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have 596 reasons to cheer
2018, 596 new species of flora and fauna from India have been documented
by scientists and taxonomists. The details have been published by
Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)
in the publications Plant Discoveries 2018 and Animal Discoveries 2018.
the 596 species, 372 come under fauna (311 invertebrates and 61
vertebrates). 224 plant species new plant species have been identified
which include seed plants, pteridophytes, bryophytes, fungi and lichen.
highest number of plant and animal species have been discovered in the
Himalayas and Western Ghats. About 31% of the plant species were
discovered in the Himalayas. In the case of animals, highest number (50%)
of the discoveries were made in the Western Ghats.
states, Kerala recorded the highest number of discoveries with 59 species,
followed by West Bengal (38).
the latest addition, the number of plant species in India has been updated
to 49,441 which is 11.5% of all flora in the world. Further, now with the
latest animal discoveries the updated list of animal species in India has
risen to 1, 01,681 which is about 6.49% of all the species in the world.
Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under
the Environment ministry for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies
on wild plant resources of the country.
Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), under the Environment ministry is the
premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies to promote
the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in India.
rankings to be held quarterly
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched Swachh Survekshan
League 2020. It is a quarterly cleanliness assessment of cities and towns
in India. Further, it will be integrated with the Swachh Survekshan 2020.
Survekshan League 2020 has been introduced with the objective sustaining
the on ground performance of cities along with continuous monitoring of
service level performance in the matter of cleanliness.
will be conducted in 3 quarters, i.e. April- June, July – September and
October- December 2019. Each quarter will have a weightage of 2000 marks.
25% weightage of the quarterly assessments will be included in the annual
survey in January 2020.
evaluation will be done on the basis of monthly updation of SBM-U online
MIS by cities and citizen’s validation on the 12 service level progress
indicators through outbound calls.
will be assigned in two categories: a) cities with population of 1 lakh
and above and b) cities with population of less than 1 lakh. Launched in
2016, Swachh Survekshan is annual cleanliness survey of urban India
conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs under the aegis of
Swachh Bharat Mission- Urban (SBM-U). A separate Swachh Survekshan
(Gramin) is conducted in rural areas by Ministry of Drinking Water and
objective of the Swachh Survekshan survey is to a) encourage large scale
citizen participation and create awareness about cleanliness, b) inculcate
a spirit of healthy competition among cities and towns towards creating
(Madhya Pradesh) was awarded the cleanest city in India in the Swachh
Survekshan 2019. The second and third positions in the cleanest city
category went to Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh) and Mysore (Karnataka)
policy on AI, cyber security on the cards
member of NITI Aayog has said that it has come up with a policy on
artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber security. The policy would be taken
up in the Union Cabinet soon.
refers to the ability of machines to perform cognitive tasks like
thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision making. Cyber
security is the protection of internet-connected systems, including
hardware, software and data, from cyber-attacks.
2018, the NITI Aayog had put forward a discussion paper titled “National
Strategy for Artificial Intelligence-#AIforAll”. The paper focusses on how
India can leverage the transformative technologies to ensure social and
inclusive growth in line with the development philosophy of the government.
the paper, NITI Aayog identified 5 cores areas for application of
artificial intelligence: a) Healthcare, b) Agriculture, c) Education, d)
Smart cities and Infrastructure and e) Smart Mobility and transportation.
Aayog had recommended setting up two-tiered structure for AI research- a)
Centre of Research Excellence (CORE) focused on developing a better
understanding of existing core research and pushing technology frontiers
through creation of new knowledge and b) International Centres of Transformational
AI (ICTAI) for developing and deploying application-based research.
has also called for skilling and Re-skilling of workforce to help in
adoption of AI, supporting start-ups, close collaboration between
industry, academia, trade bodies and venture capital.
it advocated that the role of government should be one of a facilitator,
an active promoter and wherever required, of an owner to leverage AI
potential and ensure ethical and responsible AI development and adoption.
‘poor’ air quality days down 33%: Javadekar
Environment Minister has said that that air quality in Delhi-NCR has improved.
The number of “poor” air quality days have decreased from 300 in 2014 to
206 in 2018. Further, the number of days with ‘moderate’ to ‘good’ air
quality has increased from 108 in 2016 to 159 in 2018.
Air Quality Index (AQI) between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100
‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400
‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’
AQI classifies air quality of a day considering criteria pollutants
through colour codes and air quality descriptor. Further, it also links
air quality with likely human health impacts.
index measures eight major pollutants, namely, particulate matter (PM 10
and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide,
ammonia and lead.
Delhi-NCR, the government has taken number of steps to combat the rising
menace of air pollution.
Union environment Ministry has notified Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)
for the NCR. Under GRAP, there are 4 stages of pollution – Moderate to
Poor, Very Poor, Severe and Severe+ or Emergency and action are listed
that need to be undertaken as the levels are breached.
a Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) has been put forward. CAP lists medium
and long-term actions for all pollution sources for Delhi and NCR.
forms panel to discuss plea seeking ban on plastic packaging
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set up an expert committee to examine
whether there is a need for further norms to restrict plastic packaging of
newly formed committee comprises representatives of Food Safety and
Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Bureau of Indian Standards, Central
Pollution Control Board and Directorate General of Health Services. The
FSSAI has been made nodal agency for coordination and compliance of the
move has come after a petition was filed by NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal
Welfare Society seeking ban on the use of use of plastic bottle and
multi-layered/plastic packages /pet bottles.
plea has highlighted that the use of plastics, including polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) bottles and multi-layered packs such as Tetra Packs,
have an adverse impact on health and environment.
further added that the Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2018 under the
Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 do not deal with the issue in entirety
and are not adequate to deal with the problem.
plea also said that the Environment Ministry has only focused on waste
management and not on the subject of restrictions on use of plastic as
packaging material. The Environment Ministry, on the other hand, has
advocated that phasing out multi-layered plastic may not be immediately
possible without alternatives.
in four Ebola cases undetected in Congo: WHO
WHO has said that one in four Ebola cases go undetected or are found too
late in Democratic Republic of Congo. Democratic Republic of Congo is
dealing with the second largest outbreak ever with 2,025 cases of the
disease being already reported.
largest outbreak was in West Africa in 2014-16. It affected more than
28,000 people mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare
but severe, often fatal illness in humans. Ebola was first discovered in
is caused by Ebolavirus. There are 6 species of Ebolavirus which have been
identified till date: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Taï Forest, Reston and
to WHO, fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus
hosts. The virus is introduced into the human population through close
contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of
infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest
antelope or porcupines etc.
then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact. The
average Ebola case fatality rate is around 50%.
cuts interest rate by 25 bps
Reserve Bank of India(RBI) Monetary Policy Committee has unanimously cut
the repo rate by 25 basis points from 6% to 5.75%. Repo stands for
‘Repurchasing Option’. Repo rate refers to the rate at which commercial
banks borrow money from the RBI.
reverse repo rate was also lowered to 5.50% from 5.75%.The reverse repo
rate is the rate at which the central bank borrows money from commercial
RBI has changed the monetary policy stance from neutral to accommodative. The
change in stance to accommodative means there is a possibility of further
monetary easing in the months ahead.
RBI has also lowered India’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) growth estimate
to 7% for the year 2019-20 from 7.2% that it forecast in April,2019.
GDP growth estimate was lowered due to weak domestic investment activity
and slowdown in exports. Gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary
value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s
borders in a specific time period.
Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of
India. It is headed by its Governor which is entrusted with the task of
fixing the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) to contain inflation
within the specified target level i.e. inflation targeting.
willing to drop New START pact: Putin
President has said that Russia is prepared to suspend the NEW START treaty
with the U.S. He said that the US has showed no interest in conducting
talks on extending the New START treaty.
New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a nuclear arms reduction
treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. It was signed
START replaced the 1991 START I treaty which expired in 2009 and
superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) which was
terminated when New START treaty entered into force.
treaty limits the US and Russia to possess a maximum of 1,550 deployed
nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers well below Cold War
duration of the treaty is ten years and can be extended for a period of no
more than five years at a time. It includes a standard withdrawal clause
like most arms control agreements.
this treaty is withdrawn then it will be the second nuclear weapons treaty
to collapse under the leadership of current US President.
Russia had officially suspended it’s participation in the intermediate
Range Nuclear Forces(INF) on the grounds that US have violated the INF
treaty. The US had already withdrawn from the treaty claiming that Russia
had secretly developed a missile that violated the INF.
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces(INF) Treaty came into force in 1988.It
banned both the Soviet Union(Russia) and the US from developing and
deploying land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500
and 5,500 km.However,treaty did not apply to air-or sea-launched missiles.
Minister addresses meeting of Board of Trade & Council for Trade
Development and Promotion
minister has addressed a joint meeting of the Board of Trade and the
Council of Trade Development and Promotion. The meeting was organised by
the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Directorate General of
minister has urged the representatives of industry, trade and exports
bodies to reduce dependency on subsidies and grants from the Central
Government and strive to make industry and production more competitive and
Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is an agency of the Ministry
of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India. DGFT is responsible for
formulating and implementing the Foreign Trade Policy with the main
objective of promoting India’s exports.
Council for Trade Development and Promotion (CTDP) comes under the
chairpersonship of the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry.
main purpose of CTDP is to ensure a continuous dialogue with states and
Union Territories on measures for providing an international trade
enabling environment in the states Another objective of CTDP is to create
a framework for making the states active partners in boosting India’s
Modi’s first bilateral visit to Maldives begins tomorrow
Minister will be visiting the Maldives and Sri Lanka from June 8
,2019.This will be his first overseas visit in the second term.
will be PM first visit to Maldives since 2011.The prime minister visited
the island nation in November to attend Maldives President swearing-in
ceremony. However, it was not a full-fledged bilateral visit.
ties has improved after the election of new Maldivian President. Earlier, ties
had dipped to an all-time low under former president. Maldives is a key
country in the Indian Ocean region and lies in the heart of busy shipping
lanes connecting Africa and Asia.
Minister will inaugurate a coastal surveillance radar system and a
Comprehensive Training Centre (CTC) for Maldives national forces as part
of a joint defence cooperation pact.
and Maldives had signed an Action Plan for defence cooperation in 2016 as
part of which both sides had drawn up an exhaustive list of defence
projects and purchase of defence equipment.
the Prime Minister will also visit Sri Lanka. The visit is aimed at
sending a clear message of solidarity in the wake of the Easter Sunday
terror attack in which more than 250 people died.
Minister has approved the reconstitution of National Institution for
Transforming India(NITI Aayog).
Prime Minister will serve as the Chairman of Niti Aayog. Vice chairman
Rajiv Kumar continues in his post along with Permanent members VK
Saraswat, Ramesh Chand and VK Paul.
ex-officio members now include Defence Minister, the Home Minister, the
Finance Minister and the Agriculture Minister.
special invitees to NITI Aayog include Minister of Road, Transport and
Highways, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Minister of Railways
and Minister of Statistics.
NITI Aayog was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January
1,2015.NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of
India providing both directional and policy inputs.
Aayog had replaced planning commission as the premier think tank. While
designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the
Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to
the Centre and States.
Aayog also acts as the quintessential platform of the Government of India
to bring States to act together in national interest and thereby fosters
waives RTGS, NEFT charges
Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has announced that it is removing all charges
on money transfers done through the RTGS and NEFT modes. This decision was
taken to boost the digital funds movement.
stands for National Electronic Fund Transfer. It is a payment system which
facilitates one-to-one funds transfer from one financial institution to
NEFT, individuals, firms and corporates can electronically transfer funds
from any bank branch to any individual, firm or corporate having an
account with any other bank branch in the country participating in the
system. Under NEFT the settlement takes place in batches rather than
individually. The batches are settled in hourly time slots.
stands for Real Time Gross Settlement. As the name suggests, it enables
money to move from one bank to another on a real time and gross basis. Since
these fund settlements take place in the books of the Reserve Bank of
India (RBI) these payments are final and irrevocable.
NEFT platform is primarily aimed for small value transactions. At one
transaction the maximum value should be Rs 50,000.
the other hand, RTGS is aimed for large value transactions. The minimum
amount to be remitted through RTGS is Rs 2 lakh. There is no upper ceiling
for RTGS transactions.
imposes penalty on Chemists and Druggists Association and Pharmaceutical
Competition Commission of India(CCI) has imposed penalty amounting to Rs
74 crore on four chemists and pharmaceutical companies after they were
found violating the provisions of the Competition Act,2002.
penalty was imposed after CCI had found the drug associations responsible
for mandating the requirement of obtaining NOC(No Objection Certificate)
prior to the appointment as stockists.
resulted in stifling competition in the market by limiting access of
consumers to various pharmaceutical products and controlling the supply of
drugs in the market.
Commission of India is a statutory body of the Government of India established
in 2003.It is responsible for enforcing Competition Act,2002 throughout
India and to prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on
competition in India.
act prohibits (a)anti-competitive agreements (b)abuse of dominant position
by enterprises and (c)regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of
control and mergers and acquisitions) which causes or likely to cause an
appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
Bharat’ helped reduce ground water contamination: UNICEF
to a study by UNICEF, Swachh Bharat (Grameen) initiative of the government
has helped reduce groundwater contamination.
study was conducted by UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It
aimed at assessing the environmental impact and communication footprint of
the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen).
study has found that in terms of faecal contamination,non open defecation
free(ODF) villages were on average (a)11.25 times more likely to have
their groundwater sources contaminated (b)1.13 times more likely to have
their soil contaminated and (c)1.48 times more likely to have food
contaminated and 2.68 times more likely to have household drinking water
substantial reductions in groundwater contamination in ODF villages can be
attributed to the (a)Improvement in sanitation and hygiene practices
(b)Regular monitoring and (c)Behaviour change messaging,
Bharat Mission (Gramin) aims to make India an open defecation free(ODF)
country.It seeks to improve the levels of cleanliness in rural areas
through Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities and making villages
Open Defecation Free (ODF) and clean.
to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Rural sanitation
coverage in the country had crossed the 99 % mark. Earlier, the WHO 2018
study had estimated that the Swachh Bharat Mission will save over three
lakh lives by the time India is Open Defecation Free.
launches new Index to measure fiscal performance
of Indian Industry(CII) has launched a Fiscal Performance Index(FPI).The
index is an innovative tool using multiple indicators to study the quality
of Budgets at the Central and State levels.
index has been constructed using UNDP’s Human Development Index
Index incorporates qualitative assessments of (a) revenue expenditure
(b)capital expenditure (c)revenues (d)fiscal prudence and (d)level of
public debt. CII has used this index to analyse state and central budgets
from 2004-05 to 2016-17.
study has found that despite improvement in reduction in the fiscal
deficit between FY13 and FY18,the overall performance of the budget has
remained steady with improvements only in FY16 and FY17.This is largely
due to moderation in the revenue, capital expenditure and net tax revenues
analysis also shows that combine performance of all state budgets has
improved despite worsening of fiscal deficit numbers because of
improvements in revenue and capital expenditure indices.
study also points out that relatively high income states including
Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra which have good fiscal health because of
low fiscal deficit to GDP ratio do not perform well on the composite FPI
because of poor expenditure and revenue quality compared to other states.
states such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
have done well on the FPI because of their good performance in revenue and
capital expenditure indices.
report concludes with recommendations that the government should (a) attempt
to broaden the tax base and (b)increase investments in education and
Cabinet Committees are formed, what are the functions of each
Government of India has reconstituted eight key cabinet committees under
the Transaction of Business Rules.
Cabinet Committee are organizations which are instrumental in reducing the
workload of the Cabinet. The Cabinet Committees are extra-constitutional
other words, they are not mentioned in the Constitution. However, the
Rules of Business provide for their establishment.
composition of a Cabinet Committee varies from 3 to 8 people. Even Ministers
who are not part of the Cabinet can be added to a Cabinet Committee. Usually,
each cabinet committee has at least one Cabinet Minister. The members of
the Cabinet Committee can be from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
are two type types of cabinet committees (a)Standing Cabinet Committees
and (b)Ad-hoc Cabinet Committees.
cabinet Committees are permanent in nature with a specific job. The
Cabinet Ministers are called its members while the people without the rank
of Cabinet Committee are called special invitees.
Prime Minister constitutes Standing Committees of the Cabinet and sets out
the specific functions assigned to them. He can add or reduce the number
the other hand, Ad-hoc Cabinet Committee are temporary in nature and are
formed from time to time to deal with specific tasks.
Gehlot leaves for Buenos Aires to participate in 2nd Global Disability Summit
Social Justice and Empowerment minister has left for Buenos Aires to
participate in the 2nd Global Disability Summit to be held during 6-8
summit is hosted by the Government of Argentina Republic, the
International Alliance Disability(IDA) and the Latin American Network of
Non-Governmental Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and their
objective of the summit is to deliberate on issues across the world
concerning empowerment and inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).It
also seeks to work out a mechanism for enabling them to live an
independent and dignified life.
to IDA, the Summit represents an opportunity to reflect on the formulation
and strengthening of public policies and good practices in the different
discussion panels with the voices of Persons with disabilities to be at
International Disability Alliance (IDA) was created in 1999. It is an
umbrella organization focused on improving awareness and rights for
individuals with disabilities around the globe.
currently comprises eight global and six regional organizations of persons
with disabilities (DPOs).The IDA works very closely with the United
Nations and in particular they use the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities(UNCRPD) as their code of conduct.
Pichai, Nasdaq’s Friedman to receive 2019 Global Leadership Award
India-born CEO Sundar Pichai and Nasdaq president Adena Friedman have been
chosen for the prestigious Global Leadership Awards 2019.
award is given annually since 2007 by the Washington-based US-India
Business Council (USIBC).
award recognises top corporate executives from the United States and India
whose companies has played a major role in catalysing growth in the
US-India commercial corridor.
U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) was formed in 1975 as a business
advocacy organization to enlighten and encourage the private sectors of
both India and the United States to enhance investment flows.
organization serves as a direct link between business and Government
leaders resulting in increased trade and investment to strengthen ties
between the two nations.