Daily Current Affairs-25th July 2018

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Daily Current Affairs -25th July 2018

GS-II(Governance)

Lok Sabha passes anti-graft amendment Bill

  • The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018 that seeks to punish bribe-givers and bribe-takers.
  • It provides for jail terms of three to seven years, besides fine, to those convicted of taking or giving bribes to public officials.

  • It also extends the ambit of public servants who will be protected by the provision of a prior government sanction for prosecution. There is also a provision now to get prior permission for starting an investigation and that has prompted many to say that the law has been “diluted” from its original draft.

Monitoring of Social Media

  • Police and public order are State subjects as per the Constitution. States are responsible for prevention, detection and investigation of cybercrimes through their law enforcement machinery as per the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • Law enforcement agencies monitor the web and social media and take appropriate action for blocking of such unlawful content under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • Committee constituted under Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 periodically monitors the compliance of the directions issued under the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000. Government holds meetings with intermediaries from time to time for strengthening the cooperation framework to ensure better compliance.

Sharp decline in maternal, infant mortality rates in India

  • India has achieved a remarkable feat in arresting maternal and infant mortality rates and would surpass SDG goals of reducing maternal mortality to 70 per lakh live births by 2025 instead of the target of 2030.
  • The maternal mortality rate (MMR) per lakh live births has reduced to 130 in the country while there has been a significant improvement in checking infant mortality rate (IMR) deaths
  • MMR, IMR and under-five mortality has declined faster than the world pace. If we talk about MDGs, according to the 2014-15 records, the decline has been 77 per cent as against global 43 per cent.
  • Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have shown significant performance in this.

NITI Aayog signs SoI with Lupin Foundation for Collaborating in Aspirational Districts

Aim:

  • To work across the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to create templates for concerted development policy.
  • A Statement of Intent (SoI) was signed between NITI Aayog and Lupin Foundation to collaborate in Aspirational Districts Programme.
  • For this programme, the NITI Aayog and Lupin Foundation are collaborating to improve indicators in education, health & nutrition, financial inclusion and skill development, agriculture and water resources and basic infrastructure in Aspirational Districts of India.
  • As per the terms of the SoI, Lupin Foundation, with the NITI Aayog, will work in three states – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – to facilitate the creation of an ideal template to develop economic strength, technological viability and moral leadership across three districts in these states as part of Phase I of the cooperation.

About Aspirational District Programme:

  • Launched by the Hon’ble PM in January this year, the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme

Aim:

  1. To quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts of the country.
  2. To enable optimum utilization of their potential, this program focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy. Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.

About Lupin and Lupin Foundation:

  • Lupin is an innovation-led pharmaceutical company with a global footprint and known for its generic medicines. Lupin Foundation is a trust, NGO, independent body promoted by Lupin Ltd.
  • The Foundation works towards creating an alternative model of rural development which is sustainable, replicable and ever evolving essentially empowering under privileged and marginalized sections of society and providing basic infrastructure and balanced ecological base to the villages.

GS-II(International Affairs)

India’s S-400 missile system deal with Russia set to escape US sanction
  • India, along with Indonesia and Vietnam, is likely to get a waiver from US sanctions against Russia
  • The US, sources said, has communicated this to the Indian government, thereby removing one of the friction points in bilateral ties.
  • This makes the atmosphere conducive for a productive discussion when the 2+2 dialogue takes place between Defence and Foreign Ministers in September.”
  • US Congressional committee has proposed waivers for India from stringent sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). This is directed against those doing business with Russia’s defence industry.

North Korea begins dismantling nuclear and ballistic missile facilities

  • North Korea has begun dismantling key facilities at a site used to develop engines for ballistic missiles, according to an analysis of satellite imagery of the location, the first significant step towards denuclearization following last month’s historic summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.
  • The Sohae Satellite Launching Station has been the main site for North Korean satellite launches since 2012.
  • New commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae station indicates that the North has begun dismantling key facilities
  • Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile programme, these efforts represent a significant confidence building measure on the part of North Korea

List of MOU’s signed between India and Uganda.

  1. MoU on Defense Cooperation
  2. MoU on Visa exemption for Diplomatic and official passport holders.
  3. MoU on Cultural Exchange Programme.
  4. MoU on Material Testing Laboratory.

Girinka sheme

 Context

  • The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, donated 200 cows to residents in Rweru model village in Bugesera District, Eastern Province as part of Girinka (one-Cow-per-Poor-Family) programme which he described as the perfect tool for social bonding in communities across the country.
  • It is a flagship programme of the government of Rwanda.
  • The Girinka (meaning ‘May you have a cow’) programme started in 2006 to provide one cow to every poor family for their nutritional and financial Security.
  • In addition, it serves as a source of soil nutrients via manure to assist in small-scale cropping activity.
  • It is helping to transform rural livelihoods and address poverty alleviation.
  • The programme was set up with the central aim of reducing child nutrition rates and increasing household incomes of poor farmers. 

GS-III(Economy)

Inter-Creditor Agreement signed by banks

Context

  • Indian banks trying to sell their troubled assets signed an inter-creditor agreement to push for the speedy resolution of non-performing loans on their balance sheets.

Why is this agreement important?

  • The disagreement between joint lenders was the biggest problem in resolving stressed assets. To overcome this issue inter-creditor agreement was introduced.
  • So, the government now hopes that the holdout problem, where the objections of a few lenders prevent a settlement between the majority lenders, will be solved through the inter-creditor agreement.

Rules

The inter-creditor agreement is aimed at the resolution of loan accounts with a size of ₹50 crore and above that are under the control of a group of lenders.

  • As per the terms of the agreement, if 66% of the lenders agree to a resolution plan it would be binding on all lenders.
  • A dissenting creditor
    • could sell its loan at a discount of 15% of the liquidation value to other lenders
    • buy the entire loan at 125% of the resolution plan agreed to by other lenders.
    • Another option with a dissenting creditor is to sell their loans to any person at a price mutually arrived between dissenting lender and the buyer.
    • However, a dissenting creditor cannot sell it to an asset reconstruction company.
  • The agreement also has a standstill clause wherein all lenders are barred from enforcing any legal action against the borrower for recovery of their dues. During the standstill period, lenders are also barred from transferring or assigning their loan to any other person except a bank or finance company.

Significance

  • This move will process and would provide the resolution to stressed assets issue much earlier than the earlier model which relied solely on the joint lenders’ forum to arrive at a consensus among creditors
  • This act would also be logical for joint lenders who want to avoid a deadlock to agree on the ground rules of debt resolution prior to lending to any borrower.

Issue Area

  • the obligation on the lead lender to come up with a time-bound resolution plan can have unintended consequences.
    • Banks may be compelled to engage in a quick-fire sale of stressed assets due to arbitrary deadlines on the resolution process.
    • This will work against the interests of lenders looking to get the best price for their stressed assets.
  • It would be in the interest of the majority of creditors to take the time to extract the most out of their assets.
  • The biggest obstacle to bad loan resolution is the absence of buyers who can purchase stressed assets from banks
  • Bank’s unwillingness to sell their loans at a deep discount to their face value

Conclusion

  • The government can solve this problem by getting all its apparatus right, if not the bad loan problem is likely to remain unresolved for some time to come. 

Consolidation of Regional Rural Banks (RRB’s)

  • With a view to enable Regional Rural Banks (RRB’s) to minimize their overhead expenses, optimize the use of technology, enhance the capital base and area of operation and increase their exposure, the Government has sought comments of respective State Governments and Sponsor Banks on a roadmap for Amalgamation of RRBs within a State.
  • The roadmap has been prepared in consultation with NABARD and proposes to bring down the number of RRBs to 38 from the present 56. It is expected that the proposed amalgamation of RRBs will bring about better scale-efficiency, higher productivity, robust financial health of RRBs, improved financial inclusion and greater credit flow to rural areas.

Indian Money in Swiss Bank

  • Swiss authorities have shared the following information regarding the Swiss National Bank (SNB) figures quoted in the media
  • To analyze Indian residents’ deposits held in Switzerland, another data source should be used. This is the so-called “locational banking statistics”, which the SNB collects in collaboration with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).”
  • The data collected by Swiss National Bank in collaboration with Bank for International Settlements (BIS) shows that the loans and deposits of Indians, other than Banks, in the Swiss banks decreased by 34.5% in the year 2017 as compared to 2016. Further, there has been significant reduction in Swiss non-bank loans and deposits of Indians by 80.2% between 2013 and 2017.

GS-III(Environment)

Edward James Corbett, conservationist and author, was born on 25 July 1875 in Nainital, Uttarakhand. His efforts led to the establishment of the Jim Corbett National Park.

Biography

  • Jim Corbett was born in Nainital as the eighth child of Christopher William and Mary Jane Corbett.
  • Christopher Corbett served in the military before he was appointed as Nainital’s postmaster. He died when Jim was six years old.
  • Young Jim was fascinated by the wildlife around his home. He loved to spend time in the jungles and was quick to learn the ways of the forests. He could identify animals and birds by their calls. He could read forest signs and predict wildlife movement from the different sights and smells of the forest.
  • He took up a job with the railways before turning 19 to support his family. He also became a good hunter because of his brilliant skills in the wild.
  • During that time, there were many man-eating tigers and leopards that harassed human beings in the region. Corbett tracked and killed a number of these man-eaters. In fact, sometimes he was specially assigned by the government to help kill man-eaters. He is said to have killed 14 leopards and 19 tigers.
  • The first leopard that he killed was called the Panar Leopard that was allegedly responsible for killing 400 humans.
  • However, from being a professional expert hunter, Corbett turned into a passionate conservationist. His hunting experience revealed to him that most of these man-eaters had unhealed and septic wounds from gunshots that were left open and exposed.
  • He then became a naturalist and conservationist who started teaching children about their natural heritage and about the need to protect forests and the wildlife in them.
  • He called for the need to protect the country’s wild fauna from getting extinct.
  • As an author, Corbett earned a lot of critical acclaim. His books, ‘Man-Eaters of Kumaon’ and ‘Jungle Lore’ were bestsellers.
  • He used his considerable influence in establishing not only India’s, but also Asia’s first national reserve, the Hailey National Park in 1936. Initially, the park was about 324 square kilometres, and named after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the then Governor of the United Provinces.
  • It was a reserve in which hunting was prohibited and rules were drawn banning the hunting of birds, reptiles and mammals within the enclosure. It was especially created to preserve the Bengal Tiger.
  • In 1955-56, the park was renamed the Corbett National Park after Jim Corbett.
  • The park was the first one in India to be selected for the tiger conservation programme of the Indian government, Project Tiger, when it was launched in 1973.
  • At present, the area of the park is about 520 square kilometres. It comprises of hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and also includes a great lake.
  • 73% of the park consists of forest area and 10% form grasslands. It has 110 species of trees including peepal, sal, mango and haldu trees. Its fauna includes 580 bird species, 50 mammal species and 25 species of reptiles.
  • The park also has a waterfall called the Corbett Falls within its area.
  • The park is now an attractive tourist destination with tens of thousands of tourists visiting the park every year.
  • Corbett retired to Kenya in 1947. He passed away on 19th April 1955 in Nyeri, Kenya and was buried there.
Issue guidelines to check pollution by education institutions: NGT to MoEF
  • Violation of environmental norms by educational institutions across the country, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to issue guidelines in this regard.
  • The tribunal’s direction came while hearing a plea filed by Uttar Pradesh resident Manoj Chaudhary who alleged that nine schools close to his residence in Meerut’s Mission Compound area were operating diesel generator sets and violating air and noise pollution norms for the last 10 years.
San Francisco moves to ban plastic straws, containers
  • The San Francisco ban on small plastic items goes into effect July 1, 2019, along with a new requirement to make napkins, utensils and other to-go accessories available only upon request, unless a self-serve station is available where people can take what they need.
  • Seattle is believed to be the first major U.S. city to shun plastic straws when its ban went into effect this month. Since then, Starbucks and Marriott announced plastic straws and stirrers would be removed from those businesses.
  • These kind of initiatives are also needed in India as India is one of the leading plastic consumer in the world.

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