9 PM Current Affairs Brief – June 20, 2019

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Panel will study the ‘1 nation, 1 poll’ issue

  1. Prime Minister has said that a panel will be formed to examine the issue of ‘One Country, One Election’. The panel will come up with the suggestions in a time-bound manner.
  2. One Country, One Election is the method of holding single elections for both Lok Sabha and States instead of separate and continuous elections.
  3. Simultaneous elections are not new to India. They were the norm until 1967.But following dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 and that of the Lok Sabha in December 1970, elections to State Assemblies and Parliament have been held separately.
  4. The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls was mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in 1983.The Law Commission’s Report also referred to it in 1999.
  5. Simultaneous polls are needed as it (a) will reduce the enormous costs involved in separate elections (b) It will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in election mode (c) boost voter turnout and (d) Frees up security forces for deployment in their core areas.
  6. The arguments against the simultaneous polls are (a) National and state issues are different and holding simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters (b) Since elections will be held once in five years, it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people.
  7. Further, when an election in a State is postponed until the synchronised phase, President’s rule will have to be imposed in the interim period in that state. This will be a blow to democracy and federalism.
  8. One Nation One Poll’ is a good idea for Indian polity but its feasibility needs to be thoroughly examined by involving all the stakeholders in debate and discussion.

WHO launches tool for safer use of antibiotics, curb resistance

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a global campaign that urges countries to adopt its new online tool known as ‘AWaRe’.
  2. The tool is aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively. It’s another objective is to limit drugs that are at risk of resistance.
  3. The tool ‘AWaRe’ classifies antibiotics into three groups (a) Access— antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections (b) Watch— antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system and (c)Reserve— antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.
  4. The campaign aims to achieve a 60% increase in the use of antibiotics under the Access group which are cheap drugs that target a specific microorganism rather than several.
  5. The access group will also lower the risk of resistance and also reduce the use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance from the Watch and Reserve groups.
  6. According to British government’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and is estimated to kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide.
  7. The threat continues to escalate globally because more than 50% of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately, such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong broader spectrum antibiotic.

India to host international workshop on piracy related issues

  1. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will be co-hosting an international workshop that aims to deepen knowledge on issues related to piracy and armed robbery.
  2. The workshop has been organised in cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC).
  3. ReCAAP is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery in Asia.
  4. The Agreement entered into force on 4 September 2006.Till now,20 States (14 Asian countries,4 European countries, Australia, the USA) have become Contracting Parties to ReCAAP.
  5. India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, South Korea, ASEAN countries except Malaysia and Indonesia are the 14 Asian countries.
  6. Further, the four European countries are Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
  7. The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) was established for exchanging information among Contracting Parties on incidents of piracy and armed robbery, supports capacity building efforts of Contracting Parties, and for cooperative arrangements.
  8. The Indian Coast Guard was established in 1978 by the Coast Guard Act,1978 of as an independent armed force of India. The organization is headed by the Director General Indian Coast Guard (DGICG).

PM’s panel rejects former CEA’s paper on GDP growth

  1. PM Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) has challenged former chief economic advisor (CEA) claim that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) was overestimated for most of this decade.
  2. Recently, former CEA had said that India’s GDP growth in the period 2011-12 to 2016-17 is likely to have been overestimated. He said that the growth during that period was actually 4.5% rather than the 7%.
  3. He said this because India had changed its data sources and methodology for estimating real gross domestic product (GDP) for the period since 2011-12.
  4. The problems with the new methodology was that the growth numbers no longer correlated with other indicators of economic growth such as (a) electricity consumption (b) two-wheeler sales (c) airline passenger traffic (d) index of industrial production and (e) export figures.
  5. However, the EAC asserted that India’s GDP estimation methodology is on par with its global standing while highlighting that former CEC used 17 high-frequency indicators but ignored the representation of the services sector (60% in GDP) and the agriculture sector (18%) in the analysis.
  6. The EAC also said that former CEC chose to overlook tax data. They said that tax data is not collected through surveys or by agencies but through arcane techniques. These are hard numbers and should be an important indicator of growth.
  7. Further, EAC said that there was an institutional bias against the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) as majority of the 17 indicators have been taken directly from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy(CMIE) which is a private agency that is not a primary source of information but collects it from different sources.
  8. PMEAC is a non-constitutional, non-permanent and independent body constituted to give economic advice to the Government of India, specifically the Prime Minister.
  9. The council serves to highlight key economic issues facing the country to the government of India from a neutral viewpoint. It advises the Prime Minister on economic issues like inflation, microfinance, and industrial output.

FSDC reviews economy, financial stability is the underlying theme

  1. Finance Minister has reviewed the state of the economy at the meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).
  2. The meeting reviewed the current global and domestic economic situation and financial stability issues including those concerning banking and NBFCs.
  3. The Council was also apprised of the progress made towards setting up of the Financial Data Management Centre to facilitate integrated data aggregation and analysis and also a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-Fin) towards strengthening the cyber security framework for the financial sector.
  4. The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was set up by the Government as the apex level forum in December 2010.
  5. The objective of FSDC is to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability, enhancing inter-regulatory coordination and promoting financial sector development.
  6. The Chairman of the Council is the Finance Minister and its members include the heads of all Financial Sector Regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA & IRDA), Finance Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA),Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Chief Economic Adviser.

State department reiterates Trump’s ‘fair and reciprocal trade’ message for India

  1. The US State Department has reacted to India’s announcement of retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. imports by reiterating U.S. President message of reciprocal trade and the strength of U.S.-India ties.
  2. Recently, the United States Trade Representative  (USTR) had said that there will be not be a trade action against India but US will continue to raise market access concerns with India.
  3. Further, U.S Secretary of State is expected to visit India next week for discussions prior to the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan.
  4. The discussions could take place on (a) US decision to withdraw generalized system of preferences (GSP) scheme (b) 5G network infrastructure and (c) data localisation.
  5. GSP is a preferential tariff system extended by developed countries to developing countries. It is a preferential arrangement in the sense that it allows concessional low/zero tariff imports from developing countries.
  6. The US has terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary under GSP highlighting concerns over India not allowing equitable and reasonable access to its markets.
  7. The US and India is also expected to discuss India’s data localisation rules which had forced foreign companies to store their data locally.
  8. Further, US will also discuss with India the 5G network technology issue where US has been insisting countries to block access to the Chinese telecom giant Huawei to their next generation(5G) telecommunication networking markets.

Heritage site status for Coringa mangroves likely

  1. The Andhra Pradesh Government has constituted a seven-member committee for fulfilment of norms required for proposing the Godavari Mangroves (Mada forests) at Coringa as a World Heritage Site.
  2. The State government eyes heritage site tag for the mangroves so that it would get UNESCO funding to protect and preserve the wildlife sanctuary and attract international tourists.
  3. Godavari Mangroves at the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWLS) are touted to be the second largest mangroves in India. The largest mangrove forest in the world is Sundar bans, West Bengal.
  4. The CWLS also has an 18-km-long sand pit where olive ridley sea turtles nest from January to March every year.
  5. A wide variety of birds nest in Coringa sanctuary due to huge quantity of feed available in the backwaters in the forests. Some endangered species such as long billed vulture and spot billed pelican, white ibis and other birds are nesting in the sanctuary.
  6. Mangroves are shrubs or small trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish water. They are salt tolerant trees also called halophytes and are adapted to harsh coastal conditions.
  7. Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics and subtropics mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S.
  8. A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.

Explained: Solanum plastisexum; Australia’s new sex-changing tomato

  1. Scientists have finally given a unique bush tomato species a name which is native to the Australia. They named the plant Solanum plastisexum.
  2. The species name ‘Solanum Plastisexum’ comes from the Greek root meaning ‘moldable’ or ‘changeble’ combined with the Latin word for sex.
  3. The bush tomato species was first discovered by botanists in the 1970s.For decades,the plant remained unnamed and no scientists could understand the functionality of the plant.The sex of its flowers kept changing every time it was studied.
  4. Further, the new species provides a compelling example of the fact that sexuality among Earth’s living creatures is far more diverse and interesting than what is expected.
  5. Living organisms including plants and animals often exhibit diverse sexual forms such as an all-female lizard species whose eggs have all the genetic material needed to reproduce and clown fish which are born male and can transform into females later in life.
  6. Plants are especially fluid and might have flowers with only male or only female parts or both or reproductive systems that function differently from the way they appear.

Won’t allow FDI in multi-brand retail, predatory pricing: Goyal

  1. Commerce and industry minister has said that the government would not allow multi-brand retail trade by foreign e-commerce companies.
  2. In 2018,Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had tightened the foreign direct investment (FDI) rules for ecommerce companies
  3. The new rules were (a)If an entity is owned by an e-commerce marketplace(ECM),it cannot sell its products on the platform run by the same ECM (b)A single vendor can’t account for more than 25% of sales in an ECM or platform and (c)The rules puts curbs on exclusive partnerships with brands or providing favorable services to a few vendors.
  4. In 2016, the government had permitted 100% FDI in the marketplace model of e-commerce, but not in the inventory-based model. In a marketplace model, ECMs act as platform for vendors to sell their products. In the inventory-based model, ECMs own and sell products.
  5. These rules was directed at protecting small vendors on e-commerce websites. It seeks to ensure small players selling on the portals are not discriminated against in favour of vendors in which e-commerce companies have a stake. It will also ensure a level playing field for all vendors looking to sell on the e-commerce portals.

SEBI allows futures on commodity indices

  1. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has permitted stock exchanges with commodity derivative segment to introduce futures on commodity indices.
  2. The stock exchanges willing to start trading in futures on commodity indices are required to take prior approval for launching such contracts.
  3. SEBI has also directed the stock exchanges to submit proposal with contract specifications and risk management framework for approval before launching any futures contract on an index.
  4. Commodity derivatives are financial instruments whose value is based on underlying commodities such as oil, gas, metals, agricultural products and minerals.
  5. A commodity futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a predetermined amount of a commodity at a specific price on a specific date in the future.
  6. Buyers use such contracts to avoid the risks associated with the price fluctuations of a futures underlying product or raw material. Sellers use futures contracts to lock in guaranteed prices for their products.

Grey wolf from India killed in Bangladesh

  1. The first Indian grey wolf which was seen in Bangladesh in the eight decades has been beaten to death by farmers after preying on their livestock.
  2. The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) is a subspecies of grey wolf that ranges from Southwest Asia to the Indian Subcontinent.
  3. It is intermediate in size between the Tibetan and Arabian wolf and lacks the former’s luxuriant winter coat due to it living in warmer conditions.
  4. It is considered that in Bangladesh, the grey wolf had existed until the 1940s in the northwest and southwest. But the Indian grey wolf has declined as a result of conflict with farmers on livestock predation.
  5. However, they still has a wide distribution range that extends from the Indian subcontinent to Israel. There are about 3,000 of the animals in India, some in captivity.
  6. The IUCN Red list considering the wide distribution range of the subspecies has listed it as a species of least concern.

World Refugee Day being observed today

  1. The World Refugee Day is observed on 20th June every year. The day seeks to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide.
  2. In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, from 2000, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.
  3. The 1951 UN’s Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol sets out the rights of refugees and also highlights the obligations of refugees towards their host country. India is not a party to the Refugee Convention.
  4. The cornerstone of the 1951 Convention is the principle of non-refoulement. According to this principle, a refugee should not be returned to a country where he or she faces serious threats to his or her life or freedom.
  5. According to the Refugee Convention, A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
  6. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are people who have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country.
  7. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, established in 1950 is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide

Bangladesh has emerged as fastest growing economy among 45 countries of Asia-Pacific region: ADB

  1. According to Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bangladesh has emerged as the fastest growing economy among the 45 countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. In the financial year 2018-19 Bangladesh attained growth rate of 7.9 % which is its fastest rate since 1974.
  3. The key factors of the high growth performance of Bangladesh are: a) higher public sector investment, b) stronger consumption demand, c) revival in exports, d) improved power supply and e) higher growth in private sector credit.
  4. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966.ADB is headquartered in Manila, Philippines. It aims to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  5. ADB has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside. Japan and US holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by China, India and Australia. ADB is also an official United Nations Observer

Sri Lanka successfully launches its first satellite ‘Ravana-1” into orbit

  1. Sri Lanka’s first satellite, ‘Ravana-1’, was successfully launched into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS). The satellite has been developed by two Sri Lankan engineers.
  2. The satellite is a low orbit cube research satellite. It measures around 11.3 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm, and weighing around 1.05 kg. The lifespan of the satellite is minimum one and half years but is expected to be active for 5 years.
  3. Cube satellite is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10 cm × 10 cm × 11.35 cm cubic units.
  4. Ravana 1 is expected to fulfil five missions which include: a) capturing of pictures of Sri Lanka and surrounding regions, b) active attitude stabilization Earth Magnetic Field measurement, c)Glue Mission: to find COTS alternative to expensive space glue d) Provide ciphered short messages in its beacon in the 437 MHz band and e)Remote Data Collection

India has highest data usage: Report

  1. A report titled “Ericsson Mobility Report” by Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson has said that India has the world’s highest data usage per smartphone at an average of 9.8GB per month.
  2. The second highest data usage is in North-east Asia. West Asia and Africa region has the lowest data usage at 3GB per month
  3. The report has further added that the data usage in India will double to 18GB by 2024. This will be fuelled by rich video content.
  4. The report has predicted that total mobile data traffic per month will grow at a CAGR of 23% from 4.6 exabytes in 2018 to 16 exabytes in 2024.
  5. The factors which are driving this growth are a) improved device penetration, b) affordable data tariff plans, and c) increase in data-intensive content like videos.
  6. According to the report, Smartphone user base in India will reach 1.1 billion by 2024. Further, mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to grow from about 610 million in 2018 to 1.25 billion in 2024.
  7. The report has also claimed that Indian smartphone users are willing to pay more than 66% premium for futuristic 5G services.
  8. The findings of the report come at a time when the Indian government is in the process of finalising a road-map for the roll-out of 5G services.
  9. Recently, the Digital Communications Commission, the highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecommunications has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to ensure competition, sale of all spectrum and bringing the benefits of 5G to social sectors.
  10. The Commission has also approved a one-year trial period and a one-time fee of ₹5,000 for entities seeking experimental spectrum to conduct 5G trials.

Uptick for India on sanitation in UN report

  1. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released, a Joint Monitoring Programme report titled, “Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities”.
  2. According to the report, India has made significant progress in providing basic sanitation facilities since 2000. India accounts for two thirds of the 650 million people globally who stopped practising open defecation between 2000 and 2017.
  3. India’s Swachh Bharat mission has been an example and inspiration to other countries. Swachh Bharat Mission is a massive mass movement that seeks to achieve Clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2019. Currently, it is under the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  4. Further, India has increased the percentage of its population with access to a protected drinking water source less than 30 minutes away, from 79% in 2000 to 93% in 2017.
  5. However, the percentage of households getting piped water has remained stagnant at 44% between 2000 and 2017.
  6. The report further notes that 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely-managed drinking water, while 4.2 billion go without safe sanitation services and three billion lack basic hand washing facilities.

U.P. site expected to get ‘national importance’ tag

  1. Sadikpur Sinauli, located in Baraut tehsil, Baghpat district could be declared a site of national importance by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  2. According to ASI, Sinauli was the largest necropolis of the late Harappan period of the early 2nd millennium BCE.
  3. ASI has conducted excavations in Sinauli in 2005-06 and in mid-2018. The excavations have so far brought to light a number of burials all in north-south orientation; most of them are primary burials.
  4. Further, in 2018, chariots, copper swords, and helmets have been found. The artefacts are supposed to belong to a period between 2000-1800 BCE. The ASI has also approved second phase of excavation at Sinauli.
  5. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958 defines archaeological site and remains as any area which contains or is reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than 100 years.
  6. When any archaeological site and remains is declared to be of national importance it is called protected area under AMASR Act.
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