Current Affairs of February- 2017

In the current budget the gap between the total government expenditure on food and fertilizer subsidy [Rs. 2,15 lakh crore] and the Combined budget of the Agriculture ministry and the Rural development ministry [Rs. 1.58 lakh crore] along with interest subvention is narrowing but still large.

The rural India in particular needs investment in capital assets like roads, electricity, water supply, storage and transportation facilities and reduction in subsidies on fertilizer and deregulation of the fertilizer sector.

The government however falls short of this and some much wanted measures like DBT for fertilizer subsidy, compulsory drip irrigation in farms, credit facilities for farmers with small holdings is needed.

PM Ujjwala Yojana - Provide free LPG connections to poor rural households. Target to be achieved by 2019 and scheme is 100% Centrally sponsored scheme.

ISRO makes a record breaking launch of 104 satellites in one go using its PSLV-C37. It was the 39th mission of PSLV and its 38th consecutive mission. ISRO is also planning to make a reusable launch vehicle named “Avatar”.

"Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle - Mark III" - also known as the satellite of south asia shall be tested next month. it is regarded as the most powerful satellite launch vehicle of ISRO so far.

It shall have a liquid cryogenic engine a technology that was difficult to master.

TRAPPIST - 1 is a star in a relatively close galaxy where NASA discovered 7 planets that could support life. These planets are in the "Golilocks" zone where water can form on the surface and thus support life.

H1 - B issues

The US Government is considering taking 2 major changes in the US immigration policy and the hiring of foreign skilled workers in the Science, engineer and technology sectors. One reform would be to increase the minimum salary needed to $130000 from the current $65000 which is to be paid to foreign workers.

Increase in this would hurt profitability of Indian software companies and make domestic US workers cheaper than foreign workers. Atleast this is the logic given for this move, however an average American is no longer interested in doing IT programming work and so the US Companies are forced to hire from foreign workers [70% of H1-B visas go to India].

This move might hurt the US economy and so many Indian IT companies shall protest against it. The second reform is to change the lottery system for giving H1-B visas and give preference to applicants that have to be paid the highest salaries. This again shall be seen as a protectionist move for domestic labor and ignores the demands of the US industry.

Currently 60% of Indian IT sectors $150 billion trade is with US.

Indian IT Companies send 2.5 lakh skilled workers to the US every year. The main categories under which Indian go abroad are H1-B visa which is a non immigrant visa under which a specialized skill worker with a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent specialized degree can go and work in the US for a period of three years which can be further extended by another 3 years. The second category is L-1 visa [non-immigrant] where a US company can transfer a managerial or professional executive from its foreign office to US office.

There are a total of 65000 H1B visas for 3 lakh applicants out of which 45000 are for foreign skilled workers and 20000 are for foreign students who have completed graduation in US universities.

Good Taliban - Russia and Iran v/s India and Afghanistan

The Summit on Afghanistan held in Russia and attended by Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan made an important decision. The decision was to begin talks with Taliban - A dreaded group of Islamic militants based out of Afghanistan.

This was decided as the growing threat of Islamic State expanding in the Afghanistan region is seen. The Islamic state has 5000 Russian origin fighters and these shall now move towards bases near the Central Asian region threatening the security of these areas. The Sunni dominated fighters also mean that they could threaten the Shia majority region of Iran.

Therefore the nations like Russia and Iran have decided to begin talks with Taliban in order to protect their own interests and hold Taliban as a counter to Islamic state. However the Pakistan backed Taliban group is not a “Good terrorist” organization and has the power to overthrow the fragile democracy established in Afghanistan.

The dangerous move of Russian and Irani governments could be against Afghan interests. Since Taliban network is well connected to Pakistan, the role of Pakistan shall become more important in the battle against terrorism. This shall go against Indian hopes of pushing the UNSC to declare Pakistan as a Terrorist state.

India beats Pakistan at the T20 World Cup for Blind

Cameroon wins the African Nations Football Cup,2017 by beating Egypt

South Korea’s Pyeongchang city shall host the 2018 Winter Olympic games

Jitu Rai and Amarpreet Singh get a Gold - Silver finish at the World Cup of Shooting. However Shooting shall be dropped from the list of games for the Tokyo Olympics.

Nagaland tribals oppose the move by the Government to provide 33% reservation in local body elections to women. The Nagaland tribals are opposed to this move saying that it goes against their customs and traditions. The Nagaland government has got constitutional provision by which it can pass a resolution to protect the traditions of the tribals and ensure that the Act of Parliament doesnt affect these.

However the State assembly has passed a resolution accepting the 33% reservation. This move has found support from women's groups in the state too. No women has ever been elected to Nagaland assembly and even the sex ratio of the state is below National average of 940.

National Women's Parliament is held in Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh.

Saathiya - Union ministry of Health's resource material prepared for peer educators. This has been made with the help of UN Population fund. This resource material shall be used by peer educators to sensitise the youth about homosexuality, mutual consent, respect their own feelings etc.

It is a radical new step as it challenges age old traditions of the society.