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Insights Daily Current Events, 16 April 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 16 April 2016


Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Spot fine for open defecation, states told

The urban development ministry has suggested state governments amend their municipal laws to incorporate provisions for spot fine, penalty or cleaning charge from people caught defecating in open. It has also suggested similar changes in the state laws to fine people caught littering.

  • This was stated by the ministry in its recent circular issued to chief secretaries of all states.

Suggestions:

  • The ministry has asked them to enforce such provisions in municipal wards that are declared open defecation free (ODF) and litter free.
  • The ministry has asked all state governments to ensure that such provisions cover all municipal wards by October 2018.
  • It has advised that the municipal commissioners or any authorised officer can levy the fine, penalty or charge from violators.

Key facts:

Rajasthan has already notified the mechanism for levying such penalty or carrying charges for littering in public places. For example, Rs 200 fine for peeing in public places, Rs 1,500 per day for pasting posters in public buildings or monuments.

Sources: toi.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

WHO gives 2 weeks to replace problem polio vaccine

The World Health Organization has given countries two weeks to replace a problem polio vaccine blamed for some outbreaks of the crippling disease. WHO is hoping to wipe out this virus once and for all.

Why?

The live polio virus used in some vaccines is one of the biggest obstacles to eradicating the disease. The wild version of the virus now exists only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but a type of vaccine that contains small amounts of weakened but live polio still causes occasional outbreaks elsewhere.

What’s the concern now?

Oral polio vaccine (OPV) replicates in the gut and can be passed to others through faecal-contaminated water — meaning it won’t hurt the child who has been vaccinated, but could infect their neighbours.

What needs to be done?

Long-term, WHO recommends that the OPV should be phased out worldwide and replaced by the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

Background:

A massive global effort has in recent decades come close to wiping out polio, a crippling and potentially fatal viral disease that mainly affects children under the age of five. Cases have decreased by 99% since 1988, when polio was endemic in 125 countries and 350,000 cases were recorded worldwide.

Difference between IPV and OPV:

There are two types of vaccine that protect against polio: inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). IPV contains live killed virus and OPV contains live weakened virus.

Its usage in India:

The union government launched India’s first injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) as part of the country’s commitment to global polio eradication in December 2015.

Polio: Polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Sources: toi.


Paper 2 Topic: Indian diaspora.

Foreign Ministry suspends Mallya’s diplomatic passport

Within days of a request from the Enforcement Directorate, in connection with a money laundering probe in the over Rs. 900 crore IDBI Bank loan fraud case, the Ministry of External Affairs has suspended Vijay Mallya’s diplomatic passport. It has also threatened to revoke it if he doesn’t appear before the Indian High Commission in London within a week.

  • The External Affairs Ministry has suspended the validity of Mr. Mallya’s diplomatic passport under Section 10 A of the Passports Act. Section 10 A of the Act empowers the authorities to suspend passports or travel documents in certain cases.
  • Mallya, whose ordinary passport is also rendered invalid by a Ministry order, is now left with the sole option of returning to the country on an emergency certificate issued by the Indian mission.

Types of Indian Passport:

There are three types of Indian Passport, which are-

Regular Passport has a Navy Blue cover and is issued for ordinary travel, such as vacations and business trips.

Diplomatic Passport has a Maroon cover and is issued to Indian diplomats, top ranking government officials and diplomatic couriers.

Official Passport has a White cover and it is issued to individuals representing the Indian government on official business.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

‘Hidden’ vetoes must go, India tells U.N.

India has sought changes in the U.N. procedures to designate a group or an individual terrorist.

Background:

The demand for more transparency comes days after China blocked India’s bid to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a terrorist.

Existing rules:

The existing rules allow Security Council members to oppose any move in the sanctions committees in a clandestine manner and without offering any explanation.

  • The sanctions committees can take decisions only unanimously, and this means any of the 15 members can veto a move. This amounts to allowing a “hidden veto” for every member of the council.
  • The general membership of the UN is never ever formally informed of how and why requests for listing terrorists are not acceded to.

The Security Council has Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Islamic State Sanctions Committees that can mandate international sanctions, which will require countries to freeze the targeted group’s or individual’s assets, ban designated individuals from travelling and prevent the supply of weapons, technology and other aid.

UNSC: Quick facts

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

PFRDA may regulate unregulated pension funds

The Department of Financial Services (DFS), which functions under the finance ministry, is examining a proposal to bring all unregulated retirement funds under the purview of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

  • DFS is looking at forming a panel to look into the matter and study the scale of unregulated superannuation funds in the country to protect subscribers’ interest.
  • The idea is basically to reduce the grey areas and close down the regulatory gaps. However, the matter is complex as multiple ministries are involved.

Background:

PFRDA has been pitching that all unregulated pension funds in the country be regulated. Under the proposed PFRDA Act, the pension regulator is responsible for promoting the pension fund industry and protecting consumers by supervising these funds. Currently, it is responsible only for regulating the National Pension System (NPS) and the Atal Pension Yojana.

  • A number of companies extend superannuation schemes to employees through insurance companies or set up their own PF trusts. Many of these trusts are under the ambit of Sebi, Irdai or EPFO. They all seek tax exemptions from the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT).
  • PFRDA has been trying to accumulate information on existing pension and superannuation schemes being run by various entities and details of their regulatory jurisdiction, supervisory mechanism, investment guidelines, risk management strategies, number of subscribers and assets under their management.

PFRDA:

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is a pension regulatory authority which was established in 2003. It is authorized by Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services.

  • It is also responsible for appointment of various intermediate agencies such as Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA), Pension Fund Managers, Custodian, NPS Trustee Bank, etc.

Sources: bs.


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Government mulls sovereign gold bond issue around Akshaya Tritiya

The government is planning to issue the fourth tranche of sovereign gold bonds around Akshaya Tritiya.

Why on this day?

Akshaya Tritiya, which falls on May 9 this year, is an important day for the bullion market as people consider buying gold on that day as auspicious. In the past two years, gold demand on this day stood at 25-30 tonnes. In 2013, around 50 tonnes of gold was estimated to have been sold on Akshay Tritiya.

Background:

The government has issued three tranche of sovereign gold bonds so far, with a total subscription of around 5,000 kg. Of this, the second tranche accounted for around 60%.

About Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme:

Under the scheme, gold bonds are issued in denominations of 5 grams, 10 grams, 50 grams and 100 grams for a term of 5-7 years with a rate of interest to be calculated on the value of the metal at the time of investment. The scheme has an annual cap of 500 grams per person.

  • The bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited and designated post offices.
  • As per the scheme, the gold bonds will be sold only to resident Indian entities including individuals, Hindu undivided families, trusts, universities, and charitable institutions.
  • The bond tenure will be eight years with exit option beginning the fifth year onwards. They will also be tradable in the bourses.
  • Bonds can also be used as collateral for loans.

Sources: bs.


Paper 3 Topic: disaster and disaster management.

81 cities added to India’s earthquake-prone list

Eight new cities and towns have been added to a government list of urban areas vulnerable to earthquakes of “very severe intensity”.

  • In all, 81 new towns and cities were added to a list of areas prone to earthquakes, bringing the total to 107, according to government data released on March 16, 2016.

Latest additions to “very severe intensity zone”:

The recent additions are Jorhat, Sadiya and Tezpur in Assam, Bhuj in Gujarat, Darbhanga in Bihar, Imphal in Manipur, Kohima in Nagaland and Mandi in Himachal.

Sources: bs.


Facts for Prelims:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, has collected and analysed dust coming from beyond our solar system. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.

The Delhi government has reintroduced the odd-even experiment for another 15 days. This rule disallows vehicles with odd and even registration plates to ply on roads on alternate days.

The Water Resources Department in Maharashtra has started releasing water to Karnataka from its Kalammawadi dam across the Dudhganga river, a tributary of the Krishna river in Kolhapur district. Dudhganga river rises in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra in the Western Ghats and flows eastward through Kolhapur district and Belgaum district in Karnataka before joining the Krishna. The river is dammed to form the Kalammawadi reservoir in the west of Kohlapur district.

The Delhi government has banned the sale, purchase and storage of all forms of chewable tobacco, including gutka, pan masala, khaini and zarda, in the Capital for one year.

The national capital has been recognised as one of the 50 future-ready cities around the world that are embracing technology to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing and globalised future, according to a report by information technology major Dell. Delhi is ranked 44th on the list, which is topped by San Jose, followed by San Francisco. The cities in the list were evaluated along three dimensions — human capital, infrastructure and commerce.