Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 April 2017

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 April 2017

:: National ::

Voters will be able to verify if their ballot was correctly registered

  • Voters will be able to verify if their ballot was correctly registered in all elections after September 2018, including the Lok Sabha polls of 2019.

  • The government approved the procurement of 16.15 lakh Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines sought by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

  • The total cost for buying these machines that function like a printer attached to the electronic voting machine and disburse a ballot slip after the vote is cast, is Rs. 3173.47 crore.

  • The ballot slip contains the name, serial number and symbol of the chosen candidate.

Govts scrapped of their powers to specify red and blue beacon users

  • PM has decided to shake up India’s VIP culture, notably symbolised by flashing red beacon lights on top of vehicles, by scrapping a rule that allowed the Central and State governments to nominate dignitaries who could use such lights.

  • Moreover, States are also being stripped of their power to specify persons whose vehicles can use blue flashing lights.

  • Effective May 1, only emergency services vehicles such as ambulances, fire engine trucks, and police vehicles will be allowed to use blue lights.

  • Red lights will not be permitted on any vehicle. Private vehicles will not be allowed to use either red or blue lights.

  • The PM made the decision to carry out far-reaching amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989, which he reported to the Cabinet.

  • A specific clause in Rule 108 of the 1989 regulations, which empowers the Centre and the States to designate some dignitaries as entitled to red lights on top of their vehicles, is being abolished.

  • The government has decided to do away with beacons of all kinds atop all categories of vehicles in the country as it is of the considered opinion that beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP culture, and have no place in a democratic country.

India to make full assessment of impact of changed visa policies (Register and Login to read Full News)

:: International ::

Negotiations on the stalled BCIM economic corridor are set to resume

  • Negotiations on the stalled Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor are set to resume next week in Kolkata.

  • After a gap of over two years, the meeting of Joint Study Group (JSG) of academics and officials of the four countries on April 25-26 is expected to finalise the road map for the BCIM economic corridor.

  • The last meeting of the BCIM was held Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh in December 2014.

  • There is a perception among Chinese scholars that India had become lukewarm to the BCIM project and linked it to its reservations on the China-Pakistan-Economic corridor which passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

  • Chinese Foreign Minister referred to the BCIM economic corridor. He had said that the four countries are ready to advance the economic corridor within the framework of the BRI.

  • The BCIM economic corridor hopes to connect Kolkata with Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province. It envisages formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks.

  • Starting from Kunming, the route passes through nodal points, such as Mandalay and Lashio in Myanmar.

  • It heads towards Kolkata after passing through Manipur and Silchar, before crossing Bangladesh via Sylhet and Dhaka, with branches extending to the ports of Cox Bazar and Chittagong.

:: Science and Technology ::

Scientists have developed the first global Internet Atlas

  • Scientists have developed the first global Internet Atlas, including a detailed map of the Internet’s physical structure in India, an advance that could help guard the infrastucture from terrorism or extreme weather events.

  • Despite the Internet-dependent nature of our world, a thorough understanding of the Internet’s physical makeup has only recently emerged through Internet Atlas developed by researchers from University of Wisconsin-Madison in the U.S.

  • While average users rarely think of these elements, things like submarine cables — buried below the ocean floor — run between continents to enable communication.

  • Data centres in buildings all over the world are packed with servers storing many types of data. Traffic exchange occurs between different service providers at internet exchange points.

  • Though these and other elements may be out of sight for the average user, they are crucial pieces of the physical infrastructure that billions of people rely on.

  • Mapping the physical Internet helps stakeholders boost performance and guard against a number of threats, from terrorism to extreme weather events like hurricanes.

  • The project has helped direct attention to the problem of shared risk. Physical infrastructure is commonly shared by multiple networking entities, so damage to any particular piece of infrastructure can impact more than one entity.

  • There is a lot of infrastructure sharing happening in the Internet today. Many service providers do this to save deployment costs by signing leases with other service providers.

  • This infrastructure sharing leads to a problem called ’shared risk’: physical conduits shared by many service providers are at an inherently risky situation since damage to those conduits will affect many several providers.

  • Much of the data used to create the Internet Atlas comes from publicly available information, such as what Internet service providers publish on their websites.

Skin mucus secreted by frog can be used to treat flue (Register and Login to read Full News)

:: Business and Economy ::

Tightening of visa norms could lead to layoffs

  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to tighten visa norms for skilled workers could potentially hurt margins at India’s IT services providers and may lead to layoffs in the sector.

  • On April 18, Mr. Trump signed an executive order calling for a review of the H-1B visa program and sought increased scrutiny to prevent its abuse.

  • The U.S. move comes amid heightened curbs initiated by other nations including the U.K., Singapore and Australia, which has eliminated its 457 visa program.

  • U.S. has been the key market for Indian IT firms, which have been among the biggest users of the H-1B visa program. The U.S. government recently said it received 199,000 H-1B visa petitions for 2018, 37,000 less than last year.

  • While analysts ruled out any major immediate risk from the changes in the U.S. visa process, they said any sweeping reforms could pose a major risk in future and hurt IT companies’ margins.

  • Infosys said it would work with U.S. policymakers and focus on hiring local talent.

41% of the samples collected from mines of Coal India have been downgraded

  • Almost 41% of the samples collected from 386 mines of Coal India Ltd. have been downgraded after an analysis of 871 samples by the Coal Controller’s Organisation.

  • Recalibration of entire grading methodology is also going to help government in its mission to make cheap power available to common person.

  • The samples were from ‘size-fractions and sidings’ of 386 (of the 406) CIL mines. While 51.5% of the samples retained their grades, 40.7% were downgraded and 7.7 % were upgraded from the grade declared during 2016-17.

  • The impact on revenue could only be assessed after coal sampling and analysis over a reasonable period of time, CIL said.

  • The earlier practice entailed annual grade declaration by coal companies based on samples collected by them and analysed at accredited laboratories, with the CCO’s approval obtained subsequently.

  • CIL said that independent grade certification will help it gain consumer confidence and avoid grade-slippages.

International funds from bilateral financing agencies to state infrastructure (Register and Login to read Full News) 

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