9 PM Current Affairs Brief – July 18, 2019

Bill to revamp medical education cleared

  1. The Union Cabinet has approved the National Medical Commission Bill.
  2. The National Medical Commission Bill 2019 proposes to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
  3. If enacted, the current Medical Council of India would be replaced by a National Medical Commission.
  4. 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 Registration Board.
  5. The commission also be responsible for regulating fees and all other charges for half the seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Dam Safety Bill gets nod from CCEA

  1. Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared the Dam Safety Bill, 2019
  2. The bill aims to put in place a systematic procedure to ensure that dams in India are made and maintained safely.
  3. The Bill provides for the constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety. Functions of the Committee include: a) formulating policies and regulations regarding dam safety standards and prevention of dam failures, and b) analysing causes of major dam failures and suggesting changes in dam safety practices.
  4. The Bill also provides for establishing a National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body to implement the policy. The bill also provides for establishing State Dam safety Organizations (SDSO).
  5. Functions of the SDSOs include: a) keeping perpetual surveillance, inspecting, and monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams, b) keeping a database of all dams, and c) recommending safety measures to owners of dams.
  6. The Bill lays the onus of the dam safety on the dam owner and requires the owners of specified dams to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
  7. The Bill provides penalties for commission and omission of certain acts. Offenders will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine, or both.

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

  1. Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), had launched Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana in 2018. The scheme is being implemented on pilot basis for a period of two years
  2. The scheme is for Insured Persons covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.
  3. The scheme provides for a relief payable in cash directly to the Bank Account in case an insured person is rendered unemployed and is in search for new engagement.
  4. The cash benefit given to the unemployed persons searching for new employment is 25% of his average earning of 90 days.
  5. The Employees’ State Insurance Act 1948 (the ESI Act) provides for medical, cash, maternity, disability and dependent benefits to the Insured Persons under the Act.
  6. The ESI Act is administered by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Elon Musk unveils project on mind-machine interface

  1. Neuralink startup has unveiled a project on human and machine intelligence interface
  2. Neuralink has developed technology meant to be implanted into the brain. It is designed to allow people to operate computers and smartphones with their thoughts. It has developed a robot to insert those threads in the brain, under the direction of a neurosurgeon.
  3. Neuralink has planned to seek US Food and Drug Administration’s approval for a human clinical trial on a version of its device that is only intended for patients with serious unmet medical diseases. The first clinical trial will target patients with complete paralysis due to an upper spinal cord.
  4. Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk in 2016. It aims to build a scalable implant to connect human brains with computers.

Remnants of Iron Age in Malampuzha

  1. Explorers from Government Victoria College have discovered iron implements from the catchment area of the Malampuzha dam in the Palakkad district. The iron implements were unearthed from a cist burial found in the area. They belong to the Iron Age in Kerala.
  2. In Kerala, the Iron Age burials dated back to 700 BC. These burials are the evidence for secondary burials which was practised during that period.
  3. The iron implements were spotted during a survey of Iron Age sites and burials as part of a University Grants Commission (UGC)-aided project that began in 2014.

Incredible India Campaign Wins Pata Gold Award 2019

  1. The “Find the Incredible You” campaign (Incredible India) of the Tourism Ministry, has won the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award, 2019. The award was won under the “Marketing – Primary Government Destination” category.
  2. As part of its promotional initiatives annually, the Ministry of Tourism releases global media campaigns under the ‘Incredible India’ brand line.
  3. The ‘Incredible India 2.0’ was launched in September 2017. The campaign focusses on digital and social media and the promotion of niche tourism products of the country.
  4. As part of the 2.0 campaign, five new television commercials were produced by the ministry, which were aired globally on television and social media.
  5. These are – Yoga – “The Yogi of the Racetrack”, Wellness – “The Reincarnation of Mr. and Mrs. Jones”, Luxury – “The Maharani of Manhattan”, Cuisine – “The Masala MasterChef” and Wildlife – “The Sanctuary in Paris”.
  6. The campaign strategy was to shift the focus from the external experience of tourist destinations to the internal experience of travellers themselves.
  7. The transformative experiences was brought out in form of films in the format of autobiographies of travellers, with the tagline “Find the Incredible You”.
  8. PATA Gold Awards are given to tourism industry organizations and individuals making outstanding contribution towards the successful promotion of the travel industry throughout the Asia Pacific Region.

Launching the Broadband Readiness Index for Indian States and Union Territories (2019-2022)

  1. The Department of Telecom(DoT) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations(ICRIER) has signed an MoU to develop a Broadband Readiness Index(BRI) for Indian States and UT.
  2. This index was recommended by the National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP),2018.It had said that a BRI for States and UTs should be developed to attract investments and address Right of Way(RoW) challenges across India.
  3. The first BRI estimate will be made in 2019 and subsequently every year until 2022.
  4. The index will access the states digital readiness both on the demand and supply parameters that would also spur competitiveness among them and create new opportunities in the wireless infrastructure space.
  5. The index would also create a collaborative institutional mechanism between the Centre,states and local bodies and other stakeholders.
  6. The index will consists of two parts.The first part will focus on infrastructure development based on the measurement of nine parameters including availability of state policy on right of way and towers,adoption of national building code,percentage of mobile towers connected with fibre among others.
  7. The second part will consist of demand side parameters such as percentage of households using computers with an internet connection, internet users as a percentage of the population, smart phones density among others.

Reservation of Limboo and Tamang Communities

  1. Government of India has informed Parliament that a proposal for reservation of seats for Limboo and Tamang communities in Sikkim Legislative Assembly is under consideration.
  2. Article 371F(f) and Article 332 of the Constitution of India govern reservation of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim.
  3. Article 332 mandates reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes(STs) in the State Legislative Assembly.
  4. Article 371-F(f) states that Parliament may make provisions for protecting the rights and interests of different sections of the population of Sikkim by reserving seats in the Legislative Assembly for such sections of people.
  5. Further,it empowers the Parliament to delimit Assembly constituencies from which candidates belonging to such sections alone may contest elections.
  6. The Limboo are Kirati people indigenous and native to the Himalayan Limbuwan region of the Indian subcontinent in what is now modern-day Eastern Nepal, Northern Sikkim, India and Western Bhutan.
  7. The Tamang are the largest Tibetic ethnic group of Nepalis and Indian Gorkhas.Traditionally Buddhist by religion,they Constitute 5.6% of the Nepalese population.Indian Tamangs are also a significant number in Sikkim and Darjeeling District of West Bengal.

Extinction of Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican: SC forms panel to frame emergency plan

  1. The Supreme Court has constituted a high powered committee to urgently frame and implement an emergency response plan for the protection of Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican.
  2. The committee was formed on a plea which has contended that the population of the Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican has seen a sharp decline over the past few decades.
  3. The petitioner blamed various reasons for the threats faced by the two birds including mortality by collision with infrastructure,particularly power lines and wind turbines,depletion of grasslands and hunting.
  4. The Great Indian Bustard is a bustard found in India and the adjoining regions of Pakistan.It is found in Rajasthan,Gujarat,Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in India.It is also the State bird of Rajasthan.
  5. The bird is a critically endangered species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.It is also protected in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act,1972.
  6. The lesser florican (Sypheotides indicus) also known as the likh or kharmore is the smallest in bustard family.It is endemic to the Indian Subcontinent.
  7. These bustards are found mainly in northwestern and central India during the summer but are found more widely distributed across India in winter.The bird is an endangered species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

Power Minister reviews first ever Draft Plan for Power Distribution Sector prepared by CEA

  1. Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) has reviewed the Draft Distribution Perspective Plan for power sector in India.
  2. The draft plan is the first ever plan at Distribution level which has been prepared by the Central Electricity Authority(CEA) under the guidance of the Ministry of Power.
  3. The efforts towards making a Distribution plan is aimed at sustaining the goal of 24X7 uninterrupted power for all with increasing demand of electricity by consumers.
  4. The plan lays emphasis on 100% metering of all consumers and providing an electricity connection on demand. 
  5. The plan also envisages frontier technology initiatives with an objective of providing reliable quality power supply to consumers. 
  6. Additionally,the plan also envisages conversion of all Electricity consumer meters into smart meters in prepaid mode within the next three years. 
  7. Smart metering would empower consumers with tools to help them conserve energy and plan their electricity usage in an efficient and optimum manner.
  8. The plan anticipates an increase in Distribution substation capacity by 38%, Distribution transformation capacity by 32% and an increase in different types of feeder lengths by 27-38% till 2022.

Open to improving Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana: Agriculture Minister

  1. Union Agriculture Minister has told the Lok Sabha that the government is working on making Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna(PMFBY) more effective.
  2. The Centre is planning to make changes such as (a)making crop insurance voluntary to all farmers (b)removal of high premium crops and (c)giving flexibility to states to provide customised add on products.
  3. The ministry has also proposed three-year compulsory allocation of work to insurance companies by states to prevent repeated tendering process that delays implementation of the scheme.
  4. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) was launched in 2016.The scheme has replaced the two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme(NAIS) as well as the Modified NAIS.
  5. PMFBY envisages a uniform premium of 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops and 1.5% for Rabi crops.The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.
  6. The PMFBY mandates compulsory coverage for all loanee farmers and non-loanee farmers too are encouraged.
  7. The scheme is open to all food and oilseeds crops and annual commercial horticultural crops for which past yield data is available and for which the requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments are conducted as part of the General Crop Estimation Survey(GCES).

Steps Taken to Deal with Cyber Crime and Cyber Security

  1. Minister of State for Home Affairs has informed the Parliament about the steps taken by the Government to deal with Cyber Crime and Cyber Security.
  2. The Government has launched the online cybercrime reporting portal to enable complainants to report complaints pertaining to Child Pornography or sexually explicit content. 
  3. The Central Government has also rolled out a scheme for establishment of Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre(I4C) to handle issues related to cybercrime in the country in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
  4. The government has also established a National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre(NCIIPC) for protection of critical information infrastructure in the country.
  5. Further,Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) has also been launched for providing detection of malicious programmes and free tools to remove such programmes.
  6. Government has also formulated Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.
  7. The government has also been conducting cyber security mock drills and exercises regularly to enable assessment of cyber security posture and preparedness of organizations in Government and critical sector.
  8. The government has also asked all organizations providing digital services to report cyber security incidents to CERT-In expeditiously.
  9. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team(CERT-In) is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing.

Cabinet okays amendments to bankruptcy code

  1. The Union Cabinet has approved the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill,2019.
  2. The bill places greater emphasis on time-bound resolution and laying down voting rules of the financial creditors.
  3. The amendment provides that the resolution process has to be completed within 330 days including litigations and other judicial process.Presently,the resolution plan for an insolvent company has to be cleared within 270 days.
  4. The amendment also mandates that the bankruptcy resolution or liquidation decided under the bankruptcy framework is binding on central,state and local governments to whom the insolvent company owes dues.
  5. The amendments proposed to rework voting rights in the case of companies where there are a large number of creditors such as homebuyers and bondholders.
  6. According to the new formula,if more than half of these creditors who are present approve a plan,it will be considered that the entire class of creditors has approved it.
  7. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code(IBC) was enacted in 2016 to facilitate a time-bound resolution for ailing and sick firms.It could either be through closure or revival,while protecting the interests of creditors.

Bimal Jalan panel finalises report on RBI capital, surplus transfer

  1. RBI had constituted a panel on Economic capital framework(ECF) to address the issue of RBI reserves.The panel was headed by Bimal Jalan.
  2. The panel has decided to recommend the RBI to transfer the excess capital from RBI to the government over 3 to 5 years.It will also recommend that the framework should be reviewed periodically.
  3. The panel was formed after the government has said that the RBI should hand over its surplus reserves amid a shortfall in revenue collections.
  4. The RBI’s annual surplus transfers are key to the government bridging the budget deficit as it aims to lower the fiscal deficit to 3.0% of the gross domestic product next fiscal from the 3.3% target this year.
  5. The panel was formed to decide (a)whether RBI is holding provisions, reserves and buffers in surplus of the required levels (b)It would propose a suitable profit distribution policy taking into account all the likely situations of the RBI and (c)will also suggest an adequate level of risk provisioning that the RBI needs to maintain.
  6. Economic capital framework refers to the risk capital required by the central bank while taking into account different risks.It reflects the capital that an institution requires or needs to hold as a counter against unforeseen risks or events or losses in the future.
  7. The central bank transfers its surplus to the government in accordance with Section 47 (Allocation of Surplus Profits) of the RBI Act.The act says that the amount will be arrived at after making provision for (a) bad and doubtful debts (b) depreciation in assets (c) contributions to staff and (d) superannuation fund.
  8. The government believes that RBI is sitting on much higher reserves than it actually needs to tide over financial emergencies that India may face.Some central banks around the world like the US and UK keep 13% to 14% of their assets as a reserve compared to RBI’s 27%.

Pakistan must review Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence rules International Court of Justice

  1. The International Court of Justice(ICJ) has ruled in favour of India in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.It has asked Pakistan to review his conviction and sentencing and also grant consular access to India.
  2. The ICJ has found that the treatment of kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan was in contravention of the Vienna Convention.
  3. However,the ICJ has rejected India’s demands for Jadhav to be released.It said that Pakistan would have to decide how to review the trial and conviction of the Jadhav.
  4. Kulbhushan Jadhav,an Indian national was convicted of conducting ‘subversive activities’ for the Indian government in Pakistan and has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court.However, India have denied all these charges and said that he was abducted from Iran.
  5. India had approached the ICJ on the grounds that Pakistan had breached Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by refusing consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.Further,India had got a stay order preventing Pakistan from executing former naval officer.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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