9 PM Current Affairs Brief – August 14, 2019

National Youth Awards

  1. The Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports(I/C) has conferred the National Youth Awards.
  2. The awards were conferred on individuals(aged between 15-29 years) and organizations for excellent work and contribution in different fields of development and social services.
  3. The objective of the awards is (a)to motivate young people to achieve excellence in the field of national development and social service (b)to develop a sense of responsibility to the community and (c)to give recognition to the outstanding work done by voluntary organizations working with the youth for national development including social service.
  4. The individual award comprises of a medal, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs.50,000/-.The award to a youth organisation includes a medal, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs.2 lakh.

CSR expenditure may be made tax deductible, says committee

  1. Government had formed a High Level Committee on Corporate social responsibility(CSR) under the Chairmanship of Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas.
  2. The committee was formed to review the existing CSR framework and make recommendations on strengthening the CSR ecosystem including monitoring implementation and evaluation of outcomes.
  3. The committee has recommended that CSR expenditure should be eligible for tax deduction under the income tax law.Currently,income tax law does not allow CSR spends as tax deductible amount.
  4. The committee has also suggested to align Schedule 7 of the Companies Act which outlines the kinds of activities that qualify as CSR with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  5. The committee has also recommended a provision to carry forward of unspent CSR balance for a period of three to five years.It has also said that CSR should not be used as a means of resource-gap funding for government schemes.
  6. The other key points of the suggestions were balancing local area preferences with national priorities when it comes to CSR and also introducing impact assessment studies for CSR obligations of ₹5 crore or more.
  7. The report has also recommended the registration of implementation agencies on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs(MCA) portal.
  8. Corporate social responsibility(CSR) was initiated through the Companies Act, 2013.The act mandated companies and government organisations with (a)turnover of Rs1,000 crore or more(b)net worth exceeding Rs 500crore or (c)having more than Rs 5 crore in net profits,to set aside 2% of their average net profits for CSR activities.

Army launches ‘Mission Reach Out’ in Jammu

  1. The Indian Army has launched “Mission Reach Out” in Jammu.
  2. The mission aims to ensure basic necessities and essential services are available in the region post the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir.
  3. The numerous initiatives undertaken by the Army under ‘Mission Reach Out’ are (a)mobile medical care units with essential medicines and lady medical officers (b)assistance in the transportation of patients to hospitals (c)facilitating people to speak to their near ones through Army exchange and (d)creating a safe environment for ATMs, banks and hospitals to function.

RBI proposes easing of rules for sandbox model

  1. The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has issued the final framework for regulatory sandbox in order to enable innovations in the financial technology space.
  2. Regulatory sandbox(RS) is an infrastructure that helps financial technology (FinTech) players live test their products or solutions before getting the necessary regulatory approvals for a mass launch which saves start-up time and cost.
  3. The target applicants for entry to the RS are FinTech companies including startups, banks, financial institutions and any other company partnering with or providing support to financial services businesses, subject to the sandbox criteria laid down in these guidelines.
  4. The requirements that should mandatorily be complied by the regulatory applicants are (a)customer privacy and data protection, (b)secure storage of and access to payment data of stakeholders, (c)security of transactions (d)KYC requirements and (e)statutory restrictions.
  5. RBI said that the entity should have a minimum net worth of Rs 25 lakh as per its latest audited balance sheet.The promoters/ directors of the entity should be fit and proper and the conduct of the bank accounts of the entity as well its promoters/directors should be satisfactory.
  6. However,the regulatory relaxation which may be granted by the RBI are (a)liquidity requirements (b)board composition (c)management experience (d)financial soundness and (e)track record.
  7. Further,the negative list of products,services and technology which may not be accepted for testing are (a)credit registry (b)credit information, (c)crypto currency (d)trading or investing in crypto asset among others.

Iran unveils ‘improved’ radar air defence system

  1. Iran has unveiled an improved radar air defence missile system called Falaq.
  2. The Falaq is said to be an upgraded version of the current Gamma system which military experts said was of Russian origin.
  3. The missile can detect enemy missiles and drones from more than 400 kms away.The system also has high capabilities and can detect all types of cruise and ballistic missiles and drones.
  4. This announcement comes at a time of rising tension between Iran and the United States. 
  5. Earlier,Iran had shot down a US military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile.Iran had said that the drone was over its territory but US had said that it was in international air space.

CBI should have statutory status like CAG: Ranjan Gogoi

  1. Chief Justice of India(CJI) has suggested a comprehensive legislation to give Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) a statutory status equivalent to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
  2. He has listed various key concerns with the CBI such as (a)legal ambiguity (b)weak human resource (c)lack of adequate investment (d)accountability and (e)political and administrative interference.
  3. He has also suggested that public order must be made part of the Concurrent List for investigation of interstate crimes.Currently,Public order is under the exclusive domain of state governments.
  4. In the context of political and administrative interference in CBI,he said that in the Vineet Narain v. Union of India case,the Supreme Court had expressed concern over the state of affairs and laid down explicit guidelines for protecting the integrity of CBI.
  5. However,due to the superintendence and control of the CBI continues to lie with the executive by virtue of Section 4 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment(DSPE) Act,1946.Hence,the possibility of it being used as a political instrument remains.
  6. He also pointed out that under the DSPE Act,the CBI requires consent of the State concerned for investigation.But due to vested interests or bureaucratic lethargy such consent is often either denied or delayed, severely compromising the investigation.
  7. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India.It comes under the Ministry of Personnel,Pension & Public Grievances,Government of India.The CBI is not a statutory body.The CBI investigative and jurisdiction powers are governed by the DSPE Act,1946.

BCCI under NADA fold, compliance was inevitable

  1. The Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) has agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency(NADA).
  2. This means all cricketers without exception will now be tested for banned and performance enhancing drugs by NADA like any other Indian athlete.
  3. The BCCI is registered as a society under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act,1975.It has been an autonomous body which means it does not receive funding or grants from the sports ministry of the country.
  4. In 2017,the Supreme Court had nominated a four-member panel Committee of Administrators(CoA) to look after the administration of the BCCI in order to implement Lodha committee reforms.
  5. National Anti Doping Agency(NADA) was set up as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India.
  6. The primary objectives are (a)to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code (b)regulate dope control programme (c)to promote education and research and (d)create awareness about doping and its ill effects.

Jammu and Kashmir delimitation process kicks off

  1. Election Commission(EC) has held internal discussions on the delimitation of constituencies ahead of elections to the new Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  2. Delimitation means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats.Population is the basis of redrawing of boundaries and allocation of seats. 
  3. This task of delimitation is assigned to a four-member Delimitation Commission of which one of the members represents the EC.
  4. According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act,2019,the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the UT of J&K would be increased from 107 to 114.The Act also specifies that delimitation will be based on the 2011 census till 2026.
  5. The act also carries a provision for introduction of reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  6. The exercise of delimitation will be carried out in J&K after over two decades.Although the rest of the country had undergone delimitation in 2002,J&K Assembly had passed a law putting a freeze on fresh delimitation of seats until 2026.

NPPA allows firms to hike prices of knee implants by up to 10 per cent

  1. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority(NPPA) has decided to allow knee implant companies to increase the maximum retail price(MRP) of their products by not more than 10% in 2019.
  2. Knee implants are devices used to replace parts of damaged knee joints in patients.
  3. This development comes two years after the NPPA had first slashed MRPs of knee implants by up to 69% using extraordinary powers granted under the country’s drug pricing regulations.
  4. Following a review of this decision in August 2018,the NPPA had decided to extend the capped ceiling price for another year.
  5. However,the extension was granted despite knee implants being classified as a non-scheduled medical device for which the Drugs (Prices Control) Order,2013 permits an annual price increase of up to 10%.
  6. NPPA is an independent body set up in 1997 under Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
  7. The functions of NPPA are:(a)To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (b)Deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority (c) To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages and (d)To collect/ maintain data on production, exports and imports,profitability of companies for bulk drugs and formulation.

RBI takes over HFC regulation from NHB

  1. The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has approved a proposal to shift regulation of Housing finance companies(HFCs) from the National Housing Bank(NHB) to the RBI.
  2. Hence,HFCs will now be treated as one of the categories of non-banking financial companies(NBFCs) for regulatory purposes.
  3. Further,any housing finance institution which is a company desirous of making an application for registration under the NHB Act,1987 must approach the department of Non-Banking Regulation at the RBI.
  4. RBI will also review the current regulatory framework applicable to housing finance companies(HFCs) following which it will come out with revised regulations.
  5. Until the new guidelines,HFCs shall continue to comply with the directions and instructions issued by the NHB which will continue to carry out supervision of HFCs. 
  6. The National Housing Bank(NHB) was set up in 1988 under the National Housing Bank Act,1987.NHB is an apex financial institution for housing.
  7. Its objective is to operate as a principal agency to promote housing finance institutions both at local and regional levels and to provide financial and other support incidental to such institutions and for matters connected therewith.
  8. Recently,RBI had divested its stake in National Housing Bank(NHB) and National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (Nabard) by making them fully government-owned.

IIT Madras registers initial success with iron ion battery

  1. Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Madras have for the first time fabricated a rechargeable iron ion battery using mild steel as the anode.
  2. Currently,lithium-ion batteries are widely in use.However,the lithium reserves are limited when compared to iron reserves and hence the invention assume significance.
  3. Further,this invention comes at a time when the world is moving towards adopting electric vehicles which need cheaper batteries.
  4. The iron ion battery are also cost-effective and the amount of energy that can be stored in the battery is also high.
  5. Researchers have also demonstrated the performance of iron ions battery for 150 cycles of charging and discharging.It has displayed good stability with 54% capacity retention at the end of 50 cycles.
  6. In Iron ion battery,vanadium pentoxide is used as the cathode.Vanadium pentoxide was chosen as it has a layered structure with very large spacing between the layers.
  7. There are various benefits of iron over Lithium such as (a)Iron has favourable physico-chemical properties like lithium (b)The redox potential of iron ion is higher than lithium ion and (c)Iron is more stable during the charging process and therefore prevents short-circuiting of the batteries.

BCI imposes 3-year moratorium on opening new law colleges

  1. Bar Council of India has decided to impose a three year moratorium on the opening of new law colleges.This has been done in order to ensure that the quality of education does not get compromised.
  2. However,the moratorium will not apply to National Law University,if it is proposed by a state government where there is no such varsity.
  3. Bar Council of India(BCI) is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar.It was established by Parliament under the Advocates Act,1961.
  4. It performs the regulatory function by prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar.
  5. BCI also sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities whose degree in law will serve as qualification for enrolment as an advocate.

No harmful chemicals in PET bottles, finds CSIR study

  1. According to a study conducted by the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), it has endorsed the safety of PET bottles.
  2. Polyethylene terephthalate(PET) is widely employed packaging material for drinking water, juices,vegetable oils, pharmaceuticals and various other applications and is 100% recyclable.
  3. This study was conducted after a debate internationally on whether PET bottles leach harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures.
  4. The study has concluded that PET bottles does not leach or contain heavy metals like arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, selenium, zinc.
  5. The study has also said that Bisphenol(BPA) was below its detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg.BPA is a synthetic organic compound and used in the manufacture of PET bottles.
  6. However,BPA is now being phased out after research found a link between the presence of BPA and the disruption of hormone regulation, as well as breast cancer.
  7. CFTRI is a part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).It is the nodal institute of the Govt of India for research, technology and testing of Food and Food packaging.

Gogabeel is Bihar’s first community reserve

  1. Gogabeel is an ox-bow lake in Bihar’s Katihar district.It has been declared as the state’s first ‘Community Reserve’.
  2. The water body was also been notified as both Community Reserve and a conservation reserve.
  3. Gogabeel is formed from the flow of the rivers Mahananda and Kankhar in the north and the Ganga in the south and east.It is the fifteenth Protected Area(PA) in Bihar.
  4. Gogabeel is a permanent waterbody although it shrinks to some extent in the summer but never dries completely.More than 90 bird species have been recorded from this site of which about 30 are migratory.
  5. Conservation reserves and community reserves in India are terms denoting protected areas of India which typically act as buffer zones between established national parks,wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India.
  6. Such areas are designated as conservation areas if they are uninhabited and completely owned by the Government of India but used for subsistence by communities and community areas if part of the lands are privately owned.
  7. The administration of such reserves would be through local people and local agencies like the gram panchayat.
  8. An oxbow lake is a crescent-shaped lake lying alongside a winding river. The oxbow lake is created over time as erosion and deposits of soil change the river’s course.

57.3% allopathic practitioners are not qualified: Health Ministry

  1. According to Union Health Ministry’s data, 57.3% of personnel currently practising allopathic medicine do not have a medical qualification.
  2. Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 prohibits a person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register to practice medicine in the State.
  3. India has a poor doctor to patient ratio. The ratio is 1:1456 as compared with the World Health Organisation standards of 1:1000.
  4. Further, the distribution of health workers is uneven between urban and rural areas. According to a study based on NSSO data, rural areas with nearly 71% of India’s population have only 36% of health workers. Delhi has the highest concentration of health workers followed by Kerala, Punjab, and Haryana.
  5. Recently, a WHO database has put India into the “critical shortage of healthcare providers” category. India has low density of health professionals with the number being lower than those of Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, United Kingdom and Brazil.

High CO2 emissions reducing nutrients in rice, wheat

  1. According to the IPCC’s special report on Climate Change and Land, increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 can reduce the nutritional quality of staple foods like wheat and rice.
  2. The IPCC report has noted that wheat grown at CO2 levels of 546-586 parts per million (ppm) has 5.9-12.7% less protein, 3.7-6.5% less zinc, and 5.2-7.5% less iron.
  3. Under similar levels of CO2, rice grains has lower protein (7.8%), iron (8%) and zinc (5%).
  4. According to the report, the land sector had been contributing about 5.2 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide every year between 2007 and 2016.
  5. It further notes that the global food production system could account for 16 to 27% of GHG emissions — up to 37%, if factors such as transportation and food processing are included.
  6. It points out that nearly 25% of all food produced is either lost or wasted. And even the decomposition of the waste releases emissions
  7. The report suggests measures such as a) reduction in food wastage, b) sustainable agriculture practices and c) shifting of dietary preferences to include more plant-based food, could reduce GHG emissions and strengthen food security.
  8.  The IPCC report has suggested that insect-based diets could be a more sustainable and nutritious option. Edible insects are high in fat, protein and micronutrients. Further, their production result in lower levels of GHG emissions and water consumption.
  9. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations. It provides policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks. It also puts forward adaptation and mitigation options.

India has fourth highest number of measles cases in the world: WHO

  1. According to the latest measles surveillance data released by the WHO, India stood fourth among 194 countries in the number of measles cases registered between July 2018 and June 2019.
  2. Madagascar had the highest number of measles cases registered, followed by Ukraine and Philippines.
  3. According to WHO, children under the age of one gets infected the most in India and have the highest incidence rate of 76.4 per million population. The second highest rate of incidence occurs in children in the age group of 1-4 years.
  4. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. It can be entirely prevent with a two-dose vaccine.
  5. Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, WHO has targeted to eliminate measles by 2020.
  6. Eleven member states of World Health Organization South-East Asia Region (WHO SEAR) have committed to eliminate measles by 2020 at the 66th session of the WHO regional committee. India is a part of WHO SEAR.
  7. India has initiated the world’s largest Measles-Rubella (MR) Campaign in 2017. It targets vaccination of 410 million children and adolescents aged between 9 months and 15 years.

DU prof finds new frog species in Aravalis

  1. An amphibian survey conducted in the Aravalli Biodiversity Park in 2019 has showed 8 sympatric amphibians.
  2. The four species which have also been reported earlier are Bull frog (largest frog in India), Indian skipper frog, Narrow-mouthed frog (smallest land vertebrate from Delhi) and Pierrei’s wart frog.
  3. Further, four new species have been found-  Nepal’s Wart Frog, Indian Toad, Indus Valley Toad, and Indian Burrowing Frog.
  4. The Aravalli Biodiversity Park is located in on the South Central Ridge (part of Aravalli in Delhi) and spreads over an area of 692 acres. It contains ecologically restored and semi-arid land vegetation.
  5. Species are considered sympatric when they exist in the same geographic range and thus frequently encounter one another.

Panchamirtham of Palani temple gets GI tag

  1. Palani panchamirtham has been granted GI Tag. It is served as prasadam at the Murugan temple, Palani, Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu.
  2. The panchamirtham is a combination of five natural substances — banana, jaggery, cow ghee, honey and cardamom. Dates and diamond sugar candies are added for flavour. It is served in a semi-solid state.
  3. Not even a single drop of water is added during the preparation of the panchamirtham. No preservatives or artificial ingredients are used.
  4. Geographical Indications (GI) is an intellectual property right (IPR). GI is a status accorded to a good which is unique to a particular region or area, and is originated from there.
  5. In India, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, along with the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002 govern GI registrations and goods. These laws were introduced after the ratification of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  6. Good in the categories of a) Agricultural products (e.g. Nagpur Orange), b) foodstuffs (e.g. Joynagar Moa), c) handicrafts (e.g. Agates of Cambay), d) textile (e.g. Kullu Shawl), e) natural products (e.g. Makrana Marble) and f) manufactured products (e.g. Kannauj Perfume) come under the ambit of GI Tags. Darjeeling Tea is the first good to receive a GI Tag in India.
  7. The ‘Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks’ appointed under the Trade Marks Act, 1999 is the Registrar of Geographical Indications. It directs and supervises the functioning of the Geographical Indications Registry (GIR). GIR facilitates the registration of GIs.
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