Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has been
awarded the National order of Merit by the President of Guinea. It is the
highest award of Republic of Guinea.
He has been awarded for his exceptional
contribution to the advancement of overall relations and development of
mutual cooperation between India and Guinea and for promoting friendship
and partnership between the people of both the countries.
Earlier, the President had extensive talks
with the President of Guinea. Three MoUs were signed: a) Cooperation in
the Field of Traditional System of Medicine, b) e- Vidhyabharati –
e-Aarogya Bharati Network Project and c) Renewal Energy.
Indian President had also announced a new
Line of Credit of US$ 170 million for Water Supply Project of Conakry city,
the capital of Republic of Guinea.
The Parliament has passed the Airports
Economic Regulatory Authority of India, (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The bill amends the Airports Economic
Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008. The Act established the Airports
Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA).
The AERA regulates tariffs and other
charges for aeronautical services provided at civilian airports with
annual traffic above 15 lakh passengers. It also monitors the
performance standard of services across these airports.
The bill increases the threshold of annual
passenger traffic for major airports from 15 lakhs to over 35 lakh
Earlier, the Airports Economic Regulatory
Authority of India Act, 2008 defines a major airport as one with annual
passenger traffic over 15 lakhs, or any other airports as notified by the
The Bill allows AERA to bid out any new
airport at a pre-determined tariff structure.
The Bill adds that AERA will not
determine: a) the tariff, b) tariff structures, or c) the development
fees, in certain cases. These cases include those where such tariff
amounts were a part of the bid document on the basis of which the airport
operations were awarded.
The Ministries of Earth Sciences and
Agriculture have launched a new mobile application called Meghdoot. The
app has been developed by by experts from the India Meteorological
Department (IMD) and Indian Institute of Tropical meteorology and the
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
The mobile app will provide location, and
crop and livestock-specific weather-based agro advisories to farmers in
local languages. The information would be updated twice a week on Tuesdays
It will provide forecast relating to
temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed and direction. This
information is critical for farmers. The app will also provide advisories
to farmers on how to take care of their crops and livestock.
The app would provide information in the
form of images, maps and pictures. It has also been integrated with
WhatsApp and Facebook to help farmers share advisories among themselves.
The app would be available for 150
districts in different parts of the country. It will be extended to rest
of the country in a phased manner over the next one year.
Further, IMD has developed new website to
disseminate weather and climate. The website has district-wise weather
warnings in easy to view and read formats. It will also act as a
centralized portal to all the meteorological offices in India to update
the warnings, bulletins and other data in real-time.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’
Welfare has launched a dedicated website (www.fallarmyworm.org.in) to help
framers control and fight against Fall Armyworm (FAW) pest attacks.
The website provides tips and useful
information to prevent and control FAW. It also has information on
pheromone traps and lures to detect FAW at a very early stage of
infestation. Further, farmers can buy safety kits, masks and gloves for
effective management of FAW.
Project SAFFAL (Safeguarding Agriculture
and Farmers against Fall Armyworm) is also being implemented. The project
has been conceptualized by the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) and
supported by FMC India Pvt Limited.
The project aims at safeguarding
agriculture and farmers against fall armyworm in India. It seeks to
address knowledge gaps, enhance farmers’ awareness, organize educational
campaigns on prevention of Fall armyworm.
The Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera
frugiperda is an invasive agricultural pest. It was first reported in West
Africa in 2016. In India, its infection was first reported in Karnataka in
It has caused extensive damage to crops in
India, especially Maize. In early 2019, Mizoram incurred an estimated crop
loss of Rs. 20 crore caused by an outbreak of the FAW.
The University Grant Commission (UGC) has
recommended the name of 20 institutions for the grant of the Institute of
The Institute of Eminence scheme is a
scheme of Ministry of Human Resource Development.
It aims at developing 20 world-class
teaching and research institutions. The regulatory architecture for the
scheme has been provided through a) UGC (Declaration of Government
Institutions as Institutions of Eminence) Guidelines, 2017 for public
Institutions and b) UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be
Universities) Regulations, 2017 for private Institutions.
Those selected will be given greater
autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and governance
The public institutions will also receive
a government grant of ₹1,000 crores over period of five years. However,
the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.
Previously, 3 public and 3 private
institutions were selected under the scheme.
An AAP MLA in Delhi has been disqualified
under the anti-defection law which is contained in the 10th Schedule of
the Constitution. It was enacted by Parliament in 1985.
The 10th Schedule was
inserted to the Constitution through the 52nd Constitutional
(Amendment) Act, 1985. The anti-defection law is based on the
recommendations of the Y B Chavan committee.
The purpose of the anti-defection law is
to curb political defection by the legislators. The law applies to both
Parliament and state assemblies.
It lays down the process by which
legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding
Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the
There are two grounds on which a member of
a legislature can be disqualified: a) if he/she voluntarily gives up the
membership of his/her party and b) if a legislator votes in the House
against the direction of his/her party and his/her action is not condoned
by his party.
There is an exception that has been
provided in the law to protect the legislators from disqualification. The
10th Schedule says that if there is a merger between two political parties
and two-thirds of the members of a legislature party agree to the merger,
they will not be disqualified.
Census 2021 is unlikely to collect “caste
wise” data. This is because the Socio-Economic Caste Census had collected
data on caste however, it was difficult to tabulate the data. The data is
yet to be released by the Centre.
The Census 2021 would restrict itself to
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes data.
A census of population is the total
process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing and publishing
demographic, economic and social data of all the population, pertaining at
a specific time.
A systematic and modern population census,
in its present form was conducted non -synchronously between 1865 and 1872
in different parts of India
However, the first synchronous census in
India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken
uninterruptedly once every ten years.
The Indian Census collects Socioeconomic
and demographic characteristics at the individual level and data on
Housing amenities, household goods at the household level
Census 2011 was the 15th National Census
of the country.
The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC)
was conducted in 2011 by the Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of
Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation in rural and urban areas
SECC-2011 data are used for implementation
of various programmes including Pradhan Mantri AwaasYojana-Gramin, Deendayal
Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission and Pradhan Mantri
Ujjwala Yojana etc.
The Reserve Bank of India has come out
with the ‘Fit and Proper’ Criteria for Elected Directors on the Boards of
PSBs Directions, 2019.
The directions mandates that banks are
required to constitute a Nomination and Remuneration Committee (NRC)
consisting of a minimum of three non-executive directors from amongst the
board of directors.
An elected director shall hold office for
three years and shall be eligible for re-election provided that no
director hold office for a period
exceeding six years whether served continuously or intermittently.
The candidates for the post of directors
should also not be a member of the board of any rival banks or the RBI or
any financial institution.
The candidates between the age of 35 to 67
years on the cut off date for the submission of nominations for election
with graduate as a minimum education qualification will be considered.
Further, the candidates should not be
holding the position of a Member of Parliament or State Legislature or
municipal corporation or municipality or other local bodies.
The US has formally withdrawn from a
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty(INF) with Russia.
Russia had also officially suspended it’s
participation in the INF treaty after the US had announced to withdraw
from the treaty claiming that Russia had secretly developed a missile that
violated the INF.
Further, the US military also plans to
test a land-based cruise missile and ballistic missile previously banned
under the INF treaty between August and November of 2019.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear
Forces (INF) Treaty came into force in 1988. It banned both the
Soviet Union (Russia) and the US from developing and deploying land-based
cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. However,
treaty did not apply to air-or sea-launched missiles.
The agreement was signed to de-escalate
tensions as both countries had dozens of such missiles deployed, posing a
risk of an accidental nuclear exchange.
Cruise missile is an unmanned
self-propelled guided vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic
lift for most of its flight path and whose primary mission is to place an
ordnance or special payload on a target.
Ballistic missile follows a ballistic
trajectory to deliver one or more warheads to a predetermined target.
These weapons are only guided during the relatively brief periods of
flight—most of their trajectory is unpowered, being governed by gravity
and air resistance if in the atmosphere.
Department of Revenue under Union Ministry
of Finance is conducting India’s 1st National Time Release Study(TRS).The
exercise is being conducted as a part of its strategic commitment to
improve global trade.
The exercise will be conducted at the same
time across 15 ports including sea, air, land and dry ports which
cumulatively account for 81% of total Bills of Entries for import and 67%
of Shipping Bills for export filed within India.
This initiative will also help India in
improving its Ease of Doing Business ranking on the Trading Across Borders
indicator. In 2018,India’s ranking on the indicator improved from 146 to
TRS is an internationally recognized tool advocated by Brussels
based World Customs Organization (WCO) to measure efficiency and
effectiveness of international trade flows.
TRS is an initiative for accountable
governance that will measure rule based and procedural bottlenecks including
physical touch points in clearance of goods from time of arrival until
physical release of cargo.
It also aims to identify and address
bottlenecks in trade flow process. It will also take corresponding policy
and operational measures required to improve effectiveness and efficiency
of border procedures without compromising efficient trade control.
Nigeria has become the fourth African
country to join the Global Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators. Ethiopia
was the first African nation to be part of this global coalition in
This Coalition was formed to follow up on
the findings of IPBES assessment on Pollinators and Food Production. The
coalition aims to foster policy measures and innovative action on
The initiative to form a coalition was
taken by the Netherlands in 2016 at the Conference of the
Parties-Convention on Biological Diversity held in Mexico.
The coalition now has 28 signatories
including 17 European countries,5 from Latin America and the Caribbean and
4 from Africa.
Pollination is one of the most important
mechanisms in the maintenance and promotion of biodiversity.
Pollinator-dependent species include
several fruits, vegetables, oil crops which are major sources of nutrients
to humans. The availability of pollinators helps in crop production in
terms of both quantity and quality.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy
Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent
The objective is to strengthen the
science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Currently, it has over
130 member States.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention)
Amendment Bill, 2019 has been passed in the Parliament.
The bill amends the Unlawful Activities
(Prevention) Act, 1967 providing special procedures to deal with terrorist
activities, individuals and groups that foster terrorism in India.
The bill empowers the government to
designate individuals as terrorists if (a)the person commits or
participates in acts of terrorism (b)prepares for terrorism (c)promotes
terrorism or (d)otherwise involved in terrorism.
The bill also empowers the
Director-General of National Investigation Agency(NIA) to grant approval
of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated
by the agency.
Under the existing Act, the investigating
officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General
of Police(DGP) to seize properties that bear any connection to terrorism.
The bill also empowers the officers of the
NIA of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases.
The existing Act provides for
investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy
Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
The International Convention for
Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism(2005) has also been added in the
Second Schedule through the Amendment.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has
written a letter to the Law Minister. He has highlighting eight pending
CEC has sought the government’s
intervention in limiting the number of seats from which a candidate can
contest polls to one. At present one candidate can contest from two seats.
He has also asked the government to amend
the Representation of the People(RP) Act to bring the print media within
the purview of the 48-hour silence period before voting and extending tax
exemptions only to political parties that fight elections.
He also highlighted the proposal on making
paid news and filing of false affidavit a corrupt practice with punishment
of two years imprisonment.
He has also flagged the apprehension that
political parties may merely be set up for availing provisions of income
tax exemption. He has reiterated ECs demand for powers to de-register a
At present, the RP Act only provides for
registration of political parties but the EC has no power to revoke that
CEC has also sought changes in the
contribution form (Form 24A) meant for political parties to ensure that
they disclose information even for donations that are less than Rs
20,000.Currently,parties are obligated to provide details of contributions
of more than Rs 20,000.
CEC has also proposed four cut-off dates
for voter enrolment in a calendar year namely on January 1, April 1, July
1 and October 1. Currently, only those above 18 years as on January 1 are
eligible to enrol themselves as voters in that particular year.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) would set
up a Pashmina testing centre in Leh in partnership with the lab of Ladakh
Autonomous Hill Development Council(LAHDC), Leh.
The pashmina products will also get a code
from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certifying their genuineness and
Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool. Cashmere
wool has strong, light, soft and fine texture. Pashmina translates to Soft
Gold in Kashmiri.
The cashmere wool is obtained from 4
distinct breeds of the Cashmere goat namely (a) Changthangi or Kashmir
Pashmina goat from the Kashmir (b) Malra breed from Kargil area of Kashmir
(c) Chegu breed from Himachal Pradesh and (d) Chyangra or Nepalese
Pashmina breed from Nepal.
Kashmir Pashmina has been assigned
Geographical indication (GI) tag under the Geographical Indications of
Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is
the National Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry
of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
BIS was established by the Bureau of
Indian Standards Act, 1986. The Minister in charge of the Ministry or
Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio
President of the BIS.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of
Science(IISc),Bangalore have designed an antimicrobial protein called
This protein promises to kill
multidrug-resistant bacterium called Acinetobacter baumannii.
The bacterium is among those responsible
for most of the infections in hospitals and other healthcare settings and
is fast becoming resistant to available antibiotics.
The protein was developed using
bioinformatics approach. Experiments have shown that it killed the
bacterium by breaking down its cell membrane.
Usually, conventional drugs act by
blocking specific pathways or processes in bacterial cells but bacteria
evolve to gain resistance against such drugs.
In recent times, a class of chemical
molecules called antimicrobial peptides has emerged as an alternative. They
promise to kill bacteria by breaking down their membranes. The new
molecule belongs to this group.
Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary
field that develops methods and software tools for understanding
biological data. Bioinformatics has been used for analyses of biological
queries using mathematical and statistical techniques.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated
every year from 1st to 7th August. It aims to encourage breastfeeding and
improve the health of babies around the world.
This is organized by the World Alliance
for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), in association with WHO and UNICEF. The
theme for 2019 is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”.
Breastfeeding is important because (a)It
prevents infections like diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections in
early infancy and thus reduce infant mortality and (b)It decreases the
risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes,
and heart disease.
The correct norms of infant and young
child feeding are (a) Initiation of Breastfeeding within an hour of birth
(b) Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and (c) Continued
breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a
judicial magistrate can order an accused to give his voice samples even
against his consent in the course of a criminal investigation.
The judgment came on an appeal filed by
petitioner against a 2010 order of a magistrate court in Uttar Pradesh
allowing police to get his voice sample.
Article 20 (3) of the Constitution
mandated that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a
witness against himself.
However, the court said that giving voice
sample by itself did not incriminate a person. Hence, judicial order to
give such a sample does not infringe the fundamental rights to privacy or
The 87th Report of the Law Commission of
India in 1980 describes a voice print as a visual recording of voice. Voiceprints
resemble fingerprints as each person has a distinctive voice with
characteristic features dictated by vocal cavities and articulates.
The National Housing Bank (NHB) has
decided to infuse an additional Rs 10,000 crore into housing finance
companies(HFCs) to improve liquidity in the sector.
This move would enable the HFCs to provide
individual loans for affordable housing.
The government has also approved the
budget proposal on one-time partial credit guarantee to public sector
banks for purchase of high-rated pooled assets of financially sound NBFCs.
Further, the Finance Minister will also be
holding an inter-ministerial meeting on issues related to Micro, Small and
Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).The meeting will consider various
recommendations given by Expert Committee headed by former SEBI Chief UK
The committee has suggested several
measures including doubling of collateral-free loans for MSMEs, self help
groups and borrowers falling under the Mudra Yojna to Rs 20 lakh.It has
also suggested creating a stressed asset fund of Rs 5,000 crore to protect
the sector from distress caused by external circumstances.
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.
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.
India has sought an unimpeded consular
access to Kulbhushan Jadhav. This comes after Indian Government had said
that it was evaluating Pakistan’s proposal to grant consular access to
There are a number of issues on which
discussions are being held between Indian and Pakistan such as (a)will
officials from Pakistan be present (b)will there be a glass partition
between them and (c)will there be an audio-visual recording of the
The consular access was granted to India
after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had ordered 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 he/she wants.
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 War.
HDFC Chairman has said that the economic
slowdown in India which has been due to weakness in consumption demand is
temporary in nature and will pick up at the onset of the festive season.
According to data released by the Central
Statistics Office (CSO), India’s quarterly GDP growth has declined to 5.8%
in the January-March 2019 quarter dragging down the full year growth to a
five-year low of 6.8%.
He also said that the demand for
affordable housing remains adequate as it has been supported by the
government’s flagship credit-linked subsidy scheme and incentives provided
to developers to increase the supply of affordable homes.
However, he said that the challenge is
re-instilling confidence in lenders to support growth since they have
limited funding from non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) due to tight
Further, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
has also cut India’s growth rate projection for FY20 to 7% from
7.2%.Ratings agency CRISIL has also revised its growth estimate to 6.9%
NITI Aayog CEO has said that a huge set of
reforms undertaken by the government has led to the current slowdown in
He said that the reforms undertaken by
government includes (a)GST (Goods and Services Tax) (b)IBC (Insolvency and
Bankruptcy Code) and (c)RERA(Real Estate Regulatory Authority).
He has also advocated a series of policy
decisions to revive the economy such as Firstly, the government needs to
bring in greater levels of liquidity. Secondly, it needs to revive the
private sector investment as we can never create wealth without the
Thirdly, the government needs to get out
of business in a range of areas and it needs to recycle a lot of
government assets such as roads. Fourthly, the government must push for
major structural reforms.
He has also suggested that gas grids,
pipelines, transmission lines should be privately owned. He said that Niti
Aayog had recommended a vast range of public sector units to be
He also talked about the government’s push
for electric vehicles (EV) in the country. He said that the government
would work to develop India as a hub for manufacture and export of EVs.