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GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Indian Economist Bina Agarwal Wins Prestigious Balzan Prize, US Scientists Among Awardees.

Background-

  • Two US scientists, whose work has contributed to creating immunological treatments for cancer, and an Indian economist are among the winners of this year’s Balzan Prize that recognise scholarly and scientific achievements.
  • James Allison of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Robert Schreiber of the Washington University School of Medicine were cited for their work on antibody treatments that has increased the survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.
  • Indian economist Bina Agarwal, a professor at the University of Manchester, was recognised in the gender studies category for her “heroic” work studying women’s contributions to agriculture in India.

Highlights Of The Development–

  • Belgian astrophysicist Michael Gillon was awarded for his work that has helped map new solar systems from the comfort of planet Earth, using robotic telescopes instead of much more costly satellites.
  • Germans Aleida and Jan Assmann, a married couple was recognised for their work presenting collective memory “as a requirement for the formation of the identity of religious and political communities.”
  • The Balzan Foundation awards two prizes in the sciences and two in the humanities each year, rotating specialties to highlight new or emerging areas of research and sustain fields that might be overlooked elsewhere.
  • Recipients receive 750,000 Swiss francs ($790,000), half of which must be used for research, preferably by young scholars or scientists.
  • Nobel Prize-winner Jules Hoffman, a presenter of the awards, said the work focusing on using the immune system to fight cancer, expanding from the traditional treatments of removal, radiation and chemotherapy, has already had success in 25-30% of melanoma patients in a study who had previously gone through the traditional battery of treatments. It is now being developed for small cell lung cancer and rectal cancer.
  • This year, the Balzan Foundation also awarded a fifth prize, in international relations, which was deferred from last year after the committee failed to reach agreement on a winner.
  • It went to Robert O Keohane of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, best known for his influential 1984 book After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy.
  • Prizes will be awarded in Bern, Switzerland, on November 17, 2017.

Sources- Hindustantimes.

 

GS Paper II- Governance, Social Justice.

Rajnath Singh Launches Portal ‘PENCIL’ To Eliminate Child Labour.

Background

  • In an endeavour to combat the menace of child labour, trafficking and sexual abuse Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 26th September, 2017 launched portal namely ‘PENCIL’ (Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour).
  • Singh along with Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi launched ‘PENCIL’. Singh at the event also assured that the Centre will soon pass the anti-trafficking bill.
  • Singh said that no developed society in the world can exist along with Child Labour. Child labour and trafficking are grave crimes against humanity and the Government of India is committed to eliminate all forms of trafficking. He will ensure that the anti-trafficking bill you are fighting for will be passed soon.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • According to 2015 National Crime Records Bureau report, the number of cases filed for child trafficking was 3490, and the number of victims of the cases amounted to 3905. The total number of human trafficking cases amounted to 6877 and the victims for these cases totalled to 9127.
  • PENCIL is launched to foster the creation of a child labour free India, which will seamlessly integrate implementing and monitoring mechanisms for both, enforcement of the legislative provisions and effective implementation of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP).
  • India is home to the largest number of child labourers in the world. This platform is going to pave the way for effective enforcement of the new child labour law and also ensure accountability of enforcement agencies. This national consultation was a landmark occasion where the Home Ministry and the Labour Ministry have come together to ensure effective collaboration and convergence of efforts and mark a policy shift for India.
  • The Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar thanked Satyarthi for taking the time off his Bharat Yatra to attend the launch as it showed true commitment to the issue of eradicating child labour from India.
  • The Bharat Yatra conducted by Kailash Satyarthi is the launch of the three-year campaign against child rape and child sexual abuse which is aimed at increasing awareness and reporting of the cases, strengthening intuitional response including medical health and compensation, ensuring protection for victims and witnesses during trials and increasing convictions of child sexual abuse in a time-bound manner.

Sources- Financial Express.

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

Masala Bonds To Be Treated As ECBs From Oct 3, 2017.

Background

  • The Reserve Bank relaxed norms for issuance of rupee-denominated overseas bonds, popularly known as masala bonds,on 22nd September, 2017, saying they will be treated as external commercial borrowings from October 3, 2017 thereby freeing up more investments by FPIs.
  • Currently, the limit for investment by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) in corporate bonds is Rs 2,44,323 crore. This covers issuance of masala bonds by resident entities of Rs 44,001 crore, including the ones in pipeline.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • After a review, the RBI said that from October 3, 2017 masala bonds will no longer form part of the limit for FPI investments in corporate bonds.
  • As a result, Rs 44,001 crore arising out of shifting of masala bonds will be released for foreign portfolio investor (FPI) investment in corporate bonds over the next two quarters.
  • Now, FPI investment limit for corporate bonds will increase to Rs 2,44,323 crore from January 1, 2018.
  • Further, an amount of Rs 9,500 crore in each quarter will be available only for investment in the infrastructure sector by long-term FPIs — sovereign wealth funds, multilateral agencies, endowment, insurance and pension funds and foreign central banks — the notification added.
  • Karthik Srinivasan, Group Head – Financial Sector Ratings, ICRA, said that with surge in inflows in Indian debt markets, the cumulative utilisation of FPI limit in corporate bonds stood at 99.07 per cent as on September 21, 2017, reflecting limited scope of further FPI investments.

Sources- The Times Of India.