9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 4th, 2019

PRAKASH portal

News:Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy(IC) and Union Minister of Coal has launched PRAKASH portal.

Facts:

About the portal:

  • PRAKASH stands for Power Rail Koyla Availability through Supply Harmony.
  • The portal aims at bringing better coordination for coal supplies among all stakeholders namely Ministry of Power, Ministry of Coal, Coal India, Railways and power utilities.
  • The portal is developed by NTPC and sources data from different stakeholders such as Central Electricity Authority(CEA), Centre for Railway Information System(CRIS) and coal companies.
  • This portal will play an important role in ensuring adequate availability and optimum utilization of coal at thermal power plants.

Benefits of Portal to the Stakeholders:

  • Coal company will be able to track stocks and the coal requirement at power stations for effective production planning
  • Indian Railways will be able to plan to place the coal quantity as per actual coal available at power stations.
  • Power stations can plan future schedule by knowing coal quantities in pipe line and expected time to reach.
  • Ministry of Power /Ministry of Coal can review overall availability of coal at thermal power plants in different regions.

Additional information:

About Central Electricity Authority

  • CEA is an organization originally constituted under Section 3(1) of the repealed Electricity (Supply) Act,1948, since substituted by Section 70 of the Electricity Act, 2003.
  • It’s objective is to formulate National Electricity Plan every five years for optimum utilization of available resources for power generation.
  • It works under the Ministry of Power and is located in New Delhi.

About NTPC:

  • NTPC is India’s largest power utility.It was established in 1975.
  • It was incorporated under the Companies Act 1956 and is promoted by the Government of India. 
  • The headquarters of the company is situated in New Delhi.

About Centre for Railway Information System(CRIS):

  • The Ministry of Railways set up CRIS as a society in July 1986.
  • It designs, develops, implements and maintains most of the important information systems of Indian Railways. 
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Exercise Nomadic Elephant

News:The 14th edition of India – Mongolia joint military training named Exercise Nomadic Elephant-XIV will commence from 5th Oct 2019.

Facts:

About the exercise:

  • Exercise Nomadic Elephant is a joint military exercise between India and Mongolia.
  • The exercise will be conducted from at Bakloh,Himachal Pradesh.
  • The exercise is aimed at training troops in counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations under United Nations mandate.
  • The exercise will enhance defence cooperation and military relations between the two nations. 
  • The Mongolian Army is being represented by officers and troops of the elite 084 Airborne Special Task Battalion.
  • On the other hand,Indian Army is being represented by a contingent of a battalion of Rajputana Rifles.

Additional information:

About Rajputana Rifles:

  • The Rajputana Rifles is the oldest rifle regiment and one of the senior-most regiment of the Indian Army. 
  • It was originally raised in 1921 as part of the British Indian Army.
  • Since independence,the regiment has been involved in a number of conflicts against Pakistan.
  • It has also contributed to the Custodian Force (India) in Korea under the aegis of the United Nations in 1953-54 and the UN Mission to the Congo in 1962.

Exercise Ekuverin

News:The Joint Military Exercise Ekuverin between the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force will be organised from 07 October,2019.

Facts:

About the exercise:

  • Exercise Ekuverin is a joint military exercise between India and Maldives.
  • The two countries have been conducting Exercise Ekuverin meaning ‘Friends’ in the Dhivehi language since 2009.
  • The exercise is conducted every year alternatively in India and Maldives.
  • This year,the 10th annual exercise will be conducted at Aundh Military Station in Pune, Maharashtra.
  • The exercise aims at enhancing interoperability between the two forces for carrying out counter insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in a semi-urban environment under the United Nations mandate.

Delhi CM to endorse clean air declaration at C40 summit

News:Delhi Chief Minister will be among 20 leaders from megacities of the world to launch the Clean Air Cities Declaration.

Facts:

About Clean Air Cities Declaration:

  • Clean Air Cities Declaration are a set of short and long term commitments towards cleaning the air.
  • The declaration will be launched at C40 Summit in Copenhagen.

About C40:

  • C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group(C40) is a group of 94 cities around the world that represents one-twelfth of the world’s population and one-quarter of the global economy.
  • The leadership group was founded in 2005 in London,UK.
  • C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.
  • It focusses on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens.

Process on to commute Rajoana sentence: MHA

News:The process to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for killing former Punjab chief minister is underway.

Facts:

Pardoning powers of the President:

  • Indian President is empowered with the power to pardon under Article 72 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 72:Article 72 says that the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, remit or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.

  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence by a court martial;
  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  • in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Different Pardoning Powers:

  • Commutation- Commutation means substitution of one form of punishment with a lighter form.For example Rigorous imprisonment may be commuted to simple imprisonment.
  • Pardon –A Pardon removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all the sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
  • Reprieve – Reprieve implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period.Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
  • Respite – Respite denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special facts such as the physical disability of convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
  • Remissions –  Remission means the reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, for example, a sentence of 1 year may be remitted to 6 months.In other words,it reduces the period of sentence, but the character of punishment remains same.

The pardoning power of President is wider than the governor and it differs in the following two ways:-

  • The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
  • The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

Parichay

News:Recently,five law schools of the country have jointly launched a legal aid clinic called Parichay.

Facts:

About Parichay:

  • Parichay which means identity aims to help people excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by helping them to appeal before the foreigners tribunals.
  • It is envisaged to function as a clearing house of litigation and research assistance for lawyers filing appeals against exclusion from the Register of Citizens(NRC).
  • It consists largely of student volunteers who will assist lawyers in drafting appeals, conduct research on pertinent questions of the law and generate documentation on the functioning of Foreigners Tribunals.

Additional information:

About National Register of Citizens(NRC):

  • NRC is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. It was first prepared in 1951.
  • It has been updated in Assam to address the issue of illegal migrants.It seeks to identify illegal migrants in Assam who had entered the state on or after 25th March 1971.
  • The update has been carried out under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord,1985.

Updated National Register of Citizens(NRC):

  • The updated NRC was published on August 31,2019.Over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final list.
  • The excluded persons have 120 days to file an appeal at any of the existing Foreigners Tribunals.The Tribunals are required to dispose of the cases within six months. 
  • Appellants can then approach the High Court and Supreme Court. They will get a window of 10 months to prove their citizenship before being sent to detention centres.

Foreigners tribunal:

  • Foreigners Tribunal (FT) was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964. 
  • The tribunals have been mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam. 
  • At present, there are 100 FTs in Assam; of these 64 were set up in 2015, to expedite the exercise of determining illegal immigrants in the state through the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Performance Smart Board

News:The Ministry of Electronics and IT(MEITY) has launched an Automated Real Time Performance Smart-Board.

Facts:

About the Smart-Board:

  • The board will act as a single window access for Centre, State or District specific projects implemented by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY).
  • The smart-board is expected to promote transparency and enhance ease of working.
  • The board will provide real-time, dynamic analytical project monitoring for critical and high priority Programme or schemes of MeitY.
  • It will also enhance analysis through data integration by consolidating multiple data sources into one centralized, easy-to-access platform.

Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2019

News:Prime Minister will present the Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2019 to top ranked states and districts.

Facts:

About About Swachh Survekshan Grameen:

  • Swachh Survekshan Grameen provide national ranking of all districts and States of India on the basis of quantitative and qualitative sanitation (Swachhata) parameters.
  • The rankings are based on taking into account a set of comprehensive cleanliness parameters.

Weightage:The weights to different criteria of the SSG are as follows:

  • Direct Observation of sanitation in public places (30%).
  • Citizen’s Feedback including feedback from common citizens,key influencers at the village level and from citizens online using the App (35%).
  • Service Level Progress on sanitation related parameters (35%).

Key takeaways from the survey:

  • Among larger states,Tamil Nadu has topped the list in 2019 from 11th position in 2018.
  • Haryana and Gujarat slipped to second and third positions respectively, each a rank lower than their 2018 performance. 
  • Among the districts,Peddapalli from Telangana has topped the list followed by Faridabad and Rewari from Haryana.

Ecuador to withdraw from OPEC in January 2020

News:Ecuador has decided to withdraw from 14-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from 1 January 2020.

Facts:

  • Ecuador has taken this decision in the backdrop of internal fiscal problems.
  • The country is attempting to increase its production of crude oil in a bid to raise more income. 
  • Further, Ecuador had also asked Opec for permission to produce oil above its quota but the OPEC has not responded to the request. 

Additional information:

About OPEC:

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental Organization.
  • It was created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.It has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
  • OPEC aims to manage the supply of oil in an effort to set the price of oil on the world market and to avoid fluctuations that might affect the economies of both producing and purchasing countries.
  • According to its statutes,OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.
  • The current OPEC members are: (a)Algeria (b)Angola (c)Ecuador (d)Equatorial Guinea (e)Gabon (f)Iran (g)Iraq (h)Kuwait, (I)Libya (j)Nigeria (k)the Republic of the Congo (l)Saudi Arabia (j)United Arab Emirates and (k)Venezuela.

Vande Bharat Express

News:Union Minister for Home Affairs has flagged off the New Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express in New Delhi.

Facts:

  • The Vande Bharat Express will depart from the New Delhi Railway Station and reach Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The train will give a big boost to the religious tourism as many Hindus have a desire to visit Vaishno devi Temple which is situated in Katra at least once in the lifetime.
  • This is the second Vande Bharat Express as the first runs between Delhi and Varanasi.

Features of Vande Bharat Express:

  • Vande Bharat is India’s first indigenously built engineless train capable of running at a speed of up to 160 kmph,It is also being referred to as a successor to the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express.
  • The fully air-conditioned semi-high speed train will cut travel time by 15% as compared to the Shatabdi.
  • The train has been manufactured under ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Integral Coach Factory(ICF).
  • The features of the train include (a)modern air-conditioned coaches (b) touch free automatic doors (c) GPS-enabled passenger information system and (d) onboard uninterrupted Wifi and infotainment system.

Pneumoconiosis

News: Rajasthan has announced the creation of a Pneumoconiosis Fund.

Facts:

About Pneumoconiosis Fund:

  • The fund will be majorly financed by money from the District Mineral Foundation (DMF). The fund will be operating Rajasthan’s Social Justice and Empowerment Department
  • The fund will be used to finance a comprehensive policy on Pneumoconiosis, recently released by the Rajasthan government.

About Pneumoconiosis:

  • Pneumoconiosis is the general term for a class of interstitial lung diseases (the tissue and space around the alveoli) where inhalation of dust has caused interstitial fibrosis.
  • It is occupational health disease and mostly affects workers who work in the mining and construction sectors.
  • Depending upon the type of dust, the disease is given different names:
    • Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (also known as miner’s lung, black lung or anthracosis) — coal, carbon
    • Asbestosis — asbestos
    • Silicosis (also known as “grinder’s disease”) – silica dust.

Additional Information:

District Mineral Foundation (DMF):

  • It is a trust set up as a non-profit body, in those districts affected by the mining works. It works for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining related operations.
  • It is funded through the contributions from miners.
  • Its manner of operation comes under the jurisdiction of the relevant State Government.
  • Setting up of District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) in all districts in the country affected by mining related operations was mandated through the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act, (MMDRA) 2015

Explained: Why RBI may cut interest rates tomorrow and why it may not be enough

News:The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to announce its bi-monthly policy review on October 4,2019.

Facts:

What is likely to happen in the policy review?

The RBI is likely to cut the repo rate by anywhere between 35 to 40 basis points due to following reasons-

  • Inflation is under control.Hence,there is room to reduce interest rates without fueling a surge in the price level.
  • The transmission of the repo rate is also weak so a deeper cut is required to achieve the goal.
  • The government has just cut corporate tax rates in its bid to incentivise more investments.Therefore,cutting interest rates will further help that goal as it would make it cheaper to borrow money.
  • Further,the larger rate cut will also allow banks which are not willing to link interest rates to the repo rate for quicker transmission of rate cuts.

Will rate cut help to boost economic activity?

  • Experts have said that the repo rate cut may not help Indian economy to a far extent as Indian economy is facing its worst slowdown since the dip in economic activity following the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

Additional information:

About Monetary Policy Committee(MPC):

  • The Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The MPC is made up of six members with three nominated by the Union government and three representing the RBI.
  • The MPC is mandated by law to ensure that retail inflation stays within a band of two percentage points of the target inflation rate of 4%.

Repo rate:

  • Repo stands for ‘Repurchasing Option’.It refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the RBI.

Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh

News: Madhya Pradesh might soon its seventh tiger reserve — the Ratapani Tiger Reserve. The proposed reserve will be carved out of the Ratapani wildlife sanctuary which is spread over Raisen and Sehore districts.

Facts:

About Tiger Reserves:

  • Tiger Reserves are protected area that aim at conserving the habitat to ensure a viable population of the tigers along with their prey base in their habitat. They are established under the Project Tiger.  
  • India launched Project Tiger in 1973 with an aim to limit factors that leads to reduction of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management.
  • Jim Corbett in Uttarakhand is the first Tiger Reserve to be established under Project Tiger. At present, there are 50 tiger reserves in India. Orang Tiger Reserve in Assam is the 49Th tiger reserve and Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is the 50th.
  • National Tiger Conservation Authority, established in 2005, oversees management of Project Tiger and Tiger Reserves in India.

Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh:

  • There are 6 Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh:
    • Kanha Tiger Reserve
    • Pench Tiger Reserve
    • Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
    • Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve
    • Bori- Satpura Tiger Reserve
    • Panna Tiger Reserve

Additional Information:

  • According to All India Tiger Estimation Report– 2018, Madhya Pradesh has highest number of tigers (526), followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442). Madhya Pradesh is thus called Tiger State of India.
  • According to 4th cycle of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves (MEETR), Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary and Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary has been designated as best managed Tiger Reserves in India with a score of 93.75%

Explained: Why Amit Shah wants to amend the Citizenship Act before undertaking countrywide NRC

News:Union Home Minister has said that the government would first amend the existing citizenship norms  by passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill before it implements a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Facts:

About Citizenship amendment bill,2016:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955.It seeks to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship.
  • The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
  • The bill has been criticised as it seeks to make illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion – a move that may violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.

About National Register of Citizens(NRC):

  • Till date,Assam is the only state that has implemented the National Register of Citizens. 
  • The NRC defines all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion on the basis of a cutoff date in Assam which was set to be March 24,1971. 
  • To claim citizenship,individuals had to prove that either they or their ancestors were Indian citizens before March 1971.
  • The updated NRC was published on August 31,2019.Over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final list.

What will happen if the Citizenship Amendment happens before a nationwide NRC?

  • If the citizenship bill is passed before NRC, then illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will be eligible for Indian citizenship and would not be excluded from the National Register of Citizens. 

Exercise KAZIND -2019

News: The KAZIND 2019 commenced on 3rd October at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. The exercise will end on 15th October 2019.

Facts:

  • KAZIND is an annual military exercise between India and Kazakhstan army. Exercise KAZIND-2019 is the fourth edition.
  • The aim of exercise is joint training of troops in Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorism operations in both Jungle and Mountainous terrain.
  • It is conducted alternatively in Kazakhstan and India. KAZIND 2018 was held in Otar region, Kazakhstan.
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