July 16, 2019

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

YOGA EDUCATION
Union Minister for Human Resource Development informed Lok Sabha that Yoga training has been included in ‘Study in India’ Program to enable foreign students to obtain authentic Yoga training.

About:

  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made Health and Physical Education compulsory in all classes from I-XII for its affiliated schools. Schools have been advised that Health and Physical Education includes three areas i.e. Health Education, Physical Education and Yoga.

  • National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 recommended Yoga as an integral part of Health and Physical Education.

  • The Government has also included Yoga training in the “Study in India” programme to encourage Yoga seekers from abroad to obtain authentic Yoga training in India.

  • University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved the establishment of an Inter University Centre-Yogic Science at Bengaluru.

  • UGC has also introduced Yoga as a new National Eligibility Test (NET) subject from January 2017 UGC-NET onwards.

  • National Yoga Olympiad was recently organized by NCERT across the country at various levels. Schools from states and UTs, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and CBSE schools participated in the Yoga Olympiad.

  • The Government has set up a Yoga Certification Board (YCB) to standardize and strengthen Yoga training by providing certification to individuals and accreditation to Institutions.

  • In addition, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) is an autonomous organisation under Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. MDNIY is a focal Institute for Planning, Training, Promotion and Coordination of Yoga Education, Training, Therapy and Research in all its aspects.

Source : PIB
Education

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

GSLV MK-III
The launch of Chandrayaan-2 was aborted less than an hour from liftoff after scientists detected a technical glitch in the launch vehicle system. The mission vehicle was a GSLV Mk-III rocket.

About:

  • GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) rockets use a different fuel, and have a thrust that is far greater than PSLV’s. They can, therefore, carry heavier payloads and travel deeper into space.

  • Among ISRO’s GSLV rockets, GSLV Mk-III is the latest and most powerful. It has had two successful flights so far — it carried and deployed the GSAT-19 communication satellite in 2017 and then, the GSAT-29 communication satellite in 2018.

  • GSLV Mk-III is powered by a core liquid engine, has two solid boosters that are used to provide the massive thrust required during liftoff, and a cryogenic engine in the upper stage.

  • Cryogenics is the science relating to behaviour of materials at very low temperatures. Cryogenic technology is challenging to master, but essential for a rocket like GSLV Mk-III.

Important Info :

Recent development: 

  • Chandrayaan-2 was GSLV Mk-III's biggest and the most keenly-awaited launch. But it will now have to wait for several months. 
  • Though ISRO has been tight-lipped about the nature of the problem, there are indications that it could relate to the cryogenic upper stage. 
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

INCOME RECOGNITION AND ASSET CLASSIFICATION NORMS (IRAC)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed monetary penalty of ₹ 7 crore on State Bank of India (SBI).

About: 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed monetary penalty of ₹ 7 crore on SBI for non-compliance with the directions issued by RBI on: 
    • Income Recognition and Asset Classification (IRAC) norms and 

    • code of conduct for opening and operating current accounts and reporting of data on Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC). 



  • This penalty has been imposed in exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. 

Important Info :
  • Income recognition and asset classification norms (IRAC) are rules that prescribe when a loan should be declared as a non-performing asset (NPA). Once a loan is an NPA, the RBI requires that any recovery should not be classified as income. 
  • Banks are also required to share information regarding large borrowers with the RBI for its Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC). 
Source : Times of India
Economy

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

SEVA BHOJ YOJANA
The Minister of Culture informed Lok Sabha about the Seva Bhoj Yojana.

About: 

  • Type: Seva Bhoj Yojna is a Central Sector Scheme. 

  • Objective: Government of India is running Seva Bhoj Yojana for providing assistance to charitable religious institutions for serving free food to public. 

  • Features:
    • Under the scheme, the financial assistance will be provided for free food offered by charitable/religious institutions like Gurudwara, Temples, Dharmik Ashram, Mosques, Dargah, Church, Math, Monasteries etc.

    • The specific raw food items covered under the Scheme are: (i) Ghee (ii) Edible Oil (iii) Sugar/Burra/Jaggery (iv) Rice (v) Atta/Maida/Rava/Flour and (vi) Pulses.



  • Criteria for financial assistance:
    • These Charitable Religious Institutions should have been distributing free food in the form of ‘prasad’, ‘langar’/bhandara (community kitchen) to at least 5000 persons in a calendar month for at least past 3 years.

    • Financial Assistance under the scheme shall be given only to those institutions which are not in receipt of any Financial Assistance from the Central/State Government for the purpose of distributing free food.

    • The Institution/Organization blacklisted under the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) or under the provisions of any Act/Rules of the Central/State shall not be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme.



Source : PIB
Culture

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

ABORTION
The Supreme Court admitted a writ petition seeking to decriminalise abortion and allowing women the right to exercise their reproductive choice.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971: Key Provisions

  • Abortion is not permissible after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

  • The law largely allows a woman to abort only if continuance of the pregnancy, according to a medical practitioner, involves a risk to her life; grave physical or mental injury; or risk of serious foetal abnormalities.

  • While it protects married woman by allowing them to terminate an “unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, the same is not extended to single women”. This adversely affects the sexual autonomy of single women.

  • The Act does not allow abortion of pregnancy in the case of minors or mentally ill persons without the consent of the guardian. As a consequence the guardian enjoys complete autonomy over such persons.

Important Info :

Arguments by the petitioners: 

  • Not allowing abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy is harsh. Several genuine cases had come up where foetuses with serious risk of abnormalities causing risk to health of the mother were noticed after the 20-week period.
  • Not allowing abortion in genuine cases after 20 weeks has forced women to move the Supreme Court for permission to end their pregnancy. This had led to a lot of mental and financial hardship to pregnant women.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2014 and Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2017 have proposed to enhance the cap for termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks.
  • The right to conceive or end pregnancy is at the core of one’s privacy and right to health recognised by Article 21 of the Constitution.
Source : The Hindu
Ethics

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

DEVI AHILYA BAI HOLKAR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
In Madhya Pradesh, the first international flight from Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar International Airport of Indore left for Dubai today with 153 passengers on board.

About:

  • Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar International Airport is an international airport. In May 2019, it was declared as an international airport in pursuance of sub-rule (b) of rule 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950.

  • It is located 8 km west of Indore and principally serves Indore and adjacent regions of Madhya Pradesh.

  • The airport is named after Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore (1725 – 1795), belonging to the Holkar dynasty of the Maratha Empire.

Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

CHINESE GROWTH SLOWDOWN
China's economic growth slowed to 6.2 % in the second quarter of this year, weakest in nearly three decades.

About: 

  • China's economic growth slowed to a record low of 6.2 % in the second quarter of this year. Government data showed that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slid from 6.4 % in the first quarter to 6.2 %.

  • This is the weakest growth rate in the last 27 years for the world's second-largest economy.

  • The growth, however, was in line with the government's annual target range of 6.0-6.5 % for the whole year, down from the 6.6 % growth China put up in 2018.

  • Reason: This was the result of a trade war with the United States and weakening global demand.

  • Way ahead:
    • China will make timely use of cuts in banks' reserve requirement ratios (RRR) and other financing tools to support smaller firms, while repeating a vow not to use “flood-like” stimulus.

    • China has relied largely on fiscal stimulus to underpin growth this year, announcing massive tax cuts worth nearly 2 trillion yuan ($291 billion) and a quota of 2.15 trillion yuan for special bond issuance by local governments aimed at boosting infrastructure construction.



Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

VACCINATION
According to a joint study by the WHO and UNICEF, 20 million children worldwide failed to receive potentially lifesaving vaccines in 2018.

Key highlights of the report: 

  • More than one in 10 children – almost 20 million worldwide – failed to receive potentially lifesaving vaccines in 2018.  

  • In 2018, 19.4 million children were not fully vaccinated, up from 18.7 million in 2017. 

  • 10 countries accounted for 11.7 of the 19.4 million under and non-vaccinated youngsters in the world, in particular Nigeria (three million), India (2.6 million) and Pakistan (1.4 million). 

  • Global protection against four diseases that are regarded as a gauge of overall coverage - diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles - has “stalled” at around 86 % since 2010. Ideally, it should be 95 % across countries and communities globally. 

  • The best regional performer for vaccine reach in 2018 was Europe, whose more than 90 % rate was 18 % higher than Africa, the lowest-performing region. 

  • Conflict, Cost and Complacency are key factors in stagnating global vaccination rates. 

  • Some 350,000 measles cases were reported globally last year -- more than double the 2017 number. Ukraine has been identified as the country with the highest measles incidence rate in 2018. 

Source : All India Radio
Social Issues

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE AGENCY (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
The Lok Sabha passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Features of the Bill: 

  • The amendment will strengthen the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to speed up trials in terrorism-related cases. By designating special courts, the cases would be expedited and transfers or delay in appointments of judges would not delay them. 

  • The agency will be able to investigate terrorist acts against Indian embassies and assets abroad and take up cases of drug, arms and women trafficking apart from cyber-terrorism. 

Important Info :

DEBATE: 

Arguments against bill: 

  • Opposition parties warned that additional powers to NIA may create a police state as there are possibilities of misusing the agency for political vendetta. 
  • They wanted investigation and prosecution to be separated to safeguard the right of the accused to access justice. 

Arguments in favour of Bill by Government: 

  • Government assured that it will not be misused. It is only aimed at eliminating terrorism. Government is governed by Rule of Law and all investigative agencies follow the procedure established by law.
  • The amendment would not curtail the rights of any citizen under the relevant Articles of the constitution.
  • POTA should not have been removed in the first place, as it led to a rise in acts of terror. NIA was introduced in the absence of POTA to wipe out terrorism from the country.
Source : PIB
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
July 16, 2019

NATIONAL DIGITAL HEALTH BLUEPRINT REPORT (NDHB)
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare released the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) report in the public domain for inputs from various stakeholders.

About: 

  • IT enabled schemes in health sector like Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Reproductive Child Healthcare, NIKSHAY etc. are benefitting the patients at right time with right service delivery.

  • Now, there is a need to ensure convergence across these IT systems to monitor and provide health services in a robust and efficient manner.

  • In this background, Ministry of Health has initiated efforts in the direction of a comprehensive, nationwide integrated e-Health system under National Digital Health Blueprint.

  • The vision of NDHB is to create a National Digital Health Eco-system that supports Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through provision of a wide-range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems, and ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.

  • It will strengthen the Digital India and accelerate efforts towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Source : PIB
Social Issues

July 15, 2019

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

RANSOMWARE
According to data compiled by the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance, globally, losses from ransomware rose by 60% last year to $8 billion.

About: 

  • Globally, losses from ransomware attacks known as “WannaCry” and “NotPetya” rose by 60% last year to $8 billion, according to data compiled by the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance. 

  • Earlier this year, services in the U.S. cities of Baltimore and Maryland were paralysed when a ransomware attack locked up computer networks.  

  • Officials refused to meet hacker demands for a ransom of $76,000 to unlock the systems, but have been saddled with an estimated $18 million in costs of restoring and rebuilding the city’s computer networks. 

  • The dilemma in such cases highlight tough choices faced by cities, hospitals and corporations hit by ransomware. While the security agencies warn against paying ransoms, some analysts say there is no clear answer for victims when critical data is locked. 

Important Info :

Ransomware? 

  • Ransomware is a kind of malware (software that damages the functions or gains unauthorised access to a computer system). 
  • It is used to encrypt important documents or files within a system (Crypto ransomware) or simply lock the original user out of the system (Locker ransomware). 
  • The user is then asked for a ransom in return for decrypting the files. Once the ransom is paid within a stipulated period, then the system is either unlocked or the system’s contents are deleted or the system is entirely corrupted. 
  • Unlike other cyber-attacks, in this form of attack, the user is notified of the attack. 
  • Ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software. 
Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

ORCHIDS OF INDIA
India is home to 1,256 species of orchid, according to the first comprehensive census of orchids of India.

About: 

  • Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide was published recently by the Botanical Survey of India.

  • It is the first comprehensive census of orchids of India.

  • Key highlights:
    • The 1,256 species or taxa of orchids belong are found in India.

    • 388 species of orchids are endemic to India of which about one-third (128) endemic species are found in Western Ghats.

    • The publication also contains photographs of 775 species.

    • While north-east India rank at the top in species concentration, the Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.

    • The highest number of orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species, followed by Sikkim 560 species and West Bengal.

    • Among the 10 bio geographic zones of India, the Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.



  • Categories:
    • Orchids can be broadly categorised into three life forms: (1) epiphytic, (2) terrestrial and (3) mycoheterotrophic.

    • About 757 species or 60% of all orchids found in the country are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are mycoheterotrophic.



Important Info :

Do you know?

  • Marked by extremely beautiful flowers with unique shape and ornamentation, orchids have complex floral structure that facilitates biotic cross-pollination and makes them evolutionarily superior to the other plant groups.
  • The entire orchid family is listed under appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and hence any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.
Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

KARTARPUR SAHIB
Pakistan has agreed to give year-long visa-free access for Indian pilgrims to the holy Gurdwara of Kartarpur Sahib. The agreement was reached at the second formal meeting held at Wagah.

About: 

  • It was agreed to allow visa-free travel for the Indian passport-holders and OCI card-holders seven days a week. 

  • Throughout the year, 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara per day. The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot. 

  • There will be provision for a permit system for the pilgrims travelling through the religious corridor.

  • India also urged Pakistan to allow ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in July and during October-November 2019 as part of the celebrations to mark the birth of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. 

Important Info :

Kartarpur Sahib? 

  • Location: Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is located at Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district. It stands on the bank of the River Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore. The shrine is visible from the Indian side. 
  • Significance: It was here that the First Sikh Guru (Nanak Dev) assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539. It is the final resting place of Guru Nanak. 
  • Background: The gurdwara was opened to pilgrims after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee paid a visit to Pakistan in 1999. Since then Sikh Pilgrims are visiting the shrine regularly. 
Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

INVESTIGATION TRACKING SYSTEM FOR SEXUAL OFFENCES (ITSSO)
According to the ITSSO analysis of crime data in the seven States, sexual offence cases not being probed in stipulated time.

ITSSO: 

  • In February 2019, the Union Home Ministry launched an analytics tool — Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) to monitor and track time-bound investigation. 

  • ITSSO is part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) that connects over 15,000 police stations across the country. 

Recent analysis: Key Findings 

  • According to the ITSSO analysis of crime data in the 7 States — Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand — investigation into nearly half the sexual offences cases are not being completed within the stipulated 60-day period. 

  • To check sexual crimes against women and children, the Centre approved the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 last year which prescribed the time-limit for completion of investigation. 

  • In many States, the fast-track courts designated to handle rape cases are also handling other criminal cases leading to delay in verdicts. 

Important Info :

The Supreme Court recently noted that trial had been completed in only 4% of the 24,000 cases of sexual offences that were filed from January to June.

Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

VIKRAMSHILA GANGETIC DOLPHIN SANCTUARY (VGDS)
The Ministry of Shipping informed parliament that it is planning to safeguard the population of the Ganges River Dolphin in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) by restricting the speeds of vessels and blowing sirens and horns.

About: 

  • The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), from Sultanganj to Kahalganj on the Ganga in Bihar is the only dolphin sanctuary in the country. Experts have pegged the population of the Ganges dolphin in VGDS from 150 to 200. 

  • National Waterway-1 connecting Haldia to Varanasi passes through the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS). 

  • Measures being taken by the Ministry of Shipping to safeguard the population of the Ganges River Dolphin in the VGDS: 
    • Vessel speed would be restricted to 2.7 knots in VGDS area to reduce the noise generation from propeller. 

    • lf any aquatic mammal/dolphin is spotted, then the measures will be taken to push it away through sirens/signals. 

    • Vessels to be fitted with propeller guards and dolphin deflectors to minimise dolphin accidents. 

    • Using non-toxic paints for painting vessels. 



  • The mitigation measures are based on Comprehensive Environmental and Social lmpact Assessment (ESIA) study on National Waterway-I including on stretches falling within VGDS. 

Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

NATIONAL DAIRY DEVELOPMENT BOARD (NDDB)
The Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries recently told the Parliament that it has advised NDDB to “extend the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 to its subsidiary companies including NDDB Dairy Services.”

About:

  • Type: An Institution of National Importance set up by an Act of Parliament of India.

  • History: It was founded by Dr. Verghese Kurien in 1965.

  • Headquarters: Anand, Gujarat.

  • NDDB's subsidiaries include: IDMC Limited-Anand, Mother Dairy, Delhi, NDDB Dairy Services, Delhi and Indian Immunologicals Ltd, Hyderabad.

Important Info :

Recent Development:

  • In a bid to increase transparency, accountability and trust of consumers, the government has advised the NDDB to extend provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 to its subsidiaries, including Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables Pvt. Ltd (MDFVPL) and NDDB Dairy Services among others.
  • According to Department of Legal Affairs, Mother Dairy should qualify in the semi-government, if not a fully government, dairy as all of its shareholding is government-owned.
  • In line with the same it has requested NDDB board to put the decisions of MDFVPL in public domain in the interest of transparency, accountability and also to increase trust of consumers.
  • The Central Information Commission (CIC) in its 2011 order given judgment that MDFVPL is a public authority under clause (i) of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and it will appoint a CPIO and the Appellate Authority as per the mandate of the RTI Act.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

DRAFT MODEL TENANCY ACT
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MHUA) has released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019.

About: 

  • Objective: It aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach. 

  • Features: 
    • The Model Act lays down the obligations of tenants and landlords.

    • It provides establishing Rent Court and Rent Tribunal to hear appeals and for matters connected” to rental housing.

    • It aim the creation of a rental housing stock for various income segments including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, students, and working professionals, mainly through private participation.

    • To unlock the vacant house it aims to bring transparency and accountability in the existing system of renting of premises and to balance the interests of both the property owner and tenant in a judicious manner.

    • The Act mandates that no person will let or take any rental premises without an agreement in writing, in both urban and rural areas.

    • The security deposit to be paid by the tenant should not exceed two months’ rent for residential property, and should be a minimum of one month’s rent for non-residential property.



  • Need of Act:
    • The Model Act would bring 1.1 crore houses lying vacant (according to Census 2011) into the rental market, and would promote the growth of the rental housing segment.

    • The existing rent control laws are restricting the growth of rental housing and discourage owners from renting out their vacant houses due to fear of repossession.



Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

IDLIB
More than two months into a military offensive centred on Syria’s Idlib province, Russian-backed government forces have made little headway in the face of fierce resistance from extremist fighters.

About: 

  • Idlib Governorate is one of the province of Syria. It is situated in north-western Syria, bordering Turkey. 

  • The Idlib area is dominated by Tahrir al-Sham, the jihadists formerly known as the Nusra Front.

  • Proscribed as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council, the group has set aside past conflict with Turkish-backed rebels to defend northwest Syria. 

  • While resisting government attacks, the insurgents have managed to carve out small advances of their own, drawing on ample stocks of guided anti-tank missiles that opposition and diplomatic sources say have been supplied by Turkey, Reuters reported. 

Source : Graphic News
International

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY
The fourth anniversary of the Skill India Mission is being observed on July 15, 2019 o the occassion of World Youth Skills Day.

About: 

  • The United Nations, at its General Assembly in November 2014, declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. 

  • Traditionally organized by the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Sri Lanka, together with UNESCO, ILO and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, this year the UN’s observance of the WYSD will shed light on the “mechanisms needed to operationalize lifelong learning”. 

Important Info :

Skill India mission? 

  • National Skill Development Mission also known as Skill India Mission was launched on this day in 2015. 
  • Nearly One Crore youth are being presently imparted skills training annually under the mission. 
  • The mission also envisages convergence, coordination and harmonization of the fragmented skilling efforts of various Ministries in Government of India and other key stakeholders through the instruments of Common norms, implementation of National Skills Qualification Framework and data integrations through the Skill India Portal. 
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
July 15, 2019

INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR SETTLEMENT OF INVESTMENT DISPUTES (ICSID)
An international arbitration court has imposed a penalty of over 5 billion dollars on Pakistan for unlawful denial of a mining lease to a company for the Reko Diq project in 2011.

About:

  • The Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) had filed claims for international arbitration before the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in 2012 after the Balochistan government rejected a leasing request from the company.

  • The company had claimed 11.43 billion dollars in damages. The case between the Pakistan government and the company continued for seven years.

  • The Reko Diq mine in Balochistan province of Pakistan is famous for its vast gold and copper reserves.

Important Info :

International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)? 

  • What is it? ICSID is an international arbitration institution established for legal dispute resolution and conciliation between international investors.
  • History: ICSID was established in 1966 by the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the ICSID Convention).
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States.
  • Parent organization: World Bank Group.
Source : All India Radio
International

July 14, 2019

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL (NGT)
The Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has the power to take cognisance of a matter suo motu (on its own).

About:

  • Established in: 2010.

  • Established under: National Green Tribunal Act 2010. Consequent to enforcement of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 have been repealed.

  • What is it? It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.

  • Functions:
    • Effective disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.

    • Enforcement of any legal right relating to environment.

    • Giving relief for damages to persons and property for related matters.



  • Location: Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible.
    • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal.

    • Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.



  • Composition: The NGT Act, 2010 provides for a Chairperson and a minimum of 10 Expert Members and equal number of Judicial Members.

  • Powers:
    • The Tribunal has the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

    • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

    • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

    • The Tribunal has the original jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment, including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment is involved.

    • Appeal against any order of the Tribunal shall lie to the Supreme Court.



Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

PROVENANCE
Recently, Christie’s auctioned a stone head of pharaoh Tutakhamen, amid protests by Egyptian authorities and activists. At the heart of the controversy around the sale, which fetched $ 6 million, is the question of ‘provenance’.

About: 

  • In matters of antiques, the word means “the record of the ownership of a movable work of art”. 

  • When provenance is unclear, museums and institutions of repute do not usually deal with such works of art. 

  • Over 100 countries are signatories to the UNESCO 1970 convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit, export ad transport of ownership of cultural property.   

  • For evidence of provenance, UNESCO relies on INTERPOL database of stole objects and national inventories. When an object is not listed, establishing its provenance becomes problematic. 

Important Info :

Recent case: 

  • In this case, Egyptian officials have alleged that the pharaoh’s head was stole, while christie’s has asserted that it can date its provenance to a time before the UNESCO convention came into effect. 
  • Egypt believes that the head had been illegally exported in 1970 – the year UNESCO instituted the convention. 
Source : Indian Express
Culture

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

ELEKTORORNIS CHENGUANGI
Elektorornis chenguangi – an extinct bird with an extra long toe – has been described in a study published in the journal Current Biology.

About: 

  • In 2014 the fossil of Elektorornis chenguangi – a small bird which lived 99 million years ago, with a weird elongated toe – were discovered in Myanmar’s Hukawng Valley. 

  • The preserved toe measures less than half an inch from knuckle to claw-tip, making it 41% longer than the next longest digit on the creature’s foot. 

  • Its elongated toe structure has never been observed in other birds, living or extinct.

  • Elektorornis chenguangi may have used the long, sensitive digit to probe cracks in trees for insects and grubs.

Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

COMPATIBLE TIME-SHARING SYSTEM (CTSS)
Fernando Corbató, whose work on Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) in the 1960s helped pave the way for the personal computer, as well as the computer password, died at the age of 93.

About: 

  • Meaning: Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) allowed multiple users in different locations to access a single computer simultaneously through telephone lines.

  • Compatible means that it could simulate the Fortran Monitor System, the batch OS previously run on the IBM 7090 and IBM 7094 mainframe computers on which CTSS ran.

  • Time sharing means the system can allocate resources for two tasks or processes at once. This was a major advance, since earlier mainframes and computer systems only worked on one process at a time, in a linear fashion.

  • Development: The Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS) was developed at the MIT Computation Center in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • Impact:
    • The design of the CTSS represents the beginning of the idea that operating systems can work on multiple threads or “multitask.”

    • Eventually, designs like CTSS gave way to more modern MS-DOS systems in the 1980s and on to modern Windows and OSx systems in use today.



Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

SPEKTR-RG
Russia launched Spektr-RG, a space telescope from the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in a joint project with Germany.

About: 

  • The Spektr-RG is a space observatory intended to observe black holes, neutron stars and magnetic fields. 

  • It has been developed by Russia with Germany. 

  • It was launched on a Proton-M rocket from the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 

  • The Spektr-RG intends to replace the Spektr-R, known as the “Russian Hubble”, which Roskosmos lost control of in January. Spektr-R was launched in 2011 to observe black holes, neutron stars and magnetic fields. Its successor will take up similar duties.

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY, HEALTH AND WORKING CONDITIONS BILL, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved for introduction of the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019 in the Parliament.

About: 

  • This is the second of the four codes that aim to merge 44 labour laws. 

  • Objective: This proposal would enhance the coverage of the safety, health and working conditions provisions manifold as compared to the present scenario. 

  • Features: 
    • 13 Central Labour Laws have been brought in ambit of New Code.

    • The Code enhances the ambit of provisions of safety, health, welfare and working conditions from existing about 9 major sectors to all establishments having 10 or more employees.

    • Any business entity with 10 or more workers will mandatorily be required to issue appointment letter and also get the medical check-up done annually for all its workers.

    • Also, women can voluntarily opt for working in night shift.

    • It has envisaged uniform threshold for welfare provisions such as crèche, canteen, first aid and welfare officer.

    • A part of the penalty for contravention of provisions leading to death or serious bodily injury to any person may be given to the victim or the legal heirs of the victim by the court.



Important Info :

The New Code has been drafted after amalgamation, simplification and rationalisation of the relevant provisions of the 13 Central Labour Acts: 

  • The Factories Act, 1948;
  • The Mines Act, 1952; The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986;
  • The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996;
  • The Plantations Labour Act, 1951;
  • The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970;
  • The Inter-State Migrant workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979;
  • The Working Journalist and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and Misc. Provision) Act, 1955;
  • The Working Journalist (Fixation of rates of wages) Act, 1958;
  • The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961;
  • Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Service) Act, 1976;
  • The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; and
  • The Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers Act, 1981. After the enactment of the Code, all these Acts being subsumed in the Code will be repealed.
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

OVERSEAS BONDS
Union Finance Minister announced in the Budget that the government plans to raise a portion of its gross borrowing from overseas markets.

About: 

  • Meaning: A government bond or sovereign bond is a form of debt that the government undertakes wherein it issues bonds with the promise to pay periodic interest payments and also repay the entire face value of the bond on the maturity date.

  • Indian scenario: So far, the government of India has only issued bonds in the domestic market.

Recent development:

  • Union Finance Minister announced in the Budget that the government plans to raise a portion of its gross borrowing from overseas markets.

  • The government and RBI will reportedly finalise the plans for the overseas issue of sovereign bonds by September.

Benefits of an overseas bond issue:

  • The overseas borrowing programme allows the government to maintain its gradual reduction of the fiscal deficit.

  • Borrowing overseas allows the government to raise funds in such a way that there is enough domestic credit available for the private sector.

  • This would also have a beneficial impact on the demand for government securities in the India.

Risks involved:

  • India might follow the path of some Central and South American countries such as Mexico and Brazil. In the 1970s, several of these countries borrowed heavily overseas. But then, when their currencies depreciated sharply a decade later, these countries were in big trouble as they could not repay their debt.

  • Another risk to India from overseas borrowings is that this would lead to a quicker increase to its foreign exchange reserves, which would lead to a stronger rupee. A stronger rupee would encourage imports at a time when the government is trying to curb them.

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

AGRI-BUSINESS INCUBATION CENTRE
An Agri Business Incubation Centre has been set up by the Union Agriculture Ministry in Indira Gandhi Agriculture University of Raipur.

About: 

  • An Agri Business Incubation Centre has started in Chhattisgarh.

  • The centre has been set up by the Union Agriculture Ministry in Indira Gandhi Agriculture University of Raipur. 

  • It has been set up under the National Agriculture Development Scheme- RAFTAAR. 

  • The Centre will focus on innovations, skill building and entrepreneurs development in agriculture and allied sectors ad will act as catalyst for developing an ecosystem conducive for growth of agripreneurship in the state and foster a “start-up” culture.

Important Info :

National Agriculture Development Scheme- RAFTAAR? 

  • The objective of the scheme is to make farming a remunerative economic activity by strengthening farmer’s effort, risk mitigation and promoting agribusiness entrepreneurship. 
  • Under the scheme, guidance, technology and infrastructure will be provided to youth and entrepreneurs for start-ups in different areas of agriculture.  
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

ROHINGYA
On July 9, Government of India handed over 250 completed pre-fabricated homes to the Myanmar government for use by the Rohingya refugees when they return.

About: 

  • The project is part of an agreement signed by the two governments in 2017, under which the government of India had committed to spending $25 million over five years. 

  • The Myanmar government has also handed over a list of 21 other projects that it wants India to fund as part of the agreement, including the construction of small villages, culverts and school buildings. 

  • The 250 houses, built in three clusters, are in the Shwe Zar, Kyein Chaung Taung and Nan Thar Taung areas that saw some of the worst cases of violence and burning of thousands of homes. 

  • However, there are no signs yet that the Rohingya will return at any specific date. 

Important Info :

Background: 

  • Two years ago, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to camps in Bangladesh alleging ethnic cleansing by Myanmar forces. 
  • However, the Myanmar’ Government still refuses to recognise the Rohingya as citizens and will not prosecute military personnel and civilians for the killings, which the United Nations officials said bore the “hallmarks of genocide”. 
Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
July 14, 2019

CENTER OF EXCELLENCE FOR STUDIES IN CLASSICAL TELUGU
Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu has suggested shifting the Center of Excellence for Studies in Classical Telugu from Mysuru to either of the Telugu states.

About:

  • Location: It is located in the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysuru.

  • Functions: It undertakes research, digitization, and publishing of classical Telugu literature.

Important Info :

Do you know? 

  • The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) is an Indian research and teaching institute based in Mysore. 
  • It is part of the Language Bureau of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. 
  • It was founded in 1969. 
Source : The Hindu
Culture

July 13, 2019

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

KIM JONG-UN
In a new Constitution, Kim Jong-un has been formally named head of state of North Korea and the Commander-in-Chief of the military, instead of ‘supreme leader’.

About: 

  • The new Constitution said that Mr. Kim as chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC), a top governing body created in 2016, was “the supreme representative of all the Korean people”, which means head of state, and “commander-in-chief”. 

  • A previous Constitution simply called Mr. Kim “supreme leader” who commands the country’s “overall military force”. 

Comment: 

  • According to political observers, the title change was also aimed at preparing for a potential peace treaty with the United States. The amendment may well be a chance to establish Kim’s status as the signer of a peace treaty when it comes, while projecting the image of the country as a normal state. 

  • North Korea has also long called for a peace deal with the United States to normalise relations and end the technical state of war that has existed since the 1950-1953 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty. 

Important Info :

Family tree?  

  • Kim is the second child of Kim Jong-il (1941–2011), the country's second leader from 1994 to 2011.  
  • He is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, who was the founder and first leader of North Korea from 1948 to 1994. 
Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

SECOND INDIA-RUSSIA STRATEGIC ECONOMIC DIALOGUE
The Second India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) was recently held in New Delhi.

About: 

  • The Second India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) was held today in New Delhi, under the chairmanship of Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog and Mr. TimurMaksimov, Deputy Minister of the Economic Development of the Russia.

  • The meeting focussed on 6 core areas covering Transport, Agriculture, Small and Medium Business, Digital Technologies, Finance, Tourism & Connectivity.

  • Background:
    • The IRSED was established following a bilateral MoU signed between NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russia during the 19th edition of the Annual India-Russia Bilateral Summit held in 2018 in New Delhi.

    • The First India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in St. Petersburg in November 2018.



Source : PIB
International

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

INDIA-BASED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY (INO)
The Union Minister of Atomic Energy and Space informed Rajya Sabha about the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO).

About: 

  • Location: The Government of India has approved a project to build the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) at Pottipuram in the Theni District of Tamil Nadu. 

  • Features: 
    • The project aims to set up a 51000 ton Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector to observe naturally occurring atmospheric neutrinos in a cavern at the end of an approximately 2 km long tunnel in a mountain. 

    • This will help to reduce the noise from cosmic rays that is ever present over-ground and which would outnumber the rare neutrino interactions even in a detector as large as ICAL. 



  • Ecological harm? According to India, The INO project does not disturb the ecosystem around the site and does not release any radiation, as it does not have any radioactive substance. It measures cosmic rays. 

Important Info :

There is no other neutrino detector anywhere in India at present. ICAL at INO would be the first of its type.

Source : PIB
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

U.R. RAO SATELLITE CENTRE (URSC)
U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) has created a simulated surface by fetching soil from Tamil Nadu for testing 'Chandrayaan-2’s lander and rover on earth.

About: 

  • What is it? It is an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lead centre for building satellites and developing associated satellite technologies. 

  • Location: Bengaluru. 

  • Name: 
    • It was Formerly known as ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC). 

    • It was renamed in 2018 after the former ISRO Chairman and ISAC founding Director Dr. Udupi Ramachandra Rao. 



  • Established in: 1972.  

  • Organisations under the umbrella of URSC include: 
    • Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS) and 

    • ISRO Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment (ISITE). 



Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

301 PROBE (UNITED STATES)
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said that the U.S. will consider a “301 investigation” against India if the trade issues between the two countries are not resolved quickly.

About: 

  • “301 investigation” is a probe employed as a precursor to tariffs and other trade measures against a country. A Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the USTR and is different from a 301 investigation. 

  • Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act (1974) was also used to authorise a 2017 probe that resulted in tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. from July 2018. Earlier this week, the USTR announced a 301 probe against France on a digital services tax. 

Important Info :

Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974?

  • Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 authorizes the President to take all appropriate action to obtain the removal of any act or practice of a foreign government that burdens or restricts U.S. commerce.
  • Section 301 cases can be self-initiated by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) or as the result of a petition filed by a firm or industry group. 
Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

2019 GLOBAL MULTIDIMENSIONAL POVERTY INDEX
According to the report titled “2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index” released by UN, India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016.

About:

  • The 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index was released by the UN Development Programme, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.

  • Global scenario:
    • In the 101 countries studied – 31 low income, 68 middle income and 2 high income –, 1.3 billion people are multidimensionally poor.

    • The report identifies 10 countries, with a combined population of around 2 billion people that have shown statistically significant progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, namely ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere.

    • of the 10 selected countries, India and Cambodia reduced their MPI values the fastest. India’s MPI value reduced from 0.283 in 2005-06 to 0.123 in 2015-16.



  • Indian scenario:
    • In 2015-16, the population in India living in multidimensional poverty stood at about 369 million people (27.9%).

    • India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest reductions in the multidimensional poverty index values during the period.

    • There have been strong improvements in areas such as assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition.



Important Info :

Multidimensionally Poor means that poverty is defined not simply by income, but by a number of indicators, including poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence. 

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

CARGO TRANSPORTATION THROUGH INLAND WATERWAYS
For the first time ever, an indian waterway is being used for transport of cargo between Bhutan and Bangladesh, using india for transit.

About: 

  • In a first ever movement of its kind, Minister for Shipping flagged-off a ship of the Inland Waterways Authority of India, carrying stone from Bhutan to be delivered in Bangladesh. 

  • The ship - MV AAI - has set sail from Dhubri in Assam and will travel to Narayanganj in Bangladesh, over river Brahmaputra and the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route. 

  • This is the first time an Indian waterway is being used as a channel for transport of cargo between two countries, using India for transit. 

Important Info :

Significance: 

  • Till now, Bhutan has been exporting significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh through the land route. Transport of cargo through this route will cut short travel time by 8 to 10 days, and reduce transportation cost by 30%, bringing down logistics costs. 
  • This new development will not only strengthen our ties with our neighbouring countries, but will also open up an alternate route to our North Eastern states, making it easier and cheaper to reach goods to these places from other parts of the country. 
Source : PIB
International

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

REWA ULTRA MEGA SOLAR
In Madhya Pradesh, continuous rain has damaged Asia's largest solar Power project in Rewa. The damage was caused after heavy rain triggered a mudslide.

About: 

  • Location: Rewa Ultra Mega Solar is a solar park in the Gurh tehsil of Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh. 

  • Timeline: The project was commissioned with 750 MW capacity in July 2018. 

  • Bodies involved: Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL), the implementing agency of the project, is a joint venture between the Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikash Nigam Limited (MPUVNL) and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). 

  • It is the first project to get funding from Clean Technology Fund (CTF) in India. 

  • It is also the first solar park in India to get World Bank funding. 

Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

ANSHULA KANT
Anshula Kant, Managing Director of State Bank of India (sbi), has been appointed as MD and Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank.

About: 

  • Ms Kant will be responsible for financial and risk management of the organisation. 

  • Her work will include oversight of financial reporting and working closely with the World Bank CEO on the mobilization of the International Development Association (IDA) and other financial resources. 

Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
July 13, 2019

SIKHS FOR JUSTICE (SFJ)
The Government of India banned a separatist group, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), on grounds of secessionism.

About: 

  • Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), formed in 2007, is a United States-based group seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs — a “Khalistan” in Punjab.

  • Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a law graduate from Panjab University and currently an attorney at law in the US, is the face of SFJ and its legal adviser.

  • SFJ has been banned by the Home Ministry under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Important Info :

Referendum 2020: 

  • The secessionist campaign, called ‘Referendum 2020’, seeks to “liberate Punjab from Indian occupation” by holding the first ever non-binding referendum among the global Sikh community on the question of establishing Punjab as an independent country. 
  • SFJ has announced to hold polling for referendum in November 2020 in Punjab along with major cities of North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Kenya and the Middle Eastern Countries. 
  • According to SFJ, once there is a consensus within the Punjabi people that independence from India is desired, we will then approach the UN and other international forms and bodies with the goal of re-establishing Punjab as a nation state. 
Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security
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