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Current Events 18 January 2017



18 JANUARY 2017

Sr. No.





India becomes CERN’s associate member



Walk away from terror, PM tells Pakistan



Britain to leave EU’s single market: May



Notice to Centre, AAP govt over NGT ambit



SC asks govt. to file status report on Ganga rejuvenation



NCERT sets goals for elementary classes



In Davos, Xi defends globalisation



Finance Ministry suspends Dec. 21 tax circular on indirect transfers

 GS III :  S&T     

India becomes CERN’s associate member

  • India, on 16 January 2017, became an associate member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, after the government completed internal approval procedures on the agreement it signed in November 2016.
  • India has been actively involved in CERN’s activities for over 50 years. “Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have made substantial contributions to the construction of the LHC accelerator and to the ALICE and CMS experiments, as well as to accelerator R&D projects.
  • According to the release, being an associate member will allow India to take part in meetings of the CERN Council and its committees (Finance Committee and Scientific Policy Committee).
  • Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will open up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology. Also, Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments.
  • Becoming associate member of CERN will enhance participation of young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programmes.

History of cooperation:

  • India’s involvement in CERN began in the 1960s with researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, participating in experiments at CERN.
  • In the 1990s, scientists from Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore, too got involved.
  • In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific cooperation. India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then.
  • Researchers from TIFR, Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology and other institutes built components for an accelerator (LEP) and detectors (L3, WA93 and WA89).
  • India was granted observer status to the CERN Council in 2002.

CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research)

  • Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.
  • It was one of Europe's first joint ventures and now has 22 member states.
  • At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe.
  • They use the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles.
  • The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.
  • The instruments used at CERN are purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors.
  • Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before the beams are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets.
  • Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

The Standard Model of particle physics

  • It is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, as well as classifying all the subatomic particles known.
  • It was developed throughout the latter half of the 20th century, as a collaborative effort of scientists around the world.
  • The current formulation was finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks.
  • Since then, discoveries of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and the Higgs boson (2012) have given further credence to the Standard Model.
  • Because of its success in explaining a wide variety of experimental results, the Standard Model is sometimes regarded as the "theory of almost everything".
  • A lepton is an elementary, half-integer spin (spin  1⁄2) particle that does not undergo strong interactions.
  • Two main classes of leptons exist: charged leptons (also known as the electron-like leptons), and neutral leptons (better known as neutrinos).
  • Charged leptons can combine with other particles to form various composite particles such as atoms and positronium, while neutrinos rarely interact with anything, and are consequently rarely observed.
  • There are six types of leptons, known as flavours, forming three generations; the electron, muon, and tau particles and their associated neutrinos.
  • The best known of all leptons is the electron.


  • A quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter.
  • Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei.
  • Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly observed or found in isolation; they can be found only within hadrons, such as baryons (of which protons and neutrons are examples) and mesons.
  • Quarks are the only elementary particles in the Standard Model of particle physics to experience all four fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces (electromagnetism, gravitation, strong interaction, and weak interaction), as well as the only known particles whose electric charges are not integer multiples of the elementary charge.
  • There are six types of quarks, known as flavors: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom.

Gauge bosons:

  • In particle physics, a gauge boson is a force carrier, a bosonic particle that carries any of the fundamental interactions of nature, commonly called forces.
  • Elementary particles, whose interactions are described by a gauge theory, interact with each other by the exchange of gauge bosons—usually as virtual particles.

Higgs boson:

  • The Higgs boson is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics.
  • It is the quantum excitation of the Higgs field, a fundamental field of crucial importance to particle physics theory first suspected to exist in the 1960s.
  • Unlike other known fields such as the electromagnetic field, it takes a non-zero constant value almost everywhere.
  • The question of the Higgs field's existence has been the last unverified part of the Standard Model of particle physics and, according to some, "the central problem in particle physics".


Peta electron Volt

Peta = 1015


  • A boson is a particle that follows Bose–Einstein statistics.
  • Bosons make up one of the two classes of particles, the other being fermions.
  • The name boson was to commemorate the contribution of the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose in developing, with Einstein, Bose–Einstein statisticswhich theorizes the characteristics of elementary particles.
  • Examples of bosons include fundamental particles such as photons, gluons, and W and Z bosons (the four force-carrying gauge bosons of the Standard Model), the recently discovered Higgs boson, and the hypothetical graviton of quantum gravity.


Walk away from terror, PM tells Pakistan

  • In his speech inaugurating the Ministry of External Affairs’ annual Raisina Dialogue on 17th January 2017, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi outlined his government’s foreign policy from May 2014.
  • He said, “India alone cannot walk the path of peace. It also has to be Pakistan’s journey to make. Pakistan must walk away from terror if it wants to walk towards dialogue with India,” indicating that talks would not be resumed in the near future.
  • He asserted that he remained committed to his vision for a “peaceful and harmonious” South Asia, and putting the “neighbourhood first”.
  • Mr. Modi also referred to differences with China, and India’s close partnerships with the U.S., Russia and Japan.
  • The theme of the Raisina Dialogue 2017 is “The New Normal: Multilateralism in a multipolar world”.
  • Among those in the audience who also addressed the Raisina conference, organized by the think tank Observer Research Foundation, were former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, former Canadian PM Stephen Harper and former Australian PM Kevin Rudd.
  • The conference was attended by delegates from 65 countries. drawing on India’s closest strategic partnerships,

Raisina Dialogue

  • The Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference held in New Delhi, envisioned to be India's flagship conference of geopolitics and geo-economics.
  • The conference, organized like the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, is held jointly by Ministry of External Affairs, India and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an independent think tank based in India.
  • The conference name comes from Raisina Hill, the elevation in New Delhi, which is the location of both the Government of India as well as the presidential palace of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, which inspired the design of the conference symbol.
  • The theme of the first dialogue was "Connecting Asia" which tries to capture the various facets of these ambition.
  • The theme of the second dialogue is, “The New Normal: Multilateralism in a multipolar world”.
  • This conference is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectorial conclave, involving policy and decision makers, including cabinet ministers from various Governments, high-level Government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia.


Britain to leave EU’s single market: May

  • Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would leave the EU’s single market in order to restrict immigration in a clean break from the bloc, but lawmakers can vote on the final deal.
  • She added Britain would seek a trade deal giving “the greatest possible access” to the market on its departure.
  • She also announced that any divorce deal with the remaining EU members must be approved by votes in both chambers of Parliament.
  • Britain has two years to negotiate a break-up deal once Ms. May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, officially declaring the country’s intention to quit, or face leaving with no agreement.


Notice to Centre, AAP govt over NGT ambit

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) sought to know if holding religious and cultural events, like the World Culture Festival organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation last year, can be prohibited by bringing it under the umbrella of environment laws.
  • The NGT sought responses from the Centre and the AAP government, as some supporters of the festival challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to decide the issue of damage to the floodplains of Yamuna caused due to the three-day event held in March 2016.
  • The plea said cultural and religious rights form part of “Right To Live With Dignity” as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and the NGT, in its present composition, lacked jurisdiction to decide issues of fundamental rights; their width, scope and interpretation.
  • The NGT Act 2010 does not empower this tribunal with the writ jurisdiction power of the high courts and thus is not competent to interpret the Constitution read along with any other law in operation," the plea said.
  • The plea comes days after the green court directed an expert panel to quantify tentative cost of rejuvenating Yamuna riverbed, damaged due to the Art of Living festival.



SC asks govt. to file status report on Ganga rejuvenation

  • Almost two years after the Supreme Court voiced scepticism about the government’s self-proclaimed promise to clean up the Ganga river, the court on 17th January 2017  sought a fresh status report from the Centre on what it was doing to revive the holy river.
  • The report was sought on a 32-year-old pending public interest litigation petition filed by environmental lawyer, M.C. Mehta.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court voiced its skepticism about the various efforts over the decades to return the Ganga to its pristine self, once even saying that it “does not expect Ganga to be cleaned up even after 200 years.”
  • In a hearing on Mr. Mehta’s PIL filed in 1985, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar directed the government to file a report on the construction and functioning of sewage treatment plants alongside the river, which runs through five States.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court said that its “last hope” rested on the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and referred the task of monitoring industrial units along the Ganga to the NGT.
  • The court had even empowered the tribunal to cut of water and power connections if the units are found to be polluting the river.
  • The court had observed that official apathy coupled with “failure at various levels” in both the State and the Central Pollution Control Board had led to the Ganga dying at the hands of “highly” and “grossly” polluting units, which flushed their untreated eluents into the river without any checks.
  • In January 2015, the government had informed the Supreme Court that a consortium of IITs was preparing a road map to rejuvenate the river.
  • It informed that a proposal is on track to have a total of 80 sewage treatment plants (STPs) which would process, in a day, 368 million litres of water flowing into the river in the five river basin States.
  • In March 2015, the government submitted a detailed report prepared by the IITs for the revival of the river to its former “wholesome” self.
  • The Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP) 2015 drafted by the IIT consortium had pointed to several problems, from rapid urbanisation to over-grazing, which has led to the slow destruction of the river.


NCERT sets goals for elementary classes

  • Can a child in Class 1 associate words with pictures or recognise letters and sounds in the English alphabet? Can a child in Class 3 read simple maps? Would a child in Class 8 be able to fill a First Information Report (FIR) form?
  • These are some of the expected learning outcomes and suggested pedagogic practices developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to define minimal learning levels, grade-wise, in elementary classes.
  • A document titled ‘Learning Outcomes at Elementary Stage’ has a list of grade-wise learning outcomes in Hindi, English, Urdu, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Science and Social Science.
  • The document states that the learning outcomes will “provide the checkpoints that are measurable in a qualitative or quantitative manner to assess the progress of a child as per the expected holistic learning for the overall development of a child.” Moreover, it is aimed at helping bridge regional disparities.
  • The Ministry of of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is mulling including a set of defined learning outcomes as part of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
  • Once this is done, students of all schools — government, aided and private — will have to adhere to these guidelines in measuring learning outcomes.



In Davos, Xi defends globalization

  • China’s President Xi Jinping warned against scapegoating globalisation for the world’s ills or retreating behind protectionist walls, days before Donald Trump takes office.
  • In what amounted to a rewriting of the global economic order, led for decades by the United States, Mr. Xi used his début speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos to insist that globalization was irreversible despite a populist backlash in the West.
  • There is “no point in blaming economic globalization for the world’s problems”, he said, saying that the process was not at the root of the Syrian refugee situation or the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Globalisation should be “more inclusive, more sustainable”, he added, adding that currently existing global institutions are “inadequate” and should be more “representative”.
  • Mr. Trump, during his presidential campaign, had blamed China and globalization for the loss of millions of U.S. factory jobs. He has threatened to slap tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese goods.
  • A World Economic Forum study said that within advanced economies, median per capita income fell on average 2.4% over the past five years, helping to explain why disaffection is so high across the West.
  • And the scale of the chasm between the richest and poorest was laid bare by an Oxfam report that said eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.
  • Other research presented by the consultancy Edelman found public confidence in institutions including in governments, business, the media and NGOs slumping across the rich world.

World Economic Forum (WEF)

  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss nonprofit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva. recognized by the Swiss authorities as an international body,
  • It’s mission is cited as "committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.


Finance Ministry suspends Dec. 21 tax circular on indirect transfers

  • In a bid to soothe the nerves of foreign portfolio investors spooked by a fresh tax burden on indirect transfers mooted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes in December 016, the Finance Ministry put the tax department missive in abeyance until further notice.
  • The tax department circular issued on December 21 clarified that all foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) with more than 50% of their assets in India and owning over 5 % stake in any listed entities would incur tax under India’s indirect transfer provisions.
  • This tax would be levied in addition to the securities transaction tax and short term capital gains tax and would hurt India-dedicated global investment vehicles more than, say an emerging markets fund that has less than 50% exposure to the Indian market.
  •  “After the issue of the aforementioned circular, representations have been received from various FPIs, FIIs, venture capital funds and other stakeholders,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement, seeking to calm investor anxiety ahead of the Union Budget.


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