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August 2019 Daily Newspapers Editorials

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August 2019 Daily Newspapers Editorials

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An Editorial is the opinion piece of a newspaper written by the senior editorial staff or publisher of a newspaper or magazine and primarily represents the standpoint of the writer or the publication itself. In general, an editorial is a newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue. August 2019 Daily Newspapers Editorials chapter presents with the daily editorials from the prominent newspapers.

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This Section Provides Comprehensive Editorial Analysis from THE HINDU this section is very important in the preparation of UPSC - Union Public service commission Exams
Source: The Hindu
1. PSBs Merger :
    Context: Government of India has announced the merger of 10 public sector banks (PSBs) into 4 banks.

Recent 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.

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.

2. CAF to increase green cover:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : 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.

  • 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.

3. GI Tag - Dindigul lock & Kandangi saree:
    Context: 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.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. 45th WorldSkills Competition (KAZAN) :
    Context Indian team created history at the 45th World Skills 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.

Tatarstan :
  • 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.

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 a 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.

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

2. Anti-Biotic Resistance in Ganga (Study):
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : 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 :
  • 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.

  • 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 Escherichia 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.

    Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India Movement on the occasion of National Sports Day.

National Sports Day: Rashtriya Khel Divas is celebrated on 29th August every year to mark the birth anniversary of legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand.
  • 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."

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Diesel from Plastic waste By Plant :
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: Union Minister for Science and Technology inaugurated a waste plastics to diesel plant in Dehradun.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

2. International CDRI :
(Disaster Management)
    Context : 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.

  • 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.

3. Biarritz G7 Summit :
    Context: 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.

Group of Seven (G7):
  • 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.

  • 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).

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Jan Aushadhi Sugam :
    Context: Union Minister for Chemicals made announcements related to “Jan Aushadhi Sugam” and “Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Oxo-Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin.”

  • 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 a reasonable cost.

2. Online RTI (Web Portal) :
(Polity & Governance)
    Context : 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.

3. Bimal Jalan Committee :
    Context: 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.

  • 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 the 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.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Blue Whale from Bones :
(Environment & Ecology)
    ContextA young biologist has recreated a blue whale from the skeletal remains of dead blue whales washed ashore on the Andhra Pradesh coast, replicating its natural anatomy structure.

Common Name: Blue whale; Baleine Bleue (Fr); Ballena Azul (Sp).
Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus.
  • They are found in all oceans except enclosed seas and the Arctic.

  • The blue whale is the largest animal ever known to have existed. they can weigh up to 200 tonnes (whereas an adult male African elephant weighs 6 tonnes).

  • Blue whales are the loudest animals on earth and their calls are louder than a jet engine reaching 188 decibels, while a jet's engine hit 'just' 140 decibels.

  • Blue whales are a lightly mottled blue-grey, with light grey or yellow-white undersides.

  • Population: 10,000-25,000 individuals

  • IUCN Status: Endangered

In India, the blue whale falls in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
2. Drug-Resistant infections (McrBC) :
(Science & Tech)
    Context : A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have determined the atomic structure of McrBC, which prevents viral infections in bacteria.

Phage Therapy:
  • The determination of the McrBC’s structure has long-term implications in ‘phage therapy’ and could help combat drug-resistant infections in the future.

  • Phages are groups of viruses that infect and kill bacterial cells and phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections.

About :
  • McrBC is a complex bacterial protein which helps prevent viral infections in a bacterial cell and functions as molecular scissors.

  • The path-breaking structure of the McrBC was published last month in two prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals — Nature Communications and Nucleic Acids Research — and is said to be a major step towards understanding the working of the molecular scissors.

  • This is the first report of the high-resolution structure from India determined using electron cryomicroscopy, commonly known as cryo-EM.

3. XGSPON & CiSTB (C-Sat-Fi) :
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Union Minister for Communications launched Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT’s) latest innovations, “C-Sat-Fi (C-DOT Satellite WiFi”, “XGSPON (10 G Symmetrical Passive Optical Network)” and “C-DOT’s Interoperable Set-Top Box (CISTB).

  • C-Sat-Fi (C-DOT Satellite WiFi): C-Sat-Fi is based on the optimal utilization of wireless and satellite communication to extend connectivity to the remote islands and difficult terrains.
  • XGSPON (10 G Symmetrical Passive Optical Network): it is an effective a solution to fulfill the rapidly increasing demands of high network speeds for applications like IPTV, HD Video Streaming, Online Gaming, and other clouds based services.

  • CISTB (C-DOT’s Interoperable Set-Top Box): Based on a portable smart card like a mobile SIM, this solution will revolutionize the experience of the Cable TV operators by offering them a high degree of choice, ease, and convenience without having to replace the once installed STB.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. INDIA-UAE Relations :
    Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a state visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 23-24 August 2019.

List of awards PM Modi has been conferred with by Muslimmajority countries:
  • The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance, Bahrain - August 2019
  • Order of Zayed, UAE's highest civilian award - August 2019
  • Grand Collar of the State of Palestine - February 2018
  • Amir Amanullah Khan Award, Afghanistan - June 2016
  • King Abdulaziz Sash Award, Saudi Arabia - April 2016
  • Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen, Maldives - June 2019

Order of Zayed:
  • PM Modi was honoured with the ‘Order of Zayed’, the UAE’s highest civilian award, as a mark of appreciation for his efforts to boost bilateral ties between the two nations.
  • The award is in the name of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE.
  • The award has earlier been bestowed on several world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

RuPay card:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the RuPay card in UAE, making the UAE the first country in West Asia to initiate the RuPay card scheme. India has already launched the RuPay card in Singapore and Bhutan.
  • The UAE receives about three million Indian tourists annually. Acceptance of Rupay card in UAE will lower the charges as tourists will save on exchange rate.
  • RuPay, an Indian indigenous system of electronic payment, is a highly secure network that protects against cyberhacks and is India’s version of Master Card and Visa. RuPay card scheme was launched in 2012. There are close to 500 million RuPay cards in circulation in India.

2. Air Quality Monitoring (CSIR):
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : The Union Environment Ministry has tasked the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research –National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) with certifying air quality monitoring instruments.

National Clean Air Campaign?
  • The Centre in January 2019 launched a National Clean Air Campaign to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.

  • This calls for a vast monitoring network of sensors that can capture the rapid fluctuations of pollutants, necessary to ascertain how these gases and particles affected health.

  • Currently, Delhi leads the numbers of cities, with around 35 air quality sensors.

  • The Central Government has designated the CSIR-NPL as national verification agency for certifying instruments and equipments for monitoring emissions and ambient air.

  • CSIR-NPL shall develop necessary infrastructure, management system, testing and certification facilities conforming to international standards.

  • This step is in anticipation of a rising demand by States — against the backdrop of the National Clean Air Campaign — for low cost air quality monitoring instruments that can monitor levels of nitrous oxides, ozone and particulate matter.

3. Banking Frauds (Advisory Board):
    Context : The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has constituted Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF) to examine bank fraud of over 50 crore rupees and recommend action.

The panel in its previous avatar was called the Advisory Board on Bank, Commercial and Financial Frauds.
  • The four-member board will be headed by former Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin.

  • It will function as the first level of examination of all large fraud cases before recommendations or references are made to the investigative agencies by the respective Public Sector Banks.

  • It’s jurisdiction will be confined to those cases involving officers of General Manager level and above in the PSBs in respect of an allegation of a fraud in a borrowal account.

  • The banks will refer all large fraud cases above 50 crore rupees to ABBF and on receipt of its recommendation, they concerned will take further action in such matter.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Big Data and Disaster Management :
(Disaster Management)
    Context: According to a report by the U.N.’s Asia-Pacific social agency (UNESCAP), use of big data can better predict increasingly complex disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) serves as the United Nations’ regional hub promoting cooperation among countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

  • This regional intergovernmental platform with 53 Member States and 9 associate members.

Key findings of report:
  • Since 1970, natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region have killed two million people — 59% of the global death toll for that period.

  • Disasters also cause more damage in Asia and the Pacific, measured as a percentage of GDP, than the rest of the world, and this gap has been widening.

  • However, big data innovations reveal patterns of complex disaster risks which helps to understand and predict the risk of extreme and slow-onset events.

  • Flood and cyclone forecasting now relies on computer simulations. Sensor webs and the Internet of Things have enabled efficient earthquake earlywarning systems. Remote sensing via satellites and drones provide quick assessments of damage and people affected, and help in relief efforts.

Big data refers to the analysis of very large data sets to reveal patterns, trends and associations. The data can come from a range of sources, including satellite imagery, drone videos, simulations, crowdsourcing, social media and global positioning systems.
2. Coal Consumption (Globally):
    Context : According to the findings of International Energy Agency (IEA) and 2019 BP tatistical Review, Asia is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, accounting for 75 % of global demand.

  • Asia is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, accounting for 75 % of global demand.

  • China is the world’s largest consumer of Coal, followed by India, Japan and South Korea. China continues to emit more carbon dioxide than any other country.

  • Global coal consumption peaked in 2013 at 3,867 billion tonnes of oil equivalent, but that demand last year had declined merely 2.5 % below the peak.

  • South-East Asia was the only region in the world in which coal’s share of power generation grew last year.

3. Clouded Leopards and their Habitats:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : A recent research paper published on clouded leopards by over 20 researchers from across the globe has helped understanding the habitats, migration corridors and laid out the conservation strategies.

The Clouded leopard is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, engal tiger, snow leopard and Indian leopard.
  • Sub Species: Classically considered a single species, the Clouded Leopard has recently been split into two species.

  • Neofelis Nebulosi: It is restricted to mainland Southeast Asia.

  • Neofelis Diardi: It is found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Physical description :
  • It is named after the distinctive 'clouds' on its coat - ellipses partially edged in black, with the insides a darker colour than the background colour of the pelt.

  • It has relatively short legs and broad paws which make it excellent at climbingtrees.

  • Historically, their range covered most of Southeast Asia from Nepal and southern China through Thailand, Indonesia, and Borneo. It is regionally extinct in Singapore and Taiwan.’

  • In India, it occurs in north-east and West Bengal. It is the state animal of Meghalaya.
  • Dampa tiger reserve in Mizoram has one of the highest population densities.
  • Habitat: Subtropical/Tropical Moist Forests.

  • Conservation status: Both the species are listed as Vulnerable in IUCN red list.

In 2018, India added clouded leopards to its Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species to aid more research and strengthen conservation efforts.
Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. IN + FRA = INFRA Relations :
    Context: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited France for an official visit for a Bilateral Summit on 22nd and 23rd August 2019 in Paris.

Key highlights:
  • Coining a new abbreviation, PM Modi said: “Nowadays, we talk of 21st century ‘INFRA’. That is ‘IN’ plus ‘FRA’ — the alliance of India and France… From solar infra to social infra, from technical infra to space infra, from digital infra to defence infra, the alliance of India and France is moving strongly.”

  • Modi also inaugurated a memorial in Nid D’Aigle for Indian victims of two Air India crashes in 1950 and 1966.

List of MoUs:
  • Implementing Arrangement between ISRO and CNES France for Joint.

  • Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • Cooperation Agreement between C-DAC and ATOS.

  • Memorandum of Agreement between NISE CEA.

  • Administrative Arrangement between the Ministry of Skill Development, India and the Ministry of National Education and Youth, France.

Automatic Identification System :
  • India and France formalised the development and launch of AIS, a unique constellation of around 10 low-earth orbit satellites that will continuously provide maritime surveillance and security.

  • They will cover a wide belt around the globe and specifically focus on the Indian Ocean region where France, with its Reunion Islands, has a strategic interest.

2. Distribution of Fortified Rice:
    Context : In a meeting held between Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog and Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, it was decided that the Department of Food and Public Distribution will prepare a roadmap for extending the pilot scheme of Rice Fortification all over the country so as to tackle Malnutrition.

About :
  • Government of India has approved the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System” on 14.02.2019 - rice to be fortified with Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B-12.

  • The Pilot Scheme has been approved for a period of three year beginning 2019-20.

  • The Pilot Scheme at present focusses on 15 districts during the initial phase of implementation.

  • The operational responsibilities for implementation of the Pilot Scheme lie with the States/UTs.

3. Steps to Boost Growth:
    Context : Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a number of measures to boost growth.

Some of the steps announced are:
  • Controversial surcharge on Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) to be withdrawn. But increased surcharge will apply to high net-worth individuals earning more than ₹2 crore a year.

  • Violations of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rules will not be treated as criminal offences.

  • The government also decided to front-load the ₹70,000 crore of capital infusion in public sector banks that was announced in the Budget, a move that is further aimed at increasing private investment by facilitating greater credit disbursal by the banks.

  • The government had rescinded its ban on the purchase of new vehicles by its departments to replace old ones. Vehicles bought till March 31, 2020, will also be eligible for an additional 15% depreciation.

  • To curb the discretionary powers of the tax authorities, from October 1, all notices and summons by the Income Tax Department would be generated by a centralised computer and would carry a unique code. Any notices not carrying these codes would be considered invalid.

  • Public sector banks have also decided to increase their repo rate-linked loan offerings.

  • Government has announced an additional ₹20,000 crore of liquidity to the housing finance companies, over and above the ₹10,000 crore earlier announced.

4. SIT - Mosquito Fights Mosquito Technique:
    Context : Bangladesh is studying the feasibility of applying Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to control the dengue outbreak. A team of experts from WHO-FAO and IAEA arrived in Dhaka to discuss the feasibility of this technique.

  • Sterile Insect Technique is a 'mosquito fights mosquito technique.'

  • Under this, radiation sterilised male mosquitoes are released in areas with dengue causing female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes turning them infertile.

  • This is an environmentally friendly method to control mosquitoes as no pesticide is used.
  • Global scenario of usage : This breakthrough technique has been tested successfully at two sites in Guangzhou in China.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Sabka Vishwas – LDR Scheme,2019:
    Context: The Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2019, which was announced in the Union Budget 2019-20, has now been notified. It will be operationalized from 1st September 2019 and would continue till 31st December 2019.

  • Government expects the Scheme to be availed by large number of taxpayers for closing their pending disputes relating to legacy Service Tax and Central Excise cases that are now subsumed under GST so they can focus on GST.

  • The two main components of the Scheme are dispute resolution and amnesty. The dispute resolution component is aimed at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Taxthat are subsumed in GST and are pending in litigation at various forums.

  • The amnesty component of the Scheme offers an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of any other consequence under the law.

  • For all the cases pending in adjudication or appeal – in any forum - this Scheme offers a relief of 70% from the duty demand if it is Rs.50 lakhs or less and 50% if it is more than Rs. 50 lakhs.

2. SEBI eases norms for FPIs:
    Context : The SEBI has relaxed buyback norms for listed firms that own NBFCs and housing finance companies (HFCs) subsidiaries. This move will free conglomerates from the restrictive debt-to-equity ratio (DER) norms calculated on a consolidated basis for guiding buybacks.

  • Buybacks are typically done when a company has a significant cash reserve and feels that the shares are not fairly valued at the current market price. Since the shares that are bought back are extinguished, the stake of the remaining shareholders rise.

  • Since a buyback is usually done at a price higher than the then prevailing market price, shareholders get an attractive exit option, especially when the shares are thinly traded.

  • It is also more tax-efficient than dividends as a way to reward shareholders.

  • Promoters also use this mechanism to tighten their grip on the firm.

  • Buyback is a mechanism through which a listed company buys back shares from the market.

  • A buyback can be done either through open market purchases or through the tender offer route.
  • Under the open market mechanism, the company buys back the shares from the secondary market. Historically, most companies had preferred the open market route.
  • Under tender offer, shareholders can tender their shares during the buyback offer.

3. IGP – Innovators Growth Platform:
    Context : The SEBI Board has approved the norms for migration of companies listed on the Innovators Growth Platform (IGP) earlier called startups to regular trade category of the main board.

The key proposals approved by the Board are as follows:
  • The Company should have been listed on the Innovators Growth Platform for a minimum period of one year.

  • At the time of making the application for trading under regular category of main board, the number of shareholders should be minimum 200.

  • The company should have profitability/ net worth track record of 3 years or have 75% of its capital as on the date of application for migration held by Qualified Institutional Buyers.

  • Minimum promoters contribution shall be 20% which shall be locked in for 3 years.

The institutional trading platform (ITP) was introduced by SEBI in 2015 to enable listings of new-age companies and startups. In 2018, SEBI renamed the ITP as Innovator Growth P atform
Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
    Context: Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister launched NISHTHA to build capacities of 42 Lakh government teachers across the country.

National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level (NISHTHA).
  • NISHTHA is the world’s largest teachers’ training programme of its kind in the world.

  • Objective is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.

  • Under it, teachers will develop their skills on various aspects related to Learning Outcomes, School Safety and Security, ICT in teaching-learning including Artificial Intelligence, Environmental Concerns and School Based Assessment in a joyful learning manner.

  • It aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of Schools at the elementary level in all Government schools, faculty members of SCERTs, DIETs as well as Block Resource Coordinators and Cluster Resource Coordinators in all States/UTs.

  • Training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs, who will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, NIEPA, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), CBSE and NGO.

2. Kutch Desert (Fossils):
    Context : A team of Indian and French researchers have concluded that the hot arid desert of Kutch was once a humid subtropical forest with a variety of birds, freshwater fish an possibly giraffes and rhinos.

    The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago (Ma). The Miocene is preceded by the Oligocene and is followed by the Pliocene.

  • Their conclusions are based on the discovery of a tranche of vertebrate fossils from nearly 14 million years ago in a geological period known as the Miocene.

  • The fossils, consisting mostly of ribs, and parts of teeth and bones, were unearthed from Palasava village of Rapar taluk in Kutch, Gujarat.

  • Overall, the fossil finds from Palasava suggest that a rich diversity of fauna and flora sustained in warm, humid/wet, tropical to sub-tropical environmental conditions during the Middle Miocene (about 14 Mya).

  • Geological changes eventually closed off the salt-flats’ connection to the sea and the region turned into a large lake, eventually becoming salty wetlands.

  • The findings showed Kutch to be a potential treasure trove of mammal fossils with possible continuity to vertebrate fossils in the Siwalik, spanning Pakistan to Nepal.

  • The findings point to clues on how mammals dispersed between Africa and the Indian subcontinent when part of India was in the Gondwanaland supercontinent that existed nearly 300 million years ago.

3. Review of SEBI norms:
    Context : The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has simplified the compliance requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), to make the regulatory framework more investor friendly.

Key aspects of revised regulations include:
  • To simplify the registration process and to bring about ease in compliance requirements for FPIs, the broad based eligibility criteria for institutional foreign investors has been done away with.

  • On reviewing the risk profiling of the FPIs, it is decided that the FPIs may be re-categorized into two categories, instead of the present requirement of three categories.

  • Registration for multiple investment manager (MIM) structures has been simplified.

  • Considering that the central banks are relatively long term, low risk investors directly/ indirectly managed by the Government, the central banks that are not the members of BIS (Bank for International Settlement) shall also be eligible for FPI registration.

  • The entities established in the international financial services center (IFSC) be deemed to have met the jurisdiction criteria for FPIs.

  • FPIs shall be permitted for off-market transfer of securities which are unlisted, suspended or illiquid, to a domestic or foreign investor.

  • Offshore funds floated by Indian Mutual Funds shall now be permitted to invest in India after obtaining registration as FPI.

  • The requirements for issuance and subscription of Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODIs) have been rationalized.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Piggery Development Project:
    Context: Chief Minister of Meghalaya called on Union Minister for Animal Husbandry to discusses piggery development project to be launched in Meghalaya.

  • The piggery development project is to be launched in Meghalaya financed by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) along with the State Government.

  • The proposed Piggery development project will boost domestic availability of meat in the entire North Eastern Region and also promote its exports thereby giving livelihood opportunities to the people.

A piggery in Northeast?
  • Pig farming is a very important component in North East India. Out of the total pig population in India, 28% are grown in this region.

  • Hampshire, HSX 1, Large White Yorkshire, Duroc, and Landrace are the commonly grown breeds.

2. Leprosy:
    Context : Union Minister for Health wrote a letter to the Ministers of Law, Minister of Social Justice and Chief Ministers for amending 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by Leprosy.

Recent initiatives by the government: Following initiatives were introduced from 2016 onwards to address the issues being faced by the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP):
  • Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) (specific for high endemic districts), Focussed Leprosy Campaign (for hot spots i.e., rural and urban areas), ASHA based Surveillance for Leprosy Suspects (ABSULS) have contributed to early case detection.

  • Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC) is implemented to reduce stigma against persons affected by Leprosy in the community.

About :
  • Even though the disease is now fully curable by Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), there still exist 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy including 3 Union and 105 State laws.

  • The target of Global Leprosy Strategy, 2016 – 2020 is to reduce the number of countries with laws allowing discrimination on the ground of leprosy to zero.

  • The National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) has achieved enormous success in leprosy control, particularly in the last four decades.

  • Thus India should expedite the introduction of the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy (EDPAL) Bill, which was drafted by the Law Commission of India and annexed in its 256th Report.

3. Policy for M-Sand:
    Context : In three months, Tamil Nadu will put in place an M-sand policy to promote its use as an alternative building material and eliminate sub-standard products through regulation of trade.

Advantages of M-Sand:
  • It does not contain an organic and soluble compound that affects the setting time and properties of cement, thus the required strength of concrete can be maintained.

  • It does not have the presence of impurities such as clay, dust and silt coatings, increases water requirement as in the case of river sand which impair bond between cement paste and aggregate. Thus, increased quality and durability of concrete.

  • Since manufactured sand can be crushed from hard granite rocks, it can be readily available at the nearby place, reducing the cost of transportation from far-off river sand bed.

  • The sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.

  • Manufactured sand (M-Sand) is a substitute of river sand for concrete construction.

  • Production: Manufactured sand is produced from hard granite stone by crushing. It is manufactured using technology like High Carbon steel hit rock and then ROCK ON ROCK process which is synonymous to that of natural process undergoing in river sand information.

  • Features: The crushed sand is of cubical shape with grounded edges, washed and graded to as a construction material. The size of M-Sand is less than 4.75mm.

Why Manufactured Sand is Used?
  • Due to the fast-growing construction industry, the demand for sand has increased tremendously, causing deficiency of suitable river sand in most part of the word.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
    Context: The Odisha Wetland Authority has approved implementation of an integrated management plan to conserve two of its largest lakes.

  • The integrated management plan has been approved for Chilika and Ansupa at an estimated investment of ₹180 crore.

  • The five-year management of lakes is intended at strengthening the livelihood of thousands of fishermen relying on the two water-bodies. Besides, tourism promotion and conservation of ecology will be taken up.

  • Ansupa, State’s largest freshwater lake, is spread over almost 2 sq km.

  • Ansupa is famous for its sweet water fish, especially Labeo bata locally known as pohala. It is also the wintering ground for 32 species of migratory birds.

  • Chilika, country’s largest brackish water lagoon, is spread over 1,100 sq km. Lakhs of tourists visit the lake to watch endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and migratory birds during winter.

2. Retirement in CAPF:
(Defence & Security)
    Context : Union Home Ministry has directed all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to adopt uniform retirement age of 60 years.

About :
  • All personnel working in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) will now retire at a uniform age of 60 years.

  • A Home Ministry order issued yesterday has corrected the anomaly where personnel between the ranks of Constable to Commandant in four forces – CRPF, BSF, ITBP, and SSB – superannuated at the age of 57, instead of 60.

  • Officers from the rank of Deputy Inspector General up to the top-most rank of Director-General in these four forces retired after attaining the age of 60.

  • However, in two other forces of the CISF and the Assam Rifles, all personnel retired at the age of 60.

  • The latest Home Ministry direction comes in the wake of a January order of the Delhi High Court where it had called the policy of different age of superannuation as discriminatory and unconstitutional and said it created two classes in the uniformed forces.

3. Shankar Dayal Sharma:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, paid floral tributes to Shankar Dayal Sharma, former President of India, on his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (August 19, 2019).

Background :
  • Shankar Dayal Sharma (1918 – 1999) was a member of Indian National Congress (INC).

  • He served as the Chief Minister (1952–1956) of Bhopal State.

  • He served as the Cabinet Minister (1956–1967), holding the portfolios of Education, Law, Public Works, Industry and Commerce, National Resources and Separate Revenue. He again served as the Union Minister for Communications from 1974 to 1977.

  • He was appointed the governor of Andhra Pradesh in 1984. After elections in Punjab, in the wake of the Longowal-Rajiv accord between the prime minister and the Akali Dal president, Sharma was made the governor of Punjab in 1985.

  • He then became the eighth vice-president of India and ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha, serving from 1987 – 1992.

  • He was the ninth President of India, serving from 1992 to 1997.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. World Honey Bee Day:
    Context: World honey bee day was observed on August 17, 2019.

Indian honey industry:
  • North East Region of India and Maharashtra are the key areas for natural honey production.

  • The country exported 61,333 MT of Natural Honey to the world for the worth of Rs. 732 Crore during the year of 2018-19. Major Export Destinations were USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Qatar.

Institutions have been set up by the government of India:
  • Central Bee Research & Training Institute at Pune: it was established in 1962 by Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to develop technologies suited to Indian beekeeping.

  • Agricultural Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the nodal agency to promote exports of honey.

  • World Honey Bee Day is observed on every Third Saturday in August.

  • It was started by beekeepers in the USA in 2009, Gradually other countries also started observing it every year.

  • Objective is to build community awareness of the bee industry, through education and promotion.

2. JUNO - 10 times Earth’s mass:
(Science & Tech)
    Context : According to analysis of data collected by NASA's Juno spacecraft, Jupiter may have been smacked head-on by an embryonic planet 10 times Earth's mass not long after being formed, which had lasting effects on the Jovian core.

  • Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter.

  • The spacecraft was launched in 2011 as part of the New Frontiers program, and entered a polar orbit of Jupiter in 2016, to begin a scientific investigation of the planet.

  • Juno's mission is to measure Jupiter's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere.

  • Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003. Unlike all earlier spacecraft sent to the outer planets, Juno is powered by solar arrays.

  • Jupiter, a gas giant planet covered in thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds, boasts a diameter of about 89,000 miles (1,43,000 km).

  • Interior models based on Juno data indicated Jupiter has a large "diluted" core representing about 5 to 15 % of the planet's mass comprised rocky and icy material unexpectedly mixed with light elements like hydrogen and helium.

  • Computer models indicated that a head-on collision with a protoplanet - a planet in its formative stages - of roughly 10 Earth masses would have broken apart Jupiter's dense core and mixed light and heavy elements, explaining Juno's findings.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. New Freshwater species (Fish):
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered two new species of freshwater fish from the north-eastern and northern parts of the country. Both fish are equipped with special morphological features to suit rapid water flow.

Glyptothorax gopii:
  • Glyptothorax gopii is a new species of catfish found in Mizoram’s Kaladan river.

  • It measures 63 mm standard length without caudal fin, is dark brown on its dorsal surface, and its ventral surface is of a yellowish-light brown.

  • It has been named to celebrate the contribution of taxonomist K.C. Gopi.

  • It has an axe-shaped anterior nuchal plate (bone below dorsal fin), which makes it distinct from other species of the genus Glyptothorax.

  • The elliptical thoracic adhesive apparatus and plicae (folds of tissue) present on the ventral surfaces of the pectoral-fin spine help the fish cling to rocks.

Garra simbalbaraensis:
  • Garra simbalbaraensis was found in Himachal Pradesh’s Simbalbara river.

  • It measures 69 mm standard length without caudal fin and has a yellowishgrey colour fading ventrally.

  • It takes its name from the Simbalbara river.

  • It has a prominent unilobed and rounded proboscis with tubercles that help the fish in manoeuvrability.

2. KIP - Know India Programme:
    Context : A group of Indian Origin youth have visited India under the 54th Edition of ‘Know India Programme’ (KIP). The 54th KIP is scheduled from 1st August to 25th August, 2019 in association with the partner sates of Punjab and Haryana.

  • “Girmitiyas” or Indentured Labourers, is the name given the Indians who left Indian in the middle and late 19th Century to serve as labourers in the British colonies, where the majority eventually settled.

  • Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago are known as Girmitiya Countries.

  • The KIP is a 25-day orientation programme organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with the states of India.

  • Objective is to make Indian origin youth (between 18-30 years) aware about India, its cultural heritage, art and to familiarize them with various aspects of contemporary India.

  • The programme has been in existence since 2003.

  • In 2016, the scheme was revamped to increase duration from 21 to 25 days, with a 10-day visit to one or two States and preference given to PIOs from Girmitiya countries.

  • Since 2016, six KIPs are being organised in a year.

  • A maximum of 40 Indian Diaspora youth are selected for each programme and provided full hospitality in India.

3. First NEDL of India:
    Context : India has got its first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) finalised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

In News:
  • WHO released first edition of essential diagnostics list (EDL) in May 2018.

  • Even though WHO’s EDL acts as a reference point for development of national EDL, India’s diagnostics list has been customised and prepared as per landscape of India’s health care priorities.

About :
  • This NEDL aims to bridge the current regulatory system’s gap that do not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD). The current system is equipped to manage only the few notified devices.

  • With this, India has become the first country to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require.

  • The list is meant for facilities from village till the district level.

  • Implementation of NEDL would enable improved health care services delivery through evidence-based care; effective utilisation of public health facilities; effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification etc.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Microplastics in snow (Arctic):
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: According to a new study published in Science Advances, microplastic particles have been detected in the Arctic and the Alps, carried by the wind and later washed out in the snow.

Microplastic particles?
  • It is defined as shreds less than 5mm in length.

  • Every year, several million tonnes of plastic litter course through rivers and out to the oceans, where they are gradually broken down into smaller fragments through the motion of waves and the ultraviolet light of the sun.

  • The new study was conducted by scientists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute and Switzerland’s Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

  • Microplastic particles have been detected in the Arctic and the Alps, carried by the wind and later washed out in the snow.

  • Microplastic particles can be transported tremendous distances through the atmosphere. These particles are later washed out of the air by precipitation, particularly snow.

  • Tiny plants and animals, called plankton, also get trapped in the ice. Some plankton ingest the plastic bits, which then work their way up the ocean food chain.

    Context : Women in Tamil Nadu are making Kolam inspired maps to identify lucrative locations to set up businesses. Complete with pie charts on exports and imports from the village, the maps have helped more than 5,000 women earn a sustainable income in six districts of Tamil Nadu.

  • Kolam is a form of drawing that is drawn by using rice flour, chalk, chalk powder or rock powder, often using naturally or synthetically coloured powders, in southern Indian states.

  • A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. More complex Kolams are drawn and colours are often added during holiday occasions and special events.

  • It is widely practised by female Hindu family members in front of their houses as these are thought to bring prosperity to homes.

  • Though not as flamboyant as its other Indian contemporary, Rangoli, which is extremely colourful, a South Indian Kolam is all about symmetry, precision, and complexity.

3. OFB - Ordnance Factory Board:
(Defence & Security)
    Context : Ministry of Defence (MoD) clarified that there is no proposal to privatise Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

  • The proposal under consideration of Government is to make it into Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), which is 100 per cent Government owned.

  • OFB comprises forty-one ordnance factories.

  • Corporatisation of OFB will bring OFB at par with other DPSUs of MoD and will provide operational freedom and flexibility to OFB which it presently lacks.

  • Besides, the interests of the workers will be adequately safeguarded in any decision taken on the subject.

  • Established in: 1712.

  • Headquarters: Kolkata.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
(Social Issues)
    Context: According to the Union Health Ministry’s data, 57.3% of personnel currently practicing allopathic medicine do not have a medical qualification.

Provisions to deal with quacks:
  • Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 prohibits a person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register to practice medicine in the State.

  • Any person acting in the contravention is punishable with imprisonment and fine.

  • Since health is a State subject, the primary responsibility to deal with such cases lies with the respective State governments.

About :
  • 3% of personnel currently practicing allopathic medicine do not have a medical qualification.

  • There is a huge skew in the distribution of doctors working in the urban and rural areas, leaving the rural and poor population in the clutches of quacks. Urban to rural doctor density ratio in India is 3.8:1.

  • India’s doctor-population ratio is 1:1456 as compared with the World Health Organization standards of 1:1000.

2. Pretomanid (New Cure of TB):
(Social Issues)
    Context : The Food and Drug Administration approved Pretomanid Tablets, when used alongside 2 other antibiotics, to treat an extremely drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

  • Before the FDA approved this combination therapy, the most common treatment for this type of tuberculosis required patients to take around 30 pills a day plus sometimes daily injections for at least 18 months.

  • This new treatment lowers that dose to 5 pills/day over 6 months for most patients.

About :
  • The new drug - Pretomanid - cured 89% of 107 patients with extensively drug-resistant TB after 6 months, when used in combination with antibiotics bedaquiline and linezolid.

  • The three-drug regimen consists of bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid — collectively known as the BPaL regimen.

3. CDS:
(Defence & Security)
    Context : In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff to provide “effective leadership at the top level” to the three wings of the armed forces, and to help improve coordination among them.

Kargil Review Committee (KRC):
  • The first proposal for a CDS in India came from the 2000 Kargil Review Committee (KRC), which called for a reorganization of the apex decision - making and structure and an interface between the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces Headquarters.

  • The Group of Ministers Task Force that studied the KRC Report proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security that a CDS, who would be five-star officer, be created.

  • In preparation for the post, the government created the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) in late 2002, which was to eventually serve as the CDS' Secretariat. However, over the past 17 years, this has remained yet another the department within the military establishment.

The existing scenario in India:
  • India has had a feeble equivalent known as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC); but this is a toothless office, given the manner in which it is structured.

  • The senior-most among the three Service Chiefs are appointed to head the CoSC, an office that lapses with the incumbent’s retirement.

  • The current Chairman CoSC is Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa. When ACM Dhanoa retires at the end of September 2019, he would have served as Chairman CoSC for a mere four months.

About :
  • The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is a high military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services. The role of the CDS becomes critical in times of conflict.

  • He offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive (in India’s case, to the Prime Minister) on long-term defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “jointsmanship” in operations.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
Bone Implant from Eggshells (IIT-H):
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Researchers from the Indian Institute of TechnologyHyderabad (IIT-H) and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, have developed a process by which bone implant materials can be synthesised from eggshells.

  • In modern medicine, damaged and missing bones are replaced with bone from either the patient or a donor or by using artificial materials containing calcium, such as Plaster of Paris, and more recently, phosphate compounds like hydroxyapatite and calcium phosphate.

  • Eggshells are made of largely of minerals (95.1%) along with small amounts of proteins and water. Calcium is the main mineral component.

  • Recent research:
    The research seeks to produce bone substitute materials such as tricalcium phosphate, a commonly-used bone substitute material, from natural sources. For their study, researchers synthesized pure and thermally stable tricalcium phosphate nanopowder — powder a hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a single human hair — from eggshells. They used a milling process called ‘ball milling’ to produce these activated calcium phosphate powders.

  • Benefits:
    Results showed that eggshell waste is promising enough to replace the commercially available tricalcium phosphate (produced by using harmful chemicals) and has the capability to develop implantable biomaterial for tissue regeneration. Eggshells are inexpensive and can be obtained in unlimited quantities. Also, bioceramics made from them exhibit greater biocompatibility than other synthetic powders due to the presence of additional bioactive elemental ions.

2. Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2019:
(Social Issues)
    Context : Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat launched the Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2019 (SSG 2019) in the capital.

In News:
  • With over 5.8 lakh villages, 639 districts, and 32 States/UTs declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in rural India, the country is well poised to be completely an Open Defecation Free India by October 2, 2019.

  • With SSG19, the Swachh Bharat Mission is being taken to the next level, by focusing on solid liquid waste management and plastic waste management.

  • It will be conducted from August 14 to September 30, 2019, SSG 2019.

  • It will cover 17,450 villages in 698 districts across India and include 87,250 public places namely schools, anganwadi centers, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places, making it India’s largest rural sanitation survey.

  • An independent survey agency will conduct the survey in all districts and the results will be announced based on quantitative and qualitative sanitation parameters.

ODF+ phase:
  • In a effort to look beyond toilets and kick off its ODF+ phase — that is, Open Defecation Free Plus — focussing on solid and liquid waste management, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) has included the prevalence of plastic litter and water-logging in villages as indicators of cleanliness in its 2019 rural survey.

  • ODF+ will have four main verticals — solid waste management divided into biodegradable waste and plastic waste, and liquid waste management divided into grey water, or kitchen waste water, and faecal waste.

Swachh Survekshan 2020 (SS 2020) will be the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness survey. It will be conducted in January 2020 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
(Defence & Security)
    Context : Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal launched CORAS (Commando for Railway Security) of Indian Railways.

  • CORAS is a separate Commando Unit of Railway Protection Force (RPF).
  • These CORAS commandos will be posted in Left extremist wing affected areas, north-eastern region and Jammu and Kashmir where providing security to the passengers and the railway network is of utmost priority.
  • He also announced that a new commando training centre will be set up in Jagadhri, Haryana to modernize and train commandos of the Railway Protection Force (RPF).

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Stubble Burning:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: According to Director General, ICAR, India achieved considerable reduction in crop residue burning incidents in 2018.

In News:
  • Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the State of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh & NCT of Delhi:

What is it?
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme launched by Government of India for the period from 2018-19 to 2019-20.

  • Objective is to tackle air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for insitu management of crop residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi.

  • It involves distribution of in-situ crop residue management machinery to the farmers on subsidy, establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) of in-situ crop residue management machinery and undertaking Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities for creating awareness among farmers.

Implementing mechanism:
  • ICAR is implementing the scheme through 60 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of Punjab (22) Haryana (14) Delhi (1) UP (23).

Achievements under the scheme:
  • The paddy residue burning events have reduced by 15% and 41% in 2018 as compared to that in 2017 and 2016, respectively in all these States.
  • More than 4500 villages in Punjab and Haryana were declared as Zero Stubble Burning Villages during 2018 as not a single crop burning incident was reported from these villages during the year.

Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization:
  • In addition to the above Scheme, separate funds are being allocated to the States for crop residue management under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization by the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

2. Swachh Bharat (Urban):
(Social Issues)
    Context : Union Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs launched the Swachh Survekshan 2020 (SS 2020), the SBM Wate PLUS Protocol and Toolkit, Swachh Nagar – an integrated waste management app and AI enabled mSBM App.

In News:
  • Earlier this year, Government of India launched Swachh Survekshan League 2020 (SS League 2020) with the objective of sustaining the on ground performance of cities along with continuous monitoring of service level performance on cleanliness.

  • Swachh Survekshan 2020 (SS 2020): It will be the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness survey. It will be conducted in January 2020 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).

AI enabled mSBM App:
  • It has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to facilitate the applicants of Individual Household Toilets (IHHL) under SBM-U know the status of their application in real-time after uploading the photograph.

SBM Water PLUS Protocol:
  • Moving beyond ODF, ODF+ and ODF++, the Water PLUS protocol aims to provide a guideline for cities and towns to ensure that no untreated wastewater is released into the environment thereby enabling sustainability of the sanitation value chain.

Swachh Nagar Mobile App:
  • It is an integrated waste management app to tackle several issues that hinder effective waste management such as lack of monitoring, collection of segregated waste, and tracking the movement of waste vehicles and waste pickers, amongst others.

3. PSL Lending By Banks to NBFC’s:
    Context : The RBI issued a circular under which on-lending by registered NBFCs (other than MFIs) towards agriculture, MSEs and housing sector up to prescribed limits will be treated as priority sector loans. it is being done in order to boost credit to the needy segment of borrowers.

  • Bank credit to registered NBFCs (other than MFIs) for on-lending will be eligible for classification as priority sector under respective categories subject to the following conditions:
    Agriculture: On-lending by NBFCs for ‘Term lending’ component under Agriculture will be allowed up to ₹ 10 lakh per borrower.
  • Micro & Small enterprises: On-lending by NBFC will be allowed up to ₹ 20 lakh per borrower.

  • Housing: Enhancement of the existing limits for on-lending by HFCs from ₹ 10 lakh per borrower to ₹ 20 lakh per borrower.

  • Under the revised on-lending model, banks can classify only the fresh loans sanctioned by NBFCs out of bank borrowing.
  • However, loans given by housing finance companies under the existing onlending guidelines will continue to be classified under priority sector by banks.
  • Bank credit to NBFCs for on-lending will be allowed up to a limit of five per cent of individual bank's total priority sector lending on an ongoing basis.
  • These norms will be reviewed after March 31, 2020.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. PM-JAY include cancer soon:
(Social Issues)
    Context: Government of India is planning to include all types of cancers and their treatment under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. It is because cancer care costs cause massive financial crisis among people and many had to go without treatment.

Ayushman Bharat Yojana -
Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana
  • It is the Central Government’s health insurance scheme that aims to give medical cover to over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families of approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, providing coverage of up to ₹5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

  • So far, 16,000 hospitals have been empanelled, nearly 34 lakh beneficiaries have been admitted, and 9 crore e-cards have been issued.

Cancer in India :
  • According to the WHO - World Health Organisation , the rate of mortality due to cancer in India is high, with cancer the second-most common disease in India, responsible for maximum mortality, with about 0.3 million deaths per year.

  • Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in India, followed by breast cancer and oral cancers.

  • The estimated number of people living with the disease stands at around 2.25 million, with over 11 lakh new cancer patients registered each year.

  • In India, the risk of developing cancer before the age of 75 years for males stands at 9.81% and females at 9.42%. The risk of dying from cancer before the age of 75 years stood at 7.34% in males and 6.28% in females.

2. Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (Section-129):
Context : Protective headgear of prescribed standards has been made mandatory for children above 4 years while travelling on a motorcycle.
  • Only Sikhs wearing turban have been exempted from the provision of Section 129.

  • The safety measures for the children travelling on motorcycles have been included in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 that is passed by Parliament.

  • With the President of India giving assent to the Act, that has amended the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice has notified the Act in the Gazette of India.

  • Now section 129 of the principal Act reads “Every person, above four years of age, driving or riding or being carried on a motorcycle of any class or description shall, while in public place wear protective headgear conforming to standards prescribed by the Central government”.

3. NGT directs Govt about PVC:
(Environment & Ecology)
Context : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Centre to submit a report on standards of lead and to phase out lead as a stabiliser in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes that are commonly used in most buildings.
  • A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel expressed concern that the notification has not been finalised despite its direction. It directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to submit a report before October 21.

  • The NGT in March 2019 had directed the Centre to finalise within two months the standards for using lead in PVC pipes.

  • The NGT was earlier informed that water passing through PVC pipes commonly used in most buildings may contain toxic materials like lead, which has a hazardous effect on human health.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. The Great Scientist _ Vikram Sarabhai:
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Google celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of scientist & innovator Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, with a doodle.

About :
  • Born in Ahmedabad (1919), Dr. Sarabhai done his doctorate from Cambridge.

  • He founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad (1947).

  • He is considered the father of India's space program.

  • After Russia's Sputnik launch, he managed to convince the Indian government on the need for India, a developing country, to have its own space program.

  • He established the Indian National Committee for Space Research (1962), which was later renamed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

  • He helped set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Thiruvananthapuram, with its inaugural flight (1963).

  • He had worked on India's first satellite, Aryabhata, but he never lived to see its launch (1975), which happened four years after his death. Apart from ISRO and PRL, he pioneered the setting up of several institutions, such as the –

  • Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad,

  • Community Science Centre, and

  • Darpan Academy for Performing Arts (which he set up with his wife Mrinalini, a renowned dancer).

Awards and honors:
  • He received the Padma Bhushan (1966) and was conferred the Padma Vibhushan posthumously (1972).

  • In 1973, a crater on the moon was named after him.

2. Climate Change:
(Environment & Ecology)
Context : The WMO_World Meteorological Organization announced that July 2019 matched, and possibly broke, the record for the hottest month since analysis began.
Global Scenario of Climate Change:
  • Exceptional heat has been observed across the globe in recent weeks, with several European countries recording temperature highs.

  • The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers.

  • Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead of turning them into sources of greenhouse gases.

About :
  • The finding emerged from the analysis of new data from the WMO and the Copernicus Climate Change Programme, run by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

  • July 2019 was close to 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level. The previous the warmest month on record was July 2016, and July 2019 was at least on par with it.

July 2019 vs July 2016 : This finding is significant because in July 2016 there was a strong occurrence of the El Niño phenomenon, a system of complex weather patterns that contribute to warmer global temperatures.
  • This July, there were no strong occurrences of the El Niño phenomenon making the rise in temperatures seen across the world particularly striking.

3. Eid-Ul-Azha:
    Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted fellow citizens on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

  • It is a celebration to mark the ultimate sacrifice by Ibrahim (Abraham) to show his love and devotion to Allah/God.

  • Muslims around the world believe that Allah (God) commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

  • Ibrahim followed God's orders, but his son was replaced by a sheep at the last moment. Muslims celebrate this at Eid al-Adha.

About :
  • Eid-ul-Zuha is also known as Eid-ul-Adha, Eid-ul-Azha, and Bakr-Id. It is also referred to as the festival of sacrifice. The word ‘Eid’ in Arabic means ‘festival’ and ‘zuha means ‘sacrifice’.

  • It is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah (in Islamic Calendar).

  • Eid al Adha is that it also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is a mandatory religious journey undertaken by Muslims to the holy place of Kabbah.

Celebration :
  • It is a festival that Muslims celebrate with special prayers, greetings, and gifts.

  • They may sacrifice a sheep or goat and share the meat with family members and others. Because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat (‘Bakri’ in Urdu), it is known as Bakr-id.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. IBC Act 2018 (2nd Amendment):
    Context: A Supreme Court Bench has confirmed the constitutional validity of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (2nd Amendment) act which empowered harassed home buyers to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against errant real estate builders.

Background :
  • Before the Amendment Act of 2018 came into existence, the assets of the bankrupt builder were divided among his employees, creditor banks and other operational creditors.

  • Homebuyers had hardly figured, though their hard-earned savings may have provided a major chunk of the housing project.

Recent Judgement (Supreme Court) :
  • The SC Bench confirmed the constitutional validity of the insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (2nd Amendment) act as the IBC and the RERA operate in different spheres and can be used harmoniously for the interest of home buyers.

  • The court further directed the center to fill up the vacancies in the NCTL and its appellate tribunals so as to deal with the rising number of bankruptcy litigation in the real estate sector.

  • The SC also ordered those States and UTs who have still not set up a Real Estate Regulatory Authority & to do so in 3 months.

IBC (Second Amendment) Act, 2018 :
  • The Act gives buyers the status of ‘Financial Creditors’ with power to vote in the committee of creditors (CoC). The Act had brought the home buyers on par with the creditor banks of the property builder.

  • The CoC, by voting, makes important decisions on the future of the bankrupt builder. These calls include what to do with his assets and who should finish the pending housing projects.

  • The judgment gains significance as many real estate builders have been under fire for incomplete projects leaving homebuyers in dire straits.

Opposition to the Amendment Act :
  • The builders had challenged making home buyers a financial creditor.

  • The builders argued that home buyers were already armed with the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), another piece of legislation which protected the interests of the individual investor in real estate projects.

2. Huawei unveils ‘Harmony’:
(Science & Tech)
Context :
  • Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled its own operating system named HarmonyOS — HongMeng in Chinese —as it faces the threat of losing access to Google’s Android platform, amid escalating U.S.- China trade tensions.

About :
  • The highly anticipated operating system is considered crucial for the tech Huawei’s survival as it confronts a looming White House ban on U.S. companies selling technology products to Huawei, which could remove its access to Android.

  • The first version would launch later this year in its smart screen products, before expanding across a range of smart devices, including wearable technology, over the next three years.

3. CCL _ Child Care Leave:
(Social Issues)
    Context : Defence minister Rajnath Singh has approved extension of benefits of Child Care Leave (CCL) to single male service personnel.

About :
I. CCL in defence forces :
  • Presently, Child Care Leave (CCL) is being granted to woman officers in defence forces. Now the proposal of Ministry of Defence extending similar benefits to Defence personnel has been approved by Defence Minister.

  • With this, single male service personnel will be able to avail the benefit of CCL.

  • Single male service personnel and woman officers of defence forces will also be able to avail CCL in respect of child with 40 % disability without any restriction of age limit of the child.

  • Further, the minimum period of CCL that can be availed in each spell has been reduced to 05 days from the earlier limit of 15 days.

II. CCL to civilian employees :
Recently, DoPT has made following amendments for grant of CCL to civilian employees –
  • The CCL granted to woman employees till now has been extended to single male government servants also.

  • The age limit of 22 years prescribed earlier in the case of a child with 40 % disability has been removed for the purpose of availing CCL.

  • The minimum period of CCL that can be availed at a time has been reduced to 5 days instead of 15 days.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. PMLA:
(Defence & Security)
    Context: The Centre has issued a notification on certain changes in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

About Some Changes:
  • An explanation added to Section 45 clarifies that all PMLA offenses will be cognizable and non bailable. Therefore, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers are empowered to arrest an accused without a warrant, subject to certain conditions.

  • Amendment to Section 3 makes concealment of proceeds of crime, possession, acquisition, use, projecting as untainted money or claiming as untainted property as independent and complete offenses under the Act.

  • It deletes the provisos in sub-sections (1) of Section 17 (Search and Seizure) and Section 18 (Search of Persons), thus doing away with the pre-requisite of an FIR or charge-sheet by other agencies that are authorized to probe the offences listed in the PMLA schedule.

  • Now, under Section 44, the Special Court, while dealing with the offense under this Act shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be construed as joint trial.

  • The scope of “proceeds of crime”, under Section 2, has been expanded to empower the agency to act against even those properties which “may directly or indirectly be derived or obtained as a result of any criminal activity relatable to the scheduled offence”.

2. BCCI:
    Context : The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).

Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI)?
  • The BCCI is registered as a society under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975.

  • It was established in 1928 as the central governing body regulating cricket in India.

  • It is a consortium of state cricket associations and the state associations select their representatives who in turn elect the BCCI Chief.

  • Headquarters at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

  • CoA _Committee of Administrators: In 2017, the Supreme Court nominated a four-member panel Committee of Administrators to look after the administration of the BCCI in order to implement Lodha committee reforms.

  • The BCCI has given in writing that it would adhere to the anti-doping policy of NADA.

The implication of this decision:
All cricketers will now be tested by NADA.
  • BCCI now becomes a designated National Sports Federation as per government norms despite being financially autonomous.

  • It will also face more pressure to come under the government's Right to Information Act.

3. Samagra Shiksha-Jal Suraksha:
(Social Justice)
    Context : Union HRD Minister and Union Minister for Jal Shakti launched ‘Samagra Shiksha-Jal Suraksha’ drive for School Students.

About :
Launched by The Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of HRD.
Five Major Objectives :
  • To educate Students to learn about conservation of water.

  • To sensitize students about the impact of scarcity of water.

  • To empower students to learn to protect the natural sources of water.

  • To help every Student to save at least one liter of water per day.

  • To encourage Students towards judicious use and minimum wastage of water at home and school level.

Target :
This mega drive targets to connect more than 10 crore students with this programme.
For Example :
  • One Student - One Day - To Save One Litre of Water.

  • One Student - One Year - To Save 365 Litres of Water.

  • One Student - 10 Years - To Save 3650 Litres of Water.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Global Measles Resurgence:
    Context: Sri Lanka has become the fourth country in the Asian region — after Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste — to eliminate measles.

  • Measles is a highly contagious viral disease.

  • It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
  • Initial symptoms include high fever, a runny nose, and bloodshot eyes. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

  • It can cause life-threatening complications including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections, and permanent vision loss.

  • The disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.

  • Measles is considered as eliminated when a country interrupts transmission of an indigenous virus for three years.

  • This is an encouraging development amidst an increase in the number of cases worldwide, especially in Europe.

2. World Biofuel Day:
  • Context :World Biofuel Day will be observed on 10th August to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels.

Biofuel _ Used Cooking Oil (UCO)
  • The National Policy on Biofuels, released by the Government of India in 2018, envisages production of biofuel from Used Cooking Oil (UCO).

  • In India, approximately, 22.7 MMTPA of Cooking Oil is used out of which 1.2 MMTPA UCO can be collected from Bulk Consumers such as hotels, restaurants, canteens, etc. for conversion, which will give approximately 110 crore liters of Biodiesel in one year.

  • In India, the same cooking oil is used for repeated frying which adversely affects health due to the formation of polar compounds during frying.

  • On the other hand, the transformation of UCO into biofuel will help bring health benefits as there would be no recycling of the UCO, employment generation, infrastructural investment in rural areas & a cleaner environment with a reduced carbon footprint.

About :
  • World Biofuel Day is observed every year on the 10th of August.

  • It is being observed by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas since 2015.

  • The objective is to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and highlight the various efforts made by the Government of India in the biofuel sector.

  • This year the theme of the World Biofuel Day is “Production of Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil (UCO)”.

  • Key highlights of this year: To facilitate the production of Biodiesel from UCO, the Oil Marketing Companies shall float an Expression of Interest (EOI) on the occasion for procurement of Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil across 100 cities.

3. NEA 2019:
  • Context : Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship announced the fourth edition of National Entrepreneurship Awards, 2019.

About :
  • The annual awards have been instituted to honor outstanding young first-generation entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders for their exceptional contribution in entrepreneurship development.

  • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

  • There are a total of 45 specially designed awards to be bestowed – 39 Enterprise Awards and 6 Awards for Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders.

To be eligible for these awards, the nominee (entrepreneur)
  • must be under the age of 40 years;

  • must be first-generation entrepreneurs;

  • must hold 51% or more equity and ownership of the business, and women entrants must individually or collectively own 75% or more of the enterprise.

  • Cash prize: Winners will be presented with a Cash Prize of ₹5 lakh (enterprises/ individuals) and ₹10 lakh (organizations/ institutes).

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Monetary Policy_Statement:
    Context: Loans are set to get cheaper as RBI cut repo rate by 35 basis points to 5.40 %.

Key highlights of monetary policy statement :
  • On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to reduce the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 35 basis points (bps) from 5.75 % to 5.40 % with immediate effect.

  • Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands revised to 5.15 %, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 5.65 %.

  • The MPC also decided to maintain the accommodative stance of monetary policy.

  • The move is said to give a fillip to the economy. This was the fourth consecutive time that the Monetary Policy Committee reduced the rates.

  • These decisions are in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 % within a band of +/- 2 %, while supporting growth.

2. Biodegradable Plastic:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: A Mexican researcher has discovered a way to turn cactus leaves into a material with similar properties to plastic. It's not toxic and is biodegradable.

In News:
  • Biodegradable plastic is plastic that decomposes naturally in the environment.

  • It is achieved when microorganisms in the environment metabolize and break down the structure of biodegradable plastic.

  • Biodegradable plastics are made from all-natural plant materials.
  • These can include corn oil, orange peels, starch, and plants.

  • Mexico’s prickly pear cactus, which is emblazoned on the country’s flag, could soon play a new and innovative role in the production of biodegradable plastics.

  • A packaging material made from this plant has been developed by a Mexican researcher and is offering a promising alterative to plastics.

  • The pulp of the prickly pear is mixed with non-toxic additives to produce sheets that can be used for packaging.

  • The cactus used for her experiments come from San Esteban, a small town located in Jalisco state of Mexico, where single-use non-recyclable plastic bags, straws and other disposable items will be banned from next year.

  • Pascoe is still conducting tests, but hopes to patent her product later this year and look for partners in early 2020, with an eye towards large scale production.

3. Heracles Inexpectatus:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: The remains of a super-sized parrot that stood more than half the height of an average human and roamed the Earth 19 million years ago have been discovered in New Zealand.

  • The parrot has been named Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its Herculean size and strength and the unexpected nature of the discovery.

  • Heracles inexpectatus, the largest parrot ever discovered, was twice the size of the critically endangered flightless New Zealand kakapo, previously the largest known parrot.

  • According to a report published in the latest edition of Biology Letters, the flightless birds were at least one metre tall, and weighed up to seven kilograms.

  • Evidence of the parrot was unearthed in fossils near St. Bathans in southern New Zealand.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Water Crisis:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: According to new data from the WRI, 1/4 of the world’s population faces huge water stress, with bulk of them living in India.

In News:
The Aqueduct tool used by the World Resources Institute ranks countries on the basis of “water risk scores”, which are determined using 13 indicators of water risk.
Indian scenario:
  • India is 13th among these 17 countries. India has more than three times the population of the other 16 extremely highly stressed countries combined. This implies that more than three-quarters of these populations facing extremely high water stress live in India.

  • Groundwater tables in some northern aquifers declined at a rate of more than 8 cm per year between 1990 and 2014.

Global scenario:
  • 1/4th of the world’s population faces “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress.

  • Irrigated agriculture, industries, and municipalities withdraw more than 80% of their available supply on average every year.

  • Globally, water withdrawals have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand.

  • 17 countries are facing withdrawals of 80% or more from available supply. 12 out of the 17 most water-stressed countries are in the Middle East and North Africa.

2. Article 371:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: Home Minister Amit Shah told Lok Sabha that the government had no intention of removing Article 371 of the Constitution. His assurance came amid apprehension that having rendered Article 370 irrelevant, the government might unilaterally abrogate or modify Article 371.

  • Articles 369 through 392 (including some that have been removed) appear in Part XXI of the Constitution, titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’.

  • Article 370 dealt with ‘Temporary Provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir’.

  • Articles 371, 371A, 371B, 371C, 371D, 371E, 371F, 371G, 371H, and 371J define special provisions with regard to another state (or states).

  • Articles 370 and 371 were part of the Constitution at the time of its commencement on January 26, 1950; Articles 371A through 371J were incorporated subsequently.

  • Article 371, Maharashtra and Gujarat: Governor has “special responsibility” to establish “separate development boards” for “Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra”, and Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat.

  • In Nagaland Article 371A (13th Amendment Act, 1962) : Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice according to Naga customary law, and ownership and transfer of land without concurrence of the state Assembly.

  • In Assam Article 371B (22nd Amendment Act, 1969): The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Assembly consisting of members elected from the state’s tribal areas.

  • In Manipur Article 371C (27th Amendment Act, 1971): The President may provide for the constitution of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning.

  • In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014): President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”. o Article 371E: it allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not a “special provision” in the sense of the others in this part.

  • In Sikkim Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975): To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.

  • In Mizoram Article 371G (53rd Amendment Act, 1986) : Parliament cannot make laws on “religious or socialmpractices of the Mizos.

  • In Arunachal Pradesh Article 371H (55th Amendment Act, 1986): The Governor has a special responsibility with regard to law and order, and “he shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken”.

  • In Karnataka Article 371J (98th Amendment Act, 2012) : There is a provision for a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

  • Article 371I deals with Goa, but it does not include any provision that can be deemed ‘special’.

3. Know about TPNW:
    Context: The mayor of Hiroshima urged Japan to sign the Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, a landmark UN treaty banning nuclear weapons as the city today marked 74 years since being targeted in the world's first atomic attack.

  • The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is also known as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.

  • It’s the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination It was passed in July 2017.

  • In order to come into effect, signature and ratification by at least 50 countries is required. As of 31 July 2019, 24 nations have ratified the treaty.

What is the Strategy:
  • For those nations that are party to it, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.

  • For nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme.

4. Sushma Swaraj:
    Context: Former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, 67, passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest.

  • Born in my state Haryana in 1952, Sushma Swaraj went on to become a practicing lawyer in the Supreme Court. After being an active member of Jayaprakash Narayan's anti-Emergency movement, she became a member of the BJP-Bhartiya Janata Party.

  • Sushma Swaraj was a seven-time Member of Parliament and a three-time MLA.

  • She had many firsts to her credit such as being the youngest cabinet minister in the Haryana government in 1977, first woman Chief Minister of Delhi in 1998 and the first woman spokesperson for any national political party in the country.

  • She was External Affairs Minister from 2014 to 2019, leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014, Minister for Information and Broadcasting in Vajpayee Government from 2000-2003.

Awesome Tenure as External Affairs Minister:
  • She was the second Indian woman to become the External Affairs Minister, after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

  • She played a key role in resolving the Doklam standoff with China in 2017 and in India approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ) challenging a Pakistani military court's death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

  • Through her extensive use of Twitter, Sushma Swaraj had earned a reputation of easily-accessible External Affairs Minister. She took a personal interest in resolving minor issues like issuance of visa to the needy and helped the Indian diaspora in distress through her social media outreach.

Woman you are Narayani
"Sushma ji was the real role of our country (society)" Sat Sat naman
I think "No country can reach the sum of fame until its women walk shoulder to shoulder."
Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Arctic Wildfires:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: Wildfires ravaging parts of the Arctic are threatening to accelerate the melting of ice and permafrost – the permanently frozen ground layer – releasing greenhouse gases stored for thousands of years.

Permafrost ?
  • What’s Criteria: Permafrost is any ground that remains completely frozen— 32°F (0°C) or colder—for at least two years straight.

  • Distribution Globally : These permanently frozen grounds are most common in regions with high mountains and in Earth’s higher latitudes—near the North and South Poles.

  • Coverage: Permafrost covers large regions of the Earth. Almost a quarter of the land area in the Northern Hemisphere has permafrost underneath.

  • What’s Composition: Permafrost is made of a combination of rocks, soil and sand that are held together by ice.

  • The soil and ice in permafrost stay frozen all year long.

  • Near the surface, permafrost soils also contain large quantities of organic carbon—a material leftover from dead plants that couldn’t decompose, or rot away, due to the cold. Lower permafrost layers contain soils made mostly of minerals.

  • A layer of soil on top of permafrost does not stay frozen all year. The layer is called as the active layer, thaws during the warm summer months and freezes again in the fall.

  • Although wildfires are frequent in the northern hemisphere between May and October, scientists estimate the magnitude of this season’s burn is higher than any other in the 16-year-record.

  • Fires are burning farther north, and scientists worry the forest fires are igniting peat fires. Peat stores large amounts of carbon, which is burning and releasing record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

  • As the planet warms, more and more frozen peat and permafrost has thawed, releasing large amounts of carbon.

  • Now, fires are burning that stored carbon, releasing Carbon-Di-Oxide into the atmosphere

(Science & Technology)
    Context: In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, Mohali traffic police have launched 3-D Smart Traffic Signal devised by the students of a Chandigarh university.

  • One of the major reasons for traffic congestion is the inefficient working of traffic signal timers installed at intersections.

  • Presently, the timers of traffic lights display a preset value which leads to waste of time. For instance, consider a scenario where green light of '20 seconds' is displayed but there is no vehicle present at that particular intersection - thus leading to unnecessary waste of time.

Working of InteLights:
  • To tackle this issue, The wireless system, called 'Intelights', proposes an Intelligent Traffic Timer Control.

  • It uses dynamic signal control technology to adjust the timers of red, yellow and green lights according to the traffic density at an intersection.

  • The system uses existing CCTV cameras to gather live traffic video feed, and automatically evaluates the traffic density using Artificial Intelligence, and sets the signal timers accordingly.

  • This process is repeated for every cycle of traffic lights to keep traffic flowing smoothly

3. Mob Lynching ; Honour Killing:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: Rajasthan legislative assembly passed two important bills to curb honour killings and Mob Lynching in the state.

The Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances i.e; Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019:
  • The government told during the debate that 10 cases of honour killings have been reported in the state last year.

  • Now, up to death penalty provisions have been made for the convicts in honour killing cases.

What is Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill,2019 ?
  • Rajasthan has become the second state after Manipur which passed a law to curb lynching cases.
  • The government told during the debate that 87 % of the total incidents took place across the country were recorded in the state during the last five years.

  • Offences under new law will be investigated by a police officer of the rank of Inspector and above, and state DGP will appoint an officer of IG or above rank

  • In cases of “hurt” and “grievous hurt” from such assault, the convict may get up to seven and 10 years in jail, respectively.

  • If the attack leads to death, the punishment is life imprisonment.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Census of Elephant:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: Union Ministry of Environment informed about the elephant population in India.

According to IUCN Red List of threatened species
  • African elephants – Vulnerable

  • Asian elephants – Endangered

Estimated Population :
  • 400,000 African elephants

  • 40,000 Asian elephants

  • The elephant population in India is estimated at 29,964 as per the 2017 census.

  • The South Region -14,612 elephants.

  • North East - 10,139 elephants.

  • Census of tigers is undertaken at the national level once every four years.

  • Census of elephants is undertaken every five years.

    Context: Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated a TechEx organized to demonstrate prototypes developed under IMPRINT and UAY, the two flagship schemes of the MHRD.

  • Technology Exhibition – TechEx

  • Ministry of Human Resource Development - MHRD

  • IMPRINT _INnovation and Technology:
    Launched: 2015.

  • Provide solutions to the most relevant engineering challenges by translating knowledge into viable technology (products or processes) in 10 selected technology domains.

  • Health Care, Sustainable Habitat, manufacturing, Energy, Water Resources and River Systems, Advanced Materials, Nano-Technology Hardware, Information and Communication Technology, security and defence, and environmental science and climate change all these are technology domains.

  • The total cost of 142 projects - Rs. 313 crore were approved under IMPRINT-I.

  • Funded by MHRD and the participating Ministry (jointly) in the ratio of 50:50.

Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY):
  • Launched: 2015.

  • Promoting innovation of a higher order

  • Directly impacts the needs of the Industry

  • Improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing.

  • Total of 142 projects has been approved under UAY.

  • These projects are funded by MHRD, participating Ministries and the Industry (jointly) in the ratio of 50:25:25.

3. CHT Accord:
    Context: Indigenous people of Bangladesh have demanded quick implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) Accord signed in 1997.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts?
  • It’s an area within the Chattogram Division in Bangladesh (South_Eastern).

  • Bordering Myanmar (South_East)

  • The Indian state of Tripura (North)

  • Mizoram (East) and Chittagong district (West).

  • They formed Single district until 1984.

  • Divided into three districts namely

  • Khagrachari District

  • Rangamati Hill District

  • Bandarban District.

  • Topographically it’s the only extensively hilly area in Bangladesh.

  • The government of Bangladesh signed the CHT Accord in 1997 with PCJSS representing Jumma indigenous people to end decades of armed conflict in the South-Eastern region of the country.

  • Protection of the land rights of Jumma people, rehabilitation, self-government and withdrawal of the military from the region were the key points of the accord.

  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was honoured with the UNESCO Peace Prize in 1998 for the accord.

  • Indigenous people's organisations have accused the government of not implementing the accord but the government claims that most of the provisions of the accord have been implemented.

  • Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samity – PCJSS

  • Chittagong Hill Tract - CHT

4. QRSAM: (Security & Defence)
    Context:bDRDO successfully flight-tested its state-of-the-art QRSAM against life baerial targets from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur.
  • Strike range - 30 km.

  • Capable of killing multiple aerial targets, bunkers and tanks.

  • The systems are equipped with indigenously-developed Phased array radar, Inertial Navigation System, Data Link & RF seeker.

  • System developed for Indian Army with search and track on move capability with very short reaction time.

  • The missile has been indigenously developed by DRDO - Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Tigers face Canine Distemper Virus in India:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: There is a heightened risk of disease transfer from dogs to tigers, leopards in Ranthambhore National Park

    In News: A potential virus — Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) — that can be transmitted from CDV-infected dogs living in wildlife sanctuaries to tiger’s has raised concern among wildlife biologists.

Recent study:
  • A recent study published in Threatened Taxa notes that 86% of the tested dogs around Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried CDV antibodies in their bloodstream.

  • This finding points out that there is an increased risk of disease transfer from the dogs to tigers and leopards that live in the park.

  • Last year, over 20 lions from the Gir forest succumbed to the canine distemper virus infection, and now a guideline has been prepared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority to prevent the spillover of the disease to wild animals.

  • It is a infectious viral disease that attacks the gastrointestinal, respiratory and nervous systems of many animal species, including dogs, pandas, foxes and wolves.

  • CDV is also known as hardpad disease.

  • Symptoms include eye inflammation, high fever & eye/nose discharge, vomiting & diarrhoea, loss of appetite & hardening of footpads & nose.

  • It is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae - is a family of viruses in the order Mononegavirales. (other viruses from this family can also causes bronchiolitis, measles, mumps in humans). We can say it is similar to the measles virus in humans and the rinderpest virus which affects the cattle.

  • The disease is highly transferable via inhalation. Also transmitted by shared food and equipment.

  • There is no cure for CDV infection. Treatment typically consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent infections.
“Prevention is Better than Cure”

2. One Nation One Ration-Card:
    Context: In a major boost to National Food Security, Government of India launched the One Nation-One Ration Card a scheme on a pilot basis in four States namely Telangana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

    In News :IMPDS - Integrated Management of PDS is a system that is already operational in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Kerala, Tripura, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Rajasthan wherein a beneficiary can avail his share of food grain from any district in the State.

  • Families who have food security cards can buy subsidized rice and wheat from any Fair Price Shop in these states. To avail, this service Ration-Cards should be linked with Aadhar Number.

  • The Centre is intended to extend the program to all states by August next year so that the portability of the food security card implemented. There will also be a creation of a Central Repository of all Ration Cards to help national-level de-duplication.

  • The national portability of Ration cards will ensure all beneficiaries especially the migrants in getting access to Public Distribution System (PDS) across the country from any PDS shop of their own choice.

  • It provides freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to anyone PDS shop and reduce their dependency on shop owners and curtail instances of manipulation.

3. India-Africa Relations:
    Context: President Ramnath Kovind returned to New Delhi after completion of his three-nation visit to Benin, Gambia and Guinea.

Pan African e-network (PAeN) project?
  • Launched in 2009.

  • It was intended to provide ‘seamless’ and ‘integrated’ satellite, optic fiber and wireless network to connect the African countries.

  • Tele-Education Services and Tele-Medicine Services (Two main components)

  • The project is a joint undertaking of the Government of India and the African Union (AU) High Commission.

  • Implementing agency - India’s Ministry of External Affairs is the designated nodal Ministry and The Department of Space and Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL).

  • State Visit of the President of India to Benin, The Gambia, and Guinea (July 28 -3 August 2019):

  • That was the first-ever visit by any President of India to the three West African countries.

  • During the week, a number of MoUs were signed in the field of traditional medicine, pan Africa e-network Project, solar and renewable energy, E - education and Ayurveda.

  • In Guinea, he received National Order of Merit which is the highest civilian award of the country.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. UAPA Bill 2019 gets Rajya Sabha nod:
(National Security)
    Context: Congress, BSP back legislation cleared by the Lok Sabha on July 24

    In News:The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 that empowers the Union Home Ministry to designate individuals as terrorists were passed in the Rajya Sabha on 2nd August 2019 with the Congress and BSP supporting the legislation.

In favour - 147 members and Against - 42.
Parties who opposed the Bill - TMC, AAP, CPI(M), RJD, CPI, TDP, SP, and DMK.
  • Under the Act, the Union government could designate an associate organization as a terrorist organization. The Bill to book empowers the govt to designate people as terrorists.
  • Under the Act, investigation of cases is also conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or higher than. The Bill to boot empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or higher than, to analyze cases.

  • If the investigation is conducted by an official of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director-General of NIA would be needed for the seizure of such property.

  • The Act defines terrorist acts to incorporate acts committed at intervals the scope of any of the treaties listed during a schedule to the Act. The Bill adds another pact to the list specifically, the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of an act of terrorism (2005).

What is NIA?
  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by the Government of India to combat terror in India.

  • It is the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.

  • The Agency came into existence after the enactment of NIA Act 2008 by the Parliament on 31 December 2008.
  • Headquarter - New Delhi.

  • NIA Branches – Guwahati, Kochi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, Raipur, Kolkata and Jammu.

    Context : Union Minister of Skill Development reviewed the SANKALP program at the first Program Governance Board Meeting, which is the apex body for governance of the scheme.

  • Complete name: Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP).

  • Involving Bodies: implemented by Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship with the assistance of the World Bank.

  • It is a centrally sponsored program.

  • Approved by Union Cabinet in 2017.

  • Till now, all States and UTs (i.e;36) of country have submitted their consent for participation in SANKALP.

  • Aims to implement the mandate of the NSDM - National Skill Development Mission.

Under SANKALP four key result areas have been identified
  • Institutional Strengthening (at National, State & District level).

  • Quality Assurance Quality Assurance of skill development programs.

  • Inclusion of the marginalized population in skill development.

  • Expanding Skills through PPPs - Public-Private Partnerships.

  • “Skill India Portal” has also been developed under SANKALP to capture and converge skill data.

3. World Breastfeeding Week:
(Social Issues)
    Context : The Food and Nutrition Board, Ministry of Women and Child Development is organizing a number of activities on the theme “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding” during World Breastfeeding Week (WBW).

  • WBW is annually held from 1 to 7 Aug.

  • Aim: To promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which has huge health benefits.

  • Jointly organized by WHO, UNICEF and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

  • First celebrated in 1992 and is now observed annually in more than 100 countries.

Why Breastfeeding is important?
  • It prevents infections like acute respiratory infections and diarrhea in early infancy and reduces mortality in an infant.

  • It decreases the risk of mothers developing Cancer (Breast & Ovarian), heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Actual Norms of Feeding are:
  • Initiation - within an hour of birth.

  • For the first six months of life i.e. only breast Milk ‘NO’ other milk or food and water.

  • Continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

4. Mekong Ganga Cooperation:
    Context: Addressing the 10th MGC Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has emphasized on better connectivity between India and other member countries of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) bloc for developing a vibrant economic growth corridor.

What is MGC Plan of Action 2019-2022?
    During the recent meeting, the new MGC Plan of Action 2019-2022 was adopted that envisages project-based cooperation in various areas including tourism and culture, public health and traditional medicine, education, agriculture and allied sectors, MSMEs and water resources management, transport and communication

  • The MGC is a sub-regional cooperation organization comprising India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

  • Launched - 2000 at Laos capital Vientiane.

  • MGC takes its name from the Ganga and the Mekong, these are the two civilizational rivers in Southeast Asia.

  • Aims at facilitating closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins and enhancing cooperation in tourism, culture, education, transport and communications.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Finding the data on missing girls:
    Context: The figure quoted by the government fails to completely take into consideration deliveries in private hospitals

In News :
  • SRS released a data in July for 2015-2017. Female foeticide increase dropping continuously at an alarming rate.

  • The sex ratio at birth (SRB) has been continuously dropping since 2011 Census, 909 in 2013 to 896 in 2017.

  • In the 2014-2016 period, of the 21 large States, only two states above 950 — Kerala and Chhattisgarh.

  • At present, more than 5% of girls are ‘eliminated’ before they are born, despite the promises of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme launched by Our Honourable PM Sh. Narendra Modi.

Something Important About Beti Bachao Beti Padhao :
    Aim: To generate awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls in India.
    Launching: 22 January 2015 in Haryana
    Initial funding - (US$14 million) ₹100 crore.
    Mainly targeted in - Haryana ,U.P. ,Punjab ,Delhi.
    Reason - Sex-selective abortion leads to dropping of sex ratio in some states of India.
    Strategies - Implement a sustained social mobilization and communication campaign to create equal value for the girl child and also promote their education. Improvement in Sex Ratio would be an indicator of good governance. Focus on gender-critical states and districts.

2. Marking Tipu’s legacy to foster historical temper:
    Context: Developing an understanding of our conflictual pasts, and not retribution is the way to deal with ‘historical wounds’

Why controversial?
  • Richard III’s ascent to the throne, once his brother’s kids were declared illegitimate, has been beneath a cloud: did he ‘disappear’ his brother’s son?

  • William Shakespeare, loyal to his Tudor masters (the victors of the Battle of Bosworth) fostered the portrait of King of Great Britain as a malevolent ruler in his celebrated play of constant name, from the terribly initial scene.

In News:
  • The previous state government (H. D. Kumaraswamy) had introduced a ‘Tipu Jayanti’, that was scrapped by the recently sworn-in B.S. Yediyurappa regime in one amongst its initial actions in power. I would like the previous regime had put in a ‘Museum to Our Conflictual Pasts’, which might permit all guests to come back to terms with the foremost disputable figure of Mysore history, Tipu Sultan.

Know more about Tipu Sultan :
    Complete Name: Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu
    Tiger of Mysore Born on: 20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799

Many Conflicts between Marathas and Mysore (under Tipu):
  • Siege of Nargund in February 1785 – Victory of Mysore.

  • Siege of Badami in May 1786 - Mysore surrendered.

  • Siege of Adoni in June 1786 - Victory of Mysore.

  • Battle of Gajendragad in June 1786 - Victory of Mysore.

  • Battle of Savanur in October 1786 - Victory of Mysore.

  • Siege of Bahadur Benda in January 1787 - Victory of Mysore.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Beyond Talaq:
India needs a non-sectarian, gender-neutral law that addresses desertion of spouses.
    The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on [latex]{25}^{th}[/latex] July 2019 and then by Rajya Sabha on [latex]{30}^{th}[/latex] July 2019. This Bill making instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a criminal offence, amidst persistent doubts whether it ought to be treated as a crime or just a civil case. It is true that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, is a diluted version of the Bill as it was originally conceived.

Do You Know about Some Provisions:

  • All declarations of instant triple talaq, including in written or electronic form, will be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.

  • Instant triple talaq remains a cognizable offence with a maximum of three years imprisonment and a fine. The amount of any fine is at the discretion of the magistrate hearing the case.

  • The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by the wife or one of her blood relatives.

  • The offence is non-bailable. However, there is a provision that the magistrate hearing the case may grant bail to the accused. The bail may be granted only after hearing the wife and if the magistrate is satisfied that there exist reasonable grounds for granting bail.

  • The wife is entitled to a subsistence allowance. The amount is to be decided by the magistrate.

  • The wife is entitled to seek custody of her minor children from the marriage. The manner of custody will be determined by the magistrate.

  • The offence may be compounded (i.e. legal proceedings halted) by the magistrate upon the request of the woman against whom talaq has been declared.


    The government says its main objective is to give effect to the Supreme Court’s 2017 verdict declaring instant triple talaq illegal.

  • In August 2017 the Supreme Court of India declared the triple talaq, which enables Muslim men, but not women, to instantly divorce their wives, to be unconstitutional. The then Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar, asked Parliament to pass legislation governing marriage and divorce in the Muslim community.

  • On [latex]{28}^{th}[/latex] December 2017, citing this Supreme Court order and multiple cases of instant triple talaq in India, the Modi Government introduced The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017. The bill proposed to make instant triple talaq in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means - illegal and void. Punishment for breach of the law was to include up to three years in jail for the husband. This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India on the same day, but was stalled by the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house.

2017 -

  • The BJP Government formulated the bill after 100 cases of instant triple talaq in India since the Supreme Court judgement in August 2017. On [latex]{28}^{th}[/latex] December 2017, Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017. The bill makes instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and instant messengers illegal and void, with up to three years in jail for the husband.

  • MPs from CPI(M), RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and IUML opposed the Bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal,
  • while Congress supported the Bill tabled in Lok Sabha by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. 19 amendments were moved in Lok Sabha but all were rejected.

2018 -

  • The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill (2018) was a bill proposed to the Parliament of India. It was intended to protect the marriage rights of Muslim women in India by banning the triple talaq, which enables Muslim men, but not women, to instantly divorce their wives. The bill was passed in 2018 and 2019 by the Lok Sabha but lapsed after not being passed by the Rajya Sabha.

  • On [latex]{19}^{th}[/latex] September 2018 , noting that the practice of instant triple talaq had continued unabated despite the Supreme Court's order, the government issued the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018, to make the practice illegal and void.

  • An ordinance introduced into the Indian parliament lapses if either the Parliament does not approve it within six weeks of reassembly, or if disapproving resolutions are passed by both houses. Hence, a new bill named The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired his 30th interaction through PRAGATI. This was also the first PRAGATI meeting in the new term of the Union Government.
  • It was launched in 2015.

  • The 29 PRAGATI meetings in the previous term, saw a cumulative review of 257 projects and 47 programmes/schemes. Resolution of Public Grievances was also reviewed across 17 sectors (21 subjects).

PRAGATI - Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.

  • It is a multi-purpose and interactive ICT platform with the objective of initiating a culture of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation by -Addressing common man’s grievances, and Monitoring important programs of Union and State Governments.

  • It has been designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC).

  • It is a three-tier system (involving PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States).

  • PM will hold a monthly interaction with the Government of India Secretaries and Chief Secretaries through Video-conferencing enabled by data and geo-informatics visuals.

  • Issues to be raised before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programs and pending Projects.

3. Singapore Convention On Mediation:
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements resulting from mediation by India.

  • The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation ("the Convention") in December 2018.

  • The General Assembly authorized that the Convention will open for signature at a signing ceremony to be held on [latex]{7}^{th}[/latex] August 2019 in Singapore and will be known as the "Singapore Convention on Mediation".

Salient Features of Singapore Convention on Mediation:

  • The Convention provides a uniform framework for the enforcement of international settlement agreements resulting from mediation and for allowing parties to invoke such agreements.

  • The Convention defines two additional grounds upon which a court may, on its own motion, refuse to grant relief. Those grounds relate to the fact that a dispute would not be capable of settlement by mediation or would be contrary to public policy.

  • Signing of the Convention by India will boost the confidence of the investors and shall provide a positive signal to foreign investors about India's commitment to adhere to international practice on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Some Initiatives to promote ADR Mechanisms:

  • In order to encourage international commercial arbitration in India, to evolve a comprehensive ecosystem of arbitration the Government is establishing the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) as a statutory body.

  • The Commercial Courts Act, 2015, has been further amended and legislative exercise to further amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, is currently underway. Therefore, the provisions of the 'Convention' are in line with the domestic laws and the efforts made to strengthen Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.

4. ISRO Technical Liaison Unit:
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the setting up of ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) at Moscow, Russia.

  • The ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) at Moscow will enable effective technical coordination for timely interventions on diversified matters with Russia and neighbouring countries for realization of the programmatic targets of ISRO.

  • The process is planned to be completed within six months from the date of approval.

  • An average annual expenditure of about Rs. 1.50 crore per annum is anticipated to be incurred at ITLU in Moscow, Russia towards salary, office expenses, rent, taxes etc.

  • Department of Space has instituted technical Liaison Units, namely ISRO Technical Liaison Units (ITLU) at Washington, USA and Paris, France with the prime objective to liaise with various Government and space agencies in USA and Europe, respectively.

  • The Liaison Officers provides technical information about the developments in research and technology and inputs arising from their meetings with researchers, government agencies and industries in the respective countries.

  • They also support the ongoing bilateral programmes of cooperation in space technology and act on behalf of ISRO on the matters referred.

  • Implementation Strategy: The ITLU Moscow office would be managed by an ISRO Scientist/Engineer designated as “Counsellor (Space)” on deputation, deputed from ISRO and supported by staff locally sourced.

  • ISRO will be able to collaborate with Space agencies/industries in Russia and neighbouring countries for mutually synergetic outcomes.

  • ISRO’s Gaganyaan programme requires development of some of the key technologies and establishment of specialized facilities, which are essential to support life in space.

  • Keeping in view the [latex]{15}^{th}[/latex] August, 2022 timeline for realization of the Gaganyaan human space programme, it is prudent to avail technical cooperation from International space agencies, who have already demonstrated their technical capabilities in specific areas. Russia, being one of the space faring nations, it is envisaged to collaborate with Russia extensively in various fields of relevance.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma