9 PM Current Affairs Brief – May 21, 2019

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Govt. plans introducing artificial intelligence system in MCA 21 portal

  1. The government has decided to introduce artificial intelligence system in the MCA21 portal-an e-Governance initiative of Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA)
  2. This will make the compliance process easier as well as ensure routine enforcement activities are done round-the-clock on autopilot basis.
  3. The main focus of the government will be to rationalise all the forms and follow the principle of a single source of truth so that one is not required to fill in the known details again as it will get filled automatically.
  4. MCA21 enables an easy and secure access of the MCA services to the corporate entities, professionals and citizens of India.
  5. The MCA21 application offers the following (a)Enables the business community to register a company and file statutory documents quickly and easily (b)Provides easy access of public documents (c)Helps faster and effective resolution of public grievances (d)Helps registration and verification of charges easily and (e)Ensures proactive and effective compliance with relevant laws and corporate governance.
  6. Artificial Intelligence is a way of making a computer computer-controlled robot or software perform human-like tasks. It refers to the ability of machines to perform cognitive tasks like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision making

Nomination for Vayoshreshtha Samman- National Awards for Senior Citizens 2019 for Individuals/Institutions

  1. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has invited nominations for Vayoshreshtha Samman- National Awards for Senior Citizens 2019 for Individuals/Institutions.
  2. Vayoshreshtha Sammans are conferred every year in thirteen categories.  These are given to eminent senior citizens and Institutions involved in rendering distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons.
  3. The objective of the award is to showcase the Government’s concern for senior citizens and its commitment towards senior citizens with the aim of strengthening their legitimate place in the society.
  4. The series of awards were instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the year 2005 and were elevated to the level of national awards in 2013.
  5. The recipients of the Sammans are declared every year on the 1st September and conferred on the 1st October on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons (IDOP).

Exit polls predict second term for PM Narendra Modi

  1. Recently, various exit polls have predicted that the Party in power is all set to return to power in 2019.
  2. Exit poll is a post-voting poll which is conducted just after a voter walks out after casting his or her vote. Such polls aim at predicting the actual result on the basis of the information collected from the voters.
  3. Section 126A of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 puts a ban on exit polls from the period between the commencement of the poll until half an hour after the closing of the final phase of the poll.
  4. Exit polls are conducted by numerous organisations which use different methods for the purpose. One of the most common methods of counting is sampling. These agencies might opt for random or systematic sampling.
  5. On the other hand, opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll is a kind of voter behaviour survey which is conducted to find out the public opinion before voting takes place while an exit poll happens right after voting.

Third party motor insurance premium to get pricier as IRDAI revises rate card

  1. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI) has released a draft notification on third-party motor insurance. Third-party insurance is the portion of an insurance policy that protects you if you’re held legally responsible for a physical injury or damage to someone else’s property.
  2. The notification proposes a 15% hike in third party (TP) motor insurance premium for small and medium private cars while the hike in premium varies for other categories of vehicles.
  3. The regulator has also offered a special discount of 15% in the premium for electric private cars and electric two-wheelers while no hike is planned in the premium for e-rickshaws.
  4. Further, premium for other categories of vehicles such as taxis, buses, trucks and tractors is also proposed to be increased at varying rates.
  5. However, there will be no change in the long-term premium rates for new cars and two-wheelers which comes for three years in the case of new cars and five years for new two-wheelers.
  6. The IRDAI is an autonomous, statutory body created by IRDA Act,1999.It was created based on the recommendations of the Malhotra Committee. It’s headquarters is in Hyderabad.
  7. The functions of IRDA includes (a)regulating the insurance industry and protects the customers (b)promotion of competition to enhance customer satisfaction and (c)lowering premiums for ensuring the financial security of the insurance sector.

U.S. warship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade tensions

  1. The United States military has said that one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal which is claimed by China in the South China Sea.
  2. This move comes against a background of increased tensions between the US and China as they had failed to reach trade deal. The US military has said that its operations are carried out throughout the world including areas claimed by allies and they are separate from political considerations.
  3. South China Sea is a portion of the Pacific ocean which is bordered by some of the ASEAN countries and China. The dispute involves contesting claims both maritime and islands in the region by 7 countries which are Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
  4. The genesis of the dispute lies in the “eleven-dashed line” announced by the Chinese government in 1947 which was later changed to “Nine-dash line” in 1949 by Communist China.
  5. This line covers most of the South China Sea, which China claims to be a part of its territory and hence it possesses exclusive sovereign rights over the region.
  6. China puts forward historical evidence which show that the region was under Chinese control. However, these claims are contested by other littoral states in the region.

Pakistan needs aggressive diplomacy to exit FATF grey list: official

  1. Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has said that Pakistan needs to launch a diplomatic effort to secure enough support to come out of the grey list or to prevent itself from falling into the blacklist.
  2. This statement came after a 10-member Pakistani delegation attended a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) where it defended Pakistan’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing.
  3. The delegation has said that Pakistan has taken aggressive steps in terms of regulatory and monitoring mechanism to meet the FATF requirements and its legal system is also up to the mark except some amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA),2010.
  4. In June 2018, FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries. Pakistan was put on the grey list after its domestic laws were considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.
  5. The 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, France.
  6. 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.
  7. The APG is the FATF-style regional body for the Asia-Pacific region. APG was founded in Bangkok, Thailand in 1997 as an autonomous regional anti-money laundering body by unanimous agreement among 13 original founding members.

West Bengal climber goes missing after scaling Mount Makalu

  1. According to the reports, an Indian climber has gone missing from the high camp of Mt Makalu in eastern Nepal.
  2. A search team has reached the area from where the climber is suspected to have gone missing. However, they have failed to trace him.
  3. Mount Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 meters (27,838 ft),whose shape is a four-sided pyramid.
  4. It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas 19 km(12 mi) southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China.
  5. Mt Makalu is considered amongst the most dangerous peaks and summiting the peak is considered extremely challenging due to inclement weather conditions and freezing

RBI against special NBFC window

  1. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is not ready to offer a special lending window to stressed non-banking finance companies (NBFCs).The RBI may have to provide liquidity to all the NBFCs approaching it for funds if such a special window is opened.
  2. NITI Aayog has made a strong case before RBI for a special lending window for NBFCs to tide over a cash crunch in the wake of IL&FS crisis which has made banks wary of funding the sector.
  3. IL&FS is an infrastructure finance company registered with the Reserve Bank of India as a ‘Systemically Important Non-Deposit Accepting Core Investment Company’. IL&FS has run out of money and therefore has been unable to service its repayment obligations which led to a series of defaults on loans, debentures and commercial papers.
  4. However, the RBI has said that not all the NBFCs are stressed and it is only a few that are highly leveraged due to aggressive lending in the past.
  5. Further, RBI is wary of opening a special lending window given that the NBFCs had lent to weaker companies including several in the stressed real estate sector.
  6. NBFCs have been making a case for a bailout arguing that the fund crunch in the market is impacting consumer demand which is visible in declining auto sales and consumer loans.
  7. An NBFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.It engages in the business of (a)loans and advances (b)acquisition of shares /stocks/ bonds/ debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature leasing and (c)hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business.

BUILD to shape future of Indian aerospace

  1. Boeing has announced the launch of Boeing University Innovation Leadership Development (BUILD) programme for university students, faculty and early-stage start-ups in India.
  2. The programme will help innovators convert their ideas into viable business offerings that have the potential to shape the future of Indian aerospace and defence.
  3. Applicants can submit their ideas in the fields related to (a)aerospace, (b)autonomous vehicles (c)advanced manufacturing (d)augmented and virtual reality (e)analytics (artificial intelligence and machine learning) (f)robotics and (g)the internet of things.
  4. The shortlisted teams will compete at a regional level and the finalists will then pitch their ideas to a selection panel of subject-matter experts on the Boeing Innovation Day. The winners will stand a chance to win cash prizes.
  5. The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and missiles worldwide.
  6. Boeing is among the largest global aerospace manufacturers. It is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2017 revenue and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value

India cuts off UN panel after Jammu & Kashmir report

  1. India has informed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that it has decided to cut off any communication with the UNHRC Special Rapporteurs.
  2. The term rapporteur is a French-derived word for an investigator who reports to a deliberative body. Special rapporteur are titles given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations (UN) within the scope of special procedure mechanisms who have a specific country or thematic mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  3. A Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial Executions had asked the Indian government about steps taken to address the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir listed in a June 2018 report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
  4. India has informed the UNHRC that it will no longer entertain any communication with the Special Rapporteurs on its report.
  5. However, UN officials have said that India is in contravention of several Conventions it has committed to including a Standing Invitation signed in 2011 to all special rapporteurs to visit India.
  6. In June 2018, the UNHRC had issued its report on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. The report highlighted a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces. India had rejected the report.

U.S. Ambassador to China makes rare Tibet visit

  1. US envoy to China is on a visit to the Tibet autonomous region. This is the first visit to the region by a U.S. ambassador since 2015 amid escalating trade tension between China and the US.
  2. China tightly restricts access to Tibet by foreigners, especially journalists and diplomats.
  3. In response to that lack of access, the U.S Congress had passed the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act which denies entry to the United States for anyone substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas.
  4. China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries well before People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took control of it in 1950.But Tibetans say they were effectively an independent nation for most of that time.
  5. Further, China is accused of political and religious repression in the region but it insists that Tibetans enjoy extensive freedoms and economic growth.
  6. Since 2009, about 150 Tibetans have committed self-immolation in different parts of Tibet calling for the return of the Dalai Lama from his exile and improvement of human rights in Tibet. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet had crossed the border into India following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959.

Defence companies can self-certify product quality: Ministry of defence

  1. The defence ministry has announced a policy which will allow private defence firms to self-certify the quality of their products. The policy also covers the defence public sector units (DPSUs).
  2. The objective of the policy is to promote ease of doing business and achieve the vision of ‘Make in India’. As per the policy, a mechanism will be instituted for awarding self-certification status to private industry and DPSUs.
  3. Currently, supplies by DPSUs and private vendors are subjected to clearance by the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA).The responsibility of awarding the self-certification status will be with DGQA.
  4. The policy paper has said that when suppliers with self-evident quality systems are awarded self-certification status, it encourages them to assume direct responsibility to sustain and improve quality.
  5. However, the policy has been opposed by the All India Defence Employees Federation. It said that this move will close down Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA).

After RBI, Sebi & IRDAI launch initiatives to boost startups

  1. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI) has announced sandbox initiative to encourage startups in their segments by making data and systems available to them.
  2. A sandbox is an enabling infrastructure or interface which is made available to an outside innovator or fintech by a bank so that they can test their product and services in real time. This live testing reduces the time to go to the market and also allows room for failure without actually going for a commercial launch.
  3. SEBI has named the sandbox initiative as Innovation Sandbox. Innovation sandbox is a shared workspace to ideate, explore new subjects, develop technologies and share knowledge.
  4. It aims to create an ecosystem which promotes innovation in the securities market. This space allows fintech firms which are not registered with SEBI to be a part of the sandbox.
  5. Fintech firms meeting Sebi criteria will have access to anonymous, historical data from exchanges, depositories and mutual funds. The data sets would include–KYC data, transaction data such as order log and trade log also mutual fund transaction data.
  6. Further, IRDAI has also came up with a similar sandbox to ensure flexibility in the insurtech market.But for the IRDAI sandbox, the applicant (an insurance company/broker or individual) should have a net worth of Rs 10 lakh and a standing of one financial year.
  7. FinTech or financial technology is an industry comprising companies that use technology to offer financial services. These companies operate in insurance, asset management and payment and numerous other industries.

Gujarat will supply treated waste water for industrial use

  1. The Gujarat government has come up with a detailed plan to address the water shortage in the state. Gujarat has been facing massive water crisis and the scarcity is particularly acute in the Saurashtra region, Kutch, North Gujarat and parts of tribal pockets in central and South Gujarat.
  2. Under the plan, the supply of fresh water will be limited to only for drinking and irrigation purposes. Whereas, the growing demand of industries will be met through treated waste water, which will be supplied by sewage treatment plants (STPs).
  3. According to government sources, Gujarat’s total sewage water generation is 4,000 MLD (million litres per day), while our treatment capacity is 3,500 MLD. The state has planned to add a new capacity of 1,500 MLD in next 2-3 years.

Are LEDs bad for your eyes? The jury is still out

  1. French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety has claimed that the blue light in LED lightning can damage retina. LED lights are the latest technology in energy efficient lighting
  2. It has added that chronic exposure can accelerate ageing of retinal tissue and can cause degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration. However, experts have called for more research to confirm the health concerns.
  3. LED stands for light-emitting diode. It is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electrical current passes through it. It is essentially the opposite of a photovoltaic cell (a device that converts visible light into electrical current). In most lightning applications, some of the light from LED is converted into another colour using a phosphor.

Stubble burning incidents down in Punjab this harvest season

  1. According to Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) data, the state had from April 15 to May 16 witnessed 5,981 incidents of stubble burning as against 9,900 cases reported during the corresponding period in 2018.
  2. Sangrur district topped the list with 553 incidents of stubble burning. Rupnagar district recorded the lowest number of stubble burning incidents.
  3. This indicates that the farmers in the state have exercised restraint in burning the wheat crop residue during the ongoing harvesting season. Wheat, the main Rabi crop, is sown from late October to December. Its harvesting generally starts from mid-April onwards
  4. Stubble burning is the practice of intentionally setting fire to residues which remains after the harvest of a crop. It is usually done to clear the field quickly for the next season and to burn off weeds and other pests.
  5. Stubble burning is pan-Indian problem. However, it is most acute in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. It contributes significantly to air pollution in Delhi-NCR region when in autumn, paddy stubbles are burned to prepare field for wheat cultivation.
  6. In 2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to take immediate steps to curb stubble burning. The Centre and states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have declared “zero tolerance policy” on stubble burning.
  7. Further, in 2018, the Punjab government drafted an action plan to deal with stubble burning. Under the plan, the state has decided to provide straw management machinery at 80% subsidy to the cooperative societies and other groups and at 50% subsidy to individual farmers. The state has also signed MoUs with major companies to set up Bio-CNG, ethanol and biogas plants using crop residue.

Opposition to meet Election Commission on May 21 over VVPAT verification

  1. Leaders of Opposition parties have decided Election Commission (EC) officials on Tuesday to urge the panel to come with detailed guidelines to address any mismatch between voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and electronic voting machine (EVM) tallies during the counting of votes
  2. As per the Supreme Court’s order, The EC will counter-check the VVPAT and EVM tallies in five randomly selected polling stations in an Assembly segment
  3. Previously, under the ECI guideline 16.6, only the VVPAT slips from one EVM in every Assembly segment/constituency was subjected to physical verification.
  4. The Court had observed that the move would ensure greater degree of accuracy and increase satisfaction in the election process of not just the political parties but of the entire electorate.
  5. However, Supreme Court’s decision was far shot from what the Opposition had demanded- at least 50% of paper trails be verified with EVMs. Later, the Supreme Court also dismissed a review petition filed by 21 Opposition parties for verification of tallies in at least 25% of the booths

Every drop of pollution in Ganga is a matter of concern’

  1. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has rebuked the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) for its lackadaisical approach towards preventing the pollution in River Ganga. NGT has voiced dissatisfaction over NMCG for not providing precise information about the status of rejuvenation projects planned and executed between Kanpur to Ganga Sagar.
  2. NMCG is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council. It was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The government through the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016, declared NMCG as an Authority. It has been given powers to issue directions and also to exercise the powers under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  3. The NMCG implements the Namami Gange programme. Launched in 2015, the Namami Gange programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission which seeks to achieve effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  4. The main pillars of Namami Gange Programme are a) Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, b) River-Surface Cleaning, c) Afforestation,  d) Industrial Effluent Monitoring, e) River-Front Development, f) Bio-Diversity, g) Ganga Gram and h) Public Awareness.

India adopts new standards for measuring units kilogram, kelvin, mole & ampere

  1. India has adopted a global resolution to redefine four of the seven base units – kilogram, kelvin, mole and ampere. The changes have come into effect from May 20, 2019- World Metrology Day
  2. There are seven main units of measurement- a) metre for length, b) the kilogram for mass, c) the second for time, d) the ampere for electric current, e) the kelvin for temperature, f) the mole for the amount of a substance, and g) the candela for luminous intensity.
  3. Representatives from 60 countries had voted to redefine SI, or the International System of Units at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles, France in November 2018. The conference was organised by International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). BIPM sets the global standards for measurement. India is a member of BPIM since 1957.
  4. The kilogram’s definition will now be based on a concept of physics called the Planck constant. The Planck constant relates a photon’s energy to its frequency. It describes the behaviour of particles and waves on the atomic scale. It depends on three units: metre, kilogram and second.
  5. As second and metre are measured and defined using the speed of light, they can be used with the fixed Planck constant to define a kilogram. Using a machine called a Kibble balance, the value of the Planck constant has been fixed. It has been measured at 6.626069… × 10^ (-34) kilograms per second per square metre.
  6. The second is defined as the time it takes for a certain amount of energy to be released as radiation from atoms of Caesium-133. A metre is the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second
  7. Until now the kilogram has been defined as the mass of a cylinder of platinum-iridium, called Le Grand K, or International Prototype Kilogram (IPK) which is kept at BIPM in Sèvres, near Paris.  In India, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), custodian of the fundamental units of measurement, maintains the National Prototype Kilogram (NPK-57), which is calibrated with IPK.
  8. The IPK was the last physical artefact used to define any of the fundamental units. All measures are all now defined on the basis of unchanging universal, physics constants- the natural constants.
  9. According to experts, the change in definition of kilogram will ensure its reliability, and enable far more accurate mass measurements. Further, the new SI System will be helpful in bringing in accuracy while dealing with international trade, biotechnology, high-tech manufacturing and human health and safety.
  10. The NPL has released a set of recommendations requiring that school textbooks, engineering-education books, and course curriculum update the definition of the kilogram.
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