9 PM Current Affairs Brief – July 20, 2019

RTI Amendment Bill to be introduced in Lok Sabha today

  1. The Government has introduced a Bill to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 in the Lok Sabha. The amendment bill proposes two fundamental changes.
  2. First, it proposes to change the tenure of the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioner (IC) at the centre and state levels from five years or until the age of 65 years at present to for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
  3. Second, it proposes to change the salaries and allowances of CIC and IC as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
  4. The RTI Act,2005 provided that at the central level, the salaries and allowances of the CIC and IC would be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner(CEC) and Election Commissioner (EC) respectively. 
  5. The Government has said that the amendment was needed as the functions being carried out by the Election Commission of India and the Central Information Commissions are totally different. 
  6. Election Commission is a constitutional body established under Article 324 of the Constitution of India. But the Central and State Information Commissions are statutory bodies established under the RTI Act of 2005.
  7. Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The basic objective of the Right to Information Act is to (a) empower the citizens (b) promote transparency, accountability in the Government (c) contain corruption and (d) make our democracy work for the people in real sense.
  8. The CIC is an 11 member commission set up under the Right to Information Act, 2005 as a quasi judicial body. It is the highest appeal body available to applicants seeking information under the RTI Act.

WEF Centre, Telangana govt set to send medical supplies via drones

  1. Telangana Government and the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network has announced the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project.
  2. The project aims to deliver emergency medical supplies such as blood and vaccines via drones. The project will run in partnership with the State Government and Health Net Global Limited.
  3. The project will also help facilitate decision-making in healthcare supply chains, focus on last-mile deliveries and address issues that affect the medical distribution system.
  4. Drones or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) are unmanned aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station.
  5. In 2018, the Director General of Civil Aviation has announced the policy delineating what classifies as remotely piloted aircraft. It also outlined how they can be flown and the restrictions they will operate under.
  6. It stated that drones can be operated by someone who is over 18 years of age. He/she should have cleared the Class X examination in English and should have undergone DGCA ground and practical training.
  7. The DGCA has clarified that no remote pilot can operate more than one drone at any time. Drones cannot be flown within 5 km of the perimeters of the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad and within 3 km from the perimeter of any other airport.

Motihari- Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline will be a game-changer for Nepal: Indian Ambassador

  1. Indian Ambassador to Nepal has announced that Motihari- Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline will start commercial operation by August, 2019.
  2. The 69-kilometre long petroleum pipeline from Motihari in Bihar to Amelkhgunj in Nepal has been constructed by India.
  3. The project will reduce the huge transportation cost for Nepal. The commercial operation of the oil project will also ensure reduction in fuel prices.
  4. The project will ensure smooth, cost-effective and environmentally friendly supply of petroleum products to Nepal and will also help in tackling the oil storage problem in Nepal.
  5. The Motihari-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline project was first proposed in 1996. However, the project finally edged closer to reality during Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Nepal in 2014.

Simplify procedures to attract vendors: Piyush Goyal to GeM officials

  1. Commerce and Industry Minister has asked officials of the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) to simplify the public procurement portal’s procedures.
  2. The government aims to achieve Rs 1 lakh crore in GeM’s gross merchandise volume in 2019-20.
  3. The minister has suggested measures such as (a) incentives for ministries procuring products and services through GeM (b) bringing in technical experts for specialised products and (c) creating more categories to maximise usage of the portal.
  4. The minister has also requested all ministries and government departments to nominate a Joint Secretary-level officer to coordinate with GeM and identify more products and services that may be procured through the platform.
  5. Government e Marketplace is an online marketplace setup in 2016 for procurement of commonly used goods and services by government ministries, departments and CPSEs. It aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
  6. GeM has been envisaged as National Procurement Portal of India. It functions under Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  7. GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-marketplace that enables procurement of commonly used goods and services with minimal human interface.

Union HRD Minister releases Deeksharambh

  1. The Union Minister of Human Resource Development has released UGC Guide to Student Induction Programme called “Deeksharambh”.
  2. The Programme aims to engage with the new students as soon as they come into the institution before regular classes start. The programme will be implemented by University Grants Commission (UGC).
  3. The programme will help new students (a) adjust and feel comfortable in the new environment (b) inculcate in them the ethos and culture of the institution (c) help them build bonds with other students and faculty members and (d) expose them to a sense of larger purpose and self-exploration.

Palau signs International Solar Alliance Framework agreement

  1. Palau has signed the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement.
  2. Palau became the 76th country to sign the ISA Framework Agreement, which till now has been ratified by a total of 54 of the 76 countries.
  3. The ISA is an alliance of more than 122 countries initiated by India most of them being sunshine countries which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  4. The ISA was established by the Paris Declaration. It is headquartered at Gurugram, India. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  5. The alliance is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization. Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members with the exception of voting rights.
  6. The ISA’s objectives includes global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.

Centre raises over Rs 10,000 crore on net basis via CPSE ETF

  1. The Central Government has raised over Rs 10,000 crore on a net basis from the 5th further fund offer (FFO) of the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) Exchange Traded Fund(ETF).
  2. The government aims to raise Rs 1.05 lakh crore through disinvestment in 2019-20 up from Rs 85,000 crore raised last fiscal. Disinvestment is defined as the action of an organisation or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary.
  3. Government has constructed a fund to sell the shares in PSUs. It is called CPSE Exchange Traded Fund. The CPSE ETF is managed by Reliance Nippon Life Mutual Fund.
  4. CPSE ETF comprises shares of the 11 public sector undertaking companies which are (a)ONGC (b)Coal India (c)IOC (d)Oil India (e)PFC (f)REC (g)Bharat Electronics (h)NTPC (I)SJVN (j)NLC and (k)NBCC.
  5. Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) are index funds that are listed and traded on stock exchanges just like regular shares. They are a basket of stocks with assigned weights that reflect the composition of an index.
  6. The ETFs trading value is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that it represents. The ETF is aimed at helping speed up the government’s disinvestment programme.

Paramarsh Scheme

  1. The Ministry of Human Resource and Development has recently launched the Paramarsh scheme. It is a scheme under the University Grant Commission (UGC)
  2. Under the Paramarsh scheme, the leading institutions will provide regular mentoring to help NAAC Accreditation Aspirant Institutions achieve high quality standards.
  3. The Scheme will be implemented through a “Hub & Spoke” model. Under the Scheme, the Mentor Institution called the “Hub” will be centralized.
  4. It will guide the Mentee institution through the secondary branches, called the “Spoke”, through a variety of services provided to the mentee for self-improvement.
  5. The scheme also proposes to provide financial assistance to the mentoring institutions and the option of appointing an expert, who can be paid a fellowship amount of Rs 31,000 per month.
  6. The significance of the scheme is: a) will lead to enhancement of the mentee institutions’ quality, b) mentee institution will also have increased exposure and speedier adaptation to best practices and c) there will be sharing of knowledge, information and opportunities for research collaboration and faculty development in mentee institutions
  7. The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) is an autonomous body that assesses and accredits higher education institutions (HEIs) in India. It assesses the higher learning institutes on the basis of seven parameters.

Lok Sabha passes Protection of Human Rights (Amendment Bill) 2019

  1. The Lok Sabha has passed Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019. The bill seeks to amend the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  2. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was enacted to provide for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Human Rights Courts for protection of human rights.
  3. The bill provides that besides a former chief justice of India, as is the current requirement, a former Supreme Court judge can also become the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson.
  4. Similarly, a former high court judge can also become a state human rights commission chairperson besides a high court chief
  5. The bill also provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
  6. Further, the bill provides for a reduction in the tenure of chairpersons of national and state human rights bodies to three years from the current five years.
  7. The bill also provides for increasing the Members of the Commission from two to three of which, one shall be a woman.
  8. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body which deals with promotion and protection of human rights in India.

India set to sign US-like defence logistics sharing pact with Russia

  1. India and Russia are finalising a defence agreement called the Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support(ARLS).
  2. The agreement will simplify interoperability and enable military platforms to receive support and supplies across bases in both nations.
  3. Currently, India has a defence logistics sharing agreement with the US.A similar agreement was also inked with France in 2018.
  4. Further, if the pact is signed India will be a rare nation that has such a strategic agreement with both the countries namely US and Russia.
  5. The agreement will be most beneficial to the Navy as warships will get access to mutual ports and exclusive economic zones to refuel and pick up supplies.
  6. The Indian Navy which has a significant strength of Russian origin warships will be able to smoothly transit through for exercises using the agreement while the air force will find it easier to deploy aircraft for joint exercises.
  7. Russia can also use ports like Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. Besides ports Russia would also be able to access airbases. 
  8. India could also get access to Northern route and ports in Russian part of the Arctic. India is looking at an Arctic station in the near future and Russia could be partner. Russia has also assured India access to energy resources in the vast Arctic region.

Govt. opposes NEXT for MBBS students

  1. The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the provision in the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill proposing a common final-year MBBS exam- National Exit Test (NEXT).
  2. According to the state government, such an exam could be held for those studying medicine abroad and coming to India for practice, not for MBBS students in India.
  3. The state government has also opined that provisions of the Bill are against the federal principles and undermine rights of States.
  4. Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 which proposes to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
  5. If enacted, the current Medical Council of India would be replaced by a National Medical Commission.
  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.

Assam NRC: SC questions need for sample reverification

  1. The Supreme court has questioned the plea made jointly by the Centre and Assam to extend the deadline for publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) from July 31 in order to conduct a sample reverification process.
  2. The Centre and Assam government had sought a 20 % sample re-verification of names included in the final draft of the NRC in the districts bordering Bangladesh and a 10% sample re-verification in the remaining districts.
  3. The rationale behind the sample reverification is to identify illegal immigrants who may have been included in NRC list, especially in the districts bordering Bangladesh.
  4. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. It was first prepared in 1951.
  5. Currently, the NRC is being updated in Assam to address the issue of illegal migrants. It seeks to identify illegal migrants in Assam who had entered the state on or after 25th March 1971.
  6. The update is being carried out under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord, 1985.
  7. The draft Assam NRC was published on July 30, 2018 in which the names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included.

Summer User Trials of Nag Missile successfully Conducted by Indian Army

  1. The Indian Army has successfully carried out summer user trials of NAG missile at Pokhran Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan. 
  2. The completion of summer user trials will now pave the way for production and induction of the missile system into the Army.
  3. The Nag missile is a third generation fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile. It is an all weather, top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km. 
  4. The missile can seek and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night or under any adverse weather condition. The missile is launched from the NAG missile carrier(NAMICA) which is capable of carrying up to six combat missiles.
  5. The missile has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme(IGMDP).
  6. The other missiles developed under the IGMDP include the Agni, Prithvi and Akash. The Trishul project was shut down after being developed as a technology demonstrator.
  7. Nag is incorporated with many advanced technologies including the Imaging Infrared(IIR) Seeker with integrated avionics, a technology which is processed by a few nations in the world.

Centre rejects SEBI plea to amend provision for transferring reserves

  1. The Finance Ministry has refused to accept the request from the Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) to amend the provision that mandates transferring 75% of the market regulator’s surplus funds to the central government.
  2. SEBI had written to the government seeking a review of the Budget proposal that mandates transferring 75% of the market regulator’s surplus funds to the central government
  3. SEBI said that the proposal would result in compromising its autonomy and its ability to function effectively towards the progress and development of the Indian securities market.
  4. The Finance Bill,2019 has proposed a 75% cash transfer from the Sebi’s general fund to the Central government after creating a ‘reserve fund’ of the annual surplus. The transfer is proposed to take place after SEBI incurs all expenses mandated under the law establishing it.
  5. The Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India.It was established in 1988 and given statutory powers in 1992 through the SEBI Act,1992.
  6. The Finance Bill is a money bill. This means that once passed by the Lok Sabha, it can become law unchanged even if the Rajya Sabha proposes to amend it. In effect, passing the Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha means that the government has chosen to ignore SEBI’s concerns.

Bihar police stations to have separate officers for investigation and law and order

  1. The Bihar police has decided to bifurcate its forces on the lines of investigation and law and order at base level of police stations from August 15,2019.
  2. Bihar police will have separate sets of officers, head constables and constables to look after investigation and law and order.
  3. This will also allow police stations to devote up to 70% of its force for investigation. In less sensitive police stations the ratio can be 50:50 or as decided by the station in-charge.
  4. This move comes in the backdrop of improper investigation and pendency of cases. About 1.4 lakh cases are pending in the state.
  5. Further, women police personnel will also not be posted at police stations which do not have separate toilets for women.

RBI Governor, state-run bank CEOs discuss slow rate transmission

  1. The Reserve Bank of India Governor has discussed the issues of banking sector with the officials of Public sector banks (PSBs) and Indian Banks Association(IBA).
  2. During the meeting, the issue of less than desired level of transmission of monetary policy rates was discussed with the banks. Even though the RBI has cut the Repo rate by 75 basis points in 2019, banks have not fully passed on the benefits to their customers.
  3. The meeting also discussed about giving impetus to resolution of stressed assets facilitated by revised framework for resolution announced by the RBI and strengthening internal control mechanism for improved fraud risk management.
  4. The recent initiatives to address issues relating to non-banking financial companies(NBFCs) and the role banks can play in mitigating lingering concerns also came up for discussion.
  5. RBI Governor has also underlined the importance of expanding and deepening the digital payments ecosystem in line with the recommendations of the Report on Deepening of Digital Payments and the Reserve Bank’s Payment System Vision Document 2021.
  6. The Banks has said that it will identify one district in each state to make it 100% digitally enabled within a time frame of one year in close coordination and collaboration with all stakeholders including state level bankers’ committees(SLBCs),state governments among others.

5.6cr Indians lived outside their state of birth in 2011

  1. According to Census 2011 migration data, more than 5.6 crore Indians lived in states other than the ones they were born in.
  2. UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and MP had the highest ‘outmigration’. Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat had the largest ‘in-migration’.
  3. Among larger states, Bihar had the lowest number of people migrating into the state and most of the migrants came from Jharkhand and UP. Migrants from Bihar moved more towards the eastern states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam.
  4. People born in UP constituted the largest share (45%) of Delhi’s migrant population followed by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  5. In most southern states, people from neighbouring states constituted the largest share of the migrant population. In Kerala, Bengalis (5%) were the only significant non-southern migrant population.
  6. Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand had more in-migration than out-migration. While, UP, Bihar and Rajasthan had negative net migration i.e. more people left the state than coming in.
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