Current Affairs of July - 2017

PM Modi’s visit to Israel

PM Modi’s visit to Israel is the first visit by an Indian PM to a Israel. This could lead to further the existing partnership in defence and also lead to newer partnerships in agriculture. In Israel use of precision agriculture has made the country increase its agro- productivity and reduce water intensiveness of agriculture. Today it exports water to neighbouring country, Jordan.

PM Modi’s visit to Israel - Past and Present

Indian PM Nehru had deep empathy for the persecuted jews and favored their asylum in India. This view wasn’t accepted by SC Bose as he wanted Adolf Hitler’s help in liberating India from the British. Even the Hindu Mahasabha president V.D.Sawarkar at that time did not accept Nehru’s views. PM Nehru along with Gandhiji did not accept the UN resolution on partition of Palestine for a separate state to jews and palestinians. India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 but the military ties were older. Arial Sharon was the first Israel PM to come to India in 2003. Although India supports the Palestinian cause, it has succeeded in de-hyphenating its relationship with Israel from Palestine. India is Israel's biggest Defence client currently.

“Facebook Act”

Network enforcement Act passed by Germany also known as the “Facebook Act” has made it mandatory for social networking sites to block and remove content in a specified time limit after it has been notified. India too had Section 66A in the IT Act which made it an offence to propagate hateful content but the section was struck down as it was often misused to harass individual who targeted politicians online. Section 69A of the same Act made it mandatory to remove content after an order from the government / courts.

Drug Technical Advisory Board

Ministry of healths advisory body Drug Technical Advisory Board has recommended certain structural changes in the coordination between Central Drug standards control organisation and state levels bodies that together regulate the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Minimum education standards for officials, deputation of personnel from state to center and vice versa, allowing government procurement agencies from getting drugs tested at private labs and ensuring adequate staff at the regulatory bodies were its recommendations.


Micro units refinance and development agency is a refinancing body for banks, regional rural banks and micro finance institutions. It provides refinance for these bodies so that they may lend to small and medium enterprise owners and free such people from going to money lenders. The loans can be of the amount upto Rs. 10 lakh without collateral. However such loans have benefitted people who already have a good transaction history. People who don't have this find it hard to borrow above Rs. 50000. Banks also find it hard to recover EMI from small borrowers as they people feel such loans shall be written off soon. This is due to the loan writeoff to farmers given by the government.

Public credit registry

RBI suggested creation of a public credit registry which shall record statistical information of borrowers like financial results etc and help in building a credit history. This shall benefit individual and small borrowers as they too shall access to credit from formal sector. This is because banks can get access to their credit history via the public credit registry.

Self help groups experiment

Self help groups experiment which was started 25 years ago has now reached 85 lakhs mark. Banking services have been made available to these SHG and credit facilities have reached the rural areas because of these. The SHG members are mostly rural women and so such people have reached mainstream banking.

Lending to SHG’s instead of individual members has proved to be better as repayments have been made on time and loans turning into NPA’s has reduced. Instead of individual members spending time in going to banks and spending money in getting loans SHG have proved a better option. In SHG the individual members contribute money to create a common pool through which lending can be done to members of the SHG. Such lending is without collaterals and repayments can be scheduled on a case to case basis.

National strategic plan for malaria elimination 2017 - 2022

National strategic plan for malaria elimination 2017 - 2022 was launched by the Health ministry. The NSP divides the country into 4 zones (0-3). The zero category zone has districts which haven’t reported cases in the last 3 years, Category 1 districts have annual parasite incidence (API) of less than 1 per 1000 population i.e. number of positive cases for the parasites in the year. Category 2 has API between 1 and 2, Category 3 has API more than 2.

The plan is to eliminate malaria in all Category 1 and 2 districts. It aims to ensure universal case detection and treatment in endemic districts to ensure 100% diagnosis of all suspected cases and treatment of all cases. Malaria has two types of parasite Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and plasmodium vivax (Pv). Pf is found in forest areas and Pv in plains. The highest cases are from chattisgarh, jharkhand, MP, Odissa. The NSP has components based on World bank recommendations. This is the first time that the health ministry proposes to eliminate malaria , the previous programs were based on controlling it.

Maharashtra prohibition of people from social boycott Act

Maharashtra prohibition of people from social boycott Act received presidential assent. The Act now empowers the collector or district magistrate to take action against imposition of social boycott by a group or an individual against a group or individuals in name of religion, caste or practice a profession, freedom to wear clothes of choice, marriage outside one’s caste. Such a law was necessary to curb the menace by jati panchayats and gavkis that had extra judicial powers. Trial must be completed with 6 months of filing chargesheet.

Central water commission and the central groundwater board

Debates are on to merge the central water commission and the central groundwater board into a national water commission. The CWC was formed in 1952 as a technical organisation for planning large irrigation and hydropower projects and it comprised of civil engineers. CGWB was also staffed by hydro geologists and was a technical agency monitoring and investigating groundwater. These core technical organisations haven’t been effective in helping the country reap the benefits of irrigation potential or groundwater.

The projects that have been successful have either been implemented without their role or without even consulting them. Hence there is a need to change their function from simple technical agencies that conduct feasibility studies or map aquifers to bodies that are in charge of water governance. The core engineering teams should get exposure to social science, economics and other fields so that they get a broader view of water management in this country. Just merging these two paper tigers into a bigger entity isn’t going to solve the problems.

Blockade by the tribals of Tripura

Blockade by the tribals of Tripura under the banner of Indigenous peoples front of Tripura is over. But the crisis isn't resolved as he long term demand is for a separate state. The IPFT demand is due to increase in the resentment between the tribals and the non tribals of the state. The influx of migrants from Bengal and Bangladesh have created the siege mentality amongst the tribals that they might become a minority in their own homeland. The political solution must be to strengthen the rights of tribals and prevent illegal immigration and also restrictions on buying of land in tribals areas.

Karnataka had demanded a separate flag

Karnataka had demanded a separate flag for its state but such a demand had no constitutional validity. The flag of Karnataka represents a cultural and linguistic identity but not a political identity. If such a flag is therefore allowed it could only enhance the cultural identity of the people.

PM Vaya Vandana Yojana

Only for those above 60 years of age are eligible for this scheme. This promises assured returns of 8% for 10 years. The scheme is being sold by LIC and offers options of pensions at monthly, yearly, half yearly and quarterly. The scheme is available till May 3, 2018. On survival of the pensioner till the end of the policy year, the purchase price and final pension installment shall be payable.

Maharashtra is the top producer of sugarcane

Maharashtra is the top producer of sugarcane in India. India is the highest consumer of sugar and second highest producer of sugar. The sugarcane is a highly lucrative crop due to high fair and remunerative prices given to it.

The 80% irrigation facilities are in cane growing areas and this means only 20% of Maharashtra’s farmland is under irrigation. The mill owners run many cooperatives and enjoy political patronage. This means that they get soft loans during stress. Also employment wise too the sector is highest generator of employment in rural areas. Due to the water intensive nature the demand has been growing to provide drip irrigation compulsorily to this crop.

National career exchange service

National career exchange service is a portal that links all employment exchanges. The government as well as private sector jobs are provided by it. Though majority of the jobs are in the private sector but only 1% of the job seekers have been placed. Gujarat is the top state that places the students with 30% getting jobs but Tamil Nadu is the highest number of applicants.

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port

Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port was constructed with Chinese help to create a World class port for servicing the exports from Sri Lanka. But the loan taken from the Chinese couldn’t be repaid and now the 80% control of the port has been handed over to the Chinese as part of the deal to swap debt. The Srilankan are protesting that this would mean losing sovereignty to China and could harm the economy in the long run. India too is not pleased with the huge investments China is making in SriLanka.

PM Fasal Bima Yojana

The subsidy burden of the premium is paid equally by the Center and the States and the insurance companies don’t pay the claims on time as the States don’t bear the subsidy burden. The States are also slow in conducting village level crop cutting experiments and lending yield data to insurance companies. The insurance companies themselves have no links with the farmers and have no records of landholdings and cropping patterns. This means that they are reliant on banks to collect premiums for them.

The banks only collect premiums from customers who take loans from them. Thus, the scheme is thus more of a loan insurance than crop insurance. One of the solutions is that the center take the burden of subsidy entirely and release funds to states who have met operational schedules. This means that the subsidy will be received on time from the center and also states shall be forced to release crop yield data on time. This will in turn lead to faster claim settlement.

Section 498A

Section 498A was to contain domestic violence and the section was in favor of complainant which would be the women. The complaint once registered would lead to the arrest of the family members and in some case red corner notices could be issued and also passports impounded. In India, a dowry death is recorded every hour and violence against women is quite normal, therefore the presumption of guilt to the accused was considered necessary. The Supreme court now is in favor of a mechanism to verify the authenticity of the complaints.

It wants family welfare committees to be appointed and the recommendations of the committee regarding the case should be considered by the Police before proceeding. The time frame for this one month and so is to lenient in case of genuine complaints. The conviction rate is low in these cases ,only 20% and so police reforms too should be the focus of such cases.

Advocate Acts, 1961 disallows foreign lawyers from practicing in India but allows them on reciprocal basis i.e. if Indian lawyers can practice in their country too.

National electric mobility mission

National electric mobility mission plan to get six to seven million electric vehicles on the roads by 2020 and going all electric in terms of car sales by 2030. No permits required for commercial electric vehicles, state owned power utilities to set up fast charging stations and a scheme for e-buses to swap drained batteries with fully charged ones at depots are the key points. Norway has the highest penetration of electric cars in the market. Govt of India to has the FAME India policy (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric vehicles).

Article 239A

Article 239A gave the power to the Center to create a elected, partly elected or partly nominated body for administration of Puducherry. The Govt of UT Act also gave the center the power to nominate three persons who are not members of the government to be appointed to the Legislative Assembly of Puducherry. LG of Puducherry nominated three members recommended by the Union Home ministry.

Constitution has made provisions or nomination of highly qualified people to Rajya Sabha, Anglo Indian members to Lok Sabha. In addition 9 state legislatures also allow nomination of Anglo Indians to their state legislatures, J&K allows nomination of women members if they are not adequately represented. No nominated member can participate in presidential elections but they can vote on financial matters and no confidence motions. However nominated members of Puducherry assembly don’t have this powers.

India’s internal security problems

The internal security is under the control of the state governments as constitution has put it in the states list. The individual states have put their own Acts and executive directions and the police have become politicized. The demand for putting police under the concurrent list isn’t being carried out as there could be opposition from the state governments. The Supreme court's directions to change the Police Acts have not been implemented by the Center or the States.

The states too have become increasingly dependent on central forces to calm tensions. The chief ministers conference to solve the naxal problems have advocated a SAMADHAN strategy - Smart leadership, Aggressive strategy, Motivation and training, Dashboard to monitor key performance indicators, Harness technology, Action plan for each theater, No access to finance. But this approach is insufficient and we are seeing alternating phase of high and low violence.

State Aadhar Acts The center has asked the States to pass their own Aadhar acts so that benefits out of the State consolidated funds shall also require aadhar authentication.

Permanent tribunal - Water disputes

Inter state water disputes amendment bill shall amend the Original act of 1956 which was passed to implement the Article 262 of the constitution. This shall create a permanent water disputes tribunal to replace the current arrangement of having tribunals when the dispute arises and also that such tribunals shall be dispute specific.

The new Act wants a permanent body of 8 judges who shall be serving judges from high courts and Supreme court. There shall be a chairperson, vice chairperson. Retirement age shall be 70 (no such limit was there in the previous Act). The dispute shall be referred to a panel of three members and resolved in 5 1/2 years (including extensions). No such limit existed in the current Act. The bill shall also create a Dispute resolution committee that will try to negotiate between the parties to prevent a dispute from escalating to legal adjudication. A data bank and information system shall be created to gather data and provide knowledge that might help in disputes resolution.

A problem that isn't addressed in the bill is effective implementation of the tribunal awards. River Boards Act needs to be replaced and the current bill has no provisions for doing that. Also it is silent on the question of Supreme court allowing Special leave petitions on the tribunal awards. Such petitions lead to long legal arguments at the court and render the basic work (Speedy adjudication of disputes) of the Water dispute tribunal ineffective.

Floods in Assam

Heavy rainfall in Arunachal pradesh and Nagaland where many of the tributaries of Brahmaputra flow from have caused floods in Assam. The embankments created in the river were ageing and couldn't prevent spillover. The other reasons for the flooding is braided nature of river channel that causes spillover during excess rain, silt load on the river due to erosion, drainage congestion at the outfall of the tributaries, massive deforestation in Arunachal pradesh have also increased flooding.

Eradicate malaria

The deadline for eradicating malaria is 2030 set by World Health Organisation and India aims to achieve it 3 years in advance. The vivax parasite is responsible for 50% cases of malaria. The Health ministry is facing a staff shortage and the lack of personnel at the Primary Healthcare centers affects the challenge of eradicating the disease. The other problem is shortage.

ICMIS - Integrated case management information system to reduce time in filing pleadings, ensure paperless work in courts.

Brihanmumbai municipal corporation completes 124 years on 1st August. The building is a Grade II heritage structure and was designed by F.W.Stevens and built in Gothic style.

Jiyo Parsi scheme launched by Union ministry of minority affairs along with a private foundation to start a fertility scheme where assisted pregnancy support is given to parsi couples who couldn't conceive.

Elections to Municipal council chiefs and Gram Panchayats shall be done directly by the electorate in Maharashtra by amending the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1958. Maharashtra Prohibition Act to be amended to allow setting up of “Gram Rakshak Dal” at village level to curb brewing and consumption of illicit liquor in the state.

Section 3(2b) Medical Termination of Pregnancy Actprohibits abortion of foetus after 20 weeks.

22nd Asian Athletics Championship shall be held in Bhubaneswar in July 2017.

Gujarat cadre IAS Achal kumar Jyoti takes over from Nasim Zaidi as the Chief Election Commissioner.

9th edition of Delhi Dialogue is ongoing at which policy makers discuss a range of issues related to India - ASEAN relations

Neem coating of urea leads to gradual loss of nitrogen from the fertilizer which would otherwise be lost due to underground percolation or volatilization i.e. escape into the atmosphere. This has also made it difficult to divert the heavily subsidised fertilizer to other non agricultural purposes. The active ingredient in urea is “azadirachtin”.

OCI cards can’t be given to those who have served in the military due to Home ministry rules but Israel shall become the first state to get an exemption from this.

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation involves 50% of project cost from Center, 25% each from state and civic bodies. This program has a policy of enhance vegetation in urban areas to 15% in 3 years. Maharashtra government is implementing this under “Amrut Van”.

Article 324 allows Parliament to create a law to ensure that the appointment of Chief election commissioner is done but current practise is that the appointment is made by the President on recommendation of the PM. There is no transparency in selection and appointment and a collegium is needed.

I4F - India Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation fund was set up by Dept of Science & Tech, India and National authority for technological innovation, Israel.

China, India, Myanmar in 1950 had proposed the five points of peaceful coexistence i.e. Panchsheel.

G20 Summit, hamburg in Germany where the group of worlds biggest economies shall meet for discussion on financial and non financial (Sherpa track) discussions.

Bhutan has no diplomatic links with China and is supported militarily and diplomatically by India.

G-20 Hamburg Summit Theme is "Shaping an interconnected world" of the G-20 summit.

Air India International and Indian airlineswere nationalized in 1953 by Nehru government. These airlines were owned by J.R.D. Tata, India's first licensed pilot and aviation pioneer "Father of Indian Aviation".

G20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, turkey, US and European Union.

Maharashtra becomes first state in the country to offer reversible method of contraception for women by intra muscular injections (Medroxyprogesterone Acetate) under a national program called “Antara”.

GeM - Governments e-Marketplace is a portal for efficiency, savings, transparency in government procurement.

Malabar - The annual naval exercise of India, Japan and US in the Indian Ocean Region.

$450 billion is invested in India and 86% is in equities and the remaining is in debt. 18% assets are held by investors in Mauritius and 10% by investors in Singapore.

Mitali Raj becomes leading run scorer in Womens’ 50 over cricket.

Maharashtra becomes first state to have a law that prevents social boycott.

Social boycott for reasons such as inter caste marriage,vocation, religious rituals, lifestyle, dress is punishable. Social boycott prohibition officers shall be appointed that assist magistrate and police in tackling such cases.

21st Malabar naval exercise shall be conducted with India, US and Japan. Japan was inducted into the exercise later.

China is building is first overseas port at Horn of Africa in Djibouti.

Switzerland player, Roger federer wins his 19th Grand slam , his 8th Wimbledon and created a record for the player with most Wimbledon trophies and total grand slams.

H1N1 virus or swine flu is called because it was believed to affect people in the vicinity of pigs. It is a virus strain like flu.

Ram nath Kovind becomes the second dalit candidate since KR Narayanan to be President of India. He shall be the 14th President.

Ken and Betwa rivers in MP are to be linked to transfer water from surplus area to deficit ones.

J&K is the only state to have its own flag and constitution.

Zealandia is claimed as the world’s eighth continent that lies under the sea at New Zealand and Australia.