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Daily Current Affairs : 5-Dec-2019

Major Topics Covered :

  1. PM MODI, MALDIVIAN PRESIDENT JOINTLY INAUGURATE FOUR KEY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

  2. ERADICATION OF CORRUPTION

  3. SUNDAR PICHAI

  4. INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION AND CONVENTION CENTRE (IECC)

  5. BLUE FLAG CERTIFICATION

  6. MADDEN–JULIAN OSCILLATION

  7. FIT INDIA SCHOOL GRADING SYSTEM

  8. BHARAT BOND EXCHANGE TRADED FUND (ETF)

  9. PARLIAMENT PASSES THE SPECIAL PROTECTION GROUP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019

  10. WORLD MALARIA REPORT 2019- BY WHO

  11. GLOBAL CARBON PROJECT- GLOBAL CO2 EMISSIONS

  12. NEW COUNTRY FORMED

  13. JEWAR AIRPORT


PM MODI, MALDIVIAN PRESIDENT JOINTLY INAUGURATE FOUR KEY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

Part of GS-2 IR


Why in news?


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih jointly inaugurated four key development projects covering a wide range of sectors through video conferencing this evening.


Highlights:


  • One of the projects includes the lighting up of Male using LED lights.

  • Another project is the launch of the RuPay card in Maldives.

  • Three fish processing plants were inaugurated and a Fast Interceptor Craft was gifted to the Maldives.

  • The NDA government's 'Neighbourhood First' and the Maldives Government's "India First" policies have strengthened bilateral cooperation in all sectors.

  • The "Made in India" Fast Interceptor Craft that was officially handed over to Coast Guard of the Maldives has been constructed in his home state. He said, the Fast Interceptor Craft will help enhance Maldive's maritime security, and promote the blue economy and tourism.

  • Indian tourist figures in Maldives have more than doubled and India has moved from 5th to 2nd position.

  • The RuPay Payment mechanism will further ease the travel of Indian to the Maldives.

  • The both countries are also working on building a Cancer Hospital and a Cricket Stadium in Hulhulmalé.


Source: AIR


ERADICATION OF CORRUPTION

Part of GS- Education


Why in news?

The Government of India is committed to “Zero Tolerance against Corruption” and has taken several measures to combat corruption and improve probity and accountability of Government institutions.


Highlights:

The steps taken by the Central Government, inter alia, include: -

  • Systemic improvements and reforms to provide transparent citizen-friendly services and reduce corruption. These, inter alia, include:

  • Disbursement of welfare benefits directly to the citizens under various schemes of the Government in a transparent manner through the Direct Benefit Transfer initiative.

  • Implementation of E-tendering in public procurements.

  • Introduction of e-Governance and simplification of procedure and systems

  • Introduction of Government procurement through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

  • An online “Probity Portal” operationalised since 2017 under which various Ministries/Departments, autonomous organizations and public sector banks etc. enter information regarding review under FR 56(j), cases for sanction for prosecution, implementation of rotational transfer policy and disciplinary proceedings etc.

  • Discontinuation of interviews in recruitment of Group ‘B’ (Non-Gazetted) and Group ‘C’ posts in Government of India.

  • Invocation of FR-56(j) and AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958 for prematurely retiring officials whose performance has been reviewed and found unsatisfactory.

  • The All India Services (Disciplinary and Appeal) Rules and Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules have been amended to provide strict timelines in the procedure related to disciplinary proceedings.

  • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 has been amended on 26.07.2018 to bring a paradigm shift in tackling corruption in as much as clearly criminalizing the act of giving bribe, checking big ticket corruption by creating a vicarious liability in respect of senior management of commercial organizations where the act of giving of bribe is with their consent or connivance.

  • Issue of instructions by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) asking the organizations to adopt Integrity Pact in major procurement activities and to ensure effective and expeditious investigation wherever any irregularity/misconduct is noticed.

  • The institution of Lokpal has been operationalised by appointment of a Chairperson and eight Members, including four judicial Members. Lokpal is statutorily mandated to directly receive and independently process complaints as regards alleged offences against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

  • In addition, the CVC, as an apex integrity institution, has adopted a multi-pronged strategy and approach to combat corruption, which encompasses punitive, preventive and participative vigilance.

  • This Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has taken several measures to help people to ensure access to relevant information. These, inter alia, include:

  • Enactment of Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 to set out practical regime of right of information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of Public Authorities.

  • Launching of a web portal namely RTI online with URL www.rtionline.gov.in for all Central Ministries/ Departments/CPSUs for making it convenient for citizens to file RTI requests and first appeals online.

  • Guidelines Issued on Suo moto disclosure of information by Public Authorities.

  • Providing funds to various State Governments for establishing helpline in order to facilitate obtaining of the information by the RTI applicants. Funds are also provided each year to various State Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs) by the Government to generate awareness among the citizens through measures like Distance learning programmes and Online Certificate Course in regional languages, publishing of handbooks on RTI and distribution of the same among the public.


Source: PIB


SUNDAR PICHAI

Part of GS-2 IR


Why in news?

@sundarpichaiGoogle co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have announced that they are stepping down from the leadership role of the parent company Alphabet.


Highlights:

  • Google CEO Indian-American Sundar Pichai will be assuming the role of Alphabet CEO, making him one of the most powerful corporate leaders of the world.

  • Considered as a significant shakeup in the Silicon Valley company, an announcement in this regard was made by Page and Brin in a letter to the company employees.

  • They said, Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President and Sundar Pichai will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet.

  • Endorsing the leadership role played by Pichai ever since he was made Google CEO, Page and Brin said the Indian-American brings humility and a deep passion for technology to their users, partners, and employees every day.


Source: AIR


INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION AND CONVENTION CENTRE (IECC)

Part of GS-3 Economy


Why in news?

The government today approved transfer of 3.7 acres of land at Pragati Maidan to ITDC and ITPO on a 99-year lease for ₹611 crore to set up a five-star hotel.


Highlights:

  • Five-star hotel to come up at Pragati Maidan. The Union Cabinet today approved land monetisation at Pragati Maidan

  • The Union Cabinet has also cleared the way for the Personal Data Protection Bill

  • Giving details, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which manages the Pragati Maidan, will undertake a mega project to redevelop the land into a world-class International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

  • The implementation of the International Exhibition and Convention Centre (IECC) project is in full swing and scheduled to be completed in the year 2020-21, said an official release.

  • The Union Cabinet has authorised ITPO to transfer land at Pragati Maidan on a 99 year fixed leasehold basis at a price of Rs. 611 crore in favour of the SPV, which will be formed by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for development and operation of a five-star hotel.

  • Throughout the world, a hotel facility is an integral part of any Meetings, Initiatives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) hub/destination, the release said.

  • Hotel facility will add value to IECC project and promote India as a global destination for trade and commerce along with employment generation.

  • The International Trade Fair which has lakhs of visitors and small traders participating every year will also benefit from the transformation of Pragati Maidan.


Source: Live Mint


BLUE FLAG CERTIFICATION

Part of GS-3 Environment


Why in news?

The Ministry has embarked upon a programme for ‘Blue Flag’ Certification for select beaches in the country.


Highlights:


This Certification is accorded by an international agency “Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark” based on 33 stringent criteria in four major heads i.e.

  1. Environmental Education and Information,

  2. Bathing Water Quality,

  3. Environment Management and Conservation and

  4. Safety and Services in the beaches.


The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an Eco-tourism model endeavouring to provide to the tourists/beach goers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, safe and healthy environment and sustainable development of the area.


13 pilot beaches that have been identified for the certification, in consultation with concerned coastal States/UTs.


About Blue flag programme:

  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).

  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.

  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and south-eastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.

  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.


Source: PIB


MADDEN–JULIAN OSCILLATION

Part of GS-1 Geography


Why in news?

A study by a team of Indian and U.S. researchers has found that Global warming has altered a key weather system and that may be whetting cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, decreasing winter rain in north India and altering global rainfall patterns.


Highlights:

  • The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is a moving band of rain clouds that travels around the globe spanning 12,000–20,000 km across the tropical oceans.

  • According to the recent study, MJO, in its journey, interacts with surface waters of the Indo-Pacific ocean, the largest pool of warm water in the globe, and due to this the lifecycle of the MJO gets affected.

  • The MJO clouds on average are spending only 15 days, instead of 19, over the Indian Ocean.

  • Over the west Pacific, it increased by five days (from an average 16 days to 23 days).

  • This change in the residence time of MJO clouds that has altered the weather patterns across the globe.

  • This has also brought a decline in rainfall over central Pacific, along the west and east coast of U.S. (e.g., California), north India, east Africa and the Yangtze basin in China.

  • The changes in MJO behaviour have increased the rainfall over northern Australia, west Pacific, Amazon basin, southwest Africa and southeast Asia.

  • The frequent California fires, droughts in Africa and East Asian floods and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal may be linked to these changes in global weather.


Source : The Hindu


FIT INDIA SCHOOL GRADING SYSTEM

Part of GS- Education


Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India School grading system in schools across the country.


Highlights:

The Fit India School rankings have been divided into three categories

  1. The Fit India Schools, which is the first level of ranking,

  2. Fit India School (3 star) and

  3. Fit India School (5 star).

In the Fit India Movement, schedules have been drawn for ranking schools in accordance with fitness.


The level of ranking will depend on how much importance the school gives to inculcating fitness among its students and teachers, besides facilities available for fitness activities.


The schools that achieve this ranking will also be able to use the Fit India logo and flag.


Schools can declare themselves as fit by visiting the Fit India portal.


Source : The Hindu


BHARAT BOND EXCHANGE TRADED FUND (ETF)

Part of GS- 3 Economy


Why in news?

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for creation and launch of Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).


Highlights:

  • Launch of Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to create an additional source of funding for Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), Central Public Financial Institutions (CPFIs) and other Government organizations.

  • Bharat Bond ETF would be the first corporate Bond ETF in the country.

Features of Bharat Bond ETF:


ETF will be a basket of bonds issued by CPSE/CPSU/CPFI/any other Government organization Bonds (Initially, all AAA rated bonds). Tradable on exchange

  • Small unit size Rs 1,000    

  • Transparent NAV (Periodic live NAV during the day)

  • Transparent Portfolio (Daily disclosure on website)

  • Low cost (0.0005%)


Bharat Bond ETF Structure:

  • Each ETF will have a fixed maturity date

  • The ETF will track the underlying Index on risk replication basis, i.e. matching Credit Quality and Average Maturity of the Index

  • Will invest in a portfolio of bonds of CPSE, CPSU, CPFI or any other Government organizations that matures on or before the maturity date of the ETF

  • As of now, it will have 2 maturity series - 3 and 10 years. Each series will have a separate index of the same maturity series.


Index Methodology:

  • Index will be constructed by an independent index provider – National Stock Exchange

  • Different indices tracking specific maturity years - 3 and 10 years.


Benefits of Bharat Bond ETF to investors:

  • Bond ETF will provide safety (underlying bonds are issued by CPSEs and other Government owned entities), liquidity (tradability on exchange) and predictable tax efficient returns (target maturity structure).

  • It will also provide access to retail investors to invest in bonds with smaller amount (as low as Rs. 1,000) thereby providing easy and low-cost access to bond markets.

  • This will increase participation of retail investors who are currently not participating in bond markets due to liquidity and accessibility constraints.

  • Tax efficiency compared to Bonds as coupons from the Bonds are taxed at marginal rates. Bond ETFs are taxed with the benefit of indexation which significantly reduces the tax on capital gains for investor.


Bharat Bond ETF Benefits for CPSEs:

  • Bond ETF would offer CPSEs, CPSUs, CPFIs and other Government organizations an additional source of meeting their borrowing requirements apart from bank financing.

  • It will expand their investor base through retail and HNI participation which can increase demand for their bonds. With increase in demand for their bonds, these issuers may be able to borrow at reduced cost thereby reducing their cost of borrowing over a period of time.

  • Further, Bond ETF trading on the exchange will help in better price discovery of the underlying bonds.

  • Since a broad debt calendar to assess the borrowing needs of the CPSEs would be prepared and approved each year, it would inculcate borrowing discipline in the CPSEs at least to the extent of this investment.


Developmental impact on Bond Markets:

  • Target Maturity Bond ETF is expected to create a yield curve and a ladder of Bond ETFs with different maturities across calendar years.

  • ETF is expected to create new eco-system - Market Makers, index providers and awareness amongst investors - for launching new Bond ETFs in India.

  • This is expected to eventually increase the size of bond ETFs in India leading to achieving key objectives at a larger scale - deepening bond markets, enhancing retail participation and reducing borrowing costs.


Source: PIB


PARLIAMENT PASSES THE SPECIAL PROTECTION GROUP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019

Part of GS-2 Polity and Governance


Why in news?

Parliament on 3rd December, 2019, passed the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019.


Highlights:

  • Under the Act, the SPG provides security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members.

  • It also provides security to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for a period of one year from the date on which they cease to hold the office.

  • Beyond this period, the SPG security is provided based on the level of threat as decided by the central government.


  • The threat must:

  1. emanate from a military or terrorist organisation, and

  2. be of a grave and continuing nature.

  • The Bill amends this provision to state that the SPG will provide security to the Prime Minister, and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence.

  • It will also provide security to any former Prime Ministers, and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him.

  • This security will be provided for a period of five years from the date on which he ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister.

  • The Act provides that if the SPG security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also be withdrawn from his immediate family members, unless the level of threat faced by the immediate family member warrants such security.

  • The Bill removes this condition to state that if the SPG security is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, it will also be withdrawn from his immediate family members.


Source: PRS


WORLD MALARIA REPORT 2019- BY WHO

Part of GS- Health


Why in news?


Seven states account for about 90% of the burden of malaria cases in India, according to the World Malaria Report 2019 released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 4th December, 2019.


Highlights:

  • Globally, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, down from 251 million cases in 2010.

  • More than 85% of the global malaria deaths in 2018 were concentrated in the 20 countries of WHO’s African region and India.


  • Compared to 2017, India reported 2.6 million fewer cases in 2018.

  • This makes India the country with the largest absolute reductions among the countries that share 85% of the malaria burden.

  • Nigeria had the highest burden of all malaria cases, at 24%.


However, incidence of P vivax malaria (the second most common form of the disease) was the highest in India, which accounts for 47% of all cases in 2018, or roughly 3.5 million.


India had more than four times as many cases as Afghanistan, the next highest at 11%.


WHO, region-wise, the highest estimated cases of all malaria forms were in Africa, at 93% of the cases (213 million), followed by South-East Asia (7.9 million), East Mediterranean (4.9), Western Pacific (1.98) and the Americas (9.29).


The number of cases has increased from 206 million in 2016 and 212 million in Africa.


It has declined in all other regions except Western Pacific, where it has risen from 1.7 million in 2016 and 1.8 million in 2017 to 1.98 million in 2018.


Source: Indian Express


GLOBAL CARBON PROJECT- GLOBAL CO2 EMISSIONS

Part of GS-3 Environment


Why in news?

A new study unveiled on 4th December, 2019, says the growth in India’s carbon dioxide emissions this year was likely to be considerably lower than in the last few years.


Highlights:

Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry have increased every decade from an average of 11.4 GtCO2 in the 1960s to an average of 34.7±2 yr.


Regional fossil fuel emissions:

  • In 2018, global CO2 emissions were dominated by emissions from China (28%), the USA (15%), the EU (28-member states; 9%) and India (7%).

  • Growth rates of these countries from 2017 to 2018 were +2.3% for China, +2.8% for the USA, -2.1% for the EU28, and +8.0% for India.

  • Net CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change were5±2.7 GtCO2 on average during 2009-2018, accounting for about 14% of all emissions from human activity (fossil fuel, industry, land use change).

  • CO2 removals by natural sinks: Of the total emissions from human activities during the period 2009-2018, about 45% accumulated in the atmosphere, 23% in the ocean and 29% on land.

  • Atmospheric CO2 concentration in 2019 are 47% above pre-industrial levels.

  • The cumulative carbon emissions are the sum of the total CO2 emitted during a given period of time.

  • Total cumulative emissions from 1850 to 2019 were 1649 GtCO2 from fossil fuels and industry, and 751 GtCO2 from land use change.


Source: Indian Express


NEW COUNTRY FORMED

Part of GS-2 IR


Why in news?

Bougainville, an island in the Pacific, is holding a referendum to decide if it wants to remain a part of Papua New Guinea or become an independent country.


Highlights:

  • How does a territory become a new country?

  • There is no straightforward rule. Beyond a few set requirements, a region’s quest for nationhood mainly depends on how many countries and international organisations it manages to convince to recognise it as a country.

  • The biggest sanction of nationhood is the United Nations recognising a territory as a country.


Who can declare it self a country?


There are no law barring regions from declaring independence.


In Jharkhand in 2017-18, as part of the Pathalgadi movement, stone plaques had come up outside villages, declaring the gram sabha as the only sovereign authority.


Somaliland in Somalia has been calling itself a country since 1991, but no one else recognises it. Kosovo in Serbia declared independence in 2008, and only a few other countries recognise it.


What criteria must a nation-hopeful meet?


Broadly, four, as decided in 1933’s Montevideo Convention. A country-hopeful must have a defined territory, people, government, and the ability to form relationships with other countries.


A country’s “people” are defined as a significantly large population sharing a belief in their nationality.


Factors also kept in mind are if a majority has clearly expressed the desire to break away from the parent country, and if the minority communities’ rights will be safeguarded.


Source: Indian Express


JEWAR AIRPORT

Part of GS- 3 Economy


Why in news?

The Swiss company Zurich International Airport AG has won the bid for a new airport in Jewar in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi.


Highlights:

  • Jewar Airport will be about 72 km from IGI Airport, 40 km from Noida and Ghaziabad, 28 km from Greater Noida, and 65 km from Gurgaon.

  • The Jewar Airport primarily aims to reduce the load on Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.

  • It will be an alternative not only for passengers within NCR but also for several cities in western Uttar Pradesh such as Agra, Bulandshahr or Aligarh.

  • It will be the third airport in the National Capital Region (NCR), after IGI Airport and the newly opened Hindon Airport (in Ghaziabad).

  • The airport is being planned as India’s largest, with a proposed six to eight runways once it is fully operational.


Source : Indian Express

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