9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 21st, 2019

Emergency Response Support System

News:Union Minister for Home Affairs has launched the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for Chandigarh police.

Facts:

About ERSS:

  • The Emergency Response Support System(ERSS) is one of the key projects of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under Nirbhaya Fund.
  • The system has been designed to play a pivotal role in mitigation or preventing escalation of crime, especially against women and children.
  • ERSS envisages a single pan-India emergency number ‘112’, which is an internationally recognised number to target all types of emergencies.
  • The features of ERSS includes (a)computer aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress and (b)Citizens can send their emergency information through call, sms through the 112 mobile app.

Additional information:

About Nirbhaya fund:

  • The Nirbhaya fund scheme seeks to support initiatives by the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring the safety of women in India.
  • The fund was set up in 2013 in the aftermath of the gruesome gang-rape and murder in Delhi.
  • The key schemes under the fund includes (a)Emergency Response Support System (b)Central Victim Compensation Fund (c)Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (d)One Stop Scheme (e)Mahila Police Volunteer and (f)Universalisation of Women Helpline Scheme.

National Educational Alliance for Technology(NEAT)

News:Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD) has announced a Scheme named National Educational Alliance for Technology(NEAT).

Facts:

About NEAT:

  • The scheme aims to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalized and customized as per the requirements of the learner.
  • Under the scheme,a National NEAT platform will be created that would provide one-stop access to these technological solutions.
  • All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) would be the implementing agency for the NEAT programme.
  • The ministry will also create a National Alliance with technology developing EdTech Companies through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
  • MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the Adaptive Learning Solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students.
  • EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage the registration of learners through the NEAT portal.

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.

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.

SC to get permanent Constitution bench

News:The Supreme Court has decided to create a permanent five judge Constitution Bench to hear and decide cases involving Constitutional questions.

Facts:

About Constitution bench:

  • Constitution bench is the name given to the benches of the Supreme Court of India which consist of at least five judges of the court.
  • These judges sit to decide on a case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution of India or for the purpose of hearing any reference made by the President of India under Article 143.
  • The provision of constitution bench has been mandated under Article 145 (3) of the Constitution of India.
  • The Chief Justice of India has the power to constitute a Constitution Bench and refer cases to it.
  • The Constitution benches have decided most important Supreme Court cases such as A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (basic structure doctrine) and Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India (OBC reservations) among others.

MOSAIC MISSION

News:A team of scientists from 19 countries is about to start the year-long MOSAIC mission in the RV Polarstern ship to a large piece of Arctic sea ice to study climate change.

Facts:

About the Mosaic mission:

  • MOSAiC mission stands for Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate.
  • The objective of the mission is to study the impact of climate change on the Arctic and how it could affect the rest of the world.
  • The mission has received funding from U.S. institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.
  • Under the mission,scientists plan to sail the RV Polarstern ship into the Arctic Ocean, anchor it to a large piece of sea ice and allow the water to freeze around them effectively trapping themselves in the vast sheet of ice that forms over the North Pole each winter.
  • As temperatures drop,they’ll build temporary winter research camps on the ice allowing them to perform tests that wouldn’t be possible at other times of the year or by satellite sensing.

INS Khanderi

News:Indian Navy will commission India’s second Scorpene-class submarine INS Khanderi on September 28,2019.

Facts:

About INS Khanderi:

  • INS Khanderi is the second of six planned Scorpene-class submarines being built at Mazagon Dock Limited(MDL) under technology transfer from Naval Group of France as part of Project 75I.
  • The submarine is named after Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji’s island fort Khanderi.
  • The state-of-the-art features allow this Scorpene submarine to launch attacks on the enemy using precision-guided weapons.
  • The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres including the tropics.It is equipped with all means and communication to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task
  • INS Khanderi is also capable of undertaking various types of missions such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.

Additional information:

Project 75I:

  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian navy.
  • Under it,six new-generation conventional diesel-electric submarines will be constructed. 
  • The Six Scorpene Class Submarines are (a)INS Kalvari (b)INS Khanderi (c)INS Karanj (d)INS Vela (e)INS Vagir and (f)INS Vagsheer.
  • They will have advanced Air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range. 
  • They will also feature advanced stealth capabilities such as a greater ability to suppress noise and acoustic signatures. 

Progress of project:

  • INS Kalvari was the first modern conventional submarine under this project to be inducted in service in December 2017.
  • The third submarine is currently undergoing sea trials and the fourth is getting ready to be launched.The other two submarines are at various stages of outfitting and will be delivered by 2022.

Explained: How the latest corporate tax rate cut impacts the economy

News:Finance Minister has announced to reduce the corporate tax rates in order to encourage manufacturing and boost private investment.

Facts:

About the tax rate cut:The government has taken the following decisions:

Why the corporate tax rate cut?

  • The corporate tax rate was reduced as the two other factors of the economy namely government expenditure (where the fiscal deficit is under pressure) and exports (which have been stagnant) have little space to boost growth.

Significance of corporate tax cut:

  • The lower corporate tax is aimed at boosting private sector investment in the backdrop of slowdown in consumption and decline in investment by private businesses.
  • The cut in corporate tax will also make it more attractive for existing and new businesses to invest and increase production which in turn will create employment.
  • However,this move will also cost the government Rs 1.45 lakh crore annually.This increases the chances of higher fiscal deficit and government may have to resort to spending cuts or embark on higher disinvestment.

Additional information:

About MAT:

  • MAT stands for Minimum Alternative Tax.It was introduced by the Finance Act,1987 with effect from assessment year 1988-89.Later on,it was withdrawn and then reintroduced in 1996.
  • The objective of introduction of MAT is to bring into the tax net zero tax companies who in spite of having earned substantial book profits(the profit shown in the profit and loss account) do not pay tax due to various tax concessions and incentives provided under the Income-tax Law.

Corporate social responsibility(CSR)

News:Government has decided to expand the scope of corporate spend under Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) norms.

Facts:

About CSR:

  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) was initiated through the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The act mandated companies and government organisations with (a)turnover of Rs1,000 crore or more(b)net worth exceeding Rs 500crore or (c)having more than Rs 5 crore in net profits to spend 2% of average net profit of the preceding three years on CSR.

Activities that can be undertaken under CSR:

  • The CSR amount can be spent on initiatives that would have social, economic and environmental impact or a way to give back to the society.
  • These initiatives include (a)promoting gender equality (b)empowering women (c)promoting education (d)eradicating hunger (e)poverty, (f)malnutrition (g)rural development projects among others.
  • The companies were also allowed to provide CSR funds to technology incubators located within Centre-approved academic institutions.

What has changed?

  • Government has now widened the scope of CSR activities and companies can now contribute towards research across various fields such as science, technology, medicine. 
  • Besides,CSR funds can also be spent on incubators funded by the Centre or state or any state-owned companies.

Draft rules to regulate social media ready: Government

News:Government has said that the Draft Information Technology Rules,2018 which mandate social media companies to cooperate with the police in cracking cyber crimes has been completed.

Facts:

Draft Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018:

  • The aim of the draft rules is to make social media and internet companies, that have over 50 lakh users more accountable for the content on their platforms.
  • The rules says that online intermediaries with more than 50 lakh users will be required to have a registered entity in India under the Companies Act.
  • The online intermediaries should also appoint in India, a nodal person of contact for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and ensure compliance with their orders.
  • They should provide information or assistance within 72 hours when asked by any government agency for reasons of State security, cyber security, investigation, detection, prosecution or prevention of offenses.
  • The social media intermediaries should publish rules, privacy policy to stop users from engaging in online material which is paedophilic, pornographic, hateful, racially and ethnically objectionable.
  • The intermediary should deploy technology based automated tools for identifying and removing or disabling public access to unlawful information or contents.
  • The intermediary should report cybersecurity incidents with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team.
  • On their website,the intermediary should also publish the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact details and the mechanism by which users or any victim who suffers can notify their complaints against such usage.

Additional information:

Internet intermediary:

  • Internet intermediary refers to a company that facilitates the use of the Internet.
  • Such companies include internet service providers(ISPs), search engines and social media platforms.

Germany Unveils 100 Billion Euro Climate Package

News:Germany has unveiled a 100 billion Euro climate package over the next four years to speed up the country’s transition to renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Facts:

About the Climate change plan:

  • The plan will include a scheme to charge industrial polluters for carbon emissions.
  • The plan includes (a)grants for electric car buyers (b)raising road taxes for polluting vehicles (c)improving heating systems for buildings and (d)raising a green surcharge for plane tickets among others.
  • The plan also consists of a scheme which is based on trade in emissions certificates under the European Union’s(EU) emissions trading scheme.

Why the plan now?

  • The plan was needed as Germany is on course to miss its 2020 target of reducing 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 40%,so it is now focusing on 2030 instead.
  • Under the terms of the new package,Germany will work to reduce carbon emissions by 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030.

Additional information:

Emission trading system(ETS):

  • Emission trading systems(ETS) is also referred to as the cap-and-trade system. 
  • Under ETS, the government caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions provided to the companies and allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters.

India, Mongolia to explore space together

News:TheMongolian President is on a visit to India.During the visit,India and Mongolia has emphasized on the conversion of a strategic relationship into the spiritual brotherhood.

Facts:

Highlights of the visit:

  • The two countries have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) on Space Cooperation and Disaster Management that will provide a new dimension to the India-Mongolia strategic partnership.
  • The space cooperation would allow peaceful exploration of outer space and include remote sensing and weather forecasting services for both the countries.
  • The two countries also took stock of the Cyber Security Training Centre project which is to be established in Mongolia with Indian support.
  • The two countries have also decided to expand the scope of India and Mongolia regular military exercises named “Nomadic Elephant” and “Khaan Quest”.
  • Further,the year 2020 will also mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Mongolia.

Belgium Luxembourg Economic Union

News:The 16th Session of the Joint Economic Commission(JEC) between India and Belgium Luxembourg Economic Union(BLEU) was held in New Delhi.

Facts:

About the session:

  • India and BLEU has reiterated the importance of the Joint Economic Commission(JEC) towards the development of bilateral economic and trade relations through facilitating dialogue and enhancing cooperation on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.

Joint Economic Commission(JEC) 

  • The Joint Economic Commission between India and Belgium – Luxembourg Economic Union (India-BLEU) was established in 1997.
  • It is the main vehicle for discussing economic and commercial issues.
  • This biennial event is organized in the capital cities of the three countries alternatively.

About BLEU

  • The Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union(BLEU) is an intergovernmental trade agreement between Luxembourg and Belgium.The treaty was signed in 1921.
  • Under the terms of the treaty,the economic frontier was lifted and the Belgian franc and Luxembourg franc were set at a fixed parity establishing a monetary union which was later replaced by Euro.
  • A new convention was signed in 2002 between the two nations.
  • The terms of the treaty has mostly been taken from the Benelux Union (between Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands) and the European Union.

Handbook on Fisheries Statistics – 2018

News:The Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has released the “Handbook on Fisheries Statistics – 2018”.

Facts:

Key findings of the handbook:

  • India is currently the world’s second largest producers of fish.It is also world number two in aquaculture production as well as in inland capture fisheries.
  • The total fish production of 12.59 million metric tonnes was registered during 2017-18 with a contribution of 8.90 million metric tonnes from inland sector and 3.69 million metric tonnes from marine sector.
  • The average growth in fish production during 2017-18 stands at 10.14% when compared to 2016-17 (11.43 million metric tonnes).
  • The percentage contribution of inland fish production in the total fish production of 29% during the year 1950-51 has increased to 71% in the year 2017-18.
  • Andhra Pradesh has recorded the highest production of inland fish whereas Gujarat is the leading state in Marine fish in the country.
  • The Fisheries sector is also the major source of livelihood for over 1.60 Crore people along with double the number in down and upstream.

India’s eastern-most village

News:Indian Air Force has inaugurated a resurfaced runway in Vijaynagar,in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Facts:

About Vijayanagar:

  • Vijayanagar is the eastern-most inhabited village of the country.
  • It is surrounded by Myanmar on three sides and the fourth side comprises stretches of Namdapha National Park.

Namdapha National Park:

  • Namdapha National Park is a large protected area in Arunachal Pradesh
  • The area is located between Dapha Bum ridge of Mishmi Hills outspurs of North Eastern Himalayas and Patkai Ranges.
  • It is the fourth largest national park in India.
  • The Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus biswasi) was first sighted in this park.It is endemic to this park and critically endangered.
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