Dec. 10, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Human Rights Day is being celebrated on the 10th December.

About:

  • Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 10th December every year to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

  • The Declaration recognizes that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of mankind are the foundation of justice, freedom and peace in the world.

  • The United Nations’ theme for this year’s Human Rights Day is: “Youth Standing up for Human Rights.” 

Important Info :

National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC)?

  • Since its inception on the 12th October, 1993, the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) has endeavoured to promote a culture of human rights.
  • The NHRC, like most of the human rights institutions in the world, is a recommendatory body as per the Protection of Human Rights Act passed by Parliament. 
Source : PIB
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT (HDR) 2019
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the 2019 Human Development Report (HDR), entitled “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st Century”.

Human Development Index (HDI):

  • The HDI measures average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development — life expectancy, education and per capita income.

  • India ranks 129 out of 189 countries on the 2019 HDI — up one slot from the 130th position last year. India’s HDI value increased by 50% (from 0.431 to 0.647), which places it above the average for other South Asian countries (0.642).

  • Norway, Switzerland and Ireland occupied the top three positions in that order. Germany is placed fourth along with Hong Kong, and Australia secured the fifth rank on the global ranking.

  • Among India’s neighbours, Sri Lanka (71) and China (85) are higher up the rank scale while Bhutan (134), Bangladesh (135), Myanmar (145), Nepal (147), Pakistan (152) and Afghanistan (170) were ranked lower on the list.

  • South Asia was the fastest growing region in human development progress witnessing a 46% growth over 1990-2018, followed by East Asia and the Pacific at 43%. 

inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI):

  • The Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) indicates percentage loss in HDI due to inequalities.

  • For IHDI, India’s position drops by one position to 130, losing nearly half the progress (.647 to .477) made in the past 30 years.

Gender Inequality Index (GII):

  • In the Gender Inequality Index (GII), India is at 122 out of 162 countries. Neighbours China (39), Sri Lanka (86), Bhutan (99), Myanmar (106) were placed above India.

  • The world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030 as per the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It may take 202 years to close the gender gap in economic opportunity — one of the three indicators of the GII.

 

Important Info :

Social Norms Index:

  • The Report presents a new social norms index that looks at the links between social beliefs and gender equality in multiple dimensions.
  • The new “social norms index” in the Report says that in half of the countries assessed, gender bias has grown in recent years. It shows that only 14% of women and 10% of men worldwide have no gender bias.
Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

ARMS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha.

About:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Arms Act, 1959.

  • License for acquiring firearms: Under the Act, a license must be obtained to acquire, possess, or carry any firearm. The Bill reduces the number of permitted firearms from three to one. The Bill also increases the duration of the validity of a firearm license from three years to five years.

  • Ban on firearms: The Bill prohibits procuring un-licensed firearms, and the conversion of one category of firearms to another without a license. It also allows members of rifle clubs or associations to use any firearm for target practice instead of only point 22 bore rifles or air rifles.

  • Increase in punishment: The Bill increases the punishment to imprisonment between seven and 14 years for carrying of prohibited ammunition without a license.

  • New offences: The Bill adds following news offences –
    • Forcefully taking a firearm from police or armed forces: This is punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life imprisonment

    • Celebratory gunfire which endangers safety of others: This is punishable with imprisonment of up to two years, or fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both.



  • Tracking of firearms: The central government may make rules to track firearms and ammunition from manufacturer to purchaser to detect, investigate, and analyse illicit manufacturing and trafficking. 

Important Info :
  • Firearms is in the Union List and the State governments have only limited jurisdiction relating to ammunition. 
Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

IS 10500:2012
Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is preparing the ground for enforcement of piped water quality standards in the states.

About:

  • He was speaking at a workshop organised by BIS to disseminate information about the requirements of IS 10500:2012, the piped water quality standard.

  • However, it is not yet clear whether the Centre’s own flagship mission to provide piped water to all households by 2024 will implement the BIS standard.

  • Unlike the BIS standard for bottled water, which is mostly produced by private companies, the standard for piped water — largely supplied by government agencies — is not yet mandatory.

  • Jal Shakti is the nodal Ministry for the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide functional household tap connections to 14.6 crore rural households by 2024. 

Source : The Hindu
Water

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

WADA
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from international sporting events for 4 years, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, after accusing Russia of falsifying data from an anti-doping laboratory.

About:

  • The ruling means Russian athletes will still be allowed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics as neutrals, but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.

  • Participants will have to prove that they were not involved in the doping schemes as described by the McLaren report, or they did not have their samples affected by the manipulation.

  • In 2016, Professor Richard McLaren, an independent investigator working on behalf of WADA published a report showing that more than 1,000 Russians athletes in over 30 sports were involved in or benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015. 

Important Info :

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)?

  • The World Anti-Doping Agency is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports.
  • The agency's key activities include monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.
  • Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  • Established in: 1999.
Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

THE SIPRI TOP 100 ARMS‑PRODUCING AND MILITARY SERVICES COMPANIES, 2018
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a new report titled “The SIPRI Top 100 Arms‑Producing And Military Services Companies, 2018.”

About:

  • Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 100 companies (excluding those in China) totalled $420 billion in 2018, marking an increase of 4.6 % compared with the previous year.

  • The turnover of the 100 biggest arms manufacturers came to 420 billion dollars. US manufacturers alone accounted for 59 % of the market, or a turnover of 246 billion dollars, up 7.2 % on the previous year.

  • Russia was second in the rankings for arms production, with 8.6 % of the market, just ahead of the United Kingdom on 8.4 % and France on 5.5 %. The study did not include China, for lack of sufficient data

  • The top five spots in the ranking are held exclusively by arms companies based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. These five companies alone accounted for 35 % of total Top 100 arms sales in 2018.

  • The combined arms sales of the three Indian arms companies listed in the Top 100 were $5.9 billion in 2018—a decrease of 6.9 % on 2017. The decline is mainly a result of Indian Ordnance Factory’s significant 27 % drop in arms sales. 

Important Info :

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)?

  • Location: SIPRI is an international institute based in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Established in:
  • Purpose: It is dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.
  • The SIPRI Arms Industry Database was created in 1989. Chinese companies are not included in the database because of a lack of available data. 
Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

SANNA MARIN
Finland's Social Democrats elected Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old former transport minister to the post of the prime minister, making her the world's youngest serving prime minister.

About:

  • Sanna Mirella Marin (born 1985) is a Finnish politician. A Social Democrat, she has been member of the Parliament of Finland since 2015 and the Minister of Transport and Communications since June 2019.

  • After Antti Rinne left his position as prime minister, Social Democratic Party of Finland selected Marin as its candidate for new prime minister 8 December 2019.

  • If confirmed, Marin will become the world's youngest currently-serving prime minister, Finland's youngest-ever prime minister and Finland's third female prime minister.

  • When she takes office, Ms Marin will be the world's youngest sitting prime minister. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is 39, while Ukrainian premier Oleksiy Honcharuk is 35. 

Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

PASHU KISAN CREDIT CARDS
The First Pashu Kisan credit cards in India were distributed to 101 animal farmers in Bhiwani in Haryana.

About:

  • Haryana Government has set a target to issue 10 lakh Pashu Kisan Credit cards by March 2021.

  • Under the Scheme, banks give Rs 40783 for a cow and Rs 60249 for a buffalo. The credit amount for goat and sheep each is Rs 4063. In the case of a pig, it is Rs 16337 per pig. For Hens, it is Rs 720 per layer and Rs 161 per broiler hen.

  • Haryana is the first state to implement this scheme. As many as 101 livestock owners have been handed over cards and can use these to pay for animal feed, etc. They can repay within a stipulated period

  • The card is along lines of the Kisan credit card scheme and will allot credit according to the animal you own. 

Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

MAHARAJA SURAJ MAL
Members of the Jat community in Rajasthan have opposed the release of the movie Panipat in Rajasthan, accusing its makers of wrongly portraying the 18th century ruler of Bharatpur, Maharaja Suraj Mal.

About:

  • Maharaja Suraj Mal (1707 – 1763) or Sujan Singh was a Jat ruler of Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

  • The Jats, under Suraj Mal, overran the Mughal garrison at Agra and plundered the city taking with them the two great silver doors of the entrance of the Taj Mahal which were then melted down by Suraj Mal in 1763.

  • He was killed in an ambush by the Mughal Army on the night of 25 December 1763 near Hindon River. 

Important Info :

Panipat movie (2019):

  • The film, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker is based on the third Battle of Panipat, which was fought between the Marathas and Afghan king Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1761.
  • The film shows Maharaja Surajmal as having denied help to the Maratha army. 
Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Dec. 10, 2019

SMALL FINANCE BANKS (SFBs)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released, “Guidelines for ‘on tap’ Licensing of Small Finance Banks in the Private Sector”.

Major changes from the earlier Guidelines on SFBs are:

  • The licensing window will be open on-tap.

  • minimum paid-up voting equity capital / net worth requirement shall be ₹ 200 crore.

  • for Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks (UCBs), desirous of voluntarily transiting into Small Finance Banks (SFBs) initial requirement of net worth shall be at ₹ 100 crore, which will have to be increased to ₹ 200 crore within five years.

  • SFBs will be given scheduled bank status immediately upon commencement of operations.

  • Payments Banks can apply for conversion into SFB after five years of operations, if they are otherwise eligible as per these guidelines. 

Important Info :

Background:

  • RBI had last issued guidelines for licensing of Small Finance Banks in the private sector in 2014.
  • Consequently, the RBI issued in-principle approval to ten applicants and they have since established the banks.
  • It was mentioned in the guidelines that after gaining experience in dealing with these banks, RBI would consider receiving the applications on a continuous basis. 
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Dec. 9, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

LOKPAL
Response to RTI queries have revealed that almost six years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was signed into law, several key provisions needed for the anti-corruption ombudsman to function have still not been operationalised.

Key findings:

  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 but it was not until January 2014 that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act came into force. It was more than five years later, in March 2019, that the first chairperson and members of the Lokpal were appointed.

  • More than eight months later, the institution is functioning out of a government-owned hotel in Delhi.

  • The Lokpal has not yet notified a format for filing complaints. Despite that obstacle, 1,065 complaints were sent to the Lokpal office.

  • The process of constituting the Lokpal’s inquiry and prosecution wings has not yet begun, and regulations for how to conduct preliminary investigations have not been made.

  • The rules for the disclosure of assets and liabilities by public servants have not been notified either. This is a key provision as the amassing of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income is often the basis for a complaint. 

Important Info :
  • Section 60 of the Act gives the Lokpal the power to make regulations on “the manner and procedure of conducting preliminary inquiry or investigation”. 
Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

LAWS ON RAPE AND SEXUAL CRIMES
After the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad on November 28 and the burning of a rape survivor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, on December 5, there has been a demand to make the criminal justice system tougher.

Indian Penal Code, 1860:

  • ‘Rape’ as a clearly defined offence was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860.

  • The rape law in India even today remains gender specific, as the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’. Section 375 of the IPC made punishable the act of sex by a man with a woman if it was done against her will or without her consent.

  • The definition of rape also included sex when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.

  • Also, sex with or without her consent, when she is under 18 years is considered rape. However, under the exception, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.

  • Section 376 provided for seven years of jail term to life imprisonment to whoever commits the offence of rape.

  • Section 228A makes it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim of certain offences including rape.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013:

  • The 2013 Act increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.

  • It also created new offences, such as use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.

  • The punishment for gang rape was increased to 20 years to life imprisonment from the earlier 10 years to life imprisonment.

  • It clearly defined offences such as use of unwelcome physical contact, words or gestures, demand or request for sexual favours, showing pornography against the will of a woman or making sexual remarks and allocated punishment.

  • Stalking was made punishable with up to three years in jail.

  • The offence of acid attack was increased to 10 years of imprisonment.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018:

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, for the first time put death penalty as a possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years; the minimum punishment is 20 years in jail.

  • Another new section was also inserted in the IPC to specifically deal with rape on a girl below 16 years. The provision made the offence punishable with minimum imprisonment of 20 years which may extend to imprisonment for life.

  • The minimum jail term for rape, which has remained unchanged since the introduction of the IPC in 1860, was increased from seven to 10 years. 

Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

TYRE PYROLYSIS
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 270 tyre pyrolysis units in 19 States for employing technology that is polluting and harmful to the health of the workers employed.

About:

  • What is it? Tyre pyrolysis refers to a technique of breaking down used tyres in the absence of oxygen. Shredded tyres, at temperatures between 250º C and 500º C, produce liquid oil and gases.

  • NGT Ruling (2014): The National Green Tribunal in 2014 prohibited used tyres from being burnt in the open or being used as fuel in brick kilns, because of the toxic emissions. Subsequently, the board issued a set of guidelines, in which pyrolysis was recommended as an acceptable mode.

  • Health risks: While this is considered a safer technique than burning tyres, pyrolysis leaves fine carbon matter, pyro-gas and oil as residue and the inadequate management of these by-products poses health risks. 

Important Info :

Recent development:

  • The CPCB has said that states should be closing down all pyrolysis units that are not compliant and that the import of hazardous substances — these include used tyres — ought to be strictly regulated.
  • More than 40% of tyre pyrolysis units were not complying with rules, the NGT observed in April 2019, after it sought a report from the CPCB. 
Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

FROGPHONE
Researchers have developed a device named ‘FrogPhone’ that will allow scientists to monitor frogs in the wild.

Working:

  • It is described as the world’s first solar-powered remote survey device that can be installed at any frog pond and which receives a 3G or 4G cellular network.

  • With FrogPhone, researchers can simply “call” a frog habitat. After a call is made to one of the FrogPhones already on a site, the device will take three seconds to receive it.

  • During these few seconds, the device’s temperature sensors will get activated, and environmental data such as air temperature, water temperature and battery voltage will be sent to the caller’s phone via a text message.

  • Because frogs are most active during night, researchers are usually required to make nightly observations in order to monitor them on site.

Benefits:

  • The FrogPhone will allow researchers to dial these devices remotely, and analyse the data later. It will reduce costs and risks, including the negative impact of human presence on the field site.

  • These devices also allow for monitoring of local frog populations more frequently than before. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

VECTOR BORNE DISEASES
Union Ministry of Health and Family tabled in Parliament the figures related to malaria, dengue and chikungunya cases.

About:

  • There has been a Year on year, drop in malaria, dengue and chikungunya cases.

  • In 2018, the country recorded 4,29,928 cases of malaria, 1,01,192 cases of dengue, and 57,813 clinically suspected cases of chikungunya. For each of these diseases, the number of cases was less than in 2017, when there were 8,44,558 cases of malaria, 1,88,401 of dengue and 67,769 of chikungunya.

  • The highest number of malaria cases in 2018 was recorded in Uttar Pradesh, at 86,486.

  • For dengue, Punjab recorded the highest number of cases in 2018, at 14,890.

  • For clinically suspected cases of chikungunya, the highest count was 20,411 in Karnataka. 

Important Info :

National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP)?

  • The NVBDCP is a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of vector borne diseases namely Malaria, Filaria, Kala-azar, Japanese Encephalitis (JE), Dengue and Chikungunya.
  • Directorate of NVBDCP is the central nodal agency for the prevention and control of vector borne diseases. 
Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

CREAMY LAYER
The Central government has asked the Supreme Court of India to refer to a seven-judge Bench the question whether the creamy layer concept should apply (or not) to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes while giving them reservation in promotions.

About:

  • The ‘means-test and creamy layer’ first finds expression in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in Indra Sawhney versus Union of India, delivered by a nine-judge Bench in 1992.

  • The Indra Sawhney judgment had upheld the government’s move, based on the Mandal Commission report, to give 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes. But it held that the creamy layer (socially advanced persons) “can be and must be excluded from backward classes”.

  • The court said “economic criterion could be adopted as an indicium or measure of social advancement” in order to identify members of a creamy layer in a class or a group.

  • The court asked the Central government to fix the norms for income, property and status for identifying the creamy layer. In 1993, the creamy layer ceiling was fixed at ₹1 lakh. It was subsequently increased to ₹8 lakh since 2017.

Important Info :

Nagaraj judgement:

  • In 2006, the five-judge Bench, in Nagaraj, laid down three conditions for promotion of SCs and STs in public employment.
  • It also held that the creamy layer was applicable to SCs and STs in government promotions.

 ‘Jarnail Singh’ judgment

  • In Jarnail Singh, another five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra upheld the 2006 verdict’s reasoning that the creamy layer principle was based on the right to equality.
  • The court held that quota benefits should go to the weakest of the weak and not be snatched away by members of the same class who were in the “top creamy layer”.
Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

PAIKA REBELLION
President Ram Nath Kovind laid the foundation stone for the Paika Memorial at the bottom of Barunei Hill in Odisha's Khurda district to mark 200 years of the Paika Rebellion, which is sometimes described as the first war of independence.

About:

  • It was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company's rule in Odisha in 1817, forty years before the revolt of 1857.

  • The Paikas (pronounced “paiko”, literally ‘foot soldiers’) were the traditional landed militia of Odisha who served as warriors and were charged with policing functions during peacetime.

  • Key events of rebellion
    • In March 1817, The Paiks rose in rebellion under their leader Bakshi Jagabandhu and projected Lord Jagannath as the symbol of Odia unity.

    • The rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being ruthlessly put down by the company's forces.

    • By May 1817, the British managed to re-establish their authority over the entire province, but it was a long while before the tranquillity finally returned to it.



  • Recognition: The Ministry of Culture has recognised the Paika Rebellion at the national level. The decision to commemorate the bi-centenary of the revolution was announced in the 2017-18 Budget Speech. 

Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

DEOXYGENATION OF THE OCEANS
According to a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oceans have less oxygen today than they did up to 1960.

Key findings of the study:

  • The levels of oxygen in oceans fell by around 2 per cent from 1960 to 2010.

  • The oxygen content of the world’s oceans is not uniform. The water in some parts of the tropics had experienced a 40 per cent to 50 per cent reduction in oxygen.

  • The deoxygenation of the oceans occurred due to climate change and other human activities (such as the nutrient runoff from farm fertilizers into waterways), the report said.

Impact:

  • In many parts of the world fish have been dying en masse.

  • The loss of oxygen in the oceans can affect the planetary cycling of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous which are essential for life on Earth.

  • As oceans lose oxygen, they become more acidic, which has resulted in some places in shellfish having their shells degraded or dissolved — the so called “osteoporosis of the sea”. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

MEASLES
The World Health Organization and UNICEF published a report on global scenario of Measles in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Key findings of the report:

  • In 2018, measles caused an estimated 10 million cases and 1,42,000 deaths globally.

  • There were nearly 70,000 cases of measles in India in 2018, the third highest in the world.

  • At 2.3 million, India has the second highest number of children under one year of age who are not vaccinated against measles. With 2.4 million, Nigeria has the most number of unvaccinated children.

  • The WHO recommends 95% coverage using two doses of measles vaccine to prevent outbreaks. In 2018, only 86% of children globally received the first dose through routine immunisation. In the case of second dose, the coverage globally is just 69%.

  • India accounted for 47% of the 346 million children across the world who received measles vaccine during mass-immunisation campaigns. 

Important Info :

Measles?

  • Measles is a highly-contagious virus and spreads rapidly in unvaccinated children, causing symptoms from rash to blindness, pneumonia to death.
  • Measles can be prevented through two doses of vaccination. 
Source : The Hindu
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 9, 2019

ASSET RECONSTRUCTION COMPANIES (ARCs)
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has barred Asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) from bilaterally buying assets from entities sponsoring them.

Acquisition of financial assets by ARCs from sponsors and lenders:

  • RBI has decided that ARCs shall not acquire financial assets from the following on a bilateral basis:
    • a bank/ financial institution which is the sponsor of the ARC;

    • a bank/ financial institution which is either a lender to the ARC or a subscriber to the fund, if any, raised by the ARC for its operations;

    • an entity in the group to which the ARC belongs.



  • However, they may participate in auctions of the financial assets provided such auctions are conducted in a transparent manner.

  • The firm most likely to be affected by the central bank directive is Asset Reconstruction Company (India), or ARCIL, which is sponsored by State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank and IDBI Bank. 

Important Info :

Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC)?

  • An ARC is a special type of financial institution that buys the debtors of the bank at a mutually agreed value and attempts to recover the debts or associated securities by itself.
  • The ARCs take over a portion of the debts of the bank that qualify to be recognised as Non-Performing Assets.
  • ARCs are registered under the RBI and regulated under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act, 2002). 
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Dec. 8, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

OPEC
OPEC group of oil-producing countries and their allies, including Russia, have decided to cut oil production by 500,000 barrels per day, effective from 1st January 2020.

About:

  • In a meeting in Vienna, they agreed to reduce production to stem pressure on prices from abundant reserves and weak global economic growth.

  • This would bring production 1.7 million barrels per day below October 2018 levels.

  • Oil prices surged following the announcement, with US benchmark WTI and its European counterpart Brent crude by about two per cent higher.  

Important Info :

Organization Of The Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)?

  • OPEC is a permanent intergovernmental organization of 14 oil-exporting developing nations that coordinates and unifies the petroleum policies of its Member Countries.
  • Origin: OPEC was founded in 1960 in Baghdad, Iraq by five countries namely Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
  • Present member countries: Qatar terminated its membership on 1 January 2019. Thus, currently, the Organization has a total of 14 Member Countries.
  • HQ: Vienna, Austria. 
Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

HUMAN LIBRARY
Human Library, a concept which seeks to replace books with humans, was held in Mysuru.

About:

  • The Human Library event aims to break past long-standing prejudices and stereotypes by creating a safe framework for conservation by using a library analogy of lending people rather than books.

  • It intends to generate greater human cohesion across various social, religious and ethnic diversities. The readers of human library have an opportunity during a planned event to borrow Human Books and to engage in conversation with the books. 

Important Info :

Human Library Organisation?

  • Status: The Human Library Organisation is a registered international not for profit organization.
  • Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Mandate: The HLO is dedicated to ensuring a global implementation of the Human Library as a learning platform.
  • Timeline: The notion of Human Library was initially launched in the year 2000 and currently exists in more than 85 countries, known as The Human Library Organization. In India, Human Library is spread across Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru. 
Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

LARGE IGNEOUS PROVINCES (LIPs)
According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, Greenhouse gas emissions directly from the movement of volcanic rocks can create massive global warming effects.

About:

  • The researchers said one such role in climate change could be played by Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), extremely large accumulations of rocks forming when magma travelled through the crust towards the surface.

  • They created a model of changes in carbon emissions during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) - a short interval of maximum temperature lasting around 100,000 years some 55 million years ago.

  • As part of the study, the researchers calculated the greenhouse gas fluxes associated with the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) - one of Earth's largest LIPs that spans Britain, Ireland, Norway and Greenland.

  • The simulations by the researchers predicted that the volcanic rocks part of the NAIP could have initiated PETM climate change. According to the researchers, the PETM is the largest natural climate change event of this era.  

Source : All India Radio
Geography

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

INDEPENDENT DIRECTOR’S DATABANK
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs launched the Independent Director’s Databank in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 and the rules made thereunder.

About:

  • Bodies involved: The Databank portal will be maintained by the Indian Institute for Corporate Affairs (IICA).

  • Objective:
    • To provide an easy platform for the registration of existing Independent Directors as well as individuals aspiring to become independent directors.

    • To provide a wide array of e-learning courses on various topics including the Companies Act, Securities laws, basic accountancy, board practices, board ethics and board effectiveness for capacity building of Independent Directors.



  • Features:

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

VIRTOPSY
Union Health Minister told Rajya Sabha that it is likely to be possible soon to carry out autopsies without dissecting the body. If this happens then India will be the first country in South and Southeast Asia to carry out these “virtual autopsies.”

About:

  • What is it? Virtopsy is a word combining ‘virtual’ and ‘autopsy’ for the purpose of autopsy and to find the cause of the death.

  • How is it done? In a Virtopsy (Virtual Autopsy), doctors use radiation to examine the innards to reach a conclusion about the cause of death. A CT or an MRI machine could be used, in the same way that they are used to scan a living human’s body.

  • Benefits:
    • Virtopsy can be employed as an alternative to standard autopsies for broad and systemic examination of the whole body as it is less time consuming, aids better diagnosis, and renders respect to religious sentiments.

    • The traditional postmortem often makes members of the dead person’s family uncomfortable. That is the primary reason for the increasing use of virtual autopsies internationally.



  • Indian scenario: AIIMS, New Delhi and ICMR are working together on a technique for post-mortem without incising/dissecting the body. This technique is likely to become functional in the next six months. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

WILDLIFE CRIMES
The Union Ministry of Environment informed parliament about the wildlife crimes.

About:

  • In 2018, 388 cases of wildlife-related crimes were registered under the Wildlife Protection Act.

  • In nearly one in every three cases —123 of the 388 — the species involved was leopards or tigers. Leopards alone accounted for over one in five cases, at 81, while 42 cases involved tigers.

  • Just five species accounted for two in every three cases — 259 of 388 — with leopards (21%), scheduled birds (16%) and tigers (11%) being followed by star tortoises or turtles (10%) and deer (9%).

  • Overall, the number of cases of wildlife crime has come down since 2016, when 565 were registered, and risen slightly since 2017, when 342 were registered. 

Important Info :

Indian leopard?

  • Scientific Name: Panthera pardus.
  • Common Name: Indian leopard or Common leopard.
  • Characteristics: The leopard is the smallest of the big cats, and is known for its black-spotted coat. It is known to carry its prey up on trees. This is especially common in leopards that share their habitat with tiger.
  • Melanism: Melanism is a common occurrence in leopards, wherein the entire skin of the animal is black in colour, including its spots. A melanistic leopard is often called black panther or jaguar, and mistakenly thought to be a different species.
  • Habitat: In India, the leopard is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests. It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.
  • Status:
    • Listed on a par with Tigers under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.
    • Listed in Appendix I of CITES.
    • Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. 
Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

DEFINITION OF FOREST
The Union Ministry for Environment has objected to an Uttarakhand government’s notification defining the term ‘forest’.

Uttarakhand’s definition:

  • In a notification on November 21, the Uttarakhand government said that in areas recorded as “deemed forest”, only tracts 10 hectares and more, and having a canopy density of greater than 60%, would be considered as forests.

  • Land already registered as ‘reserved’ and ‘protected’ forests would be out of the remit of this definition. However, land recorded in government records as ‘revenue’ land could potentially be influenced by this definition of deemed forest.

Objection by Union Ministry for Environment:

  • According to it, the Uttarakhand order was in “contravention” of the Supreme Court's orders.

  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 would be applicable to all areas recorded as forest in any government records. 

Important Info :

Comment:

  • Deemed forests, which comprise about 1% of India’s forest land, are a controversial subject as they refer to land tracts that appear to be a “forest”, but have not been notified so by the government or in historical records.
  • Environmentalists say Uttarakhand’s criteria paves the way for large parts of forestland to be captured by builders and industrialists. 
Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

DEFINITION OF FARMER
Union Agriculture Minister failed to reply in Parliament to a question that Who is a farmer? What is the government’s definition of a farmer, and how many farmers are there in India by that definition?

About:

  • In a written response, the Minister only noted that the Centre provided income support to all farmer families who owned cultivable land through PM-KISAN.

  • Opposition MPs pointed out that the number of land holdings did not necessarily equate with the number of farming households.

  • The government’s ambiguity has serious implications for the design and beneficiaries of the schemes meant to help them, including its flagship PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi).

 

Important Info :
  • There is a clear and comprehensive definition available in the National Policy for Farmers drafted by the National Commission of Farmers headed by M.S. Swaminathan and officially approved by the Centre in 2007.
  • The term ‘FARMER’ includes
    • A person actively engaged in the economic activity of growing crops and producing other primary agricultural commodities.
    • All cultivators, agricultural labourers, sharecroppers, tenants, poultry and livestock rearers, fishers, beekeepers, gardeners, pastoralists, non-corporate planters as well as persons engaged in sericulture, vermiculture and agro-forestry.
    • Tribal families/persons engaged in shifting cultivation and in the collection, use and sale of minor and non-timber forest produce.
  • According to Census 2011, there are 11.8 crore cultivators and 14.4 crore agricultural workers.
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

TORREFACTION TECHNOLOGY
To find a solution to this issue of Pollution from stubble burning in winter, India is testing a Swedish technology — torrefaction that can convert rice stubble into ‘bio-coal’.

About:

  • The torrefaction technology involves heating up straw, grass, saw mill residue and wood biomass to 250 degrees Celsius - 350 degrees Celsius.

  • This changes the elements of the biomass into ‘coal-like’ pellets. These pellets can be used for combustion along with coal for industrial applications like steel and cement production

  • So far, the technology has only been substantially tested in Scandivia as a 16,000 ton/year plant.

Recent development:

  • The Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to Government of India has funded a pilot project in Punjab to evaluate the feasibility of the Torrefaction technology.

  • Bioendev, a Swedish company, has set up a pilot plant at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali. 

Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Dec. 8, 2019

INSTRUMENT IN SUPPORT OF TRADE EXCHANGES (INSTEX)
Six new European countries – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – joined to the INSTEX barter mechanism.

About:

  • Type: INSTEX is a European special-purpose vehicle (SPV)

  • Objective: To circumvent U.S. sanctions against trade with Iran by avoiding use of the dollar.

  • Headquarters: Paris, France

  • Established in: January 2019.

  • Owner: France, Germany and United Kingdom are the founding members of INSTEX.

  • Who can join it? It’s purpose is to facilitate "legitimate trade" with Iran for any EU member and has been conceived to be open to non-EU countries.

  • Functioning:
    • INSTEX functions as a clearing house allowing Iran to continue to sell oil and import other products or services in exchange. The system has not yet enabled any transactions.

    • In Iran, INSTEX is mirrored by the STFI (Special Trade and Finance Instrument), a similar SPV. STFI matches incoming and outgoing transactions in the same way.

    • As of now, the use of the SPV is limited to humanitarian purposes, such as the purchase of otherwise embargoed foods or medicines. 



Important Info :

Background?

  • In 2018, U.S. withdrew from the international agreement governing Iran's nuclear programme and reinstated heavy sanctions against Tehran. 
Source : The Hindu
International

Dec. 7, 2019

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

ANTIVENOM THERAPY
A new study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore has revealed that commercially available antivenom in India can be ineffective in treating bites from some snakes that are poorly studied. The findings were published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Key findings of the study:

  • India is the snakebite capital of the world. Annually, about 46,000 people die and 1,40,000 others are disabled in the country because of snakebites.

  • In India, a polyvalent antivenom is produced against the so-called ‘big four’ snakes: the spectacled cobra, the common krait, Russell’s viper, and the saw-scaled viper.”

  • However, India is home to many other species of venomous snakes. But specific antivenom is not produced to combat the poison of other snakes, and the ‘big four’ antivenom is routinely used to treat bites from all snakes. 

Important Info :

Snakebite envenoming?

  • What is it? Snakebite envenoming is a neglected tropical disease (NTD). In 2017, WHO, formally categorised “snakebite envenoming” as a Neglected Tropical Disease.
  • Casualties: It affects 1.8–2.7 million people each year, claiming 81,000–1,38,000 lives and causing 4,00,000 cases of permanent disability.
  • Key regions affected: Most of the Snake bite occurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Treatment: Most deaths and serious consequences from snake bites are entirely preventable by making High quality snake antivenoms accessible. They are included in the WHO List of essential medicines.
  • Target under WHO Global Strategy: 50% reduction in mortality and disability caused by snakebite envenoming by 2030. 
Source : The Hindu
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

FIFTEENTH FINANCE COMMISSION
Chairman of the Fifteenth Finance Commission N K Singh submitted the interim report of the Commission to President Ram Nath Kovind for the financial year 2020-21 for further necessary action.

About:

  • The 15th Finance Commission submitted its interim report on devolution formula for the financial year 2020-21 to President Ram Nath Kovind.

  • The devolution formula spells out how the Centre plans to share the taxes collected by it with the States. Since, the formula is to be applied in the new Budget, the award has not been made public.

  • Now, the report will first be studied and then a final view will be taken by the Cabinet following which it will be tabled in Parliament just before the Union Budget next year. Only after that will the contents be made public.

  • Normally, the government accepts the award in toto, however, it is free to accept or reject other suggestions in the report.

Important Info :

Do you know?

  • The Finance Commission was constituted by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution on 27th of November 2017 to make recommendations for a period of five years from 1st April 2020 to 31 March 2025.
  • Last month after a Cabinet decision, the Gazette Notification dated 27 November 2019 mandated the Commission to submit the report for the financial year 2020-21 by 30 November 2019 and then the final report for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2026 by 30 October 2020.
  • This has been necessitated after Article 370 of the Constitution was amended. Following this the State of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Thus, there was a need to change the terms of reference and extension of the term.
  • The last time an interim report was submitted was during the term of 11th Finance Commission (2000-05), when the new States of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh were created. 
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

WDJ0914+1914
A study published in the journal Nature has for the first time provided evidence of a planet surviving a white dwarf event.

About:

  • Some 4.5 billion years from today, our Sun will run of fuel and shed its outer layers. What will remain of the Sun is called a “white dwarf”.

  • In the process, it will destroy Mercury, Venus and probably Earth, and is expected to radiate enough high energy photons to evaporate Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

  • Astronomers from the University of Warwick and the University of Valparaíso have reported the first indirect evidence of a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf star (WDJ0914+1914). It is the first time any such planet has been found.

  • The discovery is significant, because while there was growing evidence accumulated in the past two decades that planetary systems can survive into white dwarf stars, only smaller objects such as asteroids had been detected so far. This is the first evidence of an actual planet in such a system.

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN THE COUNTRY
Government of India informed Rajya Sabha about the various initiatives to encourage women entrepreneurship within the Country.

Initiatives to encourage women entrepreneurship within the Country:

  1. Start-up India aims to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and Start-ups in the country under which 10% of the total corpus of Fund of Funds amounting to Rs 1000 crore, has been reserved for women led start-ups.

  2. Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has launched a portal namely “Udyam Sakhi” for encouraging women entrepreneurs and to aid, counsel, assist and protect their interests.

  3. Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), is a major credit-linked subsidy scheme to promote and set up MSMEs. Under the scheme the women entrepreneurs are provided 25% and 35% subsidies for the project set up in urban and rural areas respectively.

  4. Ministry of Skill Development is running a pilot project named ‘Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Start-ups by Women’ in collaboration with GIZ, Germany. The project pilots incubation and acceleration programmes for micro women entrepreneurs to start new businesses and scale up existing enterprises in Assam, Rajasthan and Telangana.

Source : PIB
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

INDIA’S TOP 10 POLICE STATIONS, 2019
Government of India has released the list of best performing Police stations from across the country for 2019.

About:

  • Background: Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the DsGP during the 2015 Conference in Kutch, Gujarat, directed that parameters should be laid down for grading Police Stations and assessing their performance based on feedback.

  • Methodology: In the final stage 19 parameters were identified to evaluate the standards of service delivery and identify techniques of improvement in policing. This part constitutes 80% of weightage in overall scoring. The balance 20% was based on infrastructure of Police Station and approachability of personnel and Citizen feedback.

The Top 10 Police Stations in the country are:-

  1. Aberdeen (Andaman & Nicobar Islands)

  2. Balasinor (Gujarat)

  3. Ajk Burhanpur (Madhya Pradesh)

  4. AWPS Theni (Tamil Nadu)

  5. Anini (Arunachal Pradesh)

  6. Baba Haridas Nagar, Dwarka (Delhi)

  7. Bakani (Rajasthan)

  8. Choppadandi (Telangana)

  9. Bicholim (Goa)

  10. Bargawa (Madhya Pradesh) 

Source : Times of India
Internal Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

AYUSH82
Minister for AYUSH informed Lok Sabha about the AYUSH82 formulation.

About:

  • The Central of Research in Ayurveda Sciences (CCRAS), and autonomous body under Ministry of AYUSH has been engaged in extending research oriented Ayurveda based on integrative health care services for the management of Madhumeha which is Diabetes Mellitus.

  • CCRAS had developed the AYUSH82 formulation for diabetes through scientific process of drug development and commercialized through National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) for wider public utility.

Important Info :

BGR-34?

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), through its constituent laboratories namely CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow; and CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow developed NBRMAP-DB as anti-diabetic formulation.
  • The knowhow for the product was licensed to M/s AIMIL Pharma Ltd., Delhi who are manufacturing and marketing it as BGR-34, across the country. 
Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

BLUE WATER FORCE
On the occasion of Navy Day (December 4), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called Indian Navy as a Formidable Blue Water Force.

About:

  • While it is evident that Blue Water navies belong to the most powerful nations, there is no one internationally agreed upon definition.

  • Navies are classified in terms of colours. A navy whose operations are restricted close to the shore, where the water is muddy, is called a Brown Water Force. A navy that can go farther out is called a Green Water Force. And then there is a Blue Water Force.

  • A Blue Water Navy is one that can go into the vast, deep oceans of the world. A Blue Water Force is able to carry out operations far from its borders, without being required to return to its home port to refuel or re-stock. Owning one or more aircraft carriers is sometimes seen as a marker of a Blue Water Navy.

Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

STARTUP INDIA GLOBAL VENTURE CAPITAL SUMMIT
The 2nd edition of the Startup India Global Venture Capital Summit is being held in Goa on 6th and 7th of December, 2019 for Fund Managers and Limited Partners of Top Global Venture Capital Firms.

About:

  • It has been organized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), in partnership with Government of Goa.

  • The theme for Startup India Global Venture Capital Summit 2019 is “India Opportunity – Investing in tomorrow together”.

  • The focus of the Summit is to mobilize global capital for innovation in India. The Summit will bring together representatives of leading Global Venture Capital Firms, Limited Partners, Family Offices, High-Network Individuals, Government of India officials, top Corporates, and select innovative Startups.

  • The first edition of the Summit was held in 2018 in Goa. 

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

RIPU DAMAN BEVLI
Fit India Plogging Run, which was launched on October 2, 2019, concluded in Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, having covered 50 cities across the country.

Ripu Daman Bevli:

  • During the event, Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports felicitated Ripu Daman Bevli, popularly known as the Plogman of India and named him the Plogging Ambassador of India.

  • Bevli, who started plogging in 2017, started the Fit India Plogging Run with the aim to make India litter-free. Belvi and his team have cleaned up 50 cities and covered over 1000km in about 2 months, collecting 2.7 tonnes of garbage.

Plogging Ambassador Mission:

  • The minister also launched the nation-wide Plogging Ambassador Mission.

  • Under it, Indians who have been running and cleaning their cities, towns or districts, will be nominated as Plogging Ambassadors of their region. 

Important Info :
  • Plog Run is a unique way of picking up garbage while jogging and was added to the Fit India Movement as a unique way of combining cleanliness and fitness.
  • Plogging Run combines the Fit India Movement and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. 
Source : PIB
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Dec. 7, 2019

ALLOCATION OF 5 COAL MINES APPROVED
The Ministry of Coal, after a long gap of 4 years, has approved the allocation of five Coal Mines. This was the result of the electronic auction conducted by Ministry of Coal in November 2019.

About:

  • The five Coal Mines allocated are:
    • Bikram (Madhya Pradesh)

    • Brahampuri (Madhya Pradesh)

    • Bhaskarpara (Chhattisgarh)

    • Jagannathpur B (West Bengal)

    • Jamkhani (Odisha)



  • Of the five mines, two were allocated to Birla Corporation Ltd and one each to Vedanta Ltd, Prakash Industries Ltd and Powerplus Traders Pvt Ltd.

  • The significant feature of the allocations is that for the first time, the successful bidders shall have the flexibility to sell 25% coal produced in the open market. This will boost the coal production in the country and reduce the dependence of industries on imported coal. 

Source : Economic Times
Economy
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