Conference of Tourism Ministers
- The National Conference of Tourism
Ministers organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism was concluded
successfully in New Delhi.
- The conference was inaugurated by Union
Minister of State for Tourism and was attended by State Tourism Ministers
of States and Union Territories (UTs).
- The conference was aimed at deliberation
on various issues related to development and promotion of Tourism.
- During the conference,the tourism minister
has launched the Hindi version of the new Incredible India portal at the
conference.He also announced that the Arabic, Chinese and Spanish versions
of the new Incredible India website will be launched in September,2019.
- Incredible India is the name of an international
tourism campaign started by the Government of India since 2002 to promote
tourism in India.
- Further,the Tourism Minister also launched
the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification(IITFC) portal
during the conference.
- IITFC Programme is a digital initiative of the Ministry of
Tourism.It is an online programme where one can learn about tourism at
their own time, space,path and pace.
- The successful completion of this
programme would enable the learner to become a Certified Tourist
Facilitator of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
- Union Minister for Health has asked the
Ministers of Law, Minister of Social Justice and Chief Ministers for
amending 108 discriminatory laws against persons affected by Leprosy.
- He stated that the National Leprosy Eradication
Programme(NLEP) has achieved enormous success in leprosy control
particularly in the last four decades.
- He also stated that India is committed for
justice and equality of all individuals including persons with
disabilities as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
- He has also mentioned about the WHO’s
Global Leprosy Strategy 2016 – 2020.The strategy aims at (a)zero children
with leprosy-affected disabilities by 2020 and (b)reduction of new patients
diagnosed with leprosy-related deformities to >1 per million
- Leprosy also known as Hansen’s disease is
a chronic neuro-muscular disorder.It is caused by several strains of
Mycobacterium leprae.It has a long incubation period which makes detection
difficult.Leprosy can be cured with Multi-Drug Therapy(MDT).
- India had launched the National Leprosy
Eradication Programme in 1983 to eliminate leprosy through early
detection, effective treatment and increased awareness.
- In 2005,India achieved the goal of
elimination of leprosy as a public health problem defined as less than 1
case per 10,000 population.
Vettila obtains GI tag
- Geographical Indication Registry of India
has accorded Geographical Indication(GI) tag to Tirur Vettila.
- Tirur Vettila is a betel leaf.It is
produced in Tirur and nearby areas of Malappuram district,Kerala.
- Tirur Vettila is unique for its
significantly high content of total chlorophyll and protein in fresh
leaves.The leaf also has several medicinal properties.
- Eugenol is the major essential oil in
Tirur betel leaf contributing to its pungency.It’s shelf period is also
more compared to other betel leaves.
- A geographical indication(GI) is a sign
used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess
qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.GI tags are given on
the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and
- GI tag secures the quality and
authenticity of a product to a particular geographical origin.It provides
legal protection from duplication.The first product to get GI tag was
bans single use plastics on Everest region
- Nepal authorities have announced a ban on
single-use plastics in Mount Everest region.The new rule will come into
effect from January 1, 2020.
- This decision is aimed at reducing the
vast amounts of waste left by trekkers and mountaineers.
- Single-use plastics,often referred to as
disposable plastics are commonly used for plastic packaging.It includes
items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or
- The ban covers plastic items fewer than 30
microns thickness.These include items such as plastic bags, straws, soda
and water bottles and most food packaging.
- Recently,Nepal government had also
conducted a clean-up initiative of Mount Everest.It collected nearly 11
tons of trash that had piled up for decades.
- Mount Everest known in Nepal as Sagarmatha
and in Tibetan as Chomolungma is Earth’s highest mountain above sea
level.It is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas.The
international border between Nepal and China(Tibet Autonomous Region) runs
across its summit point.
an inverted yield curve means
- Recently,United States and UK yield curves
had inverted for the first time since 2007 and 2008 respectively.This has
led to the fear of global recession in the coming future.
- The yield curve is a graph showing the
relationship between interest rates earned on lending money for different
- A normal yield curve is one in which
longer maturity bonds have a higher yield compared to shorter-term bonds
due to the risks associated with time.
- However,inverted yield curve is one in
which the shorter-term yields are higher than the longer-term yields which
can be a sign of an upcoming recession.
- Recession is a slowdown or a massive
contraction in economic activities, wherein economic indicators such as
GDP, profits, employment tend to fall.
to make FASTag mandatory for all vehicles from Dec 2019
- Government has has announced that FASTags
will become mandatory for all vehicles from December,2019.
- This decision has been taken in order to
promote faster payment of fees through the digital mode so that vehicles
can move through seamlessly, and traffic jams at the toll plazas can be
- However, among all lanes,one ‘hybrid lane’
will be allowed at every toll plaza to facilitate and monitor
over-dimensional or oversized vehicles, where FASTag and other modes of
payment will be accepted.
- FASTag is an electronic toll collection device which is installed in
vehicle mostly attached to the windscreen to help drivers drive through
toll plazas without having to stop.
- FASTag uses radio frequency
identification(RFID) technology to enable direct toll payments while
vehicle is moving.The toll fare is deducted directly from prepaid of
saving bank account linked to FASTag.
90% batteries ending up in informal sector
- According to a report titled ‘Loaded
batteries:Mapping the toxic waste trail”,more than 90% of the lead-acid
batteries disposed off are ending up with the informal sector.
- This means they are not only being
unscientifically disposed and dismantled but are also polluting the
environment in a major way.
- The reasons for shops giving away
lead-acid batteries to informal sector workers were (a)convenience of
pick-up (b)lack of storage space (c)billing issues as it involves time
- Further,the E-Waste management Rules,2016
also specifies extended producer responsibility(EPR).Under
EPR,responsibility of collection of used batteries is entrusted upon
producers,importers and brand owners.
- The report also revealed that most workers
in the informal sector were operating without protective equipment like
gloves, masks, aprons and and shoes which leaves them at risk of lead
- Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects
multiple body systems and young children are particularly vulnerable to
it.However,consumer awareness in general is poor regarding disposal and
processing concerns of used lead acid batteries as well as about the
QR codes for Haryana buildings
- The Haryana government will implement an
ambitious project of installing an 18-digit Quick Response(QR) code
carrying metal plates outside all built-up structures across the state.
- The metal plates will be affixed to the
buildings.It will contain a Unique Property Identification and QR
code(Digital Door Number).
- This move is aimed at enhancing the
property-based tax revenues.It will also increase funds for the Urban
Local Bodies for future development through a real-time property tax
- Apart from tax collection,the digitisation
of records will also enable the government to link other government
schemes and transfer of benefits to citizens using the same QR codes.
- QR code or Quick Response code is a
two-dimensional machine readable code that is made up of black and white
squares and are used for storing URLs or other information.These can be
read by the camera of a smartphone.
for M-sand to be put in place soon
- The Tamil Nadu government will put in
place an M-sand policy.The policy aims to promote the use of M-sand as an
alternative building material.
- The policy will also help to eliminate the
pervasion of sub-standard products in the market through the regulation of
- M sand stands for Manufactured sand.It is a substitute of river sand
for concrete construction.It is produced from hard granite stone by
- Due to fast growing construction
industry,the demand for sand has increased tremendously causing deficiency
of suitable river sand in most parts of the world.
- This has led to the use of manufactured
sand in the construction sector. Another reason for use of M-Sand is its
availability and transportation cost.
- The other advantage of using M-Sand is
that it can be dust free and the sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily
so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.
- Defence Research and Development
Organisation(DRDO) has handed over the design of Mobile Metallic Ramp(MMR)
to the Indian Army.
- MMR has been designed and developed by
DRDO’s premier research laboratory called Centre for Fire, Explosive and
Environment Safety (CFEES).
- MMR has a load bearing capacity of 70
metric ton(MT).It has been designed and developed on requirements
projected by Army.
- Further,it is also portable and modular in
design which can be easily assembled or disassembled.This will provide the
strategic mobility for Armoured and Mechanized units and formations of the
- DRDO was established in 1958 by the
government of India.It is under the administrative control of Union
Ministry of Defence.
- DRDO aims to enhance India’s self-reliance
in Defence Systems.It undertakes design & development leading to the
production of a world-class weapon system.
to set up a committee to study corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board
- The government has decided to set up a
high-level committee to recommend restructuring of the Ordnance Factory
- The committee will recommend changes
required at making the (a)OFB accountable and efficient (b)increase their
production capacity and (c)ensure timely supply of products.
- This committee was formed as OFB with 41
factories functions under the Department of Defence Production.Due to this
every decision and action needs the approval of the Cabinet.
- On the other hand,the Defence Public
Sector Undertakings(DPSU) do not have such requirements and have been
establishing joint ventures and partnerships for technology development
and other things.
- Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) consisting of
the Indian Ordnance Factories is a defense contractor owned by the Indian government.It
is the world’s largest government-operated production organisation.
- OFB predates all the other organisations
like the Indian Army and the Indian Railways by over a century.The first
Indian ordnance factory can trace its origins back to the year 1712 when
the Dutch Company established a GunPowder Factory in Ichapur,West Bengal.
submits compliance report to FATF
- Pakistan has submitted compliance report
on its 27-point action plan to the Financial Action Task Force(FATF).
- This action plan comes in the backdrop of
Pakistan being grey listed by FATF.The greylisting meant downgrading of
the country by institutions like IMF, World Bank and also reduction in
risk rating by Moody’s and Fitch.
- Further,the Asia-Pacific Group(APG) which
is the regional affiliate of the FATF is also conducting separate
evaluation of Pakistan’s progress on upgrading its systems in all areas of
financial and insurance services and sectors.
- These evaluations will determine the
Pakistan’s possible exit from the grey list of the FATF by October,2019.
- The FATF is an inter-governmental body
established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.The FATF Secretariat is
housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris,France.
- The objectives of the FATF are to (a) set
standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and
operational measures (b) for combating money laundering (c)terrorist
financing and (d) other related threats to the integrity of the
international financial system.
- The APG is the FATF-style regional body
for the Asia-Pacific region.APG was founded in Bangkok,Thailand in 1997 as
an autonomous regional anti-money laundering body by unanimous agreement
among 13 original founding members.
shows further weakening, needs larger push: Shaktikanta Das at MPC meet
- The RBI has released the minutes of the
monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting.
- During the meeting,RBI governor said that
RBI had to cut the repo rate by an unconventional 35 basis points to 5.4%
in view of weakening of domestic growth and unstable global macroeconomic
- Further,the governor said that the rate
cut was given the utmost priority as inflation is projected to remain
within the target over the next one-year.
- The governor has also said that the
transmission of repo rate cut by the banks has been inadequate.However,it
is expected to improve in the coming months.
- The Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) is a
committee of the Reserve Bank of India.It is headed by its Governor which
is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy interest rate
(repo rate) to contain inflation within the specified target level
warns against rate cuts, currency intervention to improve trade balance
- The International Monetary Fund(IMF) has
warned the United States and China that higher bilateral tariffs are
unlikely to reduce aggregate trade imbalances as they mainly divert trade
to other countries.
- Instead,they are likely to harm both
domestic and global growth by affecting business confidence and investment
and disrupting global supply chains.
- The IMF has also cautioned countries
against focusing on weakening a country’s currency exchange rate.It said
that this would hurt the functioning of the international monetary system
and will affect all countries.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is
an international organization headquartered in Washington,US.It consists
of 189 countries.It was formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference.
- IMF has been established to (a)foster
global monetary cooperation (b)secure financial stability, (c)facilitate
international trade (d)promote high employment (e) sustainable economic
growth and (f)reduce poverty around the world.