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  • W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 05 July 2019 To 12 July 2019.
    Posted on July 22nd, 2019 in Weekly Current Affairs
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    W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 05 July 2019 To 12 July 2019.

    1) Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe has made a perfect touchdown on a distant asteroid named Ryugu, some 300 million kilometres from Earth. It collected samples from beneath surface in an unprecedented mission that could shed light on origins of solar system. About Hayabusa2 Mission- Creating History: Before this touchdown by Hayabusa2 probe, a sub-surface material from a celestial body further away than moon have never been gathered. Thus Japan became 1st country to do so. Hayabusa2 also made history with the creation of the crater on Ryugu’s surface. Objective: It is intended to collect pristine materials from beneath surface of desolate asteroid as it is believed that collected material could provide insights into what solar system was like at its birth, some 4.6 billion years ago. Background: It is the successor to JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) 1st asteroid explorer called Hayabusa which is Japanese word for ‘falcon’. In 2010 Hayabusa returned with dust samples from a smaller, potato-shaped asteroid. It was also hailed as scientific triumph despite various setbacks during its epic 7-year odyssey. Then Hayabusa2 Mission was launched in December 2014, with project cost around $270 million. Hayabusa2 mission is a complex multi-year which has also involved sending rovers and robots down to the surface. It is scheduled to return to Earth with its samples in 2020. 1st Touchdown of Hayabusa2: The recent brief landing is 2nd time Hayabusa2 has touched down on desolate asteroid Ryugu. The 1st touchdown was in February 2019, when it landed briefly on asteroid Ryugu and fired a bullet into surface to puff up dust for collection just before blasting back to its holding position. Importance of 2nd Touchdown: The 2nd Touchdown required special preparations as any problems could have meant that probe would lose precious materials already gathered during its 1st landing. It is the last major part of Hayabusa2’s mission, and when probe returns to Earth in 2020 to drop off its samples, scientists hope to learn more about history of solar system and even origin of life on Earth. Ryugu, in in Japanese means Dragon Palace. It refers to a castle at bottom of ocean in an ancient Japanese tale.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 05 July 2019 To 12 July 2019.

    2) World Population Day is observed every year across the world on 11 July. Its observance is aimed to shift focus towards urgency and significance of issues related to population. About World Population Day- Background: The World Population Day was established by the Governing Council of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1989. Why 11 July? It was inspired by public interest in Five Billion Day on 11 July 1987. It is the approximate date on which world’s population reached 5 billion people. Celebration: WPD is being celebrated for over three decades (30 years). It is meant to raise awareness about solutions related to issues of growing population. On occasion of day UN’s Population Division works closely with agencies, programmes, funds, and various other bodies to execute several programmes on population. Objective: To focus attention on consequences of increasing population and how it affects overall development plans and programmes. Why Population a worry? According to United Nation, every year about 83 million people are added to world’s population and by 2030. With this pace the world population is expected to reach 8.6 billion mark. One of the greatest consequences of growing population is that it possess a threat to our livelihood and quick depletion of natural resources. This is dangerous as it hampers Sustainable Development. 10 Most Populous Countries in the World- China remains most populous country in world- with 1.4 billion inhabitants (18% of world population): India with 1.3 billion inhabitants (17.7% of world population), United States (329 Million) is the 3rd most populous country, Indonesia (269 million), Brazil (212 million), Pakistan (204 million), Nigeria (200 million), Bangladesh (168 million), Russia (143 million), Mexico (132 million). NOTE: Together India and China account for 2.79 billion people or 36.15% of world population.

    3) The French parliament approved a law dubbed as Gafa Tax (an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), the legislation will impose a 3% levy on sales generated in the country by non-tax paying online giants. Key Highlights- Levying this 3% tax on total annual revenues of largest technology firms providing services to French consumers would make France 1st major economy to impose a tax on internet heavyweights. Background: At present, digital companies pay nearly no tax in countries where they have large sales like France. The Bill was adopted by National Assembly last week has got its final approval from Senate. Objective: To stop multinationals from avoiding taxes by setting up headquarters in low-tax European Union (EU) countries. At present, companies pay nearly no tax in countries where they have large sales such as France. Applicable on: The tax would be applied only to companies with global revenues in excess of €500 million and revenue of at least €25 million from UK activities. Implications: As per France’s Finance Ministry estimations the Gafa tax will raise about €500 million ($566 million) in 2019 but that should increase “quickly.” The tech industry has warned that it could lead to higher costs for consumers. It could also affect US multinational companies such as Airbnb and Uber as well as those from China and Europe. Way ahead: Although France failed to persuade European Union (EU) partners to impose a Europe-wide tax on online giants, but it is pushing for an international deal with member countries of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

    4) Railway Protection Force (RPF) recently launched ‘Operation Thirst’ to stop selling of unauthorised Packaged Drinking Water (PDW). During the operation, which was carried out on 8 and 9 July 2019 fines were imposed on those found guilty and many were arrested. About Operation Thirst- It was launched by Railway Protection Force (RPF) as an all India drive to crackdown selling of unauthorised Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) in Delhi. Under it as many as 1,371 people were arrested and over 69,294 bottles were seized by RPF. The bottles were seized under section 144 and section 153 of Indian Railway Act. Areas: As per RPF, operation was launched in all major railway stations across the country to curb menace of unauthorized Packaged Drinking Water inside railway stations. Implementation: During the operation, a total fine amount of Rs. 6,80,855 has been realised from offenders and 4 pantry car managers involved in selling of spurious mineral water was also arrested. Also many stalls on platforms which were found selling of PDW bottles of brands were found to be not authorized by Indian Railways.

    5) Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved 3rd phase of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to consolidate 1,25,000 km of roads in the states. Key Features of PMGSY-III Scheme- The 3rd phase of PMGSY (or PMGSY-III) involves consolidation of through routes and major rural links that connects habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), hospitals as well as Higher Secondary Schools. Financial Implications- Cost: An estimated cost of PMGSY-III would be Rs 80,250 crore over next five years out of which Central Share-Rs 53800 crore and State Share- Rs 26450 crore. Fund: to be shared in ratio of 60:40 between Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern and 3 Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10. Implementation- Project Target period: 2019-20 to 2024-25. Parameter for Road Selection: A candidate road selection is based on sum total of marks obtained by particular road on basis of parameters of population served, educational and medical facilities, market, etc. Construction of Bridges: up to 200 m in Himalayan and NE States and 150 m in plain areas proposed from existing provisions of 100 m and 75 m in Himalayan and NE States and plain areas respectively. Memorandum of Understanding: States shall be asked to enter into MoU before launching of PMGSY-III in concerned State for providing adequate funds for maintenance of roads constructed under PMGSY post 5-year construction maintenance period. Background- PMGSY-III scheme was announced by Union Finance Minister in Budget Speech for year 2018-19. CCEA in its meeting held on 9th August, 2018 approved continuation of PMGSY-I & PMGSY-II beyond 12th FYP Plan and covering of balance eligible habitations under PMGSY-I by March 2019, PMGSY-II, and habitations under identified LWE blocks (100-249 population) by March 2020. Progress under PMGSY: Under the scheme a total of 5,99,090 Km road length has been constructed since inception till April, 2019 inclusive of PMGSY-I, PMGSY-II and Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Area (RCPLWEA) Scheme.

    6) Kerala Government decided to form a Non-Resident Keralites Investment company with 74% stake to be held by expatriate (or expat) to channelize investments from overseas Keralites for major infrastructure development in the state. Decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Kerela Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Key Highlights- In Non-Resident Keralites (NRK) Investment and Holding company ltd. 74% of capital will be raised by issuing shares to NRKs and Government will have 26% stake. The main aim of this shareholding is to utilise NRI investments for implementing various projects. The company can set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) or subsidiary company for the purpose. Special officer of Company: Kerala cabinet also decided to appoint a NORKA (Non-Resident Keralites Affairs) Chief Executive officer (CEO) as special officer of company. Formation of NRK Investment company was one of the major recommendations submitted by standing committees of Loka Kerala Sabha (World Kerala Assembly). The Loka Kerala Sabha is an event hosted by state government to bring Keralites living across the world under one platform and utilising NRK expertise for developing state. Projects to be undertaken by the proposed company include construction of NRI townships and infrastructure development.

    7) As per property consultant CPRE’s annual Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs Survey, New Delhi’s Connaught Place (CP) is 9th most expensive office location in the world with an annual rent of nearly $144 per sq. ft. CP retained its 9th position from last year. CBRE is world’s leading commercial real estate services company. Key Highlights of Survey- New Delhi’s Connaught Place (CP) is among top 10 most expensive office markets globally. As per the report, office occupancy cost in New Delhi’s CP is $143.97 per sq ft. Asia’s performance in prime office space leasing segment- 6 of world’s 10 most expensive office markets are found in Asia. For 2nd year straight Hong Kong’s central district retained top spot as World’s most two expensive market for prime office rents. Its occupancy cost was valued at $322 per sq.ft. Reason Behind Cost: As per report the growing significance of talent acquisition race are driving prime occupancy cost to newer heights. Along with this other driving forces behind price growth are limited supply and moderate construction pipelines in most cities. On Indian commercial Real Estate Market: BPRE survey highlights that strong demand from technology, finance and e-commerce sectors has fueled growth momentum in prime occupancy costs. Also in India commercial office market remains a strong growth propeller for real estate sector. About Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs survey- It is an annual survey released by BPRE. The cost taken in Survey reflects rent, plus local taxes and service charges for highest-quality prime office properties. It tracks cost of leasing prime office space globally.

    8) Indian Army has placed an order for procuring Israeli Anti-Tank Spike missiles from Israel. The procurement was made under emergency purchases to meet operational preparedness of the army. About Spike missile- It is known for their precision targeting with an ability to pierce even bunkers. Range: It can hit targets at a range of 4 kilometers. Terrain: It can be deployed in both mountains and plains. Firing Platform: It can be fired from different platforms such as- vehicles, helicopters, ships and ground launchers. It can be deployed even along the Line of Control (LoC). In April after Balakot strike, Indian Army cleared procurement of the missile and orders were placed in July 2019. Indian Army is also prioritising purchase of precision guided kit for artillery ammunition. Background- After 14 February 2019 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, three armed forces were given powers to make emergency purchases. Under these emergency provision forces can make procurement up to Rs 300 crore.

    9) Dutee Chand, the Indian sprinter won gold medal in women’s 100m in World Universiade, 30th Summer University Games held in Naples, Italy. With this win she became 1st Indian woman to do so. Key Highlights- The 23-year-old Indian athlete clocked 11.32 seconds to win gold as she led the race from start to finish. She became 1st Indian woman track and field athlete to clinch a gold medal in World Universiade after winning this 100m dash event held in Napoli, Italy. Other Winner: Del Ponte (11.33 seconds) of Switzerland won silver. Lisa KwaYie (11.39 seconds) of Germany won bronze. About Dutee Chand- She is a student at Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, a deemed university in Bhubaneswar in Odisha. Her 100m national record stands at 11.24 seconds. She became the first Indian to win a 100m gold in a global event. She has now become only 2nd Indian sprinter to win gold in a global event after Hima Das. Das won top spot in 400m in World Junior Athletics Championships in 2018. She won silver each in 100m and 200m in 2018 Asian Games. She is also only 2nd Indian track and field athlete to win gold in World Universiade. Earlier, Inderjeet Singh had won top spot in men’s shot put event in 2015 edition. She is yet to qualify for World Championships to be held in Doha in September-October 2019. She is also one of few athletes in world to openly admit being in a same-sex relationship in May 2019.

    10) Pro-Khalistani group ‘The Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) has been banned by Central government for its alleged anti-national activities. In a recently held Union Cabinet meeting decision was taken to ban on Sikh fundamentalist organisation SFJ under Section 3 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for its alleged anti-national activities. Reasons for ban given by government is that the Sikhs for Justice has been indulging in activities prejudicial to internal security of India and public order and have potential of disturbing peace and unity and integrity of country. Also, the group openly espouses cause of Khalistan and in that process challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. About The Sikhs for Justice- It is a US-based Pro-Khalistani group that was formed in 2007. It is headed by Avtar Singh Pannun and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The internal group of SFJ comprises of 8 to 10 people but, it’s online support is close to 2 lakh. SFJ primary objective: to establish an independent and sovereign country in Punjab. It gained prominence only in last 5 years as it started advocating a separate Khalisatn state. For this purpose it also started an online secessionist campaign, ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’. SKJ pushes for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda. Cases Registered: Punjab Police has registered 10 different cases against SFJ and it’s members, while National Investigation Agency (NIA) is also probing group in one case. But in all 11 cases, investigators found that SFJ was providing money and logistical support to local terrorists in Punjab to carry out subversive activities. What is Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act? It is an Indian law which is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Objective: to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against integrity and sovereignty of India. UAPA was first framed in 1967, and since then it has been amended twice- first in 2008 and then in 2012.

    11) The French government is set to impose tax of up to €18 on plane tickets for all flights from airports in France. It is aimed to fund less-polluting transportation projects. Key Highlights- This move by French government to impose green tax on plane tickets will take effect from 2020 which means all tickets for outbound flights from French airports will include a green tax from 2020. It will only be applied on outgoing flights and not those flying into country. It will see a tax of €1.5 imposed on economy-class tickets on internal flights and those within Europe. The highest tariff of €18 per ticket will be applied to business-class travellers flying outside bloc. This new measure by France is expected to bring in about €182 million per year to its economy which will be invested in greener transport infrastructures, mainly rail. In April 2018, a similar tax was introduced in Sweden, which imposed an added charge of up to €40 on every ticket. This was in a bid to lessen impact of air travel on climate.

    12) India handed over 250 pre-fabricated houses for use of displaced Muslim minorities, who are currently residing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The houses delivered to Myanmar for displaced Rohingya returnees in Rakhine State are under India’s ‘Rakhine State Development Programme’ (RSDP) for $25 Million for a period of 5 years. Background- In December 2017 a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Myanmar on Rakhine State Development Programme (RSDP). $25 million RSDP focused on providing a sustainable solution in violence-torn Rakhine state for socio-economic development. It also aimed towards contributing to socio-economic development in northern Rakhine State. Need: Due to rising violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, 1000s of them have entered India and Bangladesh to seek refuge. Key Highlights- Saurabh Kumar, Ambassador of India to Myanmar, handed over documents related to 250 pre-fabricated houses for use of displaced returnees from Bangladesh to U Aung Kyaw Zan, Joint-chairman of Returnee Resettlement Work Committee and Minister for Electricity, Industry and Transportation of Rakhine State Government at a ceremony in Maung Daw, Rakhine State. Out of 250 pre-fabricated houses put together by India in three villages in Northern Rakhine region 148 units are in Shwe Zar village, 60 in Kyein Chaung village and 42 in Nan Thar Taung. These houses besides being rust free and water proof are designed to survive earthquakes and cyclonic storms. Houses Made By: The project was undertaken by Indian companies- M/s Hindustan Prefab Limited as Project Management Consultant and M/s Enertech Limited as contractor. Way Ahead: Construction of 250 houses was 1st initiative under RSDP has been successfully completed. Now another 22 proposals which include construction-related projects, capacity building projects, solar power related projects and agriculture mechanisation projects are presently under consideration.

    13) The Bharat Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BRICS of Commerce and Industry for promoting trade and investments between BRICS countries and eastern part of India, in particular. Key Highlights of MoU- It was signed by Sitaram Sharma, BCC president and B B L Madhukar, BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry Director General. It will enable both the signatories BCC and BRICS chamber to share trade related information and exchange trade delegations among 5 members of group namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. BCC is looking forward to work closely with BRICS Chamber of Commerce to foster trade, industrial and technological cooperation between West Bengal and BRICS countries. About Bharat Chamber of Commerce- BCC was initially established in 1900 as the “Marwari Chamber of Commerce” at Calcutta. Following Indian Independence, in 1949 Chamber re-christened itself as Bharat Chamber Commerce. Function: It works towards. Expanding economic and commercial activity via enhancement of efficiency and competition at all levels. Economic empowerment of society in rural areas via guidance on application of appropriate technology and evolving marketing strategies. Promoting Bilateral Trade using Business Delegation as engine for exploring opportunities. About BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry- BRICS CCI is a parent organization which promotes commerce and industry in BRICS nations. It was founded in 2012 with efforts of eminent professionals and entrepreneur. It is a not-for-profit and non-governmental organization (NGO). Objective: to create an enabling support system especially for MSME (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises) segment of businesses and young entrepreneurs from across all geographies.

    14) In a recent study carried out by researchers from Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Gurugram on ‘Size, composition and distribution of human resource for health in India: New estimates using National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and Registry institutions’ data’ has revealed that India has an adequate number of health professionals. Key Highlights of Study- Data Based on: The study is based on data collected from registry institutions and estimated data from NSSO 2011-2012 to projected population as of on 1 January 2016. The study used National Sample Survey data (NSSO 2011-2012) and projected Human Resource for Health (HRH) number for 2016 using census projection and worker participation rate. In addition to this survey also used 2017 registry data of health professionals including Medical Council of India (MCI), India Nursing Council (INC), Dental Council of India (DCI) and other professional associations. Subject: It addresses issue of distribution of Human Resource for Health (HRH) in India. It found that in India about 71% of people living in a rural area whereas 36% of all health workers are deployed in rural areas. Density of Total Health Workers: is estimated to be 29 per 10,000 populations. This is based on NSSO and 38 per 10,000 population based on registration data, which is close to World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) minimum threshold of 22.8 health workers per 10,000 population. Disparity in density of doctors and nurses across India: is reported by study. As per it the number of doctors in Kerala and Union Territories (UTs) is high as compared to larger states such as Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Bihar.

    15) A Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC) panel has recommended for ‘in-principle’ permission for survey and exploration of Uranium in Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Telangana. Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) under MoEFCC made recommendation at its meeting on 22 May 2019. Background- The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) had earlier sought permission from Environment Ministry to carry out survey and drilling of boreholes around for exploration of uranium in Amrabad and Udimalla (Mahaboobnagar district) region upto 76 km besides 7 km in the adjoining Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh, for use in nuclear power generation. Initially FAC under Environment Ministry observed that there are certain deficiencies in proposal. However, considering the fact that proposal to establish Uranium deposits is of critical importance from national perspective, thus it recommended for in-principle approval to the Atomic body subject to submission of all required document/information in due format. Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) Proposals- In its proposal AMD indicated that review of all areas of ongoing investigations and their assessment indicates that northern part of Cuddapah basin (second largest Proterozoic sedimentary basin in India) is the most promising and potential area in India for locating high grade, large tonnage uranium deposits. The proposed forest land is one of the prime target for exploration of unconformity related U-deposits in the country. Although in India, uranium deposit discovered till now was either of low grade or of low tonnage or of both low grade and low tonnage but keeping in view huge amount of electricity to be produced by nuclear route, economically feasible high grade deposits are to be found out expeditiously. Criticism- Field Director, Project Tiger, after inspection of Amrabad region, confirmed presence of tigers in area based on pug marks and cattle kills, along with evidence of fauna like spotted deer, panther, sloth bear, wild boar, wild dog and sambar. As per the report there are no existing roads in 3,800 hectares sought for exploration thus would make it difficult to transport drilling machinery. Near Udumilla also, there was evidence of occasional visit by tigers at Nallavagu locality. Similar issues of transportation and tree felling will prevail at this location too. Noting that AMD proposes to dig a total of 4,000 bores, report noted that environmental impact of mining includes erosion, sink holes formation, biodiversity loss and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water and which could affect wildlife. Way Ahead- Currently FAC has given only “in principle” permission to AMD while “full and necessary permissions” are required for the department to allow exploration activities in Tiger Reserve. As per FAC after receipt of in-principle approval, the complete proposal may be soon placed before the Competent Authority for approval.

    16) Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved appointment of Arun Kumar, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, to Union Ministry of Civil Aviation as the new Director General (DG) in Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in rank and pay of Additional Secretary. About Arun Kumar- He is 1989 batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre. He is currently serving as additional secretary in Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and will now be holding full-time charge as Chief of aviation regulator DGCA. He was heading DGCA as an additional charge between 31 May 31 and 9 July 2019. Predecessor: He will succeed B S Bhullar who was appointed as full-time DGCA chief in December 2016. He is an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh (UP) cadre. In between June 2016 and December 2016, he was also heading DGCA as additional charge. During his tenure, his main role was as additional secretary in Ministry of Civil Aviation. About Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)- It is regulatory body in field of Civil Aviation primarily dealing with safety issues. It is headquartered in New Delhi with regional offices in various parts of India. It is an attached office of Union Ministry of Civil Aviation which is responsible for regulation of air transport services to or from or within India and for enforcement of civil air regulations, air safety and airworthiness standards. It is also responsible for coordinating all regulatory functions with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

    17) A unique strategy adopted by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) called ‘Plan Bee’ to keep wild elephants away from train tracks has won the ‘Best Innovation Award’ in Indian Railways for the 2018-19 fiscal. The prize is awarded by Indian Railways and comprises of a citation and a cash award of Rs.3 lakh. What is Plan Bee? It is an amplifying system that imitates the buzz of a swarm of honey bees to keep wild elephants away from railway tracks. Many studies suggest that elephants are scared of swarming bees thus this device was designed to generate amplified sound of honey bees audible from about 700-800 metres. First such instrument was installed at a level crossing west of Guwahati in Assam on a track adjoining Rani Reserve Forest, an elephant habitat. NFR now has 46 such devices installed at vulnerable points. Significance: As per the study conducted Plan Bee device has been helpful in diverting herds of elephants, especially when trains approach and dashing becomes imminent. Also as per NFR officials, a mix of Plan Bee and other measures have helped them save 1,014 elephants from 2014 to June 2019. Background- There are 29 earmarked elephant corridors with operating zone of Northeast Frontier Railway spread across north-eastern states of India and some parts of Bihar and West Bengal. Trains passing through are required to slow down at these corridors and adhere to speed specified on signs. But in past elephants have ventured into path of trains even in non-corridor areas, often leading to accidents resulting in elephant deaths. NFR’s Rangiya Railway Division (one of the five railway divisions under NFR zone of Indian Railways) and Forest Department field officials have worked on certain deterrents and provide a solution to the problem. But the desperation to find an ‘elephant repellent’ was triggered when 67 pachyderms were knocked down by trains from 2013 to June 2019. Most of these elephant deaths cases were reported from Assam and northern West Bengal. Thus in a bid to tackle this problem, NFR came up with ‘Plan Bee’ in 2017 and installed devices at several level crossings in state to play sound of buzzing honey bees to drive away pachyderms. Testing: A team then tested Honey Bee Buzz on a domestic elephant in north-eastern Assam’s Rangapara and 1st such instrument was installed at level crossing gate between Azara and Kamakhya stations under Rangiya Railway Division. Later, a 2nd test at tea estate under Rangiya Division proved successful on a herd of wild elephants.

    18) A fortnightly bulletin of the National Museum of Indian Cinema as “NMIC Bulletin“, brought out by the Films Division was launched in Mumbai, Maharashtra. About NMIC Bulletin- National Museum of Indian Cinema are not just about artefacts kept in them but are also about witnessing journey that made cinema possible as well as about narrating untold stories behind those cinemas. Need: This bulletin will give several educational institutions and students of media studies who visit Museum regularly a physical document to cherish and to get relevant information. Significance: India is a nation of great storytellers and produces largest number of films in world. Also, the diversity in Indian cinema can be found nowhere else. Thus need is to market Indian cinema better which this News Bulletin will help in. About National Museum of Indian Cinema- National Museum of Indian Cinema was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 January 2019. Its portions occupy 19th century heritage bungalow and a modern building in south Mumbai. It aims to conserve film heritage of India. It provides a glimpse of evolution of Indian cinema over the years in a storytelling mode with help of graphics, visuals, artifacts, multimedia expositions and interactive exhibits.

    19) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) board has finalised Three Year Roadmap to improve supervision and regulation, among other functions of central bank. This medium term strategy is named as Utkarsh 2022. Worldwide, all central banks strengthen regulatory and supervisory mechanism and everybody is formulating a medium-term plan and a long-term plan. So, RBI also decided to formulate a pragramme to outline what is to be achieved in the next three years. About Utkarsh 2022- It is a 3-year road map for medium term objective to be achieved for improving regulation, supervision of RBI. This medium term strategy is in line with Global central banks’ plan to strengthen regulatory and supervisory mechanism. An internal committee to identify issues that needed to be addressed over next 3 years was formed, which was anchored by Viral Acharya outgoing Deputy Governor of RBI. Idea behind Utkarsh 2022 is that central bank plays a proactive role and takes preemptive action to avoid any crisis and can avoid situations like IL&FS debt default issue and crisis of confidence non-banking financial sector faced in aftermath.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 05 July 2019 To 12 July 2019.

    20) Indian Haj mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted digital technology to reach out to a large number of pilgrims as part of Digital India initiative of Government of India. Key Initiatives- Indian Haj Information System (Haj App): It has been developed to receive feedback, a grievance from Hajis (Haj pilgrims). At present, it receives feedback in English, Hindi and Urdu but soon other regional languages will be incorporated. The app also connects pilgrims with Haj service coordinators (of their respective states) known as Qadimul Hajjaj. Qadimul Hajjaj are government employees who are deputed to assist pilgrims during Haj season. Significance: With introduction of Haj App, Indian diplomats in Saudi Arabia are trying to form a bridge with pilgrims so as to facilitate a smooth and hassle-free Haj operation to them and also to receive grievances and feedbacks to improve service. e-MASIHA: for medical facilities to visiting pilgrims. e-MASIHA (Medical Assistance System for Indian Hajis Abroad) is an online platform where Health status and medical history of visiting pilgrims is being stored. It would retrieve pilgrims’ health information to apply appropriate treatment whenever he or she visits Indian medical facilities during Haj. Other intiatives: Besides App, other means to connect the officials and pilgrims are website and social media channels, toll-free numbers and exclusive in-house Youtube channel. SIM Cards: Pilgrims are being provided Saudi Arabian mobile SIM card in India itself. These SIM cards can be activated in their buildings in Madinah and Makkah after recording their biometrics. Also, Biometrics is a mandatory requirement for issue of SIM cards in Saudi Arabia. About Hajj- It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia the holiest city for Muslims. Hajj 2019: will begin in the evening of 9 August and ends in the evening of 14 August 2019. This year, a total of 2 lakh Indian pilgrims are expected to travel for Haj to Saudi Arabia. Out of this 1.4 lakh pilgrims are travelling through government arm HCI (Haj Committee of India) and remaining through private Haj operators. This year 2332 single women are travelling for Haj under Centre governments’ Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) initiative. In a bid to empower Muslim women, Narendra Modi government has removed restriction on single women pilgrims to travel and encouraged them to apply for Haj.

    21) Italy’s hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, which is home to world-famous sparkling wine Prosecco, were added by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to World Heritage list. The decision to add hills to list was taken at a meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Baku in Azerbaijan. About Prosecco hills- The Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills are where grapes grown produce famous prosecco sparking wine. Location: These Prosecco hills are located northeast of Venice, have been cultivated for centuries. It stretch for 30 kilometres (nearly 20 miles)a Landscape: It is characterised by hogback hills, ciglioni–small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces- forests, small villages and farmland. This rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man for centuries now. Italy has been lobbying to have Prosecco hills receive World Heritage recognition for at least a decade. It has now become Italy’s 55th World Heritage site. Importance of Prosecco: The prosecco sparkling white wine has highest classification available to an Italian wine. It is produced in a territory spread over 9 provinces in Italy’s northeast. Sales of wine rose 6% in 2018 to 460 million bottles, of which 75% were exported. It has now become the most popular Italian wine abroad, with its exports seen rising by a record 21% in 2019 in foreign markets.

    22) Indian sprinter Hima Das clinched gold in Women’s 200m race with a top finish at Kutno Athletics Meet held in Poland. India’s VK Vismaya bagged silver in 24.06 seconds. Key Highlights- Hima Das, clocked 23.97 seconds to clinch gold at Kutno Athletics Meet. This was Hima’s 2nd competitive 200m race of the year and also her 2nd international gold. In her 1st competitive 200m race of 2019, the Assam runner Das who has a personal best of 23.10s had clocked 23.65 seconds on her way to gold in Poznan Athletics Grand Prix, which was also held in Poland. Hima is national record holder in 400m. She is reigning world junior champion. Other Winner: Men’s 200m Race: National record holder Muhammed Anas also won gold. Men’s 400m Hurdles: Jabir MP won gold in 50.21s. Jithin Paul finished 3rd in 52.26 secs. Women’s 400m Race: Indians won women’s 400m race through- P Saritaben (52.77 secs), Sonia Baishya (53.73 secs) and R Vithya (53.73 secs).

    23) Indian movie ‘Gully Boy’ was honoured with NETPAC (The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award for Best Asian Film at 23rd Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN) in South Korea. Key Highlights- The film directed by Zoya Akhtar, revolves around the underground rap movement in India and was released on 14 February 2019. It is inspired by the lives of Mumbai street rappers Vivian Fernandes (aka Divine) and Naved Shaikh (aka Naezy). It will also be screened at 2019 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne in Australia. Other than bagging award at BIFAN in South Korea, Zoya Akhtar recently joined the list of new members of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that organises annual Oscar awards. BIFAN: It was founded in 1997 with particular attention to Asian cinema from East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is an international film festival which is held annually in July in Bucheon, South Korea. About NETPAC Award- It is given at select international film festivals to promote Asian cinema by spotlighting exceptional films as well as discovering new talents. It is awarded to the best Asian feature film by a jury from Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC).NETPAC Jury Committee, comprised of NETPAC members and film professionals, select best Asian Film from World Fantastic Blue section that features newer genres and variety of stories such as comedy, fantasy and drama. NETPAC: It is a pan-Asian film cultural organization of 29 member countries which involves critics, filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors, festival organizers and curators, and film educators. It was created in 1990 as result of a conference on Asian cinema organized by Cinemaya (Asian Film Quarterly), in New Delhi at instance and with support of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Paris.

    24) Mexico’s men’s soccer team won 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup by defeating United States men with 1-0 in the final. This is Mexico’s record 8th Gold Cup title. Key Highlights-While US is the defending champions of biennial North American championship, as it won the 2017 tournament but in 2019 edition it lost to Mexico at Soldier Field, an American football stadium in Near South Side of Chicago, Illinois. The loss for US, men came hours after women’s team lifted its 2nd consecutive World Cup title in France. Mexico’s Jonathan dos Santos scored only goal to win CONCACAF Gold Cup with 1-0. This win handed Mexico their 8th Gold Cup title since championship for teams from CONCACAF was rebooted in 1991. About CONCACAF Gold Cup- It is the international men’s football championship of North, Central American, and Caribbean region organized by CONCACAF. It was founded in 1963 and is a biennial event i.e. held every two years. It was previously referred to as CONCACAF Championship before being renamed in 1991 to CONCACAF Gold Cup. It is a single championship being held for the continent including regions of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup: It was 15th edition of CONCACAF Gold Cup. It took place from 15 June – 7 July 2019. Host countries for tournament were United States, Costa Rica and Jamaica. Participating Teams-16.

    25) ‘The Coffee Table Book – 50 years of Partnership for Change’ was launched by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar along with Dr. Hameed Nuru, Representative and Country Director, United Nation World Food Programme (UNWFP) in India, to commemorate five decades (50 years) of partnership between Union Ministry and agency towards addressing food and nutritional security in India. About Coffee Table Book- It showcases key milestones achieved by Government of India (GoI) in its efforts to make the country free from hunger and malnutrition and role played by WFP in this endeavour. The book includes some of the major turning points in India’s journey towards food and nutrition security captured in Green Revolution, White revolution (also known as operation flood), digitization of food safety nets, improvements in livestock and dairy development. About UN World Food Programme- It was founded in 1961. It was formally established by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1963. It is headquartered in Rome, Italy. It is food-assistance branch of United Nations. It is also the world’s largest humanitarian organization that addresses hunger and promotes food security. It is member of United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and part of its executive committee. As per WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 91.4 million people in 83 countries each year. UNWFP is prime partners of Agriculture Ministry to achieve collective target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-2: ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.

    26) The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out 3 successful test firings of Nag missiles during both day and night in Pokhran firing ranges. With this successful trial of Nag anti-tank guided missiles is in final stages of being inducted into Army. Background- In 2018 Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved procurement of NAG Missile System (NAMIS) at the cost of Rs.524 crore. NAMIS is designed and developed by DRDO. It includes a 3rd generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile, the NAG, along with Missile Carrier Vehicle (NAMICA). About NAG Missile- It is a 3rd generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and also in night. Integrated Missile Guided Development Programme: Nag was one of 1st 5 strategic missiles planned to be developed under Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IMGDP) initiated in 1980s. Other missiles developed under IMGDP project include Agni, Prithvi, Trishul and Akash. Except Trishul all three of them have been successfully developed and inducted into Indian armed forces as Trishul project was shut down after being developed as technology demonstrator. Significance: successful induction of NAG missile into Army is expected to give a quantum boost to Army’s capability against enemy armour. Indian Army will use it by mounting them on modified armoured vehicles. Way Ahead: Indian Army and DRDO are supposed to carry out more tests of missiles also to further validate the missile’s capabilities.

    27) Under Operation Milap of Delhi Police, Delhi Police Crime Branch has rescued 333 missing children from the city and handed them over to their families in different parts of country. These children were missing since January 2019 from various parts of country and were found in Delhi. About Operation Milap- It was launched in December 2014 as a project under which children are rescued. Under Operation Milap Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of Delhi Police has been set up. AHTU is responsible for developing information, rescuing kidnapped or trafficked person and arrest kidnappers. The children rescued are given requisite medical attention and are also counselled. Most of these children have been rescued from railway stations, bus stands and other crowded places in the capital.

    28) The Walled City of Jaipur, known for its iconic architectural legacy and vibrant culture, made an official entry into UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site list. The decision was taken at 43rd session of UNESCO World Heritage Committee, underway in Azerbaijan from June 20 up to July 10. During this session, in addition to Jaipur, Committee examined 36 nominations for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. About Jaipur- Founded: It was founded in 1727 CE under the patronage of Maharaj Sawai Jai Singh II. It serves as capital city of culturally-rich state of Rajasthan. Why Selected? The Pink City Jaipur was nominated for its value of being an exemplary development in architecture and town planning that demonstrates an amalgamation and important exchange of ideas in late medieval period. The city shows an interchange of ancient Hindu, Mughal and contemporary Western ideas in town planning that resulted in the form of city. It is also a unique example of late medieval trade town in South Asia which defined new concepts for a thriving trade and commercial hub. It is also associated with living traditions in form of crafts that have national as well as international recognition. Significance: Being listed on world map as World Heritage site will give a boost to state’s tourism and local economy will benefit along with improving infrastructure. About World Heritage Committee- It is composed of representatives of 21 States Parties to World Heritage Convention. The representatives meet annually and the committee is in charge of implementing the Convention. As of date total 1092 sites in 167 countries have been inscribed on UNSECO’s World Heritage List.

    29) Brazil have defeated Peru with 3-1 to win this year’s Copa America football trophy. This is Brazil’s 9th Copa America title after a gap of 12 years since 2007. Key Highlights- Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison scored a goal each for Brazil. Brazil has won the title every time they hosted the tournament and this is its 5th title at home. The last time they won Copa América at home was in 1989 against Uruguay. Since 2007 Brazil’s only other title came in 2013 Confederations Cup which was also at home. Brazil had not made it past Copa América’s quarterfinals since beating Argentina with 3-0 in 2007 final in Venezuela. In 2016 Brazil did not even get past group stage. This is also Brazil’s 1st tournament success since winning a gold medal at 2016 Olympics. Player of the Final: Everton. He also finished as one of tournament’s top scorers with three goals. Player of the Tournament: Dani Alves, Brazil’s veteran right-back. Uruguay are Copa América’s most successful nation with 15 titles (one more than Argentina). About Copa América- It is an international men’s association football championship. It is organized by South America’s football ruling body CONMEBOL. 2019 Copa América: was 46th edition of Copa América. It was held in Brazil between 14 June to 7 July 2019 at 6 venues across the country. Final positions- Champions- Brazil (9th title). Runners-up- Peru. 3rd place-Argentina. 4th place- Chile.

    30) Asia’s 1st Six Sigma Institute of Mountain Medicines and High Altitude Rescue to be established at Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand. This comes after Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat recently accepted and agreed to a proposal for establishling the mountain institute. About Six Sigma Institute of Mountain Medicines and High Altitude Rescue- It will be a high altitude institute of mountain medicine, training and research center. First of its Kind: This state of art institute when once completed would be dealing with health issues related with high altitudes would be first of its kind in Asia. Training: The institute would also train armed forces as well as para-military personnel in Mountain Medicines. It would also offer courses in mountains medicines and high altitude rescue. It will also train local people, schools and colleges in high altitude rescue and disaster. Services: It would provide necessary high altitude medical services to pilgrims and tourists visiting the state. The institute would also help in enchansing high altitude communications (HAM) and endeavour to develop better food product and beverages. This mountain institute will create 1200 employment, Specialised healthcare, advance education and Rescue Training in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. About Six Sigma health care- It is a company which at present is operating hospitals in Kedarnath, Tungnath and Madhymaheshwar. It has proposed to set up mega Rs.750 cr project in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Six Sigma team also handed over Kedarnath Medical Intelligence Report to Uttarakhand Chief Minister and gave following suggestions to Uttarakhand Chief Minister- Medical screening of Yatris and Empanelment of Hospitals across country for medical checks. Provision of Air Ambulances for Emergencies. Establishment of Bhandara for better food services in Kedarnath Yatra. Increase of Hospital bed strength at Kedarnath and Permanent Medical Post at Tungnath and Madhymaheshwar.

    31) Australian Aboriginal site ‘Budj Bim Cultural Landscape’ in south-west Victoria has been added to UNESCOS’s World Heritage List. It was added to UNESCOS’s World Heritage List at a meeting in Baku, in Azerbaijan following a decades-long campaign by traditional owners. About Budj Bim Cultural Landscape- The site is located within Country of the Gunditjmara, an Aboriginal nation in southwest of Australia. It was created about 6,600 years ago by the Gunditjmara people. It is older than pyramids, Acropolis and Stonehenge. Now being included in WHS it has become 1st site in Australia to receive world heritage protection only for its Aboriginal cultural importance. It features remnants of nearly 300 round stone huts that are now only remaining permanent houses built by an indigenous community in Australia. These stone huts challenges common perception that all Aboriginal people were nomadic. Geography: It includes Budj Bim Volcano and Lake Condah (or Tae Rak), as well as Kurtonitj (Indigenous Protected Area) component, characterized by wetland swamps, and Tyrendarra in south, which is an area of rocky ridges and large marshes. Worlds’ oldest Freshwater Aquaculture Systems: Volcano Budj Bim lava flows, which connect these 3 components, have enabled Gunditjmara to develop one of the largest and oldest aquaculture networks in world. Eel Harvesting: Being composed of dams, channels and weirs (low head dam), they are used to contain floodwaters and create basins so as to trap, store and harvest kooyang eel (Anguilla australis), which has provided native population with an economic and social base for 6 millennia. It is the 20th site in Australia to make it to WHS list. It is 2nd site for Victoria alongside Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, which was listed in 2004. Other Australian World Heritage Sites includes- Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and Kakadu national park.

    32) At the Grand Prix of Spain Women’s Wrestling India’s top wrestler Vinesh Phogat won her 1st gold medal after shifting to 53kg category and Divya Kakran claimed top honours in 68kg category in Madrid, Spain. India finished 2nd with 130 points in team championship behind Russia with 165 points. Key Highlights- Vinesh Phogat (53kg) and Divya Kakran (68kg) won gold. Other Winners: Pooja Dhanda in 57kg category, Seema in 50kg category, Manju Kumari in 59kg category and Kiran in 76kg category registered silver to their name. Vinesh Phogat: is one of India’s medal hopefuls at 2020 Tokyo Games. She was competing only in her 3rd tournament in this new (53) category. Before this tournament in Madrid she had competed in Asian Championship and Dan Kolov, where she won a bronze and silver respectively in 53kg category. She is a Gold medal winner at Jakarta Asian Games.

    33) The United States of America (USA) won FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 title after beating Netherlands in final at Lyon, France. US won with 2-0 goals scored by from Megan Rapinoe penalty and Rose Lavelle. Key Highlights- US retained the women’s World Cup title with help of penalty scored by Megan Rapinoe and strike by Rose Lavelle that gave holders a 2-0 victory. The victory underlines USA’s status as dominant force in international women’s football as they claim World Cup title for 4th time (earlier 1991, 1999 and 2015) in 8 editions. US were already the 1st team to appear in 3 consecutive finals. Also Coach Jill Ellis becomes 1st coach to win back-to-back World Cups in men’s or women’s game since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in 1930s. USA was the only non-European team to make it to quarter-finals in France. Megan Rapinoe: She won the Golden Boot after finishing with 6 goals and 3 assists, and she also took Golden Ball award for best player of tournament.

    34) The first model village built with Indian assistance under the Model Villages Program was inaugurated at Ranidugama in Gampaha in Sri Lanka. It is a part of housing project meant for war affected people and estate workers. The fully constructed houses were handed over to beneficiaries. Key Highlights- Background: India has partnered with Sri Lankan Ministry of Housing and Construction and Cultural Affairs to build 100 model villages which will consist of a total of 2400 houses all across Sri Lanka. These 2400 houses are in addition to 60000 accommodations built under Indian Housing Project meant for war affected people in north and east Sri Lanka and estate workers in plantation areas of the country. Grant: The Indian grant for the project would be Rs.1,200 million ($17.5 million). Other Development Projects by India in Sri Lanka: India has undertaken over 70 people-oriented development projects across Sri Lanka in various fields such as health, skill development, education, housing, infrastructure and vocational training among other. It also includes largest University Auditorium in Ruhuna University in Matara in Sri Lanka. Around 20 such projects are currently under progress.

    35) Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu releases a book titled ‘Vivekadeepini’, a concise book of aphorisms (a memorable expression of a general truth or principle) initially written by Adi Shankaracharya, one of India’s greatest spiritual and literary geniuses. About Vivekadeepini- This short book is a summary of Prashnottara Ratnamalika written by Adi Shankaracharya. It is a compilation of select 36 verses drawn from 67 verses of Prashnottara Ratnamalika which are written in Question-Answer format. The verses in this book contain universal truths and are the starting points for reflection. It contains glimpses of India’s wisdom in most lucid language. Languages: The book has been translated into ten languages- English, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi Gujarati and Odia. This lucid commentary is written by Shri S.S. Naganand and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Vedanta Bharati has taken up this onerous responsibility to connect citizens of India with country’s intellectual tradition and ethical foundations. About Adi Shankaracharya- He is 8th century Indian philosopher and theologian. He consolidated the doctrine (or Philosophy) of Advaita Vedanta (Monism). Advaita Vedanta: states that Brahman is only reality and world is illusory (Maya), thus ignorance of reality is what causes suffering, and liberation can be obtained only by true knowledge of Brahman. He is founder of Dashanami Sampradaya, Hindu monastic tradition of single-staff renunciation. He is also credited with unifying and establishing main currents of thought in Hinduism.

    36) Border Security Force (BSF) has launched a massive exercise, code named as Sudarshan, to fortify Anti-Infiltration Grid along Pakistan border in Punjab and Jammu. The operation was launched on 1 July and is expected to be finished within a fortnight. Operation Sudarshan- Name: The exercise has been named Sudarshan drawing from Sudarshan Chakra (or mythological cutting wheel) of Lord Krishna. Coverage Area: It will cover entire over 1,000-km length of India-Pakistan International Border out of which Jammu shares about 485-km of border with Pakistan and about 553-km of border front is in Punjab. The international border then further runs down towards Rajasthan and Gujarat on India’s western flank. Why BSF? As it is the primary force guarding this frontier as First Line of Defence. The exercise will see entire BSF’s senior field brass, thousands of troops and machinery being deployed in these forward areas. Boosting Defence: Huge assortments of heavy machinery, communication interceptors and mobile bulletproof bunkers have been mobilized to the borders as part of exercise. Frontier and Battalion commanders from Commandant rank to Inspector General (IG), their second-in-command as well as commanders of company (unit) of nearly 40 BSF battalions are camping in forward areas of two states (Jammu and Punjab) so as to finish operation within 15 days and be at their bases by July 15. This is because after 15 July monsoon will unleash heavy rains and cut easy access to these locations. To strengthen vigil along sensitive and infiltration-prone border, the Commanders of force have been asked to- Prepare their watchtowers and sentry posts better. Multiple patrols. Strengthen artillery positions. Replenish arms and ammunition dumps. Check and plug border fence breaches. Make all operational and logistical arrangements. Detect underground and cross-border tunnels. About BSF- It was formed on 1 December 1965 in the wake of India-Pakistan 1965 War, for ensuring security of India’s borders and for matters connected there with. Function: It is the country’s primary border defence organisation. It is responsible for guarding India’s land border during peacetime as well as preventing transnational crime. It is a Government Agency under administrative control of Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It is one of the 7 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) of India and currently stands as world’s largest border guarding force.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 05 July 2019 To 12 July 2019.

    37) Government of India has fixed the price at Rs.3,443 per gram for the new series of Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) opening July 8. Key Highlights- Union Finance Ministry recently announced that Centre in consultation with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to allow a discount of Rs.50 per gram from issue price to those investors who apply online and payment which is made via digital mode. This implies that for such investors, the issue price of gold bond will be Rs.3,393 per gram of gold. On 30 may 2019 RBI announced calendar for issuance of SGB for 1st half of current financial year (2019-2020). The SGB’s will be issued every month from June 2019 to September 2019. About Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme- It was launched by Government of India in November 2015 with the goal of reducing the demand for physical gold and shifting a part of domestic savings, used for purchase of gold, into financial savings. Under the SGB scheme, bonds are denominated in units of 1 gram of gold and multiples thereof. Minimum Investment: in bonds is 1 gram and a maximum limit of subscription of 500 gram/person/fiscal year (April-March). Maximum Limit: of subscription is 4 kg for an individual and Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) and 20 kg maximum subscription limit for trusts and similar entities per fiscal (April-March). Annual Ceiling: includes bonds subscribed under different tranches during initial issuance by centre and those purchased from secondary market.

    38) A batch Bangladeshi civil servant will be trained at the National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG), Mussoorie in Uttarakhand for a period between 2019-2025. NCGG is an institute under Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG). Key Highlights- Background: This training is based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in February 2019 between National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG) and Ministry of Public Administration, Government of Bangladesh, in this regard during 5th meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC). This is 2nd time that NCGG has signed an MOU for a training programme for Bangladesh civil servants. Under the 1st MOU signed 5 years ago, 1,500 Bangladesh civil servants were trained by NCGG. Training Areas: public policy and implementation, e- governance and service delivery, information technology (IT), decentralization, ethics in Administration, urban development and planning and challenges in implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). The training batch will consist of a total of 1800 Bangladeshi mid-career civil servants. The 1st batch consisting of 30 civil servants leaving for a two-week long training programme at Mussoorie have already paid a visit to Indian High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Significance: This collaboration represents a historic milestone in training and capacity building programmes between India and Bangladesh. Such trainings provide an opportunity to share experiences of administration between civil servants of two countries and help in establishing strong bilateral relations. Since the thrust of civil services has now moved towards development activities rather than administration therefore civil servants of India and Bangladesh knowing each other would help foster deeper ties between two countries.

    39) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has voted to list sprawling Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon as a World Heritage Site (WHS) after 30 years of lobbying efforts by Iraq. Key Highlights- Since 1983 Iraq had been trying to have Babylon site recognised by UNESCO. The World Heritage Committee met in Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) to consider Babylon and another 34 sites, including in Brazil and Burkina Faso, for World Heritage List. After the successful vote Babylon, the cradle of civilization was chosen. Significance: Putting Babylon on WHS List will encourage research and development of the site. About Babylon- It is a massive 10sq-km complex of which just 18% has been excavated thus far. It was the Centre of ancient Babylonian empire more than 4,000 years ago. The excavation of site began in early 1800s and artefacts were sent abroad. The city straddles Iraq’s Euphrates River and is about 100 kilometres south of Baghdad. Babylon developed as a walled city of mudbrick temples and towers. It is the largest populated city in ancient history. It is internationally known for its hanging gardens, the Ishtar Gate and Tower of Babel. Parts of Ishtar Gate were sent abroad which still remain in museums across Europe. The Babylonians were civilisation of writing, administration and science. Other World Heritage Sites in Iraq include: the southern Mesopotamian marshes, Hatra, Samarra, Ashur and the Erbil citadel in northern Iraq. Erbil is the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region.

    Highlights of Budget 2019
     The Union Minister for Finance presented the Union Budget 2019-20 before the Parliament.
    Constitutional Provisions
     The term ‘budget’ has nowhere been used in the Constitution. It is the popular name for the ‘Annual Financial Statement’that has been dealt with in Article 112 of the Constitution.
     The budget is a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the Government of India in a financial year (FY), which begins on April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following year.
     In addition to the estimates of receipts and expenditure, the budget contains certain other elements. Overall, the budget contains the following:
    o Estimates of revenue and capital receipts;
    o Ways and means to raise revenue;
    o Estimates of expenditure;
    o Details of the actual receipts and expenditure of the closing financial year and the reasons for any deficit or surplus in that year; and
    o Economic and financial policy of the coming year, that is, taxation proposals, prospects of revenue, spending programme and introduction of new schemes/projects.
     The Railway Budget was separated from the General Budget in 1921 on the recommendations of the Acworth Committee. In August 2016, the Central Government decided to merge the railway budget into the general budget.
    Economy
     Fiscal deficit in FY 19 has been set at 3.3% of the GDP.
     Indian economy will become a 3 trillion dollar economy in 2019. Government aspires to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024-25. To achieve this, there is a need for investment in:
    o Infrastructure
    o Digital economy
    o Job creation in small and medium firms
     PAN and Aadhaar will become interchangeable. One can use Aadhaar number to file I-T Returns.
     Rs. 5 lakh minimum limit announced for taxpayers.
     In view of rising income levels, those in the ₹2-5 crore and ₹5 crore-and-above brackets will see an increase in effective tax rate by 3% (39%) and 7% (42.74%), respectively.
     No change in personal income tax rates.
     Increase in cess on fuel by 1 rupee, petrol & diesel to get costlier; while customs duty on gold and precious items increased.
     Corporate tax with a turnover of up to Rs 400 crore slashed to 25% from a current rate of 30%.
     GST Council advised to reduce tax rate on Electric Vehicles from 12% to 5%.
     No charge on digital payments: Merchant Discount Rate charges waived on cashless payment.
     Measures related to MSMEs:
    o Proposed easing angel tax for startups.
    o E-verification mechanism for establishing investor identity and source of funds for startups.
    o 2% interest subvention for GST-registered MSME on fresh or incremental loans.
    o ‘Stand Up India’ Scheme to continue till 2025.
    o New television channel for start-ups.
    o Pension benefit extended to retail traders with annual turnover less than Rs 1.5 crore.
    o New payment platform for MSMEs to be created.
     Proposal to provide Rs 70,000 crore capital for PSU Banks.
     Regulation of HFCs (Housing Finance Cos) to move to RBI from National Housing Bank.
     Govt to modify the present policy of retaining 51% stake in PSUs.
     Govt to continue with strategic divestment of select CPSEs.
     Divestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore for FY 20.
     Strategic disinvestment of Air India proposed to be re-initiated.
     Global Investors Meet to be held in India.
    Rural India and Agriculture
     Gaon, Garib and Kisan are the focus of the government.
     New Jal Shakti ministry will work with states to ensure Har Ghar Jal for all rural houses by 2024.
     Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana phase 3 is envisaged to upgrade 1,25,000 km of road length over the next 5 years.
     Govt will set up 100 new clusters for 50,000 artisans in FY 20.
     Every single rural family, to have electricity by 2022.
     Govt to promote Zero Budget Farming.
     10,000 new farm produce organisations.
     80 Livelihood business incubators and 20 technology business incubators to be set up in 2019-20 under Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) to develop 75,000 skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industries.
     Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)
    o A robust fisheries management framework through PMMSY to be established by the Department of Fisheries.
    o To address critical gaps in the value chain including infrastructure, modernization, traceability, production, productivity, post-harvest management, and quality control.
    Youth
     To popularise sports at all levels, National Sports Education Board for development of sportspersons to be set up under ‘Khelo India.’
     Govt to launch ‘Study in India’ programme to attract foreign students in higher education.
     Rs 400 crore allocated for world-class higher education institutions in FY 20 .
     National research foundation to fund, coordinate and to promote research in the country.
     New Higher Education Commission with focus on higher autonomy.
     New national education policy to propose changes in school, higher education.
     To make the Indian youth ready to take up jobs in foreign countries, more emphasis on new-age skills like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, etc.
     Study in India proposed to bring foreign students to study in Indian higher educational institutions.
    Social
     Nari tu Narayani: Women SHG Interest Subvention Programme to be expanded to all districts in India.
     Rs 1 lakh loan to be provided for SHG women members under Mudra Scheme.
     Rs 3,000 pension per month for workers from the informal sector.
     Gandhipedia being developed by the National Council for Science Museums to sensitize youth and society about positive Gandhian values.
    Infrastructure
     State road networks to be developed in the second phase of Bharatmala project.
     Rs. 50 lakh crore investment needed in Railway Infrastructure during 2018-2030.
     Public-Private-Partnership proposed for development and completion of tracks, rolling stock manufacturing and delivery of passenger freight services.
     Policy interventions to be made for the development of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), to achieve self- reliance in the aviation segment.
     Outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore for 3 years approved for Phase-II of FAME Scheme.
     National Highway Programme to be restructured to ensure a National Highway Grid, using a financeable model.
     Power at affordable rates to states ensured under “One Nation, One Grid‟.
    o Blueprints to be made available for gas grids, water grids, i-ways, and regional airports.
    Space
     India has emerged as a major space power. It is time to harness our ability commercially.
     A public sector enterprise, New Space India Limited (NSIL) has been incorporated to tap benefits of ISRO.
    Roadmap for Future
     Simplification of procedures.
     Incentivizing performance.
     Red-tape reduction.
     Making the best use of technology.
     Accelerating mega programmes and services initiated and delivered so far.

     

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