This Current Affair Capsule is meant for going through relevant news from national dailies and government releases on PIB.
National Important Current Affairs – 3 January 2018
■ The union government has announced details of Electoral bonds, for political funding that can be routed by donors to parties, a scheme announced by it in Union Budget 2017.
How will electoral bonds work? Electoral bonds will be purchased by a political donor from authorized banks. These can be redeemed only through the registered accounts of a political party in a prescribed time frame.
Recall that: Going with the Election Commission’s recommendation, the government has already capped anonymous cash donations to political parties at Rs 2,000.
What exactly are Electoral Bonds?
The electoral bonds are interest-free banking instruments, that can be bought from specified branches of State Bank of India in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.
The life of the electoral bonds will be 15 days and they can be encashed only by registered political parties through a designated bank account.
The electoral bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October, as specified by the government.
Criticism of Electoral Bonds Scheme: Given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds, they could end up bringing in more opacity in political funding and be prone to misuse.
■ The Rajya Sabha made a record as it took up all the Zero Hour issues and special mentions listed in the agenda. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said this record depended on the cooperation of the members. The Chairman also expressed hope that in future too, the members would not waste time and stick to the schedule.
■ The entire state of Nagaland has been declared as “disturbed area” for six more months, till June- end, under the AFSPA. This decision has been taken in view of killings, loot and extortion in various parts of the state, for the convenience of the security forces operating there.
About AFSPA: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring ‘disturbed’ areas under control. AFSPA gives powers to the army and state and central police forces for shooting to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry. The Act also provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
Note that: The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades. It was not withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed in August 2015 between the Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM and the government.
■ Maharashtra government will offer quadruple(4x) compensation for families who voluntarily move out of the protected forest areas in the state. In order to reduce the man-animal conflict, rehabilitation of human settlements outside of protected forest zones and national parks is an active policy concern for the government. A fund of 45 crore rupees has been set aside for incentivising voluntary relocation.
- There are six national parks, 48 wildlife sanctuaries and six conservation reserves in the state. Additionally, there are six project tigers in Maharashtra that include 5 National parks and 14 wildlife sanctuaries.
- Voluntary shifting out will help in the development of concerned villages and creation of jobs for the locals by way of eco tourism.
■ Swachha Bharat Mission has declared Hyderabad as Open Defecation Free (ODF) city. The City has been included in the fresh list of ODF cities released by the Swachha Bharat mission, after inspections by the quality control division of the Mission.
■ The Ministry of Women & Child Development has launched an online portal NARI with a view to empowering women. It is an online portal which will provide information to women on issues affecting their lives. The NARI portal aims to provide women citizens with easy access to information on Union and State government schemes and initiatives for women.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 3 January 2018
■ China has developed a new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road, which includes the Indian Ocean. It is based on a network of platforms — buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders — that gather data from the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The underwater surveillance system gathers information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the Navy can then use to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.
■ India and Pakistan have exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities under a three-decade-old bilateral pact, through diplomatic channels simultaneously. This exchange is done each year on January 1, under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities, also referred to as the Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement. This is the 27th consecutive exchange of such a list, the first one took place on January 1, 1992.
■ The US state of California has legalised the sale of recreational marijuana, over 20 years after legalising its medical use earlier. With this, California has become the sixth US state to do so. At federal level though, marijuana remains illegal.
Note that: Uruguay became the first country to legalise recreational marijuana.
■ The government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has exempted cruise tourists arriving with an e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrollment for a period of three years with a view to promoting cruise tourism in the country. This will make immigration clearance of such passengers faster.
■ In order to battle sexual harassment, 300 Hollywood celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, have launched a campaign named ‘Time’s Up’. The campaign has raised $13 million towards providing a legal defence to survivors of sexual harassment.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 3 January 2018
■ Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have introduced value-added tax, a first for the Gulf. It is a 5% tax on most goods and services in order to boost revenue. The VAT will be applied on food, clothes, electronics and gasoline, phone, water and electricity bills, as well as hotel reservations. This is expected to cut the revenues for the Indian diaspora sending remittances to India.
■ India’s largest state-owned natural gas processing and distribution company, GAIL India Ltd, has commissioned India’s second-largest rooftop solar power plant in Uttar Pradesh. It is 5.76 MWp (Mega Watt peak) solar plant installed at Pata in UP.
Sports Current Affairs – 3 January 2018
■ The upcoming Cricket Test series between India and hosts South Africa has been named as “Freedom Series”. It is South Africa’s way of reciprocating India’s efforts in ending the country’s sporting isolation in 1991.
■ Poet Anwar Jalalpuri, who translated Bhagavad Gita to Urdu, has passed away at 71 years of age. The Yash Bharti awardee is known for his literary works like the translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 3 January 2018 “
Q1. Which state government has recently received the approval for the purchase of electric vehicles under Central government’s FAME-India scheme?
- [A] Karnataka
- [B] Assam
- [C] Himachal Pradesh
- [D] Gujarat
Q2. The 171st Araadhanai Music Festival (AMF) has begun in which state?
- [A] Kerala
- [B] Tamil Nadu
- [C] Odisha
- [D] Andhra Pradesh
Q3. Who has been appointed the new Foreign Secretary of India?
- [A] V.Rajamani
- [B] Vijay Keshav Gokhale
- [C] Rajiv Mehrishi
- [D] Husain Dalwai
Q4. Rajneesh Gurbani is associated with which sports?
- [A] Cricket
- [B] Chess
- [C] Boxing
- [D] Table Tennis
Q5. Who has become the new CEO and MD of Infosys?
- [A] Michael Pesch
- [B] Nandan Nilekani
- [C] Salil Parekh
- [D] Pravin Rao
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!