Current Affairs sections updated with February 2015 events

The Current Affairs sections:

Notes on Current Affairs
Current GK
Appointments Etc
Sports News

have been updated with February 2015 news.

These sections are useful for those preparing for Civil Services Exam, UPSC Exams, SSC Exams, Assistant Grade Exam, LIC and other Insurance Recruitment exams, Defence Services exams like NDA & CDS, Bank PO, RBI, Clerks’ Recruitment Exams, MBA, Hotel Management, CLAT, CSAT etc

What qualifies as CSR and what does not?

Trees in your company campus, jobs for people with disabilities and fuel-efficient office cars may be good for the society and the environment. Continue the good work, but none of that counts as corporate social responsibility (CSR) under the law. With the first full fiscal year in which companies must report CSR compliance drawing to a close, there is still widespread confusion about what exactly counts as CSR.

The 2013 companies law directs firms to spend at least 2% of their average three-year net profit on CSR activities every year. Noshir Dadrawala, chief executive officer (CEO) of CAP, which provides advisory services to companies on CSR compliance, points to the part of law that says, “CSR activities should exclude activities undertaken in normal course of business.”

According to Dadrawala, the statement means you cannot take up an activity that profits your business directly, and name it CSR. This does not mean that you cannot use CSR to garner goodwill. For instance, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, as part of its CSR, partners Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to train skilled workers, some of whom it hires.

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Via – Livemint.com

All you want to know about Solar Impulse 2

solar impulse

Solar Impulse 2, world’s first solar-powered aircraft is on its journey around the world. It made stopovers at Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India on its way to Mynamar’s Mandalay. Solar Impulse  is the first attempt to fly a plane round the world using only solar power. It’s not a non-stop flight, the plane stops in different countries. Here is all the important information you would want to know about it.

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Via - The Times of India

The 9 limits of our planet … and how we’ve raced past 4 of them

Johan Rockström says humanity has already raced past four of the nine boundaries keeping our planet hospitable to modern life.

We’ve been lucky, we humans: For many millennia, we’ve been on a pretty stable — and resilient — planet. As our civilizations developed, we’ve transformed the landscape by cutting down forests and growing crops. We’ve created pollution, and driven plants and animals extinct. Yet our planet has kept spinning along, supporting us, more or less stable and in balance. Going forward, scientists have recently proposed, all we need to do is stay within some limits, nine upper boundaries for bad behaviour.

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Human-dominated epoch started in 1610

Scientists at University College London have concluded that humans have become a geological power and suggest that human actions have produced a new geological epoch. The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide, scientists say. (Anthropocene is a proposed geologic chronological term for an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.)

Previous epochs began and ended due to factors including meteorite strikes, sustained volcanic eruptions and the shifting of the continents.

Defining an epoch requires two main criteria to be met. Long-lasting changes to the Earth must be documented. Scientists must also pinpoint and date a global environmental change that has been captured in natural material, such as rocks, ancient ice or sediment from the ocean floor.

Such a marker – like the chemical signature left by the meteorite strike that wiped out the dinosaurs – is called a golden spike.

The study authors systematically compared the major environmental impacts of human activity over the past 50,000 years against these two formal requirements.

Just two dates met the criteria: 1610, when the collision of the New and Old Worlds a century earlier was first felt globally; and 1964, associated with the fallout from nuclear weapons tests. The researchers concluded that 1610 is the stronger candidate.

The scientists said the 1492 arrival of Europeans in the Americas, and subsequent global trade, moved species to new continents and oceans, resulting in a global re-ordering of life on Earth. They argued that the joining of the two hemispheres is an unambiguous event after which the impacts of human activity became global and set Earth on a new trajectory.

The first fossil pollen of maize, a Latin American species, appears in marine sediment in Europe in 1600, becoming common over subsequent centuries. This irreversible exchange of species satisfies the first criteria for dating an epoch – long-term changes to Earth.

The researchers found a golden spike that can be dated to the same time: a pronounced dip in atmospheric carbon dioxide centred on 1610 and captured in Antarctic ice-core records. The drop occurred as a direct result of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. Colonisation of the New World led to the deaths of about 50 million indigenous people, most within a few decades of the 16th century due to smallpox.

The abrupt near-cessation of farming across the continent and the subsequent re-growth of Latin American forests and other vegetation removed enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce a drop in CO2.

Thus, the second requirement of a golden spike marker is met, researchers said.

Land Acquisition Act – Key amendments passed by Lok Sabha

On 10 March 2015, Lok Sabha adopted nine amendments moved by the government to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

Following are some of the key amendments:

  • Social infrastructure removed as an exempted category.
  • Land can be acquired up to 1 km on both sides of the designated railway line or road of the industrial corridor.
  • Before issuing notification, the government should ensure that land acquired is bare minimum required for the project.
  • The appropriate government must conduct survey of its wasteland including arid land and maintain a record.
  • Acquisition of land for private hospitals, educational institutions no longer counted as public purpose.
  • Compulsory employment to at least one member of affected family of a farm labourer.
  • Land acquisition, rehabilitation authority should hold hearings in district where acquisition takes place.
  • Court shall take cognizance of offence provided in the procedure laid down in section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure.

Disasters cost India $10bn per year: UN report

A new United Nations global assessment report on disaster risk, released last week, says India’s average annual economic loss due to disasters is estimated to be $9.8 billion. This includes more than $7 billion loss on account of floods.

The global assessment report (GAR) 2015, produced by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), has urged countries, particularly in Asia, to treat this as a wake-up call and make adequate investment in disaster risk reduction (DRR) or it will hinder their development.

“The report is a wake-up call for countries to increase their commitment to invest in smart solutions to strengthen resilience to disasters,” head of UNISDR Margareta Wahlstrom said.

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Via - The Times of India