Polity & Governance
- Utensil makers oppose quality norms on steel
- DRI unearths Rs. 2,240 cr. banking-hawala scam
- India’s widening gender gap a concern, says ILO
Environment & Ecology
- ‘Clean Ganga’ project launched at 100 places
- Putin signs controversial ‘Big Brother’ law
Science & Technology
- A planet with three suns
Persons in News
- Kerala’s 4 o’clock recipes win author a cookbook award
Polity & Governance
Utensil makers oppose quality norms on steel
Manufacturers and exporters of stainless steel utensils and cutlery are opposing the recent curbs imposed on the import of different types of so-called ‘substandard’ stainless steel.
Why they are opposing?
- Manufacturers and exporters of stainless steel utensils and cutlery argue that the move will result in a shortage of raw material and push up costs for the sector.
- This, they warned, could in turn lead to closure of several firms in the sector due to non-viability of operations, thereby causing large-scale unemployment.
According to the manufacturers and exporters of stainless steel utensils and cutlery:
- The quality control order was imposed without finding out if there were cases regarding stainless steel utensils & cutlery causing health hazards.
- Some of the ‘high’ standards specified in the quality control order were not even required under international norms.
- The quality control order will only benefit some primary stainless steel coil manufacturers who have facilities to switch over to manufacturing of different grades of steel.
- If they were forced to use only the grades specified in the (quality control) order, it would lead to a minimum cost increase of 30 per cent and would make stainless steel utensils unaffordable for Indian consumers.
What’s the quality-control order?
The government recently brought out quality-control order which prohibits manufacture, storage, sale and distribution of stainless steel products that do not conform to the standards specified in that order and which do not bear the ‘Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)’ mark (given after obtaining a licence from the BIS).
- The move is also aimed to prevent ‘poor quality’ steel imports from countries, including China.
- It is applicable on various grades of stainless steel plate, sheets and strips used for utensils as well as for low nickel austenitic stainless steel sheet and strips used in kitchen appliances and utensils.
- The quality control order was imposed over and above the minimum import price (MIP) ranging from $341 to $752 per tonne on 173 steel products to protect local steel manufacturers from a surge in cheap imports of steel.
- The MIP, which was imposed on February 5 is in place at least until August 4. In March, the government had also extended the safeguard duty (of 20% that will gradually drop to 10%) on steel imports till March 2018.
DRI unearths Rs. 2,240 cr. banking-hawala scam
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in Mumbai has unearthed a ‘banking-hawala’ scam, in which reputed public sector banks illegally remitted Rs. 2,240 crore overseas based on forged documentation and declarations of traded goods by exporters and importers.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is an Indian intelligence agency.
- It was constituted on 4th December 1957.
- DRI is the major intelligence agency which eradicates smuggling of drugs, gold, diamonds, electronics, foreign currency, counterfeit Indian currency, etc.
- The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence functions under the Central Board of Excise and Customs in the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
- The Directorate is run by officers from Central Excise and Customs.
- The Directorate is run by officers from Central Excise and Customs. The organisation runs on much smaller staff than other intelligence agencies.
- Though its early days were committed to combating smuggling in of gold, it now also addresses narcotics and economic crimes.
India’s widening gender gap a concern, says ILO
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director General Guy Ryder has expressed concerns over the widening gender gap in workforce in India.
According to Guy Ryder,
- There is a considerable difference in the level of men and women participation in the labour market.
- In international comparison, the gap in India is very big and the level of women’s participation is going down which is a source of concern.
- While there is a difference of 25% in workforce participation rate of men and women worldwide, in India it is up to 40%.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all.
- The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.
- In 1969, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations.
- The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments.
- India is a Founding Member of the ILO.
Environment & Ecology
‘Clean Ganga’ project launched at 100 places
The Central government launched 231 projects under the ‘Namami Gange’ project, which would take it closer to achieving its Clean Ganga objective.
- The projects were launched simultaneously at 103 locations in five basin states of the river – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, besides Delhi and Haryana through which Ganga’s tributary Yamuna passes.
About Namami Gange Programme:
‘Namami Gange’ Programme, is a flagship programme of Government of India with a renewed impetus to decrease river pollution and conserve the revered river ‘Ganga’.
- The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015.
- In this connection, the Indian Government solicited support from various countries to rejuvenate the Ganga.
- The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- Among other things, the programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.
- Under this programme, the focus of the Government is to involve people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results.
- The programme also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
Putin signs controversial ‘Big Brother’ law
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a package of controversial anti-terror amendments dubbed “Big Brother” measures by critics that may cost internet companies billions.
Key features of the law:
- The law boosts the surveillance powers for the security services by requiring communication providers to store users’ calls, messages, photographs and videos for six months, as well as metadata for up to three years.
- They also have to provide security services with access to this data and any necessary encryption mechanisms necessary to use it.
- They also criminalise several offences, lower the age of criminal responsibility to 14 for some crimes and extend prison sentences for online crimes like abetting terrorism.
Science & Technology
A planet with three suns
For the first time ever, astronomers have sighted a planet, known as HD131399Ab orbiting a triple star system.
- The planet was sighted by using the SPHERE instrument on European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Significance of Discovery:
- Usually binary solar systems (having two stars or suns) are relatively common in the universe, but solar systems involving three stars or more are very rare.
About Planet HD 131399Ab:
- Planet HD 131399Ab is located about 340 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.
- It is believed to be relatively young, about 16 million years old. This makes it one of the youngest planets discovered outside our solar system to date.
- HD 131399Ab has mass four times that of the gas giant Jupiter, our solar system’s largest planet.
- It orbits the brightest of the three stars on a very long and wide path.
About SPHERE instrument:
- SPHERE stands for Spectro-Polarimetric High-Contrast Exoplanet Research Instrument.
- It is one of the world’s most advanced instruments dedicated to finding planets around other stars.
- It is sensitive to infrared light which makes it capable of detecting the heat signatures of young planet.
- It has ability to correct the image distortion (twinkle) introduced by the Earth’s atmosphere. This technique is called direct imaging.
Persons in News
Kerala’s 4 o’clock recipes win author a cookbook award
Nimi Sunilkumar, cookbook author and food blogger, has presented this repository of snacks to the world, and been rewarded with a Gourmand World Cookbook Award for 2015-16.
- Her book 4 o’clock Temptations of Kerala has been chosen for the award in the ‘Best Indian Cuisine Cookbook’ section.