UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS-DAILY CAPSULE-AUG 21 2017
Studying the Sun’s corona
- A solar eclipse is set to take place, which will be visible across all of continental United States. It will begin at the Oregon coast and end at the South Carolina coast .
- About 16% of the U.S. territory will witness a total eclipse, which will last longest at Carbondale, Illinois, for 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds.
- Since this eclipse has the special feature of lasting for so long over the mainland, scientists across the world are trying to use it to verify their theories on the Sun.
- This can help them model “space weather” and predict solar storms that can affect the operation of satellites and even electric power grids on Earth.
‘Note ban has starved Maoists of funds’
- Union Mnister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said security forces, with their resolute action, had established dominance over terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Centre was firm that armed militancy must end there.
- He added that demonetisation left Maoists and separatists in Jammu and Kashmir “fund starved”, and it has greatly reduced the number of protesters taking part in stone-pelting in the border State.
SC bats for personal liberty
- Personal liberty cannot be compromised at the altar of what the state may perceive as justice, the Supreme Court has said while granting bail to former Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) chairman Rakesh Kumar Paul in a case of alleged corruption.
- A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur, in a majority ruling of 2:1, said Mr. Paul was entitled to ‘default bail’ and the trial judge should release him on such terms as may be reasonable.
- The apex court was hearing the plea filed by Mr. Paul after his bail pleas were rejected by the Gauhati High Court twice.
- He was arrested in November last year after an FIR was lodged against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act and a charge sheet was filed this January.
Safeguarding the interests of farmers
- Transnational changes are taking place in India currently, improving the way we live. These changes are impacting all our lives in small or significant ways. It is gratifying to know that the citizens at large are happy with these changes.
- However, for some who have fed themselves on the fodder that such changes are not for the near future, there is consternation.
- Even worse, these people find it difficult to comprehend that technology and policy are working together to remove discretion and opaqueness.
- The ongoing discourse, particularly in Tamil Nadu, on the Public Distribution System (PDS), the procurement of grains/pulses from farmers, public storage in Food Corporation of India go downs, commitments made in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Direct Benefit Transfer, etc. is interesting.
- However, there are strands in this discourse which are impressionistic and not based on data. They create a populist narrative and distract from the core issues.
- It is necessary, therefore, to infuse facts into the discourse.
- Blue Whale — an online ‘game’ that supposedly prods teenagers into undertaking a sequence of bizarre, dangerous tasks which include lacerating their skin and jumping off buildings — seems to be as ominous and mysterious as Moby Dick.
For now, it even seems as fictional.
- It is claimed that some boys who have lost their lives played this online but not a single police investigation in either Kerala or in Maharashtra has conclusively linked the game with their deaths.
- While everyone from Microsoft to Facebook has been instructed by the government to “disable” links to Blue Whale, there is no clarity on where these are, who its creators are, and how this game is run.
- Unlike a flu virus running amok, catching an online link to ‘Blue Whale’ isn’t easy.
- That’s why it is not clear if the government, in its mission to ‘ban’ Blue Whale, will invoke some of its trusty armoury in the Information Technology Act — akin to the purge on pornography — to clear search term combinations of “blue”, “whale” “game” “death” and “suicide.”
- Why something as amorphous as Blue Whale has so quickly captured a chunk of public murmur (it’s already an Amul cartoon) has less to do with the nature of the game and more with our unease of adjusting to an exponentially hyper-connected world.
The foreign façade
- The incoming head of the NITI Aayog, Rajiv Kumar, recently said in a column inDainik Jagranthat India is subject to “foreign influences”, especially in the economic sphere. He said we must overcome the impact of the Macaulay and Anglo-Saxon world view.
It’s important to analyse this statement and the sweeping generalisations that come with it.
- The aim of the NITI Aayog is to develop as a think tank which can make India competitive and self-reliant in a globalised world.
- However, the notion that anything “foreign” is taboo to our ecosystem is flawed thinking in an integrated modern economy.
- And despite Mr. Kumar’s assertions of “foreign influence” fading away, it is a fact that many prominent and competent people in economic policy in the Modi government have been educated or have worked abroad, including Mr. Kumar himself!
- This indicates that many Indians who have excelled abroad want to contribute to the economy.
- In a modern economy like ours, we need people with international exposure (to learn from the world’s mistakes) rather than armchair unaccountable pseudo-economists giving lectures, under the cover of political ideology, on what has to be done.
India to raise visa issue in trade policy meet
- The Centre will, during the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting likely in October, raise Indian industry’s concerns over the U.S. visa ‘curbs’ and the ‘delay’ in inking a bilateral social security pact (or totalisation agreement).
- In the TPF meeting, the premier forum to resolve bilateral trade and investment issues, the U.S. is expected to table its worries over India’s ‘restrictions’ on e-commerce as well as the ‘challenges’ faced by American innovative industries due to India’s ‘weak’ Intellectual Property Rights regime.
- In addition, New Delhi would take up the ‘non-tariff barriers’ by the U.S. that are hurting Indian agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other industrial exports, while Washington is likely to raise its concerns over India’s ‘excessively high tariffs’ on imports of many manufactured products as well as the $24.3 billion goods trade deficit that the U.S. had with India in 2016.