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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 18 September 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 18 September 2019


Table of contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. National Recruitment Agency.
  2. A bit of RTI expanded.
  3. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
  4. International Migrant Stock 2019.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).
  2. Human Space Flight Programme.
  3. Electric or hydrogen cars? Why Asian economies are backing the latter?

 

Facts for Prelims:

  1. Rustom-2.
  2. 5th International Ramayana Festival and ICCR.
  3. International Command Exercise.
  4. Astra Missile.
  5. Paraquat

 


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

National Recruitment Agency (NRA)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: NRA- composition, objectives and functions.

For Mains: Need for and significance.

 

Context:  Finance Ministry has approved the proposal for creation of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA).

Objective: To streamline recruitment of some posts in the government along with various equivalent recruitment in public sector banks.

 

Key facts:

  • A new National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will be set up to conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for all various competitive examinations, in which an estimated 2.5 crore candidates appear annually.
  • NRA will conduct preliminary examinations for all these recruitment, which are at present conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
  • It will then subsequently forward the list of qualifying candidates to the respective recruiting agencies to conduct the mains examinations.
  • The basic idea behind this proposal is to shortlist qualifying candidates through a Common Eligibility Test before sending them for the mains examination.

 

Need for a new agency:

  • To streamline recruitment process on subordinate-rank posts in the government.
  • To reduce the burden of SSC and the IBPS, among others, from holding preliminary recruitment exams, which is an extensive exercise.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Money laundering related issues.

 

FCRA and foreign funding

 

What to study?

For Prelims: FCRA guidelines on foreign funding to NGOs, eligibility.

For Mains: Misuse of foreign funds, issues and the need for stringent measures to prevent the misuse of foreign funds.

 

Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs has notified new rules for those receiving foreign funding.

 

 

As per the new rules:

  1. Every member of an NGO must now, under oath, through an affidavit, certify that they have never been involved in “diverting” foreign funds or propagating “sedition” or “advocating violent means”.
    Earlier, the applicant or director-level person was to given this declaration but now all members of the NGO need to be given this declaration.
    Earlier, as per the market value of the gift item in India was Rs. 25,000, now it has been raised to Rs. one lakh. 
    It is mandatory for the office bearers and key functionaries and members of the NGOs to certify that they have not been “prosecuted or convicted” for “conversion” from one faith to another and for creating “communal tension and disharmony”.

 

Regulation of Foreign Funding:

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and rules framed under it (the “FCRA” or “Act”) regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) in India. Since the Act is internal security legislation, despite being a law related to financial legislation, it falls into the purview of Home Ministry and not the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

 

Scope and objective of FCRA:

  • The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest.
  • It has a very wide scope and is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities (whether incorporated or not) as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies and other entities formed or registered in India. It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

 

In order to achieve the above objective, the Act:

  • Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by a certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, newspaper publication, cartoonist and others.
  • Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.

 

Definition of foreign contribution:

It defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign source. While foreign hospitality refers to any offer from a foreign source to provide foreign travel, boarding, lodging, transportation or medical treatment cost.

 

Acceptance of foreign funds:

The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.

 

Registration and prior approval under FCRA:

  1. In order to be registered under the FCRA, an NGO must be in existence for at least three years and must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised. Further, it must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.
  2. The registration certificate is valid for a period of five years and must be thereafter renewed in the prescribed manner.
  3. NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding. This permission is granted only for a specific amount of foreign funding from a specified foreign source for a specific purpose. It remains valid till receipt and full utilisation of such amount.

 

The Act imposes various conditions on the use of foreign funds and some of them are as follows:

  1. All funds received by a NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received.
  2. Such funds must not be used in speculative activities identified under the Act.
  3. Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act or having prior approval under the Act.
  4. Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.

 

Reporting requirement:

Every NGO registered or having prior approval under the Act must file an annual report with the Authority in the prescribed form. This report must be accompanied by an income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account, and balance sheet for the relevant financial year. For financial years where no foreign contribution is received, a ‘NIL’ report must be furnished with the Authority.

 

How to ensure transparency?

  1. National Accreditation Council consisting of academicians, activist, retired bureaucrats should be made to ensure compliance by NGOs.
  2. There should be better coordination between Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance in terms of monitoring and regulating illicit and unaccounted funds.
  3. A regulatory mechanism to keep a watch on the financial activities of NGOs and voluntary organizations is the need of the hour.
  4. Citizens today are keen to play an active role in processes that shape their lives and it is important that their participation in democracy go beyond the ritual of voting and should include promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion etc.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topics Covered:

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Ambit of RTI expanded

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of RTI Act.

For Mains: Significance and the need for reforms.

 

Context: Supreme Court of India in its recent judgment has held that Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government fall within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

 

What has the Court said?

  1. NGOs which receive considerable finances from the government or are essentially dependent on the government fall under the category of “public authority” defined in Section 2(h) of the RTI Act of 2005.
  2. This means that they have to disclose vital information, ranging from finances to hierarchy to decisions to functioning, to citizens who apply under RTI.
  3. An NGO may also include societies which are neither owned or controlled by the government, but if they are significantly funded by the government, directly or indirectly, they come under the RTI Act.

The court defined “substantial” as a “large portion.” It does not necessarily have to mean a major portion or more than 50%. No hard and fast rule can be laid down in this regard. Substantial financing can be both direct or indirect. If government gives land in a city free of cost or on heavy discount to hospitals, educational institutions or any such body, this in itself could also be substantial financing, the judgment explained.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

International Migrant Stock 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings.

For Mains: Migration- effects, challenges and ways to address them.

 

Context: Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs has released the International Migrant Stock 2019.

  • A data of several international migrants by origin, age and sex for all countries and areas are included in the report.
  • UN prepared this report with the help of population censuses, population registers and nationally representative surveys.

 

Key findings:

  • India is the leading country of origin of international migrants in 2019 with a 17.5 million-strong diaspora.
  • Most of the international migrants came from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

 

Global scenario:

  1. The number of migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million.
  2. After India, Migrants from Mexico makes the second largest diaspora (11.8 million), followed by China (10.7 million), Russia (10.5 million), Syria (8.2 million), Bangladesh (7.8 million), Pakistan (6.3 million), Ukraine (5.9 million), the Philippines (5.4 million) and Afghanistan (5.1 million).
  3. In Europe, 82 million migrants were settled there, followed by North America (59 million) and North Africa and Western Asia (49 million).
  4. USA is hosting the largest number of international migrants (51 million) while Saudi Arabia (13 million), Russia (12 million), England (10 million), France (8 million) and Italy (6 million) are also holding the large numbers of migrants.

 

Women migrants:

The share of women and girls migrants fell slightly from 49% to 48% in the year 2019. Northern America had the highest (52%) number of women migrants. However, Europe (51%), Sub-Saharan Africa (47 %) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (36 %) also experienced the issue of women migrants.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: BBPS- features, need for and significance.


Context
: RBI has expanded the scope and coverage of Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) to include all categories of billers who raise recurring bills and payments (except prepaid recharges) as eligible participants, on a voluntary basis.

 

Significance:

At present, the facility of payment of recurring bills through BBPS is available only in five segments i.e. direct to home (DTH), electricity, gas, water and telecom.

Expansion of biller categories would increase the user base of Bharat Bill Pay along with providing an efficient, cost-effective alternative to existing systems and enhance consumer confidence and experience.

 

About BBPS:

  • The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) is an RBI conceptualised system driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • It is a one-stop payment platformfor all bills, providing an interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to customers across the country with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions.
  • Payments through BBPS may be made using cash, transfer cheques and electronic modes. Bill aggregators and banks, who will function as operating units, will carry out these transactions for the customers.

 

NPCI:

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India. It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). NPCI has ten promoter banks.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topics covered: 

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Human space flight Programme

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Particulars of the programme.

For Mains: Challenges involved.

 

Context: ISRO, DRDO sign MoU to provide critical technologies for Human Space Mission.

Under the agreement, the technological capabilities existing in DRDO labs for defence applications will be customised to meet the requirements of ISRO’s human space mission. DRDO will be providing critical technologies to ISRO such as space crew health monitoring and emergency survival kit, space food, parachutes for the crew module’s safe recovery and radiation measurement and protection.

 

Indian Human Space Flight Programme:

ISRO aims to launch its maiden Human Space Mission, Gaganyaan before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022.

 

Objectives of the Mission:

  • Enhancement of science and technology levels in the country
  • A national project involving several institutes, academia and industry
  • Improvement of industrial growth
  • Inspiring youth
  • Development of technology for social benefits
  • Improving international collaboration

 

Relevance of a Manned Space Mission for India:

Boost to industries: The Indian industry will find large opportunities through participation in the highly demanding Space missions. Gaganyaan Mission is expected will source nearly 60% of its equipment from the Indian private sector.

Employment: According to the ISRO chief, the Gaganyaan mission would create 15,000 new employment opportunities, 13,000 of them in private industry and the space organisation would need an additional manpower of 900.

Technological development: Human Space flights are frontier field in the science and technology. The challenges the Human Space Flights provide to India, and the benefits accruing from taking up those missions will be very high and will lead to further thrust for technological developments in India

Spurs research and development: It will boost good research and technology development. With a large number of researchers with proper equipment involved, HSF will thrust significant research in areas such as materials processing, astro-biology, resources mining, planetary chemistry, planetary orbital calculus and many other areas

Motivation: Human space flight will provide that inspiration to the youth and also the national public mainstream. It would inspire young generation into notable achievements and enable them to play their legitimate role in challenging future activities

PrestigeIndia will be the fourth country to launch human space mission. The Gaganyaan will not only bring about prestige to the nation but also establish India’s role as a key player in the space industry.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Infrastructure- Energy.

 

Electric or hydrogen cars? Why Asian economies are backing the latter

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Working principles and differences between the two.

For Mains: Why Hydrogen? Significance and challenges therein.

 

Context: China, Japan and South Korea have set ambitious targets to put millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their roads by the end of the next decade at a cost of billions of dollars.

 

Ambitious targets:

  1. China, far and away the world’s biggest auto market with some 28 million vehicles sold annually, is aiming for more than 1 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in service by 2030. That compares with just 1,500 or so now, most of which are buses.
  2. Japan, a market of more than 5 million vehicles annually, wants to have 800,000 FCVs sold by that time from around 3,400 currently.
  3. South Korea, which has a car market just one third the size of Japan, has set a target of 850,000 vehicles on the road by 2030. But as of end-2018, fewer than 900 have been sold.

 

Why Hydrogen? 

  1. Hydrogen is a clean energy source as water and heat are the only byproducts,
  2. It can be made from a number of sources, including methane, coal, water, even garbage.
  3. Driving ranges and refuelling times for FCVs are comparable to gasoline cars, whereas EVs require hours to recharge and provide only a few hundred kilometres of range.

 

Why haven’t fuel cars caught on yet? 

  1. A lack of refuelling stations, which are costly to build.
  2. There are not enough FCVs to make refuelling stations profitable.
  3. Consumer worries about the risk of explosions.
  4. Heavy subsidies are needed to bring prices down to levels of gasoline-powered cars.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

In News- Rustom- 2:

  • Rustom 2 drone is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle developed by DRDO.
  • The objective of this drone is to carry out surveillance for the armed forces with an endurance of 24 hours.
  • The drone was developed for use by all three services of the Indian armed forces, primarily for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
  • The medium-altitude prototype can fly at over 22,000 ft and is a long-endurance (MALE) UAV that has an approximate flight time of 20 hours.
  • It can fly at around 280 km/h and carry a variety of payloads like Medium Range Electro Optic (MREO), Long Range Electro Optic (LREO), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT).

 

5th International Ramayana Festival and ICCR:

Context: It was organized by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in New Delhi recently.

About Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR): ICCR was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Independent India’s first Education Minister. 

  • Objectives:
    To actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs pertaining to India’s external cultural relations.
    To foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people, and to develop relations with nations.

 

Center- 2019 International Command Exercise:

Russia is holding this annual exercise. Military Forces from India, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan will join Russia’s Central Joint Strategic Command (JSC) for military exercises.

The main objectives of the exercise are to:

  1. Demonstrate the readiness of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the states of the Central Asia region to protect national interests.
  2. Increase compatibility and level of interaction in solving joint tasks to preserve peace, protect interests and ensure security in the region.
  3. Train troops to conduct military operations in modern conditions and improve the interoperability of the military command and control units of the armed forces of Russia and the allied States.

 

Astra missile:

  • It is the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air
  • It is an all-weather, state-of-the-art missile developed by DRDO and can engage and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speed (1.2 Mach to 1.4 Mach) in head-on (up to 80 km) and tail-chase (up to 20 km) modes.
  • The 3.8 metre tall Astra is a radar homing missile and the smallest of the DRDO-developed missiles and can be launched from different altitudes.
  • It can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when launched from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when fired from sea level.

 

Paraquat:

  • Paraquat is a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control.
  • It has been banned in 32 countries including Switzerland, where herbicide producing company Sygenta is based. Paraquat also figures on the list of 99 pesticides and herbicides the Supreme Court to ban in an ongoing case.
  • There is no antidote to this herbicide, the consumers of which complain of kidney, liver and lung problems.
  • They may recover from kidney problems, but die of lung- and liver-related ailments. Some also witness kidney failure.

 

Akademik Lomonosov:

What is it? It is the world’s only floating nuclear power unit. The plant was launched by Russia on May 19, 2018 at the St Petersburg shipyard.

Context: Recently, this floating nuclear power plant completed its 5,000-km journey along the Northern Sea Route. This has sparked fears among environmentalists over the safety of the Arctic region.

Electronic Certificates of Origin (CoO):

Context: Recently the Ministry of Commerce & Industry launched a common digital platform for the issuance of electronic Certificates of Origin (CoO).

What is it?

A Certificate of Origin is an instrument which establishes evidence o­n the origin of goods imported into any country. These certificates are essential for exporters to prove where their goods come from and therefore stake their claim to whatever benefits goods of Indian origin may be eligible for in the country of exports.