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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 January 2017

 

 


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 January 2017


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Bihar supports prohibition with ‘the world’s longest human chain’

 

Bihar has claimed to have formed the world’s largest human chain to reaffirm commitment towards liquor ban. The chain was billed as a social message against addiction, and specifically in favour of prohibition.

  • Over three crore people participated in the chain, stretching 11,400 km in all the 38 districts of the State.

 

Background:

Bihar government had implemented the new Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 from October 2. Many people had termed the legal provisions of the new act as stringent and questioned. Some provisions in the new act were seen as impractical and draconian.

Over 18,000 people have been sent to jail so far for violating prohibition laws since and several lakh litres of liquor have been seized.

 

About Bihar prohibition and excise act, 2016:

This is a new and more stringent liquor-ban law with provisions such as arrest of all adults in the family if anyone consumes or stores alcohol.

  • It aims to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol, including Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), continues in Bihar.
  • Those flouting the ban face up to 10 years in jail, a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and there is also a provision to confiscate the house or premises where liquor is stored or drunk.
  • Though in a rare case, it also prescribes death penalty if people die after consuming hooch.
  • Enforcement of the new law, calculated to impose prohibition in a holistic manner, would repeal the previous excise laws in the state.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

 

After jallikattu, it is kambala’s turn

 

With an Ordinance promulgated to lift the ban on jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, the demand for lifting the ban on kambala — buffalo racing — is gaining momentum in coastal Karnataka.

  • Netizens on various social media sites have, meanwhile, started campaigns in support of the traditional practice.

 

Background:

Karnataka government in November last informed the High Court, during the hearing of a PIL petition filed by PETA, that it had withdrawn the permission given to hold kambala based on the Supreme Court’s order on jallikattu.

 

Kambala:

Kambala is an annual Buffalo Race held traditionally under the auspices of local land lords and households or Patel of village, in coastal Karnataka, India. The Kambala season generally starts in November and lasts until March.

 

Salient features:

  • The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair raced in wet rice fields, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
  • The ‘track’ used for Kambala is a paddy field filled with slush and mud.
  • The “Kambala Committee” is formed and it usually arranges Kambala in several categories.
  • People place massive bets on the buffaloes to win and one can witness more than 20,000 spectators in a well-organised Kambala, egging on and cheering the buffaloes to complete the race.
  • In traditional form of Kambala, racing is non-competitive, and buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
  • A ritualistic approach is also there, as some agriculturists race their buffaloes for thanks giving (to god) for protecting their animals from diseases.
  • The buffaloes developed for the race are carefully fed and some owners of the buffaloes have even built separate swimming pool for competing buffaloes.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

A sunspot with centre twice the size of Earth

 

A new view of the dark, contorted centre of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth, along with other invisible details of our Sun, has been unveiled by scientists. The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star.

 

Key facts:

  • The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) antennas had been carefully designed so they could image the Sun without being damaged by the intense heat of the focused light.
  • Astronomers have harnessed ALMA’s capabilities to image the millimetre-wavelength light emitted by the Sun’s chromosphere – the region that lies just above the photosphere, which forms the visible surface of the Sun.
  • Researchers including those from European Southern Observatory (ESO), produced the images as a demonstration of ALMA’s ability to study solar activity at longer wavelengths of light than are typically available to solar observatories on Earth.

 

What are sunspots?

Sunspots are darker, cooler areas on the surface of the sun in a region called the photosphere.

The photosphere has a temperature of 5,800 degrees Kelvin. Sunspots have temperatures of about 3,800 degrees K. They look dark only in comparison with the brighter and hotter regions of the photosphere around them. Sunspots can be very large, up to 50,000 kilometers in diameter.

 

About ALMA telescope:

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an international partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

  • ALMA -the largest astronomical project in existence- is a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile.
  • ALMA allows scientists to unravel longstanding and important astronomical mysteries, in search of our Cosmic Origins.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.  

 

Japan threatens to drag India to WTO on steel

 

Japan is threatening to take India to the WTO over restrictions that nearly halved its steel exports to the South Asian nation over the past year, a step that could trigger more trade spats as global tensions over steel and other commodities run high.

 

What’s the issue?

India imposed duties of up to 20% on some hot-rolled flat steel products in September 2015, and set a floor price in February 2016 for steel product imports to deter countries such as China, Japan and South Korea from undercutting local mills.

Tokyo says India’s actions are inconsistent with WTO rules and contributed to the plunge in its steel exports to India, which dropped to 11th-largest on Japan’s buyer list in 2016 through November, down from sixth-largest in 2015.

 

Why is Japan so much concerned?

With global trade friction increasing, Japan’s defence of an industry that sells nearly half of its products overseas is getting more vigorous.

Besides concern over India’s protection of its domestic steel industry, Japan is also worried about the more rough and tumble climate for global trade being engendered by incoming U.S. President Donald Trump, and feels it must make a strong stand for open and fair international markets.

 

Way ahead:

Th two countries will shortly discuss over this issue. But, if consultations fail to resolve the dispute, Japan may ask adjudication by a WTO panel.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Turkey’s constitutional reform

 

The Turkish parliament has approved a constitutional reform bill that includes strengthening the powers of the presidency, a move that paves the way for a referendum this year that could see President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in office until 2029.

Key facts:

  • The constitutional reform bill was approved overnight with 339 votes in the 550-member assembly, parliament said on its official Twitter account on Saturday. The legislation needed at least 330 deputies to support it in order to go to a public vote.
  • Referred to as the ‘Turkish-style presidency,’ the constitutional change will bring about a number of reforms, and replace the current parliamentary system in which the president serves only as a ceremonial figurehead alongside a prime minister, with a presidential system, which will allow the president to become the sole executive head of state in the country.
  • More importantly, the office of the prime minister and the cabinet will be abolished and the president will become the head of the executive branch.
  • The reform would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament – powers that the two main opposition parties say strip away balances to Erdogan’s power.
  • With the reforms, the president will be allowed to retain ties to a political party, potentially allowing Erdogan to resume his leadership of the AK Party, in a move that opposition parties say will abolish any chance of impartiality.
  • The plans also envisage presidential and general elections to be held together in 2019 with a president eligible to serve a maximum two five-year terms.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Curbs on outsourcing may hit U.S. economy: Nasscom

 

India’s IT industry has warned about the adverse impact that curbs on outsourcing will have on the U.S. economy, which lacks high-skilled workers.

 

How curbs on outsourcing will impact the economy?

The critical thing for IT industry is high-skilled workers and the fact of the matter is that the US lacks high-skilled workers.

  • According to December 2015 projections by the U.S. Labour Department, employment of computer and information technology occupations will grow 12% from 2014 to 2024 (faster than the average for all other occupations).
  • However, due to shortfalls in college graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), entering the STEM workforce, there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2018 — with more than half of these vacancies in computer and IT-related skills.

 

Background:

Currently, Indian IT industry provide services to American companies, which help them to be competitive in the global market. More than 60% of the Indian IT industry’s $108-billion export revenue comes from the U.S.

Sources: the hindu.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facts for Prelims:

SBI teams up with INS Vikramaditya:

  • A one of its kind, ATM machine has been installed onboard INS Vikramaditya by SBI. This is the first time that a warship will have an operational ATM even on the high seas.
  • The facilities offered by the State Bank of India to the ship include cash withdrawals, generation of mini-statements, access to bank balance details and change of PIN numbers.
  • This joint venture between India’s largest warship and largest banking network is a significant step towards cementing the partnership between the Navy and the bank further, underlines the mutually supportive relations the two organisations share.
  • INS Vikramaditya is India’s largest warship.

 

China commissions 31st stealth warship:

  • China has commissioned its 31st stealth warship. The CNS Ezhou with a hull number of 513 was delivered to the East Sea Fleet in a naval base in East China’s Fujian province.
  • With a maximum speed of 52 km/h, the ship features good manoeuvrability, a high-level of automation and stealth capability, and is capable of hitting aircraft, ships and submarines.
  • The ship will perform coastal patrol, fishery escort, anti-submarine and anti-ship operations.
  • It is the second ship that has been commissioned to the PLA Navy since the start of 2017, following the CNS Kaiyangxing, a Type—815A class electronic reconnaissance ship, which now belongs to the North Sea Fleet.

 

Guinness record:

  • Over 3.5 lakh people have set a new world record by singing the national anthem at an event at Kagvad in Rajkot, Gujarat.
  • The occasion was the installation of the idol of goddess Khodiyar at the newly-built Khodal Dham temple in the town.