Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam VOL - 43 (22nd September 2014 TO 28th September 2014)


Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam

VOL - 43 (22nd September 2014 TO 28th September 2014)


Issue : VOL - 43 (22nd September 2014 TO 28th September 2014)

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Covered Topics:


:: NATIONAL PORTAL OF INDIA ::

Swachh Bharat-Swachh Vidyalaya Campaign

The Swachh Bharat-Swachh Vidyalaya campaign began on 25th September, 2014 and will last for a month till 31st October 2014. The Union Minister used a broom and a shovel to clean the ground of the school. While addressing the teachers and the students of the school the Minister appealed to everyone to become a part of this campaign and contribute their efforts to make the drive a big success. The campaign is a prelude to the launch of this Abhiyan formally by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 2nd of October 2014.

The HRD Ministry had earlier decided to initiate Swachh Vidyalaya campaign from 25th September, 2014 in Kendriya Vidyalays and Navodaya Vidyalya Sangathans. The Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalya Sangathans would take up various activities under the cleanliness drive in schools.

The Kendriya Vidyalays and Navodaya Vidyalya Sangathans would take up the following activities:

  • Talk in the school assembly by a few children on different aspects of cleanliness every day especially with regard to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, on cleanliness & hygiene.
  • Cleaning of the class rooms, laboratories, libraries etc.
  • Cleaning of any statue installed in the school and a talk on the contribution of the person whose statue is installed in the school.
  • Cleaning of toilets and drinking water areas.
  • Cleaning of kitchen sheds stores etc.
  • Cleaning of playgrounds.
  • Cleaning and maintenance of school gardens.
  • Annual maintenance of the school buildings including white wash and painting
  • Organise essay, debates, painting, competitions on cleanliness and hygiene.
  • Constitution of Childrens’ Cabinets to supervise and monitor cleanliness drive.

:: Ministry of External affairs ::

India & US: Shaping the 21st century

Fast-track diplomacy and smart development-centric diplomacy are the twin mantra of the new government in Delhi. Starting from hosting the leaders of South Asian neighbours to engaging key Asian partners, China and Japan, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now headed for the US on a defining trip that is set to infuse "the defining partnership of the 21st century” with a new burst of energy and vitality. Spectacle, colour, high diplomacy, culture, commerce and creativity – all these varied elements are going to be fused into Prime Minister Modi’s maiden voyage to America (Sept 26-30), which is poised to be a blockbuster diplomatic event.

New Horizons

There are several firsts to this prime ministerial trip: This will be not only the first visit of Narendra Modi as the Prime minister of India, but it will also be his first meeting with US President Barack Obama. Mr Modi will also become the first foreign leader to be given the largest-ever community reception in the heart of New York City - around 20,000-odd Indian-Americans will be listening in to the Indian leader at the Madison Square Garden, the iconic venue better known for celebrity rock stars and singers performing on its grand stage. This will also be the first time when an Indian leader’s speech will be beamed live on giant screens at Time Square, the pulsating heart of Manhattan which is frequented by thousands of people every day. This is also the first time the US Senate has designated September 30 as the day of India-US Partnership, which has coincided with the day Prime Minister Modi will meet President Obama in Washington for full-spectrum talks.

In the run-up to the prime ministerial visits, senior figures of the US administration have visited India in the first 100 days of the Modi government, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. They held wide-ranging talks in New Delhi, which have firmed up an ambitious agenda for making the summit meeting between the leaders of the world’s oldest and most populous democracies substantive and successful.

Raising the Bar

Many issues will be competing for the leaders’ mind space, but one can safely say that their overarching focus will be to impart a renewed momentum to the India-US relationship, which was transformed after the path-breaking civil nuclear deal of 2008, converting the hitherto estranged democracies into engaged democracies. While the nuclear deal, also called the 123 agreement, remains a work in progress, proponents of stronger India-US relations say it’s time for 456, indicating a common desire to raise the bar for the relationship which is seen as central to ongoing effort to shape an inclusive and pluralistic 21st century world order.

(Source- Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network,www.indiawrites.org, a portal and e-journal focused on international affairs and the India Story @ www.mea.gov.in)

:: Planning Commission of India ::

Government announces ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana’- DAY for uplift of urban, rural poor The Government announced an overarching scheme for uplift of urban and rural poor through enhancement of livelihood opportunities through skill development and other means. The scheme has been named as ‘Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana – DAY’. The announcement was made today by Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Rural Development at a National Convention on Skills for Rural and Urban Poor.

The Minister further informed that under the current urban poverty alleviation programmes, only 790 cities and towns are covered and the government has decided to extend these measures to all the 4,041 statutory cities and towns, there by covering almost the entire urban population.

Announcing the details of urban component of DAY, Shri Venkaiah Naidu said, Rs.1,000 cr has been provisioned for urban poverty alleviation during 2014-15. Out of this, Rs.500 cr will be spent on skill development of over 5,00,000 urban poor. He said, for realizing the ‘Make in India’ objective, skill development is essential. He observed that “If India is to emerge as the manufacturing base to meet global needs, the only certain way is to empower every youth of the country with the necessary skills. Skill development has multiple outcomes including enhancing employment opportunities, stimulating economic growth and promoting self-worth of beneficiaries.’’

(Courtesy: http://planningcommission.nic.in)

:: NATIONAL EVENTS ::

NGT gave order to MoEF for the demarcation of Eco-Sensitive area

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) submitted a confusing affidavit to the National Green Tribunal saying State governments in the Western Ghats region may, after undertaking demarcation of eco sensitive areas (ESA) by physical verification, propose the exclusion/inclusion of certain areas in the draft notification dated March 10, 2014.

  • This draft notification issued by MoEF was based on the ESA demarcated by the high-level working group (HLWG) headed by K. Kasturirangan.

  • Justice Swatanter Kumar of the NGT asked the counsel for the Ministry to take direction from secretary or additional secretary on the question of demarcating ESAs. He said that if Kerala had completed its demarcation of ESAs, then let it be finalized.

No government can force anyone to declare his religion: Bombay High Court

  • No person in India can be compelled to declare his religion, the Bombay high court ruled while hearing a PIL seeking direction to the Maharashtra government to not insist on declaration of religion on official forms and documents.

  • The petition was filed by Dr Ranjeet Mohite, Kishore Nazare and Subhash Ranaware, who claimed to be members of Full Gospel Church of God, which they said had more than 4,000 members. Though they believe in Jesus Christ, they do not believe in Christianity or any other religion.

  • The court said that "every individual has the right to claim that he does not belong to any religion and that he does not practice or profess any religion".

  • The HC reminded the governments that India is a secular, democratic republic with no state religion. The court held that no state authority could infringe upon a person’s fundamental right under the Constitution of India (Article 25) of freedom of conscience and freely practicing, professing or propagating a religion.

  • The HC said that if an individual is told by the state to disclose his religion, he can say that he does not practice or belong to any religion.

SC cancelled allocation of 214 coal blocks

  • In an order with far-reaching implications, the Supreme Court cancelled all but four of the 218 coal block allocations declared arbitrary and illegal by it in an August 25 judgment.
  • The decision comes as a windfall for the government as the court has ordered the owners of the cancelled coal blocks to cough up Rs. 295 as compensation for every tone of coal they extracted illegally, to make up for the loss to the exchequer.
  • The levy was calculated with reference to the figures of loss arrived at by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
  • The government is expected to get Rs. 8,000- 10,000 crore this way. The government is also free to auction the cancelled blocks.

Ganga clean-up programme

  • The Supreme Court said it wants the NDA government to give it a “commitment” that river Ganga will be cleaned in a phased manner and said the court will keep a close watch on the executive's efforts to rejuvenate the 2,500 km-long river.

  • In response, the government said the Centre's efforts alone will not help the river get a second lease of life, instead the “thought to keep the Ganga clean must come from within” for the general public, and moreover, the State governments in the five Ganga river basin States - Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal – should rise above political differences and chip in to save the Ganga.

  • Another proposal is by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to make all 1,649 grampanchayats located along the Ganga banks free from open defecation.

  • The third is to enforce zero liquid discharge from “grossly” polluting industries located across the five Ganga river basin States.

:: INTERNATIONAL ::

Citizenship to some Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

  • Myanmar gave citizenship to 209 Muslims displaced by sectarian violence, after the first phase of a project aimed at determining the status of about a million Rohingya whose claims to nationality have been rejected in the past.

  • Meanwhile Myanmar government’s chief negotiator said that efforts to secure a historic ceasefire agreement with ethnic armed groups are “at a crucial moment” at the start of a fresh round of negotiations

  • The Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State need permission to move from their villages or from camps, where almost 140,000 remain after being displaced in deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

  • Some of the 209 who received citizenship were members of the Kaman Muslim minority, who are recognised by the government as indigenous to Myanmar, but there were also Rohingya.

Climate gathering: focus will be on “Right to grow”

  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the UN Climate Summit on 23rd september, as world leaders and several business executives gathered to announce their commitments to reduce the effects of climate change.
  • The summit is not part of the negotiations that are taking place in the build up to a 2015 summit in Paris in 2015, in which a comprehensive deal is set to be decided. Mr. Ban has instead convened the event to build political momentum in favour of an agreement.
  • The UN chief called on governments and private institutions to invest in climate solutions designed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. He also urged the implementation of carbon taxes.

US responsible for the delay in India Japan nuclear deal

  • India's nuclear deal with Japan is not going to happen in a hurry. Neither will its nuclear agreement with Australia which was signed just weeks ago. The reason lies in Washington.

  • India and the US are yet to complete the last bit of their nuclear deal, known as "administrative arrangements." This is necessary to operationalize the deal, but has been hanging fire.

  • India says the US is responsible for the delay, but US officials say they are holding firm on their demand for end-user verification visits to Indian nuclear plants and more important, to track externally sourced fuel through Indian plants.

  • This demand is at the heart of Japanese refusal to sign the nuclear agreement with India. Before Modi's visit, MEA had put a lot of pressure on the Japanese side to complete the deal.

  • Japan has indicated clearly that it would wait for India to complete administrative arrangements with the US before they would consider the Indian deal.

:: INDIA AND THE WORLD ::

Mars mission success “pride of Asia”, says China

  • China has hailed India’s success in positioning a satellite in the Martian orbit, calling the interplanetary triumph of the Mangalyaan as “the pride of Asia”.
  • With the success of Mangalyaan, India has boosted its credentials as a potential launch pad for its resource-strapped neighbors.
  • Among India’s neighbours, it is becoming a symbol of national pride to launch satellites independently rather than hire transponders from other nations. The previous government had highlighted the ISRO’s relative lack of initiative.

:: ECONOMY ::

Reserve Bank of India unlikely to cut policy rate

  • While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to maintain its policy rate at current levels, the financial markets expect that the central bank would reduce the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) further.

  • In the last bi-monthly policy review on August 5, amidst uncertainty over the progress of the monsoon, the RBI had kept the short term indicative lending rate (repo) at the current level of 8 per cent and the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) unchanged at 4 per cent. However, SLR was reduced from 22.5 per cent to 22 per cent with effect from August 9. In the June bi-monthly policy also, the central bank had cut SLR by 50 basis points from 23 per cent to 22.5 per cent.

  • SLR is the portion of deposits banks are required to maintain in the form of gold or government securities, before providing credit to customers. CRR is the portion of total deposits of customers, which commercial banks have to hold as reserves either in cash or as deposits with the central bank and the repo rate is the rate at which the central bank lends money to banks.

  • In the last policy review, Dr. Rajan said that “The idea behind the SLR cut is that if government finances are improving and the government is on a fiscal consolidation mode, we can afford to liberate more access to government financing and make it possible for the private sector and public sector firms to get access to that financing.”

“FDI should be understood as ‘First Develop India’: PM

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign at a high-profile event, which captains of industry from India and abroad immediately joined by committing multi-crore investments and projects in the presence of Mr. Modi.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Aditya Birla Group chief Kumar Mangalam Birla said his steel-to-software conglomerate already had its manufacturing base in India and now planned to leverage its global production facilities for bringing technology here.
  • The head of India’s largest private sector company, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries (RIL), called the launch of the campaign a historic day for Indian industry and said, “We are committing ourselves to the movement our beloved Prime Minister had given to 1 billion Indians on Independence Day… The uniqueness of his leadership is that he dreams and he does.”
  • Unveiling the campaign logo earlier, Mr. Modi said “FDI should be understood as ‘First Develop India’ along with ‘Foreign Direct Investment’” while encouraging investors not to just look at India as merely a market but also as an opportunity.
  • The Prime Minister also noted that India ranked low on the “ease of doing business” index and said he was sensitising government officials to the need for “effective” governance.

:: SCIENCE AND TECH ::

ISRO: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

  • India created history on 24th September becoming the first country to successfully get a spacecraft into the Martian orbit on its maiden attempt.
  • Indian Space Research Organization’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft started orbiting the red planet at 7.47am, but it was only 12 minutes later —because of a time delay in radio signals travelling the 680 million km -- that scientists at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bangalore, could erupt in joy as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood a happy witness.
  • Through its journey since November 5, 2013 when PSLV-C25 lifted off from Sriharikota with the spacecraft in its nosecone, MOM has had a perfect journey.

New brain cell discovered

  • Researchers have discovered a strange new type of brain cell that sends signals by bypassing the cell body altogether.
  • Neurons come in different shapes and sizes but the basic blueprint consists of a cell body, from which protrudes spindly appendages called dendrites and axons.
  • Dendrites are branchlike structures that receive signals from other nerve cells and deliver them to the cell body. The neuron then processes the signals and zaps along information to the next cell via a long projection called the axon.
  • The newly discovered cells, however, have a different, and until now, unknown process. In these cells, the signals skip the cell body altogether, instead travelling along an axon that project directly from one of the dendrites.
  • The new cells were discovered in the hippocampus of a mouse. Humans have the same general brain structure and types of hippocampus cells as mice. The hippocampus is home to extensively branched neurons called pyramidal cells because of their triangular cell bodies.

Government study on spurious drugs is set to gain momentum

  • The Government’s study on spurious drugs in the country is set to gain momentum in the next few months.
  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) in consultation with the Indian Statistical Institute and other partners, including the State drug controllers, have put in the basic framework on how to carry out the study, including details on the category or medicines to be covered, said Bangarurajan, Deputy Drugs Controller, CDSCO (West Zone).
  • Former Drug Controller-General of India, Surinder Singh, who is now Director of the National Institute of Biologicals, heads this committee that is studying the prevalence of spurious drugs.
  • A similar study on spurious drugs was conducted in 2009, where 24,000 samples were picked up from across the country. The prevalence of spurious products was found to be about 0.04 per cent.

:: SPORTS ::

Abhinav Bindra plans to quit shooting

  • India’s Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra plans to leave full-time shooting after competing in his favourite 10m air rifle event in the Asian Games.
  • “Tomorrow will mark the end of my professional shooting life!,” “I will however still shoot, compete as a hobby shooter training twice a week.” Bindra, tweeted.
  • Despite giving up serious shooting, Bindra still hopes to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Bindra, who won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year, failed to make the final at the world championships in Spain.

Saurav Ghosal missed out on winning the gold medal for India

  • It was Indian squash’s biggest moment at the Asian Games. Saurav Ghosal, who has been leading the charge here, was just a point away from winning a historic men’s singles gold. But the top seed slipped at the doorstep of victory as Kuwaiti Abdullah Al Muzayen grabbed the gold with a fighting 3-2 verdict at the Yeorumul courts.

  • After winning the first two games in contrasting style, the 28-year-old Ghosal was on match ball at 10-8 but still could not pull it off. Abdullah grabbed the chance with both hands, took risks, raised his game impressively and raced to victory after that.

Sawarn Singh wins bronze in rowing

  • Young rower Sawarn Singh brought some cheers back to the Indian contingent as he clinched the bronze medal in men’s single sculls final at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon.
  • The 24-year-old Singh finished behind Iran’s Mohsen Shadinaghadh, who won the gold medal and silver medallist Kim Dongyong of hosts South Korea.
  • Another rower Dushyant Singh was the only athlete to manage a podium finish for India as he grabbed a bronze in the men’s lightweight single sculls.

:: IN THE NEWS (PERSONS) ::

Rizwan Akhtar

  • Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar was appointed the new chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in commander-level promotions announced in the country’s powerful Army.
  • Announcement comes as current ISI chief Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam and five other lieutenant generals are scheduled to retire from service in the first week of October.
  • Lt. Gen. Akhtar is a graduate of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, National Defence University and the Army War College, U.S.

Bibek Debroy

  • The government has set up a panel of experts to suggest ways for restructuring the Railway Board, a long pending issue, to infuse efficiency in the transport behemoth's top decision-making body and run it on professional lines.
  • The seven-member committee, headed by economist Bibek Debroy, has been tasked to suggest measures to reorganize the Railway Board and its departments so that policy making is separated from day-to-day operations.
  • The panel, which has former cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar as member, has also been mandated to estimate the financial needs of railways and ensure policies to raise resources, internally and otherwise to meet future demands.

Edward Snowden

  • Edward Snowden has been selected among the winners of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel,” for his disclosures of top secret surveillance programs.
  • The award foundation said the former National Security Agency contractor splits the honorary portion of the prize with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
  • The 1.5 million kronor ($210,000) cash award is shared by Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission and U.S. environmentalist Bill McKibben.
  • Award foundation director Ole von Uexkull said all winners were invited to the December 1 award ceremony in Stockholm, though he added it’s unclear whether Mr. Snowden, who remains exiled in Russia, can attend.

:: Selected Editorials of Importance ::

Police Patrol: Tech-savvy police make best use of social media

In July, a Bangalore child who was lost in Chennai, was rescued and reunited with his family, thanks to WhatsApp.

Social media is the new friend of police personnel on the field. Smartphones, webcasting technology, and apps such as WhatsApp and Viber allow crucial information to be transmitted instantly, leading to speedy solving of crimes, in some cases.

In July, an 11-year-old boy from Shivaji Nagar, Bangalore, lost his way and ended up at CMBT bus terminus in Koyembedu.

An MTC bus conductor took him to the Flower Bazaar police.

With the help of a college student who, incidentally, was at the police station for an enquiry, the policemen uploaded the boy’s photographs, along with the sketchy details he provided, on WhatsApp.

The message spread like wildfire and made its way to handsets in Bangalore too. The boy’s father recognised his ward and rushed to Chennai and they were reunited.

Even in instances of grievous crimes, instant messages with photographic evidence are sent to senior officers, including the commissioner of police, from crime scenes.

There are even instances where crimes are cracked with the help of vital clues available on the social media space of the victim or suspect concerned.

The Chennai traffic police’s Facebook page has proved effective in finding a solution to online traffic complaints, including those of illegal parking, for over a year now.

The city police too recently floated their official Facebook page. A Twitter handle of the city police has also been unveiled.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

:: MCQs ::

1Q.

(i) The Election Commission of India has written to the Chief Secretaries to make arrangements for those under preventive detention to exercise their franchise through postal ballot.
(ii) The Election Commission pointed out that sub-section (5) of Section 62 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, confers voting rights on “electors subjected to preventive detention.” And Rule 18 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, states that such detainees are entitled to cast their vote through postal ballot.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii

2Q.

(i) Union Minister of Rural Development has proposed that the MGNREGA be restricted to only tribal and poor areas and the permissible labour to material ratio of expenses be changed to 51:49.
(ii) The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guarantying 50 days of wage-employment in a financial year.

Which of the above statements is/are true about MGNREGA-?

(a) Only 1
(b) Only 2
(c) Both 1 & 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

3Q.

(i) Sri Lanka’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), led by President Mahinda Rajpaksa, lost provincial polls in the Sinhala-majority Uva Province by a narrow margin, signalling an apparent setback to the ruling alliance despite the victory.
(ii) Following UPFA’s win, its lead candidate Shasheendra Rajapaksa , nephew of President Rajapaksa who was Chief Minister of the province, will continue for another term.

Which of the above statement/statements is/are not true ?

(a) Only i
(b) Only ii
(c) Neither i nor ii
(d) Both i and ii

4Q.

(i) The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007
(ii) The Conference of Parties III (COP3), on climate change took place in Kyoto, Japan in 1997.
(iii) Lima (Peru) will host the 20th yearly session of the conference of parties to the UNFCCC.

Which of the statements is/are true-?

(a) Only 1
(b) 1 & 3
(c) 1, 2 & 3
(d) 1 & 2

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