National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 31st August 2018
Why in news?
Google has unveiled Project Navlekha to make online content relevant for more Indian users especially in local languages.
About Project Navlekha
- Google is using its expertise in artificial intelligence for Project Navlekha, using which, it will quickly render any PDF with Indian language content into editable text, overcoming issues that usually occur when you try to copy text in Indian languages from a PDF.
- The project aims to bring 135,000 local language publishers online by making web hosting smooth and simple.
- It will allow local publishers who do not have websites to make their offline content fit for online publishing in less than a minute.
- It also comprises tool that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to allow publishers to simply scan documents or PDFs and create instant web pages on the platform.
- The project will provide a handy online publishing tool for local language newspapers and content companies—90% of which do not have a website.
- The registered publishers on Navlekha will also be provided with free web hosting, along with a branded domain for three years. They’ll also have AdSense support to begin monetising their content.
- Under Navlekha project, Google will help these publishers to receive training and support and a branded page domain for the first three years.
Marriage certificate must for official work in Meghalaya
Why in news?
The State government in matrilineal Meghalaya has made it mandatory for married people to produce marriage certificates for all official purposes.
The government has also decided to deny government jobs and benefits to men who have abandoned their families and are not providing for maintenance of their children. Some of these men live with other women.
Why this move now?
- The step has been taken in view of increasing cases of broken marriages and women being forced to fend for themselves and their children.
- The abandonment of families by men lead to a spike in school dropouts and juvenile crimes.
- Also, most marriages in the Khasi society are not registered, and this makes it difficult for abandoned women to fight for the maintenance of their children.
Why in news?
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for the umbrella scheme “Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART)”, for implementation during the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
About O-SMART scheme
- The scheme encompasses a total of 16 sub-projects addressing ocean development activities such as Services, Technology, Resources, Observations and Science.
- The services rendered under the O-SMART will provide economic benefits to a number of user communities in the coastal and ocean sectors, namely, fisheries, offshore industry, coastal states, Defence, Shipping, Ports etc.
- The scheme will help in reducing the search time for fishermen resulting savings in the fuel cost.
- Implementation of O-SMART will help in addressing issues relating to Sustainable Development Goal-14, which aims to conserve use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development.
- This scheme (O-SMART) also provide necessary scientific and technological background required for implementation of various aspects of Blue Economy.
- The State of Art Early Warning Systems established under the O-SMART Scheme will help in effectively dealing with ocean disasters like Tsunami, storm surges.
- The technologies being developed under this Scheme will help in harnessing the vast ocean resources of both living and non-living resources from the seas around India.
Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council
Why in news?
Union Government has constituted a new 21-member advisory panel on science, technology and innovation called Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC). It will replace earlier Scientific Advisory Committee to Prime Minister and to Cabinet.
About Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council
It will be headed by Principal Scientific Advisor to the government of India. It has nine members, including Chairperson. Apart from nine members, it will also have twelve special invitees — eleven ex officio secretaries 10 central ministries, related to science, technology, energy and education, are special invitees to the panel.
- Advise PM on science, technology, as well as innovation.
- Coordinate implementation of PMs scientific vision.
- Aid in formulation and timely implementation of major science and technology missions and evolve interdisciplinary technology development programmes.
- Advise government on developing ‘Clusters of Excellence’ in science including city-based R&D clusters.
- Bring together all science and technology partners from academia and institutes to industries near such centres or cities.
Why in news?
A panel headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, which deliberated on measures to check incidents of lynching, submitted its report to a Group of Ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
As per the suggestion made, media platforms — Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter — would be made accountable for not blocking such malicious posts/videos when brought to their notice and “FIR could be lodged against their country heads” for non-compliance of government orders and they could be prosecuted under law.
What is the Need for an anti-lynching law?
- At present there is no law that criminalises mob killings.
- The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognisance of a group of people coming together to kill (a lynch mob).
- Under Section 223 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), to prosecute together two or more people accused of the same offence committed in the course of the “same transaction”. But the provision falls far short of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting lynch mobs.
Kerala has sought loan from the World Bank (WB) to rebuild the State.
Why in news?
Kerala has sought loan from the World Bank (WB) to overcome the devastation caused by the monsoon fury and recent floods and to rebuild the State.
Why it need loan from WB?
- The magnitude of the devastation caused by the floods is high. Besides the damage caused to roads, bridges and infrastructure, traders and businessmen too are facing one of the worst crises.
- The existing schemes will not be enough for their rehabilitation.
- Creating world-class roads, bridges and infrastructure would instil confidence among the people. Those staying in ecologically fragile areas in the State needed to be rehabilitated.
RBI report on demonitization
Why in news?
Over 99% of the ₹ 500 and ₹ 1000 that were withdrawn from circulation in November 2016 were returned, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its annual report.
What RBI said about demonetization in its report?
- According to the report, after verification and reconciliation, the total value of the Rs 500 and Rs,1000 as on November 8, 2016, the day before note ban came into effect, was RRs15,417.93 lakh crore. The total value of the such notes returned from circulation was Rs15,310.73 lakh crore.
- According to the RBI data, the value of banknotes in circulation increased by 37.7% over the year to Rs18,037 lakh crore as at end-March 2018.
- With more Rs500 notes pumped into the system over the last one year, the share of Rs2,000 notes by value declined to 37.3% as on March 2018 as compared to 50.2% a year ago. The share of Rs 500 note, in terms of value, increased from 22.5% to 42.9% during the same period.
- The share of newly introduced Rs 200 banknotes in the total value of banknotes in circulation was 2.1% as at end-March 2018
- The demonetisation was hailed as a step that would curb black money, corruption and check counterfeit currency, but the RBI said, “Counterfeit notes detected in SBNs decreased by 59.7 and 59.6 per cent in the denominations of Rs500 and Rs1,000, respectively.
- The RBI said that compared to the previous year, there was an increase of 35 per cent in counterfeit notes detected in the denomination of Rs100, while there was a noticeable increase of 154.3 per cent in counterfeit notes detected in the denomination of Rs50.
- Counterfeit notes detected in the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes during 2017-18 were 9,892 and 17,929, against 199 and 638 respectively in the previous year
Exercise Peace Mission 2018
Why in news?
Exercise Peace Mission 2018, the joint military exercise of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), ended in Russia with the eight-member states undertaking joint training on combating terrorism.
About Exercise Peace Mission 2018
- This is the first time India and Pakistan participated in the exercise, which began on August 24 at the firing ranges in Chebarkul.
- After intense military training, the joint exercise concluded with multinational forces exhibiting their combat power and dominance over the extremist groups in simulated realistic situation. The closing ceremony showcased the immense talent and unique military ethos of all the member nations.
- The exercise provided an opportunity to armies of all nations for greater cultural understanding, sharing experiences and strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.
- India, China, Kazakhstan and Russia showcased their armoured and mechanised forces while Pakistan has sent only Special Forces personnel. The Indian delegation was led by Lt. Gen Satish Dua, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.
- Far from the firing and shelling across the Line of Control (LoC), Indian and Pakistani soldiers were seen dancing and sharing light moments together. Pakistani soldiers also received traditional Indian welcome and hospitality.
- There were also several sports activities and the Indian contingent performed exceedingly well in a friendly inter-contingent volleyball match, beating the Pakistani contingent in a thrilling final. “The team of 5 Rajput Regiment emerged winners among the eight participating nations.
- China has welcomed the participation of the two south Asian countries in the exercise and said stability between the two countries was “significant to the peace and development of the region and the whole world.”
- On the sidelines of the exercise, a meeting of the Chiefs of General Staff (CGS) of participating nations was held and the senior officers also witnessed the final phase and the closing ceremony.
Increase in Dearness Allowance (DA) for Central Government employees
- The Union Cabinet gave its nod for 2 percentage point increase in Dearness Allowance (DA) for Central Government employees and Dearness Relief for pensioners with effect from July 1.
- This is intended to compensate them for price rise in the economy.
- The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief would be Rs 6112.20 crore per annum and Rs.4074.80 crore in the financial year 2018-19 (for a period of 8 months from July, 2018 to February, 2019)
- This will benefit about 48.41 lakh Central Government employees and 62.03 lakh pensioners.
- This increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission.
Why in news?
India’s first manned space flight – Gaganyaan – is expected to send three persons into the space for seven days and the spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km.
- India will be the fourth country after the USA, Russia and China to send humans to space.
- After the take off of the mission, it will reach the orbit in 16 minutes. The crew, while coming back to the Earth, could land in the Arabian Sea off the Gujarat coast or Bay of Bengal or even on land.
- The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km and the total programme cost is expected to be less than Rs 10,000 crores
- The crew will be selected by the Indian Air Force and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
- The ISRO will also take inputs from Rakesh Sharma, first Indian to travel to space. Sharma, a former Indian Air Force pilot who flew aboard Soyuz T-11, launched in April 1984.
- The mission will comprise a crew module, service module and orbital module, weighing approximately seven tonnes, and will be carried by a rocket and the crew module’s size will be 3.7 metres x 7 metres.