9 PM Current Affairs Brief – July 13, 2019

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Defence Ministry signs MoU with IPFC and NRDC

  1. Defence Ministry has signed an MOU with the Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell (IPFC) and National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) in connection to the mission Raksha Gyan Shakti.
  2. The MOU aims to bridge the capacity shortfall and provide a major fillip to the ongoing efforts of the Defence Ministry towards promoting a culture of Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the Defence industry.
  3. Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti has been instituted by the Department of Defence Production as a part of the ongoing initiatives to enhance self-reliance in defence. The mission aims to provide a boost to the IPR culture in indigenous defence industry.
  4. The Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) has been entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the programme.
  5. Under this mission, an IPFC has been established under the aegis of DGQA which has within a short span of a year achieved the challenging target of training more than 12,000 personnel on IPR and facilitating the filing of more than 1000 new IPR applications.
  6. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) provide certain exclusive rights to the inventors or creators of that property in order to enable them to reap commercial benefits from their creative efforts or reputation. There are several types of intellectual property protection such as patent, copyright, trademark among others.
  7. NRDC was established in 1953 by the Government of India with the primary objective to promote, develop and commercialise the technologies, inventions and patents from various national institutions and Universities. It is presently working under the administrative control of Ministry of Science & Technology.
  8. DGQA works under Ministry of Defence. This organisation provides Quality Assurance (QA) cover for the entire range of Arms, Ammunitions, Equipments and Stores supplied to Armed Forces.

U.S. will consider ‘301 probe’ on India, says trade official

  1. Indian and United States Trade Representative (USTR) has held discussions on various trade and economic issues.
  2. Deputy USTR has said that the US will consider 301 investigation against India if the trade issues between the two countries are not resolved.
  3. 301 probe is employed as a precursor to tariffs and other trade measures against a country. It can result in the U.S imposing tariffs or taking other trade action against its trading partners if the parties do not come to a settlement.
  4. Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act, 1974 was also authorised in a 2017 probe that resulted in tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. Earlier this week, the USTR had announced a 301 probe against France on a digital services tax.
  5. Recently, French had imposed a digital service tax of 3% on internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook. This was done to stop multinationals from avoiding taxes by setting up headquarters in low-tax European Union (EU) countries.
  6. However, deputy USTR has also said that India finalising data localisation policies could be deal-breaker across the board between the two countries.
  7. Data localisation refer to regulations that dictate how data on a nation’s citizens is collected, processed and stored inside the country.
  8. In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had asked payment firms to ensure their data are stored exclusively on local servers. This had affected US foreign firms such as MasterCard and Visa.

Setting up of Neutrino Observatory

  1. The Government of India has approved a project to build the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) at Pottipuram in Theni District of Tamil Nadu.
  2. neutrino is a subatomic particle with no electric charge. They are considered to be the second most abundant particle in the universe after photons or light particles.
  3. Neutrinos were initially thought to be massless particles but recent experiments suggest that they indeed have a very small mass.
  4. Currently, three types of neutrinos called flavors are known: (a) Electron Neutrino (b) Muon Neutrino and (c) Tauon Neutrino Further, Neutrinos can change from one flavor to another as they travel. This process is called neutrino oscillation.
  5. Neutrinos are important as they hold the key to several important and fundamental questions on the origin of the Universe and the energy production in stars. 
  6. Further, if the properties of neutrinos can be studied better, they can also be used in astronomy to discover what the universe is made up of.
  7. The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is a proposed science underground laboratory. Its primary goal is to study the properties and interactions of neutrinos.
  8. INO project is jointly supported by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST) with DAE acting as the nodal agency. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai is the host institute for INO project.
  9. The objective of INO is to study neutrinos produced from cosmic rays in Earth’s atmosphere to make precision measurements of the parameters related to neutrino oscillations.
  10. INO will also study mass ordering of three types of neutrino by using Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector.

International Cooperation Scheme

  1. The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is implementing International Cooperation(IC) Scheme. 
  2. The objectives of the scheme are (a) technology infusion and up gradation of Indian MSMEs (b) modernization of MSMEs and (c) promotion of the exports of MSMEs.
  3. The scheme can be availed by (a) Central or State Government Organisations (b) Enterprise of Industry Associations and (c) registered societies or Trusts and Organisations which are associated with promoting and developing MSME.
  4. The Scheme supports MSMEs by (a) way of participation in international events for exploring export opportunities (b) access to international business networks (c) technology upgradation/modernization (d) improved competitiveness and (e) awareness of better manufacturing practices etc.
  5. The MSMEs are small sized entities defined in terms of their size of investment. The MSMEs are classified in terms of investment made in plant and machinery if they are operating in the manufacturing sector and investment in equipment for service sector companies.
  6. However, MSME (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which has not been passed yet proposes a uniform classification for all MSMEs. Under the Bill, all MSMEs whether they are manufacturing or service-providing enterprises will be classified on the basis of their annual turnover.

RPF launched “Operation Thirst”

  1. Railway Protection Force (RPF) has launched a program called “Operation Thirst”.
  2. The program aims to stop selling of unauthorised Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) in railway premises.
  3. During the operation, which was carried out on 8 and 9 July 2019 fines were imposed on those found guilty and many were arrested. The bottles were seized under section 144 and section 153 of Indian Railway Act.
  4. Further, stalls on platforms were also found selling packaged drinking water bottles of brands which are not authorised by the Indian Railway.
  5. The RPF is a security force established by the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957.It was established for the better protection and security of railway property.
  6. RPF has the power to search, arrest, investigate and prosecute but the ultimate power rests in the hands of the Government Railway Police. The force is under the authority of the Indian Ministry of Railways.

India, Russia discuss space cooperation

  1. India and Russia has held high-level talks to elevate bilateral cooperation to the next level in the field of space.
  2. Russia has promised all assistance for India’s Human Space Flight Mission Gaganyaan.
  3. Gaganyaan is India’s first Human Space Flight Programme to be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022. 
  4. The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission. So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions.
  5. Russia has also said that it would like to see India participate in the International Space Station(ISS) and offered its full support for this purpose.
  6. The ISS is a space station or a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (European Union) and CSA (Canada).

India to handover 200 houses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

  1. India has handed over 250 pre-fabricated houses to Myanmar. These houses were built for the displaced Rohingya returnees from Bangladesh.
  2. The Indian government had taken up the project under its Rakhine State Development Programme (RSDP) under which $25 million was allocated for a period of five years.
  3. The MOU on RSDP was signed between India and Myanmar in December 2017.It aims to contribute to the socio-economic development of the area.
  4. The programme includes creation of infrastructure in the areas of education, health, agriculture and allied activities, agro-processing, community development sectors and related training in these areas.
  5. Further, India’s support to Rohingyas comes even as India supports Bangladesh under Operation Insaniyat to deal with the massive influx of refugees.
  6. Rohingya is an ethnic group largely comprising Muslims who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine. In Myanmar, they are they are classified as “resident foreigners” or as “associate citizens”
  7. Lakhs of Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India after facing religious and ethnical persecution in Myanmar.

India’s Anshula Kant is World Bank MD and CFO

  1. The World Bank has announced the appointment of Anshula Kant as Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank Group.
  2. She is currently the Managing Director of the State Bank of India (SBI). She will also be the first woman Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank.
  3. The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington D.C and work closely with each other.
  4. The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. It comprises two institutions : (a) the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the (b) International Development Association (IDA).The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.
  5. The World Bank’s most recent stated goal is the reduction of poverty. As of November 2018, the largest recipients of World bank loans were India and China through loans from IBRD.

India,Pakistan officials to meet at Wagah for talks on Kartarpur

  1. Indian and Pakistani officials will meet at Wagah border to hold discussions on the Kartarpur corridor.
  2. The discussion would happen on the modalities for movement of pilgrims and resolve outstanding technical issues related to alignment and infrastructure along the corridor.
  3. India will raise concerns such as (a) the numbers of pilgrims to be allowed daily (b) the paper-work required and (c) building of a bridge over a flood-prone creek.
  4. Further, India’s objections to inclusion of a Khalistani separatist in a committee set up by Pakistan on the project will also be raised at the meeting.
  5. The Kartarpur Corridor is a 4km long proposed corridor comprising border gates, road and a bridge to link Dera Baba Nanak gurdwara in Gurdaspur district in India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan. It is aimed at allowing the easy movement of Sikh pilgrims to the Kartarpur gurdwara.
  6. The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of River Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore. It is revered as Guru Nanak’s final resting place.
  7. India wants the corridor to be ready in time for pilgrims to visit Kartarpur to celebrate Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November, 2019.

IIP dips to 3.1% in May on slowdown

  1. India’s Index of industrial production (IIP) has slowed down to 3.1% in May, 2019.The IIP was 4.3% in April, 2019.
  2. This decline has happened due to slowdown in manufacturing and mining sector.
  3. However, IIP growth remained stable due to improvement in the growth of electricity generation and fast moving consumer goods sector.
  4. IIP measures industrial output growth. The IIP is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity and manufacturing.
  5. IIP is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) six weeks after the reference month ends. The base year of the IIP has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April, 2017.
  6. The eight core Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage are (a) Refinery Products (b) Electricity (c) Steel (d) Coal (e) Crude Oil (f) Natural Gas (g) Cement and (h) Fertilizers.

High food prices push retail inflation to eight-month high of 3.18% in June

  1. According to the data released from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), retail inflation has reached an eight-month high of 3.18% in June, 2019.
  2. This is mainly due to costlier food items. As per the data, Inflation in the food basket rose to 2.17% in June, 2019 up from 1.83% in May 2019.
  3. Retail inflation is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).It reflects changes in the retail prices of specified goods and services over a time period which are traded by particular consumer group. 
  4. CPI data is released monthly by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which functions under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  5. There are four types of CPI: a) CPI-IW (Industrial Worker), b) CPI-UNME (Urban Non-Manual Employees), c) CPI-AL (Agricultural Labourers) and d) CPI-RL (Rural Labourers)
  6. RBI has adopted CPI as the key measure for determining inflation situation of Indian economy on the recommendation of Urjit Patel Committee.

ISRO’s lunar touchdown has dry run on soil fetched from Tamil Nadu

  1. ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2’s lander and rover has been tested on a simulated surface at Lunar Terrain Test Facility (LTTF) in Bengaluru.
  2. Chandrayaan-2, India’s second Moon mission, will be launched on July 15, 2019
  3. Chandrayaan 2 will comprise of an Orbiter, Lander named ‘Vikram’ and Rover named ‘Pragyan’. The orbiter will circle the moon and provide information about its surface.
  4. The lander will carry a camera, a seismometer, a thermal instrument and a NASA-supplied laser retroreflector that will help calculate the distance between the Earth and the moon
  5. The lander will make a soft landing near the lunar South and send out the rover. The rover will be used mostly for in situ experiments. Only Russia, USA and China have soft landed on moon so far.
  6. Chandrayaan-2 will launch aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, (GSLV -MK III) rocket. The GSLV-Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle that has been designed to carry four-tonne class satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  7. Chandrayaan-2 is a follow-up mission from the Chandrayaan-1 mission- India’s first lunar mission. It was launched in October 2008 and operated till August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor.

LaQshya

  1. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had launched LaQshya (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) in 2018.
  2. The initiative aims at improving quality of care in labour room and maternity Operation Theatre (OT) in public health facilities.
  3. The objectives of LaQshya are a) To reduce maternal and newborn mortality & morbidity due to haemorrhage, retained placenta, obstructed labour, newborn sepsis, etc., b) To improve Quality of care during the delivery and immediate post-partum care, stabilization of complications and ensure timely referrals, and enable an effective two-way follow-up system and c) To enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries visiting the health facilities and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending the public health facilities.
  4. Under the initiative, a multi-pronged strategy has been adopted such as – a) improving infrastructure up-gradation, b) ensuring availability of essential equipment, c) providing adequate human resources, d) capacity building of health care workers and e) improving quality processes in the labour room.

Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm

  1. Population Regulation Bill, 2019 has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha. It is a private member bill.
  2. The bill seeks to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.
  3. It has suggested that people with more than two living children should be “disqualified” from being chosen as an MP, MLA or a member of any body of the local self-government after the commencement of the Act.
  4. It has also suggested that government employees should give an undertaking that she or he will not procreate more than two children.
  5. Further, it has said that those government employees who have more than two children on or before the commencement of the Act should be exempted.
  6. Other penalties include reduction in subsidies on loans and interest rates on savings instruments, reduction in benefits under the public distribution system, and higher than normal interest rates for availing loans from banks and financial institutions.
  7. The bill has also listed out several benefits for Central and public sector enterprise employees who adopt the two-child norm “by undergoing sterilization operation himself or of the spouse”.
  8. A Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a Minister in the Union Cabinet is called a Private Member. Bills introduced by such members are called Private Member’s Bills (PMB). A PMB can be introduced in either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.
  9. Bills introduced by ministers are called Government Bills. Unlike a Government Bill, a PMB is not discussed by the Council of Ministers internally.

How to save water the old Way

  1. Recently, urged all Indians to take collective action to conserve water and requested to share traditional methods of water conservation. The following are few traditional methods of water conservation in India:
  2. Naula (Uttarakhand): It is a naturally-occurring water aquifer. It is a stone-lined tank which catches dripping water from springs and streams. Sculptures of Lord Vishnu or any local deity are usually carved onto the walls of the Naula to declare it a sacred site and prevent it from being polluted.
  3. Tankas (Rajasthan): It is a cylindrical paved underground pit into which rainwater from rooftops, courtyards or artificially prepared catchments flows.
  4. Surangas (Kerala): It is basically a tunnel dug through a laterite hillock through which water seeps out and into the tunnel.
  5. Ahar Pynes (Bihar): Ahars are reservoirs with embankments on three sides that are built at the end of diversion channels. Pynes are artificial rivulets led off from rivers to collect water in the ahars for irrigation in the dry months.
  6. Panam Keni (Waynad, Kerala): Wooden cylinders are made by soaking the stems of toddy palms in water for a long time so that the core rots away until only the hard outer layer remains. These cylinders, are then immersed in groundwater springs located in fields and forests.
  7. Zing (Ladakh): They are small tanks that collect melting glacier water. A network of guiding channels brings water from the glacier to the tank.

India again abstains at U.N. vote on LGBTQ Independent Expert, draws criticism

  1. Despite decriminalising homosexuality, India has abstained from voting in favour of LGBTQ rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council. India had also abstained during the 2016 vote on appointment of the Independent Expert.
  2. A resolution was moved by Latin American states seeking to renew the mandate of independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).
  3. The resolution received support from most of the member countries. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Qatar, Somalia opposed the resolution.
  4. In September 2018, the Supreme Court had decriminalised same-sex relationships in India by partially striking down the provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  5. Section 377 criminalised voluntary carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal. Though the law did not explicitly mention LGBTQI community, the phrase “against the order of nature” came to be referred for same-sex sexual relations.
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