Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 14 July 2017


Daily Current Affairs for IAS Exams

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 14 July 2017

::National::

Diplomatic channels are used to resolve India-China stand-off

  • Diplomatic channels are still being used to resolve the stand-off between India and China despite rising rhetoric from Beijing, the MEA said, continuing to strike a measured note on the situation at the Sikkim tri-junction that has entered the second month.
  • Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s said that India and China were a “factor of stability” in a turbulent world, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed not to allow “differences to become disputes.”
  • MEA spokesperson didn’t confirm or deny if National Security Adviser Ajit Doval would travel to Beijing for a scheduled meeting of the NSAs of all BRICS countries on July 27-28. 
  • Despite the tensions over the Doklam situation, the government has been sending Ministers and officials for the BRICS meetings on Agriculture, Education, Culture and Environment, held in China in June and July.
  • Mr. Baglay also refused to respond to the state-owned China People’s Daily publishing a repeat of an editorial from 1962 just before the Sino-Indian War, saying that he wouldn’t “comment on opinions or editorials in the media.”
  • However, India dismissed the Chinese spokesperson’s reference to the Kashmir issue unequivocally. 

100 meters area from edge of Ganga declared as ‘No Development Zone’

  • An area of 100 metres from the edge of the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao has been declared a ‘No Development Zone,’ with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres of the river.
  • An environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 will be imposed on anyone dumping waste in the river.
  • The NGT also directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga and its tributaries.
  • Giving its verdict on a 1985 PIL petition of environment activist and lawyer M.C. Mehta — which was transferred to the NGT from the Supreme Court in 2014.
  • A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said the authorities concerned should complete projects, including a sewage treatment plant and cleaning of drains, within two years. 
  • The court also appointed a supervisory committee, headed by the Secretary of the Water Resources Ministry and comprising IIT professors and officials of the Uttar Pradesh government, to oversee implementation of the directions passed in its verdict. The committee is to submit reports at regular intervals.
  • The Bench further noted that all industrial units in the catchment areas of the Ganga should be stopped from indiscriminate groundwater extraction.

New solar cell that converts direct sunlight to electricity

  • Scientists have designed a new solar cell that converts direct sunlight to electricity with 44.5% efficiency, and may potentially be the most efficient solar cell in the world.
  • The prototype device integrates multiple cells stacked into a single device capable of capturing nearly all of the energy in the solar spectrum, researchers said.
  • The approach, developed by researchers at George Washington University in the United States, is different from the solar panels one might commonly see on rooftops or in fields.
  • The new device uses concentrator photovoltaic panels, which employ lenses to concentrate sunlight onto tiny, micro-scale solar cells.

::International::

Tough parliamentary battle over Brexit strategy

  • The tough parliamentary battle awaiting the British government over its Brexit strategy was highlighted as it published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, better known as the repeal bill.
  • While the government said the Bill was designed to ensure Britain exited the union with “maximum certainty, continuity and control”, Opposition parties have sharply criticised elements of the legislation and warned they would block it.
  • Among the most controversial elements of the bill is the decision to abandon the EU’s charter of fundamental rights, which sets out, in a single document, all the fundamental civil, social, political rights and protections of EU citizens, and give the government sweeping powers to make changes without thorough parliamentary scrutiny.
  • Keeping Britain in the charter was one of six areas on which the Labour party has sought “concessions” from the government, including on workers protections and limiting the use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers that allow the government to amend significant legislation with minimal parliamentary scrutiny.
  • The Bill also provoked an angry response from the governments of Scotland and Wales, which warned they would vote against it in its current form. 

Germany open to idea of Euro Zone budget and finance minister 

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was open to the creation of a Finance Minister and budget for the eurozone as proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
  • “I have nothing against a eurozone budget [and] we can talk about creating a European Finance Minister,” Ms. Merkel said after talks in Paris with Mr. Macron. “We agree that the eurozone must be stabilised and further developed.”
  • “It is in our greatest interest that all eurozone countries are strong,” she added.
  • Mr. Macron has warned Germany that it must move to correct the “dysfunctions” of the eurozone and give it “the fate it deserves”.

::Business and Economy:: 

SEBI is investigating alleged financial irregularities

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is investigating alleged financial irregularities at the Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSEI) on a complaint received from a whistle-blower.
  • The whistle-blower alleged that the exchange did not follow proper procedures in making certain payments, said three people familiar with the development.
  • The whistle-blower wrote to the exchange in August 2016 before writing to the regulator recently, after the exchange concluded that there was no merit in the complaint, they added.
  • Market making or giving monetary incentives to brokers is not permissible in the currency derivatives segment, even as SEBI has allowed such incentives in equity derivatives.
  • In the month of June, the average daily trading value in the currency segment was Rs. 676 crore, which translates to a 2% market share. In contrast, the BSE and the National Stock Exchange reported daily average turnovers of Rs. 17,236 crore and Rs. 15,464 crore, respectively.
  • This is a steep decline for MSEI, which in 2013 had clocked almost Rs. 12,000 crore daily and commanded a market share of more than 40%.
  • A MSEI source said the exchange had conducted its own investigation and concluded that the transactions were genuine. 

PMO-appointed task force recommends NSSO unemployment surveys

  • The Prime Minister-appointed task force has recommended that traditional Employment-Unemployment Surveys carried out by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) every five years be scrapped.
  • The panel has instead suggested a new periodic labour force survey to provide estimates of labour force, employment, unemployment, nature of employment and industry. 
  • To get more frequent employment trends data, an urban module of this survey will be updated every quarter. The recommendation comes amidst criticism about the lack of adequate jobs as well as a debate over jobs cuts in the economy.
  • However, refuting criticism, the task force, headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, in the report has mentioned that “much of the recent debate on jobs in the media has relied on the estimates from the Quarterly Enterprise Surveys,” which has “severe limitations”.
  • QES conducted by Labour Bureau measure employment in eight broad sectors of industry and services.
  • The Centre has sought comments on the recommendations made public by July 23. A time use survey should also be conducted at three year intervals to provide data on time spent in various occupations and non-market activities, the panel said.
  • The survey will help track how time spent by households has been changing and measure women’s participation in unpaid work. Centre can tap the GST Network database as a sample frame for a new annual survey of enterprises.

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