approves signing of the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements
- The Union
Cabinet has approved the signing of the United Nations Convention on
International Settlement Agreements (UNISA).
- The signing of
the Convention will boost the confidence of the investors and shall
provide a positive signal to foreign investors about India’s commitment to
adhere to international practice on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
- The United
Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on International
Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation in 2018.
- The UN has
authorized that the Convention will open for signature in Singapore and
will be known as the “Singapore Convention on Mediation”.
- The Convention
provides a uniform and efficient framework for the enforcement of
international settlement agreements resulting from mediation and for
allowing parties to invoke such agreements.
- The Convention
defines two additional grounds upon which a court may, on its own motion
refuse to grant relief. Those grounds relate to the fact that a dispute
would not be capable of settlement by mediation or would be contrary to
dispute resolution (ADR) includes dispute resolution process and
techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an
agreement short of litigation. It is a collective term for the ways that
parties can settle disputes, with the help of a third party.
Significance of US Federal Reserves rate cut and its impact on India
- United States
Federal Reserve has announced a quarter percentage point cut in interest
rates. It is the first rate cut since the global financial crisis broke in
- The Fed has
cited concerns about the global economy and lower US inflation among the
key reasons for the decision to cut rates and signalled a readiness to
lower interest rates further if needed.
- A rate cut in
the US is good for emerging market economies and is projected to catalyse
a debt and equity market rally in countries such as India.
- Further, emerging
economies such as India tend to have higher inflation and thereby higher
interest rates than those in developed countries such as the US and
- As a result, Foreign
institutional investors(FIIs) would want to borrow money in the US at
low-interest rates in dollar terms and then invest that money in bonds of
emerging countries such as India in Rupee terms to earn a higher rate of
- When the US Fed
cuts its interest rates, the difference between the interest rates of the
two countries increases, thus making India more attractive for the
currency carry trade.
- A rate cut by
the Fed would also mean a greater impetus to growth in the US which could
be positive news for global growth. But this could also translate into
more equity investments in the US which could temper investor enthusiasm
for emerging market economies in a proportionate manner.
What’s at stake in India’s biggest ever trial of tuberculosis vaccines
- Recently, the
Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) has launched India’s first large-scale
trial for two new tuberculosis(TB) vaccines.
- The two vaccines
being tested in the trial are (a) Immuvac which is also known as
mycobacterium indicus pranii or MIP and (b)VPM1002.
- Currently, Bacille
Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is used in the routine Expanded Programme of
Immunisation(EPI) in countries across the world.
- However, the
vaccine is over 100 years old and has been partially effective in
protecting infants and young children particularly from the most severe
forms of TB.It also provides poor protection against pulmonary disease in
adolescents and adults.
- Further, depending
on the results, the recommendations would be sent to the Union Ministry of
Health and Family Welfare.
- TB is an
infectious airborne bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium
tuberculosis. As per the 2018 annual report of the Ministry of Health and
Family Welfare, the incidence of TB in India was nearly 2.8 million
annually and the total number of deaths by TB was over 5 lakhs.
contributes 27% of the global TB burden which is the highest share
globally. In this background, the central government had committed itself
to eliminating TB by 2025.
Army Launches E
Car to Combat Pollution
- The Indian Army has launched
e-cars for use of its officials. The e-car initiative has been launched in
partnership with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) in a joint venture
of the Central PSUs under the Ministry of Power.
- The Indian Army has planned
to operate 10 e-cars as a pilot project and develop further such e-cars in
Delhi to ensure minimal emissions and efficiency.
- The e-car initiative is
expected to boost further development of electric vehicle technology and
its adoption by the general public in the near future.
- Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a joint venture of four
National Public Sector Enterprises– NTPC Limited, Power Finance
Corporation Ltd (PFC), REC and POWERGRID. It was set up under the Ministry
- EESL is a Super Energy
Service Company (ESCO) and leads the market-related activities of the
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), one of the eight
national missions under the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on
launches initiative to bring indigenous artisans products on its platform
- E-commerce Company Flipkart
has launched an initiative called Samarth. This initiative
aims to bring weavers, artisans and makers of handicrafts to its platform.
- Samarth will support artisans,
weavers by on-boarding them and helping them in the process of selling on
- This includes support for cataloguing,
account management, seller support and warehousing support.
- This move will open up
national market access for these underserved communities giving them
access to a constantly growing pan-India customer base and empowering them
to leverage the benefits of the e-commerce model.
- Recently, Amazon has also
partnered with the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India
(TRIFED) to sell products made by tribal communities. The company also
recently announced the availability of these products on its global
launches India Hypertension Control Initiative
- Indian Council of Medical Research
(ICMR) in collaboration with World Health Organization and Ministry of
Health and Family Welfare has decided to expand its India Hypertension
Control Initiative (IHCI) across the country.
- IHCI was launched in 2017.The
initiative has enrolled more than three lakh patients with high blood
pressure in government health facilities in 25 selected districts in
Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, and Maharashtra.
- This will now be expanded to
cover 100 districts across all states. The expansion is expected to
accelerate the implementation of quality hypertension treatment for over
15 crore population over the next four years.
- The key features of the
Initiative include (a) treatment protocols that simplify quality patient
care in primary care facilities (b) provision of adequate supply of
quality medicines and blood pressure monitors (c) comprehensive training
for healthcare workers at all levels on the latest practices in
hypertension treatment and (d) team-based care for counseling and follow
up of the patients.
- This initiative was launched
as in India, one in four adults has high blood pressure. Among them, only
half have been diagnosed and only 10% have their blood pressure under control.
As a result, a large number of people develop heart attacks, strokes and
kidney failure while in their productive years of life.
approves growing human organs in animals for first time
- Scientists in Japan has
received government permission to grow human organs in animals for the
first study of its kind in the country.
- The research involves
genetically modifying sheep or pig embryos so they cannot grow a specific organ.
Human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are then injected into the
embryo in the hope that the DNA will fill in the missing code.
- The hybrid embryos would then
be implanted back into the original animal or a surrogate and the baby
animal would be born with a human organ.
- This is the first step
towards a future where human organs for transplant could be grown inside
- However, critics have argued
that the human cells could stray beyond the targeted organs into other
areas of the animal effectively creating a creature that is part animal,
- Further, many animals such as
pigs have a shorter lifespan than humans, meaning that their tissues age
at a quicker rate. Disease transmission and permanent alteration to the
genetic code of animals are also causes for concern.
received proposal of consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav from Pakistan: MEA
- Pakistan has offered India
consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been in jail in Pakistan on
charges of espionage and terrorism. India has said that it was evaluating
the Pakistani proposal.
- The International Court of Justice
(ICJ) had ordered on July 17 that Pakistan must undertake an effective
review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction and sentencing and grant
consular access to India.
- Consular access simply means
that a diplomat or an official will have a meeting with the prisoner who
is in the custody of another country. Usually, during the meeting, the
diplomat will first confirm the identity of the person and will then ask
some basic questions on how he/she is being treated in custody and what
- Depending on the response,
the diplomat will report back to his/her government and the next steps
will be initiated.
- The principle of consular
access was agreed to in the 1950s and 60s. The Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations (VCCR) was framed in 1963 at the height of the Cold
- All countries have agreed to
the principle and more than 170 have ratified the Vienna Convention,
making it one of the most universally recognised treaties in the world.
- The Vienna
Convention of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a
framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. Article
36 of this treaty states that foreign nationals who are arrested should
have the right to inform about their arrest at its consulate.
- The ICJ was
established in 1945 at Hague, Netherlands. It is composed of 15 judges
elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General
Assembly and the Security Council. Its objective is to settle legal
disputes submitted to it by (a) states (b) duly authorized international
branches and (c) UN General Assembly
cuts FY20 GDP growth forecast to 6.9% from 7.1%
- Credit rating agency Crisil
has cut the gross domestic product (GDP) estimate for India to 6.9% from
7.1% in 2019-20.
- Crisil has said that revision
in growth forecast was due to inadequate monsoon, slowing global growth
and sluggish high-frequency data for the first quarter.
- However, the report said that
the second half should find support from expected monetary easing,
consumption and statistical low-base effect.
- The report noted that India’s
GDP had grown at an impressive 8.2% in fiscal 2017.But it was derailed by
disruptions stemming from policy initiatives, reforms and rising global
uncertainty including from trade disputes.
- Further, agricultural growth
is also expected to improve with a pick-up in food inflation. In addition,
farmers would benefit from income transfer of ₹6,000 per year announced by
the Centre and farm loan waivers in a few states.
- The report also said that the
banking sector stressed assets are expected to come down to about 8% by
the end of financial year 2019-20 based on lower additional NPAs and
- The report also expects
corporate sector growth to slow to 8% in 2019-20 lower than the
double-digit growth trend of the last two financial years.
approves Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS)
- The Union Cabinet has approved the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS)
rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers for the year
- This decision will help manufacturers and importers formalise
supply contracts for fertilisers and fertiliser inputs and make them
available to farmers during the current year.
- Government provides fertilizers, Urea and 21 grades of P&K
fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer
- In 2010, the government had launched the NBS programme under
which a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on
each grade of subsidised P&K fertilisers. This is except for urea
based on the nutrient content present in them.
- Additional subsidy is also provided on the fertilizers
fortified with secondary and micronutrients as per the Fertilizer Control
Order such as Boron and Zinc.
- Under this scheme, Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of fertilizers
has been left open and manufacturers/marketers are allowed to fix the MRP
at reasonable level.
manufacturing sector growth inches up to 52.5 in July: PMI
- According to Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’
Index (PMI) data, manufacturing activity increased to 52.5 in July, 2019
from 52.1 in June, 2019.
- PMI has improved as new work orders and output strengthened
leading to moderate increase in employment. Apart from this, a key factor
that is aiding sentiment among Indian manufacturers is the expectation of
further monetary easing.
- PMI or Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity both in the manufacturing
and services sectors. It is a survey based measures that asks the
respondents about changes in their perception of some key business
variables from the month before.
- PMI is derived from a series of qualitative questions.
Executives from a reasonably big sample, running into hundreds of firms
are asked whether key indicators such as (a) output (b) new orders (c) business
expectations and (d) employment were stronger than the month before and
are asked to rate them.
- The headline PMI is a number from 0 to 100.The figure above 50
denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes
- The rate of expansion can also be judged by comparing the PMI
with that of the previous month data. If the figure is higher than the
previous month’s then the economy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is
lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate
gratified by cooperation from ‘great friend’ India on Iran: U.S.
- The United States has praised India for cooperating in enforcing the oil sanctions on Iran.
- This statement came after India has brought down the import of oil from Iran to almost zero.
- The tensions between the US and Iran have started after US had withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal that aimed to curb Iranian nuclear activities.US has since reimposed crippling sanctions affecting the Iranian economy.
- The US had announced sanctions to put maximum economic pressure on Iran and through sanctions it eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke its main source of revenue.
- India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil with 85% of its crude oil and 34% of its natural gas requirements being fulfilled by imports. Further, India was the second biggest buyer of Iranian crude oil after China.
Sabha Passes National Medical commission Bill
- The Rajya Sabha has passed the National Medical Commission
Bill, 2019 which seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
- If enacted, the current Medical Council of India would be
replaced by a National Medical Commission.
- The Commission will have four autonomous boards: a)
Undergraduate Medical Education Board, b) Post-Graduate Medical Education
Board, c) Medical Assessment and Rating Board, and d) Ethics and Medical
- The commission will also be responsible for regulating fees and
all other charges for half the seats in private medical colleges and
- The bill proposes a common final year MBBS exam called National
Exit Test (NEXT) to start medical practice. It will also be used for
entrance into postgraduate medical courses, and act as a screening test
for foreign medical graduates.
- The Bill proposes to unify all entrance procedures for medical
courses. The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), common
counselling and NEXT will be applicable to Institutes of National
Importance (INIs) such as the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences
(AIIMS) to ensure uniform standards.
- The bill also proposes to set up a Medical Advisory Council as
a separate entity. It will serve as the primary platform through which the
states will put forward their views and concerns before the NMC.
- The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with two new amendments
introduced by the Upper House. Therefore, the bill will be referred to the
Lok Sabha again before going to the President of India for his assent.
district-wise data, Assam govt. pushes for NRC
- The Assam government has released the district-wise break-up of
the 40.07 lakh people who had been excluded in final draft of the National
Register of Citizens (NRC).
- The data suggested that most people in areas bordering
Bangladesh have been included in the citizenship list, while many in
districts dominated by the indigenous people have been left out. Assam’s
Parliamentary Affairs highlighted this data in the state assembly to make
a case for verification.
- Earlier, Centre and Assam had urged the Supreme Court for a 20%
sample reverification of names included in the draft in the districts
bordering Bangladesh and a 10% sample reverification in the remaining
districts of the State. However, the SC had rejected the plea.
- The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which
contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. It was
prepared in 1951.
- Currently, the NRC is being updated in Assam. It seeks to
identify illegal migrants in Assam who had entered the state on or after
25th March 1971.
- The update is being carried out under the Citizenship Act, 1955,
and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord, 1985.
slips to 7th largest economy in 2018: WB
- According to World Bank data, India has slipped to the 7th
position in the global GDP rankings in 2018. As per earlier data, India
was on the 6th position in 2017. India in 2018 had a GDP of $2.5 trillion.
- US was the largest economy with a GDP of $20.5 trillion in
2018, followed by China, Japan and Germany. UK and France have secured
rank 5th and 6th respectively.
- According to experts, the movement of the Indian rupee against
the dollar was the reason for India slipping to 7th position.
- Recently, CRISIL has cut India’s GDP growth forecast to 6.9%
for the financial year 2019-20.
- United Nations (UN) in its World Economic Situation and
Prospects (WESP) report has also lowered India’s GDP growth in 2019-20 to
7.1% from its estimate of 7.5%.
land dispute: Supreme Court to consider mediation panel’s report
- The Supreme Court is likely to consider the “outcome” of
mediation proceedings conducted by a panel set up to resolve the Ayodhya
Dispute. The Ayodhya case pertains to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid
- The Supreme Court had referred the Ayodhya case for mediation.
The court had invoked Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to
propose mediation as an “effective utilisation of time”. Section 89
enables civil courts to refer parties to alternative dispute resolution so
that the disputes may get resolved earlier.
- The Supreme Court had formed a three-member panel for
mediation. The panel of mediators comprises former apex court judge
Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, as Chairman; and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi
Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, as members.
- Mediation is one of the methods of Alternative Dispute
Resolution (ADR). ADR is the procedure for settling disputes without
- Mediation is a procedure in which the parties discuss their
disputes with the assistance of a trained impartial third person(s) who
assists them in reaching a settlement.
tribunal for all river water disputes: why the proposal, how it will work
- Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Inter-State River Water
Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The bill seeks to amend the Inter-State
River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
- The Bill requires the central government to set up a dispute
Resolution Committee (DRC) for resolving any inter-state water dispute
amicably. The DRC will get a period of one year extendable by six months
to submit its report to the central government.
- The Bill proposes to set up an Inter-State River Water Disputes
Tribunal for adjudication of water disputes if a dispute is not resolved
through the DRC.
- The bill seeks to make the adjudication of inter-state water
disputes more efficient and effective.
- Under the present Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956,
there has been multiplicity of tribunals. This has led to an increase in
bureaucracy, delays, and possible duplication of work.
- The replacement of existing tribunals with a permanent tribunal
is expected to result in a 25% reduction in staff strength and also save a
saving Rs 4.27 crore per year.
hyperloop gets Infrastructure project tag
- The Maharashtra state cabinet has approved a proposal to
declare the Mumbai-Pune Hyperloop a public infrastructure project to
streamline the permissions required.
- It also approved the consortium of DP World FZE and Hyperloop
Technologies Inc as project proponents. It will be executed Pune
Metropolitan Regional Development Authority.
- The hyperloop is an ultra-high-speed ground transport system.
It will comprise of a network of tubes through which a pod may travel free
of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects from one point
to another. The hyperloop is still untested.
- When commissioned, the hyperloop will cover 117.5km distance
from Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in suburban Mumbai to Wakad in Pune in 23
Probe’ Arab world first mars mission in 2020: UAE
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that it will
launch the ‘Hope Probe’, also known as the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), in
July 2020. It will be the Arab world’s first spacecraft to Mars.
- The mission aims at collecting information on Mars and
meteorological layers. It also seeks to study the causes of loss of
hydrogen and oxygen gases from the upper layer of the Martian atmosphere.
- If successful, the will become the first space exploration
programme to take a picture of Mar’s atmosphere.
- The ‘Hope Probe’ will be launched from Tanegashima Space Centre