This Daily Current Affair Capsule is 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 for revision and general awareness.
National Important Current Affairs – 26 March 2018
■ Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed the nation in the 42nd edition of his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme. He highlighted the following :
Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, Chaudhary Charan Singh and Chaudhary Devi Lal, all considered agriculture an important part of India’s economy. All farmers should connect with Doordarshan’s channel exclusively for them.
On International Yoga Day on June 21, let’s spread awareness about yoga. Let’s ensure that we and those around us practice yoga. Yoga has attained worldwide recognition as a measure of preventive health care; it is a guarantee of both fitness and wellness. Preventive healthcare is affordable and simple. The more we know about it, the more will it benefit individuals, families and society as a whole. It was Dr Ambedkar who dreamt of India as an industrial powerhouse. He saw ‘Jal Shakti’ as ‘Rashtra Shakti’.
■ The Assam government will launch a programme known as Mission Sambavh, to build one lakh toilets across the state under the Swachh Bharat Mission. This special scheme will have its construction work completed within 10 days. The state government has a target to make the state Open Defecation Free, ODF, by the end of this year.
■ Naipunya Ratham or World on Wheels was launched recently in Andhra Pradesh. It is a multi-utility vehicle which aims to bring technology to the remote corners. As part of the Smart village Smart Ward Programme, the Naipunya Rathaams will facilitate and look to improve digital literacy, digital skills and also create an awareness on various government schemes that are underway in the new state of Andhra Pradesh.
■ The Delhi High Court has quashed a notification issued by President Ram Nath Kovind disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries. The court has also reinstated all 20 MLAs, while holding that the opinion of the Election Commission of India to the President to disqualify the legislators was “vitiated and bad in law for failure to comply with the principles of natural justice”.
The High Court noted that the Election Commission failed to give oral hearing and opportunity to address arguments on merits to the AAP MLAs before arriving at its opinion that they held ‘office of profit’. The court has asked the Election Commission to first decide the “all important and seminal issue; that is, what is meant by the expression ‘office of profit held under the government’.”
Then, “re-examine the factual matrix to decide whether the petitioners (MLAs) had incurred disqualification on appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries, without being influenced by the earlier order or observations on the said aspect in this order”.
The Office of Profit issue in Delhi Government: The Delhi government after coming to power in March 2015, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had appointed the parliamentary secretaries attached to government ministries. The Election Commission had recommended that these 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi be disqualified as they held offices of profit while being legislators.
About ‘office of profit’: If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an “office of profit”. A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.
Criteria for disqualification of an MP or MLA: Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191. They can be disqualified for: a) Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government; b) Being of unsound mind; c) Being an undischarged insolvent; d) Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.
Why office of profit matters? The philosophy of the makers of the Constitution was that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions. In other words, an MP or MLA should be free to carry out her duties without any kind of governmental pressure.
■ a new discovery has established that the state of Meghalaya is now also home to the longest sandstone cave in the world at 24,583 m. The world’s longest sandstone cave named Krem Puri has discovered near the village of Laitsohum in Mawsynram area of East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. The cave system has fossils of dinosaurs, especially the Mosasaurus, which was a giant reptile that lived 66-76 million years ago.
The cave is Meghalaya is 6,000m longer than the current listed sandstone cave in the world, Cueva El Samán, (18,200m) in Venezuela.
■ Chandigarh has become the North India’s first city to install digital automatic speed gun cameras for traffic management. The high-tech speed cameras have been equipped with night vision technology and will record the speed of oncoming traffic, helping Chandigarh Police to issue challans to anyone driving above the city speed limits. These advanced cameras are installed with digital display to beware motorists of overspeeding.
If this speed is above the permissible limit, the digital display will warn the driver with a white light. If, and when, a motorist breaks the law, a Challan will be sent to the driver along with the image of overspeeding.
■ The Government has nominated Professor J S Rajput, the former Director NCERT, as India’s representative to the Executive Board of UNESCO. Aneminent educationist, Professor JS Rajput has rich experience in various fields including UNESCO. The Executive Board has a four-year term of office and 58 seats. It is one of the constitutional organs of UNESCO and is elected by the General Conference.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 26 March 2018
■ The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia have jointly signed a historic agreement, called the Brazzaville declaration for the Cuvette Centrale region, in Congo Basin, that has the world’s largest tropical peatlands. In order to protect these valuable natural peatlands in the Congo Basin from unregulated land use and also prevent its drainage and degradation, the Brazzaville declaration promotes better management and conservation of this globally important carbon store.
About Brazzaville Declaration: The declaration was signed on the sidelines of the Third Partners Meeting of the Global Peatlands Initiative, taking place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The declaration recognizes the importance of the scientific breakthrough of mapping the world’s largest tropical peatland area. The Brazzaville Declaration aims to implement coordination and cooperation between different government sectors to protect the benefits provided by peatland ecosystems.
About peatlands: Peatlands are wetlands that contain a mixture of decomposed organic material, partially submerged in a layer of water, lacking oxygen. The complex biodiversity of the peatlands means they are home to a variety of species, but their high carbon content makes them uniquely vulnerable to incineration if they are drained.
The Global Peatlands Initiative: The Global Peatlands Initiative is an effort by leading experts and institutions to save peatlands as the world’s largest terrestrial organic carbon stock and to prevent it being emitted into the atmosphere. Partners will work together within their respective areas of expertise to improve the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of peatlands. In this way the Initiative will contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals , including by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, maintaining ecosystem services and securing lives and livelihoods through improved adaptive capacity.
Note that: The current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from drained or burned peatlands are estimated to amount up to 5 percent of the global carbon budget — that is in the range of two billion tonnes CO2 per year.
■ The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been signed by 44 African countries at a summit of the African Union held in Kigali, Rwanda. If implemented successfully, it will be the biggest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.
Note that: Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, as well as many others did not sign the agreement.
About AfCFTA: African heads of government agreed to establish a continental free trade area in 2012 and started negotiations in 2015. The draft agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90% of goods, with 10% of “sensitive items” to be phased in later. The agreement will also liberalise services and aims to tackle so-called “non-tariff barriers” which hamper trade between African countries, such as long delays at the border. Eventually, free movement of people and even a single currency could become part of the free trade area.
The AfCFTA has the potential to bring over 1.2bn people together into the same market. The bloc of 55 nations would be the largest in the world by member states. The AfCFTA could improve trade between African countries, which in 2016 estimates stated accounted for only 10%. By reducing barriers to trade, such as removing import duties and non-tariff barriers, African countries hope to boost intra-continental business.
■ Earth Hour was observed on March 24 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. On the occasion of Earth Hour, the World Wide Fund India has made a strong pitch for “Give Up to Give Back”. The “Give Up to Give Back” initiative to inspire organisations, institutions and individuals to make the choice to curb some habits, practices and lifestyles that burden our lives and the environment, asking for steps like giving up single-use plastics, giving up fossil fuels, giving up lonely car rides for your employees, give up e-waste.
The Earth Hour is also a part of the “Green Good Deeds” movement, in which every individual ought to take small, voluntary green actions to protect and conserve the environment and the earth.
About Earth Hour:
Dating back to 2007, Earth Hour is an annual event organized by the World Wildlife Fund that promotes conservation and sustainable energy. During this time, civilians are encouraged to switch off their lights for one hour to help reduce the effect of global warming and raise awareness for climate change and wildlife conservation. It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 26 March 2018
■ India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) and India Mortgage Guarantee Corporation (IMGC) have signed an agreement to offer mortgage guarantee scheme for prospective non-salaried and self-employed home loan customers. This offering will help increase home loan eligibility up to 15 per cent within the regulatory norms.
Sports Current Affairs – 26 March 2018
■ Star shuttler P V Sindhu has been named the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG), which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia on April 4.
From India the participation of 222 athletes from 15 different sports including aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowls, shooting, squash, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and para sports will take place in the quadrennial sport.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 26 March 2018 “
Q1.Which Indian shooter has bagged gold in the women’s 10-metre Air Pistol Individual event at the 2018 ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney?
A) Mahima Agrawal
B) Manu Bhaker
C) Zeena Khitta
D) Elavenil Valarivan
Q2.ISRO has tied up with which Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) company for the production of space-grade lithium-ion cells?
Q3. What is the theme of the 2018 World Tuberculosis Day (WTD)?
A) Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world
B) Gear up to end TB
C) Transforming the fight
D) I am stopping TB
Q4. Which Indian sportsperson has won the 2018 Asian Billiards Championships?
A) Subhash Agarwal
B) Manan Chandra
C) Pankaj Advani
D) Manan Chandra
Q5.Which Indian organisation has won the ‘Most Informative Pavilion’ award at the 105th Indian Science Congress (ISC-2018)?
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!