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Railways plans a ‘Give It Up’ for train ticket subsidy
- The Indian Railways has planned to launch “Give It up Campaign” to urge passengers to give up fare subsidy at the time of booking their train tickets. This proposal is a part of 100-day roadmap document for Indian Railways submitted to the Prime Minister.
- The campaign is intended to reduce passenger subsidy on Indian Railways. According to Indian railways, it recovers only 53% of the cost incurred from the passenger transport business.
- Previously in 2015, the government had launched Give It Up campaign to motivate LPG users who can afford to pay the market price for LPG to voluntarily surrender their LPG subsidy.
Deem Bill pending in RS as lapsed: M. Venkaiah Naidu
- Expressing concerns over the pendency of bills, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu has suggested that any bill pending for more than five years in the Rajya sabha should be considered lapsed.
- He has also called for a debate on the rule that provides for automatic lapsing of any bill passed by the Lok Sabha but pending in the Rajya Sabha with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
- Under the provisions of Article 107 of the Indian Constitution, bills that are introduced in the Rajya Sabha and are pending there do not lapse with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
- However, bills passed by the Lok Sabha during the course of its five-year term and pending in the Rajya Sabha get lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
Supreme Court halts road works through tiger reserves
- The Supreme Court has halted further construction of the Kandi road project. The Kandi Road Project seeks to connect Ramnagar in Kumaon to Kotdwar in Garhwal.
- The construction of the road has been stopped as it passes through a “critical” corridor between the Rajaji Tiger Reserve and the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
- The stay on Kandi road has come after an interim report was submitted to the court on June 19 by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) that advises the SC on forest matters. The CEC has observed that the road passes through ecologically sensitive area and is being built without the statutory approval of the National Board for Wildlife.
- The Rajaji Tiger Reserve spreads over three districts of Uttarakhand: Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. The national park was accorded the status of Tiger Reserve in 2015 and became the 48Th tiger reserve in India. The Ganga and Song rivers flow through the reserve
- Jim Corbet National Park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park- the first national park in India. It is located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The park was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1973- the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.
Only one in four received PM-KISAN money
- The Union Agriculture Minister has said that only one in four of the intended beneficiaries have received income support from the PM-Kisan scheme so far. The reason cited for the delay is a long verification process for selecting beneficiaries.
- The central government has thus announced that farmers will get benefits retrospectively from the time their names are uploaded in the database, rather than from the time their details are verified.
- The PM KISAN scheme was announced in the interim Budget 2019-20. The scheme seeks to a) provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families b) meet farmers emergent needs especially before the harvest season.
- Initially, the scheme sought to provide an income support of Rs 6,000/annum to small and marginalised farmers. The amount is to be transferred directly to the bank account of the beneficiaries in 3 equal instalments.
- However, recently, the Union Cabinet has approved to extend the ambit of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to cover all land holding eligible farmer families (subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria) irrespective of the size of land holdings.
Human trafficking within borders especially challenging issue: U.S. report
- The USA has retained India in Tier 2 list of countries in 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
- The report categorises countries into three groups based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The TVPA is a US legislation that requires an annual report from the State Department on status of human trafficking in countries across the world
- Tier 2 is for those countries whose governments do not fully meet TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. Examples: Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Italy, India.
- Tier 3 countries are those countries which do not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making any efforts to do so. Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria, South Sudan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia are among 21 countries in the Tier 3.
- Tier 1 Countries whose governments fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards. Examples, USA, Australia, Japan, Spain
- According to the report, 77% of the cases, victims are trafficked within their own countries of residence, rather than across borders. It also adds that victims of sex trafficking were more likely to be trafficked across borders while victims of forced labour were typically exploited within their own countries
- For India, the report has observed that government of India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
- The report has also highlighted Indian government’s failure in this regard. For example, the report highlights that systemic failure to address forced labour and sex trafficking in government-run and government-funded shelter homes remained a serious problem.
- The report has recommended India to a) amend the definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code to include forced labour trafficking, b) establish Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts with dedicated funding and clear mandates.
India’s NSG membership not on Kazakhstan meeting agenda,says China
- China has stated that the issue regarding India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) was not on the agenda of the plenary of the NSG that concluded in Nur-Sultan formerly known as Astana, Kazakhstan.
- China has been firm on its stand that only those countries which have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) should be allowed to enter the organisation.
- China has been objecting over the issue ever since India applied for the membership of the NSG in May 2016.
- India and Pakistan are not signatories of the NPT. After India’s application ,Pakistan too has applied for the NSG membership in 2016.
- China had earlier called for a two-step plan to admit countries like India (a)first NSG members arrive at a set of principles for the entry of non-NPT states and (b)then move forward discussions of specific cases.
- The NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament.
- Nuclear-weapon states parties under the NPT are defined as those that manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device before January 1,1967.
- India did not sign it as the treaty was discriminatory. India argued that treaties like NPT were selectively applicable to only non-nuclear powers and legitimized the monopoly of nuclear power by a few.
- NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
- The aim of the NSG is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The grouping has 48 participating governments and the European Commission acts as an Observer.
Operation Bandar, code name of Balakot strike
- According to defence sources, the Indian Air Force mission to bomb a terrorist hideout in Pakistan’s Balakot was codenamed ‘Operation Bandar’ (monkey).
- The Army, in turn, code-named its heightened operational alert and increasing defences along the border to address a possible Pakistan retaliation to air strike as “Operation Zafran”
- On February 26th 2019, India conducted cross-border airstrike to destroy terrorist camp run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, a town located in the Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
- India had termed the airstrike an “intelligence-led, non-military, pre-emptive” operation
Amid protests, triple talaq Bill introduced
- The government has introduced The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, also known as the Triple ‘talaq’ Bill in the Lok Sabha.
- The government promulgated an ordinance on triple talaq in September 2018 and February 2019. This is because the bill though passed in Lok Sabha remained pending in the Rajya sabha.
- The ordinance declared the practice of triple talaq as void and illegal and a cognisable offence. It also prescribed a penalty of up to three years imprisonment for an offence. It further provided for subsistence allowance to married Muslim women and their children. The new bill is the same as the ordinance in force.
- In August 2017, The Supreme Court of India had held Instant triple Talaq has unconstitutional.
- Triple Talaq (Talaq-e-biddat) refers to a practice of divorce under Muslim personal laws simply by pronouncing word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife.
Despite MSME objections, govt. moves plan to curb special steel imports
- The Ministry of Steel is piloting a proposal to slap quality control regulations on tinplate and tin-free steel.
- Tinplate steel are sheets of steel coated with a thin layer of tin that have specialised use in consumer products like cans, hair clips and pens.
- The proposal mandates domestic and foreign suppliers of these products to adhere to Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).This could potentially act as a non-tariff barrier to curb imports of the material.
- These measures are being taken despite concerns raised by other arms of the government that it may hit a large number of micro, small and medium enterprises.
- However, the government has said that this will not only boost India’s exports but will also generate jobs in the manufacturing sector especially the MSME sector.
- The ministry’s Steel and Steel Products (Quality Control) Order,2018, under which the new proposal has been moved prohibits manufacturing, import, sale, hire and lease of such products unless they conform to relevant standards so that no sub-standard products are sold in the country.
- These items need to bear the BIS mark which means domestic manufacturers have to obtain BIS certification mark licences and foreign suppliers to India will have to obtain BIS registration.
Kaleshwaram Lift irrigation project inaugurated
- Kaleshwaram Multipurpose Lift Irrigation Project on River Godavari has been inaugurated by Telangana Chief Minister. It is being touted as world’s largest multi-stage, multi-purpose lift irrigation project.
- The project is unique because Telangana will harness water at the confluence of two rivers with Godavari by constructing a barrage at Medigadda in Jayshankar Bhoopalpally district. It would then reverse pump the water into the main Godavari River and divert it through lifts and pumps into a huge and complex system of reservoirs, water tunnels, pipelines and canals.
- The project will support crop cultivation on 45 lakh acres of land. It will also meet the drinking water requirement of 70% of the state and also cater to the needs of the industry.
- The project has set many records. It has world’s longest water tunnels, aqua ducts, underground surge pools, and biggest pumps. The longest tunnel is 21 kms long connecting Yellampalli reservoir with Medaram reservoir.
- The total length of Kaleshwaram project is approximately 1,832 kms, of which 1,531 kms is gravity canals and 203 kms comprise water tunnels.
- There are 20 water lifts and 19 pump houses in the project. It has 20 reservoirs spread across 13 districts with a total capacity to store 145 TMC.
- Lift irrigation is a method of irrigation in which water is not transported by natural flow but is lifted with pumps or surge pools etc. Till date, the biggest lift irrigation projects in the world were the Colorado lift scheme in America and the Great Manmade River in Egypt.
Cancer cell detection ‘dots’ developed from coal in Assam
- Scientists from CSIR-NEIST Assam have developed chemical process that turns dirty coal into biomedical carbon quantum dots (CQDs) to help detect cancer cells.
- Carbon Quantum Dots (CQDs) are carbon-based nanomaterials whose size is less than 10 nm or nanometre. These carbon quantum dots (CQDs) were produced from cheap, abundant, low-quality and high sulphur coals.
- The CQDs emits a bluish colour with high-stability, good-conductivity, low-toxicity, environmental friendliness, and good optical properties.
- They are used as diagnostic tools for bio-imaging especially in detecting cancer cells, for chemical sensing and in opto-electronics.
- Scientists have said CQDs are futuristic materials whose demand in India has been increasing leading to a considerable volume of import.
- The CSIR-NEIST technology can produce approximately 1 litre of CQDs per day at one-twentieth the cost of imported CQDs to become an import substitute.
Indian Navy launches Operation Sankalp in Gulf of Oman
- The Indian Navy has launched Operation Sankalp to safeguard its vessels transiting through the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
- The Navy has deployed stealth guided missile destroyers INS Chennai and patrol vessel INS Sunayna in the region for maritime security operations. Besides, aerial surveillance by naval aircraft is also being undertaken.
- The operation has been launched in the wake of escalating tension in the Gulf of Oman where two oil tankers were attacked.
- The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region(IFC-IOR) is also keeping a close watch on the movement of ships in the Gulf region.
- The IFC has been established in 2018 at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
- IFC is a single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
- Through this Centre, information on white shipping or commercial shipping is exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean. White-shipping refers to commercial shipping information about the movement of cargo ship.
- The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a gulf that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It borders Iran and Pakistan on the north, Oman on the south and the United Arab Emirates on the west.
IIT-Bombay tops Indian institutions in QS World University rankings
- The QS World University Rankings 2020 has been released. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) has topped the rankings for the eighth consecutive year.
- IIT-Bombay has been ranked India’s best university for the second year in a row gaining a global ranking of 152.Two other Indian universities namely IIT Delhi (182) and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (184) are now under 200.
- There are a total of 23 Indian institutions in the top 1,000.There were 24 in last year’s rankings. Out of the 23,nine are in the top 500 including seven IITs.
- The Manipal Academy of Higher Education falls within the 701-750 ranking band is the top private university in the country.
- QS rankings are published annually by global higher education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds. The QS list ranks the world’s top 1,000 universities.
- The QS system now comprises the global overall and subject rankings alongside five independent regional tables (Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the Arab Region and BRICS).
FM chairs 35th GST Council meeting in Delhi
- The 35th Goods and Services tax (GST) Council Meeting was held on 21 June 2019 at New Delhi.
- The GST council has extended the tenure of the anti-profiteering authority by two years and has also imposed a penalty of up to 10% on businesses not passing on benefits of rate cuts to consumers.
- The Council took a decision regarding the location of the State and the Area Benches for the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) for various States and Union Territories with legislature. It has been decided to have a common State Bench for the States of Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The Council has also decided to use Aadhaar as the identity and address proof required for registration for GST. No other documents will be required and authentication can be done using a one time password.
- The Council decided to introduce electronic invoicing system in a phase-wise manner for business-to-business transactions.
- E-invoicing would help taxpayers in backward integration and automation of tax relevant processes. It would also help tax authorities in combating the menace of tax evasion.
- Further, the council deliberated on the reduction of the tax slab on electric vehicles to 5% from 12%,it could not reach the conclusion. The matter of GST rate cuts for the electric vehicles was sent to the Fitment Committee for further consideration.
India likely to raise terror, financial crimes at G20 summit in Osaka
- Prime Minister will attend the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan from June 27-29,2019.
- The theme of the summit is “Human centred future society”. The summit will take up digital economy, artificial intelligence, global health, ageing and marine plastic waste as subjects of deliberation.
- The Government has said that former Union minister Suresh Prabhu would be the sherpa for the summit. A sherpa is a government representative who leads the preparations for a conference such as the G-20.
- The PM is likely to pitch for (a) tough measures to enable return of economic fugitives to their native countries (b) seek strong actions against terror financing and (c)focus on multilateralism and WTO reforms.
- G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies formed in 1999.The group accounts for 85% of world GDP and two-thirds of the population. They have no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.
- The members of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU).The 19 member countries of the forum are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
- The objectives of the G20 are: (a) Policy coordination between its members in order to achieve global economic stability, sustainable growth (b) To promote financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises and (c)To create a new international financial architecture.
President Kovind: ‘Govt to widen the spectrum of Khelo India Programme’
- President of India has highlighted the importance of the government’s flagship ‘Khelo India Programme’.
- Addressing the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament in New Delhi today, the President said that the new government has decided to widen the spectrum of the ‘Khelo India Programme’ to cover the entire country.
- Khelo India programme was launched to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and establish India as a great sporting nation.
- It’s objective includes (a)Mass participation of the young population in Sports through annual sports competitions (b)Identification of sporting talent (c)Nurturing of the sporting talent through sports academies and (d)Creation of Sports Infrastructure at Block, District and State/UT Level.
- The Khelo India was revamped in September 2017.It had introduced a Pan Indian Sports Scholarship scheme which would cover 1,000 most talented young athletes each year across select sports disciplines.
Kolhapuris: The famous leather chappal get Geographical Indication tag
- The Controller General of Patents, Designs and trademarks has granted the Geographical Indication(GI) tag for Kolhapuris to a large area in Maharashtra and Karnataka, covering four districts in each state.
- Kolhapuris are sturdy leather chappal that rose from its humble rural origins to occupy the high table of fashion globally.
- The GI tag means that footwear produced only in these eight districts will qualify to carry the tag of being Kolhapuris.
- The producers of footwear in any other part of the country will now be forbidden from using the term Kolhapuris.
- 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.
- 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.
FATF warns Pakistan, but keeps it off the blacklist
- Pakistan has managed to avoid being placed on the Financial Action Task Force(FATF) blacklist following support from China, Turkey and Malaysia.
- The FATF charter mandates support of at least three member states to avoid the blacklisting. However, FATF has said that Pakistan will be blacklisted if it fails to complete its action plan by October 2019.
- Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.
- Pakistan has been under the FATF’s scanner since June,2018 when it was put on the greylist for terror financing and money laundering risks after an assessment of its financial system and law enforcement mechanism.
- Further, Pakistan was informed that its compliance on 18 of the 27 indicators were unsatisfactory and asked it to do more to demonstrate strict action against the terrorist groups.
- Currently, India along with other global powers has been pushing for blacklisting of Pakistan as the country has failed to meet international standards in combating financial crimes and terror financing.
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
- The objectives of the FATF are to (a) set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures (b) for combating money laundering (c) terrorist financing and (d) other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
J&K Govt to open 18 AMRIT stores
- Jammu and Kashmir Government is planning to open 18 AMRIT stores in all the hospitals of the State.
- AMRIT stands for Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment(AMRIT).
- The purpose of the initiative is to provide quality and affordable medicines to the end users.
- AMRIT pharmacies operate under the aegis of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- AMRIT offers more than 5200 drugs, implants, surgical disposables and other consumables at average discounts up to 60% of the maximum retail price.In the previous year,118 lakh people in the country had availed its services and against MRP value of drugs.
I stopped a strike on Iran, says Trump
- The US President has said the US military was ready to retaliate against Iran but he called off the strike after being told 150 people would die.
- This statement came after Iran’s air force had shot down a US drone after the unmanned aircraft violated Iranian airspace.
- However, US military officials have said that the drone was in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at the time.
- The shooting down of the drone was followed accusations by the US that Iran had attacked two oil tankers outside the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman.
- The tensions between the two countries had started after Iran had stopped complying with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and renewed sanctions on Iran.
- Iran Nuclear deal which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was announced in 2015.
- The deal was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group (US,UK, France, Russia, China and Germany).It restricts Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting most economic sanctions against it.