Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (26th Aug to 1st Sep, 2019)

Naga Peace Framework Agreement

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (26th Aug to 1st Sep, 2019)

 

Topic : Dindigul Lock & Kandangi Sarees

Topic in Syllabus: Heritage & Culture

 

Context:

Dindigul Lock & Kandangi Sarees

Tamil Nadu’s ‘Dindigul lock’ and ‘Kandangi saree’ gets GI tag.

 

Dindigul Lock:

The Dindigul Lock, Hardware and Steel Furniture Workers Industrial Co-operative Society and Amrar Rajiv Gandhi Handloom Weavers Cooperative Production and Sales Society now have the exclusive rights over these products.

  • The ‘handmade’ Dindigul locks were famous for their traditional design, safety and quality raw materials.
  • Government institutions such as prisons, hospitals and even temples use these locks instead of other machine-made ones.
  • Every lock is designed and possesses a unique style and it has its own special name.
  • Some varieties of the locks made in Dindigul are Mango lock, Door lock, Almirah lock, Export lock, Excise lock.
  • There are various categories of locks including brass, steel, mild steel painted chromium plated and galvanized lock.
  • There is also complete manual assembling with each lock having its own unique key code.

 

Kandangi Sarees:

  • Kandangi Sarees, are manufactured in the Karaikudi taluk in Sivaganga district.
  • They are characterised by large contrast borders and some are known to have borders covering as far as two-thirds of the saree.
  • Amrar Rajiv Gandhi Handloom Weavers Cooperative Production and Sales Society Ltd. filed the application for GI tag.
  • The sarees are being made in the town for more than 150-years.
  • Traditionally, Kandangi sarees were all brick-red, black and mustard, a combination that flatters any type of complexion.
  • The traditional Kandangi cotton saree is known to be distinctly characterised in the border by the design of temple checks.
  • The sarees exude brilliant colours like bright yellows, oranges, red and a minimal black in the traditional pattern of stripes.
  • They are made out of natural dyes and is known to be distinctly characterised in the border by the design of temple checks.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statement/s:

  1. Dindigul locks are only made for temples
  2. Kandangi sarees are made from 100% cotton

Choose correct answer below

(A)Only 1

(B)Only 2

(C)Both

(D)None

 

Answer: D

Kandangi is a type of saree made from silk threads in Tamil Nadu state of India. Traditionally, Chettinad and Koorainad are two types of Kandangi saree native in Tamil Nadu. However, many new types of Kandangi are now introduced by Tamil Nadu government. Kandangi Saree received Geographical Indicator tag on 30th of August 2019.

Koorai saree is a modified version of Kandangi traditionally made from both silk and cotton threads in Koorainad region (currently named as OrurOranad (also named as Koranad) which is located near Mayavaram (Mayiladuthurai)) in Tamil Nadu. It weighs around 7-9 kejams (see:Tamil units of measurement).

The ChettinaduKandangi sari, introduced by Nagarathar community, is native to the town Karaikudi of Tamil Nadu state in India.

This style of saree, which has 2 borders and checked at its centre, is existed for more than 250 years old.

 


 

Topic : MRD discovered in Northern Ethiopia

Topic in Syllabus: World Geography

 

Context:

MRD discovered in Northern Ethiopia

A “remarkably complete” 3.8-million-year-old skull of an early human has been unearthed in Ethiopia, a discovery that has the potential to alter our understanding of human evolution.

 

About the Skull – MRD:

  • The skull, known as MRD, was discovered not far from the younger Lucy — the ancient ancestor of modern humans — and shows that the two species may have co-existed for about 100,000 years.
  • This skull is one of the most complete fossils of hominids more than 3 million years old.
  • MRD belongs to the species Australopithecus anamensis.

 

Background:

Toumai (of the species Sahelanthropus tchadensis) is around 7 million years old and is considered by some palaeontologists to be the first representative of the human lineage.

It was discovered in Chad in 2001.

Ardi (for Ardipithecus ramidus, another species of hominid) was found in Ethiopia in 1994 and is believed to be around 4.5 million years old.

And Lucy, the famous Australopithecus afarensis, was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and is 3.2 million years old.

Australopithecus afarensis is one of the longest-lived and most studied early human species.

 

Significance:

  • The 3.2-million-year-old Lucy belonged to a species of hominins (which include humans and their ancestors) called Australopithecus afarensis.
  • The newly investigated skull belongs to the older species Australopithecus anamensis.
  • Previously, it was thought that the two species never coexisted, and that the older species gradually morphed into Lucy’s species.
  • The new research indicates that they did coexist, for some 100,000 years. The dating suggests that MRD’s species could have coexisted with Lucy’s because of a “speciation event”.
  • Besides identifying the species as Australopithecus anamensis, they determined the age of the fossil to be 3.8 million years by dating minerals in layers of volcanic rocks near the site.

 

Sample Question:

Ismail Omer Guelleh, who was awarded Padma Vibhushan 2019, is the President of which country?

a. Kenya

b. Uganda

c. Ethiopia

d. South Africa

 

Answer: c

 


Topic : FDI Review

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

Context:

FDI Review

Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for the review of Foreign Direct Investment in various sectors.

 

Background:

  • This will result in making India a more attractive FDI destination, leading to benefits of increased investments, employment and growth.
  • As of now (March 2019), Singapore remains India’s top FDI source, twice that from Mauritius.

 

Steps Taken:

  • 100% FDI under automatic route is permitted for sale of coal, for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure.
  • The government has allowed 100% FDI through the automatic route for contract manufacturing.It will augment the Make in India initiative and will attract global companies in India looking to establish alternative manufacturing hubs
  • Easing norms for FDI in Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT):Retail trading through online trade by SBRT, can also be undertaken prior to the opening of brick and mortar stores (it should be opened within 2 years from the date of start of online retail).
  • Online sales will lead to the creation of jobs in logistics, digital payments, customer care, training and product skilling.
  • It has been decided to permit 26% FDI under government route for uploading/ streaming of News & Current Affairs through Digital Media, on the lines of print media.
  • In India, FDI policy provisions have been progressively liberalized across various sectors in recent years to make India an attractive investment destination.
  • Some of the sectors include Defence, Construction Development, Trading, Pharmaceuticals, Power Exchanges, Insurance, Pension, Other Financial Services, Asset reconstruction Companies, Broadcasting and Civil Aviation.

 

Way Forward:

  • Due to these measures, a total FDI into India from 2014-15 to 2018-19 has been $ 286 billion.
  • Despite the dim global picture (UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019), India continues to remain a preferred and attractive destination for global FDI flows.
  • India seeks to use this potential to attract far more foreign investment which can be achieved inter-alia by further liberalizing and simplifying the FDI policy regime.

 

Foreign direct investment (FDI)

  • It is an investment from a party in one country into a business or corporation in another country with the intention of establishing a lasting interest.
  • Lasting interest differentiates FDI from foreign portfolio investments, where investors passively hold securities from a foreign country.
  • Foreign direct investment can be made by expanding one’s business into a foreign country or by becoming the owner of a company in another country.

 

Contract manufacturing

The business model in which a firm hires a contract manufacturer to produce components or final products based on the hiring firm’s design. Companies outsource their production to other companies.

 

Contract manufacturing – Benefits:

  • Cost Savings: Companies save on their capital costs and labour costs because they do not have to pay for a facility and the equipment needed for production.
  • Some companies may look to contract manufacture in low-cost countries, such as India, to benefit from the low cost of labour.
  • Advanced Skills: Companies can take advantage of skills that they may not possess, but the contract manufacturer does.
  • Focus: Companies can focus on their core competencies better if they can hand off base production to an outside company.
  • Economies of Scale: Contract Manufacturers have multiple customers that they produce, it may lead to reduced costs in acquiring raw materials by benefiting from economies of scale.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following types of FDI includes creation of new assets and production facilities in the host country?

a. brownfield investment

b. strategic alliances

c. merger and acquisition

d. greenfield investment

 

Answer: d

 


 

Topic: Gravitational Lensing

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Context:

Gravitational Lensing

USA’s space agency NASA is planning to launch James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in 2021, which will use a natural phenomenon called “gravitational lensing” to carry out astronomical observations.

 

Details:

  • JWST will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System, etc.
  • For achieving this objective NASA has launched a program called Targeting Extremely Magnified Panchromatic Lensed Arcs and Their Extended Star Formation, or TEMPLATES.

 

Gravitational Lensing

  • The phenomenon of gravitational lensing occurs when a huge amount of matter, such as a massive galaxy, cluster of galaxies or a black hole, creates a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light from objects behind it.
  • Gravitational lensing is based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity (Mass bend light).
  • Normal lenses such as the ones in a magnifying glass work by bending light rays that pass through them in a process known as refraction, in order to focus the light somewhere else.
  • Similarly, the gravitational field of a massive object causes light rays passing close to that object to be bent and refocused somewhere else.
  • The more massive the object, the stronger its gravitational field and hence the greater the bending of light rays – just like using denser materials to make optical lenses results in a greater amount of refraction.
  • In effect, gravitational lenses act like natural cosmic telescopes.

 

Significance:

  • The effect allows researchers to study the details of early galaxies too far away to be seen otherwise with even the most powerful space telescopes.
  • However, gravitational lensing is very rare as it requires a distant star, black hole and the observer on earth to be well-aligned.
  • Also, it can help astronomers to know about black holes, dark matter, etc.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statement/s:

  1. Gravitational lensing is an artificial phenomenon induced by jameswebb telescope
  2. It is based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity

Choose the correct answer below:

(A) Only 1
(B) Only 2
(C) Both
(D) None

 

Answer: B

 


Topic : RBI Surplus Transfer

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

Context:

RBI Surplus Transfer

The Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 26th August decided to transfer a sum of ₹1,76,051 crore to the Government comprising of ₹1,23,414 crore of surplus for the year 2018-19 and ₹52,637 crore of excess provisions identified as per the revised Economic Capital Framework (ECF) adopted at the meeting of the Central Board.

 

Reason:

  • Overcapitalised RBI: The narrative that the RBI is an overcapitalised institution has been in discussions for some time.
  • The Economic Survey of 2016-17 found that the RBI is one of the most capitalised central banks in the world and noted, “There is no particular reason why this extra capital should be kept with the RBI”.
  • Some central banks around the world (like the US and UK) keep 13% to 14% of their assets as a reserve compared to RBI’s 27% and some (like Russia) more than that.
  • Economists in the past have argued for RBI releasing ‘extra’ capital that can be put to productive use by the government. The Malegam Committee estimated the excess (in 2013) at ₹1.49 lakh crore.

 

Surplus Distribution Policy:

The Surplus Distribution Policy of RBI that was finalized is in line with the recommendations of the Bimal Jalan committeethat was formed by the RBI, in consultation with the Government, to review the extant Economic Capital Framework of the RBI.

 

Bimal Jalan committee:

  • The Committee’s recommendations were based on the consideration of the role of central banks’ financial resilience, cross-country practices, statutory provisions and the impact of the RBI’s public policy mandate and operating environment on its balance sheet and the risks involved.
  • In view of the RBI’s function as a lender of last resort, it needs to maintain some Contingent Risk Buffer (CRB) to insure the economy against any tail risk of financial stability crisis.
  • The Jalan Committee recommended that the CRB needs to be maintained at a range of 5.5% to 6.5% of the RBI’s balance sheet.
  • The surplus transfer policy is now formula based and thus transparent, which is an important departure from the past.
  • The formula-based CRB will take care of the risk provisioning and the central board of RBI will decide on the level of risk provisioning.

 

RBI Surplus Transfer:

RBI’s Earning: 

  • Returns earned on its foreign currency assets, which could be in the form of bonds and treasury bills of other central banks or top-rated securities, and deposits with other central banks.
  • Interest on its holdings of local rupee-denominated government bonds or securities, and while lending to banks for very short tenures, such as overnight.
  • Management commission on handling the borrowings of state governments and the central government.

 

RBI’s Expenditure:

Printing of currency notes and on staff, besides the commission it gives to banks for undertaking transactions on behalf of the government across the country, and to primary dealers, including banks, for underwriting some of these borrowings.

 

Surplus Transfer:

  • RBI transfers the surplus – that is, the excess of income over expenditure – to the government, in accordance with Section 47 (Allocation of Surplus Profits) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
  • A technical Committee of the RBI Board headed by Y H Malegam (2013), which reviewed the adequacy of reserves and surplus distribution policy, recommended a higher transfer to the government.
  • By and large, with a few exceptions, the quantum of surplus transfer averages around 0.5% of the GDP.

 

Implications

  • It would help the government to go for bank recapitalisation in a big way given the economic slowdown, when channels of credit disbursements are choked because of a lack of capital with the commercial banks.
  • The transfer of the additional surplus from the RBI could enable the government to pursue efforts towards stimulating the economy while maintaining budget discipline.
  • The government, in the case of revenue shortages, would be able to meet the fiscal deficit target without cutting expenditures on important sectors.
  • It would give the Government necessary fiscal space to maneuver structural reforms to boost economic growth.
  • The surplus transfer from the RBI has implications for the central bank’s balance sheet, government budget, financial market and, above all, monetary policy and debt management by the RBI.

 

Way Forward

  • The decision of the RBI Board must be welcomed as it would help the government in combating the economic slowdown and to conform to the fiscal targets.
  • It is hoped that the government will be prudent in using these funds.
  • However, the RBI dividend transfer is not a panacea. India’s economy needs sustained structural reforms to boost potential growth.

 

Sample Question:

Which out of the following has maximum weightage among core sectors?

a. Crude Oil

b. Steel

c. Electricity

d. Petroleum refinery products

 

Answer: d

 


Topic : 18th CoP of CITES, Geneva

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Highlights:

18th CoP of CITES, Geneva

Over a hundred nations approved a proposal by India, Nepal, and Bangladesh to prohibit commercial international trade in a species of otter native to the subcontinent and some other parts of Asia.

India’s proposal to remove Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention is also under consideration.

 

Indian proposals:

  • Members at the Conference have voted to move the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogaleperspicillata) from CITES Appendix II to CITES Appendix I because it is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction.
  • It is detrimentally affected by international trade, as well as habitat loss and degradation and persecution associated with conflict with people (and fisheries).
  • The other proposal that was passed was to include the Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) in CITES Appendix II.
  • The proposal on protecting the Tokay gecko mentioned threats from hunting and collection for use in traditional medicine.
  • Apart from the smooth-coated otter, India had proposed Appendix I status for the small-clawed otter, mako shark (Isurusoxyrinchus), the Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) and the Tokay gecko.

 

CITES:

  • The CITES is as an international agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”.
  • CITES was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
  • CITES entered into force on July 1, 1975, and now has 183 parties.
  • The Convention is legally binding on the Parties in the sense that they are committed to implementing it; however, it does not take the place of national laws.
  • India is a signatory to and has also ratified CITES convention in 1976.

 

CITES Appendices:

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.

All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.

It has three appendices.

  • Appendix I include species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.
  • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling trade.

 

Sample Question:

The 18th meeting of Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held at ?

a. Geneva, Switzerland

b. Beijing, China

c. Washington D.C., U.S

d. London, United Kingdom

 

Answer: a


Topic : World Population Prospects 2019

Topic in Syllabus: World Geography

 

Context:

World Population Prospects 2019

World Population Prospects 2019 was released  few weeks back by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

 

Key Points:

Global population trend:

  • While the report projects the world population to some 9.7 billion by 2050, it says the overall growth rate will continue to fall.
  • The next 30 years will see the population add 2 billion people to today’s 7.7 billion, and reach 11 billion by the end of the century.
  • The countries expected to show the biggest increase are India, Nigeria and Pakistan.However, fertility rates are falling worldwide.
  • The average number of births per woman globally, from 3.2 in 1990, fell to 2.5 by 2019, and is projected to fall further to 2.2 births by 2050.
  • To avoid decline in a national population, a fertility level of 2.1 births per woman is necessary (in the absence of immigration).

 

More in 65+ bracket:

  • In 2018, for the first time, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five.
  • Projections indicate that by 2050, there will be more than twice as many persons above 65 as children under five.
  • By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 or over will also surpass the number of adolescents and youth aged 15-24.

The changing order

  • In India, children under age five still outnumber the over-65 population, who are projected to overtake the under-five group between 2025 and 2030.
  • By 2050, persons over age 65 will make up about one-seventh of India’s population.
  • By then, the 15-24 group in India (13.8%), too, will outnumber the over-65 group (13.6%).
  • Children under age five are projected to constitute less than 6% of India’s population in 2050, as compared to 7% globally.

 

Life expectancy:

  • Although overall life expectancy will increase (from 64.2 years in 1990 to 77.1 years in 2050), life expectancy in poorer countries is projected to continue to lag behind.
  • Today, the average lifespan of a baby born in one of the least developed countries will be some 7 years shorter than one born in a developed country, the report said.
  • The main reasons cited in the report are high child and maternal mortality rates, conflict and insecurity, and the continuing impact of the HIV epidemic.

 

Dwindling populations:

  • The populations of 55 countries are projected to decrease by 1% or more between 2019 and 2050 because of sustained low levels of fertility, and, in some places, high rates of emigration.
  • The largest relative reductions in population size over that period, with losses of around 20% or more, are expected in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
  • Migration flows have become a major reason for population change in certain regions, the report said.
  • Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines are seeing the largest migratory outflows resulting from the demand for migrant workers.
  • Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela are the countries where the largest numbers are leaving because of insecurity or conflict.

 

Sex ratio:

Males are projected to continue to outnumber females until the end of the century, but the gap will close.

 

Sample Question:

According to UN report- World Population Prospects 2019- India will overtake China by around which year?
a) 2027
b) 2022
c) 2020
d) 2050

 

Answer: a

 


Topic : Naga Peace Framework Agreement

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

 

Context:

Naga Peace Framework Agreement

  • The framework agreement was signed between the Central government and the Naga Groups led by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak- Muivah (NSCN-IM).
  • The central government accepted the uniqueness of Naga history and culture and primacy of the Indian Constitution was accepted by the NSCN-IM.
  • Earlier the objective of Naga group was to establish an independent sovereign state for the Naga community but now the demand has been limited to the creation of a Greater Nagalim with the integration of the Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

 

Background

  • Shillong Accord, 1975: The Naga National Council (NNC) led by AngamiZapuPhizo accepted the Indian Constitution. NNC was formed in 1946 to hold the Naga community and their interest together.
  • NSCN, 1980: to oppose the decision of NNC to accept Indian Constitution, Maoist guerilla leaders IsakChisiSwu, ThuingalengMuivah, and SS Khaplang created NSCN in 1980. Later after the differences between the leaders, in 1988, the group split into the NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K. After the death of Phizo in 1991, the NSCN-IM came to be recognized as the voice of Naga assertion.
  • The ceasefire agreement, 1997: of India and NSCN-IM signed a ceasefire agreement which started the peace talks with resolving the conflict but the demand of the group insisted on a separate flag as well as the inclusion of all Naga-inhabited areas in one administration became a roadblock in the peace talks.
  • Later in 2015, the framework agreement was signed.

 

Significance

  • First-time NSCN-IM wipes out its demand for attaining sovereignty for Nagas from India.
  • The agreement has started the peace talks between the government and the groups. The agreement shifts the nature of the group who prefer violence as a method to achieve their aims as now the groups are regularly held consultations with the government.
  • The agreement will strengthen the security of India as the agreement will provide maximum sovereignty to the Nagas to grow.
  • The agreement would generate more trusts among Nagas.

 

Criticisms:

  • Though the agreement was signed three years ago there is no progress since then.
  • The agreement is a secretive agreement as the provisions of the agreements have not been disclosed by the government which makes the rebel groups more active.
  • The agreement has failed to address the illegal activities of NSCN-IM.
  • The demand for autonomy to Nagas in other states i.e. Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh will be a threat to integrity.
  • Special arrangement for Nagas as per Article 371 and similar concessions are expected by Manipur also as the Naga insurgency is linked with Manipur insurgency where the Nagas are more active.
  • The agreement does not address other important issues like the demand of Separate ‘flag’, non-codification of Naga customary law.
  • Politically unviable to accept this demand even though the Centre has agreed to guarantee the protection of the Naga identity.
  • The non-Nagas and other ethnic groups may be tempted to demand a similar arrangement.

 

Way forward:

  • Consultation with other northeastern states i.e. Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh can be a viable option.
  • Improving infrastructure for health, education and employment generation.
  • Providing autonomy to the Naga people.

 

Conclusion:

The demand for flag and constitution are the core issues which are yet to be agreed upon between the two parties. Until these core issues solved, any solution would be far from honorable because Naga pride and identity is deeply entrenched here.

 

Sample Question:

The Naga Parliament formed by the Federal Government Nagaland (FGN) is known as:

a. Tatar Hoho

b. Midan

c. Yehzabo

d. Tatar

Answer: a


Infographic Summary

important current affairs