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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 15th DECEMBER 2019

Q.1 National Electronic Toll Collection programme is the initiative of

A. Ministry of Finance

B. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

C. Ministry of Home Affairs

D. Reserve Bank of India

 

Q.2 Panchganga is the tributary of

A. Mahanadi River

B. Krishna River

C. Godavari River

D. Cauvery River

 

Q.3 National Ganga Council is chaired by

A. Prime Minister

B. Home Minister

C. Jal Shakti Minister

D. Secretary Jal Shakti Ministry

 

NATIONAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY

NEWS: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has not filed a chargesheet in the Pulwama terror incident, nine months after the attack took place, as none of the key suspects are alive.

ABOUT NIA 

It is the central agency established by the Government of India to combat terror in India.

Agency came into existence with the enactment of the NIA Act 2008.

NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.Y C Modi is chairman of NIA.

NIA works under Ministry of Home Affairs.

 

DATA PROTECTION BILL

NEWS:

Retired Supreme Court judge, B.N. Srikrishna, who led the panel that produced the draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill, said it is a unique legislation and is in contrast to the recommendation that no data be processed without the consent of the person.

The Bill gives autonomy to the government.

“If this is passed in its current form, it should be challenged in the Supreme Court,” he told The Hindu.

ABOUT DATA PROTECTION BILL

The draft bill, the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018, was prepared by a high-level expert committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna.

The Bill deals with the broad guidelines on the collection, storage, and processing of personal data, the consent of individuals, penalties and compensation, and a code of conduct.

The draft Bill classifies ‘sensitive personal data’ as including passwords, financial data, health data, sex life, sexual orientation, biometric data, genetic data, transgender status, intersex status, caste or tribe, and religious or political belief or affiliation.

The draft Bill says that such sensitive personal data can be processed only with the explicit consent of the person, and this consent needs to be informed, clear, and specific, as defined by the Bill itself.

The draft bill also has a provision for the right to be forgotten, where the person “shall have the right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure of personal data”.

Personal data is to be stored in India, but can be processed outside with the consent of the person.

The draft Bill also specifies penalties for not following its provisions, including a penalty of ₹5 crore or 2% of turnover, whichever is higher, if no action is taken on a data leak.

 

VANDE BHARAT EXPRESS

NEWS: Ending months of controversy over the move to import complete train sets by floating global tenders and the stiff resistance that followed from senior railway officials and political parties, the Ministry of Railways has accorded sanction to the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) here to roll out 45 rakes (720 coaches) of the Vande Bharat Express.

Integral Coach Factory is located in Chennai.

ABOUT VANDE BHARAT EXPRESS

  • It is India’s First Engineless Train. Next generation Shatabdi.
  • Built by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
  • It does not have locomotive to pull the coaches – it is a self propelled
  • semi high speed train set.
  • Train has become India’s fastest train by hitting the speed of 180 kmph
  • during a trial run on the section of Delhi Rajdhani routes.
  • It will replace Shatabdi trains and will run between Delhi and Varanasi.
  • It will run on e-traction or electric Traction.

 

RAJASTHAN INDUSTRIAL POLICY

NEWS: Rajasthan Industries Minister Parsadi Lal Meena has announced the outlines of a new industrial policy, which will attract investments and offer one-stop solutions and timely disposal of grievances, besides introducing several innovative measures, including bridge finance, to promote micro, small and medium enterprises.

The new policy is likely to be released shortly.

The State government has also announced a State-level export awards, under which 30 exporters in various categories have been selected. The awards, which will be distributed at a ceremony here later this month, were instituted to encourage exporters, promote shipments and bring in a healthy competition among the entrepreneurs

 

CYCLONE FANI

NEWS: Extreme weather events like cyclones can have severe impacts on bird populations of a region, a recent study on the impact of super cyclonic storm Fani on a stretch of 40 km along the Mahanadi river has revealed.

The study has revealed that the population of sandbar-nesting birds along a 40-km stretch from Baideshwar to Kakhadi along the Mahanadi river declined by 81% .

The study also found that the population of the birds a day before the cyclone was about 800, which dropped to 153 a day after the cyclone.

Among all the eight species of birds that breed along the Mahanadi, five are globally threatened, including Rynchops albicollis (Indian skimmer), classified as Vulnerable as per the IUCN Red list; Sterna aurantia (river tern), classified as Near Threatened; Vanellus duvaucelii (river lapwing), classified as Near Threatened; and Esacus recurvirostris (great thick-knee), also classified as Near Threatened.

Cyclone Fani struck the Puri coast of Odisha and caused huge devastation this year.

ABOUT TROPICAL CYCLONES

Tropical Cyclones are violent storms that originate over the oceans and move over to coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.

Tropical Cyclones are also defined as INTENSE LOW PRESSURE AREAS confined to area low lying between 30 degree North and 30 degree South latitude in the atmosphere around which high velocity winds blow.

Conditions favorable for tropical cyclone are:

  1. Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27 degree Celsius.
  2. Presence of Coriolis force.
  3. Small variations in vertical wind speed
  4. A pre existing low pressure area or low level cyclonic circulation.
  5. Upper divergence above the sea level system.

Tropical Cyclones are known by different names. They are known by different names:

  1. Cyclones in Indian Ocean
  2. Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean
  3. Typhoons in the Western Pacific and South China Sea
  4. Willy Willies in Western Australia

ABOUT MAHANADI RIVER

  1. Flows through Odisha and Chattisgarh
  2. Origin: Sihawa in Raipur
  3. 851km long
  4. Hirakud Dam

 

CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

NEWS: Nearly 12 years after the rape and murder of a 24-year-old pharmacy student from Tenali in her hostel at Ibrahimpatnam, near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, a CBI team and experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) exhumed the remains of the victim at the Idgah in Chenchupeta on Saturday.

ABOUT CBI

CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government. It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration.

FORMATION: Central Bureau of Investigation was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Later it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of attached office.

RECOMMENDED BY: Establishment of CBI was recommended by Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962-64).

WHICH TYPE OF BODY? CBI is not a statutory body and derives its power from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946.

It also provides assistance to CVC and Lokpal.

Motto: Industry, Impartiality and Integrity

CBI Academy: Ghaziabad

SUPERINTENDENCE: With the enactment of the CVC Act 2003 superintendence of the CBI vests with the central government save investigations of offences under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 in which the superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.

HEAD: Director of the CBI has been provided with the security of two year tenure in office by the CVC Act 2003.

Under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013 central government shall appoint the Director of the CBI on the recommendation of a three member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, Leader of the opposition party in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or the judge of Supreme Court appointed by him.

CBI acts as the National Central Bureau of Interpol in India.

 

QUALITY OF DRINKING WATER SUPPLY

NEWS:

Over three lakh rural habitations across the country continue to be deprived of the government’s minimum prescribed provision of 40 litre per capita per day (lpcd) of potable drinking water with assured quality.

With the ambition to now achieve a service level of 55 lpcd by 2024, the data presented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in the Lok Sabha this past week notes that Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam top the list where the coverage is facing quality issues or seeing diminished supply.

Bihar, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand are the other States which are battling the problem.

SCHEMES FOR PROVIDING QUALITY WATER

National Rural Drinking Water Programme: a Centrally sponsored programmeto improve piped water supply in low income States, namely Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

National Water Quality Sub-Mission was launched to provide safe drinking water to 27,544 identified arsenic and fluoride affected rural habitations.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) : has been launched in August, 2019 which aims at providing potable water through Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) at service level of 55 lpcd by 2024 with an outlay of ₹3.60 lakh crore, in partnerships with States.

FASTAG

NEWS:

To avert inconvenience to citizens, the government said on Saturday that up to 25% of FASTag lanes at the National Highway toll plazas would be treated as hybrid lanes for a month.

The hybrid lane will accept FASTag and other modes of payment. The government had earlier announced rollout of mandatory FASTag for electronic toll collection from December 1, which was later extended to December 15, 2019.

What is FASTag?

It is a prepaid radio-frequency identification-enabled tag that facilitates automatic deduction of toll charges. The new system will now do away away with a stop-over of vehicles and cash transactions at toll plazas.

WHO IS IMPLEMENTING THE FASTAG?

FASTag electronic toll collection programme is being implemented by the Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL), a company incorporated by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and the National Payments Corporation of India in coordination with Toll Plaza Concessionaires, tag issuing agencies and banks.

Currently, FASTag can be bought from 22 certified banks, through various online platforms, online applications and at select points-of-sale locations.

VALIDITY OF FASTAG

FASTag has a validity of five years. Over 70 lakh FASTags had been issued till November 27.

WHY IT IS BEING IMPLEMENTED?

A joint study in 2014-15 by the Transport Corporation of India and the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (launched by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari in 2016) estimated the cost of delay on Indian roads at $6.6 billion per year. The cost of additional fuel consumption due to delays was also put at $14.7 billion per year.

Move towards electronic toll collection, will not only reduce congestion and queues at toll plazas but also reduce operating costs for toll operators and plug revenue leakages.

The tag helps remove bottlenecks, ensures seamless movement of traffic and saves time. The centralised system provides authentic and real-time data to government agencies for better analysis and policy formulation. It also helps reduce air pollution and the use of paper besides cutting the cost of managing toll plazas.

 

NATIONAL PHARMACEUTICAL PRICING AUTHORITY

NEWS:

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has hiked the ceiling price of 12 essential first-line treatment drugs, crucial in the public health programme, by 50% to ensure availability of these drugs.

“Many companies have applied for discontinuation of the product on account of high cost of the raw material for these drugs. Access to these drugs cannot be jeopardised. Also, we did not want the public to be forced to switch to costly alternatives,” the NPPA noted.

ABOUT NPPA

NPPA is an independent body under Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

It was set up in 1997.

Its functions are to:

  • fix/revise the controlled bulk drugs prices and formulations,
  • enforce prices and availability of the medicines under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995/2013
  • recover amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers
  • monitor the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.

The NPPA currently fixes prices of drugs placed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under Schedule-I of the DPCO.

Medicines that are not under price control, manufacturers are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10% annually.

 

NATIONAL GANGA COUNCIL

NEWS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the first meeting of the National Ganga Council in Kanpur on Saturday.

The council was constituted in 2016 to oversee the cleaning of the Ganga and is supposed to meet at least once a year with the Prime Minister chairing the session.

The full quorum of the Council — with the Prime Minister in attendance — is largely ceremonial. The work of coordinating, supervising and deliberating on funding Namami Ganga projects is carried out by an executive committee of the National Mission for Clean Ganga that meets every month. The latest meeting was on December 3.

ABOUT NATIONAL GANGA COUNCIL

Formal Name: National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council)

ACT: Environment Protection Act 1986

The Act envisages five tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below;

1. National Ganga Council under chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
2. Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation).
3. National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG).
4. State Ganga Committees and
5. District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.

 

PRODUCTIVITY OF RAJYA SABHA

NEWS: The 250th session of the Rajya Sabha that was adjourned sine die on Friday recorded near 100% productivity. House Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu complimented the members for making the session productive and for improving the quality of debates.

He said the Upper House clocked the best performance in 49 years with an average 9.5 starred questions orally replied every day and 39% of the time spent on passing Bills.

Mr. Naidu said as against the scheduled available time of 108 hours, 33 minutes with 20 sittings, the House functioned for 107 hours 11 minutes resulting in a productivity of over 99%.

ABOUT RAJYA SABHA

The Constitution provides for a bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Rajya Sabha) and a Lower House (Lok Sabha). The Rajya Sabha represents the states of Indian Federation, while the Lok Sabha represents the people of India as a whole.

The states are given representation in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of population. Hence, the membership varies from 1 to 31.

The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250, out of which, 238 are to be the representatives of the states and union territories (elected indirectly) and 12 are nominated by the president.

At present, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Of these, 229 members represent the states, 4 members represent the union territories and 12 members are nominated by the president.

The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and union territories.

The president nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha from people who have special knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science and social service.

The Rajya Sabha (first constituted in 1952) is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire every second year.

The Constitution has not fixed the term of office of members of the Rajya Sabha and left it to the Parliament. Accordingly, the Parliament in the Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years.

 

INDIAN OCEAN RIM ASSOCIATION

NEWS:

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Saturday, that one of the problems in building partnerships in the Indo-Pacific maritime region was the lack of consensus on what such a concept meant or “even its geographic extent”.

Indian Ocean Region (IORA) countries should, therefore, build on a common vision, he said.

They all had the guiding principle of ensuring that the region remained “open and free for inclusive partnerships with all, within the parameters of sovereignty, equality, and a rules-based system.”

The challenge, however, was that countries to the west of India had fewer mechanisms than those to the east to pursue such ties.

About IORA:

  1. The Indian Ocean Rim Association was set up with the objective of strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region
  2. The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
  3. It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperationparticularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
  4. India, Australia, Iran, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, Madagascar, UAE, Yemen, Seychelles, Somalia, Comoros and Oman are among the members of IORA.

 

UNIFIED PAYMENT INTERFACE

NEWS: In a thumbs up to India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) scheme, Google has written to the U.S. Federal Reserve Board detailing the successful example of UPI-based digital payments in India in order to build ‘FedNow’ — a new interbank real-time gross settlement service (RTGS) for faster digital payments in the U.S.

NPCI deployed a real-time payment system UPI in 2016. UPI was thoughtfully planned and critical aspects of its design led to its success, Google said.

UNIQUENESS OF UPI

First, UPI is an interbank transfer system [there are now over over 140 member banks, after initially launching with 9 participating banks].

Second, it is a real-time system.

Third, it is ‘open’ — meaning technology companies can build applications that help users directly manage transfers into and out of their accounts held at banks.

What is Unified Payments Interface (UPI)?

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood. It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.

UPI was developed by National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) under the guidelines of RBI. UPI is based on the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) platform.

 

 

ISSUE: ANTI TRUST INVESTIGATION AGAINST GOOGLE, AMAZON, FACEBOOK

MEANING OF THE TERM ANTI TRUST

Anti Trust: preventing or controlling trusts or other monopolies, and so promoting fair competition in business.

WHY THESE COMPANIES ARE BEING PROBED?

First charge is  that they may have engaged in anti-competitive behaviour over many years thus undercutting smaller potential rivals and holding onto an outsized market share; 

Second, as a result of this metastatic growth, they now have a vast influence on politics, policy and personal reputations across the spectrum, making cost of data privacy breaches by these firms catastrophic.

WHO IS INVESTIGATING?

Thus, in July 2019 the United States Justice Department and the House Judiciary Committee separately announced major antitrust investigations into Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple promising “a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms.”

 

ISSUE: WHY THERE IS SO MUCH TENSION IN NORTH EAST?

Since the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 there is unease on the ground about what it will mean for the ethnic diversity of the region.

In Assam, for example, observers say the division between the Assamese-speaking Brahmaputra Valley and the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley is likely to deepen; and that relations between tribals and the Bengali-speaking majority in Tripura will suffer. The rules of CAA under which Hindu and other minorities may get amnesty have not yet been specified.

Why is Assam agitated?

Between 1979 and 1985, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad spearheaded a movement against illegal migration, which had been simmering for long, leading to widespread violence and insurgencies by various outfits including the United Liberation Front of Assam.

After thousands of lives were lost, the Assam Accord was signed in 1985 that aimed to address two key concerns of the Assamese people: stop “foreigners” from Bangladesh and provide some constitutional safeguards for Assamese citizens.

This bill will make the cut off date irrelevant.

What about protection under the Sixth Schedule?

The CAA, 2019, while inserting a new sub-section 6B, listing out the provisions to grant citizenship rights to Hindu and other non-Muslim minorities of three countries, says “nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area[s] of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under ‘The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873”.

The Sixth Schedule allows constitution of autonomous district councils in tribal areas: of Assam (three), Meghalaya (three), Mizoram (three) and Tripura (one) — 10 in all in the Northeast. Thus in Assam, there are the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (for the Karbi Anglong District), the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council (for the Dima Hasao or the erstwhile North Cachar Hills District) and the Bodoland Territorial Council (The Bodoland Territorial Areas District). These regions are exempt from the purview of the Act.

Why are Tripura and Meghalaya rattled?

The state has been overrun by migrants, first from East Pakistan and later from Bangladesh. Now, the Bengali-speaking population is a majority in Tripura and runs the affairs of the state. Fears of a similar fate are real and widely held across all states in the region

Most of Meghalaya is protected from CAB because of the Sixth Schedule — some areas of capital Shillong, however, fall outside its purview. But there is a demand to extend ILP to the State.

ISSUE: DOPING BY RUSSIA

NEWS:  On December 9, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced a decision to ban Russia from global sporting competitions for a period of four years. The 12-member WADA executive committee voted unanimously to declare the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) “non-compliant” with global anti-doping rules. 

The anti-doping watchdog’s decision is expected to affect Russia the most at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics where the nation’s flag, name and anthem will not be allowed.

What triggered the ban?

It dates back to the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games when an independent commission set up by WADA found a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — in which Russia topped the medals tally — was under the scanner, where it was alleged that dope-tainted urine samples were replaced with clean ones.

It led to a series of sanctions; the IAAF (now called World Athletics), the world athletics’ governing body, suspended Russia’s athletics federation (a ban that continues till date) before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and WADA followed suit by de-recognising the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and RUSADA respectively.

Last September, as part of the resolution of the case, WADA threw a lifeline by asking Russia to turn over raw data stored in its Moscow laboratory in order to corroborate the findings in the whistle-blower reports. Russia reluctantly agreed, only for WADA to now rule that Russia had tampered with this evidence too, leading to the latest reprimand.

How far does the ban go?

Apart from the Olympics, the ban can extend to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, provided Russia qualifies. Sports and government officials from Russia will not be able to attend competitions, and Russia cannot host international events during the four-year period. It does not however apply to Euro 2020 which is considered a continental (and not global) football competition and Russia will remain a co-host.

What is the International Olympic Committee’s stand?

The IOC, under its president Thomas Bach, has always opposed a blanket ban. He has maintained that he favours “individual justice over collective punishment”. An athlete whose views have played a significant role in shaping the IOC’s thinking is Penelope (Penny) Heyns, a South African gold-medallist in the 100-and 200m breaststroke events at the 1996 Olympics.

What next for Russia?

Russia has three weeks (from the date of the order) to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the signs are that it will. While Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “we have all the reasons to file an appeal,” ROC’s president, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, dismissed the ruling as “inadequate, illogical and excessive”.

Generally, an arbitration is expected to take six to 12 months, which means that regardless of whether an appeal is filed, Russia will not be present at the Winter Youth Olympic Games that starts in Lausanne, Switzerland from January 9, 2020.

 

Facts :-

1)Project OSIRIS – REX :- The OSIRIS-REx is a NASA asteroid study and sample-return mission. The mission’s main goal is to obtain a sample of at least 60 grams from 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid, and return the sample to Earth for a detailed analysis.

OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer).

2)Comet 2I/Borisov :- Comet from another stellar coming very close to sun.

 

 

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