01 & 02, January 2017

1.Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana: Govt doubles loan amount for interest subsidy

Source: Indian Express

In a boost to the affordable housing and middle income category of the housing sector, Prime Minister doubled the quantum of loan amount that can qualify for interest benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) for Urban areas in 2017.

In addition to this,  announced a 3 per cent interest subvention for loans of up to Rs 2 lakh in the rural areas, taken for either new home or extention of housing.

Key facts:

The scheme, initially launched by the Prime Minister in June 2015 to provide ‘Housing for All by 2022’, offered beneficiaries an interest subsidy at the rate of 6.5 per cent for a loan amount of up to Rs 6 lakh.

  • The scope of the scheme has now been enhanced to loans of up to Rs 12 lakh with interest subvention of up to 4 per cent.
  • Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to Rs 9 lakh taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to Rs 12 lakh taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent.
  • Further added that for the rural areas, “Loans of up to Rs 2 lakh taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent.

The ambit of PMAY scheme Through this as more number of EWS/LIG families would now come under the ambit of PMAY schemes.

  • This will increase the formal credit flow to rural areas which is expected to be utilised not only for constructing new houses but also for converting the existing kutcha houses to pucca ones.
  • Even as the Prime Minister has announced the scheme for 2017, industry experts say that the government is yet to come out with details on the value of property and household income eligibility criteria for the scheme for 2017.

  1. India, Pakistan exchange lists on nuclear installations

Source: Indian Express

This is the 26th consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries.

INDIA AND Pakistan on Sunday exchanged a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.

Both countries also exchanged the lists of nationals (including civil prisoners and fishermen) of each country lodged in their respective jails as per provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access.

Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations

  • It is bilateral agreement signed between India and Pakistan that bars them from carrying out any surprise attack (or to assist foreign power to attack) on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities. Under it, both countries inform each other about their nuclear installations and facilities that need to be covered under the Agreement on 1 January every year.
  • It was signed on 31st December 1988 and entered into force on 27 January 1991.
  • It was signed by then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Pakistani counterpart Benazir Bhutto.

Agreement on consular access It was signed between the two countries on May 21, 2008. It facilitates exchange of a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in their jails twice each year on January 1 and July 1.

  1. Nuclear-capable Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired off Odisha coast

Source: Indian Express

With a range of more than 4,000 km, the Agni-IV missile was successfully test fired from Balasore.

A week after test firing Agni-V, India conducted the final test-firing of another nuclear-capable strategic ballistic missile, Agni-IV, from test range off Odisha coast. With a range of more than 4,000 km, the missile was successfully test fired from Balasore.

Key facts:

After the launch of Agni-V, the government had to clear out that its strategic capabilities were not targeted against any particular country as it abides by all applicable international obligations and expects others do the same, in a response to Chinese reaction to the development.

The indigenously developed surface-to-surface Agni-IV missile is a two-stage weapon system.

  • It is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes. Agni-IV missile is equipped with 5th generation onboard computer and distributed architecture.
  • It has the latest features to correct and guide itself for in-flight disturbances.
  • Agni-I, II and III and Prithvi are already in the arsenal of the armed forces, giving them reach of over 3000 kms and providing the country an effective deterrence capability.

  1. Appeal for votes on basis of religion is corrupt practice, says SC

Source: The Hindu

In a majority verdict, the Supreme Court held that any appeal for votes on the grounds of “religion, race, caste, community or language” amounted to “corrupt practice” under the election law provision.

  • Referring to the term ‘his religion’ used in section 123(3) of the Representation of The Peoples (RP) Act, which deals with ‘corrupt practice’, Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and three others in the 4:3 verdict said it meant the religion and caste of all including voters, candidates and their agents etc.
  • However, the minority view of three judges — held that the term ‘his’ religion means religion of candidate only.

‘secularism’ has to be considered while dealing with such issues.

Key facts:

  • The apex court had on October 27 reserved its verdict on the “width and scope” of an electoral law provision dealing with the issue whether seeking votes or asking electors not to vote on the ground of “religion, race, caste, community or language”, amounted to “corrupt practice”.
  • It has been interpreted in an earlier verdict that the term ‘his religion’, used in section 123(3) of the RP Act which deals with ‘corrupt practice’, meant the faith of the candidates only.
  • Section 123(3) of the RP Act, which is being scrutinised, reads: “The appeal by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language or the use of, or appeal to religious symbols or the use of, or appeal to, national symbols…, for furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate” would amount to corrupt practices.
  • The bench had said there is freedom to “practice and propagate” the religion, but asked “can it (religion) be used for electoral purposes”

  1. 5. Rare comet will be visible from Earth for first time: NASA

Source: The Hindu

A rare comet discovered by NASA scientists will be visible using just binoculars to skywatchers on Earth this week for the first time, before the object heads back into outer reaches of the solar system for an orbit lasting thousands of years.

  • The comet, C/2016 U1 NEOWISE, has a good chance of becoming visible through a  binoculars, although can’t be sure because a comet’s brightness is notoriously unpredictable, NASACentre for Near—Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US.
  • As seen from the northern hemisphere during the first week of 2017, comet C/2016 U1 NEOWISE will be in the southeastern sky shortly before dawn.

While it will be visible to skywatchers at Earth, it is not considered a threat to our planet either.

NASA’s NEOWISE mission: has recently discovered some celestial objects travelling through our neighbourhood, including one on the blurry line between asteroid and comet.

An object called 2016 WF9 was detected by the NEOWISE project on November 27 last year.

    • It is in an orbit that takes it on a scenic tour of our solar system. At its farthest distance from the Sun, it approaches Jupiter’s orbit.
    • A different object, discovered by NEOWISE a month earlier, is more clearly a comet, releasing dust as it nears the Sun.

 

  • NEOWISE is the asteroid—and—comet—hunting portion of the Wide—Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

 

  • 2016 WF9 is relatively large: roughly 0.5 to 1 kilometre across. It is also rather dark, reflecting only a few percent of the light that falls on its surface. This body resembles a comet in its reflectivity and orbit, but appears to lack the characteristic dust and gas cloud that defines a comet.

6.General Bipin Rawat takes over as the 27th COAS of the Indian Army

Source: PIB

  • General Dalbir Singh, the Chief of Army Staff, after an illustrious career spanning over four decades, handed over the baton to General Bipin Rawat  in a ceremony held at South Block.
  • Amongst numerous achievements, the tenure of Gen Dalbir Singh was operationally significant wherein a high tempo of operations was maintained  in J&K and North East.
  • Gen Dalbir Singh laid a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti and was accorded a guard of honour  at South Block Lawns prior to relinquishing as COAS.

 



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