Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (28th March to 3rd April, 2019)

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (28th March to 3rd April, 2019)

(Info graphic Summary at the end)

 

Topic : AFSPA partially withdrawn from Arunachal Pradesh

Topic in Syllabus: Security Issues

 

Why in news?

The controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was partially removed from Arunachal Pradesh, 32 years after it was imposed, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order said.

 

More about on news:

  • The Act, which gives sweeping powers to security forces, was partially withdrawn from three of the state’s nine districts, but would remain in force in the areas bordering Myanmar,
  • AFSPA is declared in areas where armed forces are required to operate in aid to civil authorities. However, for AFSPA to become valid, an area needs to be declared “disturbed” either by the Central or the state government under Section 3 of the Act.
  • As per the MHA’s notification, the four police station areas in Arunachal Pradesh which were declared “disturbed areas” under AFSPA are no longer under the purview of the special law.
  • The police station areas from where the AFSPA has been withdrawn are Balemu and Bhalukpong police stations in West Kameng district, Seijosapolice station in East Kameng district and Balijan police station in Papumpare district.
  • AFSPA will continue to be enforced in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts and four police stations areas under the jurisdiction of Namsai and Mahadevpur in Namsai district, Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district, and Sunpura in Lohit district for six more months till September 30.

 

Background:

  • Arunachal Pradesh became a state on February 20, 1987, and since its inception, the controversial AFSPA – enacted by Parliament in 1958 – was applied to the certain parts of the state.
  • In 2018, MHA had reduced AFPSA from 16 police stations areas bordering Assam to eight police stations, besides Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts, adjoining Myanmar.
  • One of the reasons cited by the Centre for imposing AFSPA in Arunachal’s Tirap, Changlang and Longding – all bordering Assam – and 16 other police station areas was the extortion and killing of security forces by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and NSCN-K.
  • While NSCN-IM signed a framework agreement with the government, NSCN-K capabilities have been depleted after death of its leader SS Khaplang.

 

What does the AFSPA mean?

  • In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  • Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.

 

What is a “disturbed area” and who has the power to declare it?

  • A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA.
  • An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
  • The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
  • As per Section 3, it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs would usually enforce this Act where necessary, but there have been exceptions where the Centre decided to forego its power and leave the decision to the State governments.

 

Origin of AFSPA:

  • The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control.
  • The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958.
  • It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.

 

The safeguards provided under AFSPA:

  • Section 5 of the Act already mandates that arrested civilians must be handed over to the nearest police station ‘with the least possible delay’ along with a report of ‘circumstances occasioning the arrest.’
  • Army HQ has also laid down that all suspects who are arrested will be handed over to civilian authorities within 24 hours.
  • Regarding firing on civilians, the army’s instructions are that fire may be opened in towns and villages only in self defence and that too when the source of terrorist or militant fire can be clearly identified.

 

Powers are given to the Armed forces under the ASFPA:

  • Any suspect can be arrested without a warrant.
  • Armed forces can search any house without any warrant and required force can be used to search it.
  • Under this law the armed forces have the authority to prohibit gathering of five or more persons in an area.
  • In some cases the forces can open fire on the disturbing factors after giving due warning if they found any suspicious person.
  • If a person is repeated offender and tries to disturb the peace of the area, then armed forces are entitled to use force till his death.
  • If the Armed Forces suspect that any militant or offender is hiding in any house/building then the site or structure can be destroyed by the forces.
  • Any Vehicle can be stopped and searched.
  • Even in the case of wrongful action by the armed forces, legal action is not taken against them.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

  1. Under this law the armed forces have the authority to prohibit gathering of five or more persons in an area.
  2. Recently Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was partially removed from Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
  3. Armed forces can search any house without any warrant and required force can be used to search it.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c)

 


Topic : KandhamalHaladi gets GI tag

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography 

 

Why in news?

Odisha’s KandhamalHaladi, a special variety of turmeric that is indigenous to the region, has got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

 

More about on news:

  • In December, 2018, the Kandhamal Apex Spices Association for Marketing (KASAM), based in the district headquarters town of Phulbani, had moved for registration of ‘Kandhamalhaldi’, which was accepted under sub-section (1) of Section 13 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, Kar said.
  • The spice has been named after the district as it is being cultivated in the region for centuries and is also known to have medicinal values.
  • KandhamalHaladi cultivation is environmentally resilient having low risk and high productivity.
  • The crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions
  • The grant of GI tag will protect the interest of Kandhamal farmers.

 

About KandhamalHaldi:

  • Kandhamalhaldi is organic by default being cultivated by more than 60,000 families
  • Kandhamalhaldi cultivation is environmental resilient having low risk, high productivity and the crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions.
  • The colour of kandhamalhaldiis golden yellow being well distinguished from other varieties.
  • The golden yellow spice, named after the district where it is produced, has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value.
  • Turmeric is the main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal. Apart from domestic use, turmeric is also used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

 

Geographical Indications:

  • A Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004. There are a total of 325productsfrom India that carry this indication.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement.

 

Benefits of a GI Tag:

  • Legal protection to the products
  • Prevents unauthorized use of a GI tag products by others
  • Helps consumers to get quality products of desired traits
  • Promotes economic prosperity of producers of GI tag goods by enhancing their demand in national and international markets.
  • The GI tag allows the producers of the objects to claim a premium for their products. Thus, it is financially beneficial to them.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to KandhamalHaldi

  1. KandhamalHaldi is famous for its healing properties.
  2. It is main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal.
  3. karnataka’sKandhamalHaldirecently got Geographical Indications (GI) tag.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: 

 


Topic : A systematic way of maximizing returns on investment

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

About Systematic Investment Plan (SIP):

  • A Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) is a way to invest in mutual funds wherein a fixed sum of money is put into a mutual fund scheme at a specified date every month.
  • It is considered to be investor-friendly and an efficient manner of investing in the capital markets as one can start investing with small monthly contributions instead of first building a huge investment corpus.
  • It is a hassle-free manner of investment as well since one can issue standing instructions to the bank for a specified amount to be transferred to the fund house/distributor every month at a pre-determined date.

 

How can one start a SIP?

  • There are two ways of starting an SIP. One can use the direct way of investing though the fund house or go through a distributor.
  • For direct plans, an investor can go to the website of the fund house for the scheme in which the SIP has to be started.
  • All the fund houses have a link on their portals for investors who want to start an SIP.
  • Only the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and/or Aadhaar is needed to open an account.
  • Thereafter, one can select the scheme, SIP amount, starting date and duration of SIP.
  • If one opts for a distributor, then the same process can be done online on the distributor’s portal.

 

Benefits of a SIP:

  • Timing the market is the most difficult thing when it comes to equity investment. SIPs, in a way, address this issue.
  • SIPs capture every rise and fall of the market and hence, an investor need not worry about the level of the market.
  • Also, there are sector-specific funds — pharma, banks, technology, etc. — and also those based on the size of the companies — such as large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap funds — that allow the investor to have a diversified portfolio rather than concentrate risk in a few companies.

 

Drawbacks of Systematic Investment Plans:

  • Although they can help an investor maintain steady purchases, systematic investment plans have several stipulations.
  • For example, they often require a long-term commitment, anywhere from 15 to 25 years.
  • Quitting the plan before the end date, while allowed, can incur a hefty sales charges, sometimes up to half of the investment.
  • Systematic investment plans can also be costly. A “creation and sales charge” can run up to half of the first 12 months’ investments.
  • In addition, investors should look out for mutual fund fees and custodial and service fees if applicable.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Systematic Investment Plan

  1. Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) is a financial planning tool that helps to create wealth, by investing small sums of money every month, over a period of time.
  2. A Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) is a vehicle offered by mutual funds to help investors invest regularly in a disciplined manner.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic : GI Certification for five varieties of Indian coffee

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography

 

Why in news?

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India has recently awarded Geographical Indication (GI) to five varieties of Indian coffee.

 

More about on news:

  • The move is expected to help the growers get maximum price for their premium produce.
  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has recently awarded this tag to — Coorg Arabica coffee from Karnataka, Wayanad Robusta coffee from Kerala, Chikmaglur Arabica from Karnataka, Araku Valley Arabica from Andhra Pradesh, and Bababudangiris Arabica coffee from Karnataka.
  • Experts said that award of GI tag gives protection to the producer of those genuine products, which commands premium pricing in the markets both domestic and international.
  • The Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee, a unique specialty coffee from India, was given GI certification earlier.

 

The five varieties include:

  • Coorg Arabica coffee is grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.
  • Wayanaad Robusta coffee is grown specifically in the region of Wayanad district which is situated on the eastern portion of Kerala.
  • Chikmagalur Arabica coffee is grown specifically in the region of Chikmagalur district and it is situated in the Deccan plateau, belongs to the Malnad region of Karnataka.
  • Araku Valley Arabica coffee can be described as coffee from the hilly tracks of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region at an elevation of 900-1100 Mt MSL. The coffee produce of Araku, by the tribals, follows an organic approach in which they emphasise management practices involving substantial use of organic manures, green manuring and organic pest management practices.
  • Bababudangiris Arabica coffee is grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India and the region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district. Selectively hand-picked and processed by natural fermentation, the cup exhibits full body, acidity, mild flavour and striking aroma with a note of chocolate.

 

Coffee Cultivation in India:

  • In India, coffee is cultivated in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers of which 98% are small farmers. Coffee cultivation is mainly done in the Southern States of India:
    • Karnataka – 54%
    • Kerala – 19%
    • Tamil Nadu – 8%
  • Coffee is also grown in non-traditional areas like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (17.2%) and North East States(1.8%).
  • India is the only country in the world where the entire coffee cultivation is grown under shade, hand-picked and sun dried.
  • India produces some of the best coffee in the world, grown by tribal farmers in the Western and Eastern Ghats,which are the two major bio-diversity hotspots in the world.
  • Indian coffeeis highly valued in the world market and sold as premium coffee in Europe.
  • The recognition and protection that comes with GI certification will allow the coffee producers of India to invest in maintaining the specific qualities of the coffee grown in that particular region.
  • It will also enhance the visibility of Indian coffee in the world and allow growers to get maximum price for their premium coffee.

 

Geographical Indications:

  • A Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following Indian Coffee varieties recently got GI tag

  1. Coorg Arabica coffee
  2. Wayanaad Robusta coffee
  3. Chikmagalur Arabica coffee
  4. Araku Valley Arabica coffee
  5. Bababudangiris Arabica coffee

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1, 2 and 3 only

b). 2, 3, 4 and 5 only

c). 1, 2 and 4 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic : The hump-backed mahseer is now ‘critically endangered’

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology and Environment

 

Why in news?

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed Hump-backed Mahseer as Critically Endangered in the Red List of Threatened Species.

 

More about on news:

  • The hump-backed mahseer—a large freshwater fish also called the tiger of the water and found only in the Cauvery river basin (including Kerala’s Pambar, Kabini and Bhavani rivers)—is now “Critically Endangered”:
  • The fish is one of the 229 species added to the Red List last November.
  • This update also reveals that the threat status of 12 other Indian species, including great hornbills, has increased.
  • The inclusion of the mahseer in the Red List, an inventory of the conservation status of the world’s species, was possible only once the fish got its scientific name last June—Tor remadevii
  • its new IUCN status that Shoal (an international organisation working to conserve freshwater species) initiated ‘Project Mahseer’ last month along with other stakeholders to enable conservation action for the hump-backed mahseer.

 

Humpback mahseer:

  • The humpback mahseer (Hypselobarbusmussullah) is a species of freshwater ray-finned fish from the Indian endemic genus Hypselobarbus in the carp and minnow family Cyprinidae.
  • There are about 16 species of mahseer in India.
  • Maximum length of fish will be 150 cm and a weight of 90 kg.
  • The fish is considered as one of the 229 species from recent Red List which updated in November 2018.
  • The threat status of 12 other Indian species, including great hornbills, has increased.
  • The humpback mahseeris endemic to the Western Ghats in southern India
  • It has been recorded from the Krishna and possibly the Godavari in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala.
  • It occurs in isolated pockets and the species’ distribution is extremely fragmented and the total area of the species range is probably less than 500 km2.

 

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, also called IUCN Red List, one of the most well-known objective assessment systems for classifying the status of plants, animals, and other organisms threatened with extinction.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) unveiled this assessment system in 1994.
  • It contains explicit criteria and categories to classify the conservation status of individual species on the basis of their probability of extinction.

 

Criteria:

The IUCN system uses a set of five quantitative criteria to assess the extinction risk of a given species. In general, these criteria consider:

  • The rate of population decline
  • The geographic range
  • Whether the species already possesses a small population size
  • Whether the species is very small or lives in a restricted area
  • Whether the results of a quantitative analysis indicate a high probability of extinction in the wild.

 

Categories of species status:

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species recognizes several categories of species status:

  • Extinct (EX), a designation applied to species in which the last individual has died or where systematic and time-appropriate surveys have been unable to log even a single individual
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW), a category containing those species whose members survive only in captivity or as artificially supported populations far outside their historical geographic range
  • Critically Endangered (CR), a category containing those species that possess an extremely high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 80 to more than 90 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 50 individuals, or other factors
  • Endangered (EN), a designation applied to species that possess a very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 50 to more than 70 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 250 individuals, or other factors
  • Vulnerable (VU), a category containing those species that possess a very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 30 to more than 50 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 1,000 individuals, or other factors
  • Near Threatened (NT), a designation applied to species that are close to becoming threatened or may meet the criteria for threatened status in the near future
  • Least Concern (LC), a category containing species that are pervasive and abundant after careful assessment
  • Data Deficient (DD), a condition applied to species in which the amount of available data related to its risk of extinction is lacking in some way. Consequently, a complete assessment cannot be performed. Thus, unlike the other categories in this list, this category does not describe the conservation status of a species
  • Not Evaluated (NE), a category used to include any of the nearly 1.9 million species described by science but not assessed by the IUCN.

 

Sample Question:

Recently Hump-backed Mahseer listed as Critically Endangered in the Red List of Threatened Species, with respect to that consider the following statements.

  1. The Hump-backed Mahseer is a species of freshwater ray-finned fish and is referred to as tiger of the water.
  2. The humpback mahseer is endemic to the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats
  3. There are about 16 species of mahseer in India.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 1 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic : NITI Aayog organizes FinTech Conclave 2019

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

 

Why in news?

Recently NITI Aayog is organized a day-long FinTech Conclave at Dr. Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi on March 25, 2019.

 

More about on news:

  • The objective is to shape India’s continued ascendancy in FinTech, build the narrative for future strategy and policy efforts, and to deliberate steps for comprehensive financial inclusion.
  • The Conclave featuredrepresentatives from across the financial space – central ministries, regulators, bankers, startups, investors, service providers and entrepreneurs.
  • Government of India’s efforts focused on Digital India and developing India Stack including Voluntary Aadhaar for financial inclusion have evoked significant interest from various stakeholders in the area of Financial Technology (FinTech).
  • India is one of the fastest growing FinTech markets globally and industry research has projected that USD 1 Trillion or 60% of retail and SME credit, will be digitally disbursed by 2029.
  • The Indian FinTech ecosystem is the third largest in the globe.
  • The Indian FinTech industry is creating cutting edge intellectual property assets in advanced risk management and artificial intelligence that will propel India forward in the global digital economy while simultaneously enabling paperless access to finance for every Indian.

 

Focused areas:

The Conclave constituted parallel tracks, which looked into various dimensions of the future of the FinTech, particularly the areas of:

  • Digital Onboarding of Customers and Merchants for Financial Inclusion
  • Building Financial Products for Bharat
  • Emerging Areas of FinTech
  • Fast tracking investment in FinTech industry
  • Financial Inclusion of MSMEs

 

Significance:

  • India has a large population of non-city folk, many million small enterprises and any number of small borrowers without any credit history, who today cannot knock at the banks’ doors for loans.
  • It is therefore said to be just ripe for a Fintech revolution. To help things along, the Government is expediting this by promoting the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, and Mobile).
  • The reason why banking bigwigs are watching these developments like hawks is that Fintech has enormous power to disrupt old-world banks. They mostly function as online bazaars that simply put borrowers in touch with lenders or entrepreneurs with investors, while they pocket a fee on each transaction.
  • A Fintech firm may help participants on its platform by doing background checks on entrepreneurs, borrowers or lenders who hop on to it. But it does not put its own capital at risk.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to FinTech Conclave 2019

  1. The conclave organized by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
  2. The Indian FinTech ecosystem is the third largest in the globe
  3. FinTech Conclave 2019 aims to shape India’s continued ascendancy in Financial Technology (FinTech), build the narrative for future strategy and policy efforts, and to deliberate steps for comprehensive financial inclusion.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 3 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

 

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic : Cabinet approves five year’s extension of Biomedical Research Career Programme

Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology

 

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the continuation of the Biomedical Research Career Programme (BRCP), and Wellcome Trust (WT) / DBT India Alliance.

 

More about on news:

  • Govt has approved the continuation of the Biomedical Research Career Programme (BRCP), and Wellcome Trust (WT) / DBT India Alliance beyond its initial 10-year term (2008-09 to 2018-29) to a new five year phase (2019-20 to 2023-24) with Department of Biotechnology (DBT) increasing its commitment to two times that of WT.
  • The total financial implication will be Rs. 1092 crore with DBT and WT contributing Rs.728 crore and Rs.364 crore respectively.
  • Over its 10 years of funding in a 1:1partnership, the Programme has fulfilled its objectives of building and nurturing talent of highest global standards in cutting-edge biomedical research in India,
  • BRCP has made it attractive for high quality Indian scientists working abroad to return to India, and has increased the number of locations geographically within India where world-class biomedical research is undertaken.
  • The Programme would continue to build this capacity as also strengthen clinical research and work towards addressing important health challenges for India.
  • Continuation of the Programme with increased stake from the Government of India is important to bring about these returns.

 

About Wellcome Trust/DBT India alliance:

  • It is registered as a charitable trust in India.
  • The organization is an equal partnership between the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India).
  • Together, this partnership is aimed at promoting biomedical research in India through funding and engagement.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the followings with respect to Biomedical Research Career Programme

  1. It is an Alliance between the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and NITI Aayog.
  2. The Programme will fulfil the objectives of building and nurturing talent of highest global standards in cutting-edge biomedical research in India.

 

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 2 only

c). Both 1 and 2

d). Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: b)

 


Info graphic Summary