9 PM Current Affairs Brief – May 30, 2019

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India has 20 health workers for 10,000 people, study finds

  1. A study based on National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data has revealed that India has 20.6 health workers per 10,000 people. The study has been published in BMJ Open.
  2. The number of health workers is less than the World health Organisation’s minimum threshold of 22.8. However, the numbers have increased from 19 health workers per 10000 people in 2012.
  3. The distribution of health workers is uneven between urban and rural areas. Rural areas with nearly 71% of India’s population have only 36% of health workers. Delhi has the highest concentration of health workers followed by Kerala, Punjab, and Haryana.
  4. The study has further noted that there is uneven distribution of health workers in private and public health sector with more than 80% of doctors and 70% of nurses and midwives being employed in the private sector.
  5. Recently, a WHO database has put India into the “critical shortage of healthcare providers” category. India has low density of health professionals with the number being lower than those of Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, United Kingdom and Brazil.
  6. The health workforce in India comprises broadly eight categories, namely: a) doctors (allopathic, alternative medicine); b) nursing and midwifery professionals; c) public health professionals (medical, non-medical); d) pharmacists; e) dentists; f) paramedical workers (allied health professionals); g) grass-root workers (frontline workers); and h) support staff.

New species of wasp identified in Goa

  1. A new species of wasp from the genus Kudakrumia has been recently identified by scientists in Goa. Kudakrumia is a genus of primitive wasps, described and previously known only from Sri Lanka.
  2. The new species from Goa has been collected from Cotigao Wildlife sanctuary. The wasp has been named Kudakrumia rangnekari, after Goa-based researcher Parag Rangnekar.
  3. A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. Wasps are adept at controlling pest populations and are regularly deployed to protect crops. For example, in Brazil, farmers control sugarcane borers with a kind of parasitic wasp.
  4. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is located in South Goa district, of Goa. The sanctuary was established in 1968.

Indian writer wins USD 100000 global book prize

  1. Indian writer Annie Zaidi was announced as the 2019 winner of Nine Dots Prize. She won the award for her book ‘Bread, Cement, Cactus’.
  2. The Nine Dots Prize is a prize for creative thinking that tackles contemporary societal issues.The aim of the Prize is to promote, encourage and engage innovative thinking to address problems facing the modern world.
  3. The Nine Dots Prize is judged anonymously and funded by the Kadas Prize Foundation,a UK-registered charity established to fund research into significant but neglected questions relevant to today’s world.
  4. The Prize-name references a lateral thinking puzzle that can only be solved by drawing outside of a box of nine dots arranged in three rows of three.

Haryana farmers win compensation for defective seeds sold by IFFCO

  1. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has granted Haryana farmers compensation of ₹5 lakh from Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO).
  2. This compensation was granted after the IFFCO had sold to farmers defective guar seeds that led to 70% crop failure.
  3. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), India is a quasi-judicial commission in India which was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
  4. Its head office is in New Delhi.The commission is headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  5. Section 21 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 says that the NCDRC shall have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint valued more than one crore and also have Appellate and Revisional jurisdiction from the orders of State Commissions or the District fora as the case may be.
  6. Further,Section 23 of Consumer Protection Act,1986, provides that any person aggrieved by an order of NCDRC may prefer an Appeal against such order to the Supreme Court of India within a period of 30 days.

WHO drops being transgender from list of mental disorders

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to no longer categorize being transgender as a “mental disorder”. According to the newly-revised version of the International Classification of Diseases (known as ICD-11), “gender identity disorders” have been reframed as “gender incongruence.”
  2. Gender incongruence is defined as a marked and persistent incongruence between a person’s experienced gender and assigned sex. “Gender incongruence” is now listed under a chapter on “sexual health”, as opposed to “mental disorders”.
  3. According to Human Rights Watch, the WHO’s removal of ‘gender identity disorder’ from ICD will have a liberating effect on transgender people worldwide.
  4. International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a handbook of recognised medical conditions. It defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions. The updated ICD list (ICD 11), was drafted in 2018 and was recently approved. It will take into effect from January 2022.

RBI extends RTGS transfer timings

  1. The Reserve Bank of India has increased the Real Time Gross Settlement(RTGS) time window for customer transactions from 4.30 pm to 6 pm.
  2. The RTGS is an online fund transfer system supported by the RBI which enables transmission on a real-time basis.
  3. Real time means the beneficiary bank receives the instructions for fund transfer immediately and gross means that it is not bunched with any other transaction and settlements of funds transfer instructions happen individually.
  4. Since the funds settlement takes place in the books of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI),the payments are final and irrevocable.
  5. The RTGS system is primarily meant for large-value transactions.The minimum amount to be remitted through RTGS is ₹2 lakh with no upper or maximum ceiling.

US removes India from its currency monitoring list

  1. United States has removed India from its currency monitoring list of major trading partners. It has also removed Switzerland from the list but added Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
  2. In 2018,India along with China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea was placed in the bi-annual currency watch list.
  3. The watch list contains the names of countries that have potentially questionable foreign exchange policies and are suspected to be manipulating their currencies to gain trade advantages over the US.
  4. While the designation of a country as a currency manipulator does not immediately attract any penalties but it tends to dent the confidence about a country in the global financial markets.
  5. Further,US had decided to continue to keep China on its watch list while urging China to take necessary steps to avoid a persistently weak currency.

Telangana priming for tech glory with first Blockchain district

  1. Telangana Government has announced a draft blockchain policy to offer regulatory and policy support for blockchain startups based in Hyderabad.
  2. The policy was announced with an aim to make Hyderabad as one of the top 10 Blockchain cities of the world. It has also decided to create India’s first Blockchain district within Hyderabad.
  3. The Blockchain District will be based around four main pillars which are (a)Developing talent pool (b)supporting infrastructure (c)promoting research and innovation and (d)enabling collaboration and building community.
  4. The government would partner with the industry to establish a training and certification agency in the State for reskilling and upskilling of the workforce.
  5. Further,the office space for startups working on blockchain would be provided at subsidised rates.The policy would also focus on banking, financial services,pharma and healthcare, logistics and supply chain and public sector.
  6. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that stores information across multiple systems securely and such data stored and distributed cannot be copied, hacked or tampered with.Records can only be added.

Supreme Court agrees to examine power of authorities to arrest individuals for GST evasion

  1. Supreme Court has decided to examine the power of the government officials to arrest persons for Good and Services Tax (GST) evasion.
  2. The court observed that different high courts had taken different views in granting anticipatory bail to individuals accused of GST evasion and therefore, it needs to decide the question of law on the power of arrest.
  3. This order comes after the central government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the order of Bombay High Court which said that an accused person can be arrested only in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPc).
  4. The Centre in its petition had said that the procedure entailed under the CrPC is for police officers and not for officers of the GST commissionerate.
  5. In contrast to the opinion of Bombay High Court,Telangana High Court had upheld the powers of the GST commissionerate to arrest people suspected of evading payment of GST and also to invoke penal provisions under the law.
  6. The Telangana court had upheld the Section 69 of the CGST Act which empowered the GST commissioner to order the arrest of a person when such a person is believed to have committed a cognizable and non-bailable offence.Further,the Supreme Court had also upheld this Telangana High Court verdict.

RBI forms task force on corporate loans

  1. The Reserve Bank of India has constituted a task force on the development of secondary market for corporate loans under T N Manoharan.
  2. The task force has also been asked to make recommendations for creation of a loan contract registry to remove information asymmetries between buyers and sellers ownership structure and standardisation of loan information, independent validation and data access.
  3. The secondary market is where securities are traded after the company has sold its offering on the primary market.It is also referred to as the stock market.
  4. Secondary loan market in India is largely restricted to asset reconstruction companies and ad hoc sale to other lenders including banks and no formalised mechanism has been developed to deepen the market.
  5. A well-developed secondary market for debt will help in transparent price discovery of the inherent riskiness of the debt being traded.

Pakistan extends airspace ban till June 15

  1. Pakistan has decided to extend the closure of its airspace along its eastern border with India until June 15.
  2. Pakistan had closed the airspace after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot.
  3. Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor and the airspace restrictions impact hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day adding flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.
  4. As a result of the ban,foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take alternative routes.The closure has affected flights from Europe to Southeast Asia.

SpaceX satellites pose new headache for astronomers

  1. Astronomers have raised concerns about Space X’s Starlink. According to astronomers, Starlink satellites may threaten the view of the cosmos and adversely affect scientific discovery.
  2. The newly launched each Starlink satellite contain a single solar array, which both captures and bounces sunlight off the satellites and, as a result, can sometimes be seen from Earth. However, bright, reflective surfaces pose a problem because they obstruct the view of the universe.
  3. SpaceX has said that in future satellites it would to work reduce albedo — that is, the amount of light the satellites reflect.
  4. Recently, SpaceX launched its first 60 of nearly 12,000 internet providing satellites under the Starlink Project.
  5. Starlink project seeks to provide internet data about 50% faster than is physically possible with current fiber-optic cables. The goal of the project is to eventually build a low-cost, satellite based broadband network capable of delivering internet access to the entire globe.

84 cities submit plans for improving air quality by 2024

  1. The Union Environment Ministry has said that 84 out of 102 non-attainment cities, included in the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) have submitted city-specific plans to reduce air pollution.
  2. In 2019, National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) has been launched for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in India. It is a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
  3. It aims at 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5and PM10 concentration by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
  4. The programme targets 102 non-attainment cities which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  5. The NCAP requires cities to come up with city-specific plans that include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement.
  6. The cities are required to implement specific measures in a time-bound manner. Example: ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days). However, it doesn’t specify an exact date for when these obligations should start.
  7. Recently the Union Environment Ministry has constituted a committee to implement the NCAP which will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry.
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