3 April 2019 Daily Current Affairs Analysis

Kandhmal Haldi gets GI tag:

  • Odisha’s Kandhamal Haldi (turmeric), famous for its healing properties, has received GI tag.
  • The golden yellow spice, named after the district where it is produced, has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value.
  • Turmeric is the main cash crop of tribal people in Kandhamal. Apart from domestic use, turmeric is also used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
  • More than 60,000 families (nearly 50% of Kandhamal population) are engaged in growing the variety. The crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions.


GI Tag:

  • A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
  • Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products.
  • It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.
  • GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.



RBI circular to banks on loan defaulters quashed

  • The Supreme Court struck down the February 12, 2018 Reserve Bank of India circular giving lender banks six months to resolve their stressed assets or move under the Insolvency Code against private entities who have defaulted on loans worth over Rs. 2,000 crore.
  • All insolvency proceedings initiated against debtors under the circular have been declared non est.
  • The circular, which was opposed by banks as well as industry players, directed lenders to classify a loan account as stressed and start resolution process within one day of default.
  • If banks start resolution of an asset, they have to set aside higher capital, known as provision in banking parlance.
  • Banks were also asked to refer all loan accounts of over Rs. 2,000 crore for bankruptcy proceedings if resolution is not achieved in 180 days.
  • Also, all the existing loan restructuring facilities like corporate debt restructuring were withdrawn and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) became the only option for resolution of stressed assets.
  • The 84-page judgment, by a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran, spells relief across sectors, ranging from power to telecom to steel, infrastructure, sugar and fertilizer.
  • The power sector is staring at 66 giga watts (GW) of stressed power assets worth Rs. 1.8 lakh crore.
  • “Over Rs. 40,000 crore of payments is due from the government owned discoms. If we get the money, issues of 13GW of power units will be resolved. Another 25-30 GW of issues can be resolved through discussion between the power producers and lenders,” Ashok Khurana, director general, Association of Power Producers (APP), said.
  • The RBI said, the circular was in the public interest and “in the interest of the national economy to see that ever-greening of debts does not carry on indefinitely”.
  • Now, the prospect of recovering 3.8 lakh crore of stressed loans of over 70 large borrowers has become uncertain.
  • The RBI said, “These huge amounts that are due should come back into the economy for further productive use.”
  • But the court found favour with the companies’ arguments that a general direction by the RBI, applying the 180-day- limit to all sectors, without going into the special problems faced by each, would “treat unequals equally”.
  • The companies said the circular violated Article 14 of the Constitution.



US approves sale of 24 MH 60 Romeo Seahawk helicopters to India:

  • The United States has approved the sale of 24 multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopters to India at an estimated cost of 2.4 billion US dollars.
  • The announcement was made by the US State Department on April 2, 2019.
  • In its notification, the state department told the Congress that this proposed sale will support the US foreign policy by helping strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship. The statement added that the sale of the helicopters will not alter the basic military balance in the region.


About Seahawk:

  • The MH-60 Romeo Seahawk helicopter is considered to be the world's most advanced maritime helicopter. 
  • Built by Lockheed Martin, the helicopters are designed to hunt down submarines, as well as knock out ships and conduct search-and-rescue operations at sea.
  • India has been in need of these formidable anti-submarine hunter helicopters for more than a decade now.
  • The advanced choppers would replenish India's aging fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters.
  • They will provide the Indian defence forces with the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue and communications relay.



Pakistan airspace closure hits Afghan, Kazakh, Russian airlines

  • Thousands of passengers travelling this summer are likely to face longer flights and pay higher airfares due to the closure of Pakistan airspace, in place for more than a month now after the Balakot airstrike.
  • Among the worst affected are airlines from West and Central Asia as their proximity to India and Pakistan means that they have to now take a much longer route to comply with the ban.
  • Passenger demand between Kabul and Delhi is now a tenth of what it used to be before the ban as airfares have more than doubled – increasing from Rs. 18,000 to Rs. 42,000 for a return journey.
  • It is an indication that a vast majority of those who travel from Afghanistan to India for medical treatment may be forced to delay their travel plans.
  • Kazakhstan carrier Air Astana’s Regional General Manger says, the airline now takes 8 hours from Delhi to Almaty as well as Astana, instead of 3 hours and 50 minutes and 4 hours and 30 minutes, respectively.
  • Air Astana has also seen passengers cancelling their bookings because of the long flying hours during peak tourist season, though it has decided to absorb the increase in costs instead of raising airfares.
  • A representative of Russian airline Aeroflot said the increase in flight duration by two hours has resulted in a mismatch with “a vast majority of connecting flights”, hitting transit passengers.


Participation in sports improves children's learning skills and self esteem:

  • Participation in sport improves children's educational attainment and skills development including empowerment, leadership and self-esteem - contributing to their overall well-being and future prospects
  • Report was commissioned by UNICEF and Barca foundation.
  • It features global research literature and data from more than 300 sport for development (S4D) programmes in 100 countries.

Kay facts:

  • Successful sport for development initiatives involves multi-sectoral cooperation, such as the inclusion of education and social components
  • Coaches play a critical role in safeguarding children and mitigating possible negative influences
  • There is little evidence to suggest involvement in sport reduces a child's risk of abuse and exploitation. In fact, when not done well, there are indications that some sports can increase exposure to violence
  • Better evidence is needed for the monitoring of sport for development initiatives, including more research on effective implementation
  • More meaningful child participation in programme design and evidence building is needed.



Evidence of pre-modern iron technology found in Nagaland

  • Wui village of Tuensang district in the state is known for its traditional art of iron-smelting and iron tool production since pre-colonial times
  • The development of technology for extracting metals from ores has been critical in the growth of various civilisations. Smelting is one process that has evolved over time.
  • Some regions and communities have contributed greatly in shaping and evolution of such technologies through their skills, knowledge and craft. Scientists, archeologists and historians are exploring the history and evolution of such technologies to know more about art and culture of communities.
  • In the medieval times, spears forged from Wui were highly valued. Iron smelting was once the primary source of livelihood for Wui people. Smelting of Wui community was of exceptional quality and kings from even far off places such as Myanmar would get their weaponry specially made from Wui
  • Iron smelting is a dying art and people of Wui are struggling to preserve their traditional knowledge.
  • The researchers studied various chemical properties and compositions, quality and quantity of mineral iron content and other oxides to grasp the use of early iron technology in Nagaland. 
  • It emerged that iron ore used for smelting in early days was primary mined from this region. Thus it was, perhaps, a major source of iron-ore in Nagaland.
  • The researchers excavated two trenches at two different localities of the village. This was done on the assumption that the people from this area may have been engaged in iron-smelting for generations and, therefore, there was a high probability for extracting slag refuse from the deep layers of the trenches. This would be vital for understanding early metallurgical practice.
  • The first trench revealed a four metre thick cultural deposit, revealing six layers. The excavation yielded cork-mark potteries, animal bones, glass beads, slag and good quality charcoal. The second trench too revealed a thick habitation deposit.
  • Evidence from this trench included plain and cork-mark potteries, perforated roof tiles of slates, glass beads and charcoal. Charcoal from both trenches was carbon dated and their age ranged from 800-753 BCE to 980-1053 AD.