First ever International Cloud computing
challenge called the “World Skills India”-International Cloud Computing
Challenge, 2019 is being held in India.
Ten countries- India along with New
Zealand, Belgium, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Russia, Oman and
Ireland are participating the cloud computing competition.
The finalists would further compete in the
45th “World Skills International Competition 2019”, to be held in Kazan,
Russia in August
The completion is being hosted under the
aegis of NASSCOM and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
“World Skills India” is an NSDC initiative
launched in 2011. It seeks to provide a platform to the youth, along with
industries and educators to compete, experience, learn and develop key
professional skill sets required for Industry 4.0
National Skill Development Corporation
(NSDC) is a not-for-profit public limited company. NSDC was set up by
Ministry of Finance as Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The
Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) holds 49% of
the share capital of NSDC, while the private sector has the balance 51% of
the share capital.
NSDC aims to promote skill development by
catalysing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational
According to NASSCOM, in the Asia-Pacific
region, India stands second only to China, as the largest and
fastest-growing cloud services market.
Cloud computing is the delivery of different
services through the Internet. The services are broadly divided into three
categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service
(PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Minister of State of Culture and Tourism
has said that granting of classical language status to Marathi is under
“active consideration” of the Ministry of Culture.
The criteria evolved by Government to
determine declaration of a language as a Classical language is a) High
antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000
years, b) A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a
valuable heritage by generations of speakers, c) The literary tradition be
original and not borrowed from another speech community and d) The
classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may
also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms
or its offshoots.
Till date, Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu,
Kannada, Malayalam and Odia have been given the status of classical
Article 343 of the Indian Constitution
gives Hindi in Devanagari script, the official language status of the
The Ministry of Tourism has identified 15
destinations for the Ramayana Circuit.
Ramayana Circuit is one of the thematic
circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan scheme.
The Swadesh Darshan scheme was launched in
2014-15 by the Ministry of Tourism. It aims at integrated development of
theme based tourist circuits.
It aims at integrated development of theme
based tourist circuits.
Under the scheme, 15 thematic circuits
have been identified, for development namely: North-East India Circuit,
Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit,
Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural
Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Sufi
Circuit and Tirthankar Circuit.
Minister of State for Home Affairs has
said that the Centre has adopted a multi-pronged approach to ensure
effective surveillance along the international borders to check
infiltration of illegal migrants.
Several steps have been taken like
enhancement of physical infrastructure which includes border fencing,
floodlighting, and construction of border roads and establishment of
Further vulnerable border outposts are
regularly reviewed and strengthened by deploying additional manpower,
special surveillance equipment and other force multipliers.
The government has also implemented
technological solution in the form of Comprehensive Integrated Border
Management System (CIBMS) in some vulnerable border areas.
CIBMS is an integration of a number of
high tech surveillance equipment, technologies and trained human resource
to ensure robust surveillance across borders. It is designed to guard
stretches where physical surveillance is not possible either due to inhospitable
terrain or riverine borders.
The implementation of Comprehensive
Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS), was formulated in 2016 after
the attack on the Pathankot Air Force Station.
Two smart border fencing pilot projects
are in place along International Border in Jammu. In March 2019, BOLD-QIT
(Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) was
inaugurated on India-Bangladesh border in Dhubri District of Assam.
According to the data provided by the
Copernicus Climate Change Service, implemented by the European Centre for
Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Union, June 2019
was the hottest June ever recorded worldwide.
Globally Earth was 0.1 degree Celsius
hotter than the previous June record in 2016.
European temperatures were around 2
degrees Celsius hotter than normal. France recorded the hottest
temperature in the country’s history (45.9C). Germany, Poland and Czech
Republic also recorded their highest temperatures for June last week and
experienced record breaking heat waves.
According to experts, it is difficult to
directly link the European heat wave to climate change but noted that such
extreme weather events are expected to become more common due to global warming.
A recent University of Hawaii study
published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that by 2100, 75% of
the world’s population will face deadly heat waves.
The International Labour Organization
(ILO) has released a report titled ‘Working on a Warmer Planet: The Impact
of Heat Stress on Labour Productivity and Decent Work’.
The report highlights how working hours
will be lost because it is too hot to work or because workers work at a
The projections are based on a global
temperature rise of 1.5 degree Celsius by the end of the twenty-first
century, and labour force trends.
The report defines heat stress as heat in
excess of what the body can tolerate without suffering physiological
impairment. It generally occurs at temperatures above 35°C, in high
According to the report, in 2030, 2.2 per
cent of total working hours worldwide will be lost to high temperatures.
It will be a productivity loss equivalent to 80 million full-time job.
The report has said that the accumulated
global financial loss due to heat stress is expected to reach USD 2,400
billion by 2030.
Globally, the two sectors projected to be
hit worst are agriculture and construction, with agriculture worse
The report notes that the impact of heat
stress on labour productivity will be pronounced in countries and Southern
Asia and up to 5.3% of total working hours (the equivalent of 43 million
full-time jobs) are projected to be lost.
The report has said that the country most
affected by heat stress is India. India lost 4.3% of working hours in 1995
and is projected to lose 5.8% of working hours in 2030.
It further said that because of its large
population, in absolute terms, India is expected to lose the equivalent of
34 million full-time jobs in 2030 in productivity.
Most of the impact in India will be felt
in the agriculture sector. But, increasing working hours are expected to
be lost in the construction sector, where heat stress affects both male
and female workers.
The West Bengal government has announced
10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to people
belonging to the economically weaker sections (EWS).
West Bengal was one of the states that had
not implemented the 10% reservation for the EWS introduced by the Centre
in January 2019. Gujarat was the first state to implement 10% reservation
for EWS category.
The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act
provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational
institutions for the economically weaker section in the unreserved
The Act amends Article 15 and 16 to
provide for reservation based on economic backwardness.
The criteria for Economically Weaker
Section (EWS) includes a) annual income below Rs 8 lakh; b) agriculture
land below 5 acres; c) residential house below 1,000 sq.ft; d) residential
plot below 100 yards in notified municipality and residential plot below
200 yards in non-notified municipality area.
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment
has said that the Uttar Pradesh government’s move to relist OBCs (Other
Backward Classes) in the Schedule Caste list is unconstitutional and it is
a transgression of Parliament’s jurisdiction.
Recently, UP government had directed
district magistrates and commissioners to issue caste certificates to 17
Article 341(1) of the Indian Constitution
gives the president the power to notify which castes in the country, and
in specific states come under the category of Scheduled Castes.
According to Article 341 (2), the
Parliament by law can include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled
are those castes named
in the Scheduled Castes
order of the Government of India, promulgated in
The criteria for inclusion of a community/
caste in the Scheduled caste is extreme social, educational and economic
backwardness arising out of traditional practice of untouchability.
According to the pre-feasibility report of
Mekedatu project, nearly 52.5 sq. km of land in the core area of the
Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, will be submerged or built over for the
The Mekedatu project is a balancing
reservoir and drinking water project to be built at the confluence of
Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers, near Mekedatu, Kanakapura taluk in Ramnagar
district of Karnataka.
The project is aimed at solving the
drinking water problems of Bengaluru and Ramnagar district. It would also
generate 400 MW of hydroelectric power.
Tamil Nadu has protest against the
Mekedatu project. It has argued that Cauvery was already a deficit basin
and the construction of the project would drastically affect the lower
riparian State (Tamil Nadu) in getting their due share of waters as per
the order of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal.
Service or balancing reservoirs are those
which receive water supplies that are pumped or channelled into them
The Central Government has ratified the
Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to
Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (MLI).
The Multilateral Convention is an outcome
of the OECD and G20 Project to tackle Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS
The BEPS Project objective
is to tackle base erosion and profit shifting where companies shift their
profits to other tax jurisdictions which usually have lower rates, thereby
eroding the tax base in India.
The BEPS Project identified 15 actions to
address base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) in a comprehensive manner.
The Convention enables countries to
implement the tax treaty related changes to achieve anti-abuse BEPS
outcomes through the multilateral route without the need to bilaterally
re-negotiate each such agreement which is burdensome and time consuming.
The Convention will modify India’s
treaties in order to curb revenue loss through treaty abuse and base
erosion and profit shifting strategies by ensuring that profits are taxed
where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried
out and where value is created.
Further, the US is not a signatory of this
Multilateral Convention as it believes that it has a robust tax treaty
network that prevents treaty abuse.
The United States Senate has passed a
legislative provision that brings India at par with US NATO allies and
countries like Israel and South Korea for increasing defence cooperation.
This legislative provision was part of the
National Defence Authorisation Act for the fiscal year 2020.
The legislation provides for increased
US-India defence cooperation in the Indian Ocean in the areas of maritime
security, counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and humanitarian assistance.
The amendment would also require the US
Secretary of Defence to report to Congress on US-India defence cooperation
and to conduct regular joint military activities with India in the Western
The legislation will also smoothen the
passage of sales to India of high end US military hardware with India
signing foundational compatibility, logistical and security and secrecy
agreements required by US for such transactions.
India was already recognised as a major
defence partner by the US for the first time in 2016.It allows India to
buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from the US on par with other
close allies and partners of the US.
The Lok Sabha has passed the Indian
Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Bill seeks to ensure transparency, accountability
and quality in the governance of medical education in the country. It
provides for the supersession of the Medical Council of India(MCI) for two
During this period, the Board of Governors
shall exercise the powers and functions of the MCI. The number of members
in the Board of Governors will also be increased from the existing 7 to
Meanwhile, the government will soon come
up with a National Medical Commission(NMC) Bill to usher in comprehensive
reforms in the medical education sector.
This bill was introduced after the
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had come across certain arbitrary
action by the MCI in disregard to the provisions of the Indian Medical
Council Act, 1956.
In view of these developments and to put
an alternative mechanism in place of MCI, it was decided to supersede the
MCI and entrust its affairs on a Board of Governors (BoG) consisting of
The Medical Council of India (MCI) was
established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. The Act
was repealed and replaced by the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
The functions of MCI include (a) Maintenance
of uniform standards of medical education (b) Recognition/derecognition of
medical qualifications and medical colleges and (c)registration of doctors.
The United States has designated the
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist organisation.
The terrorist designation allows the US
administration to seek criminal penalties against elements of the BLA and
foreign officials deemed to be aiding it. It will also allow US to ban
travel to the United States for individuals associated with BLA.
The US has called Balochistan Liberation
Army as an armed separatist group that targets security forces and
civilians mainly in southwest Pakistan.
It says the group carried out a suicide
attack in August 2018 that targeted Chinese engineers in Baluchistan and a
May 2019 attack on a in the port town of Gwadar.
Balochistan is the largest but least
developed mineral rich province in Pakistan.It is situated on the western
side of Pakistan.
Balochistan has been the scene of a
low-level insurgency by separatists demanding more autonomy and a greater
share in the region’s natural resources.
The Ministries of AYUSH and Electronics
and Information Technology has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to
collaborate on the digitization of the AYUSH sector.
In pursuance to the National Health Policy
2017,the project aims to digitize the entire AYUSH leading to
transformation in the field of health care delivery at all levels along
with greater research, education, delivery of various health care
programmes and better drug regulations.
The Ministry of Electronics and
Information Technology (MeitY) has also taken various Health initiatives
such as e-Hospital, e-Aushadhi, e-Rakt Kosh, Online Registration System (ORS)
and e-Sushrut for digitizing the internal workflows and processes of
hospitals across the country.
MeitY has also sponsored a number of
R&D projects for development of Medical Electronics Devices and
Systems such as Medical and Imaging equipment and establishing a centre of
excellence in medical electronics.
MeitY has also launched an online
information guide called Vikaspedia, a portal for the various social
sectors including Health and it offers information in 23 languages.
A special force will soon be appointed for
the protection of rhinos in Kaziranga National Park (KNP),Assam.
The force will be known as the ‘Special
Rhino Protection Force’ and the members of the force will be specially
trained to protect the rhinos across the state.
The Assam government would be paying the
salaries of the SRPF members and the amount would be reimbursed by the
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which recommended setting up
of special force.
Kaziranga National Park (KNP) houses the
largest population of One Horned Rhinoceros in the world and has about 68%
of the entire world population of One-horned Rhinoceros.
There are three species of rhino in Asia
namely (a) Greater one-horned, (b) Javan and (c) Sumatran. Javan and
Sumatran Rhino are critically endangered and the Greater one-horned or
Indian rhino is vulnerable In IUCN Red List.
The National Tiger Conservation
Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests
and Climate Change. NTCA was constituted under enabling provisions of the
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation.
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) has won the support of other major oil producing nations
to extend a production cut in a bid to shore up prices at a time of
The 10 non-OPEC nations present at the
meeting included countries such as Mexico, Bahrain, Kazakhstan and Russia
The United States which has become the
world’s biggest oil producer and a significant exporter was not involved
in the discussions and won’t be bound by any agreement.
OPEC is an intergovernmental organisation of 14 nations, founded
in 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi
Arabia, and Venezuela) and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria.
The current OPEC members are the
following: (a) Algeria (b) Angola, (c) Ecuador (d) Equatorial Guinea (e) Gabon
(f) Iran (g) Iraq (h) Kuwait, (I) Libya (j) Nigeria (k) the Republic of
the Congo (l) Saudi Arabia (j) United Arab Emirates and (k) Venezuela.Further,Indonesia
and Qatar are former members.
OPEC’s objective is to coordinate and
unify petroleum policies among Member Countries, in order to secure fair
and stable prices for petroleum producers and an efficient, economic and
regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations and a fair return on
capital to those investing in the industry.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India has
called for greater cooperation between the two countries to accelerate the
growth for the benefits of their people.
He pointed out trade, investment, connectivity
and energy as the three key areas of immediate focus.
Referring to the Rohingya refugees in
Bangladesh, he said that Bangladesh seeks continuous support of India and
international community to put pressure on Myanmar for taking back their
He said that the ultimate solution to the
crisis can come only when Myanmar recognizes Rohingyas as their citizens
and takes over a million of refugees back home.
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
Lakhs of Rohingyas have fled to
neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India after facing religious
and ethnical persecution in Myanmar. This has led to a historic
migration crisis and a large humanitarian crisis.
According to a study by the World Bank, the
turnover ratio of the Indian stock market had fallen from 143 in 2008 to
58 in 2018.
The turnover ratio which
is a universally accepted parameter to gauge trading volumes, is the total
value of the shares traded in a specific period divided by the average
market capitalisation of that period.
The fall had been the highest among most
leading markets of the world, barring the U.S. and the European Union.
Separately, as part of their pre-budget
recommendations to the government, capital market participants had sought
rationalisation of the securities transaction tax (STT) apart from
bringing back certain exemption benefits that were available earlier.
In 2007-08, the government had stopped
treating STT as tax paid and treated it as an expense that led to double
taxation for the gains assessed under business income.
Further, while long-term capital gains
(LTCG) tax was made nil while introducing STT in 2004, the transaction tax
was not done away with when LTCG was reintroduced in 2018.
Securities transaction tax (STT) is a tax levied at the time of
purchase and sale of securities listed on stock exchanges in India.
Securities are tradable investment instruments
such as shares, bonds, debentures, equity-oriented mutual funds (MFs) and
so on and are issued either by companies or by the Indian government.
LTCG is the tax paid on profit generated by an asset such as real
estate, shares or share-oriented products held for a particular
The Chinese government has issued a strong
condemnation of protesters who stormed and vandalised Hong Kong’s
legislature calling the act totally intolerable.
Hong Kong enjoys a “one country, two
systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy, and rights not seen
on mainland China.
However, it does not have full democracy
and pro-democracy events are held every year to mark the handover.
But, this year the annual event follows
weeks of protests which have seen millions take to the streets over the
planned extradition bill.
The changes made in the extradition bill
would had allowed suspects accused of crimes such as murder and rape to be
extradited to mainland China to face trial.
Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841
until it was returned to China in 1997.Central to the handover was the
agreement of the Basic Law, a mini constitution that gives Hong Kong broad
autonomy and sets out certain rights.
Under the “one country, two systems”
principle, Hong Kong has kept its judicial independence, its own
legislature, its economic system and the Hong Kong dollar. Beijing retains
control of foreign and defence affairs, and visas or permits are required
for travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.
Non-banking finance companies (NBFC) who
are under liquidity crunch and high cost of borrowings has asked for
short-term and long-term measures from the government and the Reserve Bank
of India (RBI).
They have asked for a dedicated refinance
window for NBFCs’ on the lines of National Housing Bank which provides
refinance to housing finance companies.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Finance in their 45th report had also recommended setting up of a new
refinance institution for NBFCs.
NBFCs have said that liquidity window for
them will not only help the sector come out of the crisis, it will also
infuse confidence among lenders and borrowers thereby pushing consumption
demand in the economy.
Since 1999, the RBI had allowed all banks
lending to NBFCs for on-lending to the priority sector to be treated as
priority sector lending by banks.
This gave a huge incentive to banks to
lend to NBFCs. While it ensured sufficient bank funding to NBFCs at a
reasonable cost, it also facilitated banks to meet their PSL targets. However,
this was withdrawn in 2011.NBFCs have asked the same arrangement may be
Further, they have also asked the
government to allow RBI registered small & medium sized NBFCs to avail
refinance from MUDRA.
The government has proposed Rs 74,000
crore bailout package for state-run telecommunication companies Bharat
Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL).
The scheme involves an attractive exit
package of an additional five percent compensation (ex-gratia) and
provisions for 4G spectrum and capital expenditure.
BSNL is India’s largest loss-making
state-run entity. MTNL comes third with. Only national carrier Air India
has a higher loss than MTNL.
BSNL and MTNL have been struggling to
compete with private players in the sector due to high costs and poor
management. Neither company has rolled out 4G services.
Further, average revenue per user(ARPU) of
these two telcos stands at Rs 38 compared to Rs 70 for private players.
The government is considering lowering the
retirement age to 58 from 60 and offering a decent exit package which will
lower the cost at the loss-making companies.
The government is also evaluating the
option of monetising assets such as towers, land bank and optical fibre of
BSNL and MTNL.
The government has also said that the
bailout is a better option than closing the two PSUs. This is because
strategic divestment might not find too many buyers given the financial
pressure in the telecom sector.