Current Affairs, 31 October 2018

Current Affairs, 31 October 2018


 

Paper 1:

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Sardar Patel Statue of Unity

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Significance of the statue of unity and role and contributions of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in Indian National Movement.

 

Context: Statue of Unity has been inaugurated in Surat. The Statue of Unity is built in dedication to Iron Man Sardar Vallabhai Patel, who served as the first home minister of independent India.

  • October 31, 2018 marks the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

 

Key facts:

  • At 182 metre, the statue is 23 metre taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha statue and almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty (93 metre tall) in US.
  • Located on the Sadhu Bet island, near Rajpipla on the Narmada river, the Statue of Unity is located between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges.
  • The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), a special purpose vehicle set up by Modi in 2011, arranged some 129 tonnes of iron implements from nearly 100 million farmers in 169,000 villages across all states to construct the base of the statue in the ‘Loha’ campaign.
  • The Statue of Unity was brought to fruition by Padma Bhushan-winning sculptor Ram V Sutar and intricate bronze cladding work was done by a Chinese foundry, the Jiangxi Toqine Company (JTQ).

 

About Sardar Vallabhai Patel:

Sardar Patel is credited with uniting all 562 princely states in pre-independent India to build the Republic of India — hence the name of the statue. The date for the inauguration of the statue (October 31, 2018) also marks the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

 

Role in the Indian National Movement:

In 1917, Sardar Vallabhbhai was elected as the Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, the Gujarat wing of the Indian National Congress. In 1918, he led a massive “No Tax Campaign” that urged the farmers not to pay taxes after the British insisted on tax after the floods in Kaira. The peaceful movement forced the British authorities to return the land taken away from the farmers. His effort to bring together the farmers of his area brought him the title of ‘Sardar’.

  • He actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi. Patel toured the nation with him, recruited 300,000 members and helped collect over Rs. 1.5 million.
  • In 1928, the farmers of Bardoli again faced a problem of “tax-hike”. After prolonged summons, when the farmers refused to pay the extra tax, the government seized their lands in retaliation. The agitation took on for more than six months. After several rounds of negotiations by Patel, the lands were returned to farmers after a deal was struck between the government and farmers’ representatives.
  • In 1930, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among the leaders imprisoned for participating in the famous Salt Satyagraha movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Sardar Patel was freed in 1931, following an agreement signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India. The treaty was popularly known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. The same year, Patel was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in its Karachi session where the party deliberated its future path.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

 

Karnataka launches Samruddhi scheme

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of the scheme.

 

Context: Karnataka has launched Samruddhi scheme for aspiring SC/ST rural entrepreneurs.

 

About Samruddhi:

  • It is a rural entrepreneurship programme for Scheduled Castes (ST) and Scheduled Tribes (SC) in Karnataka.
  • Through this rural employment and skill development programme, the government will partner with private organisations to provide training free of cost.
  • The industry partners would invest up to 10 percent or more in retail management, taxation policies and GST, inventory management, soft skills, logistics, etc.”
  • The government has also set up a seed grant of up to Rs 10 lakh to help the beneficiaries set up their own franchises or retail outlets. It hopes to create 10,000 SC/ST rural entrepreneurs over the next three years.
  • As part of the Samruddhi scheme, the government will also provide a seed grant to deserving youth to start their own franchises or retail outlets after they receive the required training and certification.

 

Significance of the scheme:

The government is hoping to create around 10,000 entrepreneurs annually in the next three years from among the economically and socially marginalised communities in the State. These entrepreneurs will in their turn create jobs in rural and semi urban areas, and help push employment and skill development in the State further. The government hopes that this scheme will ultimately benefit aspiring, young citizens from rural and tier II cities and ensure sustainable and all-round development.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Birthright Citizenship in US

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning of Birthright Citizenship and issues related, implications of the recent proposal.

 

Context: President Trump recently said he was preparing an executive order that would nullify the long-accepted constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship in the United States.

  • To accomplish the idea, Mr. Trump would have to find a way around the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

 

What is the 14th Amendment?

The 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil, was ratified in 1868 after the Civil War so that recently-freed slaves could become citizens.

The amendment reads, “all person born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

 

What is birthright citizenship?

Birthright citizenship, or jus soli, a legal term that means “right of the soil,” is the right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and upheld by the Supreme Court, that says anyone born on U.S soil is automatically a citizen.

 

What’s the main contention now?

Some conservatives have long made the argument that the 14th Amendment was meant to apply only to citizens and legal permanent residents, not immigrants who are present in the country without authorization. They say, birthright citizenship was based on a misreading of the amendment, and of an 1898 Supreme Court ruling that they argue pertained only to the children of legal residents.

 

Background:

The U.S. is one of more than 30 other countries that also grant citizenship to children born within their borders.

Citizenship policies vary around the world, somewhat based on geography. Countries in Europe or Asia don’t have similar policies, but countries further west, including Canada and most South American nations, do.

 

Implications:

Aside from being unconstitutional, such an executive order would exacerbate racial tensions, exploit fears and drive further polarization across the country at a moment that calls for the promotion of unity and inclusion.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Composition, role, objectives and significance of FSDC.

 

Context: FSDC meeting held recently was chaired by the Union Finance Minister.

 

About FSDC:

The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was constituted in December, 2010. The FSDC was set up to strengthen and institutionalise the mechanism for maintaining financial stability, enhancing inter-regulatory coordination and promoting financial sector development.

 

Composition:

  • The Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and its members are Governor, Reserve Bank of India; Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Secretary, Department of Financial Services; Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance; Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India; Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. It also includes the chairman of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board (IBBI).
  • In May, the government through a gazette notification, had included ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) secretary in the FSDC in view of the increased focus of the government on digital economy.

 

What it does?

The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates. No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Commercial papers

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, features and significance of commercial papers.

 

Context: Commercial papers have become one of the popular routes for corporates to raise funds when compared with loans from banks in recent times.

 

What is a commercial paper?

A commercial Paper (CP) is an unsecured loan raised by firms in money markets through instruments issued in the form of a promissory note. CPs can be issued for maturities between a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of up to one year from the date of issue.

 

Why are CPs popular?

Because of surplus liquidity, short-term borrowing rates in money markets have significantly declined post demonetisation and are much lower than the lowest benchmark lending rates of the banks.

 

What are the advantages of issuing CPs?

Apart from being a cheaper source of funds, it helps meet funding requirements relatively quickly for better-rated corporates. Procedural requirements for securing bank facilities and charge creation on assets is not required.

 

What are the key challenges with CPS?

As the CP is an unsecured loan, the investor in commercial papers largely prefers highly-rated corporates or public sector entities in terms of credit rating. Lender appetite is limited to better rated companies.

  • Also commercial paper markets can be seasonal and vulnerable to liquidity conditions. In case of sudden tightening of liquidity, a firm’s ability to secure funding can be challenged. Within the year, liquidity conditions can become tight in certain months such as the end of a quarter, because of advance payment of taxes and the like. At such times, funding costs can also rise for the issue of CPs.
  • Therefore, commercial papers should not be used as a permanent source of capital and should largely be used to benefit from liquidity conditions and arbitrage in short-term borrowing rates.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Awareness in space.

 

Parker solar probe

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About Parker Solar Probe- mission objectives, significance and why study sun and its corona.

 

Context: The Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the sun by a human-made object. The spacecraft – which launched on August 12, 2018 – passed the current record of 26.55 million miles (43 million km) from the sun’s surface October 29, 2018.

 

Key facts:

  • The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.
  • As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles (6.2 million km) from the sun’s surface expected in 2024.
  • Parker Solar Probe is also expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the sun, also on October 29. The current record for heliocentric speed is 153,454 miles per hour, set by Helios 2 in April 1976.

 

About the mission:

What is it? NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

 

Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

  1. Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
  2. Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
  3. Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.

 

Why study corona?

The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Conservation related issues.

 

Living Planet Report 2018

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About WWF and the living planet report.
  • For Mains: Highlights of the report, concerns raised and measures proposed.

 

Context: The bi-annual Living Planet Report 2018 has been released by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The Report tracked more than 4,000 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

 

Highlights of the report:

  • Global wildlife population shrank by 60% between 1970 and 2014.
  • Declines are worst in the tropics, according to the data, as South and Central America saw an 89% decrease. Also, freshwater species saw an 83% drop, threatened by factors including overfishing, pollution and climate change.
  • The report estimates that only a quarter of the world’s land is untouched by humans, who are increasing food production and use of natural resources.
  • Since 1960, the global ecological footprint has increased by more than 190%. Globally, the extent of wetlands was estimated to have declined by 87% since 1970.
  • The two key drivers of biodiversity loss were the over exploitation of natural resources and agriculture.

 

Threat to soil biodiversity and pollinators:

A key aspect of this year’s report is the threat to soil biodiversity and pollinators.

  • Soil biodiversity encompasses the presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).
  • The report notes that India’s soil biodiversity is in grave peril. The WWF’s ‘risk index’ for the globe — indicating threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change — shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.

 

What needs to be done?

To address these challenges, the WWF suggests three necessary steps: “clearly specifying a goal for biodiversity recovery; developing a set of measurable and relevant indicators of progress; and agreeing on a suite of actions that can collectively achieve the goal in the required time frame.”

The WWF has called for an international treaty, modelled on the Paris climate agreement, to be drafted to protect wildlife and reverse human impacts on nature.

 

Way ahead:

The current efforts to protect the natural world are not keeping up with the speed of man-made destruction, and that the world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch” far worse than the current financial crisis because humans are overusing the natural resources of the planet.

This trend will continue unless human beings learn to minimise the use of resources and internalise the benefits of recycling/reuse. The nature conservation agenda is not only about securing the future of tigers, pandas, whales and all the amazing diversity of life. It’s bigger than that. There cannot be a healthy, happy and prosperous planet with a destabilised climate, depleted oceans and rivers, degraded land and empty forests, all stripped of biodiversity, the web of life that sustains us all.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

 

INS Tarangini:

Context: The sail training ship of Indian Navy, INS Tarangini based at Kochi, has returned after a seven month long sailing across the world to a grand reception at naval base, Kochi.

  • The Voyage named “Lokayan 18” was flagged off on 10 Apr 18 from Kochi. During the voyage, the ship travelled across 15 ports in 13 countries.
  • The ship sailed across the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, Strait of Gibraltar, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, English Channel and North Sea, right up to Norway.

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