is considered the biggest tribal festival across South Asia, and witnesses a huge number of devotees thronging the village to take the blessings of Goddess Sammaka-Saralamma, especially by forest-dwelling Koya tribe of Telangana and surrounding States.
Note that: Medaram is a remote place located in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a part of the Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Deccan.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 2 February 2018
■ India has joined Ashgabat Agreement on the establishment of an International Transport and Transit Corridor between the Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This agreement was signed in April 2011, for facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. Turkmenistan, as depository state of Ashgabat Agreement, has informed India that all the four founding members have consented to the Accession of India. Besides Turkmenistan, the other founding members of the agreement are Iran, Oman and Uzbekistan and these countries had signed the pact on April 25, 2011.
The accession to the Agreement would diversify India’s connectivity options with Central Asia and give a positive influence on its trade and commercial ties with the region.
■ Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee has been awarded France’s highest civilian award, Legion d’Honneur in recognition of his remarkable career and his outstanding contribution in promoting Indian cinema in France.
■ The Economist Intelligence Unit has released 2017 Democracy Index report, which shows that democracy is in decline across the world. This is the worst performance since 2010-’11 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
The list has been divided into four broad categories — full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime. The Democracy index ranks states on the basis of five categories:
- electoral process and pluralism,
- civil liberties,
- the functioning of government,
- political participation and
- political culture.
The Scandinavian countries, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are the top three on the list while Chad, Syria and North Korea feature at the bottom of the list.
India got the total score fell ten places in the rankings from 32 to 42 as its score deteriorated by 0.58 points to 7.23 (on a scale of 0 to 10). The report has classified India as a flawed democracy. The dip in India’s rankings has been attributed to lack of freedom of speech and free media. The report notes that the rise of conservative religious ideologies has mainly affected India in an otherwise secular country that has led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities and dissenting voices.
Some regions in India have witnessed restrictions on their freedom of the press, closing down on several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Like the previous year, several journalists were murdered in India in 2017.
Sports Current Affairs – 2 February 2018
■ In Boxing, five-time world champion M C Mary Kom has on an exciting final day of the India Open Boxing Tournament, in New Delhi. Mary Kom won against Filipino Josie Gabuco 4-1 en route to her gold in the 48 kilogram class among women.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 2 February 2018 “
Q1. Who has been appointed the new director general of the Sports Authority of India (SAI)?
- A) Neelam Kapoor
- B) Parag Kishore
- C) Nandani Jain
- D) Rajiv Saxena
Q2. Which union minister has launched 2.8 PetaFlops High Performance Computer (HPC) system called ‘Mihir’?
- A) Arun Jaitley
- B) Suresh Prabhu
- C) Harsh Vardhan
- D) Nitin Gadkari
Q3. Which state government has launched Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) project to promote organic farming?
- A) Punjab
- B) Himachal Pradesh
- C) West Bengal
- D) Assam
Q4. Which country has become the world’s largest steel producer in 2017, as per latest report published by World Steel Association (WSA)?
- A) Japan
- B) India
- C) United States
- D) China
Q5. What is the India’s rank in the 2017 EIU Global Democracy Index?
- A) 42nd
- B) 64th
- C) 33rd
- D) 21st
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!