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04 November Current Affairs

AFSPA

In News:

The central government has bestowed on itself the authority to declare any area in the newly-created Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh as “disturbed” under the AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to security forces to act against any suspect.

About:

Till the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the state government through district magistrates were empowered to declare a particular district or police station area “disturbed” under the AFSPA.

Administration of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (21 of 1990) in both the UTs is now vested with the Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The AFSPA has been applicable to the erstwhile state since 1990. However, Leh and Kargil areas under the new UT of Ladakh were never declared as disturbed.

With the bifurcation of the state, the police and law and order of both the UTs would be managed by the MHA through the respective Lieutenant Governors of the two UTs.

Robotic Surgery Facility

In News:

The Robotic Surgery Facility in the Safdarjung Hospital (SJH) New Delhi was dedicated to the nation by the Union Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan. it is the first Central Government hospital to start this facility for poor patients for free.

About:

Safdarjang Hospital is one of the biggest tertiary care referral centre of India, under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare catering to all poor patients of uro-oncological cancers like prostate, kidney, bladder cancers and kidney failures, from different parts of country.

It is also the first Central Government hospital in India to start this latest Robot Surgery facility for all poor patients for free.

Robotic surgery?

Robotic surgery has the advantage of providing minimally invasive surgery, reducing significantly the morbidity & mortality of critically ill, cancer and kidney failure patients.

The Robotic system provides 7 degrees of freedom, 3-D vision, 10 times magnification and better dissection with more precision. The operating time also decreases resulting in improvement in turnover of patients and decrease in waiting list of patients for surgery significantly.

Women Help Desks (WHDs) and Anti-Human-Trafficking-Units (AHTUs)

In News:

Government of India has decided to set up & strengthen Women Help Desks (WHDs) and Anti-Human-Trafficking-Units (AHTUs) in States Across the Country.

About:

Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) will be set up in all districts of States & UTs at cost of Rs. 100 crores for safety and security of women and girl victims of trafficking.

Women Help Desks (WHDs) will be set up in Police Stations in all States & UTs. WHDs would be gender sensitive desks for grievance redressal of women through the policing system, as well as catalysts for improved community interaction of the police with focus on crime against women and children.

These will be set up at cost of Rs. 100 crores each to be funded 100% by the Central Government under Nirbhaya Fund.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

In News:

Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah will inaugurate the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Joint Exercise on Urban Earthquake Search & Rescue (SCOJtEx-2019) on 04th November, 2019 at Dr. Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi.

About:

On the initiative of Government of India, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is hosting SCOJtEx-2019.

It is being organized with the aim to provide an opportunity to enhance the coordination & co-operation involving multi-agency operations in an earthquake scenario.

The four day long simulation exercise shall be held from 4-7 November, 2019 at Delhi.

The participants of all 08 member countries namely China, India, Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan shall be participating in this exercise.

The four day long simulation exercise shall be conducted as per the International Search & Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) methodology & guidelines.

High Level Advisory Group on Trade Policy (HLAG)

In News:

A High Level Advisory Group on Trade Policy (HLAG) in its recent report has suggested that the Centre could bring up to $500 billion of black money if it issues elephant bond. This money then could be used towards funding various infrastructure projects in the country.

About:

Elephant bond is an avenue for people to bring their money stashed offshore without fear of being prosecuted. Under the proposed mechanism, those disclosing their black money will receive immunity from all laws including under foreign exchange, black money and taxation laws.

Once they declare their offshore money, they will be asked to invest 40 % of that amount in these elephant bonds. A fixed coupon security will be issued. While 45 % of the wealth brought in by subscribing to these elephant bonds will be credited with the depositor, the remaining 15 % will be collected as tax deducted at source by the government.

Of the amount invested in the bonds, the HLAG has recommended that 75 % of the interests earned be collected as tax.

The HLAG estimates that creation of elephant bonds could help fund (approximately) $500 billion worth of infrastructure projects.

Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR)

In News:

The Supreme Court has upheld the Centre’s decision on the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). This will have major ramifications for incumbent operators Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Meaning of AGR:

Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Government. The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is known as AGR.

Debate over definition?

The definition of AGR has been under litigation for 14 years.

While telecom companies argued that it should comprise revenue from telecom services, the Department of Telecom (DoT)’s stand was that the AGR should include all revenue earned by an operator, including that from non-core telecom operations.

The AGR directly impacts the outgo from the pockets of telcos to the DoT as it is used to calculate the levies payable by operators. Currently, telecom operators pay 8% of the AGR as licence fee, while spectrum usage charges (SUC) vary between 3-5% of AGR.

Recent development:

On October 24, in a strongly-worded order, the Supreme Court of India upheld the DoT’s interpretation of AGR, which came as a huge blow to telecom service providers.

Following the order, the telcos are now staring at dues of an estimated ₹1.4 lakh crore, which needs to be paid to the government within three months.

Cyclone Kyarr and Cyclone Maha

In News:

For the first time since 1965, two cyclonic storms have prevailed simultaneously — Cyclone Kyarr and Cyclone Maha — over the Arabian Sea.

About:

Maharashtra may have to brave another spell of rain, barely a week after the first one, due to a second cyclone that is likely to approach Gujarat and also affect the state.

For the first time since 1965, two cyclonic storms have prevailed simultaneously — Cyclone Kyarr and Cyclone Maha — over the Arabian Sea. Cyclone Kyarr was only the second super cyclone to be formed after Cyclone Gonu in 2007.

The Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) was higher than normal over the Arabian Sea since October, towards the culmination of the southwest monsoon season.

Generally, such higher SSTs favour the formation of ocean systems like depression that can, over a short period of time, intensify into cyclones or super cyclones while at sea.

ESO’s SPHERE instrument

In News:

Astronomers using ESO’s SPHERE instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have revealed that the asteroid Hygiea could be classified as a dwarf planet.

About:

As of today, there are officially five dwarf planets in our Solar System. The most famous is Pluto, downgraded from the status of a planet in 2006. The other four, in order of size, are Eris, Makemake, Haumea and Ceres.

Now, there is a claimant for a sixth dwarf planet. Called Hygiea, it has so far been taken to be an asteroid. It lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Using observations made through the European Space Organisation’s SPHERE instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have now found Hygiea may possibly be a dwarf planet. If it qualifies, Hygiea will be the smallest dwarf planet in the Solar System.

The International Astronomical Union sets four criteria for a dwarf planet, and Hygiea already satisfies three —

It orbits around the Sun, it is not a moon, and it has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

The fourth requirement is that it have enough mass that its own gravity pulls it into a roughly spherical shape.

According to the new study, VLT observations now show Hygiea satisfied that condition, too. This is the first time astronomers have observed Hygiea in high resolution to study its surface and determine its shape and size.

Survey General of India

In News:

The Survey General of India released maps depicting the new Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, as created on 31 October 2019.

About:

The new Union Territory of Ladakh consists of two districts of Kargil and Leh. The rest of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir is in the new Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with 28 districts.

Out of these, Kargil district was carved out from the area of   Leh and Ladakh district.

In the map, the new Leh district includes the areas of the districts of Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory of 1947, in addition to the remaining areas of Leh and Ladakh districts of 1947, after carving out the Kargil District.

Survey of India?

Mandate: The Survey of India is India’s central engineering agency in charge of mapping and surveying. it is also responsible for the naming convention and spellings of names of geographical features of India.

Organization: Its members are from Survey of India Service cadre of Civil Services of India and Army Officers from the Indian Army Corps of Engineers. It is headed by the Surveyor General of India.

History: it was set up in 1767 to help consolidate the territories of the British East India Company.

Headquarters: Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

Parent department: Department of Science and Technology.

CMIE report on joblessness

In News:

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has released a report on Unemployment in India.

Key findings:

India’s unemployment rate in October rose to 8.5%, the highest level since August 2016.

Urban unemployment rate at 8.9%, is more than the rural unemployment rate of 8.3%.

Highest unemployment rate in Tripura and Haryana, at more than 20%.

Lowest in Tamil Nadu at 1.1%.

Rajasthan saw its unemployment rate double between September and October 2019.

Why this is a cause for concern?

CMIE findings are in line with the findings of the latest Periodic Labour Force Survey, which had estimated an unemployment rate of 6.1% between July 2017 and June 2018, the worst in 45 years.

The data also comes on the back of other indicators showing a downturn in the economy, including the core sector output in September posting its worst contraction in at least 14 years.

Earlier, August’s industrial output shrank at its fastest rate in more than six years.

Another research estimates that between 2011-12 and 2017-18, employment declined by an unprecedented nine million jobs (a 2% drop), with agricultural employment declining by 11.5%. In the same period, employment in the service sector increased by 13.4%, while manufacturing employment dipped by 5.7%.

While employment has been declining, the number of working age people who are “Not in Labour Force, Education and Training” has continued to increase — from about 84 million in 2011-12, it has now crossed 100 million.

What causes this?

Most of the decline in employment has happened due to the fall in the number of workers in agriculture and a sharp fall in the absolute number of female workers- Roughly 37 million workers left agriculture in the last six years. During the same time, 25 million women workers were out of the workforce.

While the trend of workers moving out of agriculture is seen since 2004-05 and is welcome, it also points to the rising vulnerability of farm production.

Way ahead:

No doubt, the problem is not new and even earlier governments are to be blamed for the mess that the economy is in. Unfortunately, blaming the data or earlier governments does not make people who are looking for jobs vanish from the country. Stagnant wages and jobless growth are not just indicators of a weakening economy, but also a recipe for political instability and a crisis in the countryside. The least that is expected of the government is an acknowledgement of the extent of the problem and then try to address it.

 

 

 

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