Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Dec 18, 2016

1)   Government has put in place a new institutional structure for building and construction sector for:

a. Ease of Doing Business
b. Ease of Doing Responsible Business
c. Ease of Doing Responsible Business Operations
d. Ease of Doing Responsible Business Operations
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Ease of Doing Responsible Business

Government has put in place a new framework and an institutional structure for streamlining the environmental clearance for building and construction sector moving towards decentralisation, delegation of powers and enhancing the Ease of Doing Responsible Business.

The States will forward the proposed changes in their building bye-laws and rules to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, who in turn will examine the said draft bye-laws and rules and convey the concurrence to the State Governments.

The important features of the amendment are:

  • Under the revised norms, the environmental clearance will now be issued in an integrated manner along with the building permission under building bye laws for all building constructions covering 20,000 to 1,50,000 sq. mtr. of built up area.
  • Environmental clearance for built up areas from 1,50,000 to 3,00,000 sq. mtr. will be given by the State Level Authorities subject to EIA while the areas above 3,00,000 sq. mtr. will be approved and cleared by the Union Government.
  • Area less than 20,000 sq. mtr. will be subject to a self declaration. However, the buildings of size 5000 sq. mtr. to 20,000 sq. mtr. will also follow environmental norms for construction and maintenance phase.
  • Qualified Building Environment Auditors as empanelled by the MoEFCC would assess and certify the building projects.
  • For the first time the provision of self-declaration for compliance and also certification by Qualified Building Environment Auditors have been introduced for building and environmental clearance.
  • Environmental Cell in the local authorities will be created to support appraisal, compliance and monitoring of building projects and to provide environmental planning in this area.
  • After completion of the project, the Cell shall randomly check the projects compliance status including the five years audit report.
  • The State Governments will enact the suitable law for imposing penalties for non-compliances of the environmental conditions and parameters.
  • The cases of false declaration or certification shall be reported to the accreditation body and to the local body for blacklisting of Qualified Building Environment Auditors.
  • It will also attract a financial penalty on the owner and Qualified Building Environment Auditors.

2)   Delhi Communique was issued at the close of which meet?

a. 6th BRICS Health Ministers’ Meet
b. 6th BRICS Environment Ministers’ Meet
c. 6th BRICS Finance Ministers’ Meet
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 6th BRICS Health Ministers’ Meet

Delhi Communique has been issued at the 6th BRICS Health Ministers Meet. It has the following provisions:

  • Agreed to constitute a working group, to work on strengthening regulatory systems, sharing of information, appropriate regulatory approaches in case of international and national health emergencies and provide recommendations for the promotion of research and development of innovative medical products (drugs, vaccines and medical technologies).
  • Supported promoting existing IT platform and regulatory capacity building through an institutional development plan for BRICS countries.
  • Agreed to make efforts to enhance access to HIV diagnostics and treatment especially to key populations with increased risk of acquiring HIV and exchange experiences of community-based actions to fight HIV/AIDS.
  • Underlined the imperative to advance cooperation and action on research on HIV, TB and Malaria in the BRICS countries, including in the development and production of quality-assured drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.
  • Agreed to the setting up of a BRICS network on TB Research and creation of a research and development consortium on TB, HIV and Malaria including the possibility of international fund raising.
  • Also agreed to support the Global Ministerial Conference on the fight against TB to be held in Moscow in 2017 and the UN High-Level Meeting on TB at United Nations Headquarters in 2018.
  • Emphasised the importance of continued cooperation among BRICS countries in promoting research and development of medicines and diagnostic tools to end epidemics including through promoting innovative and sustainable models for health R&D financing and coordination and to facilitate access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, including generic medicines, biological products, and diagnostics.
  • Agreed to cooperate through the AMR focal points, regulatory authorities and relevant cross sectors, with a view to share best practices and discuss challenges, as well as identifying potential areas for convergence, such as surveillance, strategies for: rational use of antibiotics, strategies to address shortages of first line antibiotics and vaccines, infection prevention and control, strategies for preventing inappropriate use of antibiotics in agricultural sector based on scientific evidence, strengthening research collaboration across sectors and disciplines in the field of AMR as well as enhancing lab activities for quick testing of drug resistance for different pathogens.
  • Agreed to work cooperatively in international fora to protect their policy space against TRIPS plus provisions and other measures that impede access to medicines and share these experiences with other developing countries.
  • Agreed to cooperate for combating mental disorders, including autism and neuro-development disorders, through a multi-pronged approach encompassing a mental health policy, a life cycle approach to address the needs of such individuals throughout life, sharing of innovations in the field of mental health promotion, diagnosis and management and exchange of best practices and experiences.
  • Agreed to enhance cooperation amongst the BRICS countries for capacity development of human resources in public health and clinical medicine.
  • Agreed to establish platforms for collaboration within BRICS framework and with other countries and international partners with a view to realising the goals and objectives outlined in this as well as in the past Declarations and Joint Communiques.
Health Care in India
India’s life expectancy at birth has nearly doubled since independence.
  • Under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio have declined by over 60% since 1990.
  • New HIV infection among adult population has declined by 57%.
  • Substantial reductions have been achieved in the incidence of and mortality from major infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases.
  • In 2016 India celebrated five years since the last case of wild polio was reported.
  • WHO headquarters confirmed India’s claim of yaws free status in 2016.
  • WHO has validated the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus in 2015 from India.
  • Cases of kala-azar declined by 11% in 2015 from 2014, and 78% since 2006.
  • Leprosy has been eliminated in 84% of all districts.

3)   USICEF stands for?

a. United Nations Clean Energy Finance
b. US-India Clean Energy Finance
c. US-India Clean Energy Fund
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: US-India Clean Energy Finance

Shri Piyush Goyal Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal & New and Renewable Energy and Mines and US Ambassador Mr Richard Verma in India launched new joint initiative of US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) Initiative.

This would help in unlocking OPIC financing and mobilise public and private capital to expand access to distributed clean energy projects on 17th Dec 2016.

Letter of Intents were signed and exchanged for creation of a $20 million for US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) Initiative, equally supported by the United States and India would support projects which, upon long-term financing and deployment, and would qualify for the support of long-term debt financing from OPIC.

The U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance facility (“USICEF”) would support project preparation activities for distributed solar projects in order to unlock OPIC financing and mobilise public and private capital to expand access to distributed clean energy solutions that will benefit disadvantaged communities in India and contribute to India’s ambitious renewable energy and energy access goals.

USICEF builds on the success of other project preparation facilities to support renewable energy in emerging markets.

Through this initiative, project developers pursuing mini-grid, distributed rooftop and off-grid solar projects, as well as smaller-scale grid connected solar projects would be benefitted.

4)   MoU has been signed between NTPC and NALCO for JV for which coal plant?

a. Gajmara
b. Gajra
c. Gajara
d. Gamara
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Gajmara

Union Minister of State (IC) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NTPC Limited and National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) on 16th Dec.

The MoU will facilitate the setting up of a Joint Venture (JV) Company to establish a 2400 MW coal based power project at Gajmara, Dhenkanal, Odisha.

Brownfield expansion of its 5 lakh tonne Aluminium smelter at Angul and the Greenfield project of a 6 lakh tonne smelter at Kamakhya Nagar, Odisha will be approximately Rs. 36,000 crores.

NTPC would be able to provide uninterrupted power supply to NALCO’s plants through this project.

On the other hand, NALCO would be able to produce Aluminium in the country, which previously was not possible due to high power prices, he said.

The JV between NTPC and NALCO has potential to create value for both the companies which have public equity – both Government of India equity as well as publicly held equity.

Both the companies will initiate the efforts on fast track and necessary modalities like the Joint Venture Agreement, Power Purchase Agreement etc. will be finalised by the end of the current financial year.

5)   Which ministry launched a campaign innovation challenges on 14th Dec 2016?

a. India Post
b. Indian Railways
c. Indian Aviation
d. Indian Transport
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Indian Railways

In order to call for innovative ideas from all citizens/ sections of the country, the Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu in a programme held on 14.12.2016 at Rail Bhawan launched a campaign innovation challenges for Indian Railways in line with his Budget Announcement 2016-17.

The idea is a perquisite for change and innovative ideas can be borne in mind by anyone whether a stakeholder, a rail user or any other individual.

Campaign will be a kind of brainstorming for all. He said that every citizen of the country has lot of potential and can play a great role for development of the nation.

This Campaign would be a unique kind of platform which will enable all citizens of the country to improve the functioning of the Indian Railways which is known as lifeline of the nation.

The following five challenges are aimed at promoting innovation in our country by focusing on specific problems being faced by Indian Railways:

  • Innovation Challenge for ‘Design of Wagons for efficient loading and transportation of new commodities’.
  • Innovation Challenge for ‘Easy Accessibility to Trains from Low Level Platforms’.
  • Innovatio n Challenge for ‘New Idea/ Suggestion to improve the working of Indian Railways’.
  • Innovation Challenge for ‘Increasing Passenger Carrying Capacity of Coaches of Indian Railways’.
  • Innovation Challenge for Developing New Digital Capabilities at the Stations of Indian Railways’.

6)   The first Humsafar train was launched in Dec 2016 in which state?

a. Uttarakhand
b. Uttar Pradesh
c. Madhya Pradesh
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Uttar Pradesh

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu flagged off/inaugurated the first Humsafar clan of trains by launching the following services / activities through video conferencing from Rail Bhawan:

  • Train No 12595/12596 Gorakhpur-Anand Vihar(T) HUMSAFAR EXPRESS(Bi- Weekly)(Via Basti)
  • Gorakhpur-Anand Vihar(T) HUMSAFAR EXPRESS(Weekly)(Via Barhni).
  • Government decided to launch 4 new products viz, Humsafar, Antyodaya, UDAY and Tejas.
  • Among these First Humsafar Express was launched in Dec 2016 catering to Uttar Pradesh.
  • Similarly Gatimaan Express, Mahamana Express were also first launched in Uttar Pradesh.
  • This Humsafar Train has latest technologies like Vinyl wrapping, high quality curtains, Passenger information system which will enhance the user experience of travelling in this train.
  • This train also has safety features like fire & smoke detection system and most of the parts are made of fire resistant materials.
Other features:
  • Aesthetically pleasing colour scheme with anti-graffiti coating and distinctive 3D numbering on the exterior.
  • Pleasing interiors with attractive and colourfully co-ordinated seats, berths, partitions, curtains, improved/hygienic toilets, film type mirrors, etc.
  • Deodoriser, Dustbins, Sleek bottle holders in the cabins
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance of the common areas of the coaches.
  • Integrated Braille displays for the visually impaired.
  • Hygienic lavatories with odour flushing system
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) based Passenger information system
  • Passenger announcement system
  • Fire and Smoke detection system in the coaches.
  • Fire detection and suppression system in the Power cars
  • Equipped with Auto Vending Machine and Mini Pantry with Oven/Fridge
What is Humsafar Express?
  • Announced by: Ministry of Railways
  • Announced in: Rail Budget 2016-17.

7)   What is sand mining regulation introduced in 2016 called?

a. Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines
b. Sustained Sand Mining Guidelines
c. Sustaining Sand Mining Management
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, which, inter-alia, addresses the issues relating to regulation of sand mining. The salient features of the Guidelines in this regard are as follows:

  • It provides for a detailed programme for ensuring that mining of river sand is done in a sustainable manner.
  • Grant of Environment Clearance for minor minerals, including sand and gravel, for mining lease of area up to 5 hectare will be done by the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority headed by the District Collector / District Magistrate.
  • Removal of sand accumulated on the agricultural field after cessation of flooding will not be considered as mining operation and its removal and selling can be allowed without the requirement of environment clearance till it is done only to the extent of reclaiming the agricultural land.
Exemption of certain cases from being considered as mining for the purpose of requirement of environment clearance like:
  • Extraction of ordinary clay or ordinary sand manually by hereditary Kumhars (Potter) who prepare earthen pots on a cottage industry basis;
  • Extraction of ordinary clay or ordinary sand manually by earthen tile makers who prepare earthen tiles on a cottage industry basis;
  • Removal of sand deposited on agricultural field after flood by owner farmers;
  • Customary extraction of sand and ordinary earth from sources situated in Gram Panchayat for personal use or community work in village;
  • Community works like desilting of village ponds / tanks, rural roads under taken in MGNREGS and other Government sponsored schemes;
  • Dredging and desilting of dam, reservoirs, weirs, barrages, river, and canals for maintenance and upkeep and avert natural disaster provided the dredged material is used departmentally.
MMDR and Sand Mining
  • Sand is a minor mineral.
  • It is defined under section 3(e) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act).
  • Section 15 of the MMDR Act empowers state governments to make rules for regulating the grant of mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals.
  • As per section 15 of the MMDR Act, State Governments have framed their own minor minerals concession rules.
  • Further,section 23C of the MMDR Act, 1957 empowers state governments to frame rules to prevent illegal mining.
  • Control of illegal mining is, therefore, under the legislative and administrative jurisdiction of state governments.

8)   Who has been appointed DG and CEO of IICA?

a. Sunil Arora
b. Sunil Singh
c. Sunil Mehra
d. Sunil Mehta
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Sunil Arora

Ex Information and Broadcasting Secretary Sunil Arora was on 15 December 2016 appointed as the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA).

Arora’s appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

He will serve the office for a period of five years or till attaining 65 years of age or until further orders, whichever is the earliest.

Sunil Arora is an Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) of 1980-batch of Rajasthan cadre.

He is retired as Information and Broadcasting Secretary and presently serving as an Advisor at Prasar Bharati.

He also served as Joint Secretary in Ministry of Civil Aviation during 1999-2002.

Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs

  • Think-tank under Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • Established in 2008 at Manesar, Gurugram, Haryana, India.
  • It works to regulate functioning of corporates.
  • Headed : Director General and CEO.
  • It has various Schools, Centres, Departments, Academies and Foundations under it.

9)   What recommendation has the parliamentary panel made for dealing with forest fires?

a. Replace chir pine trees with broad leaved trees
b. Replace broad leaved trees with chir pine trees.
c. Replace plants with chir pine trees
d. Replace all plants with broad leaved trees
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Replace chir pine trees with broad leaved trees

With nearly 55 per cent rise in forest fire spots in 2016 from 2015 a parliamentary panel has recommended systematic replacement of chir pine trees in forests with broad-leaved trees,

The panel was observing that its needles are highly inflammable due to high resin content.

Panel also was critical of the declining trend of funds released by the government for protection of forests and controlling forest fires.

"The Committee also recommends that broad tree leaves should be planted in forests, and after a period of five years, there should be a systematic replacement of chir pine trees in forests by broad leaves as it has been seen that the incident of fires in latter forest are minimal as compared to chir pine trees," the Committee said in its report.

The Committee also suggested procuring sweeping machines to clear roadsides of chir pine needles and dry leaves in vulnerable areas and said steps should be taken to incentivise the clearing and collection of pine needles.
ncentivise the clearing and collection of pine needles.

It also recommended that the government should approach countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which witness a large number of forest fire cases, and study the use of other systems used for fire fighting such as chemical fogging

Forest Fires in India

  • Report stated that 2016 witnessed 24,817 forest fires spots in comparison to 15,937 in 2015, a rise of nearly 55 per cent.
  • In 2016, Uttarakhand alone witnessed a nearly 700 per cent rise in forest fire spots.
  • In 2015, the state recorded 207 fire spots, but the figure rose to 1501 in 2016.
  • Fires destroyed nearly 4000 hectares of forest covering over 13 districts in the hill state.
  • It killed 9 people and injured 17 in 2016.

10)   China launched its first fully owned overseas satellite ground station near _______.

a. North Pole
b. South Pole
c. Antarctica
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: North Pole

China has launched its first fully- owned overseas satellite ground station near the North Pole.

This could enable Beijing to collect satellite data anywhere on the Earth at a speed it said was the fastest in the world.

The facility, located in Sweden about 200 kms north of the Arctic Circle, would allow China to collect satellite data anywhere on Earth at speeds that were more than twice as fast as before, said the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the academic governing body that built and runs the station.

The new facility would play an important role in China's Gaofen project - a network of observation satellites orbiting the Earth to provide global surveillance capabilities - which was due to be completed in 2020.
Domestic ground stations have needed up to seven hours to download the data from satellites orbiting the Earth in the past, but with the facility in Sweden, the maximum delay for downloading data would be less than 3.5 hours.

The shorter time is because the mapping, weather, reconnaissance and military satellites orbiting the North Pole are able to pass around the Earth about 12 times each day, while those flying over China can orbit the Earth only about five times each day.

The academy said the Arctic station would be using the best and most sensitive signal receiving devices China had ever built, including one with higher bandwidth, covering frequencies from 26.5 to 40 GHz, which had a download speed of 6 Gigabits (billions of bits) per second.

China has previously built ground satellite facilities in numerous foreign countries, mostly in Africa and South America, which are all joint ventures, the report said.