ForumIAS: Facts in News (October 1st – 7th)

Facts in news is published on a weekly basis that consists a gist of all crucial news articles from ‘The Hindu’ that may bear relevance to Civil Services Preparation.

Here is the Summary of all current happenings from around the world for the fourth week of September.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

MF schemes to fall under  five heads: SEBI• The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has directed mutual funds to categorise all their schemes into five broad groups namely: equity, debt, hybrid, solution oriented and other.
• Further, within the broad groups, the regulator has allowed fund houses to have schemes based on parameters such as market capitalisation, investment strategy, tenure of instruments (for debt schemes) and the share of equity and debt.
• The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India. It was established in the year 1988 and given statutory powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992.
Govt to reconstitute new Waqf Board by October• The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has indicated that it is on the brink of reconstituting the Delhi Waqf Board.
• Sources in the Delhi government claimed the sevenmember Board could be formed over the course of October.
Central Wakf Council:
• Central Wakf Council, India is an Indian statutory body established in 1964 by the Government of India under Wakf Act, 1954 (now a sub section the Wakf Act, 1995) for the purpose of advising it on matters pertaining to working of the State Wakf Boards and proper administration of the Wakfs in the country.
• Wakf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognized by Muslim Law, given by philanthropists.
• The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as Wakf.
Centre proposes three-year licence for contractors• The government has proposed a major overhaul in the contract labour law, which includes a three-year licence for contractors to work across the country instead of a separate one for new work orders.
The Provisions:
• Contractors will no longer require a licence for undertaking each project, as per the proposed changes to the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
• The contractors can obtain a one-time licence valid for three years to work anywhere in the country from the Central Government.
• The contractor will have to clearly define a particular area of work.
• If the contractor wants to work in a single State for up to three years, the permit needs to be obtained from the State Government, according to the proposal.
• However, the contractor will need to inform the government whenever it receives a work order from a company, failing which the licence may be cancelled, the proposed law stated.
DCW issues notice to school• The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has sent a notice to the school in Malviya Nagar where a six-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted in the washroom by a male attendant.
• It is stated that the minor had gone to the washroom and sought help.
• The commission sent a notice to the school demanding a detailed report on security lapses that led to the assault, details of action taken against all staff members involved in the security lapse and all relevant CCTV footage.• The commission also asked for employment details of the accused.
M.P. mulls law to protect senior citizens• The Madhya Pradesh government is mulling a law to ensure the security and care of senior citizens in the State.
• The move is aimed at discouraging the children from ignoring and disrespecting their parents in their old age.
• Information on senior citizens staying alone in urban areas, towns and big villages will be collected and listed to ensure they get proper services and security.
• A helpline will be launched and a senior citizens’ panchayat would also be held at the CM’s House
Ministries told to spell out specific targets for 2022• The Cabinet Secretariat has asked all Central government departments to work out specific targets to be achieved by 2022.
• The Ministries have also been asked to adopt the tenet of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ in their work, by using technology, so as to improve processes and service delivery.
• Also, the Departments have been told to identify five-seven major reform areas that need attention, while highlighting ‘transformative changes’ already undertaken.
• The Ministries have also been asked to ensure that there is no difference in their responses to questions raised in Parliament by MPs and questions received under the Right to Information Act.
Stop encroachment at Chandni Chowk or face action, says HC• The Delhi High Court has warned of serious action against the municipal corporation and the police if they fail to stop encroachments.
• Despite a Supreme Court order that the police will be held responsible for encroachments in Chandni Chowk, it was found that the orders are not being complied with.
• Encroachment is a term which implies "advance beyond proper limits," and may have different interpretations depending on the context.
Now, unique IDs to tackle monkey population in city• The Delhi High Court is collaborating with Wildlife SOS to ensure that the monkeys get unique permanent IDs to avoid overlapping of sterilisation process.
• The HC has directed authorities to prepare an action plan in support of this project.
• The project aims at tackling conflict between humans and rhesus macaques in a scientific and humane way through vaccinations and laparoscopic surgical intervention.
ONGC• ONGC plans to drill nine wells on the discovery that lies in water depths of 2,400- 3,200 metres.
• It will produce a peak output of 19 million standard cubic metres per day.
• UD-1 holds some 75 billion cubic metres of inplace reserves.
The Northern Discovery Area (NDA):
• The Northern Discovery Area (NDA) has 11 oil and gas discoveries while Southern Discovery Area (SDA) has the nation’s only ultra-deepsea gas find of UD-1.
• These finds have been clubbed into three groups — Cluster-1, Cluster-II and Cluster-III.
Voter Variable Paper Audit Trail• The Election Commission’s decision to deploy the Voter Variable Paper Audit Trail will be the first time that VVPAT will be used on a State-wide basis.
• It is a costly but useful complement to the Electronic Voting Machine, it allows the voter to verify her vote after registering it on the EVM, and the paper trail allows for an audit of the election results by the EC in a select and randomised number of constituencies.
Banks asked to enable core banking in Hindi• The Home Ministry has asked all banks, private and public sector, to enable their core banking facility in Hindi.
• Software that would help banks transact in Hindi has already been developed.
• Banks should modulate the software in such a way that a customer can get the passbook in Hindi.
• It should also be in regional languages.
• ATMs already have a Hindi option.
The necessity:
• Easy access: Crores of people in India speak Hindi. This initiative will make banking affairs user friendly.
• Promotion of Hindi: Hindi as a link language will enable young people from southern States to learn Hindi for employment opportunities.
Ayodhya dispute• The Supreme Court’s suggestion in March for a consensual decision to end the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute has set off with a proposal to build an interfaith Vishwadharmi Shriram Manavata Bhavan in Ayodhya.
• The Bhavan is proposed to be built on the unused 67- acre plot of land adjacent to the makeshift temple at Ram Janmabhoomi.
The Ayodhya Dispute:
• The Ayodhya dispute is a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya, located in Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh.
• The main issues revolve around the access to a site traditionally regarded among Hindus to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque.
No lessons learnt: immersion remains choke Yamuna again• The government agencies in the Capital have poluuted the Yamuna yet again with tonnes of toxic and non-biodegradable waste.
• The river has been chocked with pollutants post Durga idol immersions.
• Even though the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued a strict order in September no visible change was seen.
The hazardous impact:
• Partially submerged idols of Durga, most of them made of Plaster of Paris (POP) do not get dissolved.
• The river also saw a sea of floating plastic bags with glass bangles, flower petals and other decorations made of metal and plastic.
Inititaives taken:
• The National Green Tribunal had in 2015 put a complete ban on the use of POP and paints with high levels of lead in idols, which are known to cause serious damage to the soil and water of the ecologically-sensitive area.
• Guidelines are also issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2010 and by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
The National Green Tribunal:
• National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a statutory body established under an act of Parliament, namely, National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
• The above-said act was enacted under constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
• The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act.
Good start with EVs, but many more miles to go• India, the world’s third-largest consumer and fastest-growing major market, could see a cut of 8%-20% of current annual oil demand.
EV Target:
• The government has set an ambitious EV sales ratio target of 40% in 2032 with almost 100% in commercial applications (compares with China’s EV target of 20% by 2025).
Measures to be taken:
• If the government is able to learn from the examples of other countries and use incentives and prohibitions effectively, it may be possible to achieve a rapid EV uptake scenario (hyper adoption) with 40% electrification for cars, 55% for 2- wheelers and 75% for buses.
• From building a policy framework to drive EV adoption to kick-starting the EV ecosystem by investing in infrastructure and public transportation, the move toward electric mobility in India requires everything to be done.
Tackling the economic slowdown• Growth matters in India as a large number of persons have to make do with far too few goods and services as it is which is how poverty is defined.
• Note that these goods also include public goods or goods that are accessed by the entire populace of a country, such as parks, roads and bridges.
• Since these public goods are provided by government, the government needs tax revenues to supply them, and these depend upon national income. Then there is employment.
• A demand for labour exists only when there is a demand for goods. So growth is necessary if employment is to be assured.
• India not only has a pool of unemployed persons to absorb but we also need to provide employment to youth continuously entering the labour force.
• From this point of view, the slowing of the economy is a source of concern.
Measures to be taken:
• The correct approach would be to aim to balance the budget over the growth cycle.
• The next immediate thing to do is to expand public investment in infrastructure.
• Repair and reconstruction of India’s creaking infrastructure is the direction in which greater public investment must now.
• It is the most direct and potent measure that can be undertaken to address the slowdown the economy is experiencing.
LPG, jet fuel prices increased• The price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), or jet fuel, was increased by 6 per cent.
• It is the third straight increase since August, 2017.
• The price of cooking gas (LPG) was increased by 1.50 a cylinder in line with the government decision to raise rates every month to eliminate subsidies by March

Fewer GST slabs possible after rise in revenue: Jaitley• Bigger reforms such as lower number of slabs under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime can be considered once there is revenue buoyancy.
• At present, GST slabs have rates of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
India gets first-ever U.S. crude shipment• The first ever shipment of U.S. crude oil of 1.6 million barrels, purchased by staterun Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), was received at Paradip Port.
• The shipment is a part of recent commitments to purchase U.S. oil by IOC, Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL).
• IOC has placed a cumulative order for 3.9 million barrels from the U.S. while BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum have placed orders for about 2.95 million barrels and one million barrels, respectively.
Indo-US trade:
• This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Indo-U.S. trade, particularly in the oil and gas sector.
• The United States and India are elevating cooperation in the field of energy, including plans for cleaner fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear and cutting edge storage and energy efficiency technologies.
• Moreover, U.S. crude oil shipments to India have the potential to boost bilateral trade by up to $2 billion

India set to ink $4.5-bn credit deal with Bangladesh• Two agreements for the implementation of the third LoC and the “Joint Interpretative Notes on the Agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments” are signed.
• The two countries are also expected to enter into another deal on investment promotion and protection during the visit.
LoC of India and Bangladesh :
• The two countries signed the first LoC in August 2010.
• The second one was inked in March 2016.
Myanmar to take back Rohingya• Amid mounting international pressure on Myanmar to end atrocities on Rohingya people, Bangladesh and Myanmar on Sunday agreed to form a joint panel for repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
• The joint panel was proposed by Myanmar to take back the Rohingya who had come to Bangladesh, fleeing the violence in the Rakhine State since August 25.
Child mortality dips, one million saved, says Lancet study• India has avoided the deaths of about one million children under the age of five since 2005 owing to significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal infections and birth asphyxia/trauma, measles and tetanus.
• Pneumonia and diarrhoea mortality fell by over 60% — most of the decline due to effective treatment.
• Mortality from birth-related breathing and trauma during delivery fell by 66% most of the decline due to more births occurring in hospital.
• And measles and tetanus mortality fell by 90% mostly due to special immunisation campaigns against each.
• The results signify that the strategic approach of the Health Ministry has started yielding dividends and the efforts of focusing on low performing States is paying of.
Right to Education Act• It had held that the RTE Act was only applicable to children whose age bracket was between 6 and 14 years of age.
• The HC had concluded that States were free to formulate policies to govern nursery admissions.
• It is illogical to say that if a child admitted in Class I or at the age of six, Section 13 of the RTE Act will apply and if a child is admitted in nursery or at the age of three plus, section 13 will not apply.
• There was no regulatory mechanism for nursery admissions.
Anna slams PM over ‘failure’ to appoint Lokpal• Anna Hazare, whose anticorruption protest had attracted huge outpouring of support in 2011, threatened a rerun of his crusade as he denounced the Modi government over its “failure” to appoint a Lokpal and create a graft-free India.
• Referring to the amendment of Lokpal and and Lokayuktas Act , the social activist alleged the amendment diluted the provisions of the Act and it was passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in three days “without holding discussions”.
Lokpal and and Lokayuktas Act:
• Enacted in 2013, the Lokpal and and Lokayuktas Act was amended in 2016.
• It allows extension of time given to public servants, and trustees and board members of non-government organisations receiving government funds of over 1 crore or foreign funding of more than 10 lakh to declare their assets and those of their spouses.

U.S. approves first test to screen Zika virus in donated blood• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for the first time a test for detecting the Zika virus in donated blood.
Zika Virus:
• The Zika virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti), but it can also spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.

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