Sept. 19, 2019

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

E-CIGARETTES
The Union Cabinet has approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement).

Salient Features of Ordinance:

  • Any production, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale) or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes shall be a cognizable offence punishable with an imprisonment of up to one year or fine up to Rs. 1 lakh or both for the first offence.

  • For a subsequent offence, there will be imprisonment of up to 3 years and fine up to Rs. 5 lakh.

  • Storage of electronic-cigarettes shall also be punishable with an imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.

  • The Sub-Inspector of Police has been designated as the Authorized Officer to take action under the Ordinance. The Central or State Governments may also designate any other equivalent officer(s) as Authorized Officer for enforcement of the provisions of the Ordinance. 

Important Info :

Electronic-cigarettes?

  • Electronic-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes.
  • These include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices.
  • Their use has increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children. These products are usually marketed as being safer alternatives for conventional cigarettes but such notions of safety are false.
  • The current decision to ban them has come on the back of an advisory issued by the Government in 2018 to all States to consider banning e-cigarettes. 16 States and 1 UT have already banned e cigarettes in their jurisdictions.
  • Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes based on currently available scientific evidence. 
Source : The Hindu
Health

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

INTERNATIONAL MIGRANT STOCK 2019
According to the International Migrant Stock 2019, Indian diaspora (at 17.5 million) is the largest in the world.

About:

  • The International Migrant Stock 2019 is a dataset released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

  • It provides the latest estimates of the number of international migrants by age, sex and origin for all countries and areas of the world.

Key findings for 2019:

  • In 2019, the number of migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million. The top ten countries of origin account for one-third of all international migrants.

  • India is the leading country of origin of international migrants in 2019 with a 17.5 million strong diaspora. Migrants from Mexico constituted the second largest diaspora with 11.8 million people followed by China (10.7 million), Russia (10.5 million) and Syria (8.2 million).

  • Regionally, Europe hosted the largest number of international migrants (82 million), followed by Northern America (59 million) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (49 million).

  • At the country level, United States of America hosting the largest number of international migrants (51 million), with Germany and Saudi Arabia hosting the second and third largest numbers of migrants (13 million each).

  • India hosted 5.1 million international migrants in 2019. The highest number of international migrants came from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. International migrants as a share of total population in India was steady at 0.4 % from 2010 to 2019.

  • In terms of the share of international migrants in total population, the highest proportion was recorded in Oceania region (including Australia and New Zealand) at 21.2%.

  • The global number of refugees and asylum seekers increased by 13 million between 2010 and 2017. Northern Africa and Western Asia hosted around 46% of the global number of refugees and asylum seekers.

  • The share of women and girls in the global number of international migrants fell slightly, from 49% in 2000 to 48% in 2019. The share of migrant women was highest in Northern America (52%) and Europe (51%).

  • In terms of age, one out of every seven international migrants is below the age of 20 years. 

     



Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

TRAIN-THE-TRAINER (TTT) PROGRAM IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The Directorate General of Training (DGT) division of the Ministry of Skill Development has signed an agreement with Global IT major IBM for nationwide Train-the-Trainer program in Artificial Intelligence.

About: 

  • As part of the program, ITI trainers will be trained on basic Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills towards using the technology in their day-to-day training activities.

  • The program will be executed over a period of one year under which IBM aims at training 10,000 faculty members from ITIs across the country.

  • IBM will provide the necessary training at seven centres including six National Skills Training Institutes (NSTI) and one Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Pune.

  • Individuals that complete the course will be awarded certification of participation and will be badged by IBM.

Source : Economic Times
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

MALNUTRITION IN UNDER-5 CHILDREN
A recent report published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health gives comprehensive estimates of disease burden due to child and maternal malnutrition and the trends of its indicators in every state of India from 1990 to 2017.

Key findings include:

  • The death rate attributable to malnutrition in under-5 children in India has dropped by two-thirds from 1990 to 2017. Malnutrition is, however, still the underlying risk factor for 68% of the deaths in under-five children in India.

  • The Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY) rate attributable to malnutrition in children varies 7-fold among the states — a gap between a high of 74,782 in Uttar Pradesh and a low of 11,002 in Kerala.

  • The proportion of under-5 deaths attributable to malnutrition, which is 68.2% across India, ranges between a high of 72.7% in Bihar and a low of 50.8% in Kerala.

  • Among the malnutrition indicators, low birth weight is the largest contributor to child deaths in India, followed by child growth failure which includes stunting, underweight, and wasting.

  • The prevalence of low birth weight was 21 per cent in India in 2017, ranging from 9 per cent in Mizoram to 24 per cent in UP.

  • Incidences of stunting among children was 39 per cent in India in 2017. This ranged from 21 per cent in Goa to 49 per cent in UP.

  • In 2017, 33 per cent of the children in India were reportedly underweight, ranging from 16 per cent in Manipur to 42 per cent in Jharkhand.

  • The incidences of anaemia among children, on other other hand, was 60 per cent in India in 2017, ranging from 21 per cent in Mizoram to 74 per cent in Haryana. 

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

VACCINE HESITANCY
The World Health Organization (WHO) has included ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the 10 threats to global health for the year 2019.

About:

  • Vaccine hesitancy means the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines.

  • Vaccine hesitancy threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally in 2018.

  • Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.

  • Some of the reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are: Complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy. 

Important Info :

Ten threats to global health in 2019 according to WHO are:

  • Air pollution and climate change
  • Noncommunicable diseases
  • Global influenza pandemic
  • Fragile and vulnerable settings
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Ebola and other high-threat pathogens
  • Weak primary health care
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Dengue
  • HIV
Source : The Hindu
Health

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

ANJALI SINGH
Wing Commander Anjali Singh has become the first woman in the Indian military history to be posted as a military diplomat at an Indian mission abroad.

About: 

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) send her to Moscow as a deputy air attaché. The 41-year-old officer is an aeronautical engineer who served with fighter squadrons during her 17-year military career

  • Until now, only male officers from the three services were appointed as military attaches in overseas Indian missions. The change came about during Nirmala Sitharam’s tenure as defence minister when she backed the proposal to give military women more global exposure.

  • The army and the navy will also appoint women officers as defence attaches in the near future depending on the candidates meeting the requirement.

Source : Hindustan Times
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

HEAD ON GENERATION (HOG) TECHNOLOGY
Ministry of Railways has decided to adopt Head on Generation (HOG) technology in all LHB Coaches trains within this year. Till date 342 trains have already been converted into HOG.

About:

  • In HOG Technology, the power will be drawn from the overhead electric supply.

  • The power generator cars which used to make huge noise and emit fumes will no more be there.
    • In place of two such generator cars there will be one standby silent generator car to be used for emergency.

    • In place of the other car, there will be LSLRD (LHB Second Luggage, Guard & Divyaang Compartment). This LSLRD will also have capability to convert power from the overhead supply to be utilised in the entire train while providing space for luggage guard room and additional passengers. 



Important Info :

Significance:

  • The move will make the train journey quieter for travellers and more economical for the carrier.
  • Till date, 342 trains have already been converted into HOG. This has resulted in savings of approximate Rs 800 crore.
  • The new technology HOG will be available at ₹6 per unit as compared to the End-on-Generation (EOG) system, in which cost of power is ₹22 per unit. 
Source : Livemint
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

BHARAT BILL PAYMENT SYSTEM (BBPS)
The Reserve Bank of India has expanded the scope of the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) by adding other categories of recurring payments through the portal.

About:

  • BBPS, an interoperable platform for repetitive bill payments, functions under the aegis of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

  • BBPS currently covers bills of five segments viz. (1) Direct to Home (DTH), (2) Electricity, (3) Gas, (4) Telecom and (5) Water.

  • Now, RBI has decided to expand the scope and coverage of BBPS to include all categories of billers who raise recurring bills (except prepaid recharges) as eligible participants, on a voluntary basis. This directive has been issued under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

  • With the expansion of the scope of the payment facility, other recurring payments such as school fees, municipal taxes, insurance premiums can also be paid via BBPS. 

Source : Livemint
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

NIRVIK
Ministry of Commerce & Industry has introduced NIRVIK Scheme to enhance loan availability and ease the lending process.

Salient features of the scheme: 

  • Ministry of Commerce & Industry through Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) has introduced a new Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS) called NIRVIK to enhance loan availability and ease the lending process.

  • Under ECIS, the insurance cover percentage has also been enhanced to 90% from the present average of 60% for both Principal and Interest of the loan for pre- and post-shipment credit.

  • Claim inspection would be waived for up to ₹10 crore. For claims higher than this amount, inspection of bank documents and records by ECGC officials will be mandatory.

  • The existing premium rate would be lowered, with loans to be categorised into two broad categories of those below ₹80 crore and those above that amount. Loans above ₹80 crore will be further divided into those that are not for gold, jewellery or diamonds, and those that are.

  • Public sector banks had agreed to give the ECGC-covered loans at a rate that is a maximum of 2.2% higher than the prevailing repo rate, and this would be adjusted as the repo rate changes.

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 19, 2019

STEEL SECTOR
Government of India has taken couple of initiatives in recent days to revive the steel sector.

Steel Import Monitoring System (SIMS):

  • Steel Import Monitoring System (SIMS) will be effective from 1st November, 2019.

  • The system has been developed in consultation with Ministry of Steel on the pattern of US Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system.

  • The SIMS will provide advance information about steel imports to Government and stake holders including, steel industry (producers), steel consumers(importers) to have effective policy interventions.

SAIL allowed to offload 25% of iron ore production:

  • The Ministry of Mines has allowed Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) to offload, in a year, up to a quantity equivalent to maximum of 25 % of total iron ore production in the previous year. It is valid for a period of two years.

  • This is subject to clearance from the respective State governments where the mines are located.

  • This implies that around 7 million tonnes of iron ore, produced at mines in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, can be offloaded by SAIL to the domestic market after getting the necessary clearances. This will ensure raw material security for Indian steel industry. 

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Sept. 18, 2019

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

GOVT.-FUNDED NGOs UNDER RTI
The Supreme Court in a recent judgment held that Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government fall within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

Key highlights of judgement: 

  • The Supreme Court laid down that NGOs which receive considerable finances from the government or are essentially dependent on the government fall under the category of “public authority” defined in Section 2(h) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005.

  • This means that they have to disclose vital information, ranging from finances to hierarchy to decisions to functioning, to citizens who apply under RTI.

  • An NGO may also include societies which are neither owned or controlled by the government, but if they are significantly funded by the government, directly or indirectly, they come under the RTI Act.

  • The court defined “substantial” as a “large portion.”
    • It does not necessarily have to mean a major portion or more than 50%. Substantial financing can be both direct or indirect.

    • g. If government gives land in a city free of cost or on heavy discount to hospitals, educational institutions or any such body, this could also be substantial financing.



Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

PUBLIC PREMISES (EVICTION OF UNAUTHORISED OCCUPANTS) AMENDMENT ACT, 2019
The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 which was passed by the Parliament during the last Budget Session has come into effect.

About: 

  • The Bill amends the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.

  • This will facilitate smooth and speedy eviction of unauthorized occupants from Government residential accommodations. This is expected to further increase availability of government residential accommodations for eligible persons and reduce the waiting period.

  • As per the Amendment Act, the Estate officer will issue short Show cause notice of three days before eviction of the unauthorized occupant from Government accommodation.

  • If the person in unauthorised occupation of the residential accommodation challenges the eviction order passed by the estate officer in court, he will be required to pay damages for every month of such occupation.

Important Info :

Background: 

  • The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 was enacted to provide for eviction of unauthorised occupants from “public premises” and for certain incidental matters.
  • Under the existing provisions, the eviction proceedings of unauthorised occupants from "public premises" takes around five to seven weeks’ time. Sometimes, it takes years to evict the unauthorised occupants, especially, if the unauthorised occupant approaches higher courts.
Source : All India Radio
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

NATIONAL CENTRE FOR CLEAN COAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (NCCCR&D)
Union Minister of Science & Technology, inaugurated the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development at Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-Bengaluru.

About: 

  • Government of India through Department of Science & Technology, has set up the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development (NCCCR&D) as a national level consortium on clean coal R&D, led by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-Bengaluru.

  • The primary goal is to address several critical R&D challenges towards the development of clean coal technologies, in tandem with developing supercritical power plant technologies, both at the materials and system level.

  • The pathways identified for lowering the carbon footprint of coal-based thermal power plants is by shifting towards high efficiency advanced ultra-supercritical (AUSC) steam power plants as well as supercritical carbon dioxide (s-CO2) based Brayton cycle power plants, along with exploration of new combustion and gasification technologies.

  • The research in clean coal domain could potentially be game changer for meeting the energy needs of the country in terms of higher efficiency and capacity at lower operating costs and size.

Important Info :

Clean coal technology? 

  • Clean coal technology is a collection of technologies being developed in attempts to lessen the negative environmental impact of coal energy generation and to mitigate worldwide climate change.
  • The term "clean coal" has been applied to many technologies, ranging from wet scrubbers, which remove sulfur dioxide from coal-generated gas, to coal washing, which removes soil and rock from coal before it's sent to a factory.
Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

INTERDISCIPLINARY CENTRE FOR ENERGY RESEARCH (ICER)
Union Minister of Science & Technology dedicated an Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research (ICER) to the Nation.

About: 

  • Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research (ICER) is one of the youngest centres at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-Bengaluru.

  • It is India’s first of its kind centre equipped with state-of-art facilities for conducting wide spectrum of energy research by knowledge network of elite researchers.

  • It has been conceived to take up socially relevant research in line with national-level missions of the Government of India, which will directly benefit the people of the nation and the world.

  • The Centre hosts faculty members from different departments having diverse engineering and science backgrounds, pursuing cutting-edge research in the broad area of energy.

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

KEMPEGOWDA
CM Yediyurappa's plans to construct a 101-foot-tall Kempegowda bronze statue at the Bengaluru airport at the cost of Rs 100 crore is widely seen as an attempt to gain leverage with the Vokkaliga community.

About:

  • Name: Nadaprabhu Hiriya Kempe Gowda (1510 - 1569) is also known as Kempe Gowda.

  • Who was he? He was an Indian ruler under the Vijayanagara Empire.

  • Contributions:
    • The city of Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka, was founded by Kempe Gowda in 1537. He was successful in planning and building Bengaluru Fort and Bengaluru Pete, the foundation of Bengaluru.

    • He is also noted for his societal reforms and contribution to building temples and water reservoirs in Bengaluru.

    • One of his social reforms was to prohibit the custom of amputating the last two fingers of the left hand of the unmarried women during "Bandi Devaru", an important custom of Morasu Vokkaligas.

    • He was a patron of art and learning.



  • Legacy:
    • He is a political icon for the dominant agricultural Vokkaliga community in south Karnataka.

    • Bengaluru’s airport is known as the Kempegowda International Airport, the main bus stand is the Kempegowda Bus Stand, a main arterial road in the old city is the K G Road or the Kempegowda Road. 



Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

ANNUAL REFRESHER PROGRAMME IN TEACHING (ARPIT)
Union Human Resource Development Minister launched Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT) – 2019 under Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) in New Delhi.

About: 

  • ARPIT is a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 1.5 million higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM.

  • For implementing ARPIT, discipline-specific National Resource Centers (NRCs) are identified which are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.

  • Following Institutions have been notified as NRCs: Centers under the Ministry’s Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) located in Central Universities, IISc, IUCAA, IITs, IISERs, NITs, State Universities; UGC’s Human Resource Development Centres(HRDCs), NITTTRs, IIITs etc.

  • Through ARPIT all in-service teachers, irrespective of their subject and seniority have been given an enabling opportunity to keep abreast of the latest developments in their disciplines through the technology based online refresher courses.

Source : Economic Times
Education

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

LEADERSHIP FOR ACADEMICIANS PROGRAMME (LEAP)
Union Human Resource Development Minister launched Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) - 2019 under Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) in New Delhi.

About:

  • Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) is a three weeks leadership development training programme (2 weeks domestic and one week foreign training) for second level academic functionaries in public funded higher education institutions.

  • The main objective is to prepare second tier academic heads that are potentially likely to assume leadership roles in the future.

  • LEAP is being implemented through the following 15 higher education institutions (HEIs) institutions like Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Miliia Islamia etc.

  • The mandatory eligibility conditions are: minimum 8 years of experience as Professor;  3 years administrative experience; Impeccable Integrity; High academic standing preferably 30 publications in 'SCOPUS' indexed international journals or UGC approved journals; and age below 58 years. 

Source : Economic Times
Education

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

SITMEX-19
A maiden trilateral exercise named SITMEX-19, involving Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Royal Thailand Navy (RTN) and Indian Navy (IN) has commenced at Port Blair.

About: 

  • The five-day-long exercise is aimed at bolstering the maritime inter-relationships amongst navies of Singapore Thailand and India, and contribute to enhancing the overall maritime security in the region.

  • The exercise was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address at Shangri-La dialogue in June 2018.

  • Malaysia has also evinced interest in joining the exercise.

Source : The Hindu
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

DR. KALAM SMRITI INTERNATIONAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh was conferred the Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Award 2019 in Dhaka for her vision of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia and her contribution to fostering cooperation between India and Bangladesh.

About: 

  • The award has been instituted in the memory of former Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

  • The award is given every year to honour statesmen or leaders who have shown excellence in their fields to achieve the best for their countries.

  • Earlier, the Presidents of the Maldives, Ghana and Mauritius received the prestigious award since its introduction in 2015.

  • It is presented by Dale View, a non-governmental organisation registered under the Charitable Societies Act. It was created in 1978 in Kerala to bring about socio-economic development to rural areas through education.

Source : All India Radio
Awards and Recognitions

Current Affairs
Sept. 18, 2019

DEOCHA PACHAMI DEWANGANJ HARINSINGHA
The Central Government entered into an Allotment Agreement with the West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) regarding the Deocha Pachami Dewanganj-Harinsingha coal block.

About: 

  • In accordance with the provisions of Coal Block Allocation Rules, 2017, made under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957, the WBPDCL has been allocated the Deocha Pachami Dewanganj - Harinsingha coal block.

  • located in the State of West Bengal containing

  • Deocha Pachami Harinsingha Dewanganj coal mines is located in Birbhum district, West Bengal.

  • With an area of 12.28 sq. km. with estimated reserves of 2102 Million Tonnes for generation of power, it is the second largest coal mine in the world.

Source : Economic Times
Economy

Sept. 17, 2019

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

J&K PUBLIC SAFETY ACT (PSA)
National Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah has been detained under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA). Last month, former IAS officer Shah Faesal was stopped at New Delhi airport and sent back to Kashmir, where he has been detained under the Public Safety Act.

About: 

  • Background: The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) received the assent of the J&K Governor in 1978. The Act was introduced by the government of Sheikh Abdullah as a tough law to prevent the smuggling of timber and keep the smugglers “out of circulation”.

  • Salient features:
    • The law allowed the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State.”

    • In August 2018, the Act was amended to allow individuals to be detained under the PSA outside the state as well.

    • Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates. The detaining authority need not disclose any facts about the detention “which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.

    • It provides protection from prosecution or any other legal proceeding for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act.



  • Criticism: The J&K PSA is often referred to as a “draconian” law. right from the beginning, the law was misused widely, and was repeatedly employed against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990. After the emergence of militancy, the J&K government frequently invoked the PSA to crack down on separatists.

Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

11th INTERNATIONAL HRANT DINK AWARD
Meghalaya-based rights activist Agnes Kharshiing received the 11th International Hrant Dink Award along with Turkish activist against male violence Nebahat Akkoç.

About:

  • The International Hrant Dink Award commemorates the memory of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was killed in 2007.

  • Since 2009, the Hrant Dink Award is presented annually by the Hrant Dink Foundation on Hrant Dink's birthday.

  • The award is presented to individuals, organisations or groups that work for a world free from discrimination, racism and violence, and who take personal risks for achieving those ideals. 

Important Info :

Agnes Kharshiing?

  • Meghalaya-based rights activist Agnes Kharshiing, often referred to as the “woman who chases trucks ferrying illegally-mined coal”, was assaulted in November, 2018, by a coal mafia mob during one of her many “surveillance” trips to Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills.
  • She was in coma for more than a week and was discharged from hospital after three months. 
Source : The Hindu
Awards and Recognitions

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

AMRABAD TIGER RESERVE (ATR)
Telangana State Assembly passed a resolution against proposed Uranium mining in Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR), located in Nallamala forest area of the State.

About: 

  • The Assembly urged the Central Government to withdraw proposal of Uranium mining in Nallamala Forest in view of the possible threat to the habitation and biodiversity in and around Nallamala due to mining besides public fears of air and water pollution due to Uranium mining. 

  • It said that the proposed exploration may contaminate Krishna river on which Hyderabad depends for drinking water. 

  • It will also effect Chenchu tribals, who live in the Amrabad forests spread over Telangana’s Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda district. 

  • On May 22, 2019, the Union Ministry of Environment had granted in-principle approval to the Department of Atomic Energy to survey and explore for uranium in 83 sq km of the Amrabad Tiger Reserve. 

Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

IMPACT OF GLOBAL FOOD INDUSTRY ON HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
A new global study by the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) – a global alliance of economists and scientists founded in 2017 – has quantified the damage that the modern food industry does to human health, development and the environment costs.

Global Findings:

  • Name of report: “Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use.”

  • The “hidden cost” i.e. the damage that the modern food industry does to human health, development and the environment costs to the world is $12 trillion a year — equivalent to China’s GDP.

  • Global over-dependence on a relatively small number of staple foods leaves populations vulnerable to crop failures, with climate change adding to the strain.

  • The report proposes a series of solutions, from encouraging more diverse diets to improve health and reduce dependency on specific crops, to giving more support to the types of farming that can restore forests, a key tool in fighting climate change.

Findings on India:

  • India has 4 per cent of global freshwater resources to support 19 per cent of the world’s population. Some 80 per cent of water in India goes to agriculture, primarily from groundwater sources, which is unsustainable.

  • Existing government policies – EatRight Movement of the FSSAI in 2017, the National Food Security Act of 2013 and the Zero Budget Natural Farming programme in Andhra Pradesh – already address critical transitions that the new report recommends.

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

YANK
Biologists and biomedical engineers are proposing to define a new term, “yank”, for changes in force over time. Their ideas are published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

About: 

  • ‘Yank’ is a proposed new term for changes in force over time, so that scientists can study muscle behaviour better. 

  • ‘Yank’ could be useful in understanding spasticity, a common muscle impairment in multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke and cerebral palsy. 

  • The objective is to quantify something that our muscles and nerves can feel and respond to. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

500 YEARS OF MAGELLAN’S VOYAGE
500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan sailed from Spain to find a western passage to the Indies. He did not survive but three years later his ship Victoria completed the first circumnavigation of the globe.

About: 

  • Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521) was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano. 

Journey: 

  • After a quarrel with the Portuguese king, Ferdinand Magellan enlisted the support of Spain’s king Charles I for an expedition to reach the Moluccas by sailing westwards.

  • The Spanish wanted a share in the valuable spice trade from the Moluccas, but the Portuguese controlled the eastward route around southern Africa.

  • On September 20, 1519, Magellan set out with a fleet of five vessels. Magellan successfully crossed the Atlantic and eventually navigated through the strait at the southern point of South America which was later named after him (Strait of Magellan).

  • The three remaining ships crossed the Pacific Ocean in a northwesterly arc and finally reached the Philippines in March 1521, the first Europeans ever to set foot there. Within weeks Magellan was killed after becoming involved in a Battle of Mactan between two rival local chieftains.

  • The Victoria, the only remaining ship from the original fleet, eventually returned to Spain in September 1522 under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, having completed the first ever circumnavigation of the globe.

Source : Graphic News
History

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

NATIONAL ANTI-MICROBIAL RESISTANCE HUB, KOLKATA
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) inaugurated India’s first National Anti-microbial Resistance Hub in Kolkata.

About: 

  • The National Anti-microbial Resistance Hub has been developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in association with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  • The AMR hub will aim to identify antibiotics that work best for diseases and frame a policy for antibiotic use that will prevent resistance. It will carry out basic research and have a repository of viral strains that are being collected from all over the country.

  • The Kolkata centre would be the hub for research on antibiotic resistance not only for the country but for the entire South Asia.

Source : Times of India
Health

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

DOORDARSHAN
Doordarshan has completed 60 years of existence.

Key facts: 

  • Doordarshan (abbreviated as DD) is an autonomous public service broadcaster founded by the Government of India, owned by the Broadcasting Ministry of India and one of Prasar Bharati's two divisions. 

  • Headquarters: New Delhi. 

  • Motto: Satyam Shivam Sundaram. 

  • Established in: 1959.  
    • Doordarshan, which began as an experiment in 1959 in Delhi, became a service in 1965.

    • By 1972, services were extended to Mumbai and Amritsar and then to seven other cities by 1975. 

    • All this time, it was part of the national broadcaster, All India Radio. On April 1, 1976, it transited to become a separate department in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 



Important Info :

Legacy:

  • Doordarshan has served people as a major source of information, education and entertainment.
  • Shows like Chitrahaar, Mahabharat, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Fauji, Malgudi Days, among others, captured the imagination of the Indian public in the late 80s and early 90s, and still remains etched in people's minds as pure entertainment that brought people together.
  • Over the years, Doordarshan has grown into a network operating 34 satellite channels, besides providing free-to-air DTH service having 104 in its bookings. Today, over 90 percent of Indian population receive DD programmes.
  • Director General, Doordarshan, said, Doordarshan is in the DNA of India. 
Source : DD News
Media

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

TUDOR ARCHITECTURAL STYLE
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting inaugurated the renovated Jayakar Bungalow, a classic heritage site situated inside the premises of NFAI in Pune.

Jayakar Bungalow: 

  • The bungalow, situated inside the campus of National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Pune, comprises digital library, three film review rooms, and some antique articles of value. 

  • This grade I heritage structure was built in 1945. 

  • It has a distinct Tudor style of architecture which is mostly found in Great Britain, one of its kind in Pune. 

  • It was once home to Mukundrao Ramrao Jayakar, a barrister and the first vice-chancellor of the University of Pune. It was then acquired by the Indian law society, before it was handed over to the Archives. 

Important Info :

Tudor architecture style? 

  • Tudor architecture is a style of architecture that developed in England between 1485 and 1558. 
  • Tudor architecture gained its name from the fact that it developed during the first part of the reign of Tudor monarchs, including Henry VII and Henry VIII. 
  • It was a transitional style, mixing elements of Renaissance architecture with a Gothic style found mostly in England called Perpendicular Gothic because it emphasized vertical lines. 
  • The characteristic that became most associated with the Tudor style was 'black and white' construction. Black and white meant half-timber houses with white-washed wall segments between the dark timbers. 
Source : PIB
Culture

Current Affairs
Sept. 17, 2019

M. VISVESVARAYA (1861 – 1962)
Prime Ministeri Narendra Modi has greeted engineers on Engineers' Day. He also paid tributes to Sir M. Visvesvaraya on his birth anniversary. The theme of 52nd Engineers day was “Engineering for Change.”

About: 

  • He was an Indian engineer, scholar, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. 

  • He was the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mandya district. 

  • He was also the chief designer of the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad. 

  • Honours: 
    • In 1915, He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire (KCIE) by King George V for his contributions to the public good. 

    • He received Bharat Ratna, in 1955. 

    • He is held in high regard as a pre-eminent engineer of India. 15 September is celebrated as Engineer's Day in India in his memory. 



Source : PIB
Science & Tech

Sept. 16, 2019

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

REPORT OF THE INTERNAL WORKING GROUP TO REVIEW AGRICULTURAL CREDIT
The Internal Working Group (IWG) constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to Review Agricultural Credit submitted its report to the RBI Governor.

Key recommendations: 

  • The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) should introduce a web portal on the lines of PSB Loans in 59 Minutes to allow quicker credit access for the agriculture sector. The Centre launched the portal in November 2018 to provide loans of up to ₹1 crore to MSMEs in less than an hour.

  • State governments having a highly restrictive legal framework should be encouraged to reform it on basis of Model Land Leasing Act proposed by NITI Aayog or the Land Licensed Cultivators’ Act, 2011 of Andhra Pradesh to improve formal lending to tenant farmers.

  • The government should set up a federal institution, on the lines of goods and services tax (GST) Council to suggest and implement reforms in the field of agriculture.

  • Banks should be allowed to give consumption loans to farmers upto a sanctioned limit of ₹0.1 million under Priority Sector Lending (PSL) on certain conditions. However, such loans will not classify for PSL-Agri.

  • GoI and state governments should evaluate the effectiveness of current subsidy policies with regard to agri inputs and credit so as to improve viability of agriculture in a sustainable manner. In view of the above stated, loan waivers should be avoided.

  • At present there is no database of the Indian agriculture sector. Thus, GoI with the help of state governments should develop a centralised database for agriculture capturing details related to crops cultivated, cropping pattern, output, sown/irrigated area, health of soil, natural calamity.

  • GoI in partnership with state governments should set up a credit guarantee fund for the agriculture sector on the lines of credit guarantee schemes implemented in the MSME sector to cover the default risk of the borrowers.

Important Info :

The report said that commercial banks contributed the majority share (78-80%) in agricultural and allied credit; the share of all co-operative banks constituted 15-16% and the regional rural banks (RRBs) contributed the remaining of the agricultural credit.

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

COMMITTEE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF HOUSING FINANCE SECURITISATION MARKET
The Committee on the Development of Housing Finance Securitisation Market has submitted its report to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor.

About:

  • The Committee was chaired by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Senior Advisor, Bain & Co.

  • The Terms of Reference of the Committee were to review the existing state of mortgage securitisation market in India and make recommendations to address various issues relating to originators/investors as well as market microstructure.

The key recommendations of the Committee are as follows:

  • setting up of a government sponsored intermediary, through the National Housing Bank, to enable market making and standard setting;

  • developing standards for loan origination, loan servicing, loan documentation, and loans to be eligible for securitisation, including standardised formats for data collection and aggregation;

  • separation of regulatory guidelines for direct assignment transactions and transactions involving pass through certificates as well as for mortgage backed securities (MBS) and asset backed securities (ABS);

  • relaxation of regulatory norms for minimum holding period (MHP) and minimum retention requirement (MRR) for mortgage backed securities (MBS);

  • amendments for registration and stamp duty requirements and tax guidelines to reduce the transaction costs for securitisation;

  • treating the assets underlying a securitisation transaction as bankruptcy remote under the insolvency laws for financial firms; 

Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

VULTURE CONSERVATION AND BREEDING CENTRES (VCBC)
Starting with just a few vultures, the total number of vultures in the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBCs) have increased to more than 700.

Background:

  • The population of the vultures in the country declined sharply from 40 million in the 80s to a few thousand by 2009.

  • The major reason behind the vulture population getting nearly wiped out was the drug Diclofenac, found in the carcass of cattle the vultures fed on. The drug, whose veterinary use was banned in 2008, was commonly administered to cattle to treat inflammation. 

Vulture Conservation And Breeding Centres (VCBC):

  • To study the cause of deaths of vultures, a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) was set up at Pinjore, Haryana in 2004. At present there are nine Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBC) in India, of which three are directly administered by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

  • The objective of the VCBCs is not only to look after the vultures and breed them in captivity, but also to release them into the wild.

  • The total number of vultures in these VCBCs is now more than 700. The three endangered species of vultures bred in the VCBC are the White-backed, Long-billed and the Slender-billed vulture.

Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

SURVEY OF INDIA
The Survey of India (SoI) will for the first time rely on drones to map the country.

About: 

  • Survey of India will deploy 300 drones for mapping country.

  • Currently the best SoI maps have a resolution of 1:250000, meaning a 1 cm on the map represents 2500 cm on the ground. The new maps being prepared will be of 1:500 resolution, meaning 1 cm will represent 500 cm.

  • The aim is to map 75% of India’s geography— about 2.4 million sq km of the 3.2 million sq km — within the next two years. Other than unprecedented detail, High-resolution maps will facilitate digitisation of land titles in villages. 

Important Info :
  • What is it? Survey of India is the National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country.
  • Functions: it has the responsibility to ensure that the country's domain is explored and mapped suitably. It also provides base maps for expeditious and integrated development.
  • Parent Body: It is under the Department of Science & Technology.
  • Background: It is the oldest scientific department of the Govt. of India. It was set up in 1767.
  • Headquarters: Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 
Source : The Hindu
Geography

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

NEW MEASURES TO BOOST EXPORTS AND HOUSING SECTOR
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a fresh set of measures worth around 70,000 crore rupees to boost exports and housing sector.

Measures to boost exports: 

  • The government will provide a 10,000 crore rupees special window with an aim to help complete ongoing affordable and middle-income housing projects.

  • The housing projects considered for the special window have been limited to non-NPA (Non-Performing Assets) and non-NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) projects.

Measures to boost housing sector:

  • The other key incentives include extending the scheme of reimbursement of taxes and duties for export promotion, fully automated electronic refund for Input Tax Credits (ITC) in GST.

  • An inter-ministerial group will be set up under the department of commerce to monitor export finance credit on a weekly basis.

  • The scheme for Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) will replace Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for textiles. Textile and all other sectors which currently enjoy incentives up to 2 % over MEIS will transit into RoDTEP from January 1, 2020.

  • The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) will expand the scope of export credit insurance service (ECIS) and will offer higher insurance cover to banks lending working capital for exports.

  • India will now have its own version of an annual shopping festival on the lines of the one hosted by Dubai. This annual shopping festival, likely to begin from March 2020, will be held in four Indian cities and the focus areas would include gems and jewellery, textiles and leather.

  • A provision for higher insurance cover on exports by MSMEs was also announced.

  • The government will also set up an FTA Utilisation Mission headed by a senior officer in the Department of Commerce to maximise benefits available under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

  • Priority sector tag for export credit was also announced.

Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

AADHAAR AUTHENTICATION MANDATORY FOR NEW DEALERS
The GST Network (GSTN) has decided to make Aadhaar authentication mandatory for new dealers from January 2020 to check malpractices in GST. Aadhaar authentication was earlier optional.

About:

  • Under the new rule, those who do not prefer Aadhaar authentication, can go for physical verification, which will be carried out in three days.

  • Currently, Aadhaar authentication is optional and no physical verification is required.

  • The decision was taken after noticing in the last two years that there is a good number of fly-by-

  • night operators or ghost traders, who make fake invoices. 

Important Info :

Goods And Services Tax (GST) Network?

  • GSTN has been jointly registered by the Central and State Governments as a not-for-profit Company under Section 8 of the Companies act, 2013 (under new companies Act, not for profit companies are governed under section 8).
  • It was incorporated in
  • It has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders for implementation of the GST.
  • The restructured GSTN, with 100% government ownership has equity structure between the Centre (50%) and the States (50%). 
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

LARGE EXPOSURES FRAMEWORK (NBFC)
In a move to increase credit supply to the crisis-ridden NBFC sector, the RBI increased loan exposure limit of banks to a single NBFC (excluding gold loan companies) from 15% to 20% of its capital base.

About:

  • According to the extant 'Large Exposures Framework (LEF)', banks' exposure to a single non-banking financial company (NBFC) is restricted to 15% of their available eligible capital base, while general single counter-party exposure limit is 20%, which can be extended to 25% by banks' boards under exceptional circumstances.

  • Now, it has been decided that a bank's exposure to a single NBFC (excluding gold loan companies) will be restricted to 20% of that bank's eligible capital base.

Important Info :

Comment:

  • The government on its part has also been taking steps to increase liquidity in the NBFC sector, which was hit after default by IL&FS Group.
  • The liquidity crunch in the NBFC sector has hit the retail loan segment in the country leading to slowdown in key consumer sector lending. 
Source : Livemint
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

ABQAIQ OIL PROCESSING FACILITY
Houthi rebels from Yemen carried out drone attacks on two major Saudi Aramco oil facilities, in Abqaiq and Hijrat Khurais in Saudi Arabia.

About: 

  • Abqaiq oil processing facility, operated by Saudi Aramco in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil processing facility.

  • The attacks have impacted Saudi Arabia’s oil production and exports, and in turn the global oil market. The attack has cut output by 5.7 million barrels per day. That is close to half of the kingdom’s output, and 5% of global oil supply.

  • Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, ships more than 7 million barrels of oil to global destinations every day. The output cut is expected to send oil prices up $3-$5 per barrel.

Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

GOVERNMENT RELAXES LICENSING RULES FOR MANUFACTURERS
As part of its effort to remove the licence raj and ensure ease of doing business, Government has relaxed licensing rules for manufacturers.

About: 

  • The commerce Ministry said that no compulsory licence would be required for manufacturers of goods, barring four segments namely:
    • Cigars and Cigarettes of tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes

    • Electronic aerospace and defence equipment

    • Industrial Explosives

    • Hazardous chemicals



  • Also, no industrial/arms licence is required for the manufacturer of any parts or accessories in the defence sector, unless specifically listed for procuring licences.

Important Info :

Background: 

  • Earlier this year, the ministry had proposed to simplify filing procedure for industrial entrepreneur memorandums (IEMs) and said the requirement of filing IEMs at two stages stood dispensed with for all the businesses that didn’t then require an industrial licence.
  • The two stages of IEMs were intent and implementation.
  • As per the DPIIT’s annual report, all units that are exempted from obtaining an industrial licence and those who invest more than Rs 10 crore in plant and machinery (Rs 5 crore for the services sector) are required to file an IEM with the government.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Sept. 16, 2019

HINDI DIVAS
Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertion on the occasion of Hindi Divas Samaroh 2019 that Hindi, as the most spoken language, could unite the country continued to draw sharp reaction from the Opposition parties. He also awarded Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar and Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar on the occasion.

About: 

  • Hindi Divas is an annual day celebrated on 14 September because Hindi language was first adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India as the official language of India on September 14, 1949.

  • It is mostly a government sponsored event in Central government of India offices, firms, schools and other institutions which aims to promote Hindi language. It is celebrated by organizing feasts, events & competitions.

  • Rajbhasha Awards, introduced in 2015 are also conferred upon on this day by Union Home Ministry.

Rajbhasa Kirti Puraskar:

  • It is given for outstanding work in promoting the progressive use of official language to Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, banks and in-house Hindi magazines.

Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar:

It comprises following three awards:

  1. Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar to Citizens of India for writing original book in Hindi on knowledge and science-based subjects.

  2. Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar to Central Government Employees (including retired one) for writing original book in Hindi.

  3. Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar to Central Government Employees (including retired one) for writing excellent article in Hindi.

Source : The Hindu
Culture
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