9 PM Current Affairs Brief – November 15th, 2019

Terrorism caused $1 trillion loss to world economy: PM Modi at BRICS summit

News:Indian Prime Minister has attended the 11th BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil.

Facts:

About BRICS:

  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • The BRICS 2019 summit was held  under the theme BRICS: Economic Growth for an Innovative Future.
  • During the summit,the BRICS countries have adopted the Brasilia Declaration.

About Brasilia Declaration:

  • The declaration has urged for concerted efforts to fight against terrorism under United Nations(UN) in accordance with international law.
  • They have also callled for an expeditious conclusion and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism(CCIT) within the UN framework
  • They also called on the States to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions including those from their territories.
  • They have said that the trade war between China and the U.S. and rising protectionism is hurting the global economy.Hence,multilateralism is crucial for emerging countries to protect their own interests.
  • There is an urgent need to reform the United Nations including the World Trade Organisation(WTO) and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) to address the significant challenges being faced by the developing countries.

Additional information:

About CCIT:

  • The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) was proposed by India at United Nations in 1996.
  • The convention provides a legal framework which makes it binding on all signatories to deny funds and safe havens to terrorist groups.

Objectives of CCIT:

  • To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law
  • To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps
  • To prosecute all terrorists under special laws
  • To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide.

Why has CCIT not been adopted yet?

  • The CCIT has remained deadlocked mainly due to opposition from three main blocks the US, the Organization of Islamic Countries(OIC) and the Latin American countries.
  • The three blocks have raised objections over the definition of terrorism and seek exclusions to safeguard their strategic interests.

Selected Student Innovators of Atal Tinkering Lab Marathon 2018 Call on the President

News:A group of selected student innovators of the Atal Tinkering Lab Marathon 2018 has called on the President of India.

Facts:

About Atal Tinkering lab:

  • Atal Tinkering labs(ATL) have been established under the Atal Innovation Mission(AIM).
  • ATL is a workspace where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands-on do-it-yourself mode and learn innovation skills.
  • The objective of this lab is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing among others.
  • AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs.10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
  • Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society are eligible to set up ATL.

Additional information:

Atal innovation mission(AIM):

  • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) was set up by NITI Aayog in 2016.
  • It aims to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.It seeks to create institutions and programs that enhance innovation in schools, colleges, and entrepreneurs in general.

India gets USD 43 million from Green Climate Fund to boost climate resilience in 3 coastal states

News:India has started a USD 43 million project to boost climate resilience in three coastal states in partnership with the UNDP’s  Green Climate Fund.

Facts:

About the Project:

  • It will be a six year project which will help to build climate resilient livelihoods of 1.7 million people in three coastal states which are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
  • The project will work with communities in restoring ecosystems and promoting climate-resilient livelihood options, such as the sustainable farming of mud crabs.
  • The project has also planned to sequester minimum of 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in the next 30 years.
  • The project will be funded by the Green Climate Fund.Further, Indian government will also finance an additional USD 86.8 million towards the project to mainstream and accelerate the impacts of the Green Climate Fund grant.

Additional information:

About Green Climate fund:

  • The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was set up in 2010 as a financial mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC).
  • The GCF mechanism allows funding from developed countries to developing countries to allow them to mitigate climate change and also adapt to disruptions arising from a changing climate.
  • The GCF is based in Incheon, South Korea.It is governed by a Board of 24 members and supported by a Secretariat.
  • The Fund also targets societies that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, in particular Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and African States.
  • The fund is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year by 2020.

Roadside air purifiers failed to curb pollution in Capital, says Union Environment Ministry Secretary

News:Union Environment ministry has said that roadside air purifiers such as WAYU and HEPA filters has failed to curb air pollution in Delhi.

Facts:

About WAYU:

  • WAYU stands for Wind Augmentation PurifYing Unit.The device has the capacity to purify air in an area of 500 meter square.
  • It has been developed by the CSIR–National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(CSIR-NEERI) as a part of Technology Development Project being funded by the Department of Science and Technology.
  • The device works on two principles mainly wind generation for dilution of air pollutants and Active Pollutants removal.
  • It has filters for particulate matter(PM) removal and activated carbon (charcoal) and UV lamps for poisonous gases removal such as Volatile organic compounds(VOCs) and Carbon Monoxide.
  • The device also has one fan and filter for sucking and removing PM. There are two UV lamps and half kg of activated carbon charcoal coated with special chemical Titanium Dioxide.

About HEPA Filters:

  • HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter(HEPA) filter.
  • The HEPA filter sucks airborne contaminants and pushes out clean, fresh air.
  • The  filters can trap nearly 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns.

Supreme Court dismisses pleas to review Rafale ruling

News:The Supreme Court has refused to review its December,2018 order rejecting a probe into the controversial Rafale deal.

Facts:

About the Rafale deal:

  • The Rafale deal is a defence deal between French and Indian government.
  • In 2016,Indian government had inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jet.
  • As part of the contract,India will also get the latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles,besides a five-year support package that assures high availability of the fighter.

About Rafale fighter jet:

  • Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft.It is manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation.
  • The Rafale is referred to as an ‘omnirole’ aircraft by Dassault.It is the capability to perform several actions at the same time.It can carry out both air-to-ground as well as air-to-air attacks.
  • The aircraft is also fitted with an on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS).It suppresses the need for liquid oxygen refilling or ground support for oxygen production.

About Rafale deal controversy:The petitioners have filed the case against the Rafale deal on the basis of these issues:

Pricing:

  • The petitioners have alleged that the government had bought 36 Rafale fighter aircraft at a much higher price than the one that was being negotiated for 126 aircraft by the previous government.
  • However,the court has rejected the allegations on the pricing of the jets. It said it was not the function of the court to determine the prices.

Offset Partner:

  • The petitioners had raised an issue over Dassault partnering with Reliance Defence,a private company instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics limited(HAL).
  • But the court pointed out that the Defence Procurement Policy(DPP) 2013 says that the Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM) will choose its own Indian Offset Partners(IOPs) and that in this process,the role of the Government is not envisaged.

Additional information:

About Offsets:

  • Offsets are kind of a quid pro quo between countries and defence companies.Basically,since a government spends a large part of its budget buying equipment from these companies,it asks these companies to invest a portion of the deal amount in their countries.
  • The offset clause allows for economic growth of the country in the process of completing the deal.While some offset clauses may ask for investments, others may impose terms like onboarding of local suppliers in the process.
  • The key objectives of offsets are to leverage capital acquisitions to develop national defence R&D and encourage the aerospace and internal security sectors.

SCALP:

  • SCALP is a precision long range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy.It has a range of 300 km capped by the missile technology control regime.

METEOR:

  • A meteor is a beyond visual range air to air missile that is possibly the best in its class.It can take out enemy aircraft at a range of over 100 km.

Tobacco Board Receives 2019 Golden Leaf Award

News:Tobacco Board of India has been awarded the Golden Leaf Award in the Most Impressive Public Service Initiative category for the year 2019.

Facts:

About Tobacco Board of India:

  • Tobacco Board is a statutory body established under the Tobacco Board Act,1975.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.The tobacco board is headquartered in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The main functions of the Board include (a)regulating the production and curing of Virginia tobacco in India (b)improving the yields and quality of tobacco, (c)facilitating the sale of tobacco through e-auctions (d)undertaking various grower welfare measures and (e)export promotion of tobacco.

Additional information:

About Golden Leaf awards:

  • The Golden Leaf Awards were created to recognize professional excellence and dedication in the tobacco industry by Tobacco Reporter, an international magazine in the year 2006.
  • The awards are granted on an annual basis to companies that have achieved outstanding performance in five categories (a) impressive public service initiative (b) promising new product introduction (c) exciting newcomer to the industry (d) outstanding service to the industry and (e)committed to quality award.

Supreme Court strikes down amended Finance Act rules for tribunals

News:TheSupreme Court has struck down the rules formulated by the Centre on appointment and service conditions for members of various tribunals and referred to a larger bench the issue of examining the validity of the passage of the Finance Act 2017 as a Money Bill.

Facts:

Finance act on Tribunals:

  • The Finance Act,2017 had modified the terms of appointment and functioning in various statutory tribunals including the National Green Tribunal.
  • However,the Supreme Court has struck down the rules under Section 184 of the Finance Act,2017.
  • The court said that changing the governance of tribunal through rules is contrary to the doctrine of Separation of Powers and past judgements of the SC.
  • In 2014,the Supreme Court while examining the provisions related to the National Tax Tribunal had held that Appellate tribunals have powers and functions similar to that of High Courts.
  • Therefore,matters related to the appointment and reappointment of their members must be free from executive involvement.
  • Further,the apex court has also directed the government to reformulate the rules.

Finance act as a Money bill:

  • The challenge to the Finance Act, 2017 was also on the grounds that it was passed as a Money Bill.
  • The petitioners had argued that the finance act was not a money bill as it contained provisions concerning the functioning of tribunals and passing it as a money bill was done to circumvent the Rajya Sabha.
  • However,the apex court has referred this matter to a larger bench for consideration.

Additional information:

About Tribunals:

  • Tribunals are special court to deal with specific matters or problems of a particular type.
  • They were added in the Constitution by the Constitution (Forty second Amendment) Act,1976 as Part XIV-A.
  • Article 323-A deals with Administrative Tribunals while article 323-B deals with tribunals for other matters.

About Money Bill:

  • A money bill is defined under Article 110 of the Indian Constitution.
  • A Bill is said to be a Money Bill if it only contains provisions related to taxation, borrowing of money by the government,expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India.Bills that only contain provisions that are incidental to these matters would also be regarded as Money Bills.
  • The Speaker certifies a Bill as a Money Bill and the Speaker’s decision is final.
  • A Money Bill can be introduced in Lok Sabha on the recommendation of the President.It must be passed in the Lok Sabha by a simple majority of all members present and voting.
  • Following this, it may be sent to the Rajya Sabha for recommendations, which Lok Sabha may reject if it chooses to.If such recommendations are not given within 14 days,it will be deemed to be passed by Parliament.

Moody’s Cuts India’s GDP Growth Forecast To 5.6% For 2019-20

News:Moody’s Investors Service has reduced India’s economic growth forecast to 5.6% for 2019 from 5.8% projected earlier.

Facts:

  • The growth forecast has been reduced due to investment-led slowdown that has broadened into consumption,driven by financial stress among rural households and weak job creation.
  • To overcome the growth slowdown,the government has undertaken a number of measures.
  • It has announced a cut in the corporate tax rate to 22% from 30%.It also lowered the tax rate for new manufacturing companies to 15% to attract new foreign direct investments.
  • It has also taken other initiatives such as bank recapitalization, mergers of 10 public sector banks into four, support for the auto sector, plans for infrastructure spending as well as tax benefits for startups.
  • However,it said that none of these measures directly address the widespread weakness in consumption demand which has been the chief driver of the economy.
  • But the moody expects the economic activity in India to pick up in 2020 and 2021 to 6.6% and 6.7% respectively.

Additional information:

About Moody:

  • Moody’s is an essential component of the global capital markets.
  • It providing credit ratings, research, tools and analysis that contribute to transparent and integrated financial markets.

BHIM UPI goes global

News:Recently,to internationalize the BHIM UPI a pilot demo was conducted in Singapore with a live transaction at a merchant terminal at the FinTech Festival 2019.

Facts:

  • The project is being jointly developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Singapore’s Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS).
  • This QR code-based system would allow anyone with a BHIM app to scan Singapore Quick Response Code(SGQR) at NETS terminals in Singapore for payments.
  • The project is targeted to go fully live by February 2020 and cover thousands of terminals in Singapore after the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) approval.
  • Further,by February 2020,it is also expected that all RuPay cards, including domestic ones will be acceptable in Singapore.

Additional information:

About BHIM:

  • Bharat Interface for Money(BHIM) is Unified Payments Interface(UPI) based payment interface application that allows real time fund transfer
  • The app has been launched in 2016.It was developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

About UPI:

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application of any participating bank.
  • The interface has been developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • It merges several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.

About National Payments Corporation of India(NPCI):

  • NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 for creating a robust Payment and Settlement Infrastructure in India.
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