Current Affairs – April 04 & 05 2018
1. Maharashtra government lifts ban on plastic bottles
The Maharashtra government has lifted ban on small plastic bottles with capacity of less than half litre. However, it has made the installation of vending and crushing machines mandatory at hotels, malls, and public places where these bottles are used in bulk. People will have to pay ₹2 extra on purchasing these bottles, which would be refunded after the return.
2. New bacteria-killing artificial enzyme developed
Researchers have developed an artificial enzyme that could be used to fight infection and keep high-risk public spaces like hospitals free of bacteria, like the dysentery-causing E coli. Made from tiny nanorods 1,000 times smaller than the thickness of the human hair, the “NanoZymes” use visible light to create highly reactive oxygen species that rapidly break down and kill bacteria.
3. RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6% for fourth time in a row
The RBI has kept the repo rate, the rate at which banks borrow from RBI, unchanged at 6% during its first bi-monthly monetary policy review of 2018-19. This is the fourth time in a row the rate has been kept steady at 6%, its lowest since November 2010. This comes after the retail inflation in February eased to 4.44%.
4. Mirabai Chanu lifts record 196 kg, wins India’s 1st gold at CWG
Indian weightlifter and current world champion Mirabai Chanu opened the country’s gold medal tally at the 2018 Commonwealth Games after lifting a total of 196 kg in the women’s 48 kg category. The 23-year-old also set Commonwealth Games records in both Snatch (86 kg) and Clean and Jerk (110 kg) categories.
5. Sindhu leads Indian contingent at Parade of Nations at CWG
Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu led the over 200-member strong Indian contingent at the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia. Over 4,500 athletes from 71 countries and territories will compete for 275 gold medals at the Games. India had finished fifth at 2014 Commonwealth Games with 15 gold medals.
6. New Zealand passes law to erase gay convictions
New Zealand’s Parliament has passed legislation allowing people previously convicted of homosexual offences to have their criminal records erased. Homosexuality was decriminalised in the country in 1986 but people convicted before then have the offence listed on their official records. Around 1,000 people will be eligible to have their records cleared when the scheme will kick in next year.
7. PM Modi, Nepal PM to lay foundation of 900MW power project
PM Narendra Modi and Nepalese PM KP Oli will jointly lay foundation stone of the 900 MW Arun III hydropower project to be built in Nepal’s eastern part. India will provide around ₹9,700 crore for the power project expected to be completed within five years. This is the largest hydropower project undertaken by Indian government in Nepal.
8. India Is World’s Second Largest Producer Of Crude Steel, Overtakes Japan
India has overtaken Japan to become the world’s second largest producer of crude steel in February, according to the Steel Users Federation of India (Sufi). At present, China is the largest producer of crude steel in the world, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the production. India overtook the US in 2015 to become the third largest producer of crude steel.
According to the World Steel Association, India produced 8.4 mt of crude steel in February 2018, up 3.4 per cent over February 2017.
9. India third most vulnerable country to cyber threats
India emerged as the third most vulnerable country in terms of risk of cyber threats, such as malware, spam and ransomware, in 2017, moving up one place over previous year, according to a report by security solutions provider Symantec. In 2017, 5.09% of global threats detected were in India, slightly less than 5.11% in 2016. The U.S. (26.61%) was most vulnerable to such attacks, followed by China (10.95%), according to ‘Internet Security Threat Report’.
The global threat ranking is based on eight metrics — malware, spam, phishing, bots, network attacks, web attacks, ransomware and cryptominers.
10. Cabinet approves revised cost estimates of the scheme of updation of National Register of Citizens, 1951 in Assam
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Revised Cost Estimates (RCE) of the scheme of Updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 in Assam at a cost of Rs. 1220.93 crore upto 31.12.2018. The scheme of NRC, 1951 is specific to state of Assam covering about 3.29 crore applicants. The exercise will help in preparation of National Register of Citizens in Assam.
11. Cabinet approves a Cooperation Arrangement between India and Afghanistan for cooperation in the field of food safety and related areas
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Cooperation Arrangement between Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock (MAIL), Afghanistan for cooperation in the field of Food Safety and related areas.
The areas of cooperation include the following:
a) Establishment of a mechanism of information exchange and communication;
b) Facilitating technical exchange on identified topics of interestespecially about import procedures, quality control operations, sampling,testing, packaging and labeling;
c) Facilitating/organization of joint seminars, workshops, visits, lectures,training programme, etc;
d) Other areas of interest to the participants within their responsibilitiesas they may mutually determine.
The cooperation arrangement will facilitate information sharing training and capacity building measure and learning from each others best practice to improve food safety ecosystem.
12. Cabinet approves MoU between India and Iran on the establishment of an expert group on trade remedy measures
The Union Cabinet has given its ex post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Iran on the establishment of an expert group on trade remedy measures to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest. The MoU was signed on 17thFebruary, 2018 during the visit of the President of Iran.
The MoU will promote cooperation between the two countries in area of trade remedies such as exchange of information, capacity building activities, cooperation in investigations related to anti-dumping and countervailing duty, etc.
13. Cabinet approves closure of loss making Burn Standard Company Limited
The Union Cabinet chaired has approved the closure of Burn Standard Company Ltd (BSCL) – a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under Ministry of Railways. This decision has been taken in view of the continuous poor physical and financial performance of the company for more than 10 years despite financial assistance and other support provided by government, and low probability of its revival in the future. This measure will save public funds, which are currently being used for loss making BSCL, and can be used for other developmental work.
Government will provide one-time grant of Rs. 417.10 crore towards severance package and for clearing the current liabilities of the company. In addition, outstanding loan of Rs. 35 crore given to the company by Government of India (Ministry of Railways) shall be written off. 508 employees of BSCL will benefit from Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).
14. Cabinet apprised of MoU between India and United Arab Emirates on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector
The Union Cabinet chaired has been apprised of theMemorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime of the United Arab Emirates on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector. The MoU was signed on 10th February, 2018.
The MoU will enable technical cooperation in the following areas:-
a. Regulation, safety and technical investigation of accidents;
b. Station redevelopment;
c. Locomotives, coaches and wagons; and
d. Any other area jointly identified by the Participants.
The MoU will provide a platform to Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. The MoU will facilitate exchange of information, expert meetings,seminars technical visits and implementation of jointly agreed cooperation projects.
15. Cabinet approves demerger and transfer of surplus land from TCL to HPIL
The Union Cabinet has approved the transfer of administrative control of Hemisphere Properties India Ltd. (HPIL), PSU from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) after infusion of equity amounting to Rs. 700 crore and Rs. 51 cr. secured GOI Loan into the Company and implementation of scheme of arrangement for de-merger of surplus land.
It would facilitate demerger of surplus land from Tata Communications Limited to Hemisphere Properties India Limited (HPIL) and further smooth functioning of HPIL.
16. Cabinet approves rightsizing the Competition Commission of India
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for rightsizing the Competition Commission of India (CCI) from One Chairperson and Six Members (totalling seven) to One Chairperson and Three Members (totalling four) by not filling the existing vacancies of two Members and one more additional vacancy, which is expected in September, 2018 when one of the present incumbents will complete his term.
The proposal is expected to result in reduction of three Posts of Members of the Commission in pursuance of the Governments objective of “Minimum Government – Maximum Governance”.
17. Cabinet approves the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 for better protection and promotion of human rights in the country.
a) It proposes to include “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” as deemed Member of the Commission;
b) It proposes to add a woman Member in the composition of the Commission;
c) It proposes to enlarge the scope of eligibility and scope of selection of Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission; and
d) It proposes to incorporate a mechanism to look after the cases of human rights violation in the Union Territories.
e) It proposes to amend the term of office of Chairperson and Members of National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission to make it in consonance with the terms of Chairperson and Members of other Commissions.
The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.