Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2017

हिंदी करंट अफेयर्स प्रश्नोत्तरी 2017 के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें.

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China’s first cargo spacecraft successfully docks with the Tiangong-2 space lab

China has successfully docked its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 with the Tiangong-2 space lab. It is hailed as a major step towards China’s ambition of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022. China has an ambitious plan of building a permanent space station by 2022, that will be in the orbit for at least 10 years. Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2) space lab was home to two astronauts for a month in last October. T It was China’s longest-ever manned space mission. iangong-2 was put up into space on September 15, 2016.China has prioritised advancing its space programme to strengthen national security.

Tianzhou-1 is a tube-like craft which is capable of carrying 6 tonnes of goods, 2 tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months. It is considered that the cargo spacecraft has provided an important technological basis for building a space station. According to Chinese sources, Tianzhou-1 will dock two more times with Tiangong-2 before falling back to Earth.

Despite its achievements, China still lags behind the United States and Russia. For instance, in 2013, China’s rover, ‘Jade Rabbit’ which landed on moon faced many technical difficulties.

Criticism

The US Defence Department has accused China of pursuing activities that are aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets in a crisis. However, China has refuted such claims and has stated it has only peaceful ambitions in space, but has tested anti-satellite missiles. In 2011, the US Congress ordered that Chinese astronauts should not be allowed to enter International Space Station (ISS) owing to national security concerns.

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World Bank approves $375 million loan for National Waterway-1

The World Bank has approved a loan of $375 million (around Rs 2,421 crore) for capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) between Haldia in West Bengal and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on the river Ganga under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels of 1,500-2,000 deadweight tonnes capacity along a 1,390-km stretch.

Jal Marg Vikas Project is a project on the river Ganga that envisages the development of waterway between Allahabad and Haldia that will cover a distance of 1620 km. It aims to develop a fairway with three metres depth to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the river.  The project includes the development of fairway, multi-modal terminals, strengthening of open river navigation technique, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS) etc.

As a part of the project, Inland Waterways Authority of India will set up a River Information Service System on NW-1, the first of its kind in India. Besides, three multi-modal terminals, one each at Varanasi, Sahibganj (Jharkhand), Haldia; and inter-modal terminals at Kalughat and Ghazipur; a navigation lock at Farakka; and five Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) terminals would be constructed.

Need

The rail and road corridors of this region have been crippled with heavy traffic and have become saturated. Hence, the development of NW-1 would pave way for an alternative, viable, economical, efficient and eco-friendly mode of transport.

NW-1

National Waterway-1 (NW-1) is a waterway passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, potentially serving the major cities of Haldia, Howrah, Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Patna, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Allahabad and their industrial hinterlands including several industries located along the Ganga basin.

Inland Waterways Authority of India

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. Its main function is to build the necessary infrastructure in the inland waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also carrying out administration and regulation.

River Information system (RIS)

RIS is a combination of modern tracking equipment comprising of hardware and software designed to optimise transport and traffic processes in inland water navigation. The system has the capability to enhance swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and Base stations through advance and real-time exchange of information. It enables safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding risks such as (i) Ship-to-Ship collisions. (ii) Ship-Bridge collisions. (iii) Groundings.

Inland Waterway Authority of India (IWAI) is implementing the RIS in India.

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Government approves Guidelines on service charge

Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs has approved the ‘Guidelines on Fair Trade Practices Related to Charging of Service Charge from Consumers by Hotels and Restaurants’. As a part of the guidelines which has been issued in public interest to protect the rights of consumers, the government has said that Service charge on hotel and restaurant bills is “totally voluntary”, adding that mandatory levy of service charge amounts to unfair trade practice.

As per the guidelines, Hotels and restaurants cannot decide on service charge and the column of service charge will be left blank in the bill for the customers to fill up before making payment.

The guidelines have also stated that in a case of mandatory levy of service charge, customers can file a complaint in the Consumer Court. However, at present, stringent action cannot be taken against the erring hotels as the current Consumer Protection Act, 1986 does not empower the ministry to do so. But, under the new Consumer Protection Bill, an authority is expected to be set up with powers to take such actions.

Rationale

Department of Consumer Affairs has justified the guidelines in view of complaints received by it from consumers that some hotels are insisting payment of service charge in the range of 5-20 per cent and many people are paying it believing that it is part of taxes.

As per the guidelines, a component of service is already inherent in the provision of food and beverages ordered by a customer. Hence, the price of food and beverages is expected to cover both goods and service components.

HRAWI’s Response

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has not welcomed the guidelines by saying that levying of service charge is a global practice and a legitimate tax, adding that it has been in India for more than half a century. It has accused the government of singling out the sector as hospitality sector and several businesses are levying such charges.

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