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    Current Affairs and Editorial Dose-1 Jan 2017
    Current Affairs
    01 February 2017

    Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights. 
     
    NASA telescope spots most extreme blazars yet
     
    NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope has identified the farthest gamma-ray blazars, a type of galaxy whose intense emissions are powered by super-sized black holes.
     
    Key facts:
    These luminous galaxies, known as blazars are the most distant ever detected and are expected to shed light on the cosmic evolution of black holes.
    Blazars constitute roughly half of the gamma-ray sources detected by Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT).
    Astronomers think their high-energy emissions are powered by matter heated and torn apart as it falls from a storage, or accretion, disk toward a supermassive black hole with a million or more times the sun’s mass.
    Two of the blazars that the team detected boast black holes of a billion solar masses or more.
     
    About Blazars:
    Blazars are among the brightest objects in the universe thanks to emissions powered by supersized black holes. The most distant of the newly discovered blazars started to emit their light when the universe was just 1.4 billion years old. Previously, the most distant blazars detected by Fermi emitted their light when the universe was about 2.1 billion years old.
    Blazars are similar to all active galaxies, acquiring energy from matter falling toward a central supermassive black hole. A small part of this infalling material becomes redirected into a pair of particle jets, which blast outward in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light.
    Sources: et.

     
    Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
     
    Trai recommends shutting down of analog transmission by 2023
     
    The broadcast regulator Trai has recommended introduction of digital terrestrial transmission for broadcast services in a phased manner and complete shut down of analog transmission by end of 2023.
    This is a move that may lead a combination of multiple DTT transmitters at a location, which can provide a rich bouquet of SDTV, HDTV, UHTV, mobile TV channels, radio service and other value added services.
     
    Background:
    At present, terrestrial TV broadcasting in India is under the exclusive domain of Doordarshan (Prasar Bharati), the Public Service Broadcaster and it is predominantly analog.
    While a large number of TV channels are available to the consumers through various delivery platforms such as DTH, Cable TV, IPTV, HITS etc, the existing terrestrial TV platform provides only a few channels which do not offer a value proposition to the viewers.
     
    Recommendations made by TRAI:
    Private players should be permitted to provide DTT services along with the public service broadcaster.
    Public broadcaster may be permitted to operate maximum three transmitters at a given location out of which one may be exclusively used for provision of mobile TV services.
    Private broadcasters may be permitted to operate maximum four transmitters (with spectrum capacity of 8 MHz each) at a given location subject to availability of spectrum.
    Maximum number of DTT providers may be capped at five (one public broadcaster and four private broadcasters) as per availability of spectrum.
    Trai has recommended that DTT should be deployed in metros by December 2019 in phase 1, cities having more than 10 lakh population as per Census 2011 should be covered by December 2021 and rest of India by December 2023.
     
    Advantages of DTT:
    There are a number of advantages of digital terrestrial television.
    The platform is content agnostic and can be adapted to handle new forms of content.
    Frequency use is much more efficient, allowing for the transmission of 20 to 30 SD channels in the spectrum occupied by a single television channel in an analog signal.
    DTT offers better quality of images and sound as compared to analog signals.
    A combination of DTT transmitters at a single location can provide consumers with a range of content options, including radio and video feeds of various qualities.
    The DTT transmitters have lower power requirements than traditional analog transmitters. The signals can be received easily by moving vehicles and mobile phones.
    DTT transmitters can facilitate mobile data offload services, for better use of available resources.
     
    Practice worldwide:
    Luxembourg was the first country to shift from analog TV in 2006. Countries in the Americas and Europe followed suite. China is expected to shift by 2018, and Brazil has plans to shut off analog TV towers by 2023.
    Sources: the hindu.

     
    Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
     
    Dubai launches programme to promote trade with India
     
    In a bid to promote bilateral trade relations with India, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development has launched a programme that allows commercial disputes to be resolved quickly at minimal costs.
     
    Key facts:
    Dubai Exports, the economic development departments promotion agency, launched the initiative Buyer Protection Programme, designed by the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP), as a pilot project through its Overseas Trade Office in India.
    The programme allows commercial disputes to be resolved quickly and at minimal costs. Traders in India can now approach the Dubai Exports representative office in their country to submit complaints following which CCCP will start working towards an amicable settlement.
    There would be a focus on identifying potential sectors and the impeding tariff and non-tariff barriers, exploring opportunities in services sector and formulating a sector-specific strategy to boost two way trade and investments.
     
    Background:
    Currently, imports from India to Dubai account for 60% of the total trade value while exports from the emirate are 12% and the rest is re-exports. The largest export from Dubai to India is gold, which accounts half the value, followed by copper wires, base metals and polymers.
    Sources: et.

     
    Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
     
    H-1B visa reform bill introduced in US House of Representatives
     
    With a hard stance on immigration, the High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 that will overhaul the popular H1B and L1 visas has been tabled in the US Congress. This reform bill, if passed, would mean significant changes in the way the H1B visas are granted to companies and allocated to employees by them.
    Some of the worst hit by the new H1B bill will be Indian companies such as Infosys, TCS, and Wipro, as well as US tech giants like Apple, Facebook and Google, who use the H1B visa to fill positions that cannot be filled by American workers.
    What is H1B visa?
    The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies to employ foreigners for a period of up to six years. This visa is aimed at helping companies employ foreigners in positions for which they have been unable to find American employees. The minimum salary for an employee holding the H1B visa is set at $60,000 per year. H1B visa holders are allowed to apply for permanent residency in the US as well as buy or sell property in the country.
    Every year, the US government grants 65,000 H1B visas, while an additional 20,000 are given to foreign students who have completed their masters course from a US university. In accordance with the Free Trade Agreements that the US has with Singapore and Chile, they get get additional 5,400 and 1,400 visas under the H-1B1 category, respectively.
     
    What does the new H1B reform bill propose?
    The new H1B visa reform bill proposes a radical overhaul of the process, increasing the minimum salary for visa holders to be $130,000, more than double the current minimum. This would mean that companies would have to either pay rather highly for the skilled workers, or not choose foreign employees in favour of American citizens. The new visa reform bill also eliminates the category of lowest pay, and raises the salary level at which H1B dependent employer are exempt from non-displacement and recruitment attestation requirements to greater than $130,000.
    The H1B visa bill removes the ‘per country’ cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It sets aside 20% of the annually allocated H1B visas for small companies and startup employers (50 or fewer employers) to ensure small businesses have an opportunity to compete for high-skilled workers.
    Sources: toi.

     
    Facts for Prelims
     
    First Revised Estimates of National Income, Consumption Expenditure, Saving and Capital Formation, 2015-16:
    The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released the First Revised Estimates of National Income, Consumption Expenditure, Saving and Capital Formation for the financial year 2015-16 (with Base Year 2011-12) as per the revision policy.
     
    Key facts:
    Nominal GDP or GDP at current prices for the year 2015-16 is estimated as Rs. 136.75 lakh crore exhibiting a growth of 10.0% during 2015-16.
    Real GDP or GDP at constant (2011-12) prices for the years 2015-16 stands at Rs. 113.58 lakh crore and showing growth of 7.9% during 2015-16.
    In terms of real GVA, i.e., GVA at constant (2011-12) basic prices, there has been a growth of 7.8% in 2015-16, as against growth of 6.9% in 2014-15.
    During 2015-16, at constant prices, the growth rates of primary (comprising agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining & quarrying), secondary (comprising manufacturing, electricity, gas, water supply & other utility services, and construction) and tertiary (services) sectors have been estimated as 2.6%, 7.8% and 9.8% as against a growth of 1.8%, 6.1% and 9.5%, respectively, in the previous year.
    Nominal Net National Income (NNI) at current prices for the year 2015-16 stands at Rs. 120.83 lakh crore as against Rs. 109.61 lakh crore in 2014-15, showing an increase of 10.2% during 2015-16 as against an increase of 10.7% in the previous year.
    Gross Saving during 2015-16 is estimated as Rs. 44.05 lakh crore as against Rs. 40.98 lakh crore during 2014-15. Rate of Gross Saving to GNDI for the year 2015-16 is estimated as 31.6% as against 32.3%, estimated for 2014-15.
    The highest contributor to Gross Saving is the household sector, with a share of 59.2% in the year 2015-16. However, the share has declined from 62.0% in 2014-15 to 59.2% in 2015-16. This decline can be attributed to decline in household savings in physical assets, which has declined from Rs. 15.78 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs. 14.84 lakh crore in 2015-16.
    The share of Non-Financial Corporations in savings has increased from 34.3% in 2014-15 to 37.3% in 2015-16. The share of Financial Corporations decreased from 8.3% in 2014-15 to 6.5% in 2015-16, while the dis-saving of General Government has decreased from 4.6% of Gross Saving in 2014-15 to 3.1% in 2015-16.
    The rate of Gross Capital Formation to GDP at constant (2011-12) prices has decreased from 35.8 per cent in 2014-15 to 35.5 per cent in 2015-16.

    National Entrepreneurship Awards 2016:
    National Entrepreneurship Awards 2016 were recently presented. The awards have been presented in order to recognise the entrepreneurial spirit of India’s youth and encourage more young Indians to become entrepreneurs.
    The Entrepreneurship Awards system has been created through a partnership between MSDE and a number of reputed institutions across the country including, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT – Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur and Chennai), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and XLRI, Jamshedpur. Every year, one such institution will play the role of the lead institution to anchor the awards. For 2016-2017, the lead institution is IIT, Delhi.

    Income Tax Department (ITD) launches Operation Clean Money:  
    Income Tax Department (ITD) has initiated Operation Clean Money.
    Initial phase of the operation involves e-verification of large cash deposits made during 9th November to 30th December 2016.
    Data analytics has been used for comparing the demonetisation data with information in ITD databases.
    In the first batch, around 18 lakh persons have been identified in whose case, cash transactions do not appear to be in line with the tax payer’s profile.

    Rs 1500-crore defence unit to be set up in MP district: 
    The Defence Ministry would be setting up its unit of national importance in Madhya Pradesh.
    The Defence Ministry would spend Rs 1500 crore on the proposed unit.
    The government has already sent the proposal for the diversion of forest land to the Union Environment Ministry for the purpose and the same is in the last phase of approval.

    India business partnership summit to take place in Bahrain: 
    The first Indian Business Partnership Summit will shortly be held in Bahrain to further cement bilateral trade and economic ties.
    The summit is organised by India’s PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in association with Hilal Conferences and Exhibitions (HCE).
    India and Bahrain enjoy excellent bilateral relations characterised by strong political, economic and cultural contacts. This positive relationship is seen in the latest trade figures which valued trade between the two countries to be over 1 billion US dollars.