Aug. 31, 2019

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

AMRITA PRITAM
Google celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of Punjabi poet, author Amrita Pritam with a doodle.

About: 

  • She is most remembered for her poem titled “Ajj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu,” (Today I Invoke Waris Shah), addressed to Punjabi Sufi poet Waris Shah in which she laments the tragedy of the partition of Pakistan from India.

  • Her famous novel “Pinjar”, written in 1950, talks about the torture inflicted on women by their abductors in the wake of the Partition. It was adapted into a Hindi film which won the National award for Best Feature Film on National Integration in 2004.

  • She has written 3 autobiographies: Rasidi Ticket, Kala Gulab' (Black Rose) and Shadows of Words.

  • In 1986, she was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. She died in 2005.

Important Info :

Awards and Honour:

  • In 1956 she became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for her long poem, 'Sunehade' (Messages).
  • In 1981, she won the Bharatiya Jnanpith for the novel 'Kagaz Te Canvas' (The Paper and the Canvas).
  • In 1969, she was awarded the Padma Shri and in 2004 the Padma Vibhushan.
  • She was also bestowed the highest honour conferred by the Sahitya Akademi - 'Immortals of Literature' in 2005.
Source : The Hindu
Culture

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

BANK CONSOLIDATION
Government of India has announced the merger of 10 public sector banks (PSBs) into 4 banks.

About:

  • Under the scheme of amalgamation,
    • Indian Bank will be merged with Allahabad Bank (anchor bank - Indian Bank);

    • PNB, OBC and United Bank to be merged (PNB will be the anchor bank);

    • Union Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank to be merged (anchor bank - Union Bank of India); and

    • Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank to be merged (anchor bank - Canara Bank).



  • In place of 27 public sector banks in 2017, now there will be 12 public sector banks after the latest round of consolidation of PSU banks.

  • The merger announcement was followed by an equity infusion move of Rs 55,250 crore in these banks to enable them to grow their loan book.

  • This is a step by government towards building Next-Generation Banks. The consolidation of public sector banks will give them scale.

Important Info :

Earlier mergers: 

  • Last year, the government had approved the merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda (BoB) that become effective from April 1, 2019.
  • In 2017, the State Bank of India absorbed five of its associates and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank.
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

BANK FRAUDS
According to RBI's annual report, the number of cases of frauds reported by banks saw a jump of 15 % year-on-year basis in 2018-19, with the amount involved increasing by 73.8 % in the year.

About: 

  • The number of cases of frauds reported by banks saw a jump of 15 % year-on-year basis in 2018-19, with the amount involved increasing by 73.8 % in the year.

  • In FY19, banking sector reported 6,801 frauds involving Rs 71,542.93 crore as against 5,916 cases involving Rs 41,167.04 crore reported in 2017-18.

  • Among bank groups, PSBs have accounted for the bulk of frauds reported in 2018-19. It was followed by private sector banks and foreign banks.

  • The average lag between the date of occurrence and its detection by banks was 22 months. The average lag for large frauds, i.e. Rs 100 crore and above, amounting to Rs 52,200 crore reported during 2018-19, was 55 months.

  • Number of frauds related to advances were predominant followed by card/internet related frauds and deposits related frauds. Frauds relating to card/internet and deposits constituted only 0.3 % of the total value of frauds in 2018-19.

  • Cheating and forgery was the major component, followed by misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.

Source : Times of India
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

START-UP CELL
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified the creation of a five-member special cell to address grievances of startups with relation to angel tax and other tax-related issues.

About: 

  • The 'startup cell' will be headed by the member (Income Tax and Computerisation) of CBDT. 

  • The cell will work towards redressal of grievances and mitigate tax-related issues in case of startup entities with respect to administration of Income-tax Act, 1961. 

Important Info :

Last week, Union Finance Minister also declared exempting startups from the angel tax. To mitigate genuine difficulties of startups and their investors, it has been decided that section 56(2)(viib) of the Income-Tax Act shall not be applicable to a startup registered with DPIIT. 

Source : Livemint
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

COMPENSATORY AFFORESTATION FUND (CAF)
In a major step towards increasing afforestation in the country, Union Minister for Environment, handed over Rs. 47,000 crore from Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) to 27 states.

About: 

  • The funds will be utilized as per the provisions of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act and rules.

  • The CAF Act 2016 established an independent authority — the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority — to execute the fund.

  • The fund will be utilized for the compensatory afforestation, catchment area treatment, wildlife management, natural regeneration, forest fire prevention, soil and moisture conservation, improvement of wildlife habitat.

  • The funds have been collected as compensation from industry for razing forest land for business. Industrialists pay this money and this is eventually transferred to the States concerned to carry out afforestation.

  • Odisha, the top recipient of funds, got nearly ₹6,000 crore followed by Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh with ₹5,791 crore and ₹5,196 crore respectively.

Source : All India Radio
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

WEST BENGAL (PREVENTION OF LYNCHING) BILL, 2019
The West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed the West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019 to prevent and punish incidents of mob assaults and lynching.

About: 

  • Nodal officers will be appointed who shall “monitor and coordinate prevention of lynching”.

  • It proposes a jail term from three years to life for those involved in assaulting and injuring a person.

  • In the event of the victim’s death, the perpetrators can be punished with death sentence or rigorous life imprisonment.

  • The Bill, while defining terms like “lynching” and “mob”, also says that a West Bengal Lynching Compensation Scheme may be framed under this legislation.

  • The bill was passed in the aftermath of a string of incidents of people getting beaten to death over rumours of cattle smuggling and child theft. 

Social Issues

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

NATIONAL LABORATORY DIRECTORY
The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs launched the National Laboratory Directory.

About:

  • The National Lab Directory is an online platform created by the National Standards Body of India , Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

  • It is a one-stop-shop for all testing needs of the industries, academia, researchers and other stakeholders who need to get their Testing Facilities accredited / certified / recognised.

  • 4500 labs have now been linked through this directory. The National Lab Directory presently encompasses NABL accredited, BIS Recognised/Empanelled Labs, Hallmarking Labs. The labs which are recognised/notified by FASAI, APEDA, EIC, can also be indicated accordingly. 

  • All testing facilities for various labs can be searched by Products, IS standards, etc.

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

NAR-PAR-TAPI RIVER LINKING PROJECT
Maharashtra Cabinet has approved Nar-Par-Tapi river linking project to ensure 52 tmcft water for Marathwada and parts of north Maharashtra.

About: 

  • The Nar-Par-Tapi linking project, which is a combination of a lift irrigation scheme, tunnels and canals, will ensure 52 thousand million cubic feet (TMCft) water for Marathwada and parts of north Maharashtra.

  • The State Cabinet in July had given its nod to complete the Nar-Par-Tapi and the Damanganga–Pinjal river linking projects to mitigate the water woes of Marathwada and areas of Mumbai city.

  • The projects have been hanging fire for years owing to technical disputes over water sharing with Gujarat.

Source : The Hindu
Geography

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

DINDIGUL LOCK, KANDANGI SAREE
Two products from Tamil Nadu — the Dindigul lock and the Kandangi saree — were given the Geographical Indication tag by the Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai.

Kandangi saree: 

  • The Kandangi sarees are manufactured in the entire Karaikudi taluk in Sivaganga district. 

  • These cotton sarees are characterised by large contrast borders. It is manually made using a winding machine, loom, shuttle and bobbin. 

Dindigul locks: 

  • Dindigul locks are known throughout the world for their superior quality and durability. 

  • More than 3,125 lock manufacturing units are limited to an area of 5 km in and around Dindigul, so much so that even the city is called Lock City. The abundance of iron in this region is the reason for the growth of the industry. 

  • There are over 50 varieties of locks made by the artisans using raw materials such as MS flat plates and brass plates procured from the nearby towns. 

Source : The Hindu
Culture

Current Affairs
Aug. 31, 2019

LIFELINE EXPRESS
The Lifeline Express was inaugurated at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) by the Central Railway (CR) for its latest project, which involves providing medical treatment to poor patients.

About:

  • The Lifeline Express is also known as "Hospital on Wheels".

  • The Indian Railways, in partnership with Impact India Foundation, had launched the Lifeline Express - the worlds first hospital on wheels - in 1991 from CSMT to provide free of cost medical care to the poor living in remote corners of the country.

  • The seven coaches of the Lifeline Express have advanced operation theatres, a pathology lab, a mammography unit, a gynaecology examination room, a dental unit, a pharmacy, consultation cubicles and X-Ray unit, among others.

  • Till now, The Lifeline Express has travelled across 19 states, covering 201 rural locations in 138 districts providing medical treatment to 12.32 lakh patients.

Source : All India Radio
Health

Aug. 30, 2019

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

MRD
Scientists announced the landmark discovery in Ethiopia of a nearly complete skull of an early human ancestor that lived 3.8 million years ago, a species boasting an intriguing mixture of apelike and human like characteristics.

About: 

  • The fossil dubbed MRD, belongs to the species Australopithecus anamensis, which first appeared roughly 4.2 million years ago.

  • This species is considered the direct ancestor of the species Australopithecus afarensis (nicknamed Lucy), earthed in 1974 in Ethiopia. Lucy dates from about 3.2 million years ago.

  • It dates back to a time when our ancestors were emerging from the trees to walk on two legs, but still had distinctly ape-like protruding faces, powerful jaws and small brains, and is the oldest-known member of the Australopithecus group.

  • MRD’s species, which was bipedal but may also have been able to move around in trees, was much smaller than modern humans.

Important Info :

Coexistence of MRD and Lucy:

  • The dating of the skull also reveals that Anamensis and its descendent species, Lucy, coexisted for a period of at least 100,000 years.
  • This discovery challenges the long-held notion of linear evolution, in which one species disappears and is replaced by a new one.
  • Anamensis, which now spans from 4.2 million to 3.8 million years ago, is still thought to be Lucy’s ancestor, but continued to hang around after the Lucy group branched off from the parent lineage.
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

FIT INDIA MOVEMENT
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India Movement on the occasion of National Sports Day.

About:

  • The Fit India movement is aimed at encouraging people to inculcate physical activity and sports in their day to day life.

  • PM Modi said many lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension are increasing in India and small lifestyle changes can prevent these diseases. He asserted that the Fit India Movement is to inspire the country for these changes.

  • Sports has a direct relation to fitness but ‘Fit India Movement’ aims to go beyond fitness. Fitness is not just a word but an essential pillar to a healthy and prosperous life.

  • In his words, "Fitness is zero percent investment with infinite returns."

 

Important Info :

Do you know?

  • National Sports Day (also known as Rashtriya Khel Divas) is celebrated on 29th August every year to mark the birth anniversary of legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand.
Source : The Hindu
Sports

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

E-COURSE ON VULNERABILITY ATLAS
Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs launched an e-Course on Vulnerability Atlas of India.

About: 

  • The objective of the course is to create awareness and understanding about natural hazards and help in identification of regions with high vulnerability such as earthquakes, and landslides.

  • The e-course would be a tool for effective and efficient disaster mitigation and management in the field of architecture, civil engineering, urban and regional planning, housing and infrastructure planning, construction engineering.

  • The course would be offered by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs in collaboration with School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC).

Source : The Hindu
Disaster Management

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

ANGIKAAR CAMPAIGN
Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs announced “Angikaar”, a campaign for change management.

About: 

  • The campaign will be rolled out in all Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) [PMAY (U)] cities.

  • It will be initiated in all target cities on 2nd October 2019 and culminate on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10th December, 2019.

  • Angikaar has been launched for social behaviour change, focusing on issues such as water & energy conservation, waste management, health, tree plantation, sanitation and hygiene for beneficiaries of completed houses under PMAY (U), through community mobilisation.

  • For this purpose, the campaign will converge with schemes/services of various urban missions and other central ministries dealing with these subjects.

  • The convergence would especially focus on Ujjwala for gas connection and Ayushman Bharat for health insurance to the beneficiaries of PMAY (U).

Source : Economic Times
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

WORLD SKILLS KAZAN COMPETITION, 2019
Indian team created history at the 45th WorldSkills competition by winning one gold, one silver and two bronze medals (apart from 15 Medallions of Excellence) in the country's best performance since it first participated at the event in 2007.

About: 

  • World Skills competition is the world's biggest international vocational skill competition. 

  • Every two years WorldSkills International hosts the world skills competition which attracts competitors from more than 60 countries for the chance to win a prestigious medal in their chosen skill. 

  • There are competitions in 56 skills across a wide range of industries — from joinery to floristry; hairdressing to electronics; and autobody repair to bakery. The Competitors are selected from skills competitions that are held in WorldSkills Member countries and regions. 

  • WorldSkills India is an initiative of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development which leads India's participation at WorldSkills International competitions. 

The 45th WorldSkills Competition: 

  • The 45th WorldSkills Competition took place in Kazan on 22-27 August 2019.

  • Aswatha Narayana from Odisha created history in WorldSkills competition by winning India's first gold medal. He bagged the gold in water technology.

Important Info :

Do you know?

  • The Republic of Tatarstan or simply Tatarstan is a federal subject of the Russian Federation. Its capital is the city of Kazan.
  • Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers.
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

NORTH EAST RURAL LIVELIHOOD PROJECT (NERLP)
Ministry of DoNER has informed that North East Rural Livelihood Project (NERLP) has improved livelihoods of 300,000 households in 11 districts of Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

About: 

  • Bodies involved: NERLP is World Bank aided, multi-state livelihood project under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).

  • Launched in: 2012. 

  • Coverage: The project has been implemented in 11 districts of Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

  • Objective: To improve rural livelihoods especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged, in four North Eastern States.

  • Strategy: The project has focussed on five development strategies, namely, social empowerment, economic empowerment, partnership development, project management and livelihood & value chain developments.

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

INFLUENZA A (H1N1) IN INDIA – CHANGING EPIDEMIOLOGY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS (2019 STUDY)
In the National Medical Journal of India, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) researchers recently published a study titled ‘Influenza A (H1N1) in India – changing epidemiology and its implications’.

Key Findings:

  • In April 2009, the first case of influenza A H1N1 was reported in Mexico. Later the infection spread and a total of 214 countries were affected by the pandemic worldwide.

  • In India, the past decade (2009-2019) saw as many as 1.58 lakh persons being infected by the virus and over 10,000 succumbing to it.

  • Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases (33,284) and deaths (3,637) since pandemic influenza struck in 2009.

H1N1 Flu Virus (Swine Flu):

  • Swine flu is an infection caused by type A influenza viruses.

  • Who are infected? It's named for a virus that pigs can get. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. In 2009 a strain of swine flu called H1N1 infected many people around the world. The virus is contagious and can spread from human to human.

  • Symptoms: Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

COPROLITE
Scientists have found the oldest parasite DNA ever recorded. The discovery was made in the “coprolite” of a prehistoric puma in Argentina.

About: 

  • Coprolites are fossilised faeces belonging to animals that lived millions of years ago.

  • Scientists can analyse and study their shape and size and depending on the location they were found in, Scientists can figure out the animal from which they came as well as uncover what those animals ate.

  • For instance, if there are bone fragments in the faeces, it tells scientists that the animal might have been a carnivore. Tooth marks can reveal how the animal ate.

Recent discovery:

  • A team of scientists from Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research studied a prehisoric puma’s coprolite taken from a rock-shelter in Catamarca province.

  • With the help of carbon dating, they were able to estimate the age of the coprolite at between 16,500-17,000 years. This led to the identification of the oldest parasite DNA found yet.

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

STATUS OF POLICING IN INDIA REPORT 2019
A new report titled “Status of Policing in India Report 2019: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions” was released by Common Cause and the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Key findings of the report: 

  • 28% police personnel believe that pressure from politicians is the biggest hindrance in a crime investigation. The other obstacles cited were related to society, legal systems and internal working systems in police. 

  • 38% personnel reported always facing pressure from politicians in cases of crime involving influential persons. Roughly one third also reported “always” facing pressure from their seniors in the police force. 

  • 50 % of police personnel feel that Muslims are likely to be “naturally prone” to committing crimes. 

  • 35 % of police personnel think it is natural for a mob to punish the “culprit” in cases of cow slaughter, and 43 % think it is natural for a mob to punish someone accused of rape. 

  • 37 per cent personnel feel that for minor offences, a small punishment should be handed out by the police rather than a legal trial. 

Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Aug. 30, 2019

STUDY TO CHECK ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE IN GANGA
The Union Government has commissioned a study to assess the microbial diversity along the entire length of the Ganga and test if stretches of the river contain microbes that may promote “antibiotic resistance”.

About: 

  • Duration: The project is expected to last two years. 

  • It is will be undertaken by: Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology, Allahabad; National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur; Sardar Patel Institute of Science & Technology, Gorakhpur, as well as start-up companies, Phixgen and Xcelris Labs. 

  • Parent programme: The research project will be undertaken by the National Mission for Clean Ganga under the Jal Shakti Ministry. 

  • Aims of the study: 
    • To assess the microbial diversity along the entire length of the Ganga. 

    • To indicate the type of “contamination” (sewage and industrial) in the river and “threat to human health (antibiotic resistance surge)”. 

    • To identify sources of Eschericia coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the gut of animals and humans. While largely harmless, some species have been linked to aggravating antibiotic resistance. 



Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Aug. 29, 2019

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

G7, BIARRITZ SUMMIT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit to Biarritz, France at the invitation of President Macron for the 2019 G-7 Summit as ‘Biarritz Partner’ from 25-26 August 2019.

About: 

The 45th G7 summit was held on 24–26 August 2019, in Biarritz, France with the theme “Fighting Inequality”. Key highlights of the summit: 

  • The G7 commits to reaching an agreement in 2020 to simplify regulatory barriers and modernize international taxation within the framework of the OECD.

  • The G7 shares the common objective to ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons.

  • in an opaque reference to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present), France and Germany announced that they will organize a Normandy format summit in the coming weeks to achieve tangible results.

  • in light of the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests, the G7 reaffirmed the importance of the 1984 Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong and calls for avoiding violence.

  • On the sidelines of summit, PM Modi met US President Donald Trump and discussed various issues including Kashmir. After the meeting, Trump said Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and both the countries will sort it out themselves.

  • Trump and Emmanuel Macron agreed that Russia should be invited to the next G7 Summit in 2020 (In 2014, the G7 declared that a meaningful discussion was currently not possible with Russia in the context of the G8. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process).

Important Info :
  • The Group of Seven (G7) is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of seven advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 
  • Biarritz is a city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in southwestern France. It is located 35 kilometres from the border with Spain. 
Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR DISASTER RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE (CDRI)
The Union Cabinet has approved the Establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) along with its supporting Secretariat Office in New Delhi.

About: 

  • Launch date: The CDRI is proposed to be launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, USA on 23rd September 2019. 

  • The approval is for the following initiatives: 
    • Establishment of the CDRI along with its supporting Secretariat office in New Delhi. 

    • Establishment of the Secretariat of the CDRI as a Society under The Societies Registration Act,1860. 

    • In-principle approval for Government of India support of Rs. 480 crore over a period of 5 years from 2019-20 to 2023-24. 



  • Major Impact: The CDRI will serve as a platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure. It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders. 

Source : PIB
Disaster Management

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

BIOMETRIC SEAFARER IDENTITY DOCUMENT (BSID)
India has become the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID), capturing the facial bio-metric data of seafarers.

About:

  • The project was launched by Union Minister of Shipping in New Delhi. He also handed over the new BSID cards to five Indian seafarers. All the existing seafarers will be given BSID within the next 2 years.

  • The new card is in confirmation of the Convention No. 185 of the International Labour Organisation  on BSID. India ratified the Convention in October 2015.

  • In India the BSID project has been taken up by Ministry of Shipping in collaboration with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Mumbai.

  • The Government notified the Merchant Shipping (Seafarers Bio-metric Identification Document) Rules in

  • The new document will give a foolproof identification to Indian seafarers which will facilitate their movement, provide ease of getting jobs and help in identifying them from any location in the world, while protecting their dignity and privacy.

  • The new facial biometric technology is a marked improvement over the two finger or iris based bio-metric data, with modern security features. It will have a biometric chip embedded in it. The card has two optical security features- Micro prints/micro texts and Unique Guilloche pattern. 

Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

SHAGUN
Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Shri Ramesh launched an Integrated Online junction for School Education ‘Shagun’.

About: 

  • School Education Shagun (URL: htpp://shagun.govt.in/) is an over-arching initiative to improve school education system.

  • This will be achieved by creating a junction for all portals/websites relating to various activities of the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Government of India and States/UTs.

  • Websites of 1200 Kendriya Vidyalayas, 600 Navodaya Vidyalayas, 18000 other CBSE affiliated schools, 30 SCERTs, 19000 organisations affiliated with NTCE among others are integrated with Shagun.

  • Report cards of 15 lakh schools all over the country will be available on the newly created junction. The website also provides vital information relating to availability of nearby schools. Common people can directly give their feedback about schools.

  • The portal seeks to connect approximately 92 lakh teachers and 26 crore students.

Source : PIB
Education

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

INTEGRATED NATIONAL SCHOOL EDUCATION TREASURY (INSET)
Union HRD Minister announced the setting up of the Integrated National School Education Treasury (INSET).

About: 

  • INSET is envisaged as a fully integrated, instantly accessible and seamless information network for all parameters relating to the students, teachers, and schools in the country. 

  • The aim is to create an easily accessible multi-layered eco-system of information – school wise, block-wise, district-wise, constituency-wise, state-wise and region-wise. 

  • Using this, parents will soon be able to inform the education authorities directly in real time if a school administration provides incorrect details about its infrastructure, teachers or if the teachers are indulging in absenteeism. 

Source : Hindustan Times
Education

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

REVIEW OF FDI POLICY
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Review of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy on various sectors.

Amendments to the FDI Policy:

  • Digital Media: It has been decided to permit 26% FDI under government route for uploading/ streaming of News & Current Affairs through Digital Media, on the lines of print media.

  • Contract Manufacturing: It has been decided to allow 100% FDI under automatic route in contract manufacturing in India as well.

  • Coal Mining: It has been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route for sale of coal, for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure.

  • Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT):
    • All procurements made from India by the SBRT entity for the single brand shall be counted towards local sourcing, irrespective of whether the goods procured are sold in India or exported.

    • Further, the current cap of considering exports for 5 years only is proposed to be removed, to give an impetus to exports. 



Important Info :

Background: 

  • As per UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2019, global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows slid by 13% in 2018, to US $1.3 trillion from US $1.5 trillion the previous year - the third consecutive annual decline. 
  • However, India remains a preferred and attractive destination for global FDI flows. In fact, total FDI in 2018-19 i.e. US $ 64.37 billion (provisional figure) is the highest ever FDI received for any financial year. 
  • The above amendments to the FDI Policy are meant to liberalize and simplify the FDI policy to attract far more foreign investment. 
Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

PLANT TO CONVERT PLASTIC WASTE INTO DIESEL
Union Minister for Science and Technology inaugurated a waste plastics to diesel plant in Dehradun.

About: 

  • Location: The plant has been set up in CSIR- Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) whose scientists will process waste plastics into fuel.

  • Capacity: It has the capacity to produce 800-litre diesel from one tonne of plastic. The fuel will be of automotive grade. It meets the specifications for use in vehicles. This will be made available to government, police and army vehicles for regular use.

  • Technology: Using the technology, polyolefinic waste can be converted into diesel. This type of waste accounts for about 70 % of total plastic waste in the country and is the least bio-degradable.

  • Bodies involved: The technology has been developed by the scientists of the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun under the GAIL’s sponsorship. GAIL (India) has sponsored the technology development and provided technical support for the endeavour.

  • Way ahead: IIP and GAIL have planned to roll out the technology nation-wide after six months of operation of the pilot plant.

Source : Times of India
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

INDIA CHILD WELL-BEING INDEX
The India child well-being index was released by the NGO World Vision India and research institute IFMR LEAD.

Methodology:

  • The India child well-being index is a tool designed to measure and track children’s well-being comprehensively.

  • The three dimensions of the index include (1) healthy individual development, (2) positive relationships and (3) protective contexts.

  • Focusing on the three key dimensions, 24 indicators were selected to develop the index.

Key findings:

  • Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry topped the child well-being index.

  • Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh featured at the bottom of the list. 

Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

MASKED AND WHITE-COAT HYPERTENSION
Indian Heart Study (IHS) has found that Indian have average resting heart rate higher than desired rate.

Key findings of study: 

  • IHS has found that Indians have an average resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute which is higher than the desired rate of 72 beats per minute. 

  • Unlike people of other countries, Indians have higher blood pressure in the evenings than in mornings. 

  • There is a high prevalence of masked hypertension and white-coat hypertension in Indians at 42 percent on first visit to a doctor's clinic. 

Important Info :
  • Masked-hypertension is a phenomenon when an individual's blood pressure reading is normal at the doctor's clinic but high at home.
  • White-coat hypertension is a condition in which people exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range in a clinical setting only.
Source : All India Radio
Health

Current Affairs
Aug. 29, 2019

KANCHAN CHAUDHARY BHATTACHARYA
India’s first woman Director General of Police (DGP) Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya passed away after prolonged illness at the age of 72.

About: 

  • Born in Himachal Pradesh, Chaudhary, the 1973 batch Indian Police Service officer handled many sensitive cases like including the killing of national badminton champion Syed Modi and the Reliance-Bombay Dyeing case in her 33 year long career. 

  • She was the second woman IPS officer in the country after Kiran Bedi.  

Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Aug. 28, 2019

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

BIMAL JALAN COMMITTEE
RBI has decided to transfer a sum of ₹1.7 Lakh crore to the Government of India – comprising of ₹1.2 Lakh crore of surplus for the year 2018-19 and ₹52,637 crore of excess provisions identified as per the revised Economic Capital Framework (ECF) adopted – to address the fiscal situation of the government to a great extent.

About: 

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had constituted an “Expert Committee to Review the Extant Economic Capital Framework of the RBI” under the Chairmanship of Dr. Bimal Jalan. Major recommendations of the Committee with regard to risk provisioning and surplus distribution are as follows:

  • RBI’s economic capital: A clearer distinction between the two components of economic capital (realized equity and revaluation balances) was recommended.
    • Realized equity could be used for meeting all risks/ losses as they were primarily built up from retained earnings.

    • Revaluation balances could be reckoned only as risk buffers against market risks as they represented unrealized valuation gains and hence were not distributable.



  • Risk provisioning for market risk: It has recommended the adoption of Expected Shortfall (ES) methodology under stressed conditions (in place of the extant Stressed-Value at Risk) for measuring the RBI’s market risk. It has recommended the adoption of a target of ES 99.5 % confidence level (CL).

  • Size of Realized Equity: Contingent Risk Buffer (CRB) – made primarily from retained earnings – has been recommended to be maintained within a range of 6.5 % to 5.5 % of the RBI’s balance sheet, comprising 5.5 to 4.5 % for monetary and financial stability risks and 1.0 % for credit and operational risks.

  • Surplus Distribution Policy: It has recommended a surplus distribution policy which targets the level of realized equity to be maintained by the RBI. Under it, only if realized equity is above its requirement, will the entire net income be transferable to the Government.

  • It has also suggested that the RBI’s economic capital framework may be periodically reviewed after every five years.

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

LAND DEGRADATION
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that India has committed to rejuvenate 50 lakh hectares (5 million) of degraded land between 2021 and 2030.

Background:

  • India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. About 29% or about 96.4 million hectares are considered degraded.

  • A report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this month underlined that land everywhere was bearing the brunt of severe climate change impacts already and would lead to extreme food insecurity if steps weren’t taken.

Initiatives by Government of India:

  • In January 2019, India became part of the “Bonn Challenge”, a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.

  • Schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Card Scheme, Soil Health Management Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana will tackle this land degradation.

  • India for the first time will be hosting the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from September 2 to 13.
    • India will implement provisions of New Delhi Declaration which is to be adopted at the end of conference and a Centre for Excellence will be established at Dehradun.



Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

DRAFT E-COMMERCE GUIDELINES FOR CONSUMER PROTECTION 2019
Union Consumer Affairs Minister announced that Guidelines for e-commerce firms aimed at protecting the consumer interests issued earlier this month would become mandatory under the new Consumer Protection Act.

Salient features of the draft guidelines:

  • The guidelines will be applicable on all business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce platforms.

  • It seeks to protect personally-identifiable information of customers and set a 14-day limit for payments toward refund requests.

  • The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) would be established to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights. It would have the power to take action against violating firms.

  • The platforms are also required to display terms of contract with the seller relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty, delivery and mode of payments.

  • It proposes to make it mandatory for e-commerce entities to accept returns in the event the products delivered are “defective, wrong or spurious” or if they do not have the characteristics or features advertised.

  • Every e-commerce entity has to publish the contact details of its grievance officer, who would have to address complaints within one month from the date of receipt.

  • The final rules will be notified by December 2019. 

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

RTI WEB PORTAL
The Supreme Court asked the Centre and 25 States to respond to a writ petition for a direction to establish Right to Information (RTI) web portals across all States to enable citizens, especially those living abroad, to file RTI applications online.

About: 

  • The Central government established an online RTI portal whereby any Indian citizen, including Non-Residential Indians (NRIs), can apply for information under the RTI Act with the desired Ministry or Department under the Central government.

  • An applicant can also pay the requisite fee through online payment in this portal and submit the RTI application, the petition said.

  • In 2013, the Centre had also requested the various State governments to explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI portals. However, according to a petition filed by the Pravasi Legal Cell, none of the States except Delhi and Maharashtra, had set up RTI portals.

  • Thus, a person seeking information under the RTI Act of 2005 from any State department, is compelled to make a physical application. This has become difficult for NRIs.

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

SECURITY CATEGORIES IN INDIA
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clarified that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh continues to have Z plus security cover, after the withdrawal of Special Protection Group (SPG) from his security. Around 35 CRPF commandos will provide round-the-clock security to him under the changed set-up.

About:

  • In India, Government of India provides security to some high-risk individuals by the police and local government.

  • Individuals under this security blanket include the President, Vice-President, Prime-Minister, Supreme Court and High Court Judges, Service Chiefs of Indian Armed Forces, Governors of State, Chief Ministers and Cabinet Ministers.

Categories of security:

  • Special Protection Group (SPG) category: Strength of security detail is Classified (only provided to the current and former Prime Ministers of India and their immediate family members.)

  • Z+ category: It has a security cover of 55 personnel (Including 10+ NSG Commando) + (Police Personnel)

  • Z category: It has a security cover of 22 personnel (Including 4 or 5 NSG Commando) + (Police Personnel)

  • Y category: It has a security cover of 11 personnel (Including 1 or 2 Commando) + (Police Personnel)

  • X category: It has a security cover of 2 personnel (No Commando, Only Armed Police Personnel)

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

OALP BID ROUND-IV
The Government of India has launched the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Round-IV for International Competitive Bidding from27th August, 2019which will be carried out under the revised policy framework.

About:

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) launched the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) in June 2017 to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.

  • OALP envisages six monthly periodic bidding rounds starting from July 1, 2017.

  • Government under three (3) OALP Rounds have already awarded Eighty-Seven (87) Blocks covering an area of 1,18,280 Sq. Km with leading E&P companies.

OALP Bid Round-IV:

  • In OALP Bid Round-IV, 7 blocks, with an area of approximately 18,500 sq. km., are being offered for bidding to the investor community.
    • The Vindhyan basin covers areas under the Son valley, Bundelkhand and Rajasthan.

    • The Bengal Purnea basin is in West Bengal and extends into the offshore region of the Bay of Bengal.



  • OALP-IV is the first round being held on revamped terms approved in February 2019.
    • Unlike previous rounds where blocks were awarded to companies offering a maximum share of oil and gas to the government, blocks in little or unexplored Category-II and III basins will be awarded to companies offering to do maximum exploration programme.

    • The revamped policy also provides for “shorter exploration period, concessional royalty rates to expedite oil and gas production and introduction of alternate dispute resolution mechanism.



Economy

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

NOC ONLINE APPLICATION PROCESSING SYSTEM (NOAPS)
The Union Minister for Culture launched an integrated NOAPS for National Monuments Authority (NMA) for 517 local bodies in six new states.

About:

  • Six new States – Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand and Telangana – will be part of this Integrated Online Application Portal with Urban Local Bodies Count.

  • Earlier this system was available only for five urban local bodies of Delhi and one urban local body of Mumbai.

  • This will help in online processing of applications requesting NOC for construction related work in prohibited and regulated area of ASI protected monuments.

 

Important Info :

Background:

  • National Monuments Authority (NMA) under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India has been setup as per provisions of “The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010”.
  • In order to automate the process of grant of NO Objection Certificate(NOC) for construction related work in the prohibited and regulated area, NMA has designed a web enabled application named NOC online Application Processing System (NOAPS) over the URL: http://nmanoc.nic.in/ .
Source : PIB
Culture

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

JAN AUSHADHI SUGAM; JAN AUSHADHI SUVIDHA
Union Minister for Chemicals made announcements related to “Janaushadhi Sugam” and “Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Oxo-Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin.”

About: 

  • Union Minister for Chemicals launched a mobile application “Jan Aushadhi Sugam” to enable people to search Jan Aushadhi generic medicine stores.

  • He also announced that “Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Oxo-Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin” will now be available at only One Rupee per pad (earlier the cost was Rs 2.50 per pad).
    • The Government of India launched Jan Aushadhi Suvidha pad in 2018. It comes with a special additive, which makes it biodegradable when it comes in contact with oxygen after being discarded.

    • These are available for sale in more than PMBJP Kendras across the country.

    • About 28 million girls are reported to be leaving education because of lack of availability of good quality Sanitary Napkin” pads at reasonable cost.



Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

GOOTY TARANTULA
In an interesting find, researchers have sighted Gooty Tarantula for the first time beyond its known habitat in the Eastern Ghats.

About:

  • Scientific Name: Poecilotheria metallica

  • Common Name: Peacock Parachute Spider; Gooty Tarantula.

  • Genus: The spider belonging to the genus Poecilotheria.

  • IUCN Status: Critically endangered.

  • Distribution: This specie is endemic to India.
    • It’s known habitat is in Eastern Ghats, in degraded forests near Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh.

    • Now researchers have sighted it for the first time beyond Eastern Ghats in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu. 



Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Aug. 28, 2019

2019 INDO PACIFIC CHIEFS OF DEFENCE (CHOD) CONFERENCE, BANGKOK
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa attended the 2019 Indo Pacific Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) Conference, which was held from 26-28 August 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.

About: 

  • The Chiefs of Defence of over 33 countries attended the Conference. 

  • The theme for the conference is "Collaboration in a free and Open Indo - Pacific”. 

  • The conference provided perspectives on common challenges faced by attending nations and elicit open discussions on the same. 

  • The participation of Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, who is also Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee, provided further impetus towards increasing defence cooperation with Thailand. 

Important Info :

Indo-Thailand Relations?

  • Bilateral defence relations between India and Thailand have gained momentum consequent to India’s ‘’Look/ Act East Policy’.
  • Joint Working Group on Security Cooperation, initiated in 2003, had nominated Military Cooperation as one of the seven primary areas of focus to strengthen cooperation.
  • India and Thailand have commemorated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2017.
Source : All India Radio
International
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