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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 24th November 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 24th November 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Contents:

  1. Roshni Act :
  2. Shukrayaan’.:
  3. Negative Yield Bonds:
  4. Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite:
  5. Other important current affairs:

1.Roshni Act :

The J&K administration has published a list of Roshni Act beneficiaries.

  • The beneficiaries include former Ministers and retired civil servants.
  • The law was declared null and void recently by the Government.
  • There are allegations related to irregularities in the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir States Land (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act, also known as the Roshini Act, which has now been declared null and void.

About the Roshini Act:

  • Enacted in 2001, the law sought to regularise unauthorized land.
  • The Act envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants, subject to the payment of a cost, as determined by the government.
  • The government said the revenue generated would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the name “Roshni”.
  • Further, through amendments, the government also gave ownership rights of agricultural land to farmers occupying it for free, charging them only Rs 100 per Kanal as a documentation fee.
  • In 2009, the State Vigilance Organisation registered an FIR against several government officials for alleged criminal conspiracy to illegally possess and vest ownership of state land to occupants who did not satisfy the criteria under the Roshni Act.
  • In 2014, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been realized from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, thus defeating the purpose of the legislation.
  • The report blamed irregularities including an arbitrary reduction in prices fixed by a standing committee and said this was done to benefit politicians and affluent people.

 

2.Shukrayaan’.:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals for its proposed Venus orbiter mission ‘Shukrayaan’.

About Shukrayaan:

  • It is a mission to study Venus for more than four years.
  • Scientific objectives: Investigation of the surface processes and shallow subsurface stratigraphy; and solar wind interaction with Venusian Ionosphere, and studying the structure, composition and dynamics of the atmosphere.
  • The satellite is planned to be launched onboard GSLV Mk II rocket.
  • The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus. This orbit is likely to be reduced gradually, over several months to a lower apoapsis (farthest point).

 

3.Negative Yield Bonds:

Demand for negative yield bonds is on rising in the global market.

Negative Yield Bonds:

  • Are debt instruments that offer to pay the investor a maturity amount lower than the purchase price of the bond.
  • These are generally issued by central banks or governments, and investors pay interest to the borrower to keep their money with them.

Bond:

  • Is an instrument to borrow money. A bond could be floated/issued by a country’s government or by a company to raise funds.

Yield:

  • The yield of a bond is the effective rate of return that it earns. But the rate of return is not fixed; it changes with the price of the bond.

Generally, investors purchase the bonds at their face value, which is the principal amount invested. In return, investors typically earn a yield of a bond.

  • Each bond has a maturity date, which is when the investor gets paid back the principal amount.
    Reasons behind buying Negative Yield Bonds:
  • To create a diverse portfolio: Many hedge funds and investment firms that manage mutual funds invest in negative bonds in order to diversify their investment.
  • To use them as collateral: Bonds are often used to pledge as collateral for financing and as a result, need to be held regardless of their price or yield.
  • To take Benefit from Currency Gain: Foreign investors might believe the currency’s exchange rate will rise, which would offset the negative bond yield.
  • To Avoid Domestic Deflation Risk: Domestically, investors might expect a period of deflation, or lower prices in the economy.
  • For Example: Consider a one-year bond that yields minus 5% but at the same time inflation is expected to be minus 10% over the same period.
  • That means the investor in the bond would have more purchasing power at the end of the year because prices for goods and services would have declined far more than would the value of the investment in the fixed-income security.
  • To Create Safe Haven Assets: Investors might also be interested in negative bond yields if the loss is less than it would be with another investment. In times of economic uncertainty, many investors rush to buy bonds because they’re considered safe-haven investments.
  • These purchases are called the flight-to-safety-trade in the bond market. During such a time, investors might accept a negative-yielding bond because the negative yield might be far less of a loss than a potential double-digit percentage loss in the equity markets.

 

4.Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite:

Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

  • Jason-CS Mission: Sentinel-6-Satellite is a part of the mission dedicated to measuring changes in the global sea level.
  • The mission is called the Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission.
  • The objective of the Mission: To measure the height of the ocean, which is a key component in understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing.
  • Components: It consists of two satellites, Sentinel-6 and the other, called Sentinel-6B, to be launched in 2025.
  • Joint collaboration of: The European Space Agency (ESA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Union (EU), with contributions from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).
  • Mechanism: The satellite will send pulses to the Earth’s surface and measure how long they take to return to it, which will help in measuring the sea surface height. It will also measure water vapour along this path and find its position using GPS and ground-based lasers.
  • As per NASA, this will help in monitoring critical changes in ocean currents and heat storage only from space, by measuring height of the sea surface.
  • This will in turn help in foreseeing the effects of the changing oceans on the climate.
  • Significant in:
    • Ensuring the continuity of sea-level observations.
    • Understanding how the ocean stores and distributes heat, water and carbon in the climate system.
    • Supporting operational oceanography, by providing improved forecasts of ocean currents, wind and wave conditions.
    • Improving both short-term forecasting for weather predictions, and long term forecasting for seasonal conditions like El Niño and La Niña.

 

Other important current affairs:

1.After cyclones ‘Amphan’, ‘Nisarga’ and ‘Gati’, ‘Nivar’ is heading towards Karaikal in Puducherry and is expected to make landfall on November 25.

  • Nivar is the third name to be used from the new list of names for North Indian Ocean Cyclones, released in 2020. It was suggested by Iran.
  • ‘Amphan’, which was proposed by Thailand, was the last name in the 2004 series.
  • ‘Nisarga’, which hit Maharashtra in June, was a name given by Bangladesh while India had proposed ‘Gati’, which made landfall over Somalia on November 22.
  • The names for tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea are suggested by Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen as per the formula agreed by World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in its 27th session in 2000.
  • Each country provides 13 names.
  • In the latest list, India had proposed: Gati (speed), Tej (speed), Marasu (musical instrument in Tamil), Aag (fire) and Neer (water), among others, for the new list

2.India may record a current account surplus in FY21. This is because there is moderation in import due to under heating of the economy triggered by the Covid-19 crisis.

  • This crisis is different from what the world witnessed during the taper tantrum.
  • Taper tantrum phenomenon refers to the 2013 collective reactionary response that triggered a spike in US treasury yields, after investors learned that the US Fed was slowly putting brakes on its quantitative easing (QE) program
  • This led to a surge in inflation to high double digits emerging economies.
  • The current account captures the net trade in goods and services, net earnings on investments, and net transfer payments over a period of time, typically a year or a quarter.
  • Essentially, net trade in goods and services is a major component of the current account.

3.Uddhav Thackeray clears Mumbai’s first desalination plant.

  • The proposed plant, which will process 200 million litres of water daily (MLD), is being set up to overcome the water shortage faced by Mumbai in the months of May and June.
  • The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to take the ‘Swiss Challenge Method’ for the project.
  • Under this, a project can be awarded to a private player on an unsolicited proposal.
  • The private firm which has first submitted a proposal can be approached directly for negotiations and if they do not agree, then other bidders are called.
  • A desalination plant turns salt water into water that is fit to drink.
  • The most commonly used technology used for the process is reverse osmosis where an external pressure is applied to push solvents from an area of high solute concentration to an area of low-solute concentration through a membrane.
  • The microscopic pores in the membranes allow water molecules through but leave salt and most other impurities behind, releasing clean water from the other side.
  • These plants are mostly set up in areas that have access to seawater.

4.Chang’e-5 probe:

  • It is an unmanned spacecraft launched by China recently.
  • The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.
  • The rocket is comprised of four parts: an orbiter, a returner, an ascender and a lander.
  • The objective of the mission is to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.
  • If successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon, following the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • This will help scientists learn about the moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
  • Identified location for the collection of samples:
    • The Chinese probe will collect 2 kg of surface material from a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum — or “Ocean of Storms” — which consist of a vast lava plain.

5.Pangda village:

  • It is a new border village built by China.
  • The village is located on territory disputed by China and Bhutan.
  • The area is east of the India-Bhutan-China trijunction on the Doklam plateau, the site of a 72- day stand- off in 2017.
  • In July this year, Beijing said Sakteng Wildlife sanctuary, situated in eastern Bhutan, belonged to China.
  • The claim was made at the 58th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council where China tried to “oppose” funding to a project for the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Bhutan saying that it was “disputed” territory.

6.The government is working on a new, unified single-window clearance system for foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals.

  • It is taking up several other active reform-related steps related to sovereign wealth funds and tax dispute settlements to continue the momentum of reforms. It also seeks feedback from global investors to make the system more functional.
  • Despite the presence of several IT platforms for investing in India such as the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP) and state single-window clearances, investors need to visit multiple platforms to gather information and obtain clearances from different stakeholders.
  • FIFP is the online single point interface of the Government of India with investors to facilitate FDI.
  • It is administered by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

7.The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opened a preliminary inquiry to examine if borrowings by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) from overseas markets violated the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999.

  • KIIFB was established to manage the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund (KIIF), as per the KIIF Act 1999.
  • In 2016, the government changed the role of KIIFB from handler of investment bonds to an entity to mobilise the resources for developmental projects over and beyond the budget.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor ­General (CAG) highlighted that the KIIFB had raised Rs. 2,150 crore from the international market without the consent of the Central government in 2019.
  • A prior consent of the Government of India is necessary before a State Government raises a loan.
  • KIIFB had also overstepped its legal bounds by issuing masala bonds to raise money from foreign markets in violation of Article 293 (1) of the Constitution.
  • Article 293 (1): The executive power of a State extends to borrowing within the territory of India upon the security of the Consolidated Fund of the State within such limits. State governments can give guarantees within such limits as fixed by the legislature of the concerned State.

8.To mark the occasion of 3 years of UMANG, the Union Minister for IT launched the UMANG’s international version in coordination with Ministry of External Affairs for select countries that include USA, UK, Canada, Australia, UAE, Netherlands, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

  • It will help Indian international students, NRIs and Indian tourists abroad, to avail Government of India services, anytime. It will also help in taking India to the world through ‘Indian Culture’ services available on UMANG and create interest amongst foreign tourists to visit India.
  • The UMANG mobile app (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is a Government of India all-in-one single multi-lingual, multi-service Mobile App providing access to high impact services of various Government of India Departments and State Governments.
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