Friday, 5 December 2014

Daily Updates - 5th December, 2014

Events of National and International Importance

PMO orders huge cuts in social sector spending for 2015-16
1.       The upcoming budget will see social sectors face huge cuts in funds. 
2.       Ministries concerned with infrastructure works, on the other hand, will be given with more funds.
3.       These include ministries of shipping, road and transport, telecom and power.
4.       The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed the Union Ministry of Finance to include these budget adjustments in the Union budget for 2015-16.
5.       The finance ministry attributes these fund cuts to the increasing current account deficit (CAD).
6.       But in comparison to last year, CAD is much lower this year.
7.       The CAD in the first quarter of 2013-14 was $21.8 billion.
8.       It was lower at $7.8 billion in the same quarter this year.

9.       According to sources in the finance ministry, the Union Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) is expected to face a massive Rs 15,000-crore-fund cut in the budget next year.
Indian-American scientist appointed as U.S. Science Envoy
1.       A top Indian-American scientist from Stanford University has been appointed as one of the Science Envoys of the U.S.
2.       Arun Majumdar, a professor at the prestigious university, along with three others Peter Hotez, Jane Lubchenco and Geri Richmond would serve as U.S. Envoys beginning January next year
3.       Like their nine predecessors, these distinguished scientists will engage internationally at the citizen and government levels to develop partnerships.
Indian Oil win Beighton Cup Hockey tournament
1.       Former India international Deepak Thakur struck the winner to help Indian Oil pip Punjab National Bank in the penalty shootout
2.       They clinch the title in the 119th All India Beighton Cup Hockey Tournament on Thursday. 
3.       The last edition's runners up Indian Oil trailed 1-2 at halftime after PNB struck through Hardeeep Singh 17th and Damandeep Singh 33th. 
India helps Maldives to sort out water crisis
1.       The only water desalination in Male, home to over a lakh of people, had caught fire and had to be shut down.
2.       And Maumoon had decided to turn to Swaraj with whom she had developed a good rapport — they had met just last week at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu.
3.       Within the next 90 minutes, sources said, Swaraj had obtained the green signal from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and set in motion a rare logistical operation.
4.       To ferry drinking water to Male on IAF planes and Navy ships.
5.       According to sources, the IAF was alerted 12.48 am that night and the first transport aircraft took off from Delhi at 7.30 am on Friday.
6.       It landed in Thiruvananthapuram, picked up tonnes of water bottles, and reached Male at 1.55 pm that afternoon.
DNA biologist James Watson’s Nobel medal sells for $4.7m
1.       A 1962 Nobel Prize medal won by biologist James Watson for the discovery of the structure of DNA 
2.       It has fetched more than USD 4.7 million, setting a world record for any Nobel Prize sold at auction.
3.       The medal was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for a record-setting price of USD 4,757,000, marking the first time a living Nobel laureate sold his gold medal. 
China invites India for Indo-Pacific partnership
1.       China is looking towards India for establishing an “Indo-Pacific era,” based on shared interests in developing new routes to Europe.
2.       And it is basically avoiding the “Asia Pivot” doctrine of the United States.
3.       People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese government is running a commentary .
4.       It analyses India’s “Look East” and “Act East” foreign policy that is being steered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
5.       It acknowledges that Mr. Modi “wants a peaceful and stable periphery that will allow him to concentrate on domestic economic structural reform and infrastructure building.
6.       It also points out that the Prime Minister wants India to become a manufacturing hub, and deliver his promise of building “a powerful India in a decade.”
7.       In pursuit of its ambitious goals, the six-month old government needs to maintain “stable relations with China, Pakistan and other countries.
8.       It needs to absorb investment and technologies from countries like China, Japan and Singapore,” the daily observed.
9.       It also acknowledges that the “Indian government and scholars” have not endorsed the “Indo-Pacific geo-strategy” scripted by countries such as the United States and Japan, which aims to “balance and even contain China’s increasing influence in the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean”.
10.    It asserts that the “Indo-Pacific” construct, of which India is seen as the “linchpin” was first used by Australian scholars, following the Obama administrations strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific. 
11.    It also called the “Asia Pivot,” Mr. Obama's “rebalance” doctrine aims is to amass forces on China’s periphery with the help of allies — chiefly Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines.
12.    The article cautioned the Modi government to avoid the “misconception” that China should make concessions on border disputes because Beijing is facing pressure from the east. Besides, it should not be assumed that “China would turn to India for help to digest its excess capacity and huge foreign reserves”.
Economic Development 
Govt relaxes norms for licenses for e-rickshaw drivers
1.       The government approved relaxation in norms for e-rickshaw drivers, paving the way for the battery-operated vehicles to ply on national capital roads.
2.       These were banned by the Delhi High Court on safety concerns.
3.       Cabinet has approved relaxation in norms for driving licences for e-rickshaw drivers.
4.       The norms have been relaxed for issuing licences for e-rickshaw drivers.
5.       The provision that no person shall be granted a learner's licence to drive a commercial vehicle unless he or she has held a driving licence for light motor vehicle for at least one year has been waived.
6.       E-rickshaw is a legal entity and any driver passing the driving test would now be granted a licence.
7.       The government in October had notified the rules for plying of e-rickshaws making driver's licence mandatory for operating them and limiting the maximum speed to 25 km per hour.
8.       The government had notified the Central Motor Vehicles (Sixteenth Amendment) Rules, 2014, which paves the way for plying of 'special purpose battery operated vehicles'.
9.       The new rules provide that e-rickshaw will be allowed to carry four passengers and 40 kg luggage while e-carts would transport goods up to 310 kg.

10.   The rules define E-rickshaw as a special purpose battery operated vehicle 'having three wheels and intended to provide last mile connectivity for transport of passengers for hire or reward'.
India improves on global Corruption Perception Index
1.       A new report from Transparency International says India's position on the global Corruption Perception Index has actually improved over the past year. 
2.       With a score of 38, India now ranks 85, as against 94 last year, out of 175 countries.
3.       According to the Global Corruption Barometer, the survey published by Transparency International.
4.       62 per cent of Indians reported having paid bribes to the police, while 41 per cent reported having paid bribes to the tax revenue.
No more subsidised kerosene through PDS
1.       Attacking the subsidy regime, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has scrapped the supply of subsidised kerosene through the Public Distribution System (PDS). 
2.       The Centre plans to write to States asking them to provide subsidised kerosene only to un-electrified households. 
3.       States which have achieved near 100 per cent electrification will be incentivised to become kerosene-free.
4.       Un-electrified households will be given the choice between cash subsidy in lieu of kerosene allocation and upfront subsidy for greener solar lighting systems. 
5.       This decision comes close on the heels of cuts in the Centre’s social sector spending allocations aimed at aligning plan expenditure with subdued revenue collections.
Environment & Ecology

Disappearing beaches
1.       Beaches and coasts are amazing wonders of nature. India’s coastline stretches for around 7,500 kilometres. 
2.       Quite apart from the beautiful beaches, they also support an incredible diversity of wildlife like flamingos, shore birds, Olive Ridley turtles and red crabs.
3.       The rivers draining into the sea transport the large amount of sand that is gradually accumulated along their course. 
4.       The sea currents moving from south to north direction in the Bay of Bengal and the vice versa in the Arabian Sea deposits the ‘flowing’ sand along the coast.
5.       The sea waves act as the engines of sand transportation. They drive the movement of sand to form beaches. 
6.       The amount of sand and sediments deposited in our beaches is a whooping 1.2 billion tonnes every year, this is an amazing natural phenomenon.
7.       These beaches act as a defence mechanism for coastal villages from large waves and natural calamities. 
8.       But they are destroyed permanently every year at an alarming rate because of construction activities right on the beach.
9.       As much as 40% of India’s coastline is eroding at an alarming level, not only in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, but also in many other beaches.

10.    It is time we look at sustainable methods of construction and scientifically proven beach restoration methods so that we do not lose our beaches forever.
India makes a strong case for adaptation measures at Lima climate talks
1.       With the countries here negotiating crucial points in the run up to the next year's global climate agreement 
India on Wednesday made a strong pitch for giving more weight-age to "adaptation" measures .
2.       In the new agreement at the time when rich nations are more obsessed with "mitigation" (cutting emission) efforts and goals. 
3.       India also made it clear that the "adaptation is critical to the country's development paradigm" in view of climate change
A narrative which gained prominence ever since new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in New Delhi in May this year. 
4.       Without denying the importance of "mitigation" in the efforts to face the challenges of climate change.
India sought including "adaptation" element in the new agreement in a "comprehensive and balanced" manner. 


Why India must engage with ICANN


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