THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 23RD FEBRUARY 2020

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Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the
Legislative Powers of the President.
1. He can send messages to the Houses of
Parliament with respect to a bill pending in the
Parliament.
2. He decides on questions as to disqualifications
of members of the Parliament, in consultation
with the Prime Minister.
3. In the case of Puducherry, the President can
legislate by making regulations but only when
the assembly is suspended or dissolved.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1, 2
b) 1, 3
c) 2, 3
d) 1, 2, 3
Solution: b)

Q.2 Consider the following with reference to Central
Indian paintings.
1. They take inspiration from Puranas and Indian
folk-lore.
2. Vaishnavism, Saivism and Sakti exercised
tremendous influence on these paintings.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both
d) None
Solution: c)

Q.3 Who among the following was the last Mauryan king.
a) Kunala
b) Dasaratha
c) Brihatratha
d) Asoka
Solution: c)

TRAVEL ADVISORY AGAINST VISITING SINGAPORE

NEWS: 

Indians have been advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Singapore after the country registered a rise in the number of coronavirus cases recently.

The decision was announced after the Cabinet Secretary chaired a high-level meeting to review the action taken and preparedness of the States and the Union Territories to handle novel coronavirus (COVID19) on Saturday.

ABOUT CORONA VIRUS

  • Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Symptoms:

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Transmission:

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  1. the air by coughing and sneezing.
  2. close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  3. touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  4. rarely, fecal contamination

YAKSHAGANA 

NEWS: 

Unlike Mohammed Ghouse, Jokatte Mohammed and Jabbar Samo, who are well-known Yakshagana artistes in coastal Karnataka, Arshiya is a relatively new entrant to the art form. But she is growing in popularity.

There are far fewer women Yakshagana artistes compared to men, and a Muslim woman exponent is rare. At one time, this traditional art form was forbidden for women.

ABOUT YAKSHAGANA 

Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form, developed in Udupi,in the state of Karnataka (India), that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form. It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theater during the period of the Bhakti movement.

Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn.

Its stories are drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other epics from both Hindu and Jain and other ancient Indic traditions.

CLEANING YAMUNA

NEWS: 

Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Saturday visited a sewage treatment plant located in Delhi Gate and said that cleaning the Yamuna and eradicating water pollution from Delhi within the next five years are the topmost priorities of his government.

Briefing the media after the visit, Mr. Rai said: “There are around 35 sewage treatment plants [STP] across Delhi that function to eliminate pollutants from waterbodies through technically advanced mechanisms. These plants purify untreated water, generate gases that run the sewage plants, and extract waste from water which can be made into compost for agricultural use. Our focus is solely on eliminating water pollution in the city.”

About Yamuna River System :-

Yamunotri, which is north of Haridwar in the Himalayan Mountains, is the source of the Yamuna. The river Yamuna, a major tributary of river Ganges, originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Banderpoonch peaks.

The Tons is the largest tributary of the Yamuna.

Tributaries of River Yamuna:-

Tons River

Giri River

Hindon River

Betwa River

Dhasan River

Ken River

Sind River

River Chambal

KAWAL TIGER RESERVE

NEWS: 

The worrisome man-animal conflict in the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) on account of water seems to be a thing of the past. There was no incident of wild animals straying into human habitations for water last year and it would hold good for the current season too as there is enough water for them to tide over the harsh summer in the Reserve, which is spread over 893 sq km of core area and 1,122 sq km of buffer.

The Reserve covers areas in Adilabad, Kumram Bheem Asifabad, Mancherial and Nirmal districts in Telangana.

Water will be available for a comparatively longer period in natural bodies, thanks to a prolonged monsoon and also the intensified efforts of the Reserve management in making it available through artificially created water holes. There is water still flowing in the Kadem canal, which cuts through the KTR core area and the recent release in the Saraswati canal from the Sri Ram Sagar Project also resulted in water being available from Khanapur in Nirmal district to Luxettipet in Mancherial.

PPP IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NEWS: 

In an effort to stimulate investment in research and development (R&D), the Department of Science and Technology is mooting a fund that will match the contributions made by private companies in R&D.

Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, told The Hindu that discussions were on with certain “large, private sector” companies and currently, a ₹40 crore target was on the anvil. “The idea is to pool funds from a group of companies willing to invest in fundamental research, such as quantum computers or artificial intelligence, and whatever is invested government will match that,” he added.

A major beneficiary of such private sector funds, Mr. Sharma noted, could be the Indian Institutes of Technology.

The scheme will be coordinated through the department’s Science and Engineering Research Board, which funds a variety of basic science projects in several universities.

Though India is among the top five countries in terms of its output of scientific publications, it doesn’t match up in investments.

The total expenditure on R&D has tripled in the last decade in nominal (revenue sans inflation) terms — from ₹24,117 crore in 2004-05 to an estimated ₹1,04,864 crore in 2016-17. However as a fraction of GDP, public expenditures on R&D has been stagnant — between 0.6-0.7% of GDP — over the past two decades. It is well below that in major nations such as the U.S. (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2), according to a 2019 report by the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the Prime Minister.

Public sector institutions form the lion’s share of India’s investment in R&D. In 2004-2005, private sector accounted for 28% of India’s research spend and in 2016-17 this increased to 40%. In most advanced economies, private R&D accounts for the bulk of investment in R&D.

GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
NEWS: 

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) on Saturday said there has been no discovery of gold deposits estimated to be around 3,000 tonnes in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, as was claimed by a district mining official on Friday.

“Such data was not given by anybody from GSI…. GSI has not estimated such kind of vast resource of gold deposits in Sonbhadra district,” GSI Director General (DG) M. Sridhar told PTI in Kolkata on Saturday.

ABOUT GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
  • The GSI is a government organisation in India, attached to the Ministry of Mines for conducting geological surveys and studies.
  • It is one of the premier organisations of earth science survey and research in the world.
  • The GSI was established in 1851 and is one of the oldest of such organisations in the world and the second oldest survey institution in the country.
  • It is the prime provider of basic earth science information to the government, industry and the general public.
  • Its main function is related to creation and updation of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment.

PM MATRU VANDANA YOJANA 

NEWS: 

One in three Aadhaar-based payments for the Centre’s maternity benefit scheme, or Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), was credited to a wrong bank account, according to a progress report on Poshan Abhiyaan (Nutrition Mission) released by the NITI Aayog on Saturday.

The report says a telephone survey of 5,525 beneficiaries, conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, revealed that only 60% were aware of the receipt of the benefits and the bank accounts to which the money was transferred.

Among the 19 large States, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh scored the top three ranks, followed by Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. All these States had an implementation score of over 70%. Karnataka, Assam and Kerala were at the bottom, with a score below 55%.

Among the eight small States, Mizoram and Sikkim scored above 75%. Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur and Goa were at the bottom, with scores below 60%. However, all small States had a score above 55%, displaying a fairly good level of readiness and implementation.

Four of the seven Union Territories had a score of over 70%. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chandigarh, and Daman and Diu scored above 75% and were ranked among the top three Union Territories. Delhi, and Lakshadweep were at the bottom, with scores below 50%.

About Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

The scheme promises a total sum of ₹5,000, to be given in three instalments to pregnant women and lactating mothers. Those who receive similar benefits from their employers and government employees are excluded from the scheme.

The benefit is provided only for the first live birth and the money is to be credited to the beneficiary’s Aadhaar-linked savings account in different intervals over a period of nearly 14 months.

Each instalment is paid after the mothers meet certain conditions — the first instalment after early registration of pregnancy; the second instalment after six months of pregnancy on the completion of at least one ante-natal check-up; and the third instalment after the registration of child-birth and the first cycle of immunisation of the child.

PROMPT CORRECTIVE ACTION FRAMEWORK

NEWS:

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das has said four banks under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework are taking efforts and they are being monitored.

Currently, Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank of India, UCO Bank and United Bank of India are under this framework, which places several restrictions on them, including on lending, management compensation and directors’ fees.

ABOUT PROMPT CORRECTIVE ACTION FRAMEWORK

  • RBI has issued PCA for maintaining sound financial health of banks
  • Banks are assessed on the basis of three parameters:  CAPITAL, ASSET QUALITY (which is assessed on the basis of net NPA) and PROFITABILITY.
  • Breaching net NPA (non performing asset) ratio of 6% is one of the conditions that trigger restrictions of Prompt Corrective Action Framework.
  • Once placed under the PCA framework banks are not allowed to renew or access costly deposits.
  • Banks are also not allowed to enter into new lines of businesses.
  • RBI also imposes restrictions on the banks ability to take inter bank loans.

ISSUE:WILL TRUMP’S VISIT BOOST INDIA US TRADE

United States President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip after his acquittal in an impeachment trial in the Senate will also be his first ever official visit to India. The 45th American President will be in India on February 24-25, spending time in Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s home State of Gujarat, and in New Delhi.

Where do the two countries stand on trade cooperation?

The world’s oldest and largest democracies have been, by and large, stable trading partners to each other, yet this area has not been without wrinkles in recent years, especially since Mr. Trump entered the Oval Office. At a broad level, U.S.-India trade in goods and services has grown at a steady clip from $16-billion to $142-billion during 1999-2018.

AREAS OF CONCERN IN INDIA US TRADE DISPUTE

Tariffs and foreign investment limitations

Agricultural trade

Concern for intellectual property rights

Trade Deficit

What is the chronology of U.S.-India trade squabbles?

In March 2018, the Trump administration slapped “national security” tariffs of 25% on $761-million worth of steel and of 10% on $382-million of aluminium imported from India. Despite formal World Trade Organisation disputes initiated by India protesting these tariffs, Washington ended a year-long review of the U.S. Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in June 2019 by removing India from the tariff concession system. This is said to have impacted nearly $5.8 billion of India’s exports, or more than 12% of exports to the U.S. in 2017.

India immediately imposed higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 U.S. products including almonds, walnuts, cashews, apples, chickpeas, wheat, and peas.

The U.S. also recently changed the status of India, among other countries, to a “developed” country, to further reduce trade concessions that it could receive from the U.S.

The other side of the coin is the concern that India has expressed on multiple occasions regarding restrictions on visas for highly skilled professionals seeking to take up employment in the U.S. — even though the laws that brought in restrictions, for example by imposing higher visa fees, were passed before Mr. Trump entered office.

DEFENSE DEALS

There is more positive news on the defence cooperation and trade front, with the likely announcement during the visit of Mr. Trump of a deal for 24 Lockheed Martin-built MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Role Helicopters for the Indian Navy; India’s Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared their purchase These 24 helicopters, said to be worth $2.4-billion, are likely to be procured through the Foreign Military Sales route of the U.S. government.

India and the U.S. are also said to be in negotiations regarding India’s potential purchase of drones, additional P-8I long-range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft and also Raytheon intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft.

 

ISSUE:BODO ACCORD AND RIFTS

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Assam government and Bodo groups including the All Bodo Students’ Union and militant outfits signed an agreement on January 27, New Delhi’s third attempt at conflict resolution after the 1993 and 2003 accords.

WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS RELATED TO DEAL?

The third peace accord with the Bodos threatens to intensify the sociopolitical contestation among groups in the State not just in the expanded area, which will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region, but also regions where the so-called Scheduled Hill Tribes reside in large numbers.

While greater contiguity of Bodo-populated areas would aid more efficient governance in the Sixth Schedule administrative unit, it has deepened insecurity among other groups such as Koch Rajbongshis, Adivasis and Muslims in the existing Bodoland Territorial Area Districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.

The Bodoland Peoples Front, which has dominated the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) since inception in 2003, is also not pleased with newer claimants to power in the council elections due soon.

There are also rumblings elsewhere. The agreement stipulates that Bodos living in the hill areas outside the BTAD will be conferred Scheduled Tribe (Hills) status, something that has not gone down well with tribes such as the Karbis.

TRIBES IN ASSAM

In Assam, there are as many as 14 recognised plains tribe communities, 15 hill tribe communities and 16 Scheduled Caste communities. The plains tribes are Barmans in Cachar, Bodos, Deoris, Hojais, Kacharis, Sonowals, Lalungs, Mechs, Misings, Rabhas, Dimasas, Singphos, Khamtis and Garos. The ST (Hills) status is primarily reserved for tribes residing in the two autonomous hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, where the Karbis and Dimasas are the most dominant in their respective areas.

Will it have a ripple effect?

Other insurgent groups at the talks table with the Centre, including the KLNLF, have taken note of the Bodo pact and are likely to push for similarly generous terms. The pot is likely to be stirred further in Assam if the plan to accord ST status to six communities from the State — Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Sootea, Moran, Matak and 36 different Adivasi groups clubbed together as ‘Tea Tribes’ — gets the final nod.

The communities are estimated to make up almost 27% of Assam’s population.

The impending Naga peace accord, in the works in its latest iteration since 2015, could also spur a demand for territorial and administrative rights in the Naga territories of Manipur even as the dominant Meiteis of the valley push their own agenda of inclusion in the ST category.

 

ISSUE:

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