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Current Affairs 24.04.2017

China’s first cargo spacecraft successfully docks with the Tiangong-2 space lab

•  China has successfully docked its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 with the Tiangong-2 space lab

•  It is hailed as a major step towards China’s ambition of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022

•  China has an ambitious plan of building a permanent space station by 2022, that will be in the orbit for at least 10 years

•  Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2) space lab was home to two astronauts for a month in last October

•  T It was China’s longest-ever manned space mission

•  iangong-2 was put up into space on September 15, 2016

•  China has prioritised advancing its space programme to strengthen national security

 

Criticism

•  The US Defence Department has accused China of pursuing activities that are aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets in a crisis

•  However, China has refuted such claims and has stated it has only peaceful ambitions in space, but has tested anti-satellite missiles

•  In 2011, the US Congress ordered that Chinese astronauts should not be allowed to enter International Space Station (ISS) owing to national security concerns

 

World Bank approves $375 million loan for National Waterway-1

•  The World Bank has approved a loan of $375 million (around Rs 2,421 crore) for capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) between Haldia in West Bengal and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on the river Ganga under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

•  The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels of 1,500-2,000 deadweight tonnes capacity along a 1,390-km stretch

 

•  Jal Marg Vikas Project is a project on the river Ganga that envisages the development of waterway between Allahabad and Haldia that will cover a distance of 1620 km

•  It aims to develop a fairway with three metres depth to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the river

•  The project includes the development of fairway, multi-modal terminals, strengthening of open river navigation technique, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS) etc

 

 

Need

•  The rail and road corridors of this region have been crippled with heavy traffic and have become saturated

•  Hence, the development of NW-1 would pave way for an alternative, viable, economical, efficient and eco-friendly mode of transport

 

•  NW-1 National Waterway-1 (NW-1) is a waterway passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, potentially serving the major cities of Haldia, Howrah, Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Patna, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Allahabad and their industrial hinterlands including several industries located along the Ganga basin

 

•  Inland Waterways Authority of India Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India

•  Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP

•  Its main function is to build the necessary infrastructure in the inland waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also carrying out administration and regulation

 

•  River Information system (RIS) RIS is a combination of modern tracking equipment comprising of hardware and software designed to optimise transport and traffic processes in inland water navigation

•  The system has the capability to enhance swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and Base stations through advance and real-time exchange of information

•  It enables safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding risks such as (i) Ship-to-Ship collisions

•  (ii) Ship-Bridge collisions

•  (iii) Groundings

 

Government approves Guidelines on service charge

•  Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs has approved the ‘Guidelines on Fair Trade Practices Related to Charging of Service Charge from Consumers by Hotels and Restaurants’

•  As a part of the guidelines which has been issued in public interest to protect the rights of consumers, the government has said that Service charge on hotel and restaurant bills is “totally voluntary”, adding that mandatory levy of service charge amounts to unfair trade practice

 

Rationale

•  Department of Consumer Affairs has justified the guidelines in view of complaints received by it from consumers that some hotels are insisting payment of service charge in the range of 5-20 per cent and many people are paying it believing that it is part of taxes

 

HRAWI’s Response

•  The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has not welcomed the guidelines by saying that levying of service charge is a global practice and a legitimate tax, adding that it has been in India for more than half a century

•  It has accused the government of singling out the sector as hospitality sector and several businesses are levying such charges

 

India-South Korea sign MoU on shipbuilding

•  A MoU has been signed between India and South Korea for defence industry cooperation in shipbuilding

•  Under the MoU, the two countries would recommend the organisations for collaborating in the implementation of specific projects

•  The MoUs signed will be valid for a time period of 5 years and are automatically extendable for further successive five years at a time

•  While South Korea is yet to name its recommended organisation, India has nominated Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL), Visakhapatnam for the collaboration

 

Significance

•  The cooperation is part of the ‘Make in India’ policy

•  Accordingly, the warships will be built at domestic shipyards with the help of South Korea

•  This will enable HSL to upgrade and modernise its facilities and finish shipbuilding projects in a timely and cost effective manner

•  It would be able to imbibe best practices in shipbuilding

•  As a result of which, the production of HSL will increase manifold leading to the creation of more employment opportunities to the unemployed

 

Background

•  The partnership was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership‘ as declared in the Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of both the nations in May 2015

•  Subsequently, the two countries agreed to encourage co-operation between their shipyards in the defence sector

 

Cuba and Morocco re-establish diplomatic ties after 37 years

•  Guided by the mutual will to develop friendly relations, Cuba and Morocco has signed an agreement to re-establish diplomatic ties after a time period of 37 years

•  The two governments have also agreed to forge political, economic and cultural cooperation

•  The agreement to this effect was signed at the headquarters of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations

 

•  The decision to re-establish diplomatic ties has been made couple of weeks after King Mohammed’s private visit to Cuba

•  The visit of King Mohammed VI is the first ever made by a Moroccan king to Cuba

 

Background

•  Morocco severed its ties with Cuba in 1980 after Fidel Castro officially recognised Western Sahara as the independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)

•  Morocco claims the territory as its own

 

•  One crore assets geotagged under GeoMGNREGA initiative

MGNREGA

•  MGNREGA has reached a major milestone by geotagging one crore assets created under it

•  The geotagged assets have been put in public domain

•  The scale of assets created under MGNREGA is massive and is estimated to be about 2

•  82 crore assets since the financial year 2006-07

•  On an average, it works out to a creation of 30 lakh assets annually

 

Background

•  Geotagging of assets created under MGNREGA was started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the need for online recording and monitoring of assets to check leakages

•  Subsequently, on June 24, 2016, the Ministry of Rural development signed a MoU with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO and National Informatics Centre to geotag MGNREGA assets created under each village panchayats

 

Uttar Pradesh to establish 40 Yoga wellness centres

•  Uttar Pradesh has decided to establish 40 Yoga wellness centres in 40 districts across the state in the present financial year

•  Out of 40 centres, 23 will be set up at Ayurvedic hospitals, 12 at homeopathic and 7 at Unani hospitals and colleges

•  For setting up of wellness centres in the remaining 35 districts, the state government plans to get assistance from union government

 

Background

•  According to the Ministry of AYUSH in response to a Lok Sabha question in 2016, it was revealed that the five southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh together account for over 90% of all the registered yoga and naturopathy practitioners in the country

•  So, the government is working towards ensuring a more geographically balanced promotion of yoga across the country and bring non-south states at par with the southern states

•  With this aim, the Centre is implementing National AYUSH Mission as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme

 

Earth Day

•  Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22

•  It was first celebrated in 1970, and since then it is celebrated in more than 193 countries by over a billion people every year

•  Earth Day celebrations are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network

 

•  Earth Day celebrations are a way to remind humans of environmental deterioration caused by them and advise them to turn off the electronic devices that are not in use or taking public transport to reduce the emission levels

•  It recognises that Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance

•  It also aims to raise awareness that humans have a collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature and to balance the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations

 

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