Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 14 June 2017
Fresh movement for a separate State of Gorkhaland
- The fresh movement for a separate State of Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling hills gathered steam with smaller parties backing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) demand.
- In an embarrassment for the Trinamool Congress, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), with whom it had forged an alliance in the recent municipal polls, came out in full support of Gorkhaland.
- GJM general secretary Roshan Giri demanded a written clarification from the West Bengal government on the three language policy, which intends to make Bengali compulsory. He said the movement would be peaceful.
Full extradition case against Vijay Mallya is set to start this December
- The full extradition case against liquor baron Vijay Mallya is set to start this December, on the grounds that it expected a second request for extradition to come from India, and to enable enough time for all the evidence to be gathered.
- The date will be confirmed at another case management hearing due on July 6, which Mr. Mallya will not attend.
- Mr. Mallya attended hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, accompanied by his son.
- Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom ahead of the hearing, he took issue with media coverage of the case, accusing it of sensationalism and bias.
Health Ministry to test the babies for the Zika virus
- Although it detected 260 cases of microcephaly in India since February 2016, during an investigation to study the link between the condition and the Zika virus, the Health Ministry did not test the babies for the virus citing shortage of laboratory capacity.
- A three month old Delhi baby detected with ‘severe microcephaly’ tested negative for Zika, making it the first case where the Ministry ran blood work for Zika since the 2015-16 global outbreak
- Microcephaly is a rare congenital defect where a baby’s head is much smaller than what is normal for its age and sex.
- The requisite tests to investigate cause-and-effect between the virus and microcephaly, however, could not be carried out due to lack of laboratory strength, Ministry officials said.
- Surveillance was set up at 55 centres in the country after the WHO declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in February 2016.
- Severe microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed during pregnancy or because it was damaged during pregnancy.
- Based on available evidence, the WHO has said the most likely explanation is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy causes microcephaly.
- The Health Ministry started tracking cases of microcephaly in India in February 2016, after the World health Organization (WHO) requested countries to track and report cases.
- In 2016, a base line estimate of microcephaly-affected births in India was determined after a systematic review and meta-analysis of several studies.
- The pooled birth prevalence of microcephaly was shown as 2.30 per 10,000 births among 97,155 births. This study, however, was rejected by WHO and the Centre.
Problems with the Navigation Indian Constellation
- Navigation Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent Indian satellite-based positioning system for critical national applications.
- The purpose is to provide “reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and its neighbourhood.” NavIC consists of a constellation of seven satellites and was named so by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Three of the satellites are in a geostationary orbit and four in a geosynchronous one. This means they will be visible at all times in the Indian region.
- All the seven satellites of NavIC, namely, IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID,1E, 1F and 1G were successfully launched.
- Because navigation requires the most accurate clocks, the Rs. 1,420-crore NavIC relies on rubidium clocks.
- Each of the seven satellites has three of them on-board. However, this January, the ISRO confirmed that the clocks on the first satellite, IRNSS-1A had failed in June 2016.
- According to ISRO, the applications of IRNSS are: terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking and fleet management, terrestrial navigation for hikers and travellers, disaster management, integration with mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture and visual and voice navigation for drivers.
- Though six of the satellites are working fine, the one faulty one means the “GPS” isn’t working as accurately as it ought to be.
- ISRO was trying to revive the clocks on 1A and readying one of the two back-up navigation satellites to replace it in space in the second half of this year.
- Rubidium clocks were the previous standard in accurate clocks and most organisations, that need precise time estimates, need cesium clocks.
- It is learnt that future clocks on such satellites, each with a lifespan of 10 years, will host such clocks.
Massive landslide and floods in Bangladesh
- At least 74 people, including Four army men, have been killed in massive landslides in Chittagong, followed by day-long downpour that has paralysed most of Bangladesh.
- At least 50 people died in Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts, while Chittagong and Bandarban districts saw 18 and six deaths. The rescuers fear that the number of casualties might rise once the debris are cleared .
- The army personnel were killed when they were conducting a rescue operation in Rangamati, according to the Inter Services Public Relation Directorate (ISPR).
- Members of the fire service, army and police are conducting rescue operations. District administrations have asked the people living in risky hill areas to move to safer places.
::Business and Economy::
SEBI has allowed commodity exchanges to introduce options trading
- SEBI has allowed commodity exchanges to introduce options trading while ensuring that such contracts are introduced only on such commodities that currently register high volume in the futures segment.
- Further, on a pilot basis, each exchange will be allowed to start such options trading only on one commodity initially.
- The regulatory framework comes nearly two months after the SEBI board approved the launch of commodity options — an instrument that was being demanded ever since SEBI took over the regulation of the commodity markets in 2015.
- Regulator said that options can be launched only on such underlying futures contracts that are among the top five contracts in terms of total trading turnover value of previous twelve months.
- Further, the average daily turnover of underlying futures contracts qualifying for options has been pegged at Rs. 200 crore for agricultural & agri-processed commodities and Rs. 1,000 crore for other commodities in the previous twelve months.
- Given the eligibility criteria, Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) — the largest in terms of market share — will be able to choose from commodities like crude, gold, silver, zinc and copper to launch options contracts.
- The combination of futures & options can give market participants the benefit of price discovery of futures and simpler risk management of options.
RBI identified 12 borrowers’ non-performing assets
- The Reserve Bank of India identified 12 borrowers’ non-performing assets, amounting to more than Rs. 5,000 crore each, for triggering proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in a bid to pare banks’ bad debts.
- The unnamed accounts constitute 25% of total bad loans in the banking system.
- The RBI’s Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) — which held its first meeting on Tuesday — undertook a detailed review of the situation.
- Banks would get six months to finalise a viable resolution plan for all the other stressed accounts, failing which the lenders would be required to file for insolvency proceedings.
India ratified two core conventions of ILO on child labour
- India ratified two core conventions of International Labour Organisation on child labour — a global commitment to end the worst form of child labour and to ensure minimum basic education to children.
- “It is a historic moment for India as we are going to take another giant step to affirm our commitment for a child labour-free India by ratifying the two core conventions of ILO Conventions,“ said Labour Minister.
Govt has started a Periodic Labour Force Survey
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has started a Periodic Labour Force Survey, which will provide quarterly labour and employment data for urban India and annual data for rural India.
- Introduced in April 2017, this survey will supersede the earlier system where such data was available only every five years, the Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- The Statistics Ministry is also preparing to revise the base year of national accounts to 2017-18 from 2011-12, following the completion of the household consumer expenditure survey and the labour force survey at the end of 2018.
- The Periodic Labour Force Survey will also incorporate a Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) method, with field operators using tablets to enter the data. This would generate more accurate and timely information, Mr. Gowda said.
- The Ministry of Statistics is also developing a fact sheet on the Indian economy, incorporating inputs from all important ministries on 100 indicators.
- It is also considering an Annual Survey of Services, along the lines of the Annual Survey of Industries already being carried out, Mr. Gowda said.