Current Affairs 14th Dec 2017

1 . Bitcoin  transactions  under  Income  Tax  Department  scanner

  • Bitcoin transactions, an emerging instrument of investment unregulated by any law, have come under the Income Tax Department scanner.
  • I-T officials have started a survey of nine bitcoin traders/agencies in a nationwide operation.
  • Bitcoins are an emerging area of investment unregulated by any law.
  • It is suspected that high networth individuals  have invested in bitcoins .
  • investment in bitcoins has emerged as a “safe haven” since there is hardly any regulation.
  • So far, the Reserve Bank of India has only issued a cautionary note to users of virtual currencies against risks.

KNOW ABOUT BITCOIN

What is it?
A digital currency, used to make payments of any value without fees. It runs on the blockchain, a decentralised ledger kept running by “miners” whose powerful computers crunch transactions and are rewarded in bitcoins

Who invented it?
Satoshi Nakamoto, a secretive internet user, invented bitcoin in 2008 before it went online in 2009. Many attempts to identify Satoshi have been made without conclusive proof

What’s it for?
People see value in money free from government control and the fees banks charge; as well as the blockchain, to verify transactions. Bitcoin has been seen as a tool for private, anonymous transactions, and it’s the payment of choice for drug deals and other illegal purchases

Is it worth anything?
Yes. As of July 2017, there were around 16.5m bitcoins in circulation. In March 2017, the value of a Bitcoin, at $1,268, exceeded that of an ounce of gold ($1,233) for the first time.

What is Bitcoin Cash?
In August 2017, the blockchain forked to support another cryptocurrency, Bitcoin Cash, which is optimised slightly differently. People who held Bitcoin received an equal value of Bitcoin Cash .

 

2 . SC  relaxed  its  ban  on  use of  petroleum  coke  for  two  sectors
  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday relaxed its ban on the use of petroleum coke (petcoke) and allowed cement and limestone industries to use it.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, however, asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to frame a scheme within four weeks to contain the illegal diversion of petcoke from cement industries to other fields.
  • The decision to modify its ban was largely due to the government’s submissions that petcoke is used as an ingredient and not as fuel in the cement industry. The sulphur is mostly absorbed in the process of cement-making.
  • Wednesday’s order is a step away from the court’s earlier stance that urged States and Union Territories to move forward towards a nationwide ban on the use of petcoke and furnace oil to power up industries in an attempt to fight pollution.

WHAT IS PET COKE ?

  • Petroleum coke, abbreviated coke or petcoke, is a final carbon-rich solid material that derives from oil refining, and is one type of the group of fuels referred to as cokes.
  • Petcoke is the coke that, in particular, derives from a final cracking process–a thermo-based chemical engineering process that splits long chain hydrocarbons of petroleum into shorter chains—that takes place in units termed coker units.(Other types of coke are derived from coal.)
  • Stated succinctly, coke is the “carbonization product of high-boiling hydrocarbon fractions obtained in petroleum processing (heavy residues).”
  • Petcoke is also produced in the production of synthetic crude oil, or syncrude from bitumen extracted from Canada’s oil sands and from Venezuela’s Orinoco oil sands.

 

3 . NGT  declared the Amarnath shrine a “silent zone”

Shri Amarnathji Shrine

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday declared the Amarnath shrine a “silent zone”, and barred the chiming of bells or chanting of mantras in the areas surrounding the famed cave shrine to preserve its eco-sensitivity.
  • The decision came following the Tribunal’s earlier hearing when it suggested that the shrine be declared a silent zone to prevent avalanches and noise pollution.
  • The bench, headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, also directed officials to remove the iron rods and grilles installed inside the cave so that pilgrims could get a better view.

 

4 . Hold meeting with stakeholders on PCPNDT Act: SC
  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the government to hold a meeting with stakeholders, including online search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, to finalise a mechanism to ensure that materials violating Indian laws prohibiting pre-natal sex determination are not hosted on websites.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud directed the meeting to be held within six weeks.
  • The apex court, while disposing of the PIL petition, said the Centre, its nodal agency and experts “shall take steps so that mandate of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 are not violated.” The court asked the search engines to cooperate with the government.

WHAT IS (PCPNDT) ACT

  • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.
  • It was enacted in 1994 as Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT).
  • The act banned prenatal sex determination.

Objectives

Social discrimination against women and a preference for sons have promoted female foeticide in various forms skewing the sex ratio of the country towards men .The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.

Amendment in 2003

Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT), was amended in 2003 to The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition Of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection.

 

5 . OIC  urged   the  world  to  recognise  East  Jerusalem  as  capital of  Palestine
  • Islamic leaders on Wednesday urged the world to recognise occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan convened in Istanbul an emergency summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), seeking a coordinated response to the recognition by U.S. President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • With the Islamic world itself mired in division, the summit fell short of agreeing any concrete sanctions against Israel or the U.S.
  • They declared Mr. Trump’s decision “null and void legally” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism”.

ABOUT  THE  ISSUE

Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the international community regards as annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

WHAT  IS  OIC ?

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states. The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.

It’s Headquarters is at  Jeddah, Saudi Arabia . According to its charter, the OIC aims to preserve Islamic social and economic values; promote solidarity amongst member states; increase cooperation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas; uphold international peace and security; and advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology.