9 PM Current Affairs Brief – June 28, 2019

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New National Rubber Policy

  1. The Minister of Commerce and Industry has informed the Lok Sabha about the New National Rubber Policy.
  2. The Department of Commerce brought out the National Rubber Policy in March 2019.
  3. The National Rubber Policy includes several provisions to support the Natural Rubber (NR) production sector and the entire rubber industry value chain.
  4. The Policy is based on the short term and long term strategies identified by the Task Force constituted on the rubber sector for mitigating problems faced by rubber growers in the country.
  5. The Policy covers (a) new planting and replanting of rubber (b) support for growers (c) processing and marketing of natural rubber (d) labour shortage (e) external trade (f) Centre-State integrated strategies (g) research and training (h) rubber product manufacturing and export (I) climate change concerns and carbon market.
  6. Natural rubber which is also called India rubber or caoutchouc consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene with minor impurities of other organic compounds plus water.
  7. Thailand and Indonesia are two of the leading rubber producers. Further, India’s stands in fourth place in the production of natural rubber and second place in world consumption.

Cyber Coordination Centre

  1. Minister of State for Home Affairs has informed the Rajya Sabha about the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) portal.
  2. Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) portal was launched by Prime Minister in 2018 at DGPs/IGPs Conference.
  3. It as a one-stop platform for sharing all cyber related matters amongst Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs),government organizations and other stakeholders.
  4. The primary objective of the Cyber Coordination Centre is to provide a platform to the Law Enforcement Agencies and other stakeholders to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to resolve cyber crime.
  5. Cyber Coordination Centre is also an effective platform to deal with cyber related issues such as sharing case studies and research findings, experience sharing, formulation of research problems, finding solutions to complex cyber issues among others.

Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe discuss economy, bullet train

  1. Indian PM and Japanese PM has held bilateral talks in Osaka, Japan. This was the first such meeting between the two leaders since the start of Japan’s Reiwa era.
  2. Reiwa is the era of Japan which began on 1st May, 2019 during which the next Japanese Emperor took up the throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan.
  3. The two countries held discussions on issues such as global economy, issues of fugitive economic offenders and disaster management.
  4. Indian PM said that the goodwill and mutual respect between the two countries has translated into the manufacturing of bullet trains for India.
  5. India is planning to run its first bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad with Japan’s assistance. The first stretch of the ambitious project is expected to be completed by 2022.
  6. Japanese PM also referred to the Indian Prime Minister’s initiatives on the issue of fugitive economic offenders and said that the G20 should deal with this problem as part of its anti corruption measures.
  7. Japan PM also underlined the need to find appropriate measures to check the global trade issues and data flows. He also said that the G20 should also come up with a constructive message on the issue of climate change.
  8. Indian PM has also sought Japan’s assistance in building disaster resilient infrastructure. Prime minister said that Japan’s support in this area is crucial because of its experience in disaster management, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
  9. Japan accounts for about 20% of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater and is exposed to uncountable natural disasters like typhoons and active volcanoes. The country has a long history of awareness of the importance of disaster risk reduction.
  10. The two leaders also emphasised the need to jointly take up projects in the neighbourhood. Indian PM said one of the important projects India and Japan are taking forward is setting up a cancer hospital in Kenya.

Motion of Thanks to President address passed by Parliament

  1. A Motion of Thanks to President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament has been passed by both the Houses.
  2. President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  3. Article 87 of the constitution provides two instances when the President specially addresses both Houses of Parliament (a) first session of each year and (b) first Session after each general election when the reconstituted Lok Sabha meets for the first time.
  4. Article 86 (1) of the Constitution provides that the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together and for that purpose require the attendance of members.
  5. The President address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs. During the session, political parties discuss the motion of thanks also suggesting amendments.
  6. Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses.
  7. A failure to get motion of thanks passed amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government. This is the reason Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion.
  8. Further, notices of amendments to the Motion of Thanks can be given only after the President has delivered the Address.

G-20 summit: Corruption key focus area, India works hard to get strong para into Osaka declaration

  1. Indian Prime Minister is attending the 2019 G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan. The summit is the 14th such gathering. The theme of the G20 summit 2019 is human-centred future society.
  2. After this summit, India will become part of the troika that includes the next set of G20 chairs – Saudi Arabia (2020), Italy (2021) and India (2022).
  3. India is looking at the issue of corruption and fugitive economic offenders to be the focus area of this edition’s summit. India is trying to include a strong paragraph on the issue of corruption in the Osaka declaration.
  4. India had proposed a nine-point agenda at the last G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina which included (a) strengthening international cooperation (b)arriving at a common understanding in terms of definitions (c) introducing a platform for sharing of best practices and (d) identifying legal mechanisms so that the issue can be tackled more meaningfully fulfilling domestic legislation.
  5. Further, the G20 summit is expected to establish principles for the worldwide governance of data. The negotiations have been led by Japan under their presidency under an initiative called the ‘Osaka Track’.
  6. The Osaka track principles will lay the foundation for multilateral and bilateral negotiations on data including data localisation, data sovereignty among others.
  7. The G20 will also launch discussions on the Methane Economy or Hydrogen Economy to identify ways of carbon capture and sequestration.
  8. 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.

Motion of Thanks to President address passed by Parliament

  1. A Motion of Thanks to President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament has been passed by both the Houses.
  2. President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  3. Article 87 of the constitution provides two instances when the President specially addresses both Houses of Parliament (a) first session of each year and (b) first Session after each general election when the reconstituted Lok Sabha meets for the first time.
  4. Article 86 (1) of the Constitution provides that the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together and for that purpose require the attendance of members.
  5. The President address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs. During the session, political parties discuss the motion of thanks also suggesting amendments.
  6. Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses.
  7. A failure to get motion of thanks passed amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government. This is the reason Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion.
  8. Further, notices of amendments to the Motion of Thanks can be given only after the President has delivered the Address.

G-20 summit: Corruption key focus area, India works hard to get strong para into Osaka declaration

  1. Indian Prime Minister is attending the 2019 G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan. The summit is the 14th such gathering. The theme of the G20 summit 2019 is human-centred future society.
  2. After this summit, India will become part of the troika that includes the next set of G20 chairs – Saudi Arabia (2020), Italy (2021) and India (2022).
  3. India is looking at the issue of corruption and fugitive economic offenders to be the focus area of this edition’s summit. India is trying to include a strong paragraph on the issue of corruption in the Osaka declaration.
  4. India had proposed a nine-point agenda at the last G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina which included (a) strengthening international cooperation (b) arriving at a common understanding in terms of definitions (c) introducing a platform for sharing of best practices and (d) identifying legal mechanisms so that the issue can be tackled more meaningfully fulfilling domestic legislation.
  5. Further, the G20 summit is expected to establish principles for the worldwide governance of data. The negotiations have been led by Japan under their presidency under an initiative called the ‘Osaka Track’.
  6. The Osaka track principles will lay the foundation for multilateral and bilateral negotiations on data including data localisation, data sovereignty among others.
  7. The G20 will also launch discussions on the Methane Economy or Hydrogen Economy to identify ways of carbon capture and sequestration.
  8. 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.

European heat wave? It’s the new normal

  1. The countries across Europe are experiencing record-breaking heat waves. The heat wave has already caused flash floods and forest fires grounded planes and buckled train tracks and led to school closures and warnings over air quality.
  2. There is no universally accepted definition of a heat wave due to variations in climate conditions in different world regions. Typically though, they are defined by an unseasonably hot period usually five degrees or more above the average daily maximum that lasts at least three days.
  3. The experts have said that both humidity and low wind speeds can enhance a heat wave. The effects can be particularly extreme in large cities due to increased human activity and a mass of buildings, concrete and roads.
  4. In Europe, heat waves occurs across northern Europe when high atmospheric pressure draws up hot air from northern Africa, Portugal and Spain raising temperatures and increasing humidity. In this instance, the exceptionally hot air has come from the Sahara.
  5. Heat waves are not uncommon but according to weather experts they are being amplified by a rise in global temperatures and are likely to become more frequent as one of the more predictable impacts of our warming climate.
  6. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO),highest recorded temperature in Europe is 48C which was measured in Athens in July 1977.But on average the 20 warmest years since records began have all been within the past 22 years. The years 2015-2018 make up the top four.

Cut logistics cost to 9% of GDP, Goyal tells States

  1. Commerce and Railways Minister has asked the various transport Ministries to find ways to reduce logistics costs in the country to 9% of GDP by 2022 from the current 14%.
  2. Commerce minister also reviewed the draft National Logistics Policy and the proposed action plan for implementation of the policy.
  3. The draft policy has been prepared by the Department of Logistics, Ministry of Commerce and Industry in consultation with the Ministries of Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Civil Aviation.
  4. The aim of the policy is to reduce the logistics cost from the present 14% of GDP to less than 10% by 2022.
  5. India’s logistics sector is highly defragmented and complex with involvement of more than 20 government agencies,37 export promotion councils, 200 shipping agencies and 36 logistic services.
  6. The Indian logistics sector provides livelihood to more than 22 million people and improving the sector will facilitate 10 % decrease in indirect logistics cost leading to the growth of 5-8% in exports.
  7. The worth of Indian logistics market would be around USD 215 billion in the next two years compared to about USD 160 billion currently.

Government revamps WPI revision team

  1. The government has reconstituted the working group tasked with revising the current wholesale price index (WPI).
  2. The terms of reference (ToR) of the working group are (a) select the most appropriate Base Year for the preparation of a new official series of Index Numbers of WPI and Producer Price Index (PPI) in India (b) review commodity basket of the current series of WPI (c) review the existing system of price collection in particular for manufacturing sector.
  3. The revision of WPI is needed as current series of WPI with 2011-12 as base year was introduced in May 2017.Since 2011-12, significant structural changes have taken place in the economy.
  4. The Office of Economic Adviser, Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade will be the nodal office for the Working Group and will process the recommendation of the Group for further necessary action.
  5. Wholesale Price Inflation (WPI) tracks changes in the price of goods in stages before the retail level i.e. goods that are sold in bulk and traded between organizations instead of consumers.
  6. It is measured by the Wholesale Price Index. The index basket of the WPI covers commodities falling under the three major groups namely Primary Articles, Fuel and Power and Manufactured products. It is important to note that WPI does not cover services.
  7. Producer price index (PPI) measures the average change in the price a producer receives for his goods and services sold in the domestic market and exports.
  8. While WPI does not include services but PPI includes services thus making the index more inclusive. PPI eliminates the multiple counting bias which is inherent in the WPI.

Govt to launch ‘One Nation One Ration Card’

  1. The central government is working on a plan to launch a One Nation One Ration Card scheme for beneficiaries especially migrant workers to access the Public Distribution System(PDS) from any PDS shop across the country.
  2. The aim of the scheme is to provide freedom to beneficiaries as they will not be tied to one PDS shop, reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail corruption.
  3. Further, the biggest beneficiaries will be migrant workers who move to other states to seek better job opportunities.
  4. The minister said that the Integrated Management of PDS(IMPDS) under which beneficiaries can avail their share of food grain from any district is operational in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura.
  5. The PDS evolved as a system for distribution of food grains at affordable prices and management of emergency situations. It is an Indian food security system.
  6. It was established by the Government of India under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and are managed jointly by state governments in India.
  7. It distributes subsidized food and non-food items to India’s poor. It functions through a network of Fair Price Shops at a subsidized price on a recurring basis.

NPAs down, credit growth picking up: RBI

  1. The Reserve Bank of India has released the Financial Stability Report.
  2. The report assessed that India’s financial system remains stable in the backdrop of improving resilience of the banking sector. However, the emerging trends in the global economy and geopolitical environment pose challenges.
  3. The report has said that the Gross non-performing assets in the banking system have declined for the second consecutive half year while credit growth is picking up.
  4. The credit has picked following capital infusion by the government in public sector banks. This has led to overall improvement in the capital adequacy ratio(CAR) of commercial banks but there was a marginal decline in the CAR of private sector banks.
  5. Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is the ratio of a bank’s capital in relation to its risk weighted assets and current liabilities. It is decided by central banks and bank regulators to prevent commercial banks from taking excess leverage and becoming insolvent in the process. The risk weighted assets take into account (a) credit risk (b)market risk and (c) operational risk.
  6. However, the report has called for greater surveillance on large entities in India’s Non-banking financial companies (NBFC) as their failure could lead to losses that are similar to those of big banks.
  7. NBFC have seen their source of funds suddenly dry up after a series of defaults by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) that has triggered a liquidity crisis.
  8. Further, the RBI has also said that it is reviewing its master direction on frauds and considering additional measures for timely recognition of frauds and enforcement action against violations.

CAT stays dismissal of two tax officials; govt transfers judicial member of tribunal

  1. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has stayed the sacking of two of the 15 senior tax officials who were compulsorily retired over charges of corruption and inefficiency.
  2. Recently, the Central Government had compulsorily retired 15 senior customs and central excise officials.
  3. The orders issued by the Finance Ministry had invoked rule 56(j) of the Fundamental Rules. Rule 56 covers Group ‘A & B’ officers who entered service before 35 years of age and have attained 50 years of age.
  4. A review is carried out on a quarterly basis, including officials and employees facing serious allegations of corruption. If the review committee finds the allegations to be true, it recommends compulsory retirement and the order is then signed by the President.
  5. The CAT was established under Article 323A of the Constitution for adjudicating disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services.

SEBI tightens norms for mutual fund investments

  1. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has introduced more checks and balances for mutual funds (MFs) to secure investors and stem systemic risks.
  2. SEBI has said that mutual fund schemes can now invest only in listed debt or equity. The valuation of securities in debt funds will now be on mark-to-market basis instead of the earlier practice of considering it on an amortisation basis.
  3. SEBI said that it will initiate action against mutual funds (MFs) if there are defaults in cases involving loans against shares to company promoters.
  4. SEBI has also said that it has decided to ban mutual funds from entering into standstill pacts with companies apart from making them hold at least 20% assets of liquid funds in cash equivalents.
  5. Liquid fund is a category of mutual fund which invests primarily in money market instruments like certificate of deposits, treasury bills, commercial papers and term deposits. They invest in securities with a residual maturity of up to 91 days.
  6. Mutual Fund (MF) is an investment vehicle made up of a pool of money collected from public investors. The pooled money is used to buy other securities by professional money managers. It charges a small fee for managing the money.

Environment ministry okays two-year construction order for Polavaram project

  1. The Union Environment Ministry has extended the construction period for the Polavaram Multipurpose Project in Andhra Pradesh by two years.
  2. The Polavaram project is a major multi-purpose irrigation project being constructed on the Godavari River and spread across three states – Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
  3. A dam is currently under construction in West Godavari and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  4. The project has been declared a National Project by Government of India. The Polavaram Project Authority has also been constituted by the Union Cabinet in 2014.
  5. The project has been built for development of Irrigation, Hydropower and drinking water facilities to East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, West Godavari and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  6. The project will irrigate nearly 3 lakh ha of land, generate hydel power with installed capacity of 960 MW and provide drinking water facilities to 540 enroute villages covering 25 lakh population.

National mission on natural language translation soon

  1. The Ministry of Electronics and IT will soon place before the Union Cabinet a ₹450 crore proposal for Natural Language Translation.
  2. It is one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council(PM-STIAC).
  3. The mission aims to make science and technology accessible to all by facilitating access to teaching and researching material bilingually in English and in one’s native Indian language.
  4. To achieve this, the government plans to leverage a combination of machine translation and human translation. The mission would also help students, teachers, authors, publishers, translation software developers and general readers.
  5. To overcome the language barrier, the government has planned to set up an ecosystem which involved the Central and State agencies and start-ups.
  6. The Start-ups can help expedite the work to build implementable solutions to help make research. Further, the translation activities can also help generate employment for educated unemployed.
  7. Government had constituted a 21-member advisory panel on science, technology and innovation called Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council(PM-STIAC).
  8. The member panel consists of both permanent members and special invitees. The special invitees includes secretaries of all science & technology related ministries.
  9. The committee advises the Prime Minister on all matters related to S&T, innovation and monitor the implementation of PM’s vision on the same.
  10. The panel also facilitates the (a) formulation and implementation of policies and decisions (b) provide action-oriented and future preparedness advice and (c) assist in directing S&T to solve the socio economic problems in the country.

India beats U.S. at WTO in renewable energy case

  1. India has won a major trade dispute against the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  2. The WTO dispute resolution panel has ruled that US domestic content requirements and subsidies provided by eight of its states in the renewable energy sector are violative of global trade norms.
  3. The panel concluded in its ruling that the measures of the US are inconsistent with certain provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
  4. In September 2016,India had dragged the U.S. to WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over US domestic content requirements and subsidies provided by eight states in the renewable energy sector.
  5. India had argued that some of the renewable energy programmes administered by the US states violated core provisions in the Trade related Investment Measures (TRIMS) agreement by insisting mandatory domestic content requirements.
  6. India has also said that the programmes implemented by the US states in the renewable energy sector violate the national treatment provision under which foreign producers are required to be treated on a par with domestic producers.
  7. The ruling of dispute panel can be challenged in WTO’s appellate body which is part of the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO.
  8. In 2014,the US had also launched a similar trade dispute against India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Energy Mission claiming that it included incentives for domestically produced solar cells and modules. The WTO’s Appellate Body had upheld the US complaint against India.
  9. Further, the two countries are also at loggerheads on a number of other disputes at the WTO. The U.S has challenged certain export promotion schemes of India while India has challenged U.S unilateral hike on customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.
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