9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 20th, 2020

Union Cabinet approves creation of 22nd Law Commission

News:The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of the 22nd Law Commission.

Facts:

About Law commission:

  • The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Government of India every three years since 1955.
  • The 21st Law Commission of India was established in 2015 and its tenure was upto 31st August,2018.

Composition of 22nd Law Commission:The commission will consist of the following members:

  • a full-time Chairperson;
  • four full-time Members (including Member-Secretary)
  • Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as ex-officio Member;
  • Secretary, Legislative Department as ex officio Member; and
  • not more than five part-time Members.

Functions of the commission:The Law Commission of India shall:

  • Identify laws which can be immediately repealed
  • Examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy(DPSP) and suggest ways of improvement
  • To respond to requests made by other countries in framing their legal system
  • To make measures that shall help to serve the poor legally
  • To convey to the Government its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration when asked for.
  • To revise laws so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities.

Cabinet approves constitution of empowered Technology Group

News:The Union Cabinet has approved the Constitution of an empowered Technology Group.

Facts:

About the Technology group:

Composition:The 12-Member Technology Group will be chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.

Pillars:The three pillars of the work of the Technology Group include:

  • Policy Support;
  • Procurement Support; and
  • Support on Research and Development proposals.

Functions of the group:

  • Render timely policy advice on latest technologies;
  • Mapping of technology and technology products;
  • Commercialisation of dual use technologies developed in national laboratories and government R&D organisations;
  • Developing an indigenisation road map for selected key technologies; and
  • Selection of appropriate R&D programs leading to technology development.

Chief Vigilance Commissioner(CVC)

News:The Prime Minister led panel has appointed Sanjay Kothari as the next Chief Vigilance Commissioner(CVC).

Facts:

About CVC:

  • The Central Vigilance Commission is the apex vigilance institution set up by the Government in 1964 on the recommendations Shri K. Santhanam committee,
  • It was accorded the status of independent statutory authority through the Central Vigilance Commission Act,2003.
  • It is an independent body which is only responsible to the Parliament.

Composition:

  • It is a multi-member Commission consisting of a Central Vigilance Commissioner(Chairperson) and not more than 2 Vigilance Commissioners(Member).
  • They are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Minister of Home Affairs (Member) and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People (Member).
  • The term of office is 4 years or 65 years whichever is earlier.

Removal:

  • The CVC or vigilance commissioners can be removed from the office by the President on the grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity but only after the Supreme Court has held an inquiry into his case and recommended action against him.

Cabinet approves Revamping of Crop Insurance Schemes

News:Cabinet has approved Revamping of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) to address the existing challenges in implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes.

Facts:

About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY):

  • Launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • Aim: To providecomprehensive insurance cover against failure of the crop thus helping in stabilising the income of the farmers.
  • Coverage of crops: It covers a) food crops b) oilseed crops and c) annual commercial/horticultural crops.
  • Premium: The prescribed premium is a) 2% for Kharif crops b) 1.5% for rabi crops and c) 5% for commercial and horticultural crops.

About Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme(RWBCIS):

  • Launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • Aim:To mitigate the hardship of the insured farmers against the likelihood of financial loss on account of anticipated crop loss resulting from adverse weather conditions relating to rainfall, temperature, wind among others.
  • It uses weather parameters as proxy for crop yields in compensating the cultivators for deemed crop losses.
  • Pay-out structures are developed to the extent of losses deemed to have been suffered using the weather triggers.

About the changes:The following changes are to be undertaken in the crop insurance schemes:

  • The time period for an insurance company to work under the scheme is to be extended to 3 years.
  • The Central subsidy has been limited to 30% for unirrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.
  • Enrolment under the Scheme to be made voluntary for all farmers.
  • Central Share in Premium Subsidy to be increased to 90% for North Eastern States from the existing sharing pattern of 50:50.
  • Technology solutions such as Smart Sampling Technique and Crop cutting are to be adopted under insurance for PMFBY.
  • Flexibility to States/UTs to implement the Scheme with option to select any or many additional risk covers/features.

Cabinet clears $2.5 billion deal for 24 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters

News:Union Cabinet has cleared the acquisition of 24 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy from the United States.

Facts:

About Seahawk Helicopter:

  • The Seahawks are a multi-mission maritime helicopter developed by Lockheed Martin.
  • They are deployed by the US Navy as its primary anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface weapons system for open ocean and littoral zones (near shore areas).
  • The helicopters are likely to be equipped with Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes.
  • They can perform a variety of functions including (a)anti-submarine warfare (b)anti-surface warfare, (c)surveillance (d)communications relay (e)combat search and rescue (f)naval gunfire support and (g)logistics support.

Additional information:

Torpedoes:

  • Torpedo is a cigar-shaped, self-propelled underwater missile launched from a submarine, surface vessel, or airplane.They are designed for exploding upon contact with the hulls of surface vessels and submarines.

Cabinet elevates BISAG,Gujarat to national institute

News:Cabinethas approved the elevation of Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics(BISAG),Gujarat as a National Institute under Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology(MEITY),Government of India.

Facts:

About BISAG:

  • Currently,BISAG is a state agency under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat.It is registered as a Society and Trust with the Charity Commissioner of Ahmedabad.
  • Its Governing body is chaired by the Chief Secretary,Government of Gujarat.
  • It was established to facilitate the use of spatial and geo-spatial technologies for the planning and developmental activities pertaining to Agriculture, Land, Water Resource, education among others.
  • However, now it will be an Autonomous Scientific Society under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology(MEITY),Government of India.

UK announces new points-based visa system

News:The United Kingdom has announced the launch of the UK’s new points-based visa system.

Facts:

About the points based visa system:

  • The system is aimed at attracting the brightest and the best from the world and cutting down the low-skilled workers coming to the United Kingdom.
  • The system will come into force from January 1, 2021 at the end of the transition period after the UK’s exit from the European Union(EU).
  • It will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries.Under this,points will be assigned for specific skills, qualifications ,salaries and professions with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.

North East Sustainable Development Goals Conclave 2020

News:NITI Aayog is organising Sustainable Development Goals(SDG) Conclave 2020: Partnerships, Cooperation and Development of North Eastern States in Guwahati,Assam.

Facts:

About the Conclave:

  • It is being jointly organised by the North Eastern Council, Assam government, Tata Trusts, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Research and Information System for Developing Countries(RIS).
  • Aim:To take stock of the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals(SDG) and discuss and deliberate on the way forward for the North Eastern region on those issues.

Additional information:

About North Eastern Council

  • It was created under the North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
  •  Members: Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim.

Explained: India’s ‘imported’ food inflation

News:The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s(FAO’s) food price index has touched 182.5 points in January 2020, the highest since December 2014.

Facts:

About FAO Food Price Index(FPI):

  • The FAO Food Price Index(FPI) is a measure of the change in international prices of a basket of major food commodities with reference to a base period of 2002-04.

How FPI has affected India:

  • The surge in global food prices is reflected in trends in India as well. Annual consumer food price index(CFPI) inflation which stood at 2.99% in August 2019 has reached 13.63% in January,2020.
  • The inflation in the wholesale price index for food articles has also increased from 7.8% in August 2019 to 11.51% in January 2020.

Factors for rise in food inflation:

Domestic Factors:

  • Indian Agricultural production is dependent on monsoon.Hence,poor monsoonal rainfall during the first half (June-July) has impacted the sowing season which led to reduced/delayed Kharif sowing.
  • The increase in the retail prices of onion was purely due to the failure of the domestic Kharif crop.

Global Factors:

  • India imports two-thirds of its edible oil requirement and that is why higher international prices are automatically transmitted to the domestic market such as in the case of Palm oil.

Additional information:

Imported Inflation:

  • Imported inflation is when the general price level rises in a country because of the rise in prices of imported commodities.
  • The two key contributors to India’s imports are: Crude Oil and Gold.The rise in the prices of these two products usually lead to rise in the import bill of the country.
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