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Current Affairs Analysis

14th February 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

What is Kambala? Uranium Corporation of India; NIIF; Science Express; Indian Seed Congress – 2017; India’s first floating elementary school; 2nd International Spice Conference; e-Prison project ; GNFC: India’s first cashless township; 11th Aero India 2017; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 14, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Karnataka assembly passes bill to allow ‘Kambala’

Economy

  • DAE plans to develop uranium deposits in Meghalaya: Govt
  • NIIF to raise Rs 8k cr from anchor investors in FY18

Science & Technology

  • Ninth Phase of Science Express

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Indian Seed Congress – 2017
  • India’s first floating elementary school
  • 2nd International Spice Conference
  • J&K govt launches e-Prison project
  • Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Limited: India’s first cashless township
  • 11th Aero India 2017

 

Polity & Governance

Karnataka assembly passes bill to allow ‘Kambala’

Karnataka Assembly has passed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017 to allow kambala, the traditional buffalo race and bullock-cart racing.

  • The bill seeks to exempt kambala and bullock-cart racing from the ambit of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.

Background:

In November 2016, the Karnataka high court had banned the kambala along with bull-cart race in the state while hearing a case filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) citing animal cruelty.

The high court had stayed these traditional sports in view of the Supreme Court’s ban on jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu.

What is Kambala?

Kambala is an annual Buffalo Race held traditionally under the auspices of local land lords and households or Patel of village, in coastal Karnataka, India.

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  • The Kambala season generally starts in November and lasts until March.
  • The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair raced in wet rice fields, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
  • The ‘track’ used for Kambala is a paddy field filled with slush and mud.
  • The “Kambala Committee” is formed and it usually arranges Kambala in several categories.
  • People place massive bets on the buffaloes to win and one can witness more than 20,000 spectators in a well-organised Kambala, egging on and cheering the buffaloes to complete the race.
  • In traditional form of Kambala, racing is non-competitive, and buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
  • A ritualistic approach is also there, as some agriculturists race their buffaloes for thanks giving (to god) for protecting their animals from diseases.
  • The buffaloes developed for the race are carefully fed and some owners of the buffaloes have even built separate swimming pool for competing buffaloes.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

DAE plans to develop uranium deposits in Meghalaya: Govt

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has planned to develop large deposits of uranium in Meghalaya that have the potential to generate substantial nuclear fuel for atomic power plants in the country.

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  • It has already planned to develop the mineral resources at Domiasiat under the name of ‘Kylleng- Pdengsohiong-Mawthabah (KPM) Uranium Mining Project’.
  • Uranium mineralisation in Meghalaya has been found over a large area around Domiasiat, Wahkyn, Lostoin.
  • The project has the potential to generate substantial nuclear fuel for the atomic power plants of the country.

Background:

  • A detailed project report has been approved by the Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Environmental clearance for this project has been obtained from the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change in December 2007.
  • An agreement has also been signed between UCIL and the land owners of the project site in May 2007 for acquisition of land on annual lease rent basis.
  • Approval to execute land lease with land owners, grant of mining lease and consent for establishment has been taken up with the Meghalaya government.
  • This comes at a time when Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had asserted that the Government would not go ahead with uranium mining without the consent of people.

About Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL):

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  • UCIL is a centrally owned Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), under the Department of Atomic Energy for uranium mining and uranium processing.
  • It was founded in 1967 and is responsible for the mining and milling of uranium ore in India.
  • At present, the Uranium Corporation of India Limited has uranium mining projects in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

NIIF to raise Rs 8k cr from anchor investors in FY18

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) will tap anchor investors such as sovereign wealth funds to raise Rs 8,000 crore to fund infrastructure projects worth Rs 16,000 crore in FY18.

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  • According to the Output Outcome Framework for Schemes 2017-18, the Fund will raise Rs 8,000 crore from strategic anchor partners, i.e. multilateral/bilateral institutions, SWFs, pension funds and domestic public sector enterprises.
  • The government has set a target for the Fund to finance projects worth R16,000 crore infrastructure projects, both greenfield & brownfield.

About National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF):

Proposed in Union Budget 2015, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has been set up in last month of 2015.

  • The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
  • The Fund aims to attract investment from both domestic and international sources.
  • The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
  • The government’s contribution would be limited to 49% of the subscribed capital.
  • The government will seek participation from strategic investors such as sovereign fund, quasi sovereign funds and multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times.
  • Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund.
[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Science & Technology

Ninth Phase of Science Express

Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS II) is all set to be flagged off on February 17 from Safdarjung Railway station in Delhi.

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Key facts:

  • The SECAS II is a unique collaborative initiative of
  1. Department of Science & Technology (DST),
  2. Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC),
  3. Department of Biotechnology (DBT),
  4. Ministry of Railways and
  5. Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC).
  • The SECAS II will run from February 17 to September 8 2017, culminating its journey at Gandhinagar.
  • During its journey, the Science Express will cover over 19, 000 km, and will be exhibited at 68 stations across 20 states of the country. During this seven month journey, SECAS will roll into Tripura for the first time.

About Science Express:

  • Science Express, redesigned as SECAS, intends to contribute towards increasing understanding of the science of climate change, the observed and anticipated impacts, and different possible responses.
  • It is an innovative mobile science exhibition mounted on a 16 coach AC train, which has been custom-built for Department of Science & Technology (DST) by Indian Railways.
  • This unique mobile exhibition was first launched in October 2007 by DST. Since then it has travelled across India eight times, traveling about 1, 42, 000 km and exhibiting at 455 locations. More than 1.50 crore people visited the exhibition over 1, 602 exhibition days.
  • Science Express has become the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition. It has six entries in the Limca Book of Records.
  • The exhibition will convey a message about Climate Change and will also be a good opportunity to generate a dialogue and discussion.
  • The state-of-the-art exhibition on board the SECAS aims to create awareness among various sections of society, as to how climate change can be combated through mitigation and adaptation.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Indian Seed Congress – 2017

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  • The 2017 Indian Seed Congress was held in Kolkata.
  • The theme of this edition of annual forum was “Seed of Joy”.
  • It will deliberate on the new technological advances and the barriers to technology development and introduction.
  • It will showcase new product range, services and network for better business development.
  • It will also provide a platform for the seed industry stakeholders to talk to technology developers, and policy makers.

 

India’s first floating elementary school

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  • India’s first floating elementary school named Loktak Elementary Floating School was inaugurated at Langolsabi Leikai of Champu Khangpok floating village on Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the country, in Manipur.
  • It aims to provide education to drop outs students as well as illiterate adults. Currently it will provide education to around 40 children from Class I-III by engaging two local teachers.

iastoppers-floating-elementary-school

  • It was opened under the initiative undertaken by All Loktak Lake Fisherman’s Union with the support of an NGO People Resources Development Association (PRDA).
  • The school was established to arrest the sudden high dropout rate of children living in the Champu Khangpok floating villages who were rendered homeless due to the recent evacuation of phumdis.
  • More than 700 floating huts were removed by Loktak Development Authority as part of clearing encroachment in the lake under the Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006.
  • It had resulted in displacement of the fishing community and their children who were forced to discontinue their education.

 

2nd International Spice Conference

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  • Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, is hosting the second edition of the International Spice Conference.
  • The event is being hosted by the All India Spices Exporters Forum (AISEF), which represents about 80 per cent of spices exports, in association with the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • The central theme of the conference would be ‘21st century spice industry: Disrupt or be disrupted.’
  • Over 700 delegates representing various States, industry leaders from 40 countries, representatives of international spice associations, policymakers and end-users are attending the event.
  • It will discuss effective strategies and innovative technologies to improve the livelihood of farmers; address industry challenges, food safety concerns and demand supply disparity; and seek to foster sustainable growth.

 

J&K govt launches e-Prison project

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  • The Jammu and Kashmir government launched the e-Prison project to enumerate jail inmates in the State, where numbers of detainees keep swelling during unrest.
  • The information about jail inmates is currently being maintained manually. To avoid delays in processing the information and manage all the jails efficiently, the automation of prison department has been started.
  • The government has already digitised records of 500 inmates.
  • The project will digitise 25 district jails, two Central jails and one sub-jail in the State.
  • The second phase of the project will focus on videoconferencing between jails and prison headquarters, e-court, tele-medication in jails.

 

Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Limited: India’s first cashless township

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  • The township of Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Limited (GNFC) at Bharuch was declared the first cashless township of the country.
  • The National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Ayog has declared GNFC township as “Cashless Role Model Township”, which inspires other corporate to follow.
  • The restaurants, floor mill, pan and cold drink shop, retail outlet, laundry shop, college, schools and sports and recreation clubs within the township are equipped with POS machines for cashless transactions.
  • GNFC has also asked its suppliers, transporters to use cashless method for all transactions.
  • Around 10,000 people will be benefited by the initiative.

 

11th Aero India 2017

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  • The 11th edition of the Aero India air show has been started in Bengaluru.
  • Around 270 Indian and 279 foreign firms are slated to participate in the event where some major companies, including Airbus and Boeing Co, are expected to sign deals under the Make in India banner.
  • Aero India, which began in 1996, has become one of the largest air shows in Asia.
  • This show is followed by one in Abu Dhabi and most international players move on to showcase their military ware there over the weekend.

 

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