The conclusion of quantitative easing in the U.S. could affect investment flows into India.
- The Federal Open Market Committee ( FOMC ) has, marginally raised its median projection for U.S. real GDP growth in 2017 to 2.4%, from the 2.2% estimated in June, and signalled that it is on course to raise the federal funds rate one more time this year after leaving interest rates unchanged for now.
- Given that monetary authorities in the U.S. are focused on reflating the economy by supporting “further strengthening” in the labour market through an accommodative stance, the central bank has to remain vigilant in warding off any let-up in expansionary momentum.
Impact to india:
- For Indian policymakers, there are both positive and not-so-welcome cues.
- While the ongoing moderate expansion in the U.S. bodes well for the country’s struggling exporters, the end of easy money conditions could augur a slowdown in investment inflows from abroad and resultant pressure on the current account deficit.
- The Reserve Bank of India, though, should welcome the clarity in messaging from its U.S. counterpart.
Turn the page to a new chapter
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met at Xiamen city of China, first after the Dong Lang (Doklam) stand-off.
- The outcomes were beyond expectations.
- Both leaders agreed to start a new chapter.
- An important consensus has been reached to enhance mutual trust, focus on cooperation, and manage differences.
- Both leaders also agreed to conduct closer high-level exchanges, revitalise a series of dialogues and mechanisms, as well as promote youth and educational cooperation.
The meeting was originally scheduled for half an hour but lasted for an hour and 25 minutes. This shows that both sides are willing to devote enough time to conducting a comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views.
Animal monitoring goes real time in Periyar reserve
- Monitoring of wild animals and forest terrains is unfolding real time in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR).
- A cost-effective ‘video surveillance-cum-communication enhancer intranet network,’ which can monitor animal movements and forest areas real time, has been installed in the reserve.
- Microwave antennas and towers are used to set up the network.
- Visuals of elephants, sambar, gaur, porcupine, wild boar, sloth bear, wild dogs and birds visiting a marshy field have been recorded though tigers have evaded the camera eyes so far.
- The system allows the designated officers to watch animal movements and inaccessible terrains real time using their smartphones from anywhere in the world.
The initiative came from the the Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation.
- The system can be used for anti-poaching operations, behaviour studies of animals in their natural habitats and videoconferencing with the field staff out in the forest.
- If all the anti-poaching camp sheds established in the interior forests are linked to the network, surveillance could be made effective.
Sea turtles are bouncing back
- Antonios Mazaris, an ecologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a team of researchers found that globally, most populations of sea turtles are bouncing back after historical declines.
- Their research helps clarify why some conservation and research groups have reported both increases and decreases for individual nesting sites over the past decade.
- They were surprised to find that with adequate protection, even small populations of turtles have a chance of survival.
- In an area called French Frigate Shoals in Hawaii, for example, green sea turtles increased nest numbers from around 200 in 1973, when the Endangered Species Act was signed, to around 2,000 in 2012.
- This species is now considered of “least concern,” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Hubble spots unique binary asteroid with comet-like features
- An unusual object, discovered in the solar system’s asteroid belt, is actually two asteroids orbiting each other, scientists including one of Indian origin have found using the Hubble Space Telescope.
- The object has comet-like features including a bright halo of material, called a coma, and a long tail of dust.
- Hubble was used to image the asteroid, designated 300163 (2006 VW139), in September 2016 just before the asteroid made its closest approach to the Sun.
- The images revealed that it was actually not one, but two asteroids of almost the same mass and size, orbiting each other at a distance of 96 kilometres.
- Asteroid 300163 (2006 VW139) was discovered by Spacewatch in November 2006 and then the possible cometary activity was seen in November 2011 by Pan—STARRS.
- Both Spacewatch and Pan-STARRS are asteroid survey projects of NASA’s Near Earth Object Observations Program.
Update for the online era
- A 31-year-old law, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, has largely proved ineffective in curbing this onslaught on the Internet.
- Though the Act was passed to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner, it pertains only to the print media.
- In 2012, an amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament to update the law and make punishment stringent; it is still pending.
- The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill record the need for the amendments in the 1986 law.
- It says “technological revolution has resulted in development of new forms of communication, such as, internet and satellite based communication, multi-media messaging, cable television, etc. It has, thus, become necessary to widen the scope of the Act so as to cover the above forms of media.”
- The proposed law pushes for an increase in the maximum imprisonment from two years to three years and fine from Rs. 2,000 to a minimum Rs. 50,000, which may be extended to Rs. 1 lakh for the first offence.
- Subsequent offences would invite punishment of a maximum five to seven years and fine up to Rs. 5 lakh. The Bill wants a police officer not less than the rank of inspector to investigate offences under the Act.