INS Tarkash at Bergen, Norway

  1. Indian Naval Ship Tarkash which is a front-line warship of the Indian Navy has entered the port of Bergen Norway as part of Western Fleet Overseas Deployment.
  2. The port call by INS Tarkash at Bergen is a demonstration of India’s warm ties with Norway.INS Tarkash is one of the most potent frontline frigates of the Indian Navy equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors.
  3. During the port call,various dignitaries and government officials of Norway are scheduled to visit the ship.In addition to social engagements, best practices will also be shared between the Indian and Royal Norwegian Navies.
  4. India has cordial and friendly relations since 1947 with Norway.The bilateral cooperation between the two countries is progressed through the India-Norway Joint Commission Meetings. 
  5. Indian Navy ships are regularly deployed as part of Indian Navy’s mission of building ‘bridges of friendship’ and strengthening international cooperation with friendly countries.
  6. The ship visit to Norway comes amidst growing importance and convergence of national goals towards shared maritime interest and deepening of ties between both the countries.

UN, US & China rebuff Pakistan, deal it big diplomatic blow

  1. Pakistan has failed in its efforts to seek international mediation and intervention in its campaign against India’s move to revoke provisions of Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir into two Union territories.
  2. United Nations has also virtually rejected the Pakistan argument that India had carried out an illegal annexation of J&K which was a material change of the situation and a contravention of UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948.
  3. The UNSC 47 adopted on 21 April 1948 concerns the resolution of the Kashmir conflict.
  4. The resolution recommended a three-step process for the resolution of the dispute which are (a)Pakistan was asked to withdraw all its nationals from Kashmir (b)India was asked to progressively reduce its forces to the minimum level required for law and order and (c)India was asked to appoint a plebiscite administrator nominated by the United Nations who would conduct a free and impartial plebiscite.
  5. However,India informed the UN that Article 370 was incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954Nsix years after the UNSC resolution 47 and was revoked in 2019.Both happened after the UNSC resolution so if the first did not signal a material change neither could the second.
  6. The UN Secretary-General has also recalled the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan also known as the Simla Agreement.
  7. The Shimla agreement states that the final status of Jammu & Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter.

Environment ministry’s 50-year plan to tackle water crisis

  1. An expert committee report of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has suggested measures to regulate the overuse of water in agriculture.
  2. The committee has recommended registering and creation of inventories of borewells across India. It has suggested recording details such as location and the withdrawal capacity, along with the size of the pipe.
  3. It has also suggested pooling of water for a common groundwater resource, by farmers. Further, it has recommended making mandatory the use of treated sewage for agriculture in areas near urban centres or those having close proximity to sewage treatment plants.
  4. The committee recommended that the environment ministry should not consider environmental clearances for new or expansion projects in areas where groundwater condition is already overexploited, critical or semi-critical (OCS).
  5. The committee also suggested that the National Water Board should meet at regular intervals, at least once a year, and address the groundwater needs of the country as a priority.
  6. The report also stressed that areas, where groundwater is overexploited, should be declared as notified areas for protection and conservation of groundwater.
  7. India is the world’s largest groundwater consumer. It uses around 230 cubic kilometres of groundwater annually
  8. Of the total available groundwater (253 billion cubic metres), around 90% is used in agricultural irrigation.

Shri Arjun Munda inaugurates ‘National Workshop on Tribal Enterprise with focus on Honey, Bamboo & Lac’

  1. Union Minister for Tribal Affairs has inaugurated a “National Workshop on Tribal Enterprise with focus on Honey, Bamboo and Lac”.
  2. During the workshop,the union minister released the reports on (a) Bamboo and Bamboo Nomics (b) Lac and (c) Honey.
  3. India is the world’s second largest cultivator of bamboo after China. According to the data,India’s annual Bamboo production is estimated at 3.23 million tons. 
  4. However,the poor yield of Bamboo is one of the perennial problems in India.In contrast to China’s average yield of 50 MT/Ha, the maximal yield range in India is 10-15 MT/h.
  5. According to the data,India’s honey production reported in 2017-18 was 1.05 lakh metric tonnes compared to the 35,000 metric tonnes in 2005-06.The major part of it comes from Apis Dorsata.
  6. India exports 50 % of the honey as international demand for honey is growing.The beekeeping sector is estimated to generate around 3 lakhman-working days by maintaining 10,000 bee colonies.
  7. Lac cultivation in India is mainly confined to the states of Jharkhand which contribute 57% of the total production followed by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal.
  8. The Lac is mostly cultivated by poor tribals to supplement their agricultural income.However,Indian lac export is almost non-existent, which needs to be revived.

PM-Kusum not a solution for India’s irrigation needs: CSE

  1. A report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) titled “Silver Bullet: Are Solar Pumps a Panacea for Irrigation, Farmer Distress and Discom Losses?” has assessed the expected impact of the PM-KUSUM scheme.
  2. According to the report, PM KUSUM might result in over-exploitation of groundwater. It notes that while, the solarisation of agricultural feeders and on-grid solar pumps are economically superior to off-grid pumps, however, they do not specify measures to limit water use.
  3. Further, PM-Kusum may also not help reduce discoms’ subsidy burden because the installation of pumps is not mandatorily tied to decrease in subsidised agricultural power supply.
  4. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-Kusum) scheme was approved in Feb 2019. The scheme has been formulated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  5. The scheme aims to promote the use of solar power among farmers. It seeks to install 17.5 lakh off-grid and 10 lakh on-grid solar pumps and 10 gigawatt of solar power plants capacity in rural areas by 2022.
  6. The expected benefits of the scheme are a) ensure predictable power supply to farmers, b) limit power bill of farmers, c) help farmers earn additional income by selling surplus power to DISCOMs, d) Reduce DISCOM’s subsidy burden to agriculture sector.

Invasive weed found in Haryana wheat crop

  1. Scientist have found an invasive weed called Emex australis Steinh in wheat fields at villages of Faridabad and adjoining districts in Haryana. The weed is commonly known as ‘doublegee’, ‘three corner jack’ or ‘spiny emex’.
  2. The invasive weed belongs to the family Polygonaceae.  It is native to Australia and South Africa.
  3. The weed prospers in in conditions such as drought and unseasonal rain and climate change help increase its numbers. The weed has the potential to damage wheat crops and reduce its productivity in India.
  4. The weed was first reported in India in Santhal Pargana division of erstwhile united Bihar in 1984 and in Jammu & Kashmir in 1987. In 2016, it was reported from upper Gangetic plains in Uttar Pradesh.
  5. Recently, an invasive weed called ‘Onion Weed’ or Asphodelus Fistulosus invaded onion farms in Ahmadnagar and Aurangabad districts in Maharashtra.
  6. The weed is a native of North Africa, Southern Europe and West Asia. It looks like an onion plant.
  7. The weed can potentially damage India’s self-sufficiency in onion production. It could also make land infertile if it is not controlled in a timely manner

India plans to utilize its share under Indus Waters Treaty: Raj Kumar Singh

  1. Government officials have said that India has planned to fully utilize its share of water under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.
  2. This statement came as reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories will give the government direct control over J&K’s affairs which in turn is expected to speed up the process of granting approvals for infrastructure projects.
  3. The Indus Waters Treaty,1960 is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan.As per the treaty,India controls the waters of three eastern rivers namely Ravi, Beas and Sutlej while Pakistan manages western rivers, namely Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
  4. According to the treaty,all the water of eastern rivers shall be available for unrestricted use in India.But India should let unrestricted flow of water from western rivers to Pakistan.
  5. It doesn’t mean that India can’t use western river’s water.The treaty says that India can use the water in western rivers in non-consumptive needs. Here non-consumptive means we can use it for irrigation, storage and even for electricity production.
  6. Permanent Indus Commission(PIC) was also established under the Indus water Treaty.Its mandate is to (a)establish and maintain cooperative arrangements for the implementation of the Indus water Treaty and (b)to promote cooperation between India and Pakistan in the development of the Indus water systems.

Latest count is in: Desi cattle numbers continue to go downhill

  1. According to the provisional 2019 Livestock Census report, India’s total population of indigenous and nondescript cattle is estimated at 139.82 million. This is a 7.5% decrease from 2012 indigenous cattle population.
  2. In contrary, the exotic and crossbred cattle population has increased by 29.5%.
  3. The Indian government had launched Rashritya Gokul Mission in 2014. The mission aims at development of indigenous cattle (through selection of high genetic merit bulls for breeding). It also seeks upgradation of nondescript animals (by using elite indigenous breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal).
  4. In 2019, the government has also established Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog. It seeks for conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.
  5. The Livestock Census is conducted by the Animal Husbandry Statistic Division, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Framers Welfare.
  6. The 2019 Livestock Census estimated India’s total livestock population at 533.20 million.

Ocean warming, overfishing increase methylmercury toxin in fish

  1. According to a study published in the journal Nature, increase in sea temperatures and overfishing impacts the level of methylmercury in fish. Methylmercury concentration in fish has increased despite its decrease in seawater since 1990s
  2. The study observed there has been up to 23% increase in methylmercury concentration in Atlantic cod fish in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. The increase has been due to changes in diet caused by overfishing. As a result of diet change, cod fish relied more on larger herring and lobster, which have higher concentrations of methylmercury.
  3. The study further noted that ocean warming causes changes in the methylmercury accumulation in fish. This is because fish metabolism is temperature dependent.
  4. The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming bodies of water in the world. The researchers found that between 2012 and 2017, methylmercury levels in Atlantic Bluefin tuna increased by 3.5% per year despite decreasing emissions of mercury.
  5. Methylmercury is a harmful neurotoxicant. It causes central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) damage.

‘FPI tax issues put divestment at risk’

  1. The government may miss its disinvestment target of ₹1.05 lakh crore that has been set for the current financial year.Disinvestment is defined as the action of an organisation or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary.
  2. The target may be missed as foreign portfolio investors(FPIs) could stay away from such share sales if the ongoing tax concerns are not resolved soon.
  3. In the Union Budget 2019-20,the Finance Minister has introduced a surcharge for individuals earning more than ₹2 crore. 
  4. However,FPIs will be affected by the proposal as bulk of such investors structure themselves as trusts or a Limited Liability Partnership(LLP).
  5. These investors are not recognised as a corporate entity by the Income Tax Act.Hence,FPIs are taxed as per the individual tax slabs based on their earnings.
  6. Surcharge is an additional charge or tax levied on an existing tax.Unlike cess,which is meant to raise revenue for a temporary need,surcharge is usually permanent in nature.
  7. Surcharge is levied as a percentage of the income tax payable as per normal rates.The revenue earned via surcharge is solely retained by the Centre and is not shared with States.Collections from surcharge flow into the Consolidated Fund of India.

Latest count is in: Desi cattle numbers continue to go downhill

  1. According to the provisional 2019 Livestock Census report, India’s total population of indigenous and nondescript cattle is estimated at 139.82 million. This is a 7.5% decrease from 2012 indigenous cattle population.
  2. In contrary, the exotic and crossbred cattle population has increased by 29.5%.
  3. The Indian government had launched Rashritya Gokul Mission in 2014. The mission aims at development of indigenous cattle (through selection of high genetic merit bulls for breeding). It also seeks upgradation of nondescript animals (by using elite indigenous breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal).
  4. In 2019, the government has also established Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog. It seeks for conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.
  5. The Livestock Census is conducted by the Animal Husbandry Statistic Division, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Framers Welfare.
  6. The 2019 Livestock Census estimated India’s total livestock population at 533.20 million.

Ocean warming, overfishing increase methylmercury toxin in fish

  1. According to a study published in the journal Nature, increase in sea temperatures and overfishing impacts the level of methylmercury in fish. Methylmercury concentration in fish has increased despite its decrease in seawater since 1990s
  2. The study observed there has been up to 23% increase in methylmercury concentration in Atlantic cod fish in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. The increase has been due to changes in diet caused by overfishing. As a result of diet change, cod fish relied more on larger herring and lobster, which have higher concentrations of methylmercury.
  3. The study further noted that ocean warming causes changes in the methylmercury accumulation in fish. This is because fish metabolism is temperature dependent.
  4. The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming bodies of water in the world. The researchers found that between 2012 and 2017, methylmercury levels in Atlantic Bluefin tuna increased by 3.5% per year despite decreasing emissions of mercury.
  5. Methylmercury is a harmful neurotoxicant. It causes central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) damage.

‘FPI tax issues put divestment at risk’

  1. The government may miss its disinvestment target of ₹1.05 lakh crore that has been set for the current financial year.Disinvestment is defined as the action of an organisation or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary.
  2. The target may be missed as foreign portfolio investors(FPIs) could stay away from such share sales if the ongoing tax concerns are not resolved soon.
  3. In the Union Budget 2019-20,the Finance Minister has introduced a surcharge for individuals earning more than ₹2 crore. 
  4. However,FPIs will be affected by the proposal as bulk of such investors structure themselves as trusts or a Limited Liability Partnership(LLP).
  5. These investors are not recognised as a corporate entity by the Income Tax Act.Hence,FPIs are taxed as per the individual tax slabs based on their earnings.
  6. Surcharge is an additional charge or tax levied on an existing tax.Unlike cess,which is meant to raise revenue for a temporary need,surcharge is usually permanent in nature.
  7. Surcharge is levied as a percentage of the income tax payable as per normal rates.The revenue earned via surcharge is solely retained by the Centre and is not shared with States.Collections from surcharge flow into the Consolidated Fund of India.

Launching project to store floodwater, CM Kejriwal says Centre put it on fast track

  1. Delhi state government and Jal Shakti Ministry has launched a pilot project to create natural reservoirs to conserve rainwater in the Yamuna floodplains.
  2. The pilot project will be carried out on a 40-acre plot in Sangarpur village. Later, in 2020, it would be expanded to 1000 acres.
  3. The project is aimed at charging aquifers using rainwater on the floodplain during the flood cycles in Delhi.
  4. Small depressions will be created to store water from overflowing rover during the monsoon. The top soil will be removed and porous soil will be used to increase percolation.

Every child to get Rotavirus vaccine by September

  1. The Central government has planned to expand the coverage of Rotavirus vaccine to all 36 states and union territories by September, 2019.The vaccine is currently available only in 28 states and UTs in India.
  2. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and children throughout the world.
  3. Rotavirus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route via contact with contaminated hands,surfaces and objects and possibly by the respiratory route.
  4. Every year in India,37 out of every 1,000 children born are unable to celebrate their fifth birthday and one of the major reasons for this is deaths due to diarrhoea.Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhoea in children less than five years of age.
  5. India is committed to ending morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhoea by 2022.The government is also committed to increasing the full immunisation coverage and ensuring that the benefit of the life saving vaccines is provided to every child.
  6. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16,the immunisation coverage in India stood at 62% lagging behind China (90%), Bangladesh (95%) and Sri Lanka (95%).

Finance minister to review jail term clause for non-compliance of CSR

  1. Finance Minister has assured the industry that the government would review the criminal penal provisions on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
  2. The amendments to the Companies Act have empowered the government to put the concerned officers in jail for up to three years, besides imposing monetary fines if they do not adhere to CSR norms.
  3. The amendments also says that any unspent annual CSR funds must be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act (for example, the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund) within six months of the financial year.
  4. Prior to that,companies that were required to budget for Corporate Social responsibility(CSR) used to disclose in their annual reports the reasons why they were unable to fully spend these funds.
  5. 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 set aside 2% of their average net profits for CSR activities.
  6. Further as per the CSR Rules,the provisions of CSR are not only applicable to Indian companies but also applicable to branch and project offices of a foreign company in India.
  7. The qualifying company are required to constitute a CSR Committee consisting of 3 or more directors.Further,CSR Committee are required to formulate and recommend to the Board, a policy which indicates the activities to be undertaken, allocate resources and monitor the CSR Policy of the company.

President Kovind gives assent to UAPA Bill

  1. President has given assent to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019.
  2. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967 providing special procedures to deal with terrorist activities and individuals and groups that foster terrorism in India.
  3. Under the Act,the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it (a)commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (b)prepares for terrorism (c) promotes terrorism or (d) is otherwise involved in terrorism.The bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds. 
  4. Under the Act,an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.  
  5. The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency(NIA),the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property. 
  6. Under the Act,investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases.
  7. The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.The Bill adds another treaty to the list.This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism(2005).

Centre will not touch Article 371F, Sikkim CM assures people

  1. Sikkim Chief Minister has said that the Centre had assured that Article 371F would remain intact and safe.
  2. Article 371F of the Indian Constitution provides special constitutional status to Sikkim.
  3. Article 371F states that states that that the Legislative Assembly shall consist of not less than 30 members. In order to reflect the diversity of different groups in Sikkim, seats in the assembly are provided to people of these different sections.
  4. Sikkim was made a part of India after the 35th Constitutional Amendment in 1974 and was made a co-state.
  5. By the 36th Constitutional Amendment in 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of India.  The amendment also added Article 371F.

Industrial production growth slips to 2% in June

  1. India’s Index of industrial production(IIP) has slowed down to 2% in June,2019.
  2. The growth was pulled down by a sharp decline in the output of mining and manufacturing sectors.
  3. IIP measures industrial output growth.The IIP is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity and manufacturing.
  4. IIP is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation(CSO) six weeks after the reference month ends.The base year of the IIP has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April,2017.
  5. The eight core Industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage are(a) Refinery Products (b)Electricity (c)Steel (d)Coal (e)Crude Oil (f)Natural Gas (g)Cement and (h)Fertilizers.

Home buyers can start bankruptcy cases against errant builders

  1. The Supreme Court has upheld the amendments made to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code(IBC) that classified homebuyers as financial creditors.
  2. The verdict came on a petition filed by builders who had challenged the IBC amendment citing that it would result in duplication as the homebuyers have already been given protection under Real Estate Regulation and Development Act(RERA).
  3. However,the court said that homebuyers will have the option to avail legal remedies before consumer court, real estate regulatory authorities, as well as bankruptcy courts.In case of conflicts with other laws, provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will prevail.
  4. The code has also brought the home buyers on par with the creditor banks of the property builder. 
  5. Prior to the law,the assets of the bankrupt builder were divided among his employees,creditor banks and other operational creditors.Home buyers had hardly figured though they may have provided a major chunk of the housing project.
  6. The Code also allowed home buyers as financial creditors to trigger bankruptcy proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016 and have their rightful place on the Committee of Creditors (CoC).
  7. The CoC makes important decisions by voting on the future of the bankrupt builder.These calls include what to do with his assets and who should finish the pending housing projects.

One nation, one ration card:Govt launches pilot project

  1. The government has launched inter-state portability of ration cards between Telangana-Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra-Gujarat as a pilot project to implement ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ across the country by June 1,2020.
  2. The beneficiaries in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh can now buy their quota of ration from Public Distribution System (PDS) or ration shops in either state.Similar would be the case in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  3. One nation one ration card scheme is all about inter-state portability of ration cards.It enables the beneficiaries who are taking food grains under the Public Distribution System(PDS) to access the same benefits if they happen to migrate from one part of the country to the other in a seamless manner.
  4. The Union Government plans to extend the One nation one ration card scheme to all the states by June 2020 to enable the portability of the food security card.
  5. This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
  6. Ration cards are an official document issued by state governments in India to households that are eligible to purchase subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act.
  7. The National food security act is an anti-hunger legislation passed in 2013.It grants the poor a legal right to cheap food.The beneficiaries receive 5kg of foodgrain per person per month at a subsidized rate of Rs 2-3 a kg.