9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 20th, 2019

Wawe Summit 2019

News:Union Human Resource Development Minister has launched the Waste Management Accelerator for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (WAWE Summit 2019).

Facts:

About the summit:

  • The summit will be the largest gathering of young women students who will promote entrepreneurship in waste management and provide alternatives to single-use plastic carry bags.
  • The summit is jointly organized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Institute of Waste Management(IIWM) at Jaipur.
  • The theme of the summit is: “Make your own bag – empowering women to take up income generation activity and entrepreneurship in waste management, through making a business out of this record-creating concept.”

Additional information:

About AICTE:

  • The All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) is the statutory body and a national-level council for technical education.
  • It works under Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • It was initially established in 1945 as an advisory body and later on in 1987 given statutory status by an Act of Parliament.
  • AICTE is responsible for proper planning and coordinated development of the technical education and management education system in India. 
  • It also accredits postgraduate and graduate programs under specific categories at Indian institutions as per its charter.

Bharat Bill Payment System(BBPS)

News:TheReserve Bank of India has expanded the scope of the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) by adding other categories of recurring payments through the portal.

Facts:

About BBPS:

  • BBPS is an interoperable platform for repetitive bill payments.It functions under the aegis of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • It is a one-stop payment platform for all bills providing an interoperable and accessible anytime anywhere bill payment service to customers across the country.
  • Currently, BBPS covers bills of five segments namely (a) Direct to Home (DTH), (b) Electricity, (c) Gas, (d) Telecom and (e) Water.
  • The RBI has now decided to expand the scope and coverage of BBPS to include all categories of billers.
  • The expansion would increase the user base of Bharat Bill Pay along with providing an efficient, cost-effective alternative to existing systems and enhance consumer confidence and experience.

Additional information:

About NPCI:

  • National Payments Corporation of India(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 & Settlement Infrastructure in India.

Margadarshan and Margadarshak scheme

News:Union Human Resource Development Minister has launched the Margadarshan and Margdarshak scheme.

Facts:

Margadarshan:

  • Under this scheme,institutions having good accreditation records or the top-performing institutions are selected to mentor relatively newer 10 to 12 potential institutions.
  • The best teaching and learning practices followed in the mentor institute will be simulated in the identified mentee institutions.
  • The mentee institutions will also be provided with funding up to Rs. 50 lakhs (per institution) over a period of three years (in instalments) for carrying out various activities like training, workshops, conferences among others.

Margdarshak: 

  • Under this scheme, mentor teachers or Margdarshak who are either serving or superannuated but willing and motivated with good knowledge of accreditation and who can devote adequate time to make required visits to these Institutions are identified.
  • These Margdarshaks will regularly visit the mentee institutions,stay on their campus and guide them for their improvement in quality so that institutions are able to get accreditation by NBA.

National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT)

News:Vice President of India has asked the Government to expedite the research facility proposed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology(NIOT) in Nellore,Andhra Pradesh.

Facts:

About NIOT:

  • The National Institute of Ocean Technology(NIOT) was established in November 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
  • The aim of NIOT is to develop reliable indigenous technologies to solve various engineering problems associated with harvesting of non-living and living resources in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) which is about two-thirds of the land area of India.

Mission of NIOT:

  • To develop world class technologies and their applications for sustainable utilization of ocean resources.
  • To provide competitive, value added technical services and solutions to organizations working in the oceans.
  • To develop a knowledge base and institutional capabilities in India for management of ocean resources and environment.

Northern Zonal Council

News:Union Minister for Home Affairs will chair the 29th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council(NZC) at Chandigarh.

Facts:

About Zonal Councils:

  • The Zonal Councils are statutory bodies.They were established under the States Reorganization Act,1956.
  • The act divided the country into five zonal councils namely Northern, Central, Eastern, Western and Southern councils.
  • In addition to the above Zonal Councils,a North-Eastern Council was also created by a separate Act of Parliament called North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
  • The members of North Eastern council includes states such as Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim.

Objectives:

  • To bring out national integration 
  • To arrest the growth of acute State regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies 
  • To enable Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences 
  • To establish a climate of cooperation amongst States for successful execution of development projects.

Members:Each zonal council consists of the following members 

  • Chairman – Union Home Minister 
  • Vice Chairman are the Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone by each holding office for a period of one year at a time
  • Members are the Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana

News:Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana(PMMVY) has achieved a significant milestone by crossing one crore beneficiaries.

Facts:

About PMMVY:

  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana(PMMVY) is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013.

Objective:

  • The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for first live birth.
  • It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.

Funding:

  • The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.

Target beneficiaries:

  • The maternity benefits are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers(PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.

Benefits:

  • The cash incentive of Rs 5000 will be provided in three instalments.
  • The first instalment of Rs 1000/ – on early registration of pregnancy at the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) / approved Health facility as may be identified by the respective administering State / UT.
  • The second instalment of Rs 2000/ – after six months of pregnancy on receiving at least one ante-natal check-up (ANC).
  • Further, the third instalment of Rs 2000/ – after child birth is registered and the child has received the first cycle of BCG, OPV, DPT and Hepatitis – B, or its equivalent/ substitute.

NCG Vishwam Cancer Care Connect

News:India has launched National Cancer Grid(NCG) Vishwam Cancer Care Connect in Vienna on the sidelines of 63rd General conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA).

Facts:

NCG Vishwam:

  • NCG-Vishwam seeks to integrate the hospitals and relevant cancer care institutes from partner countries with the National Cancer Grid(NCG) of India.

About National Cancer Grid(NCG):

  • NCG was established in 2012.It is managed by Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) and is funded by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.
  • The objective of the NCG has been removing the disparity in Cancer Care.
  • It is a network of major cancer centers, research institutes, patient groups and charitable institutions across India with the mandate of establishing uniform standards of patient care for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Additional information:

About IAEA:

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) is widely known as the world’s Atoms for Peace and Development.It was established as an autonomous organization in 1957.
  • It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna,Austria.It has 171 member states with one vote per member.
  • Though established as an autonomous organisation,the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Security Council.

MSDE, IBM come together for nationwide Train-the-Trainer program in AI

News:Ministry of Skill Development has signed an agreement with Global IT major IBM for nationwide Train-the-Trainer program in Artificial Intelligence.

Facts:

About the program:

  • As part of the program,trainers will be trained on basic Artificial Intelligence(AI) skills towards using the technology in their day-to-day training activities.
  • The program will be executed over a period of one year under which IBM aims at training 10,000 faculty members from ITIs across the country.
  • IBM will provide the necessary training at seven centres including six National Skills Training Institutes (NSTI) and one Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Pune.
  • Further,the individuals that complete the course will be awarded certification of participation and will be badged by IBM.

Additional information:

Artificial intelligence:

  • Artificial Intelligence is a way of making a computer or a 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.

Social safety net for gig workers proposed

News:Government has prepared a draft social security code for the informal and gig workers.

Facts:

Draft Social security code:

Social security for unorganized and gig workers:

  • The draft code has proposed to offer a slew of benefits from provident funds to health cover, accident insurance and education for children of informal and gig workers.
  • The code also says that the state governments may also unveil schemes related to provident fund, employment injury benefits, housing, educational schemes for children, skill upgradation for workers among others.

Existing labour laws that the code will merge:The code will merge the following 8 existing laws:

  • Employees Compensation Act, 1923 
  • Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 
  • Employees Provident Funds and miscellaneous act, 1952 
  • Maternity Benefit Act,1961 
  • Payment of Gratuity Act,1972 
  • Cine workers welfare fund act,1981 
  • Building and Other construction workers Cess Act,1996
  • Unorganized Workers Social Security Act,2008.

Maternity Benefit:

  • The draft code says that every woman is entitled to the payment of maternity benefit for the period of her actual absence.It includes the period immediately preceding the day of her delivery and the period immediately following her delivery.

Additional information:

What are gig workers?

  • The draft code defines a gig worker as a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of traditional employer-employee relationship.
  • The term gig economy has assumed significance with the proliferation of app-based services ranging from food delivery to taxis and other services.
  • The exact number of gig workers is unknown but a 2017 study had said that nearly one out of four gig workers in the world are in India.

In liquidity push, PSBs plan ‘loan melas’ in 400 districts

News:Finance Minister has announced that the public sector banks will be organising loan meals in 400 districts beginning October 3,2019.

Facts:

About loan melas:

  • The loan melas will be organized by the Public sector banks(PSB) in partnership with Non banking financial companies (NBFCs).
  • The PSBs will focus on giving loans to the ‘RAM’ category namely the retail, agriculture and Micro Small and Medium enterprises(MSMEs) 
  • The aim of this initiative is to improve consumption in the economy which is expected to boost the growth in the Indian economy. 

Modi, Trump may reference ‘mini-deal’ on trade at Houston event

News:Indian Prime Minister and the US President are expected to announce a mini trade deal during Prime Minister’s visit to the US.

Facts:

About the trade deal:

  • The trade deal may address some of the US concerns on (a)ICT tariffs (b)data localisation rules (c)price caps on medical equipment like knee implants and (d)agricultural market access for select products. 
  • In return,the United States(US) is expected to roll back some of the tariffs that it had imposed on India in 2018,when it began its Generalised system of preferences(GSP) review.

Major issues between India and US:

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Programme:

  • Recently,the United States(US) had terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme.
  • GSP is a preferential tariff system extended by developed countries to developing countries. 
  • It is a preferential arrangement in the sense that it allows concessional low/zero tariff imports from developing countries.

Services

  • India has concerns over US visa policies which has affected Indian nationals working in the United States.India is challenging US fees for worker visas in the WTO and monitoring potential US action to revise the H-1B visa program.
  • India has also asked US for a totalization agreement to coordinate social security protection for workers who split their careers between the two countries.

E-commerce rules:

  • The US has concerns regarding India’s e-commerce rules which had imposed restrictions on how e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Walmart owned Flipkart conduct business.

Additional information:

Totalisation agreement:

  • Totalization agreements are a means of protecting the benefit rights of workers who divide their working career between two or more countries. 
  • They also help to eliminate situations in which workers or employers are required to pay Social Security taxes to two countries on the same earnings. 
  • In addition,totalization agreements also removes legal obstacles that prevent a person who has earned benefits in one country from receiving those benefits while residing in the other country.

Access to the Internet is a basic right, says Kerala High Court

News:The Kerala High Court has held that the right to access the internet is a basic fundamental right.

Facts:

Background:

  • The High Court made this observation while ordering the principal of a college in Kerala to re-admit a student who had been expelled from the college hostel for using her mobile phone beyond the restricted hours.

Highlights of the court judgement:

  • The court said that right to access Internet is a part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The Court referred to the Supreme Court judgement in S. Rengarajan and others v. P. Jagjivan Ram(1989) case.
  • The Supreme court had said that the fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2) and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience or expediency.
  • The court also pointed out that the Human Rights Council of the United Nations had said that the right of access to Internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure right to education.

Poshan Abhiyaan targets are aspirational: Study

News: India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative has released a report titled Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2017.

Facts:

About India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative:

  • It is a joint initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India, and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The initiative was launched in 2015.

Key takeaways from Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2017:

  • The death rate due to malnutrition in children under five years of age in India has dropped by two-thirds between 1990 and 2017. However, it accounts for 68% of deaths in children of the age group.
  • Bihar and Assam have the highest malnutrition levels in the country.
  • Among the malnutrition indicators, low birth weight is the biggest contributor to disease burden followed by child growth failure which includes stunting, underweight and wasting.
  • Disease burden rate, attributable to malnutrition in children, varies seven-fold between the states. States like Rajasthan, UP, Bihar and Assam top the list while Kerala and Tamil Nadu have the lowest disease burden.
  • India will miss Poshan Abhiyan target for stunting levels by 9.6%; underweight target by 4.8%; desired low birth level by 8.9%; anaemia level among women by 13.8%; and anaemia level among children by 11.7%.

Additional Information:

POSHAN Abhiyan (National Nutrition mission)

  • It was launched in 2018 and is implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child development.
  • The mission aims to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.  It seeks to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
  • It targets to reduce stunting, under- nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively. It would strive to achieve reduction in Stunting from 38.4% (NFHS-4) to 25% by 2022

Note: Stunting- low height for age, Wasting- low weight compared to height, Underweight- low weight for age. Malnutrition includes both under and over nutrition.

UNICEF warns of emerging threats that young people face

News: UNICEF’s Executive director in open letter outlined eight growing challenges for the world’s children.

Facts:

Growing Challenges for World’s Children

  • Prolonged conflicts,
  • Pollution
  • Climate crisis,
  • Decline in mental health,
  • Mass migration
  • Population movements,
  • Statelessness
  • Online misinformation.

Recommendations put forward:

  • Treatment and rehabilitation for young people affected by mental health issues should be prioritised. Stigma and taboo surrounding mental illness should be challenged so that treatment can be sought and support provided.
  • Equip young people with the ability to understand who and what they can trust online, so they can become active, engaged citizens.

Additional Information:

UNICEF

  • UNICEF, acronym of United Nations Children’s Fund, formerly United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. It is headquartered in New York, USA.
  • It is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • It sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. It was signed in 1989 and came into force in 1990. India is a party to the convention.
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