Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 10 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 10 MARCH 2019


EC warns use of defence staff images for election campaigning

  •  Taking cognisance of a political banner bearing Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman’s portrait along with the photographs of Prime Minister NarendraModi, BJP president Amit Shah and others, the Election Commission on Saturday said “strictest action” would be taken in such cases once the model code of conduct was in place.
  •  After a picture of the banner was brought to the notice of the Commission, spokesperson SheyphaliSharan said: “ECI already has instructions issued on such matters. Once the model code of conduct comes into force, the commission will take strictest action in such cases, if the instructions are violated.” The code comes into effect once the election schedule is announced.
  •  In a letter to the recognised parties issued later on Saturday, the Commission said it had been brought to its notice that some political parties were using the photographs of defence personnel in advertisements as part of their political campaigning.
  •  Asking the parties to issue appropriate instructions to their candidates, leaders and cadres to ensure strict compliance, the Commission cited a general advisory dated December 4, 2013, in this regard.
  •  The advisory called upon political parties to desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel or functions involving them in advertisements, or otherwise, as part of their election propaganda.
  •  The Commission’s advisory said: “The armed forces of a nation are the guardian of its frontiers, security and the political system. They are apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy. It is, therefore, necessary that the political parties and leaders exercise great caution while making any reference to the Armed Forces in their political campaigns.”

Centre amends law to bring in tourism project in Aves island

  •  The Environment Ministry has amended laws that now allow a proposed tourism project in the Aves Island, of the Andaman and Nicobar island (A&N) territory, to come up.
  •  The project was the only one of three high-profile proposed tourism projects that did not get a clearance from an expert committee on coastal clearance in February. This was because the proposed Aves Island project was located 20 m away from the High Tide Line(HTL) and existing rules required such projects to be at least 50 m away.
  •  An official said that while the new rules did ease the way for the Aves Island project, it was also done to broadly align the changes in coastal zone regulations in the country’s mainland States with the island regions.
  •  “What is important is that there is no other industrial development in the A&N, and tourism is a major thrust area that we have to consider. However, there continue to be stringent provisions on how infrastructure and development projects can be executed,” an official, who did not want to be identified, told . These were “high end” eco tourism projects and had to strictly adhere to the island management plan, the official added.
  •  In December, the government had issued a coastal regulation zone notification that largely allows tourism and development projects located near coasts in mainland States to come up closer to the sea. It also issued an Island Zone Protection Notification in January 2019 to allow similar relaxations in the A&N Islands.
  •  After site visits, the committee in February recommended two of them at Lalaji Bay on Long Island and at Smith Island for island protection zone clearance, with caveats. However, the Aves Island project was still red-flagged primarily because of the 50 m clause. ECONOMY


SAT orders IRDAI to renew license to TPA services firm

  •  In a rare instance, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has quashed an order issued by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and directed the insurance regulator to renew the licence of an entity that was cancelled by IRDAI in July 2016.
  •  While directing IRDAI to renew the licence of Happy Insurance TPA Services within four weeks, the tribunal said that the stance taken by the regulator was not ‘justifiable’ and that it acted ‘discriminately’ since it could have levied a monetary penalty rather than rejecting the application.
  •  Incidentally, this is the first time since August last year that the tribunal has passed an order in a matter related to the insurance regulator. The roots of the matter go back to October 2015, when Happy Insurance TPA applied to IRDAI for renewal of its licence to act as a third-party administrator for health insurance.
  •  According to IRDAI, the application was rejected as the applicant had a working capital of less than ₹1 crore during three financial years and that there was a difference in the two audited financial reports submitted for the year 2015-16.
  •  “It is a recent trend that some insurance companies and certain intermediaries have started challenging IRDAI’s orders,” said SumitAgrawal, founder, RegStreet Law Advisors.
  •  “IRDAI has its limitations. Their exposure to a specialised tribunal is limited and while being strong on facts, their orders are sometimes found to be wanting of a quasi-judicial style of writing orders.
  •  With more challenge to authority of IRDAI and SAT’s guidance, insurance law jurisprudence will grow,” added Mr.Agrawal, who had earlier represented IRDAI in matters against SBI Life Insurance, Sahara Life Insurance and Reliance Nippon Life Insurance.

India bags prize at City Gate Tourism Awards

  •  The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has won the First Prize in the category of TV Cinema Spot at the prestigious international Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019.
  •  The Golden City Gate Tourism Multi-media Awards are given annually in various categories related to the Tourism and Hospitality sectors. The ‘Golden City Gate’ is a creative multi-media international competition for countries, cities, regions and hotels.
  •  The entries received for the awards are judged by an international jury comprising film and tourism experts. The annual award ceremony takes place at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading tourism trade show.
  •  The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign in September 2017. The 2.0 Campaign marks a shift from generic promotions across the world to market specific promotional plans and content creation.
  •  Thematic creatives on different Niche tourism products have been produced and are being used in the Campaign, to cater to diverse consumer interests
  •  These include the above Television Commercials on Yoga, Wellness, Wildlife, Luxury and Cuisine, which have been very well received the world over, registering about 155 million views on social media.
  •  The commercials have been produced in English with voice overs in 9 international languages, viz. German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic.

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U.S report suggests North korea may bebuilding missile or nuclear research centre

  •  North Korea may be preparing for a missile or space launch, U.S. news outlet NPR has reported, based on satellite image analysis of a key facility near Pyongyang.
  •  NPR said the images of Sanumdong, one of the facilities Pyongyang has used to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles, were taken days before U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Hanoi for their high-stakes summit, which ended in failure.
  •  It added that rail cars and cranes can also be seen at a yard. “When you put all that together, that’s really what it looks like when the North Koreans are in the process of building a rocket,” Jeffrey Lewis, a researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, was quoted as saying by NPR on Friday.
  •  The Sanumdong analysis comes days after the specialised website 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies said Pyongyang may have resumed operations at its long-range rocket launch site at Sohae, based on their study of satellite imagery from March 6.
  •  The development is likely to further compound Washington’s frustration over the lack of progress in its bid to get the North to give up its atomic arsenal, especially after the February 27-28 summit between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim collapsed without a joint statement.
  •  U.S. officials have said Washington believes the “final, fully verified denuclearisation” of North Korea is still possible by the end of Mr. Trump's first term.

India-Saudi Arabia to expand cooperation in energy sector

  •  Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development and Entrepreneurship ShriDharmendraPradhan held a meeting with Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of Saudi Aramco, H.E. Eng. Khalid A. Al-Falih in New Delhi on 9 March, 2019.
  •  The meeting is a follow-up to the first State visit of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in February this year.
  •  This visit also reflects the intensifying engagement between the two countries in the hydrocarbon sector. Saudi Arabia is the second largest supplier of crude and LPG to India. In 2017-18, India’s crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia were 36.8 MMT, accounting for 16.7% of our total imports.
  •  During the meeting, ShriPradhan referred to Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminent role as a leading producer of crude oil in the world, and in maintaining global oil market balance. He raised concerns about increasing trend in global crude oil prices.
  •  He also pointed to the need for uninterrupted supplies of crude oil and LPG to India in view of the OPEC+ cuts. Both Ministers also discussed about possible adverse impact of recent geopolitical developments on global oil market.
  •  The Ministers also reviewed various Saudi investment proposals in the Indian oil and gas sector, including the urgent steps to be taken to expedite the implementation of the first Joint Venture West Coast Refinery and Petrochemical Project in Maharashtra, estimated to cost US $ 44 billion, which will be the largest greenfield refinery in the world. Saudi Arabia’s participation in Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) Program was also discussed.


Scientists develop nano particles to check status of frozen food

  •  Researchers from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (ICAR-CIFT), Kochi, Kerala, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, Madison, U.S., have now found a way using gold nanoparticles that they synthesised to help tell if frozen food is still edible.
  •  The nanoparticles change colour in response to changes in temperature. They become ruby red (similar to the colour of red wine) at -18° C and turn purple when the temperature rises. At room temperature, their colour is dark grey.
  •  To synthesise the nanoparticles, the researchers used chitosan, a natural biodegradable polysaccharide that was extracted from marine waste such as shrimp and crab shell. A solution of chitosan and gold chloride solution was heated for about 30 minutes at 90° C.
  •  The nanoparticles remained stable when tested at -18° C. Their colour and other physical properties remained intact even at the end of 30 days of testing at -18° C.
  •  Explains Dr. C.O. Mohan, Senior Scientist, ICAR-CIFT, Kochi and corresponding author of the work that has been published in npj Science of Food , “The colour change of the nanoparticles is irreversible. So once they change from red to purple or grey when the temperature increases, the original colour cannot be regained even if the temperature is brought back to -18° C.”
  •  He adds, “They can be attached to the outer surface of the food or pharmaceutical packs as a visible indicator without coming in contact with the product.”
  •  According to him, such smart indicators can be made using a very small quantity of chitosan-gold nanoparticle solution to identify frozen temperature abuse. It would cost less than Rs. 2 a pack. The team is also working to develop smart indicators from nanoparticles of other metals to further reduce the cost.


Aussies beat India to level series

  •  Australia defeated India by 4 wickets in the fourth One-Day International, levelling the five-match series 2-2 in Mohali on Sunday.
  •  India scored 358 for the loss of 9 wickets in the stipulated 50 overs.
  •  ShikharDhawan scored 143 runs including 18 boundaries and 3 sixers while R G Sharma scored 95 runs.
  •  For Australia, P J Cummings took maximum 5 wickets.

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