Current Affairs - 2019 - SPLessons

September 2019 Daily Newspapers Editorials

Home > > Tutorial
SPLessons 5 Steps, 3 Clicks
5 Steps - 3 Clicks

September 2019 Daily Newspapers Editorials

shape Introduction

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. September 2019 Daily Newspapers Editorials chapter presents with the daily editorials from the prominent newspapers.

shape Editorials

shape Analysis

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

    Context: Saudi’s largest oil producer Aramco’s is investing in India’s energy sector worth USD 44 billion in the West Coast refinery and petrochemical project in Maharashtra.


  • The World Bank has ranked the kingdom as the fourth largest reformer within G20.

  • Important leader in regional forums like OIC,

  • Important player in UNSC and important ally of the US in West Asia.

Why Saudi is investing in India?

  • India is an attractive investment destination for the kingdom and it is eyeing long-term partnerships with New Delhi in key sectors such as oil, gas, and mining.

  • Under vision 2030, Saudi Arabia plans to diversify the Saudi economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products.

  • Vision 2030 Saudi Arabia is working towards transforming its economy and looking at a post-oil age of world-class technological research, start-up and entrepreneurial vigor.

  • Saudi Arabia is the mainstay of India’s energy security (crude oil -17 % LPG 32 %) in the volatile oil market amid sanctions against Iran. India’s invitation to Saudi Arabia to invest in its strategic petroleum reserve reflects the trust and goodwill the two countries share.

  • Being the largest oil producer the kingdom will continue working constructively with other producers within and outside OPEC to maintain market stability, thus protecting the interests of producers and consumers.

  • Investment in India’s value chain from oil supply, marketing, refining to petrochemicals and lubricants will help realize the dream of 5 trillion economy

  • Current bilateral trade stands at USD 34 billion is expected to increase with new joint collaboration and investment identified across the various sectors. There is huge untapped potential available in merchandise trade, particularly in non-oil trade and we are enhancing cooperation in economic, commercial, investment, cultural and technological fields

  • Saudi Arabia is looking at making investments in India potentially worth USD 100 billion in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals, and mining,

2. IISc: Trapping, moving nanoparticles with light
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Researchers at the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have developed a technique to trap and move tiny objects in the nanoscale using optical “tweezers” employing light.

    It is a tool that can be used to pick and move small suspended particles even including cells.

Limitation In Previous Research:

  • Development of Plasmonic tweezer Resolved limitation of Optical tweezer in detecting nanosized particle.As Plasmonic Tweezer works on the principle that when a disc of noble metal, like gold, is illuminated with light, it creates an electromagnetic field around the disc. This field can attract and hold on to tiny particles.

  • Plasmonic tweezers are limited as they are fixed in space and so they can only trap objects that come close to them.

  • Earlier research found that though plasmonic tweezers could be managed with a combination of light and magnetic fields, they could not apply the technique to some types of colloids.

Achievement in Present Research:

  • The IISC Bengaluru overcome the limitation of Plasmonic tweezers by developing a method that uses only optical force.

  • The IISc team integrates a silver nanodisc with a microrod made of glass and the combination can be manipulated using laser beams alone.

  • Using a single laser beam, the “tweezer-in-a-tweezer” approach can trap objects of about 40 nanometres in size. This is the typical size of a virus or DNA.

  • The optical tweezer holds the plasmonic tweezer and the plasmonic tweezers trap our target nanoparticles, therefore tweezer (plasmonic) in tweezer (optical).

  • The movement due to Brownian motion or random fluctuation increases as the size of any colloidal particle decreases from micro-scale to nano-scale.

  • Therefore, holding a single silver nanodisc with a focused laser beam (the optical tweezer) is challenging and needs high laser intensity to generate enough force to overcome the fluctuations.

3. India set to lose major WTO dispute to the US

    Context: A WTO dispute settlement panel has upheld a US complaint that export subsidy programs provided by the Indian government violated provisions of the trade body’s subsidies and countervailing measures (SCM) pact.


  • The three-member dispute settlement panel comprising Jose Antonio S. Buencamino, Leora Blumberg and Serge Pannatier has struck down Indian export promotion schemes on the grounds that India is not entitled to provide such subsidies because its per capita gross national product (GNP) has crossed $1,000 per annum

  • Once the panel’s final report is made public, India will have a month to challenge the ruling before an appellate body, the highest court for global trade disputes.

  • If the appellate body upholds the panel’s ruling, India will be required to discontinue the existing export promotion schemes.


  • In 2018, the US complained that India’s export-related programmes violated Article 3.1(a) of WTO’s SCM agreement.

  • Under Article 3.1, developing countries with gross per capita of $1,000 per annum are not entitled to provide export subsidies that are contingent upon export performance.

  • India has maintained that in 2015 it had announced it would discontinue export subsidies soon. Subsequently, the government made another announcement in 2017 that it would end the export subsidies.

  • Despite these pronouncements, the government has continued with export subsidies.

  • The ruling comes at an opportune time for Washington, which is mounting pressure on New Delhi to open the Indian market for medical products, particularly heart stents and knee implants, dairy items and other products, as part of an interim trade deal.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Animals Sacrifice in Religious Places:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: The Tripura High Court has ordered to ban the centuries-old tradition of animals sacrifice in religious places across the state.

  • It said that the sacrifice of an animal in a temple is not an essential part of religion.

  • Animals also have fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

  • Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act does not in any way allow sacrifice of animal in temple.

  • Part IVA of the Indian Constitution casts duty upon every citizen under Art 51A(g) with a moral obligation to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.

  • Article 51A(i) further mandates humanism to abjure violence, which sense of duty would only be against human, but in ones considered view against every living creature on this earth.

  • The High Court said that no person including the state shall be allowed to sacrifice of any animal or bird within the precincts of any one of the temples within the state of Tripura. The order has to be implemented with immediate effect.

  • The court also suggested that the Government can earmark land for an opening shelter home for rearing the livestock.

  • The ban has been imposed on a PIL filed by former District Judge who raised a concern about animal sacrifice in religious places including Tripura Sundari and Chaturdash Devta temples.

2. ICPS:
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Secretary of Department of Science & Technology (DST) said that his department has recently launched a new programme “Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (ICPS).”

In News:
  • The Mission aims at establishment of 15 numbers of Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six numbers of Application Innovation Hubs (AIH) and four numbers of Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).

  • These Hubs & TTRPs will connect to Academics, Industry, Central Ministries and State Government in developing solutions at reputed academic, R&D and other organizations across the country in a hub and spoke model.

  • The Hubs & TTRPs have four focused areas namely (i) Technology Development; (ii) HRD & Skill Development; (iii) Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Start-ups Ecosystem Development; (iv) International Collaborations.

  • A Cyber Physical System (CPS) is a mechanism controlled or monitored by computer-based algorithms, tightly integrated with internet and its users.

  • Programme Objectives: Adoption of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) to address India specific issues; accelerate entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development in CPS.

  • States/districts covered: ICPS is a Pan India programme that covers entire Central Ministries, State Governments, Industry and Academia.

  • Implemented by: Department of Science &Technology.

  • Implementation period: 5 years.

3. Amendment of The Sixth Schedule:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: A sub-committee constituted by the Meghalaya government has decided to recommend to the Standing Committee of Parliament the removal of the word “unrepresented tribes” from the proposed amendment of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Sixth Schedule?
  • Sixth Schedule deals with Article 244(2) and 275(1).

  • It has provisions related to the Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

  • It provides for the setting up Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) for administration of these tribal areas. Term of the District Councils is for five years from the date of their constitution. It is governed by an Executive Committee.

  • Meghalaya is divided into autonomous councils in the names of the three major matrilineal communities — Garo, Khasi and Jaintia.

  • The minority tribes include the Hajong, Koch, Rabha, Boro and Mann. Currently, members of such “unrepresented tribes” are nominated to the autonomous district councils.

  • Parts or the whole of the four northeastern States — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura — fall under the Sixth Schedule, which makes special provisions for “tribal areas”.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Rule 56(J) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has compulsorily retired 15 more senior tax officers on corruption and other charges under Fundamental Rule 56(J) of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules.

  • Since June, this is the fourth round of sacking of corrupt tax officials. In the previous three rounds, 49 high ranking tax officers, including 12 from the CBDT, were compulsorily retired.

  • The action was in line with PM Modi's address to the nation from the Red Fort when he had said some black sheep in the tax administration may have misused their powers and harassed taxpayers, either by targeting honest assesses or taking excessive action for minor or procedural violations.

Do you know?
  • The Rule 56(J) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 provides for periodical review of the performance of government servants with a view to ascertain whether they should be retained in service or retired in public interest.

  • As per these instructions, the cases of government servants covered by FR 56(J), 56(1) or Rule 48(1) (b) of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 should be reviewed six months before they attain the age of 50-55 years, in cases covered by FR 56(j) and on completion of 30 years of qualifying service under FR 56(1) or Rule 48 of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972.

2. 10 Year Rural Sanitation Strategy (DDWS):
(Social Issues)
    Context: The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti, GoI launched the 10 Year Rural Sanitation Strategy (2019-2029).

  • This strategy has been prepared by Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti, in consultation with State Governments and other stakeholders.

  • The strategy focuses on sustaining the sanitation behaviour change that has been achieved under the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) through capacity strengthening, IEC (Information, education and communication), organic waste management, plastic waste management, grey water management and black water management.

  • It lays down a framework to guide local governments, policy makers, implementers and other relevant stakeholders in their planning for Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus, where everyone uses a toilet, and every village has access to solid and liquid waste management.

3. Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act:
    Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has placed several restrictions on Mumbai-based Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank for six months.

Restrictions imposed:
  • The bank cannot issue loans or open any fixed deposit accounts until February 2020.

  • RBI has imposed the directions under sub-section (1) of Section 35A read with Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act:
  • The Banking Regulation Act legislated in the year 1949 comprises a set of rules which govern the banking sector in India. The act vests powers in the RBI to grant licenses to banks as well as work as a banking regulator in India.

  • Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 vests power in the RBI to give directions to banks and can take action, "to prevent the affairs of any banking company being conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of the depositors or in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the banking company".

  • The RBI under the act can also impose restrictions on banks to ensure better governance and control.

  • Meanwhile, Section 56 of the act is applicable to cooperative societies.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. TB Report (India 2019):
    Context: The Union Health Ministry released the India TB Report 2019.

  • There was a 16% increase in the number of TB cases in 2018 as compared to the previous year. 21.5 lakh TB cases were notified to the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in 2018.

  • India accounted for a quarter of the Global TB burden with an estimated 27 lakh new cases in 2018.

  • Of the total notifications, 25% (5.4 lakh) cases were from the private sector; a 40% increase over last year.

  • Among the notified, treatment was initiated for about 19.1 lakh cases (90%) across both public and private sectors.

  • The majority of the affected individuals (89%) were in the age group 15-69.
  • Uttar Pradesh accounted for 20% of all notifications (187 cases/lakh population).

  • Odisha witnessed a decline in the number of notified cases from over 67,000 in 2017 to 50,244 in 2018, or about 25%. Odisha was the only such state; the Union Territories of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands too witnessed a drop.

  • The two UTs of Delhi and Chandigarh had the highest number of notified patients per lakh population, at 417 and 468, respectively. Their rates of notification are higher because people from many other parts of India get notified from these UTs.

  • TB is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among people living with HIV, and HIV co-infection rates among incident TB patients is estimated to be 3% — 86,000 HIV-associated TB patients are emerging annually. 11,000 people with HIV die every year due to TB.

2. DMIT:
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Doctors in India have questioned the effectiveness of Dermatoglyphics Multiple Intelligence Test (DMIT), by calling it “medical palmistry”.

Arguments by proponents of DMIT:
  • The companies that offer DMIT services note that the test enables parents to develop an effective way to interact with their child, based on his or her inborn communication style.

  • The test claims to allow users to help pick a proper way towards selecting a career for your child.

  • As for adults, DMIT claims to reveal to them the strength they possess, and guide them to perform better at work.

  • The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) has now urged schools and parents to stay away from “such ill-found practices”.

  • It is because, there is no scientific evidence of this test being useful for measuring or accessing intelligence and brain lobe functioning or predicting future behaviour.
  • Any child’s IQ and his abilities are governed by a number of factors, including genetic, dietary and environmental factors.

  • Dermatoglyphics is an analysis of fingerprint patterns. Dermatoglyphics originates from two Greek words i.e. Derma (Skin) and Glyphe = Curve.

  • Multiple Intelligence is a scientific Method of understanding Brain Lobes and its usages.

  • So, Dermatoglyphics Multiple Intelligence Test (DMIT) is a combined study of Brain Lobes, 9 Multiple Intelligence and Human Psychology with the help of fingerprints. In the test, the unique fingerprints and dermal ridge patterns of individuals are studied.

  • DMIT is a popular test used on school children as a “scientific” study of fingerprints patterns and human brain lobes to determine the “intrinsic potential in a child”.

    Context: Prime Minister Modi met with the leaders of the CARICOM group of countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)?
  • Membership: The grouping has 15 members-states and 5 associate members.
  • Established in: 1973.

  • What is it? It is an economic and political community that works jointly to shape policies for the region and encourages economic growth and trade.

  • Secretariat: Georgetown, Guyana.

  • It was the first-ever meeting of PM Modi with CARICOM leaders in a
  • regional format.
  • PM Modi announced a USD 14 million grant for community development projects in the CARICOM and another 150 million Line of Credit for solar, renewable energy and climate- change related projects.

  • He also announced the setting up of the Regional Center for Excellence in Information Technology in Georgetown, Guyana and the Regional Vocational Training Center in Belize.

  • It was decided to set up a Joint Task Force to expeditiously look into possible areas of cooperation and identify the way forward.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. ICGS Varaha:
(Defence & Security)
    Context: The ICGS Varaha was commissioned by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Chennai port.

  • The ICGS Varaha is the fourth in the series of seven 98-m Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

  • The ship has been designed and built indigenously by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) at its Katupalli ship building yard in Chennai.

  • It would be based at New Mangalore under the administrative and operational control of Commander Coast Guard region (west).

  • The name ‘Varaha’ is taken from Puranas, who was the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu which took the form of Boar to protect mother earth by carrying her out of the sea on his tusks.

  • It is fit with the latest navigation and communication equipment. It also has some of the most advanced sensors and machinery as well as a 33-millimetre (mm) gun.

  • The ship's special features include the integrated Bridge System, Automated Power Management System and indigenously built Integrated Platform Management System and Halo Traversing System.

2. Sardar Patel National Unity:
    Context: Government of India has instituted ‘Sardar Patel National Unity Award’ - Highest Civilian Award for contribution to Unity and Integrity of India. A notification instituting the Award was issued by Ministry of Home Affairs on 20th September, 2019.

  • The Award, in the name of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is the highest civilian award in India in the field of contribution to the unity and integrity of India. It seeks to recognize contributions to promote the cause of national unity and integrity.

  • The award will be announced annually on the occasion of the National Unity Day, i.e. the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel on 31st October.

  • The Award shall be conferred by the President in a presentation ceremony along with the Padma award presentation ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhawan.

  • An Award Committee would be constituted by the Prime Minister, which would include the Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to the PM, Secretary to the President, Home Secretary as Members and three-four eminent persons selected by the PM.

  • The Award would consist of a medal and a citation. No monetary grant or cash award would be attached to this Award.

  • All citizens, without distinction of religion, race caste, gender, place of birth, age or occupation, and any institution/organization would be eligible for the Award.

  • Not more than three Awards would be given in a year. It would not be conferred posthumously except in very rare and highly deserving cases.

  • Any Indian national or institution or organization based in India would be able to nominate an individual for consideration for this
  • Individuals may also nominate themselves.

  • State Governments, UT Administrations and Ministries of Government of India may also send nominations.

3. Hurun India (Rich List 2019):
    Context: According to the Hurun India Rich List 2019, released by the Hurun Report India and IIFL Wealth, the richest Indian saw their average wealth decline by 11 per cent over the past year.

Background :
  • The Hurun report is a luxury publishing and events group set up in London in 1998 with strong presence in China.

  • The Hurun India Rich List 2019 has collected data on 953 individuals across 41 industries this year. The cut-off for inclusion was a minimum wealth of Rs 1,000 crore.

  • Reliance Industries' Chairman Mukesh Ambani has topped the list of richest Indians for the eighth consecutive year, with a net worth of ₹3,80,700 crore.

  • London-based SP Hinduja & family, with assets worth ₹1,86,500 crore, retained the second rank in the list, followed by Wipro founder Azim Premji at the third place with a wealth of ₹1,17,100 crore.

  • The number of Indians having a net worth of more than ₹1,000 crore has grown to 953 this year from 831 in 2018; while, the number of billionaires in terms of US dollar has reduced to 138 from 141.

  • The combined wealth of top 25 in the list equates to 10 per cent of India's GDP.

  • While the cumulative wealth for this year shows an increase of 2 per cent compared to last year, the average wealth shows a decline of 11 per cent. 344 individuals or more than a third of this year’s list witnessed wealth reduction.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. NSS:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, presented the National Service Scheme (NSS) Awards for 2017-18 to universities, NSS units and NSS volunteers.

  • It was launched in 1969.

  • Objective is to Develop the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service.

  • NSS volunteers play an important role in spreading awareness about government initiatives such as Swatch Bharat Mission activities and yoga programmes.

  • In 2016, the scheme was restructured into a Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding from the Central Government. Earlier it was a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, with expenditure being shared between the Centre and the States.

    Context: PM Narendra Modi met leaders of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS) on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York. He announced the allocation of 12 million US Dollar grant towards the implementation of high impact developmental projects in Pacific Island countries.

  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are maritime countries that tend to share similar sustainable development challenges.

  • These countries are across the globe in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean and South China Sea.

  • An estimated 60 million people live in small island developing States.

  • The UN has never established any criteria to determine an official list of SIDS" but it maintains a shorter, unofficial list for analytical purposes. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs lists 57 small island developing states.

  • These are broken down into following three geographic regions, with each region having it’s own regional cooperation body.

  • The Caribbean Community.

  • The Pacific Islands Forum.

  • Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS): The Indian Ocean Commission.

3. Dadasaheb Phalke award:
    Context: The country’s highest film honour, the Dadasaheb Phalke award, will be presented this year to Amitabh Bachchan. The award comes in the year that marks Mr. Bachchan’s golden jubilee in cinema. He made his debut in 1969 with Khwaja Ahmad Abbas’ Saat Hindustani.

Dadasaheb Phalke:
  • Dadasaheb Phalke (1870–1944), was an Indian film-maker who directed India's first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra (1913). He is regarded as "the father of Indian cinema."

  • Dadasaheb Phalke award is India's highest award in cinema.

  • It is presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony by the Directorate of Film Festivals (an organisation set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting).

  • The award prize consists of a golden lotus, a cash prize of ₹10 lakh and a shawl.

  • The award is given to people for their "outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema".

  • It was first presented in 1969. The first recipient of the award was actress Devika Rani, “the first lady of Indian cinema.”

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. India and Climate Change:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: At the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India’s renewable energy target will be increased to 450 GW.

Key highlights:
  • Modi reiterated India’s commitment to the creation of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022 under the Paris Climate Agreement. India’s renewable energy target will be further increased to 450 GW.

  • India would spend approximately $50 billion “in the next few years” on the Jal Jeevan Mission to conserve water, harvest rainwater and develop water resources.

  • 80 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance initiated by India.

  • He also announced two international initiatives.

  • First, a platform with Sweden and other countries, for governments and the private sector to work together to develop low carbon pathways for industry.

  • Second, a Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. This initiative was approved by the Union Cabinet last month and ₹480 crore has been allocated for technical assistance and projects. The U.K., Australia and island nations such as Fiji and the Maldives will be part of this coalition.

2. Census 2021 (NPR):
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: Union Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah laid the Foundation Stone for construction of Janganana Bhawan – a new building of the Registrar General of India (RGI) that conducts census –in New Delhi.

National Population Register (NPR)?
  • The NPR links biometric and demographic details of any ordinary resident, thus making it a comprehensive database of residents.

  • The NPR exercise is different from the census and is not linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

  • For the purpose of the NPR, an ordinary resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.

  • Announcing that the 2021 census exercise would be carried out digitally, Union Home Minister Amit Shah suggested one card for all utilities in future.

  • He said there was no formal proposal for the common utility card, but digital census had the potential to bring all cards such as Aadhaar, passport, bank account, and driving licence on one platform.

  • The decennial census exercise will be undertaken in 2021 and, for the first time, move from paper to digital format. Mr. Shah said ₹12,000 crore would be spent on preparation of the National Population Register (NPR) and census.

    Context: Union Minister for Steel participated in the Chintan Shivir: Towards a Vibrant, Efficient and Globally Competitive Indian Steel sector, organized by Ministry of Steel.

  • The event aims to bring all stakeholders together to deliberate on a roadmap for making Indian Steel Sector more vibrant, efficient and globally competitive.

  • Launching the new logo of Steel Ministry “ISPATI IRADA”, the Minister said that the “ISAPTI IRADA” campaign aims to increase appropriate usage of steel in the country and bring more strength to society.

  • The brand “Ispati Irada” will be allowed to be used by entities working on this theme.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Chilahati- Border Railway Link:
    Context: Chilahati- border railway link upgradation work was inaugurated to connect West Bengal with Bangladesh.

  • Railway Minister of Bangladesh and High Commissioner of India laid the foundation stone at Chilahati in Bangladesh for undertaking the work of upgradation and laying of missing tracks from Chilahati to the border with India near Haldibari.

  • The 7.5-kilometre long railway track will help in providing connectivity from West Bengal into Assam via Bangladesh. Construction of immigration and customs post will also be done on it.

  • On completion, this will provide a big boost to trade, travel and tourism between Bangladesh and India.

  • The Haldibari- Chilahati railway track was part of the broad gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during British undivided Trains from Bangladesh to Darjeeling via Siliguri operated till 1965 which stopped functioning after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

  • Indian Railways has already restored the tracks up to international border till Haldibari station.

2. Rough & Smooth Sound:
(Science & Technology)
    Context: In a first, researchers have decoded what happens in our brain when we hear harsh sounds produced by alarms or from human shrieks -- an advance that may help us better diagnose mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
  • Neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) have identified which frequencies are perceived as rough (distinct from each other) and which are perceived as smooth (forming one continuous and single sound).

  • While smooth sounds (above 130 Hz) induce responses in the brain’s “classical” auditory system, rough sounds (40-80 Hz) activate a wider network involved in processing aversion and pain.

  • The researchers were able to establish that the upper limit of sound roughness is around 130 Hz, while the sounds considered intolerable were mainly between 40 and 80 Hz.

  • When sounds are in the smooth range, the conventional auditory system is activated.

  • When sounds are perceived as harsh (especially in the 40-80 Hz range), they induce a persistent response that additionally recruits a large number of cortical and sub-cortical regions that are not part of the conventional auditory system. These regions are related to aversion and pain.

  • This is the first time that sounds between 40 and 80 Hz have been shown to mobilise these neural networks, although these frequencies have been used for a long time in alarm systems.

3. Mochi Swabhimaan Initiative:
    Context: Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship announced the launch of Mochi Swabhimaan Initiative.

Leather Sector Skill Council (LSSC)?
  • LSSC is an NSDC approved non-profit organization dedicated to meet the demand for skilled workforce in the leather industry in India.

  • Set up in 2012, LSSC works with a host of members from the industry, government organizations, the academia, the training partners and the assessment partners.

  • Mochi Swabhimaan Initiative is a nationwide effort in which Leather Sector Skill Council (LSSC) will support the cobbler community who provide leather-based services, with CSR funds.

  • This will ensure that they work in a dignified manner by bringing respect to their skills by giving them better working environment in the form of kiosks/umbrellas.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Liquid Funds (SEBI Norms):
    Context The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has made it mandatory for Liquid funds to hold at least 20% of its net assets in liquid assets while mandating an exit load on investors that exit within seven days of making an investment.

About :
  • Liquid funds belong to the debt category of mutual funds.

  • They invest in very short-term market instruments like treasury bills, government securities, and call money.

  • They are getting popular with retail investors due to their higher than savings bank account returns and easy liquidity.

New Norms:
  • Liquid funds shall hold at least 20% of their net assets in liquid assets. For this purpose, liquid assets shall include cash, government securities, T-bills and repo on government securities.

  • In case the exposure in such liquid assets falls below 20% of net assets of the scheme, the fund house will first have to meet the 20% norm before making any further investments.

  • It also barred liquid funds and overnight funds from parking money, pending deployment, in short-term deposits of scheduled commercial banks and also debt securities having structured obligations and/or credit enhancements. Debt securities with government guarantee have been excluded from such restriction.

  • The new norms, which will be effective from April 1, 2020, is an attempt to strengthen the risk management framework for liquid funds.

2. AISHE 2018-19:
    Context : Union Minister for HRD released the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19.

About :
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) collects online information on Universities, Colleges, and other Higher Educational Institutions under the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE).

  • The annual publication started in 2010-11.

Main findings of the survey:
  • The top 8 States in terms of the highest number of colleges in India are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.

  • Bangalore Urban district tops in terms of number of colleges with 880 colleges.

  • College density, i.e. the number of colleges per lakh eligible population (population in the age-group 18-23 years) varies from 7 in Bihar to 53 in Karnataka as compared to All India average of 28.

  • 60.53% of Colleges are located in Rural Area.

  • 11.04% Colleges are exclusively for Female.

  • 77.8% Colleges are privately managed of which 64.3% are Private-unaided and 13.5% Private-aided.

  • Total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 37.4 million. Female constitute 48.6% of the total enrolment.

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher education has increased from 25.8 in 2017-18 to 26.3 in 2018-19, which is calculated for 18-23 years of age group.

  • GER for the male population is 26.3% and for females, it is 26.4%. For Scheduled Castes, it is 23% and for Scheduled Tribes, it is 17.2% as compared to the national GER of 26.3%.

  • Uttar Pradesh comes at number one with the highest student enrolment followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

  • The highest share of foreign students come from the neighboring countries of which Nepal is 26.88% of the total, followed by, Afghanistan (9.8%), Bangladesh (4.38%), Sudan (4.02%), Bhutan constitutes (3.82%) and Nigeria (3.4%).

  • Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) in Universities and Colleges is 29 if the regular mode enrolment is considered whereas PTR for Universities and its Constituent Units are 18 for regular mode.

  • student enrolment in B.Tech and M.Tech programs has seen a dramatic fall.

3. Kodiakkarai Wild Life sanctuary:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : A unique exercise of rehabilitating deer population has been started in the Kodiakkarai Wild Life sanctuary in Tamilnadu. The deers are being brought up from the protected environment in the Sivagangai park.

About :
  • Kodiakkarai Wild Life sanctuary is also known as Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary (PCWBS).

  • It is a protected area in Tamil Nadu, along the Palk Strait where it meets the Bay of Bengal at Point Calimere (Kodiakkarai) at the tip of Nagapattinam District.

  • The sanctuary was created in 1967 for the conservation of the near-threatened blackbuck antelope, an endemic mammal species of India.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
    Context The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is close to finalising three projects worth ₹135 crore, involving Indian and European scientists, to develop new influenza vaccines using a Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM).

About :
  • Under Controlled Human Infection Model (CHIM), volunteers who take part in trials will be infected, under expert supervision, with infectious viruses or bacteria.

  • A CHIM approach will speed up the process whereby scientists can quantify whether potential vaccine candidates can be effective in people and identify the factors that determine why some vaccinated people fall sick and others do not.

  • The risk in such trials is that intentionally infecting healthy people with an active virus and causing them to be sick is against medical ethics. It also involves putting human lives in danger.

Indian scenario:
  • Such studies, which are being employed in vaccine development in the United States, the United Kingdom and Kenya, are being considered in India.

  • Rather than influenza trials, India would likely develop CHIM protocols to study bacterial or enteric viruses (residing in the intestine) such as cholera or typhoid. If successful, these would serve to create back-ups to the existing cholera and typhoid vaccines.

2. Global Goalkeepers Goals Award 2019:
    Context : Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, thanked Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for conferring upon him Global Goalkeepers Goals Award 2019.

What do award winners receive?
  • The Campaign, Changemaker, and Progress Awards winners receive $10,000 in unallocated funds for endeavors in their fields.

  • The recipients of the Global Goalkeeper and Goalkeepers Voice Award will not receive a cash prize.

  • The Foundation will host the fourth annual Goalkeepers ‘Global Goals Awards’ on September 24.

About :
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be honored with the 2019 ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his leadership and commitment to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan.

  • The annual awards, in five categories, are presented to leaders and individuals for their efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The five categories are:
    Progress Award (age 16 – 30),
  • Changemaker Award (age 16 – 30),

  • Campaign Award (age 16 – 30),

  • Goalkeepers Voice Award (any age) and

  • Global Goalkeeper Award (any age): This special recognition celebrates a political leader who has demonstrated their commitment to the Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally.

3. 37th GST Council Meeting (Goa):
    Context : The GST Council, headed by Union Finance Minister and comprising representatives of all States and Union Territories (UTs), had its 37th meeting in Goa in the backdrop of economic growth hitting a six-year low of 5% for the first quarter of the current fiscal.

About :
  • The following are the highlights of the 37th GST Council meeting held in Panaji on September 20, 2019. All these rate changes will be effective from October 1, 2019.

  • GST Council recommends lower 12% cess on 1,500 cc diesel, 1,200 cc petrol vehicles with the capacity to carry up to 13 people.

  • Group insurance schemes for paramilitary forces under the Home Affairs ministry to be exempted from GST.

  • GST rate on caffeinated beverages raised from 18% to 28% with 12% compensation cess. Aerated drink manufacturers shall not be under the composition scheme anymore.

  • Uniform GST rate of 12% to be levied on polypropylene bags and sacks used for the packing of goods

  • GST exempted on specified defense goods not manufactured in India.

  • The rate levied on cut and polished semi-precious stones has been dropped from 3% to 0.25%. Jewelry exports to now attract zero GST.

  • GST on fishmeal used by fishermen being exempted from July 2017 to September 30 this year. There was lack of clarity on their GST coverage and no tax was collected so that has been resolved.

  • GST rate hiked on railway wagon, coaches from 5% to 12%.

  • Rate reduction on hotel accommodation services. For Transaction value per unit per day of ₹1000 or less, will attract nil GST. For ₹1001 upto ₹7500, now the tax rate will be 12%. Anything above ₹7501 will attract 18%. It was 28% till now.

  • Job work services related to diamonds reduced from 5% to 1.5%. For machine job works in engineering industry, GST down from 18 to 12. But bus body building works still taxed at 18%.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Right to Access Internet:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: The Kerala High Court held that the right to have access to the Internet is part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In News:
  • In 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a non-binding resolution condemning intentional disruption of internet access by governments. The resolution reaffirmed that "the same rights people have offline must also be protected online".

  • It made the observation while ordering the principal of Sree Narayanaguru College, Kozhikode, to re-admit a student who had been expelled from the college hostel for using her mobile phone beyond the restricted hours.

Arguments by Court:
  • The Human Rights Council of the United Nations has found that the right of access to the Internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure the right to education.

  • The Supreme Court in the S. Rengarajan and others v. P. Jagjivan Ram (1989) case said that “ the fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2) and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience or expediency.”

  • Enforcement of discipline hostel authorities shall not be by blocking the ways and means of the students to acquire knowledge.

  • College authorities, as well as parents, should be conscious of the fact that the students in a college hostel are adults capable of taking decisions as to how and when to study.

  • Mobile phones, once a luxury, have now become "part and parcel of the day to day life and even to a stage that it is unavoidable to survive with dignity and freedom", observed the Court.

2. Fisheries Statistics – 2018 (Handbook):
    Context: The Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying released the “Handbook on Fisheries Statistics - 2018”.

  • The Handbook on Fisheries Statistics - 2018 has been published by the Department of Fisheries of Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Government of India.

  • It is the 13th edition which presents useful statistical information for various aspects of Fisheries sector. The last (12th edition of) Handbook was published in 2014.

Key findings:
  • India is currently world’s second largest producers of fish. It is also world number two in aquaculture production as well as in inland capture fisheries.

  • The total fish production of 12.59 million metric tonnes was registered during 2017-18 with a contribution of 8.90 million metric tonnes from inland sector and 3.69 million metric tonnes from marine sector.

  • The average growth in fish production during 2017-18 stands at 10.14% when compared to 2016-17 (11.43 million metric tonnes).

  • The percentage contribution of inland fish production in the total fish production of 29% during the year 1950-51 and has increased to 71% in the year 2017-18.

  • Andhra Pradesh has recorded the highest production of inland fish (34.50 lakh tones) where as Gujarat is the leading state in Marine fish (7.01 Lakh tonnes) in the country.

  • During 2017-18 the volume of fish and fish products exported was 13,77,243.70 tonnes worth Rs 45,106.90 crore.

  • The Fisheries sector is major source of livelihood for over 1.60 Crore people along with double the number in down and upstream.

3. NEAT:
    Context: Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has announced a new PPP Scheme, National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) for using technology for better learning outcomes in Higher Education.

  • The objective of scheme is to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalised and customised as per the requirements of the learner. MHRD would create and maintain a National NEAT platform that would provide onestop access to these technological solutions.

  • MHRD proposes to launch and operationalise NEAT in November 2019.

Stakeholders involved:
  • AICTE would be the implementing agency for NEAT programme.

  • The scheme shall be administered under the guidance of an Apex Committee constituted by MHRD. MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students.

  • EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage registration of learners through the NEAT portal. They would be free to charge fees as per their policy.

EdTech companies would have to offer free coupons to the extent of 25% of the total registrations for their solution through a NEAT portal. MHRD would distribute the free coupons for learning to the most socially/economically backward students.
Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Vaccine Hesitancy:
    Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) has included ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the 10 threats to global health for the year 2019.

Ten threats to global health in 2019 according to WHO are:
  • Air pollution and climate change

  • Noncommunicable diseases

  • Global influenza pandemic

  • Fragile and vulnerable settings

  • Antimicrobial resistance

  • Ebola and other high-threat pathogens

  • Weak primary health care

  • Vaccine hesitancy

  • Dengue

  • HIV

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

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

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

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

2. Electronic Cigarettes (Ban):
    Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement).

  • Electronic-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes.

  • These include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices.

  • Their use has increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children. These products are usually marketed as being safer alternatives for conventional cigarettes but such notions of safety are false.

  • The current decision to ban them has come on the back of an advisory issued by the Government in 2018 to all States to consider banning e-cigarettes. 16 States and 1 UT have already banned e cigarettes in their jurisdictions.

  • Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes based on currently available scientific evidence.

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

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

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

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

3. Steel Sector (SIMS):
    Context: Government of India has taken couple of initiatives in recent days to revive the steel sector.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. ICER:
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Union Minister of Science & Technology dedicated an Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research (ICER) to the Nation.

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

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

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

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

2. National Centre for Clean Coal R&D:
(Science & Tech)
    Context: Union Minister of Science & Technology, inaugurated the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development at Indian Institute of Science (IISc)- Bengaluru.

Clean coal technology?
  • Clean coal technology is a collection of technologies being developed in attempts to lessen the negative environmental impact of coal energy generation and to mitigate worldwide climate change.

  • The term "clean coal" has been applied to many technologies, ranging from wet scrubbers, which remove sulfur dioxide from coal-generated gas, to coal washing, which removes soil and rock from coal before it's sent to a factory.

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

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

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

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

3. Govt. Funded NGOs under RTI:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: The Supreme Court in a recent judgment held that Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government fall within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

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

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

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

  • The court defined “substantial” as a “large portion.”

  • It does not necessarily have to mean a major portion or more than 50%. Substantial financing can be both direct or indirect.

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

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. J&K PSA:
(Defence & Security)
    Context: National Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah has been detained under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA). Last month, former IAS officer Shah Faesal was stopped at New Delhi airport and sent back to Kashmir, where he has been detained under the Public Safety Act.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Tudor Architectural Style:
    Context : Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting inaugurated the renovated Jayakar Bungalow, a classic heritage site situated inside the premises of NFAI in Pune.

Tudor architecture style?
  • Tudor architecture is a style of architecture that developed in England between 1485 and 1558.

  • Tudor architecture gained its name from the fact that it developed during the first part of the reign of Tudor monarchs, including Henry VII and Henry VIII.

  • It was a transitional style, mixing elements of Renaissance architecture with a Gothic style found mostly in England called Perpendicular Gothic because it emphasized vertical lines.

  • The characteristic that became most associated with the Tudor style was 'black and white' construction. Black and white meant half-timber houses with white-washed wall segments between the dark timbers.

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

  • This grade I heritage structure was built in 1945.

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

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

3. ATR:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : Telangana State Assembly passed a resolution against proposed Uranium mining in Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR), located in Nallamala forest area of the State.

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

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

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

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

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. SoI:
    Context: The Survey of India (SoI) will for the first time rely on drones to map the country.

SoI :
  • Survey of India is the National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country.

  • It has the responsibility to ensure that the country's domain is explored and mapped suitably. It also provides base maps for expeditious and integrated development.

  • It is under the Department of Science & Technology.

  • It is the oldest scientific department of the Govt. of India. It was set up in 1767.

  • Headquarters in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

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

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

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

2. VCBC:
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : Starting with just a few vultures, the total number of vultures in the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centers (VCBCs) have increased to more than 700.

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

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

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

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

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

3. Committee to Enhance Efficiency & Transparency of Housing Finance
    Context : The Committee on the Development of Housing Finance Securitization Market has submitted its report to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor.

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

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

The key recommendations of the Committee are as follows :
  • setting up of a government-sponsored intermediary, through the National Housing Bank, to enable market-making and standard-setting;

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Jan Soochna Portal-2019:
(Polity & Governance)
    Context: In a pioneering step, the first-ever public information portal was launched in Rajasthan.

    In News: Section 4 of the right to information (RTI) Act deals with proactive disclosure of information.

About :
  • The new web portal, named the Jan Soochna Portal-2019, would ensure compliance with Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandating the public authorities to disclose information in the public domain so that the people need not file applications under the law to obtain information.

  • The portal promises to provide information about government authorities and departments suo motu to the public in the true spirit of the Right To Information Act. It will initially give information pertaining to 13 departments.

  • The Rajasthan State government collaborated with the civil society groups to develop the portal.

  • The portal has brought yet another distinction to Rajasthan, where the RTI movement had started in the 1990s.

2. 4P1000 initiative (TRIFED’s ICD):
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : On the sidelines of COP 14 of UNCCD, TRIFED and Union Tribal Ministry launched TICD (TRIFED’s Initiative to Combat Desertification) under “The 4P1000 Initiative: The Tribal Perspective through Bamboonomics.” 4P1000?

  • The international initiative “4per1000”, launched by France in 2015 at the COP 21, consists of federating all voluntary stakeholders of the public and private sectors under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Plan (LPAP).

  • The aim of the initiative is to demonstrate that an annual growth rate of 0.4% in the soil carbon stocks, in the first 30-40 cm of agricultural soil, would significantly reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere related to human activities.

  • The Executive Secretariat of the "4 per 1000" initiative is hosted by the CGIAR System Organization, an international organization based in Montpellier.

TICD - TRIFED’s Initiative to Combat Desertification :
  • They finalized the TRIFED DELHI Declaration on “The 4P1000 Initiative: The Tribal Perspective through Bamboonomics.”

  • Under it, TRIFED will integrate its Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojna (PMVDY) with this new global environmental intervention termed as TICD (TRIFED’s Initiative to Combat Desertification).

  • TRIFED, by partnering with the German Cooperation (GIZ), will involve the a tribal community for rehabilitating the degraded land while supplementing the income of the tribal community.

  • According to TRIFED, the 4P1000 Initiative with the tribal perspective through Bamboonomics is the best answer for combating desertification and rehabilitation of degraded wastelands.

3. CEIR:
(Science & Tech)
Context : Union Telecom Minister launched Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) in a bid to curtail the rampant cloning and theft of mobile phones across the country. The project has started on a pilot basis in Maharashtra and later it will be implemented across the country.
Global scenario:
  • The concept of a central identity register is advocated by the GSM Association (GSMA), a body representing mobile operators, equipment manufacturers, software and internet companies, among other stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem.

  • Globally, the equipment identity register is in use across various geographies including Australia, the UK, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Turkey among others.

  • The CEIR will also have access to GSMA’s global IMEI database, allowing comparison of IMEI numbers to identify counterfeit handsets.

  • Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) is a database of International Mobile Equipment Identities (IMEIs), the 15-digit numbers that uniquely identify each mobile device.

  • It is being launched to curtail the rampant cloning and theft of mobile phones across the country.

  • Objectives of India’s CEIR: Curtailment of counterfeit mobiles, blocking of lost or stolen mobiles across networks thus discouraging theft of mobile phones, maintaining a registry of all equipment identity to facilitate database of valid devices, and facilitate IMEI-based lawful interception.

  • It will be a database of IMEI numbers that will consist of three lists – white, grey and black.

  • Mobile phones with IMEI numbers in the white list will be permitted for use.

  • Those in the blacklist will be the ones that are reported stolen or lost and will not be allowed to access the network.

  • Those in the greylist will be the ones that do not conform to standards but will be permitted to connect under supervision.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
(Defence & Security)
    Context Under the NATGRID project, the government wants to link social media accounts to the database of records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details among others.

About :
  • NATGRID is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information from more than 20 organizations in the field of telecom, tax records, bank, immigration, etc. to enable the generation of intelligence inputs.

  • At least 10 central agencies like IB, R&AW and others will have access to the data on a secured platform for counter-terror investigations.

  • The project was started in 2009 in the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

  • NATGRID is now headed by IAS officer Ashish Gupta.

2. NPS for Traders and Self Employed:
    Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons.

  • It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for the Vyaparis (shopkeepers/retail traders and self-employed persons) with annual turnover not exceeding Rs 1.5 crore.

  • It is a scheme for entry age of 18 to 40 years with a provision for minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000/- monthly on attaining the age of 60 years.

  • The Central Government shall give a 50 % share of the monthly contribution and the remaining 50% contribution shall be made by the beneficiary.

  • With this nation-wide launch, people can enroll through 3.50 lakh Common

  • Service Center (CSCs) across the country. In addition, people can also self - enroll by visiting the portal

Criteria for enrolment:
  • At the time of enrollment, the beneficiary is required to have an Aadhaar card and a saving bank/ Jan-Dhan Account passbook only.

  • He/ She should be within 18 to 40 years of age group.

  • GSTIN is required only for those with turnover above Rs. 40 lakhs.

  • The beneficiary should not be income taxpayer and also not a member of EPFO/ESIC/NPS (Govt.)/PM-SYM.

  • This scheme will target enrolling 25 lakh subscribers in 2019-20 and 2 crore subscribers by 2023-2024. An estimated 3 crore Vyaparis in the country are expected to be benefitted under the pension scheme.

3. PM-KMY:
    Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana.

  • PM-KMY is an old-age pension scheme for all landholding Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) in the country.

  • It is voluntary and contributory for farmers in the entry age group of 18 to 40 years and a monthly pension of Rs. 3000/- will be provided to them on attaining the age of 60 years.

  • The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) shall be the Pension Fund Manager and responsible for Pension payout.

  • If the farmer dies after the retirement date, the spouse will receive 50% of the pension as Family Pension. After the death of both the farmer and the spouse, the accumulated corpus shall be credited back to the Pension Fund.

  • Small and Marginal Farmer (SMF) - a farmer who owns cultivable land up to 2 hectare as per land records of the concerned State/UT.

  • Age of 18- 40 years.

  • The following categories of farmers have been brought under the exclusion.

  • Criteria: SMFs covered under any other statuary social security schemes such as National Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation scheme, Employees’ Fund Organization Scheme, etc.

  • Farmers who have opted for Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan Dhan Yojana

(PM-SYM) and Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana (PM-LVM).
  • All Institutional Land holders; and

  • Former and present holders of constitutional posts.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Post-study work visa (UK Govt.)
    Context To attract more international students, the UK a government led by Boris Johnson has announced a new two-year post-study work visa route from next year.

Opinion :
  • At present, there are about 4.5 lakh international students a year studying in Britain which the government wants to take it to 6 lakh.

  • The new graduate immigration route supports the ambitions of Indian students, who consider post-study work option as an important factor when making their choice of studying abroad.

  • It could also help to increase the number of Indian students heading to The U.K., which dropped drastically after a similar visa was withdrawn in 2012.

Existing scenario:
  • The UK had the post-study work visa scheme till 2012 when the then home secretary Theresa May scrapped it.

  • Currently, most international students pursuing bachelor's and master's degrees can stay and work for only four months and those at 27 universities on a pilot scheme gets six months.

UK's new post-study work visa route:
  • Under the new graduate visa route, students from anywhere including India would be able to work or even look for work at any skill level.

  • The visa will be two years long and will be a separate visa, requiring a new application.

  • This route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.

  • The new visa is open to international students who hold valid student visas and have successfully completed a course at undergraduate level or above at a British institution of higher education which has a track record of compliance with the U.K. Home Office’s immigration rules.

2. Draught-forecasting Toolbox (UNCCD):
(Disaster Management)
    Context : Drought Toolbox was officially launched during the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) held at Greater Noida, India.

In News:
  • In India, the Ministry of Agriculture is the nodal ministry in respect of monitoring and managing drought conditions and droughts are classified into meteorological droughts, hydrological droughts, and agricultural droughts.

  • According to a World Bank study, droughts, which are normally difficult to foresee are four times costlier than floods.

  • According to UNCCD, the economic impact of the drought is more than $80 billion a year. Droughts have caused loss of foodgrains that can feed as many as 81 million people every day.

  • The Drought Toolbox can be used by countries to assess drought risks in their regions much in advance. It can accurately evaluate the vulnerability of different geographic regions to drought.

  • It will also suggest means to mitigate the adverse impact of acute water scarcity.

  • The toolbox uses 30 parameters, including soil moisture, rainfall data and temperature data of the present and past.

  • The framework for the toolkit includes three key aspects: (1) ‘Monitoring and Early Warning’ system, (2) ‘Vulnerability and Risk Assessment’ and (3) ‘Risk Mitigation Measures’.

  • A few years ago, many countries suggested that the UNCCD come up with a tool to forecast droughts and minimize their socio-economic impact.

  • Subsequently, UNCCD experts began working on the drought toolbox together with other UN organizations such as the FAO and World Meteorological Organization (WMO), as well as from the University of Nebraska in the US.

3. IIS; Mumbai:
    Context : Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) laid the foundation stone of Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) at Mumbai.

  • The Union Cabinet had given its nod to set up Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) in three cities — Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Kanpur — to give a boost to the Skill India Mission.

  • These institutes will be constructed and operated on a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model and on a not-for-profit basis.

Indian Institute Of Skills, IIS; Mumbai:
  • The IIS will be a tertiary care institute in the skills ecosystem to offer courses in emerging and high demand areas. This institute will be on the lines of the Institutes of Eminence including IITs and IIMs.
  • The objective of the institute is to provide skill training in highly-specialized areas such as deep technology, aerospace, among others to students who want to pursue technical education after completing Class X and XII.

  • Tata Education Development Trust (TEDT) was selected as the private partner for setting up IIS at NSTI campus in Mumbai through a competitive bidding process. The aim of the Institute is to ensure that 5000 trainees will be passing out every year with 70% placement opportunities.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Golden Arrows
(Defence & Security)
    Context: The Indian Air Force (IAF) resurrected the Air Force Station Ambala-based 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows', which will operate the first squadron of Rafale fighter jets in the near future. The resurrection ceremony was presided over by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa.

  • The squadron was formed at Ambala in 1951 under the command of Flight Lieutenant D L Springett and was then equipped with Harvard-II B aircraft.

  • The Squadron converted to the Mig-21 M in 1975.

  • In 1988, the Squadron was presented colours by then President of India R Venkataraman.

  • Under the command of then Wing Commander BS Dhanoa, Golden Arrows participated actively in Operation Safed Sagar during the Kargil conflict in 1999.

  • The squadron was disbanded in 2016, but now has been resurrected.

Next Step:
  • In the near future, 17 Squadron will be the first Squadron to be equipped with the State of the art Rafale aircraft, which is an extremely capable, fourth generation, multirole aircraft with advanced weapons.

  • The first batch of Rafale jets are scheduled to be formally handed over to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on October 8 in France. The jets are set to arrive in India in May 2020.

    Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) and the National Artificial Insemination Programme at Mathura.

In News:
  • Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis are very common diseases amongst the livestock – cow-bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs etc.

  • If a cow/buffalo gets infected with FMD, the milk loss is upto 100% which could last for four to six months.

  • Further, in case of Brucellosis the milk output reduces by 30%, during the entire life cycle of animal. Brucellosis also causes infertility amongst the animals. The infection of brucellosis can also be transmitted to the farm workers and livestock owners.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP) for eradicating the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis amongst the livestock in the country.

  • With 100 Percent funding from the Central Government, of Rs 12,652 Crores for a period of five years till 2024, the programme aims at vaccinating over 500 Million Livestock including cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs against the FMD.

  • The programme also aims at vaccinating 36 Million Female Bovine Calves annually in its fight against the Brucellosis disease.

  • The Programme has two components – to control the diseases by 2025 and eradication by 2030.

National Artificial Insemination Programme?
  • He also launched the National Artificial Insemination Programme and a country wide workshop in all the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in all the 687 Districts of the country on vaccination and disease management, Artificial Insemination and Productivity.

3. MIS
    Context: Amidst mounting losses to apple growers in the Kashmir Valley, the Centre has now announced that it will procure apples directly from the growers and that money will be transferred directly to their accounts.

Market Intervention Scheme (MIS)?
  • MIS is implemented by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (Government of India).

  • All the agricultural and horticultural commodities for which Minimum Support Price (MSP) are not fixed and are generally perishable in nature are covered under MIS.

  • The basic objective of MIS is to provide remunerative prices to the farmers in case of glut in production and fall in prices. Further, the MIS is implemented on the specific requests of the State Government/UT Administrations willing to share the loss with Central Government on 50:50 basis (75:25 in case of North-Eastern States).

  • Under MIS, funds are not allocated to the States. Instead, central share of losses as per the guidelines of MIS is released to the State Governments/UTs, for which MIS has been approved based on specific proposals received from them.

  • The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) is slated to complete the process by December 15 through state agencies under the Centre’s Special Market Intervention Price Scheme.

  • Government will ensure payments to the bank accounts of the apple growers through direct benefit transfer (DBT).

  • Since the August 5 move of the Centre to read down Article 370, the Kashmir Valley has been in a state of lockdown. Because the harvest began in midAugust during the government-enforced security clampdown, growers have been unable to transport their produce to markets.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Lowest coverage of Iodised salt (Tamil Nadu)
    Context According to a national survey to measure the coverage of iodised salt, Tamil Nadu has the lowest consumption of iodised salt despite being the third biggest producer of salt in the country.

In News:
  • Deficiency of iodine, a vital micro-nutrient, can result in goiter, hypothyroidism, cretinism, abortion, stillbirths, mental retardation, and psychomotor defects. Children born in iodine-deficient areas may have up to 13.5 IQ points less than those born in iodine sufficient areas.

  • India made fortification of salt with iodine mandatory for direct human consumption in 1992. This was relaxed in 2000 and then reimposed in 2005. In 2011, the SC, too, mandated universal iodization for the control of iodine deficiencies.

Key findings of the survey:
  • The national average for household coverage is 76.3% i.e. 76.3% of Indian households consumed adequately iodized salt, which is salt with at least 15 parts per million of iodine.

  • The five worst performers were :

  • Tamil Nadu (61.9%)

  • Andhra Pradesh (63.9%)

  • Rajasthan (65.5%)

  • Odisha (65.8%)

  • Jharkhand (68.8%)

  • The north-eastern states are doing very well with respect to iodized salt consumption at the household level because of the distance they have from the three salt producing states.

  • Gujarat produces 71% of salt in the country, followed by Rajasthan at 17% and Tamil Nadu at 11%. The rest of the country accounts for a mere 1% of the salt produced.

  • 13 out of 36 States have already achieved Universal Salt Iodisation.

  • The survey was conducted by Nutrition International in collaboration with the AIIMS, Delhi and the Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD).

  • The survey tested the iodine content in samples of cooking salt from households to estimate the coverage of iodized salt in 29 States and 7 Union Territories in India.

2. ONAM:
    Context : The President of India Ram Nath Kovind greeted fellow citizens on the eve of Onam.

Celebrations Concept:
  • Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.

  • The most impressive part is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiru Onam. It is a nine-course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes.

  • Another key feature is Vallamkali, the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa.
  • There is also a tradition to play games, collectively called Onakalikal, on Onam. Men go in for rigorous sports like Talappanthukali (played with ball), Ambeyyal (Archery), Kutukutu and combats called Kayyankali and Attakalam.

  • Women indulge in cultural activities.

  • They make intricately designed flower mats called, Pookalam in the front courtyard of house to welcome King Mahabali.

  • Kaikotti kali and Thumbi Thullal are two graceful dances performed by women on Onam.

  • Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala.

Time and Duration :
  • It is a harvest festival, celebrated at the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.

  • Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. The first day, Atham and tenth day, Thiru Onam is most important of all.

  • According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.

3. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant:
    Context: President Ramnath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant on his 132nd Birth Anniversary.

  • Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant (1887 – 1961) was a lawyer, an Indian freedom fighter and one of the architects of modern India.

  • In 1921, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.

  • He was an untiring participant in both the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement.

  • He was also a member of the Central Legislative Assembly and the Constituent Assembly.

  • He served as the 2nd Chief Minister of United Provinces from 1937 to 1939.

  • After independence, he served as the 1st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1950 to 1954.

  • He served as Union Home Minister from 1955–1961.

  • As Home Minister, his chief achievement was the re-organization of States along linguistic lines.

  • He was also responsible for the establishment of Hindi as an official language of the central government and a few states.

  • To honor his exemplary services to the nation, he received Bharat Ratna, in 1957.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: A three-day long international conference ANGAN (Augmenting Nature by Green Affordable New-habitat) focussed on Energy Efficiency in Building Sector began in New Delhi.

  • The Conference is being organized by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Ministry of Power, Government of India in collaboration with GIZ under the Indo German Technical Cooperation.

  • Experts and Policy Makers across 16 countries are participating in the event to discuss various technologies in the field of design and construction of energy-efficient Commercial as well as Residential Buildings and suggest ways in implementing the same.

  • It is estimated that an investment of Rs. 2000 billion in Building energy efficiency activities would lead to a cumulative savings of 388 Billion units of electricity for the next ten years with the payback of about 2 years.

2. Desertification (GWAA)
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the High Level Segment of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Key highlights:
  • During his address, the Prime Minister announced that between now and 2030, India will raise the target of restoring the land with degraded status from 21 million hectares to 26 million by 2030.

  • He also announced India’s proposal to set up a global technical support institute for the member countries of the UNCCD for their capacity building and support regarding the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program.

  • Acknowledging the importance of the role of water, he called upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive a “Global Water Action Agenda” which is central to the Land Degradation Neutrality strategy.

  • PM said that in order to further develop a scientific approach and facilitate induction of technology to land degradation issues, we have decided to set up a center for excellence in India at the Indian Council for Forest Research and Education.

3. World Energy Congress (UAE)
    Context: The 24th World Energy Congress commenced in Abu Dhabi under the patronage of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

What is World energy congress?
  • With over 150 countries represented, it is the world’s largest and most influential energy event covering all aspects of the energy agenda.

  • Running since 1924, the triennial World Energy Congress enables dialogue amongst Ministers, CEOs, policy-makers and industry practitioners on critical developments in the energy sector.

24th World Energy Congress:
  • The 24th World Energy Congress will take place in Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, United Arab Emirates from 9-12 September 2019.

  • The theme of this World Energy Congress is Energy for Prosperity which also represents the ambitious and dynamic energy transition of the country.

4. Genomic Grid for India (Cancer)
    Context: Union Minister for Health said that the government has plans to set up a National Genomic Grid, so as to take cancer research to the next level and make treatment viable for people of different economic classes.

  • The National Genomic Grid for India-specific cancer research will collect samples from cancer patients to study genomic factors influencing cancer and identifying the right treatment modalities for the Indian population.

  • The grid will have four parts, with the country divided into east, west, north and south.

  • The grid to be formed will be in line with the National Cancer Tissue Biobank (NCTB) set up at the Indian Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The NCTB is functioning in close association with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Sentinelese Tribe
(Social Issues)
    Context: Almost nine months after American national John Allen Chau was allegedly killed by the Sentinelese on the North Sentinel Island of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a recent publication by the Anthropological Survey of India (ANSI) throws more light on the incident. He was killed on the island after he illegally traveled to the North Sentinel Island with the help of local fishermen in the hopes of making contact with the Sentinelese.

Protection :
  • They are designated as a Scheduled Tribe.

  • Access to North Sentinel Island and its buffer zone is strictly restricted under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribe (Regulation), 1956 and Regulations under Indian Forest Act, 1927.

  • Under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956.

  • traditional areas occupied by the tribes have been declared as reserves

  • Entry of persons and Photographing the tribe members is prohibited except with authorisation.

  • Any passage within three miles of the coastline of Island is illegal and is enforced by the Indian Navy.

  • The Sentinelese is a negrito tribe who live on the North Sentinel Island of the Andamans.

  • To various estimates, the Sentinelese presence on the islands varies from 2,000 years to 30,000 years ago.

  • Census 2001 counted 39 inhabitants.

  • The Sentinelese are hunter-gatherers, likely using bows and arrows to hunt and more rudimentary methods to catch local seafood.

  • It is known that the Sentinelese speak their own language, the Sentinelese language.

  • The Sentinelese have been fiercely hostile to outside contact. They have been mostly left alone even from colonial times, unlike other tribes such as the Onges, Jarawas, and Great Andamanese, because the land they occupy has little commercial attraction.

2. Nilgiri Tahr’s (Tamil Nadu)
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context : The population of Nilgiri tahr in the Mukurthi National Park has risen from 568 in 2018 to 612 this year. This was the second consecutive year that an increase in the the population of the animal had been recorded in the park.

Mukurthi National Park (MNP)?
  • Mukurthi National Park (MNP) is a protected area located in the northwest corner of Tamil Nadu.

  • It has montane grasslands and shrublands interspersed with sholas in a high-altitude area of high rainfall

  • It’s a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India's first International Biosphere Reserve.

  • As part of the Western Ghats, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

About :
  • Scientific name: Nilgiritragus hypocrisy; Hemitragus hypocrisy.

  • Common name: Saddlebacks (as Adult males develop a light grey area or “saddle” on their backs).

  • They are found at high elevations on cliffs, grass-covered hills and open terrain (i.e. open montane grassland habitats at altitudes of 1,200 – 2,600 meters of the South Western Ghats.

  • Their present distribution is limited to approximately 5% of the Western Ghats in southern India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu). It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.

  • Eravikulam National Park is home to its largest population.

  • The population is Around 2,500 in Wild.

Conversation status:
  • Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and

  • Listed as Endangered on IUCN Red List.

  • Principal threats are habitat loss (mainly from domestic livestock and spread of invasive plants which leads to diminishing grazing land) and poaching.

3. AIS
(Science & Technology)
    ContextThere has been a huge increase in Chinese deep-sea fishing trawlers in the southern Indian Ocean far from the Chinese coast which has raised concerns in the government and the security establishment.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)?
  • The automatic identification system (AIS) is an automatic tracking system that uses transponders on ships and is used by vessel traffic services (VTS). AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport.

  • The AIS information comprises name, MMSI number, position, course, speed, last port visited, destination and so on. This information can be picked up through various AIS sensors including coastal AIS chains and satellite-based receivers.

  • In India, there has been a national effort to install AIS systems on ships under 20m for which a pilot study has been carried out. AIS works through satellite and the ISRO has already delivered 1000 transponders for trails in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

About :
  • In the last four years, on an average of at least 500 Chinese trawlers were present in the region and around 32,250 incidents per year were recorded. The trawlers were, however, not in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but beyond.

  • There were 1,100 occurrences near Somalia and 1,500 occurrences near the Coast of Oman. Occurrences are recordings of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) aboard trawlers and ships recorded when they are activated.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Jagga and Balia Craniopagus Surgery:
    Context: India’s only successfully separated craniopagus twins from Odisha — Jagga and Balia — were discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), two years after they were admitted, operated and started on rehabilitation at the hospital.

Conjoined twins:
  • Conjoined twins are two babies who are born physically connected to each other. They may also share one or more internal organs.

  • Conjoined twins may be joined at any of these sites – Craniopagus twins are joined at the back, top or side of the head, but not the face. Craniopagus twins share a portion of the skull. But their brains are usually separate, though they may share some brain tissue.

  • Thoracopagus twins are joined face to face at the chest.

  • Omphalopagus twins are joined near the bellybutton (Abdomen)

  • Pygopagus twins are joined back to back at the base of the spine and the buttocks.

  • Rachipagus twins are joined back to back along the length of the spine.

  • Ischiopagus twins are joined at the pelvis, either face to face or end to end.

  • Conjoined twins develop when an early embryo only partially separates to form two individuals. Although two fetuses will develop from this embryo, they will remain physically connected — most often at the chest, abdomen or pelvis.

  • Though many conjoined twins are not alive when born (stillborn) or die shortly after birth, advances in surgery and technology have improved survival rates. Some surviving conjoined twins can be surgically separated.

  • The toddlers were born with fused brain and skull, a condition known as craniopagus.

  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that this is the rarest of the rare surgery and it can be called ‘AIIMS Delhi Jagga and Balia craniopagus surgery’.

  • He said this was the first successful craniopagus conjoined twin separation surgery from India wherein both the children had survived. Worldwide only 10-15 children have survived after surgical separation of this condition in the last 50 years.

2. Mega Food Park (Telangana):
    Context : Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Badal inaugurated the first Mega Food Park of Telangana in Lakkampally at Village Lakkampally, Nandipet Mandal of Nizamabad District.

Components of the Project :
  • Mega food park typically consists of supply chain infrastructure including collection centers

  • primary processing centers (PPC),
  • central processing centres (CPC),

  • Cold chain and around 30-35 fully developed plots for entrepreneurs to set up food processing units.

  • Collection Centres and Primary Processing Centres (PPC): These component has a facility for cleaning, grading, sorting and packing facilities, dry warehouses, specialized cold stores, etc.

  • Central Processing Centres (CPC): Includes common facilities like Testing Laboratory, Cleaning, Grading, Sorting and Packing Facilities, Dry Warehouses, specialized storage facilities, etc.

About :
  • The objective is to give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.

  • Ministry of Food Processing Industries. The Mega Food Park project is implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act.

  • However, State Government, State Government entities and Cooperatives are not required to form a separate SPV for implementation of Mega Food Park project.

  • Under the Scheme, Government of India provides financial assistance up to Rs. 50 Crore per Mega Food Park project.

  • The Mega Food Park Scheme is based on “Cluster” approach and envisages the creation of state of art support infrastructure in a well-defined Agri / horticultural zone for setting up of modern food processing units along with well-established supply chain.

3. VIKRAM (Chandrayaan-2):
(Science & Technology)
    Context : Chandrayaan-2's Vikram lander lost contact with ground stations minutes before its planned touchdown on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-2's Orbiter, Lander and the Rover :
  • The composite Chandrayaan-2 has the orbiter, the Vikram lander, and the Pragyan rover. The Orbiter carried the lander Vikram. The lander, in turn, carries in its belly the rover.

  • The mandate of the Orbiter is to move around the moon for over a year. It has eight payloads including two cameras for mapping the moon and six other devices to study the lunar exosphere and ionosphere, detecting the presence of water or ice and to map the lunar mineralogy.

  • The lander Vikram, named after the Father of Indian Space Programmes Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was supposed to carry out studies using three instruments onboard it likes quakes on the moon due to the earth’s gravity and thermal conductivity.

  • The rover Pragyaan has two devices to probe the elemental composition of lunar soil near its landing site and derive the elemental abundance there.

About :
  • The Vikram Lander descent was initiated as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km above the lunar surface. Subsequently, the communication from the Lander to the ground stations was lost.

  • The Orbiter would continue to observe the moon’s surface and its exosphere for a year by encircling the natural satellite.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was with the scientists patted them for their hard work and asked them to move forward.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Robert Mugabe dies in Singapore:
    Context: Former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe passed away at the age of 95.

Geography of Zimbabwe?:
  • Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa.

  • It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west and southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east and northeast. It's northwest corner is roughly 150 meters from Namibia, nearly forming a four-nation quadripoint.

  • It is between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers.

  • The capital and largest city are Harare and the second largest being Bulawayo.

  • Its highest point is Mount Nyangani at 2,592 m.

  • Lake Kariba is the world's largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume. It lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam at its northeastern end.

  • Robert Mugabe (1924 – 2019) was a Zimbabwean dictator who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017. Mugabe was a former guerrilla chief who took power after the end of white minority rule in 1980.

  • Mugabe was a controversial figure. He was praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule.

  • Critics accused Mugabe of being a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racism, human rights abuses, and crimes against humanity.

  • He was ousted in a military coup in November 2017, ending three decades in power.

2. Chennai to Vladivostok (Sea-Route):
    Context: During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Vladivostok, Russia, an MoU was signed to open a full-fledged the maritime route between Russia’s eastern port city and Chennai on India’s eastern seaboard.

Key points of the visit:
  • India today announced a line of credit worth one Billion US dollars for the development of the Far East region of Russia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this announcement will prove to be a take-off point for India's 'Act Far East' policy.

  • He launched the Indo-Russian Innovation Bridge, an online platform to promote joint innovations. This facility is meant to bridge the gap between Indian and Russian startup ecosystems.

  • Russia offered joint design and development of conventional submarines through an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) at the delegation-level dialogue.

About :
  • Located on the Golden Horn Bay north of North Korea and a short distance from Russia’s border with China, Vladivostok is the largest port on Russia’s Pacific coast, and home to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy.

  • At Vladivostok’s massive port, shipping and commercial fishing are the main commercial activities.

Sea Route From Chennai To Vladivostok:
  • An ocean liner traveling from Vladivostok to Chennai would sail southward on the Sea of Japan past the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, past Singapore and through the Strait of Malacca, to emerge into the Bay of Bengal and then cut across through the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to Chennai.

  • This sea route covers a distance of approximately 5,600 nautical miles or about 10,300 km. A large container ship traveling at the normal cruising speed of 20-25 knots, or 37-46 km/hour, should be able to cover the distance in 10-12 days.

Significance of this route for India:
  • It will ensure connectivity between the two major ports which will give impetus to the cooperation between India and the Russian Far East.

  • India is building nuclear power plants with Russia’s collaboration in Kudankulam on the sea coast in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. The opening of a sea route will help in the project.

  • It will also increase India’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, and especially the South China Sea, a deeply contested patch of the ocean that Beijing considers its stomping ground.

3. Plans to banish measles, rubella By 2023:
    Context : Member-countries of the World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Region have resolved to eliminate measles and rubella by 2023.

In News:
  • Measles ( also known as Rubeola ): Infection with Measles is followed by high fever, a rash that spreads over the body, cough, running nose and red watery eyes.

  • Rubella ( also known as German Measles ): Infection with Rubella is followed by rash and low fever. It may be associated with swelling of lymph node and joint pain. The emergence of these rashes is far less bright than that of the measles.

  • Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS): Rubella infection in pregnant women may have serious consequences causing miscarriages, stillbirths or severe birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

About :
  • The resolution to eliminate measles and rubella from the region was adopted at the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia in Delhi.

  • Eliminating measles will prevent 500,000 deaths a year in the region while eliminating rubella/ congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) would avert about 55,000 cases of rubella.

  • Measles elimination and rubella control have been a regional flagship priority since 2014. Bhutan, North Korea, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste have eliminated measles.

  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste have controlled rubella.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Modi to launch drive to promote artificial breeding:
(Science & Technology)
    Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to launch a major six-month drive to promote artificial insemination in cattle in 600 districts which have less than 50% coverage of the technology.

In News:
  • Though some States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu use artificial insemination rates for more than 70% of their cattle, currently, the national coverage is only 30%.

  • Sex-sorting is a means of choosing what type of sperm cell is to fertilize the egg cell.

  • Several conventional techniques of centrifugation or swim-up are used.

  • Newly applied methods such as flow cytometry expand the possibilities of sperm sorting and new techniques of sperm sorting are being developed.

  • It can be used to sort out sperm that are most healthy, as well as for determination of more specific traits, such as sex selection in which spermatozoa are separated into X- (female) and Y- (male) chromosome bearing populations based on their difference in DNA content.

  • The resultant ‘sex-sorted’ spermatozoa are then able to be used in conjunction with other assisted reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce offspring of the desired sex – in farming animals but also in human medical practice.

  • The main benefit of using sex-sorted semen is that the farmer can ensure that only female calves or heifers are born.

  • It would help in increasing farmers’ income.

  • Artificially inseminating cows using semen from genetically superior bulls would also improve the fertility and milk production capacity of the calves they produce, thus incentivising farmers to keep them longer rather than abandoning them.

  • Of the 11.9 crore semen doses produced in the country every year, only 10 lakh are sex-sorted.

  • Uttarakhand, in March 2019, became the country’s first state to produce sexsorted semen, which can enhance the possibility of birth of female calves to ninety percent.

  • Currently, only four centres including two owned by the government produce such semen.

  • The government would soon open 11 such centres across the country to promote widespread adoption of the technology and reduce costs.

  • The government-subsidised price of a single semen dose is only Rs. 20; sexsorted semen, on the other hand, can cost 500 to Rs. 600 per dose.
  • Of the 11.9 crore semen doses produced in the country every year, only 10 lakh are sex-sorted.
  • Using sex-sorted semen which increases the possibility of a female calf to about 90% drastically increases the cost of insemination, as the technology is still new in India.

2. External Benchmark-based lending (RBI):
    Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made it mandatory for banks to link all of their new loan products, be it personal, housing or auto to an external benchmark like the policy repo rate.

  • RBI has issued a circular saying that banks will have to link their products to an external benchmark with effect from 1st October 2019.

  • Banks can also choose any benchmark market interest rate published by Financial Benchmarks India Private Limited (FBIL) or the government’s 3- month and 6-month treasury bill yields published by FBIL as their preferred external benchmark.

  • According to RBI, this has been done because the transmission of policy rate benefits under the current framework has not been satisfactory. Banks have been reluctant to cut interest rates despite the RBI lowering the repo rate by 110 basis points (bps) between February and August.

  • This move – aimed at the faster transmission of monetary policy rates – is likely to cheer borrowers as banks will now be forced to pass the entire rate cut benefit announced by RBI in recent months and offer lower interest rates.

3. Global Liveability Index (Annual):
(Social Issues)
    Context: The Austrian capital Vienna has been ranked the ‘world's most liveable city’ for the second year in a row on the annual Global Liveability Index.

2019 Rankings:
  • Vienna topped the rakings followed by Melbourne, Sydney, Osaka and Calgary.

  • New Delhi was ranked at 118th (a drop of six ranks) due to “poor air quality. Mumbai was ranked 119th.

  • The least liveable cities were Karachi, Tripoli, Dhaka, Lagos and, at the very bottom, Damascus (Syria).

  • Western Europe and North America continue to be the most liveable regions in the world.

  • The annual Global Liveability Index of 140 cities around the world, is released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research and analysis division of The Economist group which brings out the UK’s The Economist news magazine.

  • The index considers more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors spanning categories like stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. For the first time, the index noted the effects of climate change on liveability.

  • Scores are compiled on a scale of 1-100.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Dadabhai Naoroji:
    Context: On the 194th birth anniversary of Dadabhai Naoroji, popularly known as the Grand Old Man of India, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, paid tribute to the leader.

  • Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) is known as the Grand Old Man of India.

  • Born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in a poor Parsi family, he began his career as a teacher of mathematics and natural philosophy at Elphinstone Institute (later Elphinstone College). He was the first Indian to become a full professor.

  • In 1867, he founded the East Indian Association. It was a political advocacy group for India having both British and Indians on its membership roll.

Reforming Zoroastrian religion: Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha founded the Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha (Guides on the Mazdayasne Path) in 1851 to restore the Zoroastrian religion to its original Purity.
  • Rast Goftar (Truth Teller): In 1851, he founded Rast Goftar(Truth Teller), a Gujarati fortnightly to clarify Zoroastrian concepts and promote Parsi social reforms.

  • He traveled to London in 1855 to become a partner in Cama & Co, opening a Liverpool location for the first Indian company to be established in Britain. Within three years, he had resigned on ethical grounds.

  • He formulated the famous drain-of-wealth theory. Through his work with economics, he proved that Britannia was draining money out of India. In his book “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India (1901)”, he estimated a 200–300 million pounds loss of India's revenue to Britain that is not returned.

  • Naoroji is also credited with the founding of the Indian National Congress, along with A.O. Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha. He thrice served as the President of Indian National Congress.

  • In 1874, he became Prime Minister of Baroda.

2. Bill on Violence against Doctors:
    Context: Union the Ministry of Health released a draft Bill to address incidences of violence against healthcare professionals and damage to the property of clinicaln establishments. Public comments on the draft Bill are invited till the end of September.

Salient features of draft Bill:
  • The draft Bill prohibits any acts of violence committed against healthcare service personnel including doctors, nurses, paramedical workers, medical students, and ambulance drivers, among others. It also prohibits any damage caused to hospitals, clinics, and ambulances.

  • Any person who commits such violence may be punished with imprisonment between six months to five years, along with a fine of up to five lakh rupees.

  • However, if any person causes grievous hurt to a healthcare service professional, he will be imprisoned for a period between three years to ten years, along with with a fine between two lakh rupees and Rs 10 lakh.

  • In addition to the punishment, the convicted person will also be liable to pay compensation to the affected parties. This includes: (i) payment of twice the amount of the market value of the damaged property, (ii) one lakh rupees for causing hurt to healthcare service personnel, and (iii) five lakh rupees for causing grievous hurt to healthcare service personnel.

  • All offenses under the draft Bill will be cognizable (i.e., a police officer can arrest without a warrant) and non-bailable.

  • Any case registered under this Bill will be investigated by a police officer, not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

3. Anti-Terror Law:
(Defence & Security)
    Context: Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim were declared individual terrorists by the government under a new anti-terror law.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 ?
  • In August 2019, Parliament passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

  • The amended act empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists.

  • The amended act empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

  • if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the NIA, the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.

  • The earlier act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The Bill adds another treaty to the list namely, the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

About: Invoking the recent amendments in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the Central Government has decided to declare the following individuals as terrorists and add their names to Schedule 4 of the Act: Maulana Masood Azhar is chief, founder and key leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad.
  • Hafiz Muhammad is chef / founder and key leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamatud-Dawa.

  • Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is chief operation commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba and one of its founder members.

  • Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar runs an international underworld crime syndicate and is involved in perpetrating acts of terror.

  • All of the above are involved in terrorist attacks in India and have been designated as global terrorists under the United Nations. Earlier when terrorist organizations were banned, the individuals associated with it simply changed names and continued to carry out terrorist activities.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. EBP Programme:
    Context: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved Mechanism revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for procurement of ethanol from different raw materials under the EBP Programme w.e.f. December 2019 for one year period.

  • Government has been implementing Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.

  • This programme has been extended to whole of India except Union Territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from 01st April, 2019.

The CCEA has given its approval for the following:
  • OMCs are advised to continue according priority of ethanol from 1) sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup, 2) B heavy molasses 3) C heavy molasses and 4) Damaged Food grains/other sources, in that order.

  • The price of ethanol from C heavy molasses route be increased to Rs.43.75 per litre; The price of ethanol from B heavy molasses route be increased to Rs.54.27 per litre; and the price of ethanol from sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup route be fixed at Rs.59.48 per litre.

Additionally, GST and transportation charges will also be payable.
2. Yudh Abhyas 2019:
    Context: A joint military training, Exercise Yudh Abhyas - 2019 will be conducted at Joint Base Lewis Mc Chord, Washington, USA from 05-18 September 2019.

  • Exercise Yudh Abhyas is one of the largest joint running military training and defence corporation endeavors between India and USA.

  • This will be the 15th edition of the joint exercise hosted alternately between the two countries.

  • Yudh Abhyas will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in an integrated manner at Battalion level with joint planning at Brigade level.

3. Tigers at High Altitude (Master-Plan):
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar, released a report on Status of Tiger Habitats in high altitude ecosystems.

Global Tiger Forum (GTF)?
  • GTF is the only inter- governmental international body established with members from willing countries to embark on a global campaign to protect the remaining 5 sub-species of Tigers distributed over 13 Tiger Range countries of the world.

  • The GTF was formed in 1993. In 1997, the GTF became an independent organization.

  • The GTF has a General Assembly meeting every 3 years and Standing committee meetings at least once a year. A Chairperson, usually a Minister from one of the Tiger Range countries heads GTF for a fixed tenure of 3 Years.

  • Secretariat in New Delhi.

  • This study, led by the Global Tiger Forum (GTF), with range country governments of Bhutan, India and Nepal, along with WWF and country specific collaborators, has been supported by the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHPC) of the IUCN and dFw.

  • The study reveals that even ecology at high altitude is compatible for the tiger growth.

  • It calls for developing a master plan for Tigers at High altitude, with gainful portfolio for local communities and ensuring centrality of tiger conservation in development.

  • The study provides the rationale for stepping up high altitude conservation of the tiger, while identifying possible viable habitats, corridor linkages, anthropogenic pressures, and induced landscape level changes for evolving an in-situ conservation roadmap.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. Super-Filters (Mussels) :
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: Scientists are deploying mussels across the oceans to absorb microplastics and other pollutants in the fight against water pollution.

  • The term mussel is used for several families of bivalve mollusks inhabiting lakes, rivers, and creeks, as well as intertidal areas along coastlines worldwide.

  • The mussel's external shell is composed of two valves that protect it from predators and desiccation.

  • The mussel act as 'super-filters', taking in phytoplankton for nourishment along with microplastics, pesticides and other pollutants.

  • As they pump and filter the water through their gills in order to feed and breathe, mussels store almost everything else that passes through.

  • Like canaries in a coal mine, mussels have long been used as "bio-indicators" of the health of the seas, lakes and rivers they inhabit.

2. Mini Kaziranga (Turtle Hatchlings) :
(Environment & Ecology)
    Context: About 70 hatchlings of the rare Black Softshell and Indian Softshell turtles bred in the ponds of two temples in Assam were released by in the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam.

  • Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is often called ‘Mini Kaziranga’ because of similar landscape and a sizeable population of the one-horned rhino.

  • The “wild restocking” of the two turtle species was done under a joint program of the management committees of two temples — Ugratara in Guwahati and Hayagriva Madhav in Hajo — the Assam Forest Department and two NGOs specializing in the conservation of reptiles.

  • This wild restocking program is important for sustaining turtles in the Brahmaputra river system, especially the Black Softshell (Nilssonia nigricans) that is considered extinct in the wild.

  • Assam is the most species-rich State in India in terms of turtle diversity. It is home to 20 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises out of 29 species found in India. But, 80% of these species are threatened with extinction.

3. Growth of Eight Core Sectors :
    Context: According to official data released by the government, Growth of eight core industries dropped to 2.1% in July mainly due to a contraction in coal, crude oil, natural gas and refinery products.

  • The eight core industries of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity, which have a 40.27% weight in the Index of Industrial Production.

  • The output of coal, crude oil, natural gas and refinery products recorded negative growth in July 2019.

  • These eight-core sector industries had expanded by 7.3 per cent in July last year.

  • During April-July, the eight sectors grew by 3 per cent compared to 5.9 per cent in the same period previous year.

Author: Dheeraj Sharma
Source: The Hindu
1. 5% GDP Growth why? :
    Context: According to data released by National Statistical Office (NSO), India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 5% in the April-June 2019 Quarter, much lower than 8 % growth in the same quarter last fiscal.

  • The latest GDP growth of 5 % is the lowest in six years with the previous low recorded at 4.3 % in March 2013.

  • It is also lower than 5.8 % GDP growth in the March quarter in 2018-19. This is the second straight quarter when the quarterly GDP growth was lower than 6 %.

  • The growth has slowed down in five out of eight sectors, reflecting the widespread weakness in the overall economy. Growth during the first quarter was dragged down by manufacturing growth at 0.6 % as compared to 12.1 % in same quarter last fiscal.

  • Private consumption has fallen in the quarter under review.

  • Growth rate of Gross Value Added (GVA), which is GDP minus net product taxes, fell below 5 % level to 4.9 % in the first quarter of this financial year as against 7.7 % in the corresponding period last year.

  • Nominal GDP growth was recorded at 8.0 % in April-June as against 12.6 % last year.

Gross domestic product: Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government investment + government spending + (exports – imports).
GDP can be determined in three ways:
  • Production approach ( Most direct from all approach and also sums the outputs of every class of enterprise to arrive at the total ) Income approach ( Works on the principle that the incomes of the productive factors must be equal to the value of their product )

  • Expenditure approach ( Works on the principle that all of the product must be bought by somebody )

1. Production approach:
  • Estimate the gross value of domestic output out of the many various economic activities.

  • The cost of material, supplies and services used to produce final goods or services. ( intermediate consumption )

  • Deduct intermediate consumption from gross value to obtain the gross value added.

Something Important: Gross value added = gross value of output – value of intermediate consumption. GVA = GDP + subsidies - Indirect taxes GVA + taxes on products - subsidies on products = GDP
  • GVA is the grand total of all revenues, from final sales and ( net ) subsidies , which are incomes into businesses. Incomes which is then used to cover expenses like as ; wages & salaries, dividends , savings like as ; profits and depreciation and taxes like indirect taxes.
  • GVA - sector specific , and GDP - calculated by summation of GVA of all sectors of economy with taxes added and subsidies are deducted.
    Advantages of Gross value added
    • Comparable figure ( Internationally ).

    • Better market condition projection globally.

    Disadvantages of Gross value added
    • Comparison is difficult over time.

    • Value of output = value of the total sales of goods and services plus value of changes in the inventory.

    • GDP at factor cost - sum of the gross value added in the various economic activities

    • GDP at producer price = GDP at factor cost plus indirect taxes less subsidies on products

    The output of each sector is calculated:
    • By multiplying the output of each sector by their respective market price and adding them together.
    • By collecting data on gross sales and inventories from the records of companies and adding them together.

    2. Income approach:
    • This way of estimating GDP is to use "the sum of primary incomes distributed by resident producer units”.

    • GDP is calculated by this way it is also called GDP (I) / GDI - Gross Domestic Income.

    The "National Income and Expenditure Accounts" divide incomes into five categories : Salaries, Wages and supplementary labour income Corporate profits Interest and other income Farmers' incomes Unincorporated businesses income from non-farm
    These components sum to net domestic income at factor cost not at market prices. Some modification to get GDP :
    • To get from factor cost to market prices - Indirect taxes minus subsidies are added.

    • To get from net domestic product to gross domestic product - Depreciation (or capital consumption allowance) is added.

    GDP = compensation of employees + gross operating surplus + gross mixed income + taxes less subsidies on production and imports
    • Compensation of employees ( measures the total remuneration to employees for work done ).

    • It includes salaries and wages , as well as employer contributions to social security and other such programs.

    • Gross operating surplus ( It is the surplus due to owners of incorporated businesses ).

    • Often called profits, although only a subset of total costs are subtracted from gross output to calculate GOS.

    • Gross mixed income ( It is the same measure as GOS, but for unincorporated businesses ).

    • This often includes most small businesses.

    Total factor income = employee compensation + corporate profits + proprietor's income + rental income + net interest
    3. Expenditure approach:
    • This way of estimating GDP is to calculate the sum of the final uses of goods and services measured in purchasers' prices. ( all uses except intermediate consumption )

    • GDP is the sum of consumption , investment , government spending and net exports (export – import).

    • Consumption is normally the largest GDP component in the economy. (Include food, rent, jewelry, gasoline, and medical expenses, but not the purchase of new housing )

    • GDP ( Gross National Product ) - product produced within the country's borders. Defines its scope according to location.

    • GNI ( Gross National Income ) - product produced by enterprises owned by a country's citizens. Defines its scope according to ownership.

    • Real GDP growth rate for year n = [(Real GDP in year n) − (Real GDP in year n − 1)] / (Real GDP in year n − 1)

    Central Statistics Office (CSO):
    • The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is a governmental agency in India under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

    • The Central Statistics Office is responsible for co-ordination of statistical activities in the country, and evolving and maintaining statistical standards.

    • Formed - May 2, 1951

    • Preceding agencies - Central Statistical Organization / Central Statistical Institute

    • Jurisdiction – under Government of India (GoI)

    • Headquarters - New delhi, India

    • Minister responsible - Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation

    Exclusive Analysis By Dheeraj Sharma:
    • India’s economy grew at its slowest pace in over six years in the June quarter following a sharp deceleration in consumer demand and tepid investment.

    • Nominal GDP growth, a measure of GDP without adjusting for inflation, at 8%, lowest since Financial Year 2002-03.

    • The GDP slowdown is led by a dramatic slowdown in the manufacturing sector.

    • The slowdown in investment and consumer demand derailed manufacturing, which grew just 0.6%. A meagre 2% rise in farm sector added to the demand slowdown.

    • Consumption, the bedrock of growth in the past few years, collapsed to an 18 - quarter low of 3.1% from 10.6% in the March quarter, pointing to fragile sentiment.

    • Investments grew 4%, up from 3.6% in the previous quarter.

    • Automobile sales, a barometer of the economy, have declined sharply in recent months, forcing production cuts and jobs losses.
    • Regardless of the monetary easing and the measures announced so far by the government to support the economy, some of the constraints to economic growth, including the moderate capacity utilisation levels, cost of land acquisition, and weak outlook for farm incomes, persist.

    In Depth:
    • Independent experts, expect the slowdown to persist for a while and see another rate cut by the central bank in October after the 110 percentage points slashed in this round of monetary easing.

    • In its annual report, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said that the slowdown was cyclical, rather than structural, which would have required deeper reforms.

    • Bibek Debroy, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the PM, stressed that those who seek to spread a message of gloom and doom are doing a great disservice.

    • The government has, has announced a whole host of measures to help revive the economy, aimed at

    • easing tax rules for foreign portfolio investors, start-ups

    • increasing credit outflows by the banks and NBFCs

    • increasing demand for the auto sector

    • liberalising FDI for select sectors

    • liberalising the foreign direct investment rules for single-brand retail etc

    • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced a slew of banking reform measures, including merging 10 banks into four entities.

    • The government has offered incentives on auto purchases to help revive demand. Weak global economy and trade tensions have kept export growth muted.

    What lies ahead?
    • As per the Economic Survey 2019 shows that ; investment is a critical driver of the economy with consumption being a key force multiplier.

    • Finance Minister’s stimulus package may propel demand.

    • Faster rate cut transmission is needed to revive demand.

    • Further rate cuts and sentiment boosters are the need of the hour.

    • Windfall gain from the RBI may boost government expenditure.
    Together with steps taken by the government for the banks and the financial sector, and structural reforms, investment should continue improving and drive economy to higher growth.
    Author: Dheeraj Sharma
  • Source: The Hindu
    1. Longest Electrified Tunnel (Railway) :
      Context: Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu dedicated to the nation the longest electrified tunnel in the country on the Venkatachalam-Obulavaripalle railway line between Cherlopalli and Rapuru stations.

    • This was earlier commissioned by South Central Railway (SCR) of Indian Railways.

    • The electrified tunnel is constructed on New Australian Tunnelling Method. the new line would facilitate direct and viable connectivity between South Coast and West Coast Railway and improve freight revenue of the zone.

    2. UNCCD COP14:
    (Environment & Ecology)
      Context : The 14th Conference of Parties, COP14, to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification began in Greater Noida. The Conference will go on till 13th of this month. Over 3000 delegates from across the world will take part in COP14.

    Joint Liaison Group (JLG):
    • Since desertification is closely linked with global climate change and loss of biodiversity, thus coordination is required among the three Rio conventions to widen the impact of measures undertaken.

    • In this direction a Joint Liaison Group (JLG) was established in 2001 between the secretariats of the three conventions. The JLG collects and shares information on the work programmes and operations of each convention.

    • United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the first and only internationally legally binding framework set up to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought and desertification.

    • Secretariat location: Bonn, Germany.

    • 1992: Rio conference of 1992 resulted in 5 document’s. One of them was Agenda 21.UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) stems from a direct recommendation of agenda 21.

    • 1994: UNCCD was finally adopted in Paris, France on June 17, 1994. That’s why June 17 has been observed as the ‘World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD).

  • 1996: It was ratified in December 1996.

  • India and UNCCD:
    • India became a signatory to UNCCD on October 14, 1994 and ratified it on December 17, 1996. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for the Convention.

    • Conference of the Parties (COP): It is the supreme decision-making body. It reviews the implementation of the Convention. It meets on a biannual basis.

    3. Rashtriya Poshan Maah:
      Context : The entire month of September 2019 is being celebrated as the Rashtriya Poshan Maah. This year the theme is Complementary Feeding.

    • Prime Minister's Overreaching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment - POSHAN Abhiyaan is a multi- ministerial convergence mission with the vision to address malnutrition with a targeted approach by 2022.

    • Poshan Maah is an initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development and NITI Aayog to give a push to Poshan Abhiyan.

    • During Poshan Maah, activities like Prabhat Pheri, Poshan Melas, Nukkad Nataks, School Based Events will be held to take the message of importance of nutrition to every household.

    It focuses on 8 themes:
    • Antenatal Care.
    • Optimal Breastfeeding.
    • Complementary Feeding.
    • Anaemia.
    • Growth Monitoring.
    • Girls-education, diet, right age of Marriage.
    • Hygiene & Sanitation.
    • Food Fortification.

    Author: Dheeraj Sharma
    Source: The Hindu
    1. AEOI (Swiss Bank) :
      Context: The automatic exchange of information regime kicked off between Switzerland and India from September 1, 2019.

    In News:
    • Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is the exchange of information between countries without having to request it. AEOI exists to reduce global tax evasion.

    • Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is the agreed global standard for AEOI, approved by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2014.

    • With this, banking details of Indians with accounts in Switzerland will be available to tax authorities here.

    • India will receive information of the calendar year 2018 in respect of all financial accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland. Under it, details for accounts closed in 2018 will also be available.

    • According to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), this is a significant step in the government’s fight against black money and the era of “Swiss bank secrecy” will finally be over.

    2. First Garbage Café in India:
    (Environment & Ecology)
      Context : India’s first ‘Garbage Café’ will soon be opened in the city of Ambikapur in north Chhattisgarh.

    • This initiative by the Ambikapur municipal corporation of Chhattisgarh is a step towards making the city plastic-free. The city has been hailed as the second cleanest city in the country in Swachhata rankings.

    • In this unique Cafe' poor people and rag pickers will get free food in exchange for one kilogram of plastic, while breakfast will be provided if half a kilogram of plastic is brought to the cafe.

    • The collected garbage will be sold at Solid-Liquid Resources Management Centre. It would further be turned into granules and will then be used in the construction of roads in the city.

    3. Kunduz (North Afghan):
      Context: Taliban fighters have attacked the strategic northern Afghan city of Kunduz, setting off a major battle with security forces.

    In News:
    • As this attack unfolds, it sends many signals. For Taliban fighters, it is a moment to parade their military prowess as they talk peace with the United States and prepare for still sensitive Afghan negotiations.

    • For the Afghan government, whose elite forces quickly mobilised, another confrontation in Kunduz highlights their ability to strike back and, it is expected, eventually prevail.

    • The image of Afghan ministers arriving with US Gen Austin Miller, who heads NATO'S mission in Afghanistan, underlines Washington's continuing commitment to negotiate a historic deal with the Taliban.

    • Kunduz is a city in northern Afghanistan, which serves as the capital of Kunduz Province. Kunduz is located near the confluence of the Kunduz River with the Khanabad River.

    • The fighting comes in the midst of historic negotiations for a deal between the Taliban and the US. The Taliban said they had captured several important buildings while officials said the city was still under government control. The militants have captured Kunduz twice since 2015.

    4. Panel to study Uranium Contamination:
    (Science & Tech):
      Context: The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered inquiry into complaints about groundwater pollution caused by the uranium processing project of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at Tummalapalle in Vemula mandal of Kadapa district.

    • Uranium Corporation of India Limited was incorporated in 1967 for uranium mining and uranium processing. It is a Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy.
    • It operates six underground mines (Bagjata, Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Turamdih, and Mohuldih) and one open-pit mine (Banduhurang) in Jharkhand. Ore produced from these mines are processed in two process plants at Jaduguda and Turamdih.

    • It is constructing a new underground mine and process plant at Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh.

    • It has started pre-project activities to set up new mines and plants in different parts of the country namely – Gogi in Karnatka, Lambapur in Telengana and KPM in Meghalaya.

    Author: Dheeraj Sharma