Current Affairs for IAS PCS Civil Services Exams : 16 March, 2019

Current Affairs : 16 March 2019

Relevant articles from various News Papers:

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in the field of IT.

 

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: NSM- objectives, significance and challenges ahead.

 

Context: IIT Kharagpur has signed an MoU with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to set up a 1.3 Petaflop high-performance computing facility and data centre funded under the National Supercomputing Mission.

  • The new supercomputing system would be used for specific challenge domains like cryptography, chemistry, molecular dynamics, drug discovery, artificial intelligence and data sciences where the new system would be utilized.

 

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM):

  • National Supercomputing Mission, approved in 2016, is being implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
  • The Mission envisages empowering national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
  • These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
  • The Mission includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.

 

Significance:

World-wide supercomputing facilities have enabled countries in their S&T capabilities in areas such as designing vehicles, aeroplanes, massive structures like high rise buildings and bridges, infrastructure, discovery of new life saving drugs, discovery and extraction of new energy sources including oil, natural gas etc.

Over the years, supercomputers have benefitted mankind in several ways. Weather prediction has reached accuracy of forecast as well as real time tracking of natural phenomenon. Timely warning of cyclones in the recent past have saved many lives and property. The Mission aims to further such capabilities beyond current levels.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Domestic systemically important bank

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: D- SIB- meaning, concerns, need and management.

 

Context: RBI categorises IDBI Bank as Private Sector Bank; SBI, ICICI and HDFC remain Systemically Important Banks.

 

What is a domestic systemically important bank and why is it important?

D-SIB means that the bank is too big to fail. According to the RBI, some banks become systemically important due to their size, cross-jurisdictional activities, complexity and lack of substitute and interconnection. Banks whose assets exceed 2% of GDP are considered part of this group.

 

Significance:

  1. Should such a bank fail, there would be significant disruption to the essential services they provide to the banking system and the overall economy.
  2. The too-big-to-fail tag also indicates that in case of distress, the government is expected to support these banks. Due to this perception, these banks enjoy certain advantages in funding. It also means that these banks have a different set of policy measures regarding systemic risks and moral hazard issues.

 

Classification:

  1. RBI has to disclose names of banks designated as D-SIB. It classifies the banks under five buckets depending on order of importance.
  2. Based on the bucket in which a D-SIB is, an additional common equity requirement applies. Banks in bucket one need to maintain a 0.15% incremental tier-I capital from April 2018. Banks in bucket three have to maintain an additional 0.45%.
  3. All the banks under D-SIB are required to maintain higher share of risk-weighted assets as tier-I equity.

 

Need:

  1. It was observed during the global financial crisis that problems faced by certain large and highly interconnected financial institutions hampered the orderly functioning of the financial system, which in turn, negatively impacted the real economy.
  2. Government intervention was considered necessary to ensure financial stability in many jurisdictions. Cost of public sector intervention and consequential increase in moral hazard required that future regulatory policies should aim at reducing the probability of failure of SIBs and the impact of the failure of these banks.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: What prompted RBI to classify some banks in India such as SBI and ICICI as systemically important? Also examine implications of this move.

Paper 1:

Topics Covered:

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

 

Who are the Gurkhas of the British Army?

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Gurkha regiment in British army, historical background and significance.

 

Context: The British Army announced this week that it would create a new Specialised Infantry Battalion by recruiting more than 800 Nepalese Gurkha servicepersons this year.

 

Who are they? Brief background:

Currently, the Gurkhas comprise up to 3% of the British Army, and in 2015 completed 200 years of service there.

Impressed by their discipline and ferocity in Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16, the British decided to recruit Gurkha soldiers starting in 1815. Since then, the Gurkhas have fought on the side of the British Empire in almost every war, including both World Wars.

  • Upon Independence in 1947, the question of allotting the 10 regiments of Gurkha soldiers arose. This was settled by the Britain-India-Nepal Tripartite Agreement. In 1948, India created an 11th Gurkha Rifles regiment to accommodate the Gurkhas who refused to depart with the now-British regiments.
  • Later, the British Army amalgamated their four regiments into a combined Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) regiment consisting of three battalions. The RGR was subsequently deployed in Britain’s remaining colonies in Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, to fill the vacuum created by departing Indian regiments such as the Sikhs, which were stationed there earlier.

 

Recruitment of Gurkhas:

The Gurkhas are recruited every year at the British Gurkha camp at Pokhara in Nepal. The camp enlists fresh recruits not only for the British Army, but also for the counter-terror arm of the Singapore Police Force. British Army scouts roam the Nepalese countryside to identify potential recruits, who then undergo a rigorous training process before joining.

 

Service:

  • Regarded as fierce and loyal, the Gurkhas are held in high esteem in the British Army. They are enlisted not only in the infantry, but also in the engineering corps and as logisticians. Their signature weapon, the khukri, famous for the inwardly curved shape of its blade and its legendary utility, forms part of the Gurkha regimental insignia in Britain as well as in India.
  • Queen Elizabeth II of Britain is guarded by two personal Gurkha officers. Former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is known to have preferred Gurkha police officers for his protection.

 

Sources: Indian Express.

Paper 1 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
  2. Disaster management.

 

How the 2015-16 El Nino affected disease outbreaks

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ENSO- El Nino and La Nia- causes, effects and impacts, global climate change and ENSO cycle.

 

Context: Global climatic disruptions due to the strong and extended positive phase of the ENSO conditions, or simply El Nino in 2015-16 increased the outbreak of diseases in the regions of its influence, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

The scientists analysed certain disease outbreaks in the 2015-16 period and tried to correlate them with higher temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns characteristic of the El Nino.

 

Key findings:

  • Major diseases like chikungunya, dengue, malaria, hantavirus, rift valley fever, cholera, plague and zika are affected by the weather events induced by El Nino.
  • They found that in regions like Southeast Asia, Tanzania, western United States and Brazil — which are generally affected by the El Nino — the spread of diseases came after shifts in rainfall, temperature and vegetation.
  • There was either excess of droughts or floods in this period which created the environmental conditions that favoured the growth and propagation of disease causing micro organisms and their carriers.
  • The study’s analysis indicates that the intensity of disease activity increased by 2.5-28 per cent during El Nino events than in other periods in the affected regions.
  • Similarly, excess land surface temperatures in Brazil and Southeast Asia aided the spread of dengue. El Nino, in itself, is a difficult phenomenon to track and study, which makes its consequences even more difficult to understand.

 

What is ENSO?

ENSO is nothing but El Nino Southern Oscillation. As the name suggests, it is an irregular periodic variation of wind and sea surface temperature that occurs over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean. ENSO affects the tropics (the regions surrounding the equator) and the subtropics (the regions adjacent to or bordering the tropics). The warming phase of ENSO is called El Nino, while the cooling phase is known as La Nina.

 

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a climatic cycle characterised by high air pressure in the Western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern. In normal conditions, strong trade winds travel from east to west across the tropical Pacific, pushing the warm surface waters towards the western Pacific. The surface temperature could witness an increase of 8 degrees Celsius in Asian waters. At the same time, cooler waters rise up towards the surface in the eastern Pacific on the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. This process called upwelling aids in the development of a rich ecosystem.

 

What causes El Nino?

El Nino sets in when there is anomaly in the pattern. The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America. The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition. The temperature of the water could rise up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Warmer surface waters increase precipitation and bring above-normal rainfall in South America, and droughts to Indonesia and Australia.

 

What are El Nino’s effects?

  • El Nino affects global weather. It favours eastern Pacific hurricanes and tropical storms. Record and unusual rainfall in Peru, Chile and Ecuador are linked to the climate pattern.
  • El Nino reduces upwelling of cold water, decreasing the uplift of nutrients from the bottom of the ocean. This affects marine life and sea birds. The fishing industry is also affected.
  • Drought caused by El Nino can be widespread, affecting southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Countries dependent on agriculture are affected.

 

 

Australia and Southeast Asia get hotter.

  • A recent WHO report on the health consequences of El Nino forecasts a rise in vector-borne diseases, including those spread by mosquitoes, in Central and South America. Cycles of malaria in India are also linked to El Nino.

 

Sources: down to earth.

 

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

District mineral foundations

 

What to Study?

  • For Prelims: About DMFs, composition, funds and jurisdiction, about PMKKKY.
  • For Mains: Why they should be placed under respective planning departments of the state, significance, concerns and challenges.

 

Context: Chhattisgarh has revised the composition of the governing council of District Mineral Foundation Trusts (DMFTs), and placed the minister in-charge of the respective districts at the head of the governing bodiesEarlier, these were headed by the District Collector (DC).

The change has been brought about by introducing amendments to the Chhattisgarh District Mineral Foundation Trust Rules (2015), through a notification.

 

Need:

The move follows the Chhattisgarh government’s observation that DMFTs have not been functioning optimally to benefit mining-affected people and the worst affected areas. The decision has been taken to improve participation of people through the representatives selected by them. This is to ensure that the needs of mining-affected areas are reflected well. The effort is to ensure that DMFs work in an accountable manner.

DMFTs which have been set up in various mining districts, including all districts of Chhattisgarh, have a two-tier administrative structure, a Governing Council (GC) and a Managing Committee (MC) with differential responsibilities. The idea of a two-tier structure was to have appropriate checks and balances in decision-making.

Both the GC and the MC were being headed by the DC. The other members of these bodies predominantly comprise officials and elected representatives. There is practically no representation of mining-affected people in the body to have their voice and representation in decision-making.

In order to have a more balanced structure, the Chhattisgarh government has now removed the DC as chairperson of the GC. Also, all members of legislative assembly (MLA) of the concerned mining district have been made GC members.

 

About DMFs:

DMFs were instituted under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Amendment Act 2015 as non-profit trusts to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations.

The objective of District Mineral Foundation is to work for the interest of the benefit of the persons and areas affected mining related operations in such manner as may be prescribed by the State Government.

Jurisdiction: Its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government.

 

The various state DMF rules and the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Khestra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) guidelines stipulate some “high priority” issues for DMFs, including:

  1. Drinking water.
  2. Health
  3. Women and child welfare.
  4. Education
  5. Livelihood and skill development.
  6. Welfare of aged and disabled.
  7. Sanitation

 

Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY):

The programme is meant to provide for the welfare of areas and people affected by mining related operations, using the funds generated by District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).

 

Objectives of the scheme:

  • To implement various developmental and welfare projects/programs in mining affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of State and Central Government.
  • To minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts.
  • To ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas.

 

Sources: down to earth.

Paper 1:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

 

‘Bomb Cyclone’

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Bomb cyclone- meaning, features, threats and preparedness, why are they on rise in recent times?

 

Context: A powerful bomb cyclone has impacted several part of the US causing heavy floods.

 

What is a Bomb cyclone?

The term is used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly.

A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

 

How it works?

Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.

 

What’s the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons?

  • Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.
  • Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Relevant articles from PIB:

 

Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. 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.
  • An apex-level FSDC is not a statutory body.

 

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).

Recently, 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.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

 

Registration of political parties under Section 29A of the RP Act, 1951

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Registration of political parties and provisions governing them, benefits of registration.

 

Context: The commission has announced the elections for the Lok Sabha and Assemblies to Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh on 10th March, 2019.  Therefore, in view of the current elections, the Commission has given one time relaxation and has reduced the notice period  from 30 days to 7 days for the parties who have published their public notice by 10th March, 2019 i.e. date of announcement of election.

 

What the rules say?

As per existing guidelines, the applicant association  is  inter-alia asked to publish proposed Name of the party in two national daily news papers and two local daily newspapers, on two days in same news papers, for inviting objections, if any, with regard to the proposed registration of the party before the Commission within  a 30 days from such publication.

 

Registration of political parties:

Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. A party seeking registration under the said Section with the Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Commission of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

 

To be eligible for a ‘National Political Party of India,’ the Election Commission has set the following criteria:

  1. It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in any four or more states, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly; and
  2. In addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People from any State or States. OR
  3. It wins at least two percent seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.

 

To be eligible for a ‘State Political Party,’ the Election Commission has set the following criteria:

  1. It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in the State at a general election, either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned; and
  2. In addition, it wins at least two seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned. OR
  3. It wins at least three percent (3%) of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State, or at least three seats in the Assembly, whichever is more.

 

Benefits:

  1. If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidatesset up by it in the State in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India.
  2. Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of costat the time of revision of rolls and their candidates get one copy of electoral roll free of cost during General Elections.
  3. They also get broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshanduring general elections.
  4. Political parties are entitled to nominate “Star Campaigners” during General Elections. A recognized National or State party can have a maximum of 40 “Star campaigners” and a registered un-recognised party can nominate a maximum of 20 ‘Star Campaigners”.
  5. The travel expenses of star campaigners are not to be accounted for in the election expense accountsof candidates of their party.

Facts for Prelims:

 

Otter census and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR):

Context: In a first, Uttar Pradesh begins otter census. Beginning in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, the exercise will end by the end of March, 2019.

About Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR):

  • PTR is in the foothills of the Himalayas, south of Nepal. Covering an area of approximately 800 square kilometres, the reserve sprawls across parts of Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts.
  • With the Sharda and Ghaghara rivers encircling a considerable part of the reserve, it is rich in water bodies.
  • The forests of PTR are to home to tigers, leopards, elephants, different species of deer and monkeys and reptiles like snakes, mugger crocodiles and gharials.

Otters:

  • Otters are an important part of the forest ecosystem. A thriving population of otters means a healthy ecosystem.
  • A mammal, an otter spends much of its time in or close to water bodies. Otters live on fish.
  • They are classified as vulnerable.

 

Grey hypocolius:

Context: The Grey Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus), a small migratory bird that usually makes its home in West Asia and North Africa and is a regular visitor to Kutch, has been sighted in Western Rajasthan for the first time on March 4, 2019.

Key facts:

  • The grey hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus) is a small passerine bird species. It is the sole member of the genus Hypocolius and it is placed in a family of its own, the Hypocoliidae.
  • This slender and long tailed bird is found in the dry semi-desert region of northern Africa, Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and western India. They fly in flocks and forage mainly on fruits, migrating south in winter.
  • Because the species has a large range, and because it does not meet the population size and decline criteria of the IUCN Red List, the conservation status is evaluated as being of “least concern”.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *