Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 07 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 07 MARCH 2019


Parliamentary house panel warns social media giants on misuse

  •  The Parliamentary Panel on Information and Technology has directed the social media platforms Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram to ensure that their platforms are not used to incite violence or to meddle in the LokSabha election.
  •  “We had a constructive meeting. These platforms are used by millions of users in India. These platforms should not be misused by hatemongers or fake news peddlers.
  •  Importantly we told them to ensure that there should not be any foreign interference in our election,” Anurag Thakur, Chairman of Parliamentary committee of IT told The Hindu .Mr. Thakur added that the Facebook has agreed to have regular meetings with the Election Commission.
  •  According to sources, the panel members grilled officials of Facebook. “The question is Facebook a technology company advertising firm, a media firm or marketing firm? They were not able to give us any clear answer to this fundamental question,” a member told. The Facebook according to sources said that they are a “hybrid company”.
  •  The members raised the issue of cloned and fake accounts with the Facebook. With one of the members claiming that there were so many accounts under his name that he no longer knows which one was his own.
  •  They also questioned Facebook on its regulatory frame work on content, advertising and marketing operations in India.

Environment ministry hooks the loop hole in law that led to import of plastic waste

  •  The government has plugged a loophole that allowed the import of plastic waste into India for processing.
  •  “Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU),” the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Environment Ministry said in an order made public on Wednesday.
  •  The change in law was part of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management &Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019.
  •  In spite of having a significant plastic pollution load of its own, and a ban on plastic waste imports, imported PET bottles from abroad for processing in Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
  •  “Indian firms are importing plastic scrap from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling and the imports of PET bottle scrap & flakes has increased from 12,000 tonnes in FY 16-17 to 48,000 tonnes in FY 17-18 growing @ 290%. India has already imported 25,000 MT in the first 3 months of FY 18-19,” a note by the organisation revealed.
  •  India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles only about 4 million tonnes. To incentivise domestic plastic recycling units, the government had banned the import of plastic waste, particularly PET bottles, in 2015. In 2016, an amendment allowed such imports as long as they were carried out by agencies situated in SEZs
  •  A senior MoEFCC official had told that while the Ministry couldn’t vouch for whether such plastic imports had quadrupled, it was true that the imports had “substantially increased” and action was being contemplated.


CRISIL warns of slow growth in wind energy sector in future

  •  Capacity addition in the wind energy sector will slow down over fiscal 2019 to 2023, with only 14-16 GW being added due to a decline in bid responses and profitability of original equipment manufacturers, according to a report by Crisil.
  •  “The shift to a competitive bidding mechanism has slowed industry growth due to a significant fall in tariffs, triggering a decline in both bid response and profitability for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).”
  •  The shift to a competitive bidding mechanism in the wind energy sector has resulted in tariffs falling to Rs. 2.4-2.6 per unit, from Rs. 4-4.5 per unit under the feed-in tariff regime.
  •  “Crisil Research expects capacity addition of 14-16 GW over fiscal 2019 to 2023, entailing investments of about Rs. 1,10,000 crore,” Crisil said in the report.
  •  “Capacity additions will primarily be driven by central government allocations with relatively stronger counterparties such as Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and PTC India, reducing risk compared with direct exposure to state discoms.”
  •  State auctioning, on the other hand, has slowed as several States have signed power supply agreements (PSAs) with PTC and SECI to procure wind power under the schemes auctioned by them, to help fulfill their non-solar renewable purchase obligations (RPO) targets, according to Crisil Research.

Indore tops again in centre’s cleanliness survey

  •  Indore was adjudged India’s cleanest city for the third year in a row in the Centre’s ‘Cleanliness Survey’ announced on Wednesday. The second and third positions were bagged by Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh and Mysuru in Karnataka.
  •  The SwachhSurvekshan awards 2019 were conferred by President Ram NathKovind in New Delhi. While the New Delhi Municipal Council was given award for the ‘Cleanest Small City’ award, Uttarakhand’sGauchar bagged the ‘Best Ganga Town’.
  •  The ‘Cleanest Big City’ award has been bagged by Ahmedabad, while Raipur is the ‘Fastest Moving Big City’.
  •  Ujjain has been the adjudged the ‘Cleanest Medium City’ and Mathura-Vrindavan bagged the tag of the ‘Fastest Moving Medium Cities’.
  •  Top-ranked cities received a statue of Mahatma Gandhi as a memento for their work towards cleanliness. SwachhSurvekshan covered all urban local bodies in the country, making it the largest such cleanliness survey in the world.

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China steps in to neutralise Indo-Pak conflict

  •  China has stepped up its diplomacy to ease tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama attack by sending its special envoy to Islamabad.
  •  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Wednesday that Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou was already in Islamabad to establish an “enabling atmosphere” that would help Pakistan to cooperate with “other parties”.
  •  Mr. Lu said Mr. Kong’s mission was to “promote dialogue” between India and Pakistan by persuading both sides to exercise flexibility. “I hope the two sides can show some goodwill, embrace each other halfway, properly resolve their differences through dialogue. China will play a constructive role to promote dialogue between them.”
  •  India has made it plain that it would start a dialogue only if Pakistan takes visible and verifiable steps to eliminate terrorism that targets India from its soil. “In fact, Pakistan has been making efforts and exercised policies to combat terrorism. We think we should encourage this,” Mr. Lu said.
  •  Asked to comment on China’s stand on the resolution proposed in the UNSC 1267 committee to list Azhar as a global terrorist, Mr. Lu said China would take a “conducive decision” to resolve the differences. “China will have discussion with relevant bodies” as listing of terrorists “is a very serious issue”, he said.

European commission to continue work for maintaining peace in Iran

  •  The European Union will continue to cooperate with Iran toward peace and stability in the Middle East region and the entire world.
  •  The European Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr said in Washington yesterday that Iran's cooperation is a must in ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East.
  •  Last month, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif at a meeting expressed their commitment to cooperate for further implementation of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) with Iran, which allows bypassing US sanctions.
  •  US sanctions against Tehran were reinstated in 2018 after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which provided for the relief of economic sanctions against Tehran in return for Iran's pledge to keep its nuclear program peacefull.


ISRO to jointly set up maritime surveillance system with CNES

  •  National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES on Wednesday sealed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country in May.
  •  The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.
  •  The agreement comes a year after the broad collaboration plan the two governments initiated during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in March last 2018.
  •  “The CNES-ISRO agreement [intends] to supply an operational system for detecting, identifying and tracking ships in the Indian Ocean. It provides for a maritime surveillance centre to be set up in India in May this year; sharing of capacity to process existing satellite data and joint development of associated algorithms,” the CNES statement said.
  •  “For the next phase of the programme, studies for an orbital infrastructure to be operated jointly by the two countries are ongoing. CNES is working with its industry partners and with ISRO to devise the most appropriate technical solution.”
  •  The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model.
  •  “This fleet will be augmented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 along with a joint infrared Earth-observation satellite,” the CNES said.


Manpreet singh named captain in Sulthan Azlan shah cup

  •  Manpreet Singh was today named captain of the 18-member Indian hockey team to play in the upcoming 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
  •  The prestigious tournament will be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from the 23rd of this month. Hockey India said Surender Kumar will be the Vice-Captain of the team.
  •  The Indian squad comprises relatively young players as several key players have been ruled out due to injuries.
  •  Apart from India and hosts Malaysia, the other participating nations in the tournament are Canada, Korea, South Africa, Asian Games gold medallist Japan. India, will start its campaign against Japan on the opening day itself.

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