Daily Current Affairs (English) - 16.05.2018
India 3rd largest solar market in the world: Mercom
- India emerged as the third largest solar market in the world in 2017 behind China and the US, Mercom Communications India said in a report. “In 2017, India emerged as the third largest solar market having grown at a CAGR of approximately 170 percent since 2010,” it said.
- As per the report, India set a new record with 9.6 GW of solar installations in 2017, which was more than double the 4.3 GW installed in 2016.
- The robust growth boosted the country’s total solar installed capacity to 19.6 GW as of December 2017, it added.
U.S. cancels carbon monitoring project
A NASA programme — called the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) — which tracked sources and sinks for carbon and made high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon — that cost $10 million per year, has been cancelled.
- It tracked carbon and methane, key greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
- The end of the programme was first reported by the journal Science, “Now, President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly killed the CMS,” the report said, describing the move as the latest in a “broad attack on climate science” mounted by the White House.
- The journal said NASA “declined to provide a reason for the cancellation beyond ‘budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget’.”
‘Ramayan Circuit’ gets a new bus service
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya, the two sacred cities for Hindus, as part of a “Ramayan Circuit” to promote religious tourism in Nepal and India.
- The bus service connects Lord Rama’s birthplace Ayodhya with goddess Sita’s birthplace Janakpur.
- The government has identified 15 destinations in India for development under the Ramayana Circuit theme — Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi, Buxar and Darbhanga (Bihar), Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Mahendragiri (Odisha), Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh), Nashik and Nagpur (Maharashtra), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Hampi (Karnataka) and Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu).
India to help settle Rohingya back in Rakhine
India on Friday urged Myanmar to ensure the safe return of Rohingya citizens now staying in refugee camps in Bangladesh. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took up the issue and promised India’s help during her two-day trip to Myanmar, where she sealed a landmark land border-crossing agreement with the country.
- The Minister underlined the need for safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons to the Rakhine state.
- The Minister informed Myanmar that India was on track to complete a project to set up prefabricated housing for the Rohingya population returning from their present camps in Bangladesh.
- Bangladesh, in recent months, has repeatedly urged India to intervene and pressure Myanmar to take back its citizens who are living in difficult circumstances on Bangladeshi territory.
- Both Myanmar and Bangladesh are members of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) regional grouping, which is expected to hold a summit later this year.
- The Agreement on Land Border Crossing, which will allow people from both sides to cross the border with passport and visa for health and educational needs and tourism, was signed.
- An agreement on training of Myanmar Foreign Service officers and another on assistance to the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee were signed.
- The committee monitors the ceasefire implemenation between the government of Myanmar and ethnic militant organisations that was announced in 2015.
- Reflecting cultural ties between the two sides, Ms. Swaraj sealed a memorandum of understanding on restoration of earthquake-damaged pagodas in the famed Buddhist tourism centre of Bagan.
DRDO Awards – 2016 & 2017
- Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman gave away the DRDO Awards- 2016 & 2017 to various DRDO scientists for their outstanding contributions, while commemorating the National Technology Day, recently.
- Some of the recipients include former Secretary Department of Defence R&D, Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri and Director General, DRDO Dr. VK Saraswat and Dr. Vasudev Kalkunte for DRDO Lifetime Achievement Award – 2017 and 2016 respectively, the Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri, Distinguished Scientist & Director General (Missiles & Strategic Systems) Dr. G Satheesh Reddy for Technology Leadership Award – 2016, etc.
Atal Pension Yojana: 1 crore subscribers on completion of 3 years of the launch
Atal Pension Yojana (APY) subscriber base crossed 1 Crore on completion of 3 years of the Scheme launch. APY was launched by the PM, Narendra Modi at a function in Kolkata on 9th May 2015 and the current number of subscribers stands at 1.10 Crore.
- Atal Pension Yojana (APY), a guaranteed Pension Scheme for citizens of India announced by the Government of India, is focused on the unorganized sector workers which constitute more than 85% of the workforce.
- Under the APY, the guaranteed minimum pension of Rs. 1,000/- or 2,000/- or 3,000/- or 4,000/ or 5,000/- per month will be given at the age of 60 years depending on the contributions by the subscribers.
- The Spouse of the Subscriber is also eligible for pension and the nominee would be receiving the accumulated pension wealth.
Uproar over Citizenship Bill
- The Assam government said protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 “at this juncture” were unfounded and it would announce its official stand after the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is competed by June 30.
- The BJP-led government has been under pressure from its regional ally Asom Gana Parishad and NGOs to “learn from its Meghalaya counterpart” and make its position on the “contentious Bill” clear.
- The JPC is hearing the views of stakeholders and will submit its report.
- “Meghalaya has taken a decision because it is not updating NRC. We have to honour the court and as such will make our stand clear once the NRC exercise, which is 80% through, is completed,” Mr. Patowary said.
- The Supreme Court wants the final list to be announced by June 30. A pa rtial list was published on December 3, 2018.
- The 16-member JPC headed by Rajendra Agarwal, MP, meanwhile, ended its two-day hearing in Meghalaya.
- A delegation of All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) that met
the JPC in Shillong highlighted, “This controversial bill will serve as a
legal basis for furthering and legitimising the claims of Chakma and Hajong
refugees as indigenous people and defeat the very purpose of the Bengal
Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 and various other regulations currently in
force in the State.”
Madhya Pradesh: Mandatory for students to answer roll call with ‘Jai Hind’
- Madhya Pradesh government has announced that from now onwards, it is mandatory for the school students in the state to answer their roll-call with “Jai Hind“.
- The education department stated that this step will instill a sense of patriotism among the students, read an official statement. Earlier in November 2017, Madhya Pradesh School Education Minister Vijay Shah said now students would answer to roll-calls by saying “Jai Hind” instead of “yes sir” and “yes ma’am”.
- He had said that the step would be enforced in all 1.22 lakh government schools, and an advisory in this regard would also be issued to all private schools.
India to counter U.S. plaint on farm subsidies in WTO
A complaint lodged by the U.S. at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India’s farm subsidies is baseless, according to Indian diplomatic sources. The U.S. had filed a counter-notification at the WTO Committee on Agriculture on May 4, alleging that “based on U.S. calculations, it appears that India has substantially under-reported its market price support (MPS) for wheat and rice”, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Indian diplomatic sources said that the U.S. calculations were based on wrong assumptions. They added that India would officially respond at the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture meeting in June.
- In its 12-page document submitted to the WTO, the U.S. laid out its calculations of the value of India’s MPS programme for the four years between 2010-11 and 2013-14 using publicly available data.
- “India’s apparent MPS for wheat appears to have been over 60% of the value of production in each of the last four years for which India has notified data,” said the document. “Its apparent MPS for rice appears to have been over 70% of the value of production in each of the years.”
- For example, India notified the WTO that its MPS for rice in 2013-14 was just over ?12,001 crore.
- That amounts to 5.45% of the total value of production, and well within the WTO’s permitted cut-off of 10%.
- However, according to the U.S. calculations, the value of India’s MPS for rice that year was more than ?1.7 lakh crore, which would be 76.9% of the total value of production.
- One of the issues raised by the U.S. is that India’s notification “only reflect the national minimum support prices and do not include all state bonuses or other incentives that further increase the MSP provided to farmers.”
NALCO signed MoU with Government for FY 2018-19
- Aluminium major & Navratna CPSE National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) has signed MoU with the Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India, setting highest ever a target of Rs 9350 crore revenue from operations for FY 2018-19 which is 15% higher than last year.
- The MoU was signed between Shri Anil Gopishankar Mukim, Secretary, Ministry of Mines, GoI and Dr. Tapan Kumar Chand, CMD, NALCO in New Delhi last evening. Shri Mukim, Secretary, Mines complimented NALCO management for the excellent performance of the company, high standard of Corporate Governance in 2017-18 and robust business plans for 2018-19.