International Affairs and Relations:-
1) Smallest nation joins solar alliance:-
- The world’s smallest republic, the tiny island nation of Nauru – has become the sixth country to ratify the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework pact initiated by the Indian and French Governments at the climate change summit held at Paris in 2015.
- Five more nations, from Africa, – Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Ghana and Djibouti – have committed to sign the pact during the ongoing meeting of the African Development bank in India.
- Nauru, which has a population of just 10,200-odd, is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
- “Nauru has a hot and humid climate due to its proximity to the equator… We are fortunate that we don’t normally experience cyclones,” its minister said, adding that 30% of the country’s needs are currently met through solar power installations and it had set a target to attain 50% of energy production from renewable sources by 2020.
- Headquartered in India, the alliance, conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to collaborate on meeting their energy needs through a common, agreed approach, will become a legal entity once at least 15 countries ratify and deposit the framework agreement.
- India has earmarked about $2 billion to finance solar projects in Africa out of it commitment to provide $10 billion of concessional lines of credit for projects in the continent.
International Solar Alliance (ISA):-
- India launched an International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the CoP21 Climate Conference in November 2015, with an announcement by Prime Minister Modi that the revolution in the field would bring power to all citizens, and create unlimited economic opportunity.
- The new body, which has invited all countries located fully or partly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to join, is to function from the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in India, Gurgaon.
- The Centre will provide land and $30 million to form a secretariat for the Alliance, and also support it for five years.
- In its launch resolution, the ISA saysit seeks to share collective ambitions to reduce the cost of finance and technology that is needed to deploy solar power widely; generation and storage technologies would be adapted to the individual countries’ needs.
- Among the tasks that the Alliance would pursue are,cooperation in training, building institutions, regulatory issues, common standards, and investment including joint ventures.
- The Alliance, consisting of 121 countries, is led by India.
2) Japan looks back at a war theatre:-
- A senior Japanese official posted in India said that Tokyo was aware of the “aggression” that its soldiers unleashed in Manipur during the Second World War and had recognised responsibility for the same repeatedly.
- Japan’s role in the wartime human tragedy of Manipur and Nagaland was spotlighted during the weekend, when its Ambassador, Kenji Hirematsu, paid a visit to Manipur and discussed a museum that will memorialise the soldiers who fought against the Allied forces.
- It was reported that Japan would locate the mortal remains of 30,000 Japanese who died during the war in Manipur for their last rites, and sought the cooperation of the people in the region for this.
- Japanese PM Mr. Shinzo Abe’s had earlier stated “Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering … What is done, cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.”
- Japan has been cautious about memorialising its soldiers, who perished in the War as a part of the Axis powers of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.
- In recent years, however, Japanese politics has taken a nationalist turn and has recognised the soldiers who fought against the Allied powers.
- The Japanese official also said that the museum is a collaboration between the locals and the Nippon Foundation of Japan.
- The museum, is likely to come up by the end of this year.
3) No room yet for India in NSG, says China:-
- China to oppose India’s unilateral entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Nuclear weapon states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) are barred from entering NSG.
- Bern, Switzerland- plenary session of NSG will be held next month.
India has underscored that NPT membership is not essential for joining the NSG, as was illustrated in the case with France, which became a member of the NSG without signing the NPT.
Nuclear Suppliers Group:-
- The NSG controls the global exports of nuclear technology and material to ensure that atomic energy is used only for peaceful purposes.
- The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975.
- The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development. Nations already signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment, materials or technology.
ECONOMY, PROJECT AND SCHEMES:-
1) PM Modi launches new projects in Kutch, Gujarat:-
- PM modi launched a new project at Kandla and Bhachau. The project deals with the connectivity of Kandla Port in Gujrat with the Chabahar port in Iran.
- There is a suggestion by Mr. Modi to rename the Kandla port to Deendayal Port Trust as part of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay’s centenary celebrations.
- Mr. Modi also inaugurated a new pumping station at Bhachau in Kutch on the Narmada canal to bring water to the parched Kutch district
The reason behind launching the project:-
- India wants to fix it position in global trade.
- For boosting International trading.
Key facts of the Kandla port:-
- Kandla Port Trust has been the largest cargo handling port in the country for more than two decades.
- Kandla has emerged as one of the most prominent ports in Asia.”
- It is located in Gujrat.
Key facts about Bhachau port project:-
- The new pumping station is built at the cost of Rs148 crore.
- The new pumping station will lift water 18 metres high and transport it through the Kutch
- Branch Canal (KBC) section to bring water to the Anjar and Mandavi towns of the vast desert district of Kutch.
Further Scope of the Project:-
- Modern infrastructure will be developed at ports in the country.
- Multi-modal transport system will be added to connect ports with railway networks for the seamless movement of cargo.
2) RBI outlines action plan for resolving stressed loans:-
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has outlined a broad plan to resolve stressed assets at lenders in the wake of the amendment of the Banking Regulation Act earlier this month.
- The RBI, which has sought information from lenders on the current status of large stressed assets and is working on norms for expediting the process of taking cases through insolvency and bankruptcy, said it would constitute a panel “comprised majorly of its independent board members” to advise it in this matter.
- “The Reserve Bank is working on a framework to facilitate an objective and consistent decision making process with regard to cases that may be determined for reference for resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC),” it said in a statement.
- The RBI is also exploring the possibility of credit rating assignments determined by it, in order to avoid conflict of interest.
- “RBI envisages an important role for the credit rating agencies in the scheme of things and, with a view to preventing rating-shopping or any conflict of interest, is exploring the feasibility of rating assignments being determined by the Reserve Bank itself and paid for from a fund to be created out of contribution from the banks and the Reserve Bank.”
- The two-member Oversight Committee (OC) would also be reconstituted and put “under the aegis” of the RBI.
- The OC would be enlarged to include more members so that it could set up benches to deal with the volume of cases.
- The central bank would soon name additions to the OC, who would join the existing members.
1) Army set to get 11 attack helicopters:-
Apache multi-role attack helicopters:-
- The Boeing AH-64 Apache American four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter and is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world.
Deal with U.S.:-
- Under a $3-billion deal, India has contracted 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15Chinook heavy-lift helicopters through the Foreign Military Sales program.
- Presently, India operates a mix of Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters which are with the IAF.
- The Army has placed a firm order for 114 indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH), which is in an advanced stage of induction, and has also ordered Rudra helicopters, the weaponised variant of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE:-
1) Jantar Mantar gives a big boost to Bhim Army:-
- Last week when Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, the founder of Bheem Army, while being underground, called for a massive protest at Jantar Mantar against Dalit atrocities, many of the workers and leaders of the group were not sure if they would actually be able to mobilise crowds from their essentially rural support base in western UP, to the national capital more than 100 km away.
- According to Delhi police estimates, crowd was of about 10,000. Bheem Army leaders and workers, however, disagreed and said the crowd was more than 20,000.
- Many said the caste clashes in Saharanpur and the “subsequent success of its Jantar Mantar protest has catapulted the Dalit group to the national stage and led to discussion about its possible role in Dalit politics and activism.”
- The Bheem Army Ekta Mission is the full name of the group which was established in July 2015 by Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan with the sole aim of empowering Dalits through education.
- However, the group which has been silently working among Dalits and now runs almost 300 schools in Saharanpur and districts in its vicinity, shot to national prominence due to its protests against the atrocities in Saharanpur.
- Many workers of the outfit told that the immediate priority is getting justice and compensation for the affected Dalits in Shabbirpur.
2) Social boycott for triple talaq:-
- All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has decided to socially boycott the Muslims who recites triple talaq.
- For the same the AIMPLB has filed a resolution in an affidavit before supreme court.
- The divorce incident may minimize
- The person reciting instant talaq will have to discuss it with spouse if it does not work, elder members of the family may intervene the situation if this too does not settle the dispute then the bride groom can separate
Proceeding of the case:-
- There will be back to back hearing before 5 judges bench constitution led by chief justice of India J.S. Khehar.
- senior advocate Kapil Sibal, had submitted that courts and parliament have no jurisdiction over Muslim personal law practices and the community would reform by itself without outside intervention.
- The resolution arrived in the court on Aril 2017 a month before hearing on the case started on 11th May.
ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH CARE & BIODIVERSITY:-
1) NGT asks for data on trees near Taj Mahal:-
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Divisional Commissioner of Agra to provide information on the trees planted at the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) near the historic Taj Mahal.
- Advocate M. C. Mehta, who has been appointed as local commissioner to probe the alleged illegal felling and sale of 4,000 trees in the area.
The NGT had taken cognisance of the case on its own after going through a media report.
Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ):-
- Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) is a defined area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution.
- The TTZ comprises over 40 protected monuments including three World Heritage Sites the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
- TTZ is so named since it is located around the Taj Mahal and is shaped like a trapezoid.
- The Supreme Court of India delivered a ruling on December 30, 1996 regarding industries covered under the TTZ, in response to a PIL seeking to protect the Taj Mahal from environmental pollution.
- It banned the use of coal/ coke in industries located in the TTZ with a mandate for switching over from coal/ coke to natural gas, and relocating them outside the TTZ or shutting down.
2) From green to ‘yellow’ revolution:-
- Even as commercial use of genetically- modified mustard continues to court controversy, Ludhiana- based Punjab Agricultural University ( PAU) is pushing farmers to adopt canola farming by developing ” canola villages” in niche areas to produce and sell the oil.
- Canola is the international trade name for mustard carrying lower levels of erucic acid – less than 2% – in oil and is considered as one of the healthiest options.
- Agriculture scientists believe that canola is one of the best possible options available to lead a “yellow revolution” in Punjab and that the State can emerge as the canola hub of the country.
- Due to mounting health issues and awareness, there’s now growing demand for canola oil across the country.
- During 2014-15, around 3, 56,000 tonnes of canola oil was imported and sold in Indian markets.
- Attaining self-sufficiency in the edible oil sector is crucial to reduce current deficit and to ensure edible oil security for the increasing population.”
- “Farmers in Punjab can benefit from increasing demand for canola oil as the State has significant area under canola [mustard and rapeseed] cultivation. We have released high-yielding international standard canola-quality varieties of gobhi sarson [rapeseed] – GSC-6, GSC-7 and mustard RLC-3. These are capable of meeting canola oil demand of the entire country,” Surinder Sandhu, the head of oilseed section at PAU.
- However, in absence of assured market and assured price for their produce from government agencies, farmers have reservations.
- Most area in Punjab during the rabi (winter) season is under wheat and farmers are reluctant to adopt any other crop due to assured marketing, low risk factors and largely mechanised farming techniques.
- Mustard farming is far more labour intensive, especially for weeding during harvest.
3) ‘40 H1N1 deaths in four months’:-
- The H1N1 influenza outbreak in several parts of Kerala has claimed 40 lives over the past four months, Health Minister K.K. Shylaja.
- Of the 2,349 patients screened for the virus since January, 590 were found to be positive and 40 persons died, she told the Assembly on 22 May 2017.
- Replying to the notice for an adjournment motion, she said the government had taken steps to check the spread of dengue and H1N1.
- Of the 40 patients who died due to H1N1, 24 were under treatment for other diseases.
- The Opposition staged a walkout, accusing the government of failing to handle the crisis.
‘220 deer died on IIT-M campus in two years’
- In a shocking revelation, Indian Institute of Technology – Madras has disclosed that 220 deer and eight blackbucks have died in just two years on the sprawling campus of the premier educational institution.
- Blackbuck is a Schedule-I species under the Indian Wildlife Act, 1972, making it one of the most endangered species.
- Mr. Rubin, an honorary welfare officer with the Animal Welfare Board of India, has now moved the National Green Tribunal claiming that inaction on the part of IIT(M) authorities had led to a serious decline in the number of spotted deer, blackbucks and various other animals on the 236-acre campus that was once part of the Guindy National Park.
4) Cobra lily blooms after 84 years:-
- The incredibly rare Arisaema translucens, more commonly remembered as cobra lily, was recently rediscovered in the western Nilgiris after 84 years.
- Featuring a distinctive translucent spathe, it was last collected by E. Barnes in 1932 and described by C.E.C Fischer in 1933.
- Barely a few hundred cobra lily plants are left in the wild and they can be found only in a small area measuring less than 10 sq. km. in the Nilgiris.
- “The Toda tribals of the Nilgiris, who know the plant well, have an embroidery motif known as the podwarshk, which resembles it.
- Prized for their beauty around the world, cobra lilies are at even greater risk of extinction from the commercial trade in exotic plants.
- Likely to have been quite common once, cobra lilies have vanished in the past decades along with the disappearance of the shola tree patches in which they were found.