Current affairs- June 30,2016

1. Surface-to-air missile test successful
A new generation Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile(MRSAM), developed by India and Israel, was recently successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range off Odisha Coast.
  • This is the first time that the MRSAM system was tested in India. In the next few days, a series of tests will take place before the system joins the Indian Air Force arsenal.

Current affairs- June 29, 2016

1. Deep Space Rocket Buster
NASA has performed its second and last test-fire of a rocket booster for the Space Launch System (SLS).

  • NASA has described the SLS as the “world’s most powerful rocket,” and said the test aims to see how the propellant performs at the colder end of its temperature range. This is seen as a powerful engine that may one day launch astronauts to Mars.

2. Technology
Researchers have developed a new, non-invasive method that can kill cancer cells in two hours.
  • The method involves injecting a chemical compound, nitrobenzaldehyde, into the tumour and allowing it to diffuse into the tissue.

3.Future of Panchayat Raj:
After facing a massive budget cut last year, from Rs. 7,000 crores to Rs. 96 crores, the future of the Panchayati Raj Ministry continues to look bleak. According to few experts, soon the Ministry will be closed down and turned into a department under the Ministry of Rural Development.

4.Norton's report: 
According to a study by Norton, about one in two Indians have allowed app developers to access their contact directories and other data stored on their smartphones in exchange for free applications, exposing themselves to privacy risks in the process. The survey covered 1,005 Indiansmartphone and tablet users aged 16 and above.

5.New RBI Deputy Governor:
N S Vishwanathan
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed N S Vishwanathan as the Deputy Governor of RBI. Vishwanathan was executive director at RBI. He will succeed HR Khan as Deputy Governor of RBI.

6.Government decision:
According to the latest decision of the government, Ministers can now approve non- plan expenditure proposals of up to Rs 500 crore as against the earlier limit of Rs 150 crore.

7.The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has signed an annual Rs. 250-crore deal with several state-run coal and thermal power companies to certify the quality of the coal being supplied and used in their facilities. The certification will help power plants use coal appropriate to the machinery and technology available in the plant and contribute to efficient use and, in the long run, reduce emissions.

8.New Census data on Marriages:
New Census data released by the government shows that the median age at the time of marriage has increased across categories of people and genders
median age for men increased to 23.5 at the time of the 2011 Census, from 22.6 as per the 2001 figures. These numbers were 19.2 years and 18.2 years for women in the respective years. 

9.Isak Chishi Swu:
Isak Chishi Swu
Naga rebel leader Isak Chishi Swu died at Fortis hospital in Vasant Kunj, 
  • Founder-member and chairman of Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah)
  • Belonged to the Sumi tribe, hailed from Nagaland’s Zunheboto district
  • His death has brought the focus back on the status of the Naga peace accord negotiations since the signing of a ‘framework agreement’ between the Centre and the NSCN-IM in August last year.

German engineers created a Nano-camera that can explore human body is no longer bigger than a grain of salt  that could change the future of Health imaging and surveillance

11.Bharathi Veerath
  • India’s first woman cab driver, has died
  • Belongs to Andhra Pradesh, 10 years ago she shifted to Bangalore.

Current affairs- June 28, 2016

22nd meeting of Eastern Zonal Council

The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently chaired the 22nd meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council held at Ranchi, Jharkhand.

Current affairs for June 27, 2016

India to become full member of Missile Technology Control Regime
India is all set to join the Missile Technology Control Regime(MTCR) as a full member. India had applied for the membership of MTCR last year and all the procedural formalities have been completed now.

Current affairs- June 25, 2016

Amendments to Specific Relief Act being examined

The Centre is contemplating amendments to the Specific Relief Act, 1963, to limit the compensation and relief that courts can grant in cases relating to execution of infrastructure and development projects.

These amendments are based on the recommendations made by a Central government-appointed expert committee. Anand Desai led Expert committee set up to examine the Specific Relief Act, 1963 recently submitted its report to the government. In its report the committee has recommended modifications in the Specific Relief Act, 1963, which will help in ensuring the ease of doing business. The recommendations are aimed at ensuring that public works contracts happen without unnecessary delays.

Current affairs - June 24, 2016

India’s NSG bid stops at China wall
China has remained the last major obstacle in the way of India’s membership bid in the Nuclear Suppliers Group as 47 of 48 members supported New Delhi’s application at the group’s special plenary session in Seoul recently.

  • The session failed to come to a conclusion after hours of discussions, with China adamant in its opposition. Questions and doubts by other fence-sitting countries dissolved in the course of the evening, leaving China as the last man standing against India.
  • China raised a procedural block, refusing to admit the India membership issue to be discussed in the meeting. Brazil and South Africa, two other members of BRICS, stood behind India, as did Russia.
  • China’s stand might wreck India’s chances this time if Beijing continues to hold out. But the fact that India has mounted such a huge diplomatic exercise will play to India’s advantage going forward.

China’s continued obduracy raises serious questions in the Indian government about the value of organisations like BRICS, RIC or even BASIC, where India and China are believed to be working together. If China continues with its opposition, there could be consequences for bilateral relations with Beijing, because it would be a direct refusal to an Indian head of the government.

About NSG:

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes. Currently, it has 48 members.

Once admitted, an NSG member state:
  • Gets timely information on nuclear matters.
  • Contributes by way of information.
  • Has confirmed credentials.
  • Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination.
  • Is part of a very transparent process.

Tigers roar loud in Manas, population up 50% in 3 years
 The second survey to monitor big cats across the Transboundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA), which covers Manas National Park (MNP) on the Indian side and the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) in Bhutan, has thrown up 21 tigers — a heartwarming increase of 50% over the first survey in 2011-12 that had counted just 14 big cats in the Manas landscape.
  • The latest Tiger monitoring, carried out by the MNP, RMNP, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), WWF-India and conservation group Aaaranyak last year, covered an area of 560 sq km across the two protected areas.
  • TraMCA, floated in 2008, is a joint initiative of India and Bhutan for trans-boundary biodiversity conservation.

Manas National Park (MNP):
Manas National Park is a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam, India.
Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
Source: Manas National Park
  • The Manas river flows thorough the west of the park and is the main river within it. It is a major tributary of Brahmaputra river and splits into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba as it reaches the plains.
  • The Manas river also serves as an international border dividing India and Bhutan.
  • The bedrock of the savanna area in the north of the park is made up of limestone and sandstone, whereas the grasslands in the south of the park stand on deep deposits of fine alluvium.
  • The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation along with the riverine succession continuing up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest make it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world.
  • The fauna of the sanctuary include Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceros, gaurs, Asian water buffaloes, barasingha, Indian tigers, Indian leopards, clouded leopards, Asian golden cats, dholes, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow loris, hoolock gibbons, smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deers, hog deers, black panthers, sambar deers and chitals.
  • The park is well known for species of rare and endangered wildlife that are not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.

Torpid airports may convert into SEZs
 The government is looking at converting some unused airports into special economic zones where aircraft leasing companies can park their planes and showcase them to potential customers.
  • Besides, it would explore ways to reduce the cost of leasing aircraft as part of larger efforts to make the domestic aviation space more attractive.
  • The new civil aviation policy, unveiled recently, provides for measures to enhance regional connectivity and reducing the cost of leasing would help this initiative.
  • The Civil Aviation Ministry would look at the possibility of utilising certain unused airports for the purpose of parking aircraft and even use aerodromes for plane-breaking or dismantling of old aircraft. There are around 400 unused airports and airstrips across the country.

What is a Special Economic Zone(SEZ)?
Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a specifically delineated duty-free enclave and shall be deemed to be foreign territory for the purposes of trade operations and duties and tariffs. SEZ is a geographical region that has economic laws different from a country’s typical economic laws. Usually the goal is to increase foreign investments.

Who can set up SEZs? Can foreign companies set up SEZs?
Any private/public/joint sector or state government or its agencies can set up an SEZ.

What is the role of state governments in establishing SEZs?
State governments will have a very important role to play in the establishment of SEZs. Representative of the state government, who is a member of the inter-ministerial committee on private SEZ, is consulted while considering the proposal. Before recommending any proposals to the ministry of commerce and industry (department of commerce), the states must satisfy themselves that they are in a position to supply basic inputs like water, electricity, etc.

The main objectives of the SEZ Act are:
  • Generation of additional economic activity.
  • Promotion of exports of goods and services.
  • Promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources.
  • Creation of employment opportunities.
  • Development of infrastructure facilities.

 Important Points

  • Former Indian test captain AnilKumble has been appointed as the head coach of Team India for one year. This was announced by BCCI recently. Kumble is the first Indian to be appointed full-time India coach since Kapil Dev resigned in September 2000.

  • China has launched its first dark sky reserve for astronomical observation in the Tibetan prefecture of Ngari, bordering Nepal and India. The reserve covers an area of 2,500 square kilometre and aims to limit light pollution by stepping up protection of dark-sky resources for education and tourism development. It was jointly launched by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and the regional government of Tibet. The reserve will also try to seek accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association, a non-profit organisation based in the US that is devoted to preserving and protecting the night time environment and dark skies globally. Ngari is among the best sites for astronomical observation on earth, due to its high altitude and large number of cloudless days throughout the year.

  • As part of a Swachh Bharat Mission drive, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to do away with garbage bins in 10 prominent wildlife parks and make visitors take their litter home. This was done because people dropped litter around garbage bins, inviting animals and thus aggravating the man-animal conflict. The parks have been compelled the visitors to arrange for jute bags to collect their trash. The ten wildlife parks identified are- Jim Corbett National Park, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh; Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in Gujarat; Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh; Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra; Flamingo Sanctuary in Maharashtra; Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka; Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala; Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan; and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Protocol amending the Agreement between India and Belgium for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The amendment in the Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information between the two countries, which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. The Protocol will also revise the existing treaty provisions on mutual assistance in collection of taxes.