Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- UN World Happiness Report
- OSIRIS-REx & Asteroid Bennu
- Real Estate Investment Trust
- Facts for Prelims
1 . UN World Happiness Report
Context : Indians are not as happy in 2019 as they were in 2018 and the country figures at 140th place, seven spots down from last year, on UN World Happiness Report- 2019, released on Wednesday.
About UN World Happiness Report
- The report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20 which has was declared as World Happiness Day by the UN General Assembly in 2012.
- The report ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.
- The happiness study ranks the countries of the world on the basis of questions from the Gallup World Poll. The results are then correlated with other factors, including GDP and social security.
Details of the Report
- The overall world happiness has fallen over the past few years, which has mostly been fuelled by a sustained drop in India, which came in 140th place this year compared with 133rd place in 2018.
- There has been an increase in negative emotions, including worry, sadness and anger.
- Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for the second year in succession. The Nordic nation is followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and The Netherlands.
- Pakistan is ranked 67th, Bangladesh 125th and China is place at 93rd, according to the report.
- People in war-torn South Sudan are the most unhappy with their lives, followed by Central African Republic (155), Afghanistan (154), Tanzania (153) and Rwanda (152).
2 . OSIRIS-REx & Asteroid Bennu
Context : Scientists have discovered evidence of abundant water-bearing minerals on the surface of the near-earth asteroid Bennu. Data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that is currently orbiting the asteroid confirm presence of aqueously altered, hydrated minerals on its surface. Scientists say similar objects may have seeded the earth with water and organic materials.
About OSIRIS – REx
- OSIRIS-REx seeks answers to the questions that are central to the human experience: Where did we come from? What is our destiny? Asteroids, the leftover debris from the solar system formation process, can answer these questions and teach us about the history of the sun and planets.
- The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is traveling to Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid whose regolith may record the earliest history of our solar system.
- Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans. Bennu is also one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids, as it has a relatively high probability of impacting the Earth late in the 22nd century.
- OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, which will be critical to know in the event of an impact mitigation mission
- Finally, asteroids like Bennu contain natural resources such as water, organics, and precious metals. In the future, these asteroids may one day fuel the exploration of the solar system by robotic and manned spacecraft.
OSIRIS-REx’s key science objectives include:
- Return and analyze a sample of Bennu’s surface
- Map the asteroid
- Document the sample site
- Measure the orbit deviation caused by non-gravitational forces (the Yarkovsky effect)
- Compare observations at the asteroid to ground-based observations
3 . Real Estate Investment Trust
Context : The over-subscription of India’s first Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) issue, which closed Wednesday, points to a positive investor appetite for backing assets in the otherwise fund-starved real estate sector. The success of the Embassy Office Parks’ — a joint venture of Blackstone and realty firm Embassy — REIT issue in raising Rs 4,750 crore, opens a new avenue for investors wanting to invest in rent-yielding property assets without having the need to actually own them
What are REITs?
- A REIT is an investment vehicle that owns and operates real estate-related assets and allows individual investors to earn income produced through ownership of commercial real estate without actually having to buy any assets.
- It may later even include hotels, hospitals and convention centres and even common infrastructure for composite real estate projects such as industrial parks and special economic zones (SEZs)
- It gives the investor an option to buy partial stake in rent-yielding commercial properties, with the benefit of a professional manager managing these assets. Increase in rentals of underlying assets, improvement in occupancy rate and commencement of under construction properties are the growth drivers that an investor can benefit from.
How will REITs help the real estate sector?
- Currently, developers incur huge capital expenditure especially in Commercial Real Estate (CRE) on land, construction, interior fit-outs, etc. which remain locked, even after the asset is complete until it generates returns to break-even.
- Through REIT, the developers and private equity funds can exit from the completed asset, and focus on development activity, which has a different risk-return profile. This is possible as REITs improve liquidity in the sector and help attract investment from local and global investors, who prefer a recurring, safe and moderate yield income.
- REITs also allow developers to exit partially from the asset while the units listed on the exchange will keep them abreast with the underlying asset value, and help in raising finance at a better valuation.
What has been excluded?
- Residential real estate is not included under REITs as is the case in developed global markets.
- Experts say the lack of a sound and inclusive rental policy in India proves to be a major hurdle for REITs in the residential segment unlike countries such as Singapore and the US that have a defined rental policy.
- Also, the yield on residential projects in India is nowhere near those of developed countries and hovers between 2-3 percent even in prime locales. Low returns and overall negative hype in recent years have led India’s residential sector to lose its candidature for REITs at least in the foreseeable future
- The proposed taxation structure is also an area of concern. As in the more developed countries with successful REIT platforms, India too must offer a logical tax regime with a single point of taxation to rise to globally comparable stature.
4 . Facts for Prelims
- Change in the name of the Capital of Kazkhistan from Astana to Nursultan, or ‘Sultan of Light’ in Kazakh
- It is named after the ex -President of Kazhakistan Nursultan