W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 22 June 2019 To 28 June 2019.
1) A Letter of Intent (LoI) was exchanged between Ahmedabad and Japanese city of Kobe for a sister city partnership. The LoI was exchanged in presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Kobe to address a large Indian diaspora event. Key Highlights- Authorities from Japanese city of Kobe exchanged Letter of Intent (LoI) with their counterparts in Ahmedabad for Ahmedabad-Kobe Sister City Partnership. This development will further pave the way for an enhanced economic relationship as well as a cultural exchange between two vibrant cities as well as between India and Japan. Background- In November 2016, PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe inked a sister-state relationship Memorandum of Understanding for Gujarat and Hyogo prefecture, a Japanese prefecture in Kansai region of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Kobe is capital city of Hyogo. During his visit, Modi had also visited a bullet train plant in Kobe. MoU then signed was sought to promote mutual cooperation between Gujarat and Hyogo in fields of academics, cultural cooperation, business, environmental protection and disaster management. What is a sister city? The sister cities or twin towns concept is a legal and social agreement between towns, cities, oblasts, counties, provinces, prefectures, states, regions between two different countries to promote cultural as well as commercial ties. This plan was conceived after World War II ended so as to promote peaceful coexistence and to encourage trade and tourism. In diplomacy, the concept of sister cities is seen as a way for enhancing strategic ties between two nations, both cultural and economic. India has signed sister city agreements with: China, Australia, United States, South Korea (RoK), Russia, Canada, Germany, Belarus, Mauritius, Hungary, Jordan, Bangladesh, Lithuania and Portugal. India-Japan Relation- In India there is no such part where Japan’s projects or investments have not left its mark in similar manner, talent and manpower of India are also contributing towards strengthening Japan. This partnership has risen from a time when both countries collaborated in building cars and are collaborating in building a bullet train. India is also planning to run its 1st bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad with the help of Japan. The first stretch of ambitious project is expected to be completed by 2022.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 22 June 2019 To 28 June 2019.
2) Bombay High Court (HC) upheld the reservation for Maratha community in government jobs and education constitutional valid but suggested to reduce the quota percentage from present 16% to 12-13%. Key Highlights of Judgment- The reduced quota limit suggested by Bombay HC is as recommended by State Backward Classes Commission. Legislative Competence: As per HC, state government possesses legislative competence to create a separate category of Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) and grant reservation. The court was hearing petitions challenging Maharashtra government’s decision granting 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions. Background- On 30 November 2018, following the state wide agitations by Maratha Community, the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill granting 16% reservation in education and government jobs for Marathas. Maratha Community was also declared a socially and educationally backward class by government. The government defended its decision by stating that quota was meant to alleviate Maratha community, which was socially and economically backward. Petition: HC gave the judgment upon hearing a bunch of petitions which challenged Maharashtra government’s quota decision of granting 16% reservation to Marathas. The petitions argued that reservation provided violates the Supreme Court’s orders which states that reservation in any state should not exceed more than 50% per cent. However, reservation to Marathas will be in addition to the existing 52% overall reservation in state and with additional 16% reservation, reservation quantum in state was expected to rise to 68%.
3) A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed between the Union Ministry of Shipping and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur for setting up Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology (CICMT). The MoA will focus on indigenisation of ship designing, building and testing. About Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology- It is a state-of-the-art centre which will be set up under the flagship Sagarmala Programme, a government initiative to enhance the performance of India’s logistics sector. Project Cost: It will be Rs.69.20 crore, is being funded under Sagarmala programme. The funding for project is for 5 years after which revenues generated from end users will make it sustainable. CICMT Project (IIT Kharagpur): It will provide technological support, testing, research and experimentation facility to agencies involved in inland water transport, shipbuilding, ports etc. Function: CICMT will focus on ship design for coastal as well as inland waterways, shipbuilding technology & structural design, cryogenic cargo handling, transport systems & logistics, renewable energy harvesting from coastal and inland waters and artificial intelligence (AI) and automation for maritime operations. Reduced Dependence: It will be 1st of its kind facility and will be a hub for latest technology tools for maritime sector and will reduce India’s dependence on foreign institutions. It will also drastically reduce cost of research and will result in cost and time savings for work in port and maritime sector. Strategic Interest: CICMT is of strategic long-term interest for India’s port and maritime sector as it will provide tremendous impetus to Inland water transportation and coastal shipping. Need: At present there is no experimentation and testing facility available in India for inland and coastal vessels thus for when required shipbuilders have to approach many European countries where these facilities are available. Thus, CICMT is being setup to address this long felt need and to provide impetus to development of inland waterways and country’s coastal shipping. Significance: Since indigenous technology is the need of the hour for maritime sector, thus MoA will further the dream of governments’ Make in India initiative and reduce the recurring cost incurred in import of technology.
4) Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister of Haryana has announced an annual financial health assistance of Rs.5 lakh to loktantra senanis or their spouse for treatment at private or government hospitals. Key Highlights- Loktantra Senanis: are people who were jailed during 1975-1977 Emergency under preventive detention laws. As per the new changes proposed by Haryana government, the term Emergency Victim on their identity cards would be replaced with Loktantra Senani. Current Perks: Loktantra Senanis, who went to jail during the Satyagraha Movement in emergency, are already provided a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 by the state government and also free travel in the Haryana Roadways buses. About Indian Emergency of 1975-1977- Indian Emergency that started from 25th June 1975 continued for a 21 month period up to 21st March 1977. Then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, upon advice by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, declared a state of national emergency under Article 352 of Indian Constitution. Once emergency was proclaimed it effectively bestowed on Prime Minister the power to rule by decree, suspending elections and civil liberties. This was a dramatic turn in Indian political affairs as democracy was brought to a grinding halt and all fundamental rights and legal remedies protected by Indian Constitution were suspended. Actions Taken: During Emergency period, most of the political opponents of Indira Gandhi were imprisoned, press censorship was placed and several other human rights violations were also reported such as forced mass-sterilization campaign. PM Gandhi tried to defend her emergency move on grounds of an attempt to protect state and Indian people but the emergency rule still faced immense criticism and is undoubtedly one of most controversial periods of political history of Independent India.
5) The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed all across the world every year on 26 June to raise awareness against drug abuse and the illegal drug trade. International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking- Background: The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting the resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, decided to observe 26 June as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The first such international day was observed on 26 June 1989. This day was adopted to serve as an expression of its determination to strengthen global action and cooperation for achieving its goal of an international society that is free of drug abuse. Objective: The global observance of day aims to raise awareness about major problem that illicit drugs represent to society. Observance: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) encourages individuals, non-profit organizations, private sector and Member States to get involved in its social media campaign to mark the awareness about the day and also invites them to draw on resources provided in social media campaign package. The day is supported each year by individuals, communities and various organizations throughout the world. 2019 Theme: for International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking- Health for Justice. Justice for Health highlights that when it comes to addressing drug problems, justice and health are two sides of same coin. The theme emphasizes integrated nature of rights-based and health-based approaches, which are both highlighted in Ministerial Declaration adopted in March 2019. About United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime- UNODC was established in 1997 with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. It was founded as the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining United Nations International Drug Control Program and Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in United Nations Office at Vienna. Its Parent organization is United Nations Secretariat. It is a member of United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and was renamed in 2002 as United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
6) Telangana is hosting the triennial International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) Congress in Hyderabad. ISTA congress is being held for the first time in Asia. The Congress being held from 26 June to 3 July 2019 is expected to help State to implement its plans into actions. Key Highlights- Host: The eight-day conference is being jointly hosted by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Telangana government. The congress will have main event for three days and technical committee meetings/sessions over next 5 days. Participants: Over 400 experts, policy makers, scientists, researchers and members of seed industry from more than 80 countries including the UK, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, Canada and Austria, will deliberate on seed policies, production and quality aspects. Discussion: Conference will be attended by global stakeholders representing seed production, processing, seed testing laboratories, biotechnology and associated organisations that will be showcasing their products, solutions and services and will also discuss recent developments in seed research and in seed technology. Workshops: are being held during the event, would focus on varietal identification, seed sampling, purity, germination and moisture. Significance: State government of Telangana is keen towards making best use of ISTA 2019 platform to showcase state’s potential in seed production and export its seeds in international market. State government is also planning to adopt latest technology and innovative methods to increase seed production, and to create awareness among farmers of State. Why Telangana? Telangana is India’s major hub of seed production as it meets about 60% of country’s needs in major crops like rice, soyabean, sorghum, maize, pearl millet and cotton. As it is in Telangana, over 400 seed companies are operating with 413 seed processing and 13 seed testing units and about 2.5 lakh farmers in 1,500 villages are engaged in seed production in 3 lakh acres who produce about 65,000 tonnes seed of various crops. It produces nearly 65 lakh quintals of seed every year and has also emerged as a major exporter through Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to various countries in Europe and South America, apart from Australia. Also with a view of exporting seed, mainly under Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Telangana government has already started (from Kharif 2016) seed certification for this purpose with nodal agency called Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority (TSSOCA). About International Seed Testing Association- ISTA was formed in 1924 during 4th International Seed Testing Congress held in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Function: It is an association of laboratories who are authorised to check on marketability of seed as defined in various countries’ laws. It also determines seeds ability to germinate, vigour of seed, and content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seed and test results, as certified by ISTA member laboratories, are accepted by trading partners of World Trade Organization (WTO) in international seed traffic. The year 2019 sees the Seed Symposium of 32nd ISTA Congress. ISTA 2019 Agenda- Ensuring seed Health and Implications of Change for Seed Pathology. Developments in Viability and Vigour Testing. Ensuring Seed Quality for Future Generations. Seed production in a Changing Environment. New Technology and Novel Methods for Seed Quality Assessment.
7) The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved appointment of senior IPS officer Samant Kumar Goel as Director of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), external intelligence of India. He has been appointed for a fixed tenure of two years. He will take charge from Anil K Dhasmana. About Samant Kumar Goel- He is 1984 batch IPS officer of Punjab cadre. He is at present the Special Secretary in RAW. He had joined the RAW in 2001 and possesses rich experience in intelligence and operations. He is instrumental in planning Balakot air strike after Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir and surgical strikes in Uri. He is recipient of the Police Medals for Gallantry and Meritorious Service. About RAW- He is the primary foreign intelligence agency of India. It was established in 1968 following the intelligence failures of India-China and India-Pakistan wars. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is under the direct command of Prime Minister and reports on administrative basis to the Cabinet Secretary of India, who in turn reports to the Prime Minister. Function: To gather foreign intelligence, engage in counter-terrorism, promote counter-proliferation, advise Indian policymakers and advance foreign strategic interests of India.
8) The Appointment Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved appointment of senior IPS officer Arvind Kumar as Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) for a fixed tenure of two years. He will succeed Rajiv Jain whose tenure comes to an end on 29 June 2019. About Arvind Kumar- He is 1984-batch IPS officer from Assam-Meghalaya cadre. He has been working with IB since August 1991 and has also served in Indian Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Prior to this appointment, he served as Special Director in IB and his job involved supervising administrative and personnel desks. He is considered to be an expert on Kashmir and Naxal issues. He is the second most senior officer in IB after Rajiv Jain. He is a recipient of President Police Medal for Distinguished Service. About Intelligence Bureau (IB)- It is India’s internal intelligence agency. It functions under the aegis of Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It was established in 1887 by British India Government and later recasted as the Central Intelligence Bureau in 1947. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
9) NITI Aayog has released the 2nd edition of report titled “Healthy States, Progressive India: Report on Rank of States and UTs”. The report has been prepared in collaboration with Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare along with technical assistance from World Bank. The current edition of health index accounts for period 2015-16 (base year) to 2017-18 (reference year). Key Findings of Report- Categories: The ranking was done under 3 categories so as to ensure comparison among similar entities. 1. Larger states– Kerala has emerged as top ranking state while Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra emerged as 2nd and 3rd best states in terms of overall health performance respectively. While Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand are top 3 ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance. UP and Bihar, finished at bottom of List. Bihar occupied 2nd last position in ranking of 21 large states while UP stayed static at bottom of rankings. 2. Smaller states– Mizoram was ranked 1st followed by Manipur on overall performance. While Tripura followed by Manipur were ranked top two states in terms of annual incremental performance. Sikkim and Arunchal Pradesh had biggest decrease in overall Health Index scores. 3. Union territories (UTs)- Chandigarh ranked 1st in overall performance of Health India, while Dadra and Nagar Haveli improved most among UT’s. Sikkim and Arunchal Pradesh had biggest decrease in overall Health Index scores. Empowered Action Group– contains 5 states namely, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha which saw decline in overall Health Index score between base year and reference year due to deterioration of performances of several indicator. Indicators: The decline is attributed to deterioration of performances of several indicators such as total fertility rate (TFR), low birth weight, sex ratio at birth, TB (tuberculosis) treatment success rate, quality accreditation of public health facilities, time taken for NHM (National Health Mission) fund transfer etc. Positive Correlation: was found between Health Index scores and economic development levels of States and UTs as measured by per-capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP). Wide Gap between Performances: Among large states, overall Health Index score of best-performing state is more than 2.5 times that of overall score of least-performing state. States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have already reached 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target for neonatal mortality rate (NMR), which is 12 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births. Suggestions: Centre should spend 2.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healt and state governments should increase their spending on health from an average of 4.7% to 8% of their budget (net state domestic product) on health. Currently, India’s health spending is only 1.15-1.5% of GDP. About NITI Aayog’s Healthy States, Progressive India Report- Background: The 1st edition of Health Index was released in February 2018. It measured annual and incremental performances of states and UTs for period 2014-15 (base year) to 2015-16 (reference year). Methodology Adopted: Health Index is a weighted composite Index based on indicators in 3 domains – (1) Health Outcomes; (2) Governance and Information; (3) Key Inputs/Processes. Way Ahead: NITI Aayog is committed towards establishing Health Index as an annual systematic tool so as to propel states towards undertaking multi-pronged interventions to bring better health outcomes.
10) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched Complaint Management System (CMS), on its website for facilitating RBI’s grievance redressal process. About CMS- It is a software application launched by RBI for lodging complaints against any regulated entity with public interface such as commercial banks, urban cooperative banks (UCBs), Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs). Objective: To facilitate RBI’s grievance redressal process and also to improve customer experience in timely redressal of grievances. Need: For maintaining trust and sustaining the confidence of consumers in the banking system and other financial service providers (FSPs), prompt and effective grievance redressal mechanism together with customers empowerment through education is must. Features: Keeping convenience of customers in mind, RBI has designed CMS in a way to enable online filing of complaints. Targeted Solution: Once the complaint is registered it would be directed to appropriate office of Ombudsman or Regional Office of RBI. Transparent Procedure: The application has the feature of keeping complainants fully informed via auto-generated acknowledgements and enabling them to track status of their complaints as well as to file appeals online against the decisions of Ombudsmen, where applicable. Thus help improving transparency in system. Tracking: The application is also provided with various dashboards which will help RBI to effectively track progress in redressal of complaints. Feedback: Complainants can also voluntarily share feedback on their experience in obtaining redressal thus helping the service provider to further improvise its services. Way Ahead: CMS will be accessible on desktop and on mobile devices. In future, RBI also plans to introduce a dedicated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for tracking status of complaints. RBI can leverage the data from CMS for analytics purpose, which can then be used for regulatory and supervisory interventions, if required.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 22 June 2019 To 28 June 2019.
11) Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg (France) has voted in favour of restoring Russia’s voting rights, 5 years after they were revoked over its illegal annexation of Crimean Peninsula. Key Highlights- Background: In 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russia was stripped of its voting rights. Russia then responded by boycotting assembly and since 2017 the country also refused to pay its share of 33 million Euro to human rights watchdog. Recently, Russia had also threatened the assembly of quitting the body altogether if it is not allowed to take part in election of a new secretary general to body. Vote: The Parliamentary assembly voted with 118 in favour and 62 against, and 10 abstentions. The voting was undertaken despite strong opposition from Ukraine. Outcome: This move now paves the way for Russia to participate in election of a new secretary general for pan-European rights body. About Council of Europe- It is European continent’s leading human rights organisation whose stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The organisation is separate from European Union (EU). It was established in 1949 with Headquarters in Strasbourg, France. Objective: to achieve a greater unity between its members countries for purpose of safeguarding and realising ideals and principles which are their common heritage and also to facilitate their economic and social progress. Members: It includes 47 member states (including 28 members of European Union).
12) India has proposed to host 2023 International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Mumbai, which is expected to choose host city for 2030 Winter Olympics. Key Highlights- An IOC Session: is the general meeting of members of Committee (about 100-odd), held once in a year, in which each member has one vote. It is the supreme organ of IOC and its decisions are final. Recent Developments: The formal bid for the purpose of hosting 2023 IOC session was submitted by Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra and IOC member Nita Ambani to IOC Chief Thomas Back on the sidelines of governing body’s 134th Session at Lausanne in Switzerland. 134th IOC Session took place from 24 to 26 June 2019. Why 2023 IOC? The year 2022-2023 happens to be the 75th year of Indian Independence (since 1947) and thus seems to be the best way for Indian sports to celebrate the anniversary by having entire Olympic community in India. Background: Earlier, India has hosted the 86th IOC Session in 1983 in New Delhi. Recently, India had expressed its desire to host the ongoing IOC session to decide the 2026 Winter Olympics host but it lost the bid to the Milan (Italian city). But later, Milan stepped back from the role after Italy decided to bid for 2026 Winter Games instead and thus the session is being held at Lausanne in Switzerland. As per IOC rules, a host city is prohibited from being elected in their home country. The Italian city Milan was named as host of 2026 Winter Olympics.
13) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become 1st country in Gulf to launch new anti-money laundering platform called ‘goAML’ (Anti-Money Laundering). It is a one-stop solution, launched by UAE to crack down on organised financial crimes. All about goAML- Developer: It is the new anti-money laundering platform was launched by UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and is developed by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to curb organised crimes. Features: It is a fully integrated software solution developed for use by UAE’s FIU. It is being considered as one of the UNODC’s strategic responses to financial crime, such as money laundering and terrorist financing. It can be used for data collection, document management and analysis and will be used by financial institutions (like banks, finance companies) and law enforcement agencies such as police and designated non-financial businesses and professions (lawyers, accountants). The platform is specifically customized to help FIU meet requirements of UAE’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) framework and other illicit financial activities. goAML will facilitate the receipt, analysis and dissemination of suspicious transactions and activity reports. Compulsory Registration: As per officials of UAE’s Central Bank (in Abu Dhabi) ‘goAML’ has been open for registration since May and all financial entities and Designated Non-Financial Businesses or Professions have to register on this new reporting platform system by 27 June 2019. Over 900 entities including, banks, insurance companies and money exchange centres are required to register on goAML platform (nearly 50% of them have already registered). Significance: This new system ensures that UAE financial system remains effective in fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. About Financial Intelligence Units- Worldwide, FIUs play a leading role in prevention of anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) activities. Function: They receive, process, and analyze reports made by financial institutions or other entities in accordance with requirements of domestic AML/CTF laws and regulations.
14) Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has decided to modify the format of driving licenses to smart card type driving licences so as to follow a standardised format nationwide. Key Highlights- Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Highways Minister in a written reply in Rajya Sabha, notified that MoRTH has prescribed a common standard format and design of Driving Licence for Pan India. Need: Around 30% of Indians drive with fake or bogus licenses. Police reports in just of Delhi NCR region suggests that, cases of underage driving have jumped to 589% and in 1st 15 days of January 2019, 61 unpermitted juvenile cases were registered and issued with challans. A report from Nissan India and road safety NGO SaveLIFE Foundation highlighted worrying part of underage driving. Thus, ministry’s move to this new format is expected to help curb this situation to some extent. Proposed Changes: MoRTH seeks to modify current format of driving licenses to laminated card without chip or smart card type driving licences and which will include nationwide standardised format of placement of information, standardization of fonts etc. For this purpose, RTOs (Regional Transport Offices) should issue a uniform format of driving licenses across nation using a universal smart card driving license format. Implementation: The desired changes to Pan India Licence format will be implemented through MoRTH’s flagship application called SARATHI (for Driving License). About SARATHI- The application is developed by NIC (National Informatics Centre). It has a common countrywide database of all driving license holders, with almost 15 crore driving license records being available in its central repository, which is a part of National Registry. No Duplication: SARATHI has a unique feature to identify duplicate records in real time online basis and can also access information about challans if any, this then facilitates licencing authority that offender drivers do not get a duplicate driving licence.
15) Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs was named in 100 Most Influential in UK-India Relations: Celebrating Women list. Besides Sitharaman, list included Penny Mordaunt, Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence and Ruchi Ghanashyam, Indian High Commissioner to the UK. About The List- The ‘100 Most Influential in UK-India Relations: Celebrating Women’ list was launched by Sajid Javid, UK Home Secretary to mark India Day in Houses of Parliament in London. This is the 3rd year of list. The launch of list also marked commencing of UK-India Week in Britain. The course of week will include a series of sessions on trade and investment and closer cooperation between two nations. The women mentioned in list holds influencing positions in India and UK across 11 broad sectors such as politics, technology and sustainability. Nirmala Sitharaman: The list called her as one of India’s most powerful women and credited her for playing a pivotal role in bilateral relationship. Having studied at London School of Economics (LSE) and worked in UK she is familiar with UK more so than probably all her other colleagues. Oher Prominent Names in List: Priti Patel and Baroness Sandy Verma (Indian-origin parliamentarians in the UK), Gurinder Chadha (filmmaker), Zia Mody and Pallavi S Shroff (Indian law firm chiefs), Suneeta Reddy (Apollo Hospitals’ managing director) and Debjani Ghosh (Nasscom President). Significance: The list is recognition of front and centre role played by women in bilateral relationship. It acknowledges that from business to politics, and art and literacy, women are continuing to make their way in bringing together this bold startegic partnership via collaboration and relationships. It highlights huge potential for bilateral future (of UK and India) as they continue to forge on together as two great countries.
16) The International Day of the Seafarer is an annual and international event day which is celebrated worldwide on 25 June and is coordinated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). IMO celebrated the Day of the Seafarer 2019 with Campaign– I Am On Board with gender equality. Just like previous years, the campaign was centred on social media with hashtag: # IAmOnBoard. About International Day of Seafarer- Background: The Day of the Seafarer was established in 2010 by resolution 19 adopted by 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to adopt revised Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW)Convention, 1978. For the 1st time the day as observed in 2011 and since then it is being observed annually. Objective: The day celebrates and recognizes unique contribution made by seafarers globally to international seaborne trade, civil society and world economy. The day also encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully. Celebration: IMO is celebrated the Day of the Seafarer by calling on everyone in maritime world and beyond to get on board with 2019’s theme of gender equality and declare their support to Seafarer campaign, which links with IMO World Maritime Day (26 September) theme, Empowering Women in the Maritime Community as well as supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 5. About International Maritime Organization- IMO is the United Nations specialized agency which is responsible for regulating shipping, safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships. It was established on 17 March 1948 and is headquartered in London, United Kingdom (UK). Its Parent organization is United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
17) Mohan Ranade, the Veteran freedom fighter who played a major role in Goa Liberation Movement in 1950s, recently died in Pune at 90 years of age. About Mohan Ranade- He was born in 1929 at Sangli, Maharashtra. He was a lawyer by training and was greatly inspired by freedom fighters like Ganesh Damodar Savarkar and Vinayak Savarkar. Fight for Goa: Ranade decided to dedicate his life to liberate Goa from clutches of Portuguese and thus he entered Goa in 1950 under disguise as a teacher and founded an organisation called Azad Gomantak Dal, which was to raise an armed revolt against Portuguese rule. He was injured during an attack on a police station at Beti in 1955 and was consequently arrested by Portuguese police. After being arrested by Portuguese police in 1955, he was imprisoned at Fort of Caxias near Lisbon in Portugal where he was kept in solitary confinement for 6 years. Then in 1961 when Goa got liberated from Portuguese rule, Ranade was released in January 1969, after having spent 14 years in prison. He received Goa Puraskar in 1986 for social work and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001. He has also authored books on Goa liberation movement. What is Goa Liberation Movement? It was a movement which was aimed to end Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, India. Initially, the movement was built on small scale revolts and uprisings of 19th century but grew powerful during 1940-1961 periods. In the end Portuguese control of its Indian colonies ended only when after failure of diplomacy with Portuguese, Government of India ordered Indian Armed Forces to take Goa by force. Thus on 18 and 19 December 1961 military operation were conducted in which Indian troops invaded and captured Goa with little resistance. The governor-general of Portuguese India signed an instrument of surrender and incorporated Portuguese territories into Indian Union.
18) The 23rd edition of Sindhu Darshan Utsav 2019 started at Sindhu Ghat Shey in Leh from 24 to 27 June. It was inaugurated by Skyabje Choskyong Palga Rinpoche. The 4-day event is organised by Sindhu Darshan Yatra Samiti (SDYS) in collaboration with Ladakh Phanday Tsogspa. About Sindhu Darshan Utsav- Background: The “Sindhu Darshan” or Sindhu festival was first started in month of October 1997, for celebration of unity, communal harmony along with national integration. Objective: The festival aims at projecting Indus (or Sindhu) as a symbol of India’s unity, peaceful coexistence and communal harmony and is also a symbolic salute to brave soldiers of country. Celebrations: Usually the festival begins on full moon day which is also called Guru Purnima. On 1st day of festival participants from all religions, castes and regions are welcomed and there is a reception on banks of Sindhu at Shey (about14 km from Leh). Utsav begins with prayers being offered to River Indus in which large group of people take part in ritual on-board boats. River Indus (or Sindhu): stands for peaceful coexistence and communal harmony and is a symbol of our India’s identity and civilization. Sindhu Yatra: undertaken during the festival helps forge a bond of unity among people who live in India’s far-flung corners thus providing them an opportunity to visit beautiful region of Ladakh. Being a truly National Integration Programme, the Ladakh Buddhist Association, Shia majlis, Sunni Anjuman, Christian Moravian Church, Hindu Trust and Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (GPC) jointly conducts the reception of all participants of festival. Significance: The Sindhu Darshan festival conveys a strong message of uniting different religions and faiths, as it connects people from different faiths on one common platform to share love, compassion and respect for each other which is also the essence of every religion.
19) K Natarajan has been appointed as new Director General (DG) of Indian Coast Guard (ICG). He will be succeeding Rajendra Singh, who retires on 30 June 2019. About K. Natarajan- Natarajan is 1984-batch officer. The flag officer has held various important command and staff appointments, both afloat and ashore. He also served as the Commanding Officer, ICGS Mandapam. Current Post: He is currently serving as Additional Director General (ADG) of ICG’s Western Sea Board, which looks after security of sensitive maritime boundary from Gujarat to Kerala. Key Post: His key staff assignments at ICG headquarters include- Chairman, Coast Guard Service Selection Board (SSB), Principal Director (Policy and Plans), Principal Director (Projects), Joint Director (Operations), Coast Guard Advisor (CGA) to Director General, ICG, Chief Staff Officer (Personnel & Administration) at Headquarters Region (East), Chennai, Chief of Staff at Headquarters Region (West), Mumbai, Officer-in-Charge and Coast Guard Training Centre, Kochi. He has commanded all classes of ICG ships- Sangram: Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV). Veera: Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). Kanaklata Barua: Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV). Chandbibi: Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPV). About Indian Coast Guard- It is India’s statutory multi-mission paramilitary organization that is responsible for safeguarding country’s’ maritime interests and enforces maritime law. It was established on 18 August 1978 by Coast Guard Act, 1978. It functions under the aegis of Union Ministry of Defence. It has jurisdiction over India’s territorial waters, including its contiguous zone and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It is country’s one of the youngest Armed Force and has 142 ships & 62 aircraft in total.
20) Cash-strapped Pakistan has secured a financial assistance in form of a bailout package of $3 billion from oil-rich Qatar, a day after Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad concluded his visit to Pakistan. Qatar’s financial assistance to Pakistan was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Foreign Minister of Qatar. Key Highlights- Pakistan also conferred visiting Qatari Emir with the Nishan-e-Pakistan, country’s highest civil honour. Pakistan and Qatar apart from stepping up cooperation in trade and economy also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in field of exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and curbing terrorism financing. During past 11 months, the Gulf state is 4th nation that has come forward at Pakistan’s rescue from default as when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government tries to overcome a ballooning balance-of-payments (BOP) crisis. Other Financial Aid to Pakistan: China gave $4.6 billion aid to Pakistan in shape of deposits and commercial loans. Saudi Arabia provided $3 billion cash deposit and $3.2 billion oil facility on deferred payments. United Arab Emirates (UAE) also provided $2 billion cash deposit. In May 2019 Pakistan reached a preliminary agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $6 billion bailout package that was aimed at supporting Pakistan’s finances and for strengthening a slowing economy.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 22 June 2019 To 28 June 2019.
21) Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a decree for extending Moscow’s embargo on food products being imported from the European Union (EU) to the end of 2020. This decision was in continuation of Russia’s s retaliation against sanctions over Ukraine. Key Highlights- A decree signed by President Vladimir Putin posted on Moscow’s official government website, reads that ban on produce, dairy, meat and most other foods imported from EU will now stretch to December 31, 2020. Background: In 2014, following the international sanctions imposed by United States and other countries over Russia for its annexation of Crimea and support of east Ukraine’s separatists, Moscow in August 2014 imposed counter sanctions on most food imports from the European Union, US and several other countries. The international restrictions were primarily targeted at finance, energy and defense sectors of Russian economy. Recently on 20 June 2019, EU further extended their punishing economic sanctions against Russia (over conflict in Ukraine) for a further 6 months period. Sanction Result: The Western economic restrictions being faced by Russia as well as country’s own embargo have affected Russian economy by pushing up food prices. Western sanction have deprived Russian economy of $50 billion on the other hand EU has lost $240 billion. Russia has now managed to benefit from Western economic pressure as it has started phasing out its imports and replacing them with domestically made products, even in sectors in which Moscow did not have any experience, thus giving boost to domestic producers.
22) European Space Agency (ESA) recently tested a device called Evacuation System Assembly (or LESA), which is designed to assist in astronaut rescue missions on the surface of Moon. As per ESA, it is world’s 1st device aimed to help future incapacitated astronauts. About LESA- Among other preparations for NASA’s 2024 Moon mission (Artemis Mission), scientists are testing the Lunar Evacuation System Assembly, or LESA device. It is developed by European Space Agency (ESA), an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to space exploration. Feature: LESA is a pyramid-like structure. It is designed in a way to be deployed just by a single astronaut in lunar gravity to rescue an incapacitated crew mate. Need: On mission Astronauts wear Extravehicular Activities (EVA) suits that are bulky, heavy due to which they do not allow for a full range of movement. Thus while wearing an EVA suit, there is no way that an astronaut could carry their fallen crewmate over their shoulder. Testing: NASA astronauts are testing LESA under sea. This is because, with its rocky, sandy terrain and warm salty water, the bottom of ocean floor bears much more similarity with lunar surface. Significance: In order to rescue a fallen colleague, LESA can be operated just by a single astronaut thus ensuring a rapid and safe rescue. LESA can be transported like a golf caddy and placed close to the fallen astronaut, hence enabling an astronaut to lift their crewmate onto a mobile stretcher in less than 10 minutes, before carrying them to safety of a nearby pressurised lander.
23) As per a written reply given by Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha, the number of wilful defaulters in nationalised banks has increased by more than 60% to 8,582 in five years to March 2019. Key Highlights- The Finance Minister provided the written reply in Lok Sabha to a question asked that whether the cases of willful defaulters of banks have increased during the past five years. Wilful Defaulter is an entity or a person that has not paid the loan taken back to the bank despite having the ability to repay it. Wilful defaulters are acted against comprehensively. Data Provided by Government: By end of fiscal year 2014-15, the figure of wilful defaulters in nationalised banks stood at 5,349, and since then the number of such borrowers has been consistently rising- with being 6,575 (2015-16), 7,079 (2016-17), 7,535 (2017-18) and now increased to 8,582 in 2018-2019 fiscal. During the last 5 financial years about 7,654 crore has been recovered from wilful defaulters’ accounts. Steps Taken By Government- As per data reported by 17 nationalised banks in India, till 31 March 2019, suits for recovery have been filed in 8,121 cases out of 8,582. SARFAESI Act: In cases involving secured assets, action under provisions of SARFAESI Act (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002) has been initiated in 6,251 cases. RBI Instructions: As per the instructions provided by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), wilful defaulters are not sanctioned any additional facilities by banks/financial institutions, their unit is debarred from floating new ventures for 5 year and even criminal proceedings are initiated wherever necessary. In accordance with this FIRs have been registered in 2,915 cases. SEBI Regulations: Besides, vide Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations, wilful defaulters and companies who has with wilful defaulters as either promoters or directors have been debarred from accessing capital markets to raise funds. IBC 2016: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 has debarred wilful defaulters from participating in insolvency resolution process. FEO Act 2018: The government has enacted Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 for effective action against wilful defaulters who flee Indian jurisdiction. It provides for attachment and confiscation of property of fugitive offenders and to disentitle them from defending any civil claim. PSBs: Government has also advised all Public Sector Banks (PSB) to decide on publishing photographs of all concerned wilful defaulters and to obtain certified copy of passport of promoters/directors and other authorised signatories of companies availing loans of over 50 crore. The heads of PSBs have also been empowered to request for issuance of look out circulars (LoC) against wilful defaulters.
24) Bong-kil Shin, South Korean Ambassador to India launched Jaipur Foot Korea, a collaborative initiative between South Korea (or Republic of Korea) and Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), a Jaipur-based prosthetic limb non-profit organisation. Key Highlights- Republic of Korea (ROK) ambassador to India signed an agreement with BMVSS for providing assistance in prosthetic limbs sector. Agreement: Under the agreement ROK will provide financial and technical assistance to further research and development (R&D) collaboration, technology transfer and facilitate and develop business between India and Korea in med-tech (medical technology) sector specifically in area of prosthetic limbs, bionic arms, 3-D printing-based Flat foot solution and mobility solutions. Significance: The Korean ambassador emphasised that the agreement signed will open up access to Korean med-tech students to join various prosthetic fitment camps in various countries and participate in certificate programmes offered by Jaipur Foot. The agreement will also open up many opportunities for overseas development assistance and grants from Government of ROK and donations from several private institutions and corporations from Korea to India. About Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti- BMVSS is the world’s largest organisation rehabilitating more than 1.78 million disabled. It is a pan-Indian organisation having over 23 branches across country. It provides all its assistance, such as artificial limbs, calipers and many other aids/appliances with everything being totally free of charge. It was registered as a society under Rajasthan Societies Registration Act on March 29, 1975 with its headquarters at Jaipur (India). About Jaipur Foot- It is a lightweight and durable prosthetic limb/artificial limb. It is a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations. Being inexpensive it is widely acceptable as prosthesis and has been widely used in India.
25) The Curiosity Rover of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an independent federal agency of United States has found the largest amount of methane ever measured during its mission on Red Planet (Mars). Key Highlights- Methane Level: Although Methane has been detected by the Curiosity team many times over the course of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program but this time unusually high’ levels of methane- about 21 parts per billion units by volume (ppbv) were reported. 1 ppbv means that if we take a volume of air on Mars then 1 billionth of volume of air is methane. Findings: Curiosity Rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) tunable laser spectrometer came up with Methane level findings. The Sample Analysis at Mars team has also organised a different experiment to gather more information on what might be a transient plume. Why Finding Methane is Important? Finding such high level of methane is exciting because microbial life is an important source of methane on Earth, thus it may help scientist to look for possibility of life outside Earth. Dilemma: The methane on Red Planet can also be created through interactions between rocks and water and since Curiosity does not have instruments that can definitively say what exactly is the source of methane, or even if it is coming from a local source within Gale Crater or elsewhere on planet, it becomes impossible to tell if methane source is either biology or geology, or whether it is even ancient or modern. Scientists Study: Several previous research papers have documented how background levels of methane gas seem to rise and fall seasonally. They have also noted sudden spikes of methane gas, but again scientist team knows very little about how long these transient plumes last or why they are different from seasonal patterns. Way Forward- Scientists involved in Curiosity Mission needs time to analyse these clues and conduct many more methane observations. They also need time to collaborate with other science teams such as with European Space Agency’s (ESA) Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been in its science orbit for just above 1 year. Combining previous observations and current measurements from surface and from orbit could help scientists locate sources of gas on red planet and understand how long it lasts in Martian atmosphere. About Curiosity Rover- It is part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. It is a car-sized rover designed to explore a crater on Mars called Gale. It was launched on 26 November 2011, and landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale crater on Mars on August 2012. Although the planned mission lifespan for Curiosity rover once it lands on Mars is 1 Martian year (i.e. 687 days) however in December 2012 curiosity’s 2 year mission was extended indefinitely and rover is still operational as of 25 June 2019.
26) Coca-Cola and Chinese dairy firm Mengniu have signed a multi-year global Olympic deal to become joint sponsors (beverages and dairy) of Olympic Games starting from 2021 to 2032. Key Highlights- Neither International Olympic Committee (IOC) nor two companies (Coca-Cola and Mengniu) involved in sponsorship disclosed the size of deal. The agreement was unveiled in Lausanne, Switzerland ahead of opening of IOC session in which IOC will choose host city for 2026 Winter Olympics between two running candidates- Italy’s Milan/Cortina and Sweden’s Stockholm/Are. TOP Programme: This agreement is 1st ever joint partnership under Worldwide Olympic TOP programme. The TOP (The Olympic Partners) programme is the highest level of Olympic sponsorship which grants category-exclusive marketing rights to a selected group of global partners for Summer, Winter and Youth Olympic Games. Longest Olympic sponsor: Coca-Cola first supported the Olympic Games in 1928 and its previous deal ran to 2020. Now with Coca Cola’s new agreement with Mengniu, China’s top milk products manufacturer which will span 6 Olympic Games, makes it longest Olympic sponsor. Olympic Schedule: Beijing is scheduled to host 2022 Olympics, while 2024 Summer Games will be staged in Paris, France. Los Angeles in California has been awarded 2028 Olympics. Significance: This partnership with Coca-Cola, an iconic American brand, which is also the longest-standing partner of Olympics, together with a young Chinese company, Mengniu, will give another dimension to promotion of Olympic values globally and will be a great example of unifying power of Olympic spirit.
27) The Indian Air Force (IAF) commemorated 20 years of Kargil War (held between May-July 1999) by turning Gwalior air base virtually into a ‘war theatre’ with a dramatic reenactment of some milestones of 1999 operation such as Tiger Hill Attack. Key Highlights- Chief Guest: for event was Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. Symbolic Recreation of Tiger Hill Attack: IAF planned several activities at Gwalior air base to commemorate 20 years of Kargil war and symbolic recreation of Tiger Hill attack was one of them. For recreating Tiger Hill attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) Drass-Kargil area, IAF used Mirage 2000 aircraft and explosives were blown up on a Model Hill to recreate crucial events of kargil war. Other Aircrafts on static display at the base were- 5 Mirage 2000, 2 MiG 21s and 1 Sukoi 30 MKI. Mirage-2000 aircraft played a crucial role in battles fought during 1999 war and also hit enemy targets bunkered in at Tiger Hill. One of the Mirage 2000s also showcased Spice bomb carrier, the bomb was used in Balakot airstrike in 2019 February. Other Scheduled Events: To mark the 20th anniversary of ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’, a number of celebratory events has been planned by Indian army in Delhi and Dras in J&K for next month. The anniversary celebrations for 2019 be conducted on a nationwide platform from 25-27 July. About Kargil War- It was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, which ended with decisive Indian victory. It took place between May-July 1999 in Kargil district (of Kashmir) and elsewhere along Line of Control (LOC). Cause: of war was infiltration by Pakistani soldiers into positions on Indian side of LOC who disguised as Kashmiri militants. In India, war is also referred as Operation Vijay, the name of Indian operation to clear Kargil sector. During Kargil war, IAF had conducted Operation Safed Sagar as a part of Operation Vijay of the Indian Army.
28) Rachna Khaira of The Tribune News Service has bagged prestigious RedInk Award for for Excellence in Indian Journalism ‘Journalist of the Year’ 2019 for her expose during 2018 on functioning of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and its Aadhaar data cache. The Aadhar Expose: Investigation: conducted by Rachna Khaira confirmed that personal data of millions of citizens was at risk of being hacked/traded for a price. The series of sting operations run by journalist helped to raise serious doubts over government claims that Aadhaar data stored on UIDAI servers was safe and secure. Then later many of the leads provided by her became part of a public interest litigation (PIL), which finally led to troublesome and mandatory aspects of Aadhaar being watered down. She is currently working for The Huffington Post. About RedInk Awards for Excellence in Indian Journalism- The Red Ink awards are a set of annual awards which were instituted by The Mumbai Press Club in 2010. They are bestowed upon an individual in recognition of his/her excellence in journalistic achievements as assessed by a special jury. These award grants national recognition to journalists by a professional body. Other Awardees of 2019- 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award– was jointly awarded to two retired senior journalists- Dinu Ranadive (94) who retired from Maharashtra Times: He covered Goa freedom struggle (1961), Bangladesh war (1970-71) and broke stories on cement scandal (1982). Sebastian D’Souza, Photojournalist who served as Photo Editor for Mumbai Mirror: He achieved acclaim for his photographs that captured Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror attack on Mumbai on 26 November 2008.
29) Bollywood actor Anupam Kher is coming out with his autobiography titled-‘Lessons Life Taught Me Unknowingly’ that is set to release on 5 August 2019. The book is expected to offer a kaleidoscopic peep into life and times of Kher as an actor and entertainer. Key Highlights- Publishers: The book is being published by Penguin Random House. The Book: It is expected to be an extraordinary, riveting and no-holds-barred saga in which the actor would make some behind-the-scenes revelations, and share anecdotes and rare nuggets from his life and the lessons it taught him. About Anupam Kher- Achievements: The 64 year old actor is a winner of 2 National awards, 8 Filmfare awards and a BAFTA nomination. He is also a recipient of the Padma Shree (2004) and Padma Bhushan (2016) awards. In his career spanning number of successful films in Bollywood he even and went on to feature in several mainstream Hollywood films such as Silver Linings Playbook, Hotel Mumbai, The Big Sick and The Family Man. He also has a best-selling book ‘The Best Thing about You Is You!’ in his kitty. The book has been translated in 6 languages and is in its 22nd reprint.
30) Viral Acharya Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has resigned from his position 6 months before the end of his term citing reason as unavoidable personal circumstances. Acharya, who joined RBI on 23 January 2017 for a three-year term, was youngest deputy governor of RBI post economic liberalisation. He may now return to New York University Stern School of Business (NYU Stern) in August 2020 instead of February 2020. Key Highlights- RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya resignation is second high profile resignation at Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In December 2018 Urjit Patel former RBI governor, also resigned about nine months before end of his schedule term citing personal reasons. Acharya’s resignation is also significant as he resigned shortly before Bimal Jalan committee is to submit its report on whether RBI reserves could be transferred to Centre government or not. Mr. Acharya who was in charge of the monetary policy department, created a controversy in October 2018 by strongly alluding to encroachment on autonomy of apex bank of country by government. One of the main tension points he highlighted was treatment of RBI reserves. RBI is left with only 3 Deputy Governors- N.S. Vishwanathan, B.P. Kanungo and M.K. Jain. Conflict: Dr. Acharya has been differing with RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das in last two Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meetings on both growth and inflation. In latest monetary policy meeting also, RBI Governor Das and Deputy Governor Acharya differed strongly on state of fiscal deficit and how to account for that. Acharya, who was in charge of monetary policy department while ending his term warned of wrath of markets if autonomy of a central bank was compromised. About Reserve Bank of India- RBI is India’s central banking institution, which controls issuance and supply of Indian rupee. The RBI began its operations on 1 April 1935 in accordance with Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. RBI was nationalised on 1 January 1949, after India gained independence on 15 August 1947. Until Monetary Policy Committee was established in 2016, it also controlled monetary policy in India.
31) Mata Vaishno Devi shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will get a dedicated in-house disaster response force by September 2020. For this purpose NDRF and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in early 2019. Key Highlights- MoU: The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NDRF and shrine board in early 2019 was keeping in mind hilly terrain of region and emphasised the need for imparting Advanced Disaster Management Training to shrine board staff in batches so as to keep them in state of readiness for effectively and promptly responding to any disaster situation. The 1st respondents in case of any eventuality will be staffs of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. The training of board staffs has already begun at headquarters of 7th battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Punjab. Staff Selection: The Shrine board employees who are fit and have about 15-20 years of service remaining will undergo this training capsule. It includes staff from security, medical and assistance wings, sweepers, receptionists, salesmen and catering providers etc. Training Undertaken: NDRF is not charging any fee for training of shrine’s board staff that is being trained for ensuring a quick response in case of any fire incident, earthquake, landslides or any other emergency situation. The 6 week training of 1st batch of 25 staff that started on 18 May 2019 is almost heading for completion. Now, the shrine board plans to train 180 employees by September 2020 to prepare a dedicated disaster response force for shrine. The board also plans to set up an Emergency Operation Centre as part of its disaster preparedness. Tasks Undertaken: For further augmenting disaster management preparedness an NDRF team would conduct a comprehensive audit of disaster management stores that are set up by Shrine board at various locations on pilgrimage track and in Bhawan area so that, wherever required, these are further replenished and strengthened by adding latest gadgets and equipment. Mock Drill: In March 2019 an NDRF team conducted a mock exercise on yatra track near Bhawan area in order to analyze and evaluate level of preparedness to most effectively and promptly respond to any emergency situation. About Mata Vaishno Devi- It is shrine is a dediacted to Vaishno Devi also known as Mata Rani, Trikuta and Vaishnavi, who is a manifestation of Hindu Goddess Mata Adi Shakti (or Mahalakshmi/Matrika Goddess). The religious pilgrimage shrine lies atop Trikuta hills, in Reasi district of Jammu region. In 2019, it attracts 86 lakh pilgrims from across the world which was highest in past 5 years.
32) On Olympic Games’ 125th anniversary, International Olympic Committee (IOC) has formally opened its new headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The innaugration of new headquarters comes exactly 125 years after Olympic Games were revived. Key Highlights- The International Olympic Committee was founded by Pierre de Coubertin, who was a great visionary and brought together entire world together in one peaceful competition. The Olympic Games are a symbol of hope and peace for all humankind, to signify this rooftop of headquarters takes the shape of a dove which is another universal symbol of peace. Eco friendly construction: The Olympic House has been built on site of former Olympic headquarters, and 95% of old materials were reused and recycled. The renewable energy supplied to building is provided using solar panels on roof and pumps taking water from Lake Geneva. Signature Feature: of building is a central staircase linking together 5 Olympic rings. It is designed by architecture firm 3XN of Denmark, the energy-efficient building has won international awards for sustainability. It also brings over 500 IOC employees together under one roof. Cost: The new headquarters costs 145 million US Dollars. On occasion of Olympic Day, another reason for IOC members to gather in Lausanne was to choose 2026 Winter Games host for which candidates are: Stockholm-Are (Sweden) and Milan-Cortina (Italy). International Olympic Committee- It is a non-governmental sports organisation headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Sport’s governing body was created by Pierre de Coubertin and Demetrius Vikelas on 23 June 1894 in Paris, France. Function: It is the authority responsible for organising modern Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Membership- Members: 95 active members, 44 honorary members, 2 honour members (Senegal and United States), 206 individual National Olympic Committees (officially recognised by IOC). IOC is governing body of National Olympic Committees (NOCs). The NOC are national constituents of worldwide Olympic Movement. Current President of IOC- Thomas Bach of Germany.
33) Japan gifted Manipur, one of India’s north eastern state a Museum of Peace built on the memories of Battle of Imphal, one of the fiercest battles of 2nd World War (WWII). The inauguration of Imphal Peace Museum marked 75th anniversary of Battle of Imphal. Key Highlights- Location: The Imphal Peace Museum was inaugurated at Red Hill which lies about 20 km southwest of Imphal (Manipur capital). Funding: The museum is funded by Nippon Foundation, a private, non-profit grant-making organization based in Japan. Relics: Among the highlights of museum such as diaries and other memorabilia of those who returned to Japan safely, is a framed calligraphy by Shinzo Abe Japan’s Prime Minister, which reads heiwa- meaning peace in Japanese. Why Red Hill? About 70,000 Japanese soldiers, alongside those of Indian National Army (INA) of Subhash Chandra Bose, died in battles with British-led Allied forces in areas around Imphal and Kohima from March-June 1944. The last of these battles was fought at Red Hill in Imphal. In 1994 Japanese War Memorial was also built at Red Hill to mark 50th anniversary of battle. Significance: Imphal Peace Museum symbolises the reconciliation between Japan and Britain and Japan and India. It will serve as a living memory of the tragic war which reinforces the message that history changes and will make the world learn from past which is required for a lasting peaceful world. What is Battle of Imphal 1944? Battle of Imphal took place in region around city of Imphal (Manipur’s capital) from March to July 1944. Japanese armies with an attempt to destroy Allied forces at Imphal invaded India, but were driven back into Burma (todays’ Myanmar) with heavy losses. The Battle of Imphal together with simultaneous Battle of Kohima (also known as Stalingrad of the East) on road by which encircled Allied forces at Imphal were relieved, was the main turning point of 2nd World War’s Burma Campaign. The Japanese faced the largest defeat up until that time at Kohima and Imphal with many of Japanese deaths resulting from starvation, disease and exhaustion suffered during their retreat.
34) Saudi Arabia has become 1st Arab country to be granted full membership of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) following FATF’s Annual General Meeting held in Orlando, Florida in United States (US). Saudi Arabia and FATF- Background: Since November 2004, Saudi Arabia has been a founding member of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) arm of FATF group. At the beginning of 2015 Saudi Arabia had received an invitation from FATF as an observer member. Now, the kingdom’s accession came as global money laundering watchdog celebrated 30th anniversary of its 1st meeting held in Paris (France) in 1989. The full membership to Saudi Arabia comes after it was reported that Kingdom had made tangible progress for its efforts in implementing FATF’s guidelines. What is FATF? It was established in 1989, with headquarters in Paris, France. Members: FATF comprises of 37-member jurisdictions and 2 Regional Organisations namely Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and European Commission (EC). With kingdom becoming a FATF member, the number of permanent members in group is now 39. FATF Plenary: is FATF’s decision making body. It meets three times per year. Function: The Financial Action Task Force is an international group responsible for issuing international standards, policies and best practices for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation and other related threats to integrity of international financial system. Recent Developments: FATF has notified that Pakistan failed to complete its action plan on terror financing and has strongly urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 or else face consequences.
35) India clinched the women’s FIH Series Finals Hockey Tournament by beating hosts Japan 3-1 in summit clash at the Hiroshima Hockey Stadium in Japan. Key Highlights- The World No.9 Indian women had put a hard fought win over the Asian champions. Captain Rani Rampal gave India lead in 3rd minute before drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur struck twice (45th and 60th minutes) late in match to set up win. In last minutes of match Gurjit, the top scorer of tournament, scored her second goal of match through a penalty corner to make it 3-1 and closed the victory for India. Kanon Mori scored only goal for Japan in 11th minute. By entering final of FIH Series Indian women’s team have already secured its place in final round of 2020 FIH Olympics qualifiers. Women’s FIH Series- The 2018–19 Women’s FIH Series Finals that were held in June 2019 are 2nd stage of 2018–19 editions of Hockey Series. The event saw the participation of 24 teams (from 5 confederations) matches played were 52. The venue was in 3 host cities- Hiroshima (Japan), Banbridge (Ireland) and Valencia (Spain). The top two teams from each event qualified for 2019 FIH Olympic Qualifiers.
36) Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, along with Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) governor Satyapal Malik distributed Doordarshan (DD) Free Dish Set Top Boxes to people living in border areas of Jammu and Kashmir region in Srinagar. Key Highlights- At an event organized by Doordarshan Kashir, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister launched a spectrum of initiatives for state along with distribution of 30,000 free DD set-top boxes. DD Kashir is a regional subsidiary television station of Doordarshan. The Set Top Box will be provided free of cost and audience will be able to view over 100 channels for free. DD Kashir launched a news bulletin titled Dogri News for Jammu region on channel, which will be telecasted every day at 6.15 PM on channel on digital mode. Significance: In small areas and districts where there is no mobile connection, no internet and no television this new step will help in providing information and making them aware. The DD Free Dish service will help even those people who are living in remote and distant areas of J&K and further aims to cover even those areas in country where TV has not reached so far. Dogri News Bulletin on satellite medium will help Dogri language reach people across the world. It will also give J&K’s composite culture and literature a boost as Kashmiri, Dogri and Ladakhi languages will be available on same channel. DD DTH service- Doordarshan’s DTH service also known as DD Free Dish was launched in 2004. It and has been upgraded from time to time. At present it has capacity is 104 SDTV channels along with 40 Radio channels. DD Free Dish has emerged as an empowering tool for masses and now it has reached more than 34 million households in India.
37) The Indian Public Sector Undertaking’s (PSUs) National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC Ltd) and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) have signed an agreement to set up National Electricity Distribution Company Limited (NEDCL). Key Highlights- The forming of a joint venture to set up National Electricity Distribution Company by NTPC, a leading power generator, and Power Grid, which owns India’s largest power transmission network, paves way for two to get into consumer electricity supply business. As per the agreement NEDCL will be a joint venture of NTPC and PGCIL on 50:50 equity basis. Objective: To undertake business for distribution of electricity in distribution circles in various states and Union Territories (UTs) and other related activities. Significance: As the announcement about Joint venture comes at a time when existing reform scheme UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) has been declared as a failure by several agencies, thus this move could also hint at another round of power distribution reforms. Reform Includes: Separation of content and carriage businesses in power distribution which means that the infrastructure builder for power supply and supplier to consumers would be two separate companies. This would make power distribution sector more competitive as separating content and carriage will bring more competition with more than one power supplier. These measures have been suggested in latest amendments to Electricity Act, 2003, which is yet to be tabled in Parliament. About UDAY- Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana was launched by government of India in 2015 with aim of turning around the state-owned discoms financially and operationally as well as finding a permanent solution to financial mess that power distribution is in. Although the financial part was concluded with states’ taking over losses of distribution companies and issuing bonds but operational front is still facing challenges. Current Status: At the end of Financial Year 2019, Losses of state-owned discoms grew by more than 40% (Rs.21,658 crore) but at the same time, the dues of discoms to power Generation company (gencos) stood at Rs.38,023 crore.
38) Author Vinit Goenka released his new co-authored book titled ‘Function of Data Sovereignty: The Pursuit of Supremacy’. He is founder member of Centre for Knowledge Sovereignty (CKS), which is an endeavour to acquire knowledge through experts of eminence in respective field. Key Facts about Data- Data Localization: The Book focuses in-depth on steps and concrete actions required to build highly capable data centres that will ensure data security, and implementation of well-thought-out policies, procedures, and laws on data sovereignty to ensure that India weakens all fear of Data Colonisation well in time. The impact of these steps would be a radical breakthrough in ease of doing data centre business in India. Caution: India is one of the world’s biggest markets in data generation i.e. India generates data and consume data. Although data is the new fuel which runs world, it is also a double-edged sword hence author also cautioned against data colonisation being not too far. Risk: It identifies risks and gaps in areas such as regulatory policies, energy, water resource, network bandwidth, and risk & management of natural disasters which prevent market forces in India from playing its due role. It also attempts to set a clear objective for regulators to formulate a business-friendly, unambiguous, and strict policy environment for data centre business in India. India and Data- India is becoming a substantial data consumption market with one-sixth of human population and one-fourth of data consumption of world. The digital data consumption in India is expected to increase two times as fast as global rate (from 0.6 zettabytes in 2013 to 6 zettabytes in 2020). The key drivers for digital data consumption growth are sectors such as insurance, banking, telecommunications, IT, digital commerce, social media, and government sector. In 2018, Indian data centre infrastructure market was valued at US$27 billion, which by 2020 is expected to be second largest market within Asia-Pacific region.
39) India’s Pankaj Advani defeated Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon of Thailand with 6-3 in final to clinch the 35th men’s Asian Snooker Championship. Key Highlights- India’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani won men’s Asian Snooker Championship to complete a career grand slam in cue sports. Record: With this win Advani has now become the only player to win Asian and World championships in all formats and also only one to do it in both billiards and snooker. He has now claimed ACBS (Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports) Asian snooker events: 6-red (short format) and 15-red (long format) along with the IBSF World (Billiards and Snooker) Championships in both formats. Although Pankaj had already accomplished it in billiards, but he was missing 15-red Asian snooker title from his bulging trophy cabinet. Pankaj will now take part in IBSF World Cup 2019 scheduled to be held in late June in Doha, Qatar. About ACBS Asian Snooker Championship- It is the premier non-professional snooker tournament in Asia that started from 1984. The Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports, sanctions the event series. In most of the seasons winner of tournament qualifies for next season of Professional Snooker Tour.
40) According to a notice issued by Nepalese Embassy in New Delhi, Nepalese nationals is required to have visa if they are entering India from Pakistan, China, Hong Kong and Macau. As per the Nepal foreign ministry, there are 4 million Nepalese working and studying in India. Key Highlights- The Nepalese Embassy also notified that a citizen of Nepal who wants to pass immigration clearance of India while travelling to Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain are required to acquire No Objection Certificate (NOC) from respective Nepalese Embassies situated in those countries. To get NOC, a traveler must have to submit an application to respective embassy along with relevant documents, including ticket and visa of the destination country, employment permit. Reason: An open boarder allows Nepalese nationals an easy path to enter India and some of whom subsequently travel to Gulf countries for work. Thus, the decision that a Nepalese citizens now mandatory require NOC to enter Gulf countries via India, is taken amid raising security concerns. However in past, no separate permit was required to travel any country through Indian immigration clearance. Background- As per existing rule, a citizen of Nepal entering India by land/air directly from Nepal does not require a passport/Visa, but is required to possess an identity card that establishes his/her identity as a Nepalese national. However, for security reasons a citizen of Nepal is generally asked for Passport when entering India from a place other than Nepal. The ID documents which are considered valid for verifying individual’s identity includes Nepalese Passport, Nepalese Citizenship Certificate, Voter’s ID Card issued by Election Commission of Nepal and Limited Validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Embassy in India when deemed necessary. For children between 10-18 years of age, who are travelling with their parents, photo ID issued by Principal of their School, are considered as valid travel documents.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 22 June 2019 To 28 June 2019.
41) Mauritania, a country in Northwest Africa went to polls for the first time since the African nation gained independence from France nearly 60 years ago. Following the independence the country have mostly been ruled Non-elected military governments. Key Highlights of Elections- President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (62), who seized power in a military coup in 2008, agreed to step down and abide by serving period of maximum two five-year elected terms. Under his reign he has positioned Mauritania, as an ally of West against Islamist militants. Bound by term limits, Abdel Aziz threw his support behind 62-year-old Mohamed Ould Ghazouani. Ghazouani, a former general and defence minister was heavily tipped to replace outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. These elections are being held to choose a successor to a democratically-elected president. However, they are being criticized for being held in absence of international observers and printing of ballot papers by a company with ties to ruling party. The counting of ballots in Mauritania on Saturday evening from its presidential election, as the ruling party claimed its candidate was poised to win a landslide victory. About Mauritania- The country is officially named Islamic Republic of Mauritania, lies on Atlantic coast of Africa. It is a home to fewer than 5 million people across a vast expanse of Western Sahara Desert. In 1981, Mauritania became final country in world to formally abolish slavery, but it continues to this day. In recent years, country has been spared attacks by jihadist militants linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS). These militants have devastated other countries in West Africa’s Sahel region, including neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.
42) The Bihar Government recently announced ban on felling of trees in different cities of Bihar, citing increasing pollution as well as a fatal heatwave in the state as reason for the ban. Key Highlights- Background: Bihar Government has taken this decision as most cities of Bihar are ranked in list of World’s most polluted cities which includes- Patna (7th position), Muzaffarpur (13th position), Gaya (18th position) and Bhagalpur. Also, currently Bihar does not have any Tree Protection Act active, due to which people who privately own a tree in state are cutting it indiscriminately. Note: The current order against banning tree felling was passed under Forest Conservation Act (FCA),1980. This new scheme is valid only for State Government owned properties and not for people who privately own a tree. Changes Announced: With this new initiative Bihar Government has put a hold on tree harvesting for at least government held projects. Now for undertaking any development project (like road or highway tenders) if anybody now wants to remove a tree would have to translocate/shift the project or the trees to some other place. Engineers have also been asked not to cut trees while building/expanding roads. All permissions granted to cut trees for development works, have become null and void. Trees on private land, however, can be felled in the absence of a tree-protection Act in Bihar. Reason: The state government could also have taken this decision as a reaction to indiscriminate felling of big, old trees in Patna during last few years for construction of roads and buildings. According to official data, on Patna’s Bailey Road over 2200 trees have been chopped in last 2.5 years. The state’s forest department also expressed its displeasure over filling roots of trees with concrete on roads in various towns for the sake of development. Government Vision: Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar has repeatedly announced his government commitment to increase state green cover to 17%. As of date Bihar has been able to increase its green cover from 7% to 15% under the Green Mission. What is Forest Conservation Act, 1980? It is an Act of the Parliament of India that was enacted for providing a higher level of protection to forests and to regulate diversion of forest lands for non forestry purposes. As per the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 Prior permission/approval of the Central Government is essential for De-reservation/ Diversion of forest land for for non-forestry purposes. This is given on the condition that user agency will deposit required amount to undertake compensatory afforestation for mitigate negative impact of forest land diversion. The act extends to whole of India except state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
43) Pranati Nayak of India won bronze medal in vault event held at Senior Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2019 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. About Pranati Nayak- The 23-year-old Indian gymnast is from West Bengal, who had qualified for vault finals with a 6th place, in finals scored 13.384 to claim bronze medal. She had scored 13.400 and 13.367 in the 1st and 2nd vault respesctively. Other Winner: China’s Yu Linmin (14.350) clinched the gold and Japan’s Ayaka Sakaguchi (13.584) won silver medal at event. She now currently stands tall as India’s 3rd major vaulting medallist after Dipa Karmakar and Aruna Reddy. She now eyes her biggest challenge of World Championships 2019 which is scheduled to be held later this year. About Asian Gymnastic Championships- AGC is organized by Asian Gymnastic Union (AGU) for each of the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) gymnastic disciplines for both men’s and women’s. The FIG is the governing body of competitive gymnastics which is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The senior editions of Asian Gymnastics Championships is one in which competitors must be above 16 years of age. The Senior Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2020 will take place in Japan Tokyo, Japan from 2–5 May 2020.
44) Yoga guru Baba Ramdev recently made announcement about releasing his autobiography titled- ‘My Life, My Mission’. The book is co-authored with senior journalist Uday Mahurkar. About ‘My Life, My Mission’- The autobiography of Baba Ramdev will unveil trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his life and provide insights into his childhood. Brief: The book addresses major controversies, turning points and achievements of Baba Ramdev’s life and is expected to be one of its kind personal narrative of life and times of yoga teacher. In the book, Ramdev registers his journey from a small Haryana village to international stage, and pens about his passion for yoga and good health, friends and foes, and the Swadeshi campaign spearheaded by him. Autobiography also highlights the journey of Ramdev’s venture, Patanjali Group of Institutions, with a turnover of about Rs 12,000 crores. Publisher: It is being published by Penguin Random House and expected to hit stands in August 2019.
45) Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment informed the Lok Sabha that India’s forest cover has increased by 1% in last one year period and over 24.39% of India’s geographical area now constitutes of green cover. Key Highlights- Disputed Facts: Ms. Maneka Gandhi, BJP’s Member of Parliament disputed the fact presented by Environment Minister and cautioned him that satellite imagery could be misleading as it might have mistaken sugar cane crops for trees. Response: During Question Hour, Mr. Javadekar responded to supplementaries by stating- For every one tree chopped for reason of development work, 3-4 were planted either in same area or elsewhere. The satellite imagery were taken at regular intervals which rules out such inconsistencies and makes it highly unlikely that sugar cane crops were counted in forest cover. As per a latest report, more than 24.39% of India’s geographical area now constitutes of green cover and government further plans to plant 125 crore trees along highways to increase green cover. What is Question Hour? It refers to 1st hour of Lok Sabha’s sitting session, which is devoted to questions that Members of Parliament (MPs) raise about any aspect of administrative activity. The concerned Minister (to whom question is raised) is obliged to answer to Parliament, either orally or in writing, depending on type of question raised.
46) Renowned Author Amish Tripathi has been named as the new director of London’s Nehru Centre, under Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). About Amish Tripathi- He is the author of best-selling books such as ‘Secret of the Nagas’ and ‘Sita – Warrior of Mithila’. He will take over the director’s post from diplomat Srinivas Gotru, whose 4 year tenure ended in early 2019. He was appointed on basis of merit, after he applied for the director’s post followed by an interview with a selection panel. His appointment is being expected to bring more visibility to ICCR’s flagship cultural centre and will make every centre under ICCR to be more vibrant and proactive to generate a proper understanding of the Indian culture abroad. About London’s Nehru Centre- The Nehru Centre is a cultural centre located at the South Audley Street, London in United Kingdom (UK). It was established in 1992 with the goal of promoting cultural exchange between India and UK. Famous personalities associated with centre include- Gopalkrishna Gandhi served as its founder director and Playwright-actor Girish Karnad was among prominent people to have helmed the centre. Most of the directors to Nehru Centre’s have been political appointees. Diplomat Pavan Varma was 1st bureaucrat to head cultural wing of Indian high commission in London, UK and was appointed as its director in 2005.
47) The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the capital markets regulator has set up a panel, to review current framework of margins in the futures and options (F&O) derivative segment. Key Highlights- The working group set up by SEBI is headed by the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Clearing Ltd., and will submit its recommendations to Secondary Market Advisory Committee. Reason: This is review panel is set up based on the feedback that existing margin requirements in derivatives segment is pushing up cost of trading while not managing risk in most efficient manner,. Need: The reviewing of Margin Derivatives assumes significance as lower cost of trading was the main reason why institutional investors preferred to trade in Nifty contracts on Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) at Singapore rather than on highly liquid derivatives segment of NSE. Findings of Study- High Margin requirements in India: In a recent study jointly conducted by Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI) and consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY), highlighted fact that trading in derivatives in Indian market costs much more when compared to most of other leading markets. This is due to a variety of margins that are imposed on traders. Variety of Margins: It also disclosed that unlike other trading markets where higher event-based margins are applied temporarily (such as during instances of increased volatility), the Indian stock market levy a variety of margins during normal course which pushes up overall cost of trading. Exposure Margin: Across global exchanges considered under review, only SPAN margin (or single margin system) is collected as initial margin but India levies exposure margin (or the margin charged over and above SPAN margin which is discretion of broker), excessive short option margin as part of initial SPAN margin and event-based margins for covering intermittent periods of higher volatility. Way Ahead: Using margining as a tool should be to address risk of a given portfolio but should not be used to control market volumes/exposures.
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