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Daily Current Affairs : 6-Dec-2019

Major Topics Covered :

  1. AERIAL AND DART SEEDING

  2. BI-MONTHLY MONETARY POLICY STATEMENT, 2019-20

  3. “FUGITIVE ECONOMIC OFFENDER” (FEO)

  4. EXTRA NEUTRAL ALCOHOL (ENA)

  5. MILITARY EXERCISE INDRA 2019

  6. WOMEN HELP DESKS IN POLICE STATIONS

  7. SARAI 14 MLD SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT

  8. MAHARAJA DULEEP SINGH

  9. INVESTOR EDUCATION & PROTECTION FUND AUTHORITY (IEPFA)



AERIAL AND DART SEEDING

Part of GS- 3 Environment and Ecology


Why in news:


The Delhi High Court asked forest authorities whether “planting of seeds could be done by throwing dart shots containing them from helicopters into forest areas”.


Justice G S Sistani and Justice A J Bhambhani were hearing public interest litigation it had initiated in 2015 on the issue of poor air quality in Delhi; a PIL was also filed last year by law students Mihir Garg and Rashi Jain.


Highlights:


Aerial seeding:

  • It is a well-established concept, but this is generally achieved not with darts but by spraying seeds through an aircraft or a drone.

  • Even a variation of dart seeding has been used in the past in Delhi, but this again was done from the ground itself.

  • Aerial seeding can be used not only to plant various crops but also to spread grasses to large areas of the land after wildfires, a common problem in countries like the United States.

  • Aerial seeding is adopted because it is quicker and more effective than planting manually.

  • It also allows access to areas where the terrain is rocky or at high elevation.


Dart seeding:

  • Dart seeding is used with the same broad objective as aerial seeding: a plantation in inaccessible areas.

  • The process involves throwing darts containing seeds onto open ground.

  • A variation of dart seeding was used in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in the late 1990s, but not with a helicopter, Delhi Forest Department sources said.

  • The Forest Department used a long iron rod to access ground that could not be reached due to thick cover of shrubs. Seeds were put into the rod, which had a small opening at the other end.

  • When the rod was inserted into the removed and then removed, the soil would cover the seed, unlike in aerial plantation when seeds are thrown into open ground.

  • In aerial seeding, many seeds fail to germinate.

  • If dart plantation is done from a low-flying helicopter, seeds have a relatively better chance of survival as they reach deeper into the ground.

  • Plantation with both aerial and dart plantations is carried out close to the onset of monsoon as watering the seeds is often challenging in inaccessible areas.


Source: Indian Express


BI-MONTHLY MONETARY POLICY STATEMENT, 2019-20

Part of GS-3 Economy


Why in news?

RBI With a no rate action, the repo rate the rate at which banks borrow from it- remain unchanged at 5.15%


Highlights:

  • The six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by Governor Shaktikanta Das unanimously voted for a status quo policy.

  • The reverse credit policy has also maintained the reverse repo rate at 4.90 per cent and the marginal standing facility rate and Bank Rate at 5.40 per cent.

  • The real GDP growth for 2019-20 has been revised downwards from 6.1 per cent in the October policy to 5.0 per cent.

  • The decisions are in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index inflation of 4 per cent while supporting growth.


About Monetary Policy Committee(MPC):


The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) constituted by the Central Government under Section 45ZB. The MPC determines the policy interest rate required to achieve the inflation target.


The Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Department (MPD) assists the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in forming the monetary policy.

The Monetary Policy Committee determines the policy rates required to achieve the inflation target.


Composition of Monetary Policy Committee:


The 6-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) constituted by the Central Government as per the Section 45ZB of the amended RBI Act, 1934.


The first meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was held on in Mumbai on October 3, 2016.


The composition of the MPC as on April 2019 is as follows:

  • Governor of the Reserve Bank of India

  • Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India

  • One officer of the Reserve Bank of India to be nominated by the Central Board – Member, ex officio

  • Three eminent persons in the field of Economy.

  • Except ex-officio members all members will hold the office for a period of 4 years or until further orders, whichever is earlier.


Source: AIR


“FUGITIVE ECONOMIC OFFENDER” (FEO)

Part of GS-3 Economy


Why in news:

A Mumbai PMLA judge Thursday (December 5) declared jeweller Nirav Modi, key accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, a “fugitive economic offender” (FEO) on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).


Highlights:

  • At the beginning of this year, a special court in the same city had declared liquor baron Vijay Mallya an FEO, also on a plea by the ED - the first such designation of an accused individual.

  • Both Mallya and Nirav Modi are in the United Kingdom, and fighting extradition to India.


Who is a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO)?


An FEO is defined by The Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018 as “any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who (i) has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or (ii) being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution”.


The FEO Act aims “to provide for measures to deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the process of law in India by staying outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts, to preserve the sanctity of the rule of law in India and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.


Why was such a law required?


Economic offences relate to fraud, counterfeiting, money-laundering, tax evasion, etc.

Among the laws available for prosecuting these offences are The Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, The Benami Properties Transactions Act, 1988, and The Companies Act, 2013.


Sections of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, also cover offences such as forgery and cheating.


In 2017, Finance Ministry released a draft Bill to address cases of high-value economic offenders fleeing the country to avoid prosecution.


It observed that existing civil and criminal laws did not contain specific provisions to deal with such offenders, and that a new legal framework was needed to prosecute them.


Special Court: A special court will be established under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 to declare a person as a Fugitive Economic Offender.


Attachment of property: Special courts can direct the Central government to seize assets of fugitive economic offender including those that are proceeds of the crime.


Appeals against the orders of the special court will lie before the High Court.

Nirav Modi was arrested in London in March this year and is presently at the Wandsworth Prison fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering in the nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB).


Source: Indian Express


EXTRA NEUTRAL ALCOHOL (ENA)

Part of GS-3 S&T


Why in news:

Alcohol manufacturers have written to NITI Aayog asking for reduction in import duty.

Anticipating shortage of domestic supplies, they have sought a reduction in duty to make it cost-effective for them to import Extra Neutral Alcohol from global markets.


Highlights:

  • Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) is the primary raw material for making alcoholic beverages.

  • It is a colourless food-grade alcohol that does not have any impurities.

  • It has a neutral smell and taste, and typically contains over 95 per cent alcohol by volume. It is derived from different sources - sugarcane molasses and grains -and is used in the production of alcoholic beverages such as whisky, vodka, gin, cane, liqueurs, and alcoholic fruit beverages.

  • ENA also serves as an essential ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products such as perfumes, toiletries, hair spray, etc.

  • Given its properties as a good solvent, ENA also finds industrial use and is utilised in the production of some lacquers, paints and ink for the printing industry, as well as in pharmaceutical products such as antiseptics, drugs, syrups, medicated sprays.

  • Consultancy firm IMARC Group’s estimates put the ENA market in India at a volume of 2.9 billion litres in 2018.

  • Like ethanol, ENA is a byproduct of the sugar industry, and is formed from molasses that are a residue of sugarcane processing. In its letter to NITI Aayog anticipating lower supplies, the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies has cited the diversion of ethanol for bio-fuel blending by oil marketing companies, and recent floods in Maharashtra and Karnataka that have adversely affected sugarcane crop in the region.


Source: Indian Express


MILITARY EXERCISE INDRA 2019

Part of GS-3 Defence and security


Why in news?

Exercise INDRA 2019 a joint, tri services exercise between India and Russia will be conducted in India from 10 - 19 December 2019 simultaneously at Babina (near Jhansi), Pune, and Goa.


Highlights:

  • The INDRA series of exercise began in 2003 and the First joint Tri Services Exercise was conducted in 2017.

  • Company sized mechanised contingents, fighter and transport aircraft as well as ships of respective Army, Air Force and Navy will participate in this exercise of ten days duration.

  • The contingents of both the countries will share expertise and their professional experience.

  • The espirit-de-corps and goodwill shall be the key areas during the exercise which will facilitate further strengthening of bonds between the defence forces of India and Russia.


Source: PIB


WOMEN HELP DESKS IN POLICE STATIONS

Part of GS-1 Social Issues


Why in news?

The Home Ministry has sanctioned Rs. 100 crores from the Nirbhaya Fund for setting up women help desks in police stations across the country.


Highlights:

  • These desks would focus on making the police stations more women friendly and approachable, as they would be the first and single point of contact for any woman walking into a police station.

  • Essentially, women police officers would be deployed at these help desks.

  • These help desks would have enlisted panel of experts like lawyers, psychologists and NGOs to facilitate legal aid, counselling, shelter, rehabilitation and training.


Source: PIB


SARAI 14 MLD SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT

Part of GS-3 Economy


  • Why in news:

  • India’s first HAM project in sewerage sector, the 14 MLD STP at Sarai, Haridwar completed before time.

  • Uttarakhand CM & Union Jal Shakti Minister dedicate Sarai Project in presence of King and Queen of Sweden 34 sewerage projects sanctioned at a cost of INR 1144.77 Cr for creation/rehabilitation of 165.50 MLD in Uttarakhand, taking care of sewerage treatment requirements till 2035


Highlights:

  • The Sarai 14 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant is the first STP to be completed under the Hybrid Annuity (HAM) Based Public Private Partnership Model, involving a cost of Rs. 41.40 crores, and the Plant has been completed before its scheduled timeline.

  • This Plant is based on advanced aerobic biological process, Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) process, capable of removing the nutrients during treatment and is a 100% eco-friendly project.

  • Another unique feature of this HAM project is that after its commissioning, this plant will also be maintained and operated for a period of 15 years by the same developer for efficient performance and for meeting output parameters.

  • The vision of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is long term and hence the capability being created would fully take care of the requirements up to 2035.

  • In order to improve the quality of water in river Ganga in the state of Uttarakhand, 34 Projects of Sewerage infrastructure works have been taken up at a cost of approximately Rs. 1,144.77 crores for creating treatment capacity of 165.50 MLD, and for laying sewerage network of 152 kms.

  • In addition, projects have also been taken up in Uttarakhand for several Ghats, River Front Development (RFD), Afforestation, Trash Skimmers etc. making the value of total interventions in NamamiGange in the state exceed INR 150 crores.


About Hybrid Annuity (HAM):

  • In financial terminology hybrid annuity means that the government makes payment in a fixed amount for a considerable period and then in a variable amount in the remaining period.

  • It is a mix of the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and BOT (build, operate, transfer) models.

  • Advantage of HAM is that it gives enough liquidity to the developer and the financial risk is shared by the government.

  • Government’s policy is that the HAM will be used in stalled projects where other models are not applicable.


Source: PIB


MAHARAJA DULEEP SINGH

Part of GS-1 History


Why in news:

The Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa made a demand in the Rajya Sabha to exhume the remains of Maharaja Duleep Singh from his grave in England, and have them brought to Amritsar. Bajwa said the issue is close to the heart of Punjab and that “history should be corrected”.


Highlights:

  • Singh was the last ruler of the Sikh empire, born to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1838 in Lahore.

  • This is not the first time that Bajwa has demanded that his remains be brought back


Who was Maharaja Duleep Singh?


Singh was the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the last ruler of Punjab.

He was declared Maharaja of Punjab in 1843 at the age of five.


In 1849, after the second Anglo-Sikh war, Singh was forced to give up claims of sovereignty in exchange for a pension of £40,000 a year. He was 10 years old at that time.


In 1853, he converted to Christianity, and settled in the UK in 1854. According to the Royal Collection Trust, in July of 1854, Singh was received by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. In her journal, the Queen described the Maharaja as, “16 & extremely handsome […he] has a pretty, graceful & dignified manner. He was beautifully dressed & covered with diamonds”.


Singh is believed to have become a close friend of the royal family and during the summer of 1854, visited them frequently at Osborne.


Later on, he re-converted to Sikhism and lived in Paris where he is believed to have sought the help of Irish revolutionaries and Russians to launch a revolt against the British in Punjab. Ultimately, however, Singh was unsuccessful in doing so.


While he died in Paris in 1893 at the age of 55, his body was brought to England, where he was buried.


Source: Indian Express


INVESTOR EDUCATION & PROTECTION FUND AUTHORITY (IEPFA)

Part of GS-3 Economy


Why in news?

Investor Education & Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) signs MOU with Bank of Baroda for Investor Awareness


Highlights:

  • This is landmark collaboration for information dissemination and reaching out to investors and stakeholders.

  • The coming together of two important organisations with similar stakes is a good sign.

  • The Authority is entrusted with the responsibility of administration of the Investor Education Protection Fund (IEPF), make refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, matured deposits/debentures etc.

  • To investors and to promote awareness among investors.

  • This exercise will definitely help various investors who often fall prey to tempting offers for investments and Ponzi schemes.

  • In 2016, Government of India established Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) under the provisions of section 125 of the Companies Act, 2013.

  • IEPF has been set-up under Section 205C of the Companies Act, 1956 by way of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 1999.


Source: PIB

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