Daily Current Affairs – 23rd June, 2017

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Environment and Ecology:-

1) Volcanism heralded dinosaur era?:-

Oxford study revealed the fact regarding the mass extinction during Triassic period:-

  • Volcanic activity may have played a key role in triggering the mass extinction event about 200 million years ago, which set the scene for the rise and age of the dinosaurs.
  • The Triassic extinction, one of the largest mass extinctions of animal life on record, was preceded by the dinosaur era.
  • The casualty list includes large crocodile-like reptiles and several marine invertebrates.
  • This mass extinction has long been linked to a large and abrupt release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but the exact source of this emission has been unknown.
  • Following the discovery of volcanic rocks of the same age as the extinction, volcanic carbon dioxide emissions had previously been suggested as an important contributor to this extinction event.
  • These volcanic rocks covered a huge area, across four continents, representing the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province.
  • The findings of the study link volcanism to the previously observed repeated large emissions of carbon dioxide that had a profound impact on the global climate, causing the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic Period, as well as slowing the recovery of animal life afterwards.

2) The tiger is safe among Adilabad tribes:-

  • No harm is likely to come to the tiger that recently ambled into the Bela mandal of Adilabad district, Telangana apparently from the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary across the border in Yavatmal district, Maharashtra, so long as it moves in areas inhabited by Raj Gond and Kolam adivasis.
  • The aboriginal Raj Gonds worship the big cat as Rajulk Pen, the forest king and god.
    The customs of the Raj Gonds and Kolam tribes are attuned to peaceful co-existence with wild animals.
  • For example, the famous Dandari-Ghusadi dance takes inspiration from the movements of wild fauna, especially deer, peacock, rabbit and, of course, the tiger.
  • In a Dandari-Ghusadi performance, a masked Tappal Pen dancer depicts a tiger’s attack on cattle.

International Affairs:-

1) Dalveer Bhandari gets renomination to ICJ:-

 

  • India has renominated its serving candidate at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal legal organ of the United Nations.
  • Justice Dalveer Bhandari, 69, who received the re-nomination, will serve for a term of nine years as the Indian judge at the ICJ, which is the platform of the ongoing Kulbhushan Jadhav case.
  • Election process: The Court consists of 15 judges who are elected to nine-year terms by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.
  • Privileges: As a judge of the ICJ, Justice Bhandari will enjoy privileges and immunities equal to the head of a diplomatic mission. Each member of the Court receives an annual salary and supplementary allowance. After leaving the court, members receive annual pensions.
  • Role of ICJ: Founded in 1945, the ICJ settles disputes between sovereign states and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by other authorised UN organs.
  • The ICJ is open to all UN member states.

Economy, Project and Schemes:-

1) Reliance’s latest KG basin energy foray: A gamble:-

  • Reliance Industries Ltd.’s decision to invest afresh in the offshore Krishna Godavari (KG) basin after a gap of eight years has caught investors by surprise.
  • With RIL’s earlier investments of about $9 billion in the basin generating less than a tenth of the projected output of 80 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas and the refining-to-retail company still embroiled in arbitration over cases relating to alleged inflation of costs and under production, the announcement of a fresh investment commitment of $6 billion, along with BP Plc., into the KG basin has triggered a guessing game.
  • While gas from the KG basin is currently sold at $2.48 per million metric British thermal units (mmbtu) by RIL under the gas pricing formula worked out by the NDA government, some analysts contend that the company is betting on significantly higher returns based on the new pricing formula that the Centre had proposed for operating difficult fields including high pressure, high temperature, deep-water and ultra deep-water areas.
  • The Centre’s policy, however, has a categorical caveat. The new pricing formula won’t apply to blocks under arbitration.
  • Moody’s Investors Service has also cautioned that RIL’s proposed investment is fraught with risks.
  • “The planned investment will increase RIL’s exposure to Indian gas business, which is extremely challenging given the delays in regulatory approvals, retrospective changes in regulations and slow resolution of disputes. RIL is already in arbitration with the regulator for costs previously incurred in the KGD6 block,”.
  • “Two fields in the KGD6 block that are already producing have seen a sharp decline in production of 60 mmscmd (Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Per Day) in 2010 to 7.8 mmscmd in 2017. The company has attributed the decline to more-than-expected complexity of the reservoirs. If the new fields also exhibit the same kind of complexity, the cash flows from the project could be much lower.”
  • Reliance’s billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani, who recovered a substantial portion of the initial investment when the company sold a 30% stake to BP in 2011 for $7.2 billion, appears to be wagering that a resolution with the Centre is around the corner.
    RIL and its partner BP expect to produce up to 12 mmscmd, with first production in 2020.

2) Enough time given, GST will be implemented from July 1: Arun Jaitley:-

  • Brushing aside reservations from sections of industry as well as States such as West Bengal about the level of preparedness for the switch to the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the new indirect tax system would be kicked off on July 1 as the government had given enough time for people to be prepared for the transition.
  • He also warned that consumers and producers in Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, which are yet to ratify the State GST law to facilitate the implementation of the GST under their jurisdiction, would lose out on the benefits of a single national tax.
  • “The readiness will be determined when you have to file the first return, which we have extended to September 15 [from August 10]. So two-and-a-half months more are there to get ready. And if he is still not ready, then I am afraid he doesn’t want to be ready,” he pointed out.
  • 65 lakh out of 80 lakh assessees in the current indirect tax system have already registered themselves for the GST.

3) Rajdhani, Shatabdi trains set for revamp under ‘Operation Swarn’:-

  • After years of complaints by the travelling public, the premium trains are now set for a makeover. The Railway Ministry is to launch “Operation Swarn” to improve services in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains.
  • In the first phase, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express have been selected for upgradation.
  • Work will start from September 26. More trains will be identified in a phased manner.

4) RBI releases names of the 5 members in Overseeing Committee to tackle bad loans:-

  • The Reserve Bank of India announced the names of five members of the Overseeing Committee (OC) which looks into the resolution of stressed accounts where a company’s exposure exceeds Rs 500 crore.
  • The five members include existing members former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar who will be the Chairman and former State Bank of India Chairman Janki Ballabh.
  • The committee will comprise three other members – former chairman of Canara Bank MBN Rao, non-executive chairman of L&T Finance Holdings YM Deosthalee and former SEBI whole-time member S Raman.

5) India’s first single-wallet contactless, Open Loop Metro Card launched:-

  • Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank in association with Kochi Metro Rail Corporation (KMRL) has launched KMRL Axis Bank ‘Kochi1’ Card.
  • This is India’s first open loop EMV contactless metro card that would make travel a convenient and hassle free experience for commuters in Kochi.
  • Axis Bank has partnered with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in developing this transit EMV contactless specification on interoperable open standards.

Science and Technology:-

1) Estonia to open the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg:- 

  • The world’s first ever data embassy is set for launch next year after the Estonian government signed a deal with Luxembourg.
  • Estonia is planning to keep backup files of its vital information on servers in the duchy in order to guarantee country’s digital continuity.

Defence News:-

1) First indigenously built floating dock launched:-

  • The Indian Navy’s first indigenously built Floating Dock (FDN-2), developed by Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (L&T), was launched at L&T’s shipyard.
  • The Floating Dock is 185 metres long and 40 metres wide and will enable docking of all kinds of vessels, including Naval ships and submarines (excepting aircraft carriers and tankers) of up to 8,000 tonnes displacement, with draughts of up to seven metres, during both day and night.
  • The Navy already has one Floating Dock; this would be its second such facility.
    FDN-2 too will be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and will enhance the Navy’s technical repair infrastructure.

Appointments:-

1) Kenneth Juster to be new US ambassador to India:-

  • Kenneth I Juster, a top aide of US President Donald Trump, is set to be America’s new ambassador to India, the White House said.
  • Juster, 62, who is the deputy assistant to the US president for International Economic Affairs and deputy director of his National Economic Council, would replace Richard Verma if nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

2) Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov to be first UN counter-terrorism chief:-

  • The United Nations has announced the appointment of its first counter-terrorism chief, Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov.
  • The new high-level position has been created by United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts that had been dispersed among several United Nations agencies and departments.
  • Voronkov will hold the title of under-secretary-general.