9 PM Current Affairs Brief – July 30, 2019

Parliament passes law banning unregulated deposit schemes

  1. Parliament has passed the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill 2019.
  2. The bill provides for a comprehensive mechanism to ban unregulated deposit schemes and to protect the interests of depositors.
  3. The bill defines regulated deposits as all deposit-taking schemes which are overseen and regulated by regulators like (a) Reserve Bank of India (RBI) (b) Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (c) Ministry of Corporate Affairs and (d) state and union territory governments.
  4. On the other hand, deposit-taking scheme is defined as unregulated if it is not registered with the regulators listed in the Bill.
  5. The Bill define three types of offences: (a) running of Unregulated Deposit Schemes (b) fraudulent default in Regulated Deposit Schemes and (c) wrongful inducement in relation to Unregulated Deposit Schemes.
  6. The Bill provides for the appointment of government officers not below the rank of Secretary to the state or central government as the Competent Authority. The Authority will have powers similar to those vested in a civil court.
  7. The Authority may (a) provisionally attach the property of the deposit taker, as well as all deposits received (b) summon and examine any person it considers necessary for the purpose of obtaining evidence and (c) order the production of records and evidence.
  8. The Bill provides for the constitution of one or more Designated Courts in specified areas. The Court will seek to complete the process within 180 days of being approached by the Competent Authority.
  9. The bill also provides for the creation of an online central database for collection and sharing of information on deposit-taking activities in the country.

National Creche Scheme

  1. Minister of Women and Child Development has informed Lok Sabha about the National Crèche Scheme.
  2. National Crèche Scheme is implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme through States/UTs from 2017.The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  3. The scheme aims to provide day care facilities to children from age group of 6 months to 6 years of working mothers in the community.
  4. The scheme also aims to provide supplementary nutrition, health care inputs like immunization, polio drops, basic health monitoring, sleeping facilities, pre-school education for children aged between 3-6 yrs.
  5. A crèche is a facility which enables parents to leave their children while they are at work and where children are provided stimulating environment for their holistic development. 

Draft rules ready to make microdots must in vehicles

  1. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a draft notification amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
  2. This amendment will allow motor vehicles and their parts, components, assemblies to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots that can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultraviolet light.
  3. This move is aimed at making India free from vehicle thefts and spurious spare parts.
  4. Microdots are a globally proven technology to ensure originality in spare parts of machines and components including in the automobile sector.
  5. The government has envisaged that with microdots becoming a permanent feature in vehicles, identifying them would become easier in case they are stolen.
  6. The microdot technology involves spraying thousands of microscopic dots onto vehicles or other assets to form a unique identification.
  7. Each microdot carries this identification which is registered to the owner, but is not visible to the naked eye. Also, duplicate spare parts have been a pet peeve of the auto industry for decades.

Govt announces welfare board for traders

  1. Commerce and industry ministry has notified the setting up of a ‘National Traders Welfare Board’.
  2. The main objectives of the board will include (a) suggesting simplifications of rules (b) reducing the compliance burden on traders (c) improving access to funds and (d) making recommendations on social security benefits like insurance, pension and healthcare for both traders and their employees
  3. The board will be headed by a senior official from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and will include members of retailers associations and experts in the field.
  4. The board will have a chairman to be nominated by the government, five experts having knowledge of technical and other aspects of the retail trade and 10 members from various trade associations.
  5. In January, 2019, the government had renamed the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) as the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) giving it the additional responsibility of welfare of traders and their employees.

Minorities panel draws its remit

  1. The National Commission of Minorities (NCM) subcommittee in its report has said that it does not have the power to identify any community as minority.
  2. NCM had constituted a sub-committee. The committee was entrusted with the task of preparing a report to provide a) comprehensive definition of minority and b) criteria for determining minority status of a community.
  3. The constitution of the sub-committee came in the backdrop of Supreme Court direction to NCM on defining minority in the context of state-wise population of a community. 
  4. The direction came over a plea seeking minority status for Hindus in 7 states and 1 UT. According to 2011 census, the Hindus are minority in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Punjab.
  5. At present, minority status is granted to Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains.
  6. The NCM in its report has said that the role of the commission was not to declare new minority communities but to instead, work and ensure the progress and development of minorities and protect their religious, cultural and educational rights.
  7. The NCM has also said it has no such jurisdiction to declare minorities. The repository of such powers to declare a community as minority lies with the Central government. Section 2 (c) of the NCM Act itself clearly states that a community is notified as minority only by the government.
  8. The report has also referred to the 1999 judgment of the Supreme Court in Bal Patil v Union of India which had stated that it is not the function of the NCM to define minorities.
  9. The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is a statutory body established under the National Commission for Minorities Act,1992.It functions to safeguard the rights and interests of minority communities in India.

7th Economic Census begins from Tripura

  1. Government has started the 7th Economic Census from the north eastern state of Tripura.
  2. The census aims to get a complete count of all economic units in the country. The census is conducted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
  3. MoSPI has partnered with Common Service Centres, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as the implementing agency for 7th Economic Census.
  4. The data will be collected through door to door survey of each household and commercial establishments under the provisions of Collection of Statistics Act 2008.
  5. The census is the only source of information on the significantly large unorganized sector in the country. As per the last Economic Census conducted in 2013, there were 58.5 million establishments employing around 131 million workers.
  6. Economic census gives insights on the economic activities being carried out across the country, their geographical distribution, the number and distribution of workers, types of ownership and sources of finance. 
  7. It covers all structures across the country whether residential or commercial but excludes certain economic activities such as crop-production, plantation activities, illegal activities, public administration, defence and activities of extraterritorial organisations.

What’s behind Iconic Tourist Sites initiative?

  1. During Budget 2019-20,Finance Minister had said that 17 Iconic Tourist Sites in the country would be developed by the government into world class tourist destinations to serve as a model for other tourism sites.
  2. The nodal ministry for the implementation of the initiative will be the Ministry of Tourism. This initiative is primarily aimed at enhancing India’s soft power.
  3. The initiative will also aim at overall development of the tourist destinations which includes roads and infrastructure, skill development, development of technology, attracting private investment and branding and marketing.
  4. The Centre has identified 17 sites in the country for development under the Iconic Tourist Sites Development Project.
  5. The 17 sites are (a) Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh) (b) Ajanta & Ellora (Maharashtra) (c) Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar (Delhi) (d) Colva (Goa) (e) Ajmer Fort (Rajasthan) (f) Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat) (g) Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) (h) Hampi (Karnataka) (I) Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), (j) Kaziranga(Assam) (j) Kumarakom (Kerala) and (k) Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

Odisha rasgulla gets GI tag

  1. Geographical Indication Registry of India has accorded Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Odisha’s rasgulla. Odisha Rasgulla is associated with famous Puri Jagannath Temple.
  2. This GI tag to Odisha comes amid a years long debate between West Bengal and Odisha over where the Rasgulla had originated. In November 2017,West Bengal was granted the GI tag for Rasgulla.
  3. The GI tag for West Bengal and Odisha Rasagullas recognise two distinct versions of the sweet.
  4. A geographical indication(GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.GI tags are given on the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999.
  5. GI tag secures the quality and authenticity of a product to a particular geographical origin. It provides legal protection from duplication. The first product to get GI tag was Darjeeling Tea.

SEBI should handle proxy firms’ disputes’

  1. Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) had set up a working group on issues related to proxy advisors in 2018.The group was headed by Sandeep Parekh.
  2. Proxy adviser is a person who provides advice to institutional investors or shareholder of a company in relation to exercise of their rights in the company including recommendations on public offer or voting recommendation on agenda items.
  3. The panel has proposed a code of conduct involving a comply or explain approach for proxy advisory firms wherein companies aggrieved by the view of proxy firms can approach the SEBI for redressal.
  4. The panel has also proposed that all proxy advisors should have a publicly available conflict of interest policy. The policy should have a clear approach on managing concerns relating to independence that could impact their recommendations provided to clients.
  5. The panel has also recommended proxy firms to have clear separation between the proxy voting advice to shareholders and the advice to listed companies regarding advisory services.
  6. The panel has said the board of proxy advisors should be independent of its shareholders where such a position creates a serious conflict of interest.

Rajya Sabha clears changes to Insolvency Code

  1. The Rajya Sabha has passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
  2. The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The Code provides a time-bound process for resolving insolvency in companies and among individuals. Insolvency is a situation where individuals or companies are unable to repay their outstanding debt.
  3. The bill 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 bill 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 bill has also 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.

Uttarakhand: Himalayan Conclave being held in Mussoorie

  1. A Himalayan Conclave was held in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. The objective of the conclave was to discuss various issues related to the development of Himalayan States.
  2. The conclave was organized by the government of Uttarakhand with Integrated Mountain Initiative(IMI) as its knowledge partner. The chief guest of conclave was Union Finance minister.
  3. The main agenda for the conclave was conservation of Himalayan ecology, bio-diversity and cultural heritage and water conservation.
  4. The conclave has mainly focused on conserving rivers, glaciers, lakes and water bodies besides reviving water resources which have dried up over the years.
  5. The eleven states belonging to Himalayan Region has sought Green Bonus from Union Government considering their contributions to environmental conservation and to compensate the Himalayan states for their disadvantages.
  6. The states have also asked the Centre to set up a dedicated Ministry for region to deal with problems endemic to them.

WHO says Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal & Thailand achieve Hepatitis B control

  1. According to World Health Organization (WHO) report on World Hepatitis Day on July 28,it has found that viral hepatitis kills 4 lakh people every year.
  2. The report has said that investing $6bn per year in eliminating hepatitis in 67 low and middle-income countries would avert 4.5 million premature deaths by 2030.
  3. The report has also said that total of $58.7 billion is needed to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat in these 67 countries by 2030. This means reducing new hepatitis infections by 90% and deaths by 65%.
  4. The report has also called on all countries to invest in eliminating hepatitis through costing, budgeting and financing of elimination services within their universal health coverage plans.
  5. The report has also said Bangladesh along with Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand in South-East Asia Region has been able to achieve Hepatitis B control. 
  6. Viral hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver caused by five known hepatitis viruses — A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B and C are transmitted by unsafe injection practices, infected blood and blood products, sexual transmission and from mother to child. The infections may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancers.

Karnataka Speaker exits House with plea for electoral reforms

  1. Karnataka speaker has defended his decision to disqualify 17 rebel MLAs.
  2. He asked the assembly to pass a resolution seeking electoral reforms and review of the 10th Schedule as both have to be looked into by the Parliament.
  3. He said that the 10th Schedule of the Constitution dealing with the anti-defection law is not equipped with sufficient provisions to prevent defections.
  4. The speaker has also asked the assembly to amend the Karnataka Lokayukta Act to spell out punishment for MLAs who fail to disclose their assets and liabilities every year. Currently, the act says MLAs need to submit details of their assets and liabilities. But it says nothing about punishing those who fail to do so.
  5. Further, he also sought to know why the Election Commission of India never orders an inquiry when someone declares massive assets to find out where the money came from.

Dam Safety Bill runs into Opposition criticism

  1. Opposition parties have criticised the Dam Safety Bill, 2019. They have opined that the bill would undermine the powers of State governments since Water is a State subject. The Dam Safety Bill aims to put uniform safety measures for dams across India.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. As per National Register for Large Dams (NRLD), there are 5,254 large dams in operation and another 447 under-construction. Further there are numerous small and medium dams.
  8. The structural and operational safety of these dams is crucial because about 75% of large dams are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old.

Lok Sabha passes National Medical Commission bill 2019

  1. The Lok Sabha has passed the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019. The bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
  2. If enacted, the current Medical Council of India would be replaced by a National Medical Commission.
  3. 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.
  4. The commission will also be responsible for regulating fees and all other charges for half the seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

India has nearly 3000 tigers, up by a third from 2014 count

  1. According to the recently released 4th Tiger Census data, India has 2,967 tigers.
  2. The population has increased by nearly 33% since the last census in 2014 when the total number of tigers was 2,226.
  3. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
  4. The number of tigers has decreased drastically from 46 to 19 in Chhattisgarh. There has also been a decline of tiger population in Mizoram and Odisha.
  5. Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014.
  6. No tigers were found in Buxa (West Bengal), Dampa (Mizoram) and Palamau (Jharkhand)
  7. Currently India has over 80% of the global tiger population which stands at 3,159.
  8.  Tiger is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

New norms for ‘trans fat free’ status

  1. The Foods safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has put forward new norms for trans-fat free status. According to the norms, bakeries, sweet shops and other food outlets would be able to use a government trans-fat free logo for their healthier food offerings.
  2. Food establishments can display “Trans Fat Free” logo in their outlets and on their food products in compliance with the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018.
  3. The regulations specify that trans-fat free claim can be made for foods which contain less than 0.2 gm trans-fat per 100gm /100ml.
  4. Trans-fat are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. It is used to increase the shelf life of foods. They are present in hydrogenated fats such as margarine and bakery shortenings, used in preparation of bakery products
  5. The WHO estimates that consumption of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs) high in trans-fat leads to more than 5lakh deaths annually due to cardiovascular disease.
  6. WHO guidelines recommend a maximum one percent total energy intake from all trans-fat and intake of saturated fat not exceeding 10% of total energy intake
  7. The WHO has set a goal of eliminating industrially produced Trans-fats by 2023. In 2018, WHO had launched REPLACE- a comprehensive plan to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat from the global food supply by 2023.
  8. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.

Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary, Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary rated top tiger reserves

  1. The 4th National Tiger Estimation (Tiger census) has designated Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary and Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary as best managed Tiger Reserves in India.
  2. The Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram and Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand emerged as worst managed tiger reserves in the country.
  3. For the Census, the tiger bearing habitats were divided into five landscape regions—a) Shivalik-Gangetic plains, b) Central India and the Eastern Ghats, c) Western Ghats, d) North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains and e) the Sundarbans.
  4. Highest number of tigers were found in Central India and Eastern Ghats followed by Western Ghats.
  5. In India, there are 50 tiger reserves spread over 18 states. Tiger Reserves are protected areas established under the Project Tiger.
  6. Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India in the year 1973 to save the endangered species of tiger in the country.  Jim Corbett in Uttarakhand is the first Tiger Reserve to be established under project Tiger.
  7. Tiger Reserve aims at conserving the habitat to ensure a viable population of the tigers along with their prey base in their habitat.

India has nearly 3000 tigers, up by a third from 2014 count

  1. According to the recently released 4th Tiger Census data, India has 2,967 tigers.
  2. The population has increased by nearly 33% since the last census in 2014 when the total number of tigers was 2,226.
  3. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
  4. The number of tigers has decreased drastically from 46 to 19 in Chhattisgarh. There has also been a decline of tiger population in Mizoram and Odisha.
  5. Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014.
  6. No tigers were found in Buxa (West Bengal), Dampa (Mizoram) and Palamau (Jharkhand)
  7. Currently India has over 80% of the global tiger population which stands at 3,159.
  8.  Tiger is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

Explained: Why India’s tigers are increasing

  1. The tiger census report, Status of Tigers in India, 2018 has been released. The tiger census in India is conducted every four years.
  2. The first tiger census was conducted in 2006. The Tiger Census in India is the world’s most extensive biodiversity mapping exercise. It is conducted by National tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India.
  3. The census was carried out in four phases. Phases 1 and 2 covered forest beats, generally spread over 15 sq km each, by Forest Departments, to collect signs of tiger presence like scat and pugmarks.
  4. This was followed by sampling of plots along the transects to assess habitat characteristics, human impact, and prey dung density.
  5. In phase 3, the information was plotted on the forest map prepared with remote-sensing and GIS application. Sample areas were divided in 2-sq-km parcels, and trap cameras were laid in these grids.
  6. In the last phase, data were extrapolated to areas where cameras could not be deployed.
  7. The tiger census is an important exercise. The tiger numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts.
  8. In 2010, the governments of the world’s 13 tiger range countries put forward the Global Tiger Recovery Plan. The plan outlines how each country could double the number of tiger population in the country.
  9. The Plan was part of the ambitious species conservation goal called Tx2 set up by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). The goals is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.
  10. Since India constitutes 80% of global tiger population, conservation efforts in India is particularly important for conserving the global tiger population.
  11. India has strengthened its Project Tiger programme, originally launched in 1973. Apart from Tiger Reserves, there has been increased focus on tigers even in the areas under the territorial and commercial forestry arms of Forest Departments.
  12.  Further, with increased vigilance India has been successfully able to curb tiger poaching which has helped wild tigers to breed.

Amphibious ship LCU L-56 commissioned into Navy

  1. IN LCU L-56, the sixth ship of the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) MK IV class has been commissioned into the Indian Navy.
  2. LCU 56 is an amphibious ship. Its primary role is transportation and deployment of Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, Troops and Equipment from ship to shore.
  3. It has a displacement of 900 tonnes. It measures 62 metres in length. It is fitted with two MTU diesel engines, which provide a sustainable speed of over 15 knots. The ship is equipped with the state-of-art equipment and is armed with two 30 mm CRN-91 guns.
  4. The ship has been indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE), Kolkata
  5. The ship would be administered and based in Port Blair under the Naval Component Commander (NAVCC) in Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC).
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